Category Archives: CEC-E

Atari 130XE vs CEC-E:

cec-e_and_atari_130xe_s

THAT .. IS .. ATARI?!

I recently bought an nice boxed, Atari 130XE from Sweden that was quite complete. The model is quite nice as it’s with the new XE-case design as well it have 128k RAM already built in. Sadly the built quality of  the XE-line was somehow questionable.. specially the keyboard is absolutely horrible compared to 600/800XL-models.. 

My goal was to be able to play the recently ported version of “Stunt Car Racer” (128k) with the 130XE and compare it, first hand, to the “Chinese Education Computer Expanded” (“CEC-E”) as they kind of look alike. Too bad i had no early Atari ST in hand for this.

“UNBOXING”

 boxed_stuff_lq_s
Kind of have to do it. So here it is..

-The original box and styrox
-Atari 130XE
-Power supply 230v
-Manuals (German)

 

PICTURES:

atari_130xe_vs_cec-e_r_side_2_s
Atari 130XE vs CEC-E from Right side.

 

atari_130xe_vs_cec-e_backside_both_s
Atari 130XE vs CEC-E, backside. Clearly very different connectors used.

atari520st_interfaces_s
Clearly early Atari ST is closer by design. I just do not have one in my collection (it’s 16-bit!).

 

atari_130xe_bottom_s
Atari 130XE bottom:

cec_e_from_bottom_s
CEC-E bottom:

 

 

Testing / playing:

I connected the Atari 130XE with it’s video output and used a composite-to-scart adapter and LCD/TV that had scart connector. HDMI or VGA sure would be nice to have with Atari’s as well.

The power supply is a new one from lotharek proven to work great with 600XL and 800XL and is compatible with 130XE as well so that was safe choise to be used. My original Atari power supply burned all the RAM chips from my 800XL a while ago.. luckily they all were socketed and it was easy job replacing them.

For loading the software, i used the neat sd-card reader solution “SIO2SD” from lotharek as well. Playing the games i used my favorite joystick the legendary TAC-2 from Suncom.

atari_130xe_stunt_car_racing_s

Testing with playing the “Stunt Car Racer” that was never released to Atari 8-bits but it got ported early 2018. It requires 128k RAM so either stock 130XE is needed or modded model with 128k RAM on it. The display have some issues with RGB signal/composite at times..

I found out that there’s several homebrew/conversions that require more RAM up to 320K so that’s something i might need to look into later. Unless i finish the memory upgrades for my 600XL (16k ->64k + 512k) someday.. still not done!

The Stunt Car Racer run pretty nicely! I’d need to test the game on C64 and BBC Master 128k as well now as it got ported to BBC as well. This game is fun!

 

Links:
About the Stunt Car Racer Atari port:
http://atariage.com/forums/topic/276082-stunt-car-racer/

Lotharek products:
https://lotharek.pl

Youtube video of Stunt Car Racer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kRUkl7G7Oc

 

FinApple 2019 (c)
Apple II Forever.

China Education Computer – CEC-Expansion-model (CEC-E)

cec_e_box_s
I was finally able to obtain this model i only few years ago became aware of, CEC-E, to my collection. I don’t as such, collect Apple II-clones, but in this case it’s little different as i have ties to China from my wife’s side. Also these are not very well documented (in the west atleast) so i kind of had to get into this. And, it is fascinating!

cec_e_from_top_s

So i was able to get one CEC-E for myself this summer, thanks to Mr. Djordje Mitic, the great ZX Spectrum OMNI 128HQ – creator, living in South China. I visited him as we happened to be in the same city for our summer vacation and we tested it and it powered up fine. We tried also repairing my CEC-I’s like i mentioned earlier in an another blogpost as well. Djordje is super nice guy originally from Serbia but have lived in China for over a decade for business reasons. He have nice retrocomputer collection as well but he’s speciality is ZX Spectrum’s.

I had luck and managed to buy an another one (with the box!) but that went to an another friend in USA as a trade. Before this i actually even didn’t know the CEC-E standed “China Education Computer – Expansion”.

cec_e_from_behind_sBasicly it’s Apple //e 64k – clone without as many slots built-in. From right the connectors are : integrated Disk II – connectors 1 and 2, printer, joystick, color/b&w-switch, CGA-video, RF, composite and tape-connectors.

cec_e_from_left_side_s
There’s one slot in the left side of the enclousure that can be adjusted (switch inside) to be either 5 or 7. Reminds me of vTech Laser 128 in that sense.

cec_e_from_right_side_s
Right side there’s the power switch.

cec_e_rom_s
ROM-chips:

display_slot_assignments_s
Listing of the slots usage.

keyboard_s
The keyboard is different to CEC-I. The CEC-E uses better keyswitches (feels like Apple //c+) and it’s actually very confortable to type with. 

keyboard_bottom_s
Keyboard pcb backside.

cec_e_with_numeric_keyboard_s
There’s also model from CEC-E that have numeric keypad in the right side, but it seems to be really rare. Not sure if it’s an upgrade or actual variation of the CEC-E. Only saw few of those ever. I’d like to get one of these.

I don’t think CEC’s were sold outside China. Not sure about Hongkong, Taiwan and Singapore. There were lots of clones made and sold in these regions already so CEC’s might be ment for “Mainland China Only”.

INFORMATION FROM THE RETAIL BOX:

cec_e_box_specs_s

CHANG AN
xk-09-002-030
Production Permit: xk-09-002-030

Chang An CEC-E (China Education Computer Expansion) not only containts all functions of CEC-I, also expans two floppy disk drive ports and printer port. It has good electromagnetic compability and high safety reliablity. With new model lower price, high quality. CEC-E is both the best tool to intellectual development and good teacher and helpfull friend of pupil and student.

Shaanxi Computer Factory
Add: No.15 Friendship, East Road, Xian, China.
Tel. 334462,335008 Postcode: 710054

SPECIFICATIONS:

cec_e_board_s
The main board.

Information from the box:

64k RAM

64k ROM (can be expanded up to 96k, with built-in BASIC, LOGO (Subset), monitor and Chinese Character management program.

Chinese Character functions: built-in GBI,II level chinese characters (6763 chinese characters and some foreign letters) and three kinds of input models; letter, phonetic alphabet and area code. If neccessary, WBZX and some other input modes can be supplied.

Display port: Supports NTSC & PAL system color & black’n’white televisions, monochrome monitors and CGA monitors.

FDD: Support two 5.25″ Floppy disk drives (20 pin connector)

Printer port : Support dot-matrix printers with centronics standard.

Joystick port: Supports one joystick

Tape recorder port: Support one tape recorder

Keyboard: 73 key standard ASCII keyboard or digital keyboard with 87 keys.

Bus Slot: Compatible with all cards of Apple IIe

Powersupply: Switching powersupply, 220VAC, 50hz, 25W (120-260V, 50Hz)

Powersupply specs from the label of the powersupply enclousure:

HG-902A
120-260V, 50HZ
+5v/2A, +12V/1A, -5V/0.1A, -12V/0.1A

USING THE CEC-E:

I could not get it to boot from original Apple II Disk II-drive. It does power up, but it wont boot from it. With CEC-I the Disk II-drive worked fine. I tested several different Disk II-drives so it was not a hardware issue or one bad drive. However the half-height 5.25″ drives worked fine.

The SDFloppy2 (a2heaven.com) also worked fine. Everything booted up just fine. Too bad i don’t own SDfloppy2 anymore but i’m hoping a2heaven.com will produce more of these (or even with .woz support?).

keys_test_swap_mode_sThere’s the same RAM/ROM-test built-in as well as it’s with CEC-I’s that you can access from the boot by pressing “TEST”-button. The buttons to the right of it, are for switching the imput method and screen mode.

memory_test_s
The RAM/ROM-test. There’s also LOGO-programming language built-in ROM.

cec_e_booted_westerm_s
“Western mode”

cec_e_booted_chinese_s
“The Chinese mode”

cec_e_gaming_s
I found that there were issues with output video colors with composite-connector. The colors are not 100% correct for some reason. I am not sure why this is happening, is it that the frequence is not correct (monitor) the cable or the board is failing. The picture starts to degenerate after some minutes after the CEC-E is turned on. There might be some capasitors failing on the board that might need replacements.

However all the software worked fine that i tried booting (64k) without any issues. But who knows, Apple II software catalog is big..

4

There’s some Chinese made software for the CEC-models made. Using those is big challenge as i do not read Chinese. Hope someday my daughter can assist me on this.

OTHER CEC-MODELS?

There are several known models of the CEC-line of computers made. Some is just speculation but if you have better knownledge about these, please contact me. I am NOT CEC-specialist..

Here’s a short list of details that i am aware of:

cec-1a_specs_s
CEC-IA – 128k model. Seen this listed as CEC-1A but not released, or this was this later released as CEC-E (64k) or CEC-2000 (128k?).

 cec_2000_top_s

CEC-2000 -This one looks like vTech Laser/CEC-hybrid. I’d assume it has 128k RAM on it. Maybe even same specs as Laser 128? Not much is known about this model. I have seen the user’s manual for this but it’s not scanned anywhere so far i know of.

 cec-m

CEC-M – More simple, cost cutdown model. Very little information available. It had Printer port?

 cec-g

CEC-G – More simple, gaming orientatied model with cartridge port in right side. Speculation, possibly FC/NES-compatible?


cec_development_machine_s
And interesting development CEC-I for FC-gaming console games.

Cards:

Some interesting cards were made for the CEC-line of computers in China.

cec_printer_z80_card_s
Z80 + Printer card (in same pcb)

z80-printr-drive
Z80 + Printer + Floppy drive controller (2 ports). I think this is pretty awesome!

cpm_for_cec
So the CEC-serie could run CP/M.

slot_raiser_card_s
Slot raiser card.

Hardware:

cec_yj
Gaming paddles CEC-YJ.

I’m not sure if they ever released under CEC-branded products like Half height 5.25″ floppy drives, Joysticks, Monitors or Casette drives.

cec_software_s
But there seems to have been software for it in China. These are kinds of hard to find more information about..

THOUGHTS?

The built quality is better than the CEC-I model. The plastic is softer and the keyboard is actually pretty good. No wonder this model was called “expansion”. This model reminds a lot of CEC-2000 (that i would like to learn more about) with design as well, kind of vTech Laser 128. The case design reminds a lof of later Atari XE line of models, not sure why excatly. Maybe Atari got their cases made in China back in the day?

The oddity is the support for CGA-monitors. Too bad i do not have such monitor in hand so i could not test that. I’ll see if i can get that tested somwhere, sometime.

I wish i could find more about the history of these models. All material is in chinese naturally so it’s bit tricky to get it translated correctly. There’s always google translate.. So there might be an another blog post coming about the history later.

If you have more information about the CEC-models, please contact me and i’ll update the information here. I am looking for CEC-releated material always, please contact me if you have any. Specially : CEC-2000, CEC-G, CEC-M.

如果您有关于CEC型号的更多信息,请与我联系,我将在此处更新信息。我一直在寻找CEC相关材料,如果您有任何问题,请与我联系。特别是:CEC-2000,CEC-G,CEC-M。

Xiexie ni!

Thanks to: Djordje Mitic, SK Leung, Lysander Leung & others.

FinApple 2018 (c)
Apple II Forever.

 

Half-height slim-floppy drives:

top-front_s
Got these from a friend as a trade. He had saved these from the 80’s and not used them ever since. These were once used in a local textile factory close by his home. 

bottom_s
Bottom-view. Just different color from the bottom. The mechanism looks the same on both however they do sound totally different when reading the floppy.

cec-e_with_two_drives_s
I wanted these as the original Apple II disk drive, Disk II-drive didn’t boot for some reason with the CEC-E (it did with CEC-I). Disk II-drive did power up, but it would not boot or read anything from it. These drives work just fine (as i thought) and they are quite quiet as well. And they do look nice with the clone that CEC-E certainly is.

cec-e_with_one_drive_saxxon_s2
Zaxxon time! The colors look bit off. I think some component on the board is having issues as the picture starts to degrade after few minutes when the CEC-E is been turned on untill it’s totally unreadable mess. An another project then with another time…..

FinApple 2018 (c)
Apple II Forever.