Category Archives: Hardware

My Nordic Apple ///

closeup_keyboard_1_s_s

One thing i’ve wanted to find for ages, but with such a little luck so far, was Apple /// that would have the localized keyboard (Swedish/Finnish) but those have been oddly difficult to find. Apple ///’s were not by far popular (business) computers in Nordics area and most ///’s seem to have have.. failed and recycled long long time ago.. 

In Sweden, they must have sold more ///’s than elsewhere in Nordics area as they did produce and translate software manuals in Swedish. I have few software packages that have Swedish manuals included in the package. This makes me wonder, what other products there might have been released?

But yes, patience is a virtue.. and i was finally able to find one! With the strike of luck i was able to locate one from Sweden and it was very kindly, shipped to me.

The case is in fairly good condition but naturally some yellowing is evident. There’s some sticker glue residue that should be easy to clean off as well one sticker that have fell off and reveals much lighter color beneath it. The Apple /// logo oddly seems to loose it’s color so often but it’s easy to repaint with silver paint pen.

..and with the ///’s, one should not expect to have stable unit.. very easily.

DETAILS AND SPECIFICATIONS:

bottom_plate_s
Bottom pan metal – “wavy” kind = early A2S1-era of models.

keyboard_layout_s
Swedish/Finnish keyboard layout is quite different from the typical US model.

apple_iii_keyboard_swedish_s
Swedish/Finnish-layout:

apple_iii_keyboard_us_s
US-layout:

 

serial_s
Serial number: A3S1-020817
12v, 128k model originally according to the serial label. It looks like it’s been upgraded to 256k (markings)so the board would have been upgraded to 5v as well.

psu_back_codes_s
Regular european power supply: PSU 220VAC | 50-60HZ | 0.5AMP
Should really replace the powersupply with universal powersupply from reactivemicro.

OPENING AND CLEANING:

Just basic cleaning to be done before testing.

I opened the case and removed things that actually can be removed. The Apple /// case is one heavy construction that weights about 12 KG when assembled. The only parts that come off easily are : the top case (plastic), keyboard cover (plastic) and the keyboard assembly itself, floppy drive, the main logig board (with the base pan attached) and the power supply (with base pan attached).

case_empty_opened_s
The rest of it is the very heavy, one piece, casing that holds all these components. I don’t know what they were thinking when they designed this case – it makes so little sense to create such closed enclousure without basicly any ventilation holes anywhere. Not even for the power supply, expect in back, but if you have four cards installed… no holes anywhere. They might have been thinking passive cooling with the basicly one-piece heavy metallic enclosure but.. it just doesn’t work very well.

apple_iii_arrived_condition_s
Top case:
Removed the top case and cleaned it. Some label-off spray was good choise for removing the sticker glue residue. There were also one sticker that was obiously removed and underneath the plastic was lighter in color. Only Retr0brightning would solve that one if would retr0bright whole enclousure. It doesn’t bother me that much really. It is kind of mark of the past, lived life.

case_empty_opened_keyboard_s
The keyboard seems to be missing few screws underneath the case. Need to find replacements for those. Used some wipes and compressed air to get rid of all that dust and crust from the there. I was lazy at this point to actually wash the keycaps (will do so before putting it back together…). The spacebar seems to have some issues as it seems to lock down from left side easily. Need to investigate that mechanism how it works and give it good cleaning.

main_logicboard_s
Removed the board from the case and investigated it. It looked fine and normal. While it was removed, it’s always good idea to press down all the chips.. (remove static electricity first or use the wrist band) and clean it up with isoprophyl alcohol if available.

upgraded_chips_logicboard_s
The board was originally 12v model but it was upgraded to 5v operation by swapping few IC’s at locations:
C11 (341-0044 > 341-0061)
C13 (341-0042 > 341-0063 (for 256K memory board)

position_r58_modification_s
Also the location R58 have been modified as it’s clearly been desoldered.

“Also the R58, which is located just above location C13. On a 12-volt logic board a 27 ohm, 1/4 watt resistor will be present. On a 5-volt logic board R58 will be missing and a solder bridge will connect the small solder pads on the logic board under R58’s mounting position on the board.”

ram_expansion_5v_256k_s
As the main logig board was upgraded to 12v > 5v – the memory board were upgraded to 256k 5v board.

 floppy_drive_s
Just removed the protective cover and the analog board, cleaned it with compressed air and some parts with isoprophyl alcohol. The read-in head was really amazingly clean, but cleaned it as well.

internal_floppy_drive_serial_s
Floppy drive serial nnumber.

 psu_manuf_date_s
Power supply ooked really clean. Made in week 51, 1980. The protection around the power cable seems bit worn, but i’ll put an another layer in top of it for time being.

apple_logo_s
Repainting the logo. Silver paint pen is great for this. Paiting with slightly dry tip of the pen gets it done. Easy fix.

 

So.. let’s hope it works….

 

SOME BASIC TESTING:

12-volt models have diagnostic’s in ROM so that’s what it goes into when it’s botted without the disk. It passes it OK.

first_hardware_test_ok_s
I tested booting the /// with the test disk, “Confidence test”. It booted fine and tested the system without any issues. The RAM test went thru nicely, i didn’t however run it with extensive period of time in this point but long enough to see if there would be any instant issues.

However when rebooting, sometimes the unit feels like it’s not receiving enough current so it seems to fail loading the screen and it get’s all messed up. Also some buzzing sound (getting louder) could be heard. I think all ///’s make strange noises..  Also the keyboard light seems to have been burned off. That means when the unit is started, it goes directly to the diagnostics mode and in order to boot it, one needs to hit reset+control to boot it. The burned lightbulb does not prevent using the computer, it’s just annoyance.

But i went for the safe way and ordered the proven, high quality, “universal power supply” from reactivemicro.com.  It’s very easy to install and you can order new connection cable as well. Should receive it in few weeks, i hope.

adjusting_the_drive_speed_s
I kept testing the unit with known risk of the power supply releasing the “magic white smoke” anytime.. and realized the floppy drive might need some mainantace, so i just did what i’ve done with my other ///’s. Started with obious reasons, swapped the IC “CA3146” and it helped the loading process. Then adjusted the speed and the disk hardware test went thru just fine. Booted also the Apple ][ Emulation mode and “Oidzone” the game by Michael Packard, played fine. It’s still picky when/what type of disks it would read..

adjusting_knob_s
Adjusting the drive speed: 

logo_repainted_s_s
The original logo was worn off so i painted them with silver paint pen. It wasn’t perfect and might need some rework, but it’s pretty ok so far.

wap_disk_keyboard_files_s

After i found the Swedish/Finnish -keyboard layout file (apple3.org: APPLE-3-WAP-SYS-02B.dsk) i tried to make working disk that the Nordic one would read. No dice. It just wont read them! I does read mostly all other floppies i have made for the ///’s but the new ones, no. Odd. ADTPro works with Uthernet II but for some reason when i try to Receive the file, it crashes ($A01). All hardware tests are ok. After a while (kept it running for longer time) it starts to refuse booting, giving random video errors and characters on screen. This is a sign to put it aside, and wait, for the Universal power supply to arrive. I could.. of cause, borrow one power supply from an another /// of mine. Let’s see if i get around doing so. 

What is left to be done?
-Install the new Universal Power supply.
-Keyboard light bulb replacement
-Test the keyboard layout.

 

NORDIC MATERIAL WANTED!

I hope to find more Nordic Apple /// software and manuals etc. I have the devices to preserve the materials either by scanning or reading floppies to disk images (.dsk/.ar2/.woz) with Applesauce.

Any help is very much appreciated with this task. It would mean a lot for me.
Thank you.

 

LINKS:

Apple3.org 
https://www.apple3.org 

Universal Power Supply
https://www.reactivemicro.com

FinApple 2019 (c)
Apple /// Forever.

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.

Apple II clones: “BOSS-1″ – Multi-System Personal Computer”:

boss_logo

I got few months ago keyboard for the Microprofessor III (MPF-III) among other Apple II pieces and the original owner, or actually he’s son. We thought obiously he’s father also had the MPF-III somewhere. But, now he actually found clone of it, “BOSS-1”. It’s basicly somekind of clone of the MPF-III so far i can tell. So i picked these Apple II-releated parts:

set_of_things_s
-BOSS-1 (“TYPE C”)
-Z80 processor – as the seller had bunch of processors available i added the Z80 to the empty slot.
-Apple ROM-card with 6 x EPROM’s 
-MPF-III RS-232-C adapter-card 
-ALF MC16 bare, clone, PCB-board
-Apple II prototyping board (empty PCB)
-Apple II RGB-card 
-“Bridge Challenger” (Personal Software, Casette) Apple II plus 16k. Incomplete. Box cover missing.
-Joystick enclousure and parts. Looks like the “Joystick”.
-Marconi RB2/PC-3 trackball controller (For what platform, no idea yet)

“BOSS-1 – Multi-System Personal Computer”

setup_s
Not much information could be found from this model..
This is one of those more complex and interesting Apple II clones from Taiwan. 
This clone had several different configurations or types, with 6502 prosessor or with 6502 and Z80 prosessors together in same board. So it does seem to be clone/licenced of Microprofessor (MPF-III) as their product was pretty identical by hardware and seem to use the same keyboard with some alternations to keyboard by funtionalities.

case_side_1
The enclousure is made out of fiberglass:

Different types/models:
TYPE A = 6502 – 9 slots including system slot at “J” , 48k RAM (?) 
TYPE C = 6502+Z80A – 7 slots includes system slot at “0”, 64k (RAM (?) 

board_s
Type C board layout: interesting cutout for the speaker in the right corner.

Multi OS system, either by System card (ROM) or loading from floppy. OS ROM = U24 (Type A) or U6 (Type C) if inserted no need for System card (ROM).

Video output:
Either NTSC or PAL (need PAL Expansion card)

What system cards were available:
-System Card (Apple DOS)
-Forth System card (Forth DOS)
-FP System card (Frankin DOS, CP/M, MS-DOS)

back_s
Backside:

What periphals/cards were available:
-Fan
-Joystick
-Graphics tablet
-12″ Green monitor
-12″ Amber monitor 
-Light pen
-192k RAM-card
-Z80-card 
-80-Column-card 
-Parallel printer-card 
-Serial RS232-card 
-PAL Color-card 
-Casette drive 
-Floppy disk drive 
-Floppy disk controller-card 
-Ram Expansion board-card
-Eprom writer-card
-ALF AD8088 CPU-card
-6809 CPU-card 
-Communications-card 
-Robot Controller-card 
-Chinese Character Interface-card 
-Replica interface-card 

The manual metions how you *could* write your own OS for this “Multi-System Personal Computer” if you
wanted and use it and System Card.

Testing & smoke?

psu_pins_s
I managed to get the system to startup (boot) few times and got “APPLE ][” on top of the screen with the usual beeb! The ROM-card was working obiously. Then i wanted to test booting from floppy so i attached the DISK II interface card (cloned one naturally) but that caused the system to make clicking noise… and then, nothing. It just died. The powersupply went totally dead. The extra stress to power the card and floppy drive was jus too much for the old powersupply.. I inspected the other clones i have, and the //e clone have just the same type of powersupply and pinouts – hope it works. That’s for later testing.


ROM:

eprom_s
The eprom on the board (U6 location) is preserved now.

Some pictures, information and the manual PDF at:
http://quartdepomme.fr/quartdepomme/Hardware_Apple_II_Clones/Pages/BOSS-1.html#9

Few pictures of the BOSS-1:
http://apple2.org.za/gswv/a2zine/GS.WorldView/Resources/A2.ALL.NEW/BOSS-1.An.A2.Clone/

It’s very possible that local hobbyist/electronics store “Bebek” imported and sold these. They are still around after all these years.

And yes, i’m still interested in finding that MicroProfessor III (MPF-III).

 

FinApple 2019 (c)
Apple II Forever.

 

 

Apple //e custom eX ROM:

menu_s
What is it?

This custom ROM eX is a BETA enhancement to the enhanced Apple //e firmware ROM built by Michael Guiderro and available at : https://github.com/mgcaret/romex 

 

Features

Upon CONTROL+CLOSED-APPLE / OPTION+RESET, presents a menu allowing you to choose to enter the monitor
or start the boot a specific slot. Menu displays the type of card found in the slot.

Menu identifies Apple II workstation cards and correctly boots them by prompting to press OPEN-APPLE to start the boot.

DELETE key works like the left arrow in programs that read input lines using the monitor ROM.

 

Versions available:

Both custom ROM versions requires 65C02 or 658xx processor in your Apple //e. Unlike the Apple //c firmware, there is no free space in the //e firmware therefore some sacrifices must be made. There are two versions of the firmware available with different features removed:

“Sacrificing the tape code (‘no_tape’)”:
-This version has a terse menu in order to fit in the available space.
-The diagnostics may be entered by pressing both apple keys with CTRL+RESET.

“Sacrificing the diagnostic code (‘no_diags’)”:
-This version has a nicer menu that takes advantage of available space.

 

Building/programming:

You must build the binaries yourself. The github page have some tips how to build it. The built binaries however are available elsewhere as well if you look around.. 

– The //e have to ROM chips, CD and EF so two binaries are required, as well two EPROM chips to be burned.
– The //e platinum have only one ROM chip, so you can use just one EPROM and double the size of the binary by copying the binary twice on the chip.

I used the (thanks to Wyatt Wong) ready built binary file (no_tape) and copied the binary twice to new binary file in order to fill it into W27E257-12 EPROM chip.

 

Installing & using:

setup_s

This ROM can be run in emulators that allow specifying a custom ROM image. It is tested on Virtual ][ (OSX) by M.G.

I tested mine (no_tape) with Platinum //e and it worked fine. I could access the menu and choose slot i wanted to boot. Dropping into monitor worked as well as one would expect. I played some games, tested the Uthernet II card by telneting to BBS and played some music with MEGA Audio as well used the monitor to access the configuration menu. The CFFA3000 and FASTchip //e menu’s worked as well.

I had cards in my Platinum //e:

#7 CFFA3000 + CF 
#6 Disk II interface card 
#5 -disk ii virtual slot for CFFA3000-
#4 MEGAaudio
#3 Uthernet II 
#2 -empty-
#1 FASTchip //e 
#AUX RamWorks III+VGA adapter

IF only similar custom ROM would be done for the Apple /// allowing it to boot from external devices. NOW THAT would be lifesafer and so much needed. There’s lots of ///’s with internal drive issues as well if it would allow booting from sd-device from external connector would open whole new worlds using the ///. I have a dream..

FinApple 2019 (c)
Apple //e Forever.

wDrive by KbooHK

World of .woz:

I must admit. Even i obtained the AppleSauce device from the first run in summer 2018, i did not have any rush to get the .woz files running in real hardware. Emulators were covered quite quicky and the support was added to OpenEmulator, Virtual II, MAME, microM8, EPPLEII. Just that “most” files read with AppleSauce to .a2r and then converted to.woz do exist on cracked .dsk format already. Most? What an excuse?! I was happy (still am) using .dsk ,as it really doesn’t matter what format i load the software in, if it works. But i do see .woz as important preservation/archive-format absolutely. It is the future.

John K. Morris have done absolutely phenomenal job with the .a2r and .woz formats as well with the AppleSauce-device itself and the software supporting it. This is absolutely what we needed in the Apple II community hands down! The other preservation efforts have not been as successful what comes to Apple II software by far sight – and we do not have too much time to loose in sake of preservation either. John also did upgrade the .woz format and the board PCB lately and you could get the upgrade board from him directly for nominal fee if you bought the first revision device.

We own you a lot John.

About the wDrive:

product_s

BUT. As “wDrive” got also .dsk, .po, .do support lately, i thought to give it a try. Why not. I’ve had heard mostly only (if not all) positive comments about the device and the developer have been actively updating the firmware that is good for the users. 

“wDrive” is designed and manufactured by “KbooHK” out of Hongkong, China. It was the first device to support the new .woz format in 2018 that are created with AppleSauce-device (.a2r -> woz). The support for .woz arrived for the Floppyemu as well, about the same time i received wDrive from Hongkong.

wDrive specifications are as follows (from kboohk.com):
-5.25″ disk image formats: .dsk, .do, .po, .nib, .edf, .woz (version 1.0 & 2.0).
-Disk image read/write.
-FAT16, FAT32 formatted SD, SDHC and SDXC memory cards.
-Maximum files in each folder limited to 100.
-Maximum levels of sub folder limited to 10.
-Firmware is upgradeable.
-Dimensions are : 70mm x 40mm x 20mm.
-It comes with 20-pin flat ribbon cable.
-Includes also a 3D Printed case (color of chosing) with buttons and display.

KbooHK offers online file converter tool at their webpage, http://kboohk.com/dsk2woz/  for converting files to different formats (some format-to-format conversions are not yet supported however as of today):

.edd > .nib, .woz, .edf
.dsk > .nib, .woz, .edf
.po > .nib, .woz, .edf
.do > .nib, .woz, .edf
.zip > .nib, .woz, .edf

I’d like to see this released as offline tool as well. You never know how long this tool get’s supported, or maintained in online location. There’s however other tools for these conversions available as well, .dsk to .woz.

I however fail to see the need to convert non copyproteced disk images to .woz, but it’s available. Maybe i’m missing something here?

INSTALLATION:

The wDrive is very easy to install as any Disk II drive would be. Just look at the orientation of the cable and plug it in the Disk II interface card.

idc20todb19_adapter-s
or with adapter :

..or with suitable adapter if you’re using //c, //c+ or IIGS. I tested the wDrive with Apple //e, //c and //c+. Using the wDrive required adapter with //c and //c+, IDC20>DB19 (thanks to a2heaven.com)

THE wDRIVE ITSELF:

display_s

The display:
Nice thing about the wDrive’s display is that the chosen file, the font, get’s bigger and highlighted when it’s chosen. The built-in LED shows when the file is accessed. If anything to improve, the display could be upgraded to OLED for better quaility reading like in WiModem232-OLED but that might be more expensive option. The display have great feeling of old Nokia phones that is very nice and suits the use very nicely actually.

The Buttons:
UP – SELECT – DOWN + RESET (on right side)
Navigating thru the files and folders is done by buttons in front of the enclousure. UP, SELECT and DOWN and in the right side there’s the RESET button. The buttons however are quite slow and unresponsible in my opinion and need pressing harder that one would maybe expect. But that’s something to get used to.

3d_printed_case_3_s

The Case:
The 3d-printed case is good quality (at the time of odering only frosted-transparent was available) and it’s really nice small and light weighted. The print quality is fine, as it’s 3d printed you can see the printhead marks but i don’t see that as a issue of anykind. The casing is very smooth, cute and small.

3d_printed_case_2_s

SD-card slot:
The SD-card slot is in the front and the card it inserted upside down (label facing down). The drive looks like an small 3.5″ drive.

USAGE:

apple_iic_romx5_gaming_wdrive_woz_s

Using the wDrive with Apple //e was very straight forward. Just plug it in and use. Every .woz file i used loaded perfectly and worked fine. The device is using regular SD-cards as storage medium.

With Apple //c and //c+ (both had custom ROM’s on them) it was different. The //c would not boot every .woz image due the restrictions of the model, as it’s external drive and some software are hardcoded to boot from internal drive only. With the //c+ this wasn’t the case, it booted everything i could throw at it and the loading times were quite fast. 

wDrive vs Floppyemu disk image loading times differences?

I tested few .woz files with both (Apple //c+@4MHz), wDrive and the Floppyemu (Rev.A with latest “beta” .woz firmware) and both were about the same. I’d say there’s no performance differences between these two drives.

online_converter_too_s
Converter software online:  http://kboohk.com/dsk2woz/ 

.edd > .nib, .woz, .edf
.dsk > .nib, .woz, .edf
.po > .nib, .woz, .edf
.do > .nib, .woz, .edf
.zip > .nib, .woz, .edf

Usefull converting might be the .edd > .woz (but it isn’t supported yet). Converting non protected format to .woz would serve no purpose in my mind.

I tested several (known good) .edd-files and converted them to .edf with this tool and the .edf files booted fine with the wDrive. Edd-file format might be pretty much obsolete now as everything is moving towards .woz but there might be some cases it might be proven usefull.

OTHER TOOLS:

Other tools for manipulating WOZ-files:
https://applesaucefdc.com/woz/

wozardry
A multipurpose tool for manipulating WOZ disk images.
https://github.com/a2-4am/wozardry

dsk2woz
A tool for converting DSK images to WOZ format.
https://github.com/TomHarte/dsk2woz

Apple II Disk Browser
A tool that allows you to view the contents of disk images.
https://github.com/dmolony/DiskBrowser

DskToWoz2
A tool that converts DSK images into WOZ 2.0 format.
https://github.com/cmosher01/DskToWoz2

THOUGHTS?

floppyemu_and_wdrive_s
wDrive reminds a lot of FloppyEmu, the design is similar, the size is similar, the display is similar.  Differences come from the connectivity. Both are connected with IDC 20-pin (or DB 19-pin connector with adapter) but Floppyemu have support for smartport 3.5″ and HDD devices/images as well. wDrive have support for .edf (from .edd). Both use sd-card as storage medium, wDrive uses the older (regular) sd-card and Floppyemu (B) uses the micro-SD card. It would be nice if the wDrive would support 3.5″ devices/images as well HDD images. Doable with future firmware update maybe?

For the future, as i’m mainly using //e and IIgs, i’d hope, possible “wDrive 2” that would be .. slot based, with on-screen menu, USB-connector for mass storage instead of SD-card and keeping the features what it have now naturally with added smartport support.

Overall, the wDrive does what it is advertiseed for. It’s cheaper than other similar SD-reader solutions for your Apple II and if the external device design doesn’t bother you or lack of smartport device support, this is the product for you. Sadly as when i’m writing this the wDrive is no longer available but it should (?) be available again some time soon.

kboohk
wDrive retails $69.00 + shipping from http://kboohk.com [currently unavailable]

FinApple 2019 (c)
Apple II Forever.

Floppyemu goes .woz!

floppy-emu-woz-r2
What an great suprise! The Floppyemu got support for the .woz format disk-images just recently making it an another device that supports it after KhbooHK’s “wDrive”-device (currently unavailable).

The firmware is considered “beta” at the moment but it’s available here:
https://www.bigmessowires.com/2019/01/24/floppy-emu-adds-woz-support/

for Floppy Emu Model A – apple-II-0.2G-F22 (=model with regular size SD-card)
for Floppy Emu Model B – apple-II-0.2G-F23 (=model with smaller size SD-card)

UPGRADING:

Upgrading is easy task to do yourself. Just download the correct firmware .zip file (different for Model A and Model B), uncompress it, place the two binaries (firmware.xvf and femu.bin) to your SD-card and perform the upgrade process (info from bigmessofwires):

“CPLD firmware”:
1 Hold down the NEXT and PREV buttons.
2. Press and release the RESET button.
3. Continue holding NEXT and PREV until the firmware update process begins (about 3 seconds).
4. Wait 10-15 seconds for the process to complete. Status LED will be flashing.
5. When finished, the LCD will display “RESULT: SUCCESS”

“AVR microcontroller firmware”:
1. Hold down the SELECT and PREV buttons. Note these are not the same buttons as for part 1.
2. Press and release the RESET button.
3. Continue holding SELECT and PREV until the firmware update process begins (about 1 second).
4. Wait 5 seconds for the process to complete. Status LED will be flashing.
5. When finished, the LCD will display self-test information, and the main menu.

USING .WOZ FILES:

display_s
Usage is naturally the same as with other supported file types. If you managed to flash the new firmware the .woz files will appear on the menu. It seems to support both woz revisions, 1 and 2 and it’s listed on screen which one the file is.

gaming_s_s
Using the .woz files doesn’t differ from any other disk image formats. They load up as fast as the non protected images, but they are full reprenentations of the original floppy, 100%. All load screens, start up screens are intact and the the game should work as perfect fashion as it did from original floppy. This is something we havent’t experienced (atleast with the Apple II’s) before. This is how it should be.


OTHER THOUGHTS?

Now only if CFFA3000 would support .woz-format.. or somebody would make similar card. I am mostly //e user so i kind of wish to have slot-based card product that would do all this and more.. I’m sure there would be lots of business to be done with such product..

 

FinApple 2019 (c)
Apple II Forever.

My first Apple //e

monitor_box_s
I found from storage, few boxes i seem to have kept from the first Apple //e i got. I got it somewhere around 2010 or so, i can’t really remember. I was meeting this one guy where i was picking actually some vintage Macintosh stuff like IIfx etc but he had also the //e for sale and he ended up making good offer for it as well so i bought it. I had not seen or touched Apple II before as they were not that popular among young people back in 80’s. Finland was really a “Commodore Country”. I got the things packaged in boxes for Monitor II and Imagewriter. 

monitor_box_s_1
The Monitor II came in it’s original box. Just could not throw it away even i’m not per say, box collector. Just don’t have the storage space for them.

printer_box_for_apple_iie_s
The Apple //e came in Imagewriter box. Why not. Fits there nicely.

labels_s
Original shipping information. OY Mercantile AB imported Apple/Macintosh to Finland in 1980’s.

my_first_apple_iie_s-copy
The Apple II i bought was obiously used non enhanced Apple //e with Swedish/Finnish keyboard, two Disk II’s (only one worked actually), Monitor II and some (sealed) manuals, user guides and some disks. I think i got original VisiCalc-set as well. That was my first touch with Apple II’s.

manuals_s
Nice sealed manuals.

user_guides_s
And few more.

FinApple 2019 (c)
Apple //e Forever.

 

Fujitsu 12″ LCD POS display:

apple_iic_setup_s
Thanks to a friend, i got a tip of a nice small 12″ industrial POS (Point of Sale) LCD monitor with touch screen support, that would work and fit nicely with Apple II’s. The size and color felt just correct so i had to try one and buy it. These were previously used and cost around 39€ +shipping from Germany so total cost would not be that high. It arrived safely after a week and it was well packaged and in OK condition, just really few minor scratches barely notiseable at all. 

Specs of the display: 

Model: Fujitsu 3000LCD12 
-Size : 31,1 cm (12″)
-Resolution : 800×600
-Video inputs: VGA, DVI
-Audio: Audio-in
-Connectors: Powered pUSB 
-Touchscreen support
-Powersupply adaptor with powercable.

 
TESTING:

I tested the display with few of my II’s that have VGA-connectors:

apple_iic_setup_2_game_on_s
Apple //c (PAL) (VGA, a2heaven.com adapter) 

When the unit is connected to the AC it starts to whine/buzz very annoyingly. I am not sure if this that this unit is fawlty or it’s by design (hard to believe that). The whining noise does not disappear and it really prevents me using the display with VGA connected devices. I swapped the power extension, tried plugging it in different socket/room but it did not make an difference. To be sure, i also tested with modern PC laptop with VGA output on it, the same noise continued. So sad. The design was really nice and color suitable for Apple II’s.

apple_iie_platinum_setup_s
Apple //e platinum (NTSC) (VGA, RWIII-adapter) 

apple_iigs_setup_s
Apple IIgs (NTSC) (ROM3, DVI, Nishida DVI-adapter) 

With DVI there’s no that whining/buzzing sound. The picture quality was as good as it would be with the DVI being digital. It fits nicely in top of the IIgs as well making it pretty nice setup all together.

AUDIO:

Apple //e platinum and MEGA audio:
Audio quality is weak as one would expect from such tiny speakers. There’s barely no bass and the sound is very thin.
These are just ment for beebs and such with POS systems and not great solution for gamers or users needing better audio quality.

Apple IIgs with Darksound:
No difference here. The same thin sound is outputed here as well. I would not use this monitor for gaming with these speakers.

THOUGHTS?

game_screen_s

These are ment for POS-systems so they are made for different purposes. The picture quality is quite ok and the colors are deep and resolution is fine no artifacts. The black is really black. With this model i could not find any adjustment’s that could be done as there is such with the 15″-model. This have touch screen support built-in but it’s not useable with retro-computers. The build quality is quite fine, expect i notised (keep in mind these are pre-used) the front panel went down if it was pressed. The stand is quite heavy duty made but you really need to diassemble it if you want to install the video cables but again, this is for the industrial use. The big problem i had with this was the whining-buzzing sound it outputted when the AC was plugged in. With DVI it disappears but with VGA it did not. So it really could not be used with VGA at all. The noise was just too annoying! I am not sure as of yet if i need to return it. If RMA requires me paying for the return shipping it might not just be worth it – cheaper and easier to buy an another if needed but i’m not going to get an another right now.

FinApple 2019 (c)
Apple II Forever.

Apple /// Softcard ///

The Softcard /// was produced by Microsoft specifically for the Apple ///. It was basically the same as the original Softcard produced for the Apple II which was Microsofts’s very first hardware product. The Softcard /// was just redesigned to fit inside the Apple III. The Softcard /// gave the Apple /// the ability to run the CP/M operating system and included a Z-80 CPU with 64k RAM. Relased in June 1980.

I’ve kind of wanted this card for some time and been looking for one but so often the price have been too high for me and availability has been quite poor. Luckily recently i was able to win auction that had the card and two floppies with it.

card_s
-Softcard /// 
-SOS-CP/M Utilities Diskette (076-0001) Apple 1982
-Apple Softcard III CP/M Master Diskette v2.20 (076-0002) Apple 1982

The manuals were missing but i believe i have most of the manuals that belong to the original package as well the CP/M book by Osbourne.

INSTALLATION:

What the manuals mentions that the card can be inserted in any slot but slot 2 is recommended. One drive is needed, but two drives are recommended naturally for smoother experience and usage. Also the 5-megabyte ProFile hardrive is supported.

I installed the card to the Apple /// that had Titan /// plus // & Titan /// plus //e – cards and the “OnThree” 512k memory expansion -card installed. That would make the /// even more usefull with even larger software support :

– Apple /// 256k/512k 
– Apple //e 128k 65C02
– CP/M 56k

My setup was as follows:

a3_cards_installed_s

#1 – Softcard ///  
#2 – Titan /// plus //
#3 – Titan /// plus //e
#4 – CFFA3000 (for Apple II-testing purposes)

This all reminds me of Commodore 128. You could run C64, C128 and CP/M software on it as it had dual processors inside:
-MOS 8502 @ 2 MHz (C64 & C128)
-Zilog Z80B @ 2 MHz (CP/M)

 

WHAT NEXT?

setup_s

Next step is to install the ClassicIDE-card with CF-card acting as HDD. I’ve had the card for years but there haven’t been much use for it after getting CFFA3000 for the IIGS. The ClassicIDE should work with the /// with CFFA-driver but that’s something to be seen. The physical space is very limited so i need to get an angled IDE-adapter in order to install the CF-card.

I do have 5MB Profile drive but .. it’s really noisy and how realible it is, who knows. If that can be modernized with CF-card, it’s fine with me.

I do have the “Legend Memory S-Card” that i thought to put on /// but right now i’m running out of slots.  I might install it to my another /// that is quite in stock condition, only calendar/clock-battery added so far. Just need to get RAM-chips to it..

There’s not lots of options for OS’s to be run with the ///:
-SOS
-DOS 3.3
-ProDOS 2.4.2
-GEOS
-A2Desktop
-Mousedesk
-CP/M
-BOS

That reminds me, i should install and test the mousecard with the /// (& //e emulation).

THOUGHTS?

Running CP/M software with Apple /// at the time, was as uselfull as it was for Apple II’s. There were large base of business software made already for CP/M when the /// was released so it was usefull addition to your ///. In this case as i have both of the  Titan cards on my /// the support for different software is quite maximized as the Titans allows 128k 65c02 Apple //e software run on the ///.

There were never that much software released for ///.. You bought your expensive and unrealiable /// and used  Apple II and CP/M software on it..sad. The /// had great potential.

 

FinApple 2019 (c)
Apple /// Forever.

Apples in Apples: //e in ///

a3_general_s
Yet another ///? But why, would many people ask. But it’s just not that simple. I just HAD TO HAVE this one (that’s what they all say right?). It had few very rare and hard to find cards i have wanted for long time: both Titan-cards (Titan /// plus // & /// plus //e) and the “On Three” 512k Memory expansion-card among other things.

a3_computerland_s
This /// have seen the world.. From Texas to Canada and then all the way to Finland.

I realized the shipping would be risky.. and expensive as this /// was shipped (insured) from Canada. Thank god the seller had possiblity and knownledge how to pack it well, so everything went fine and it arrived safely. Only one keycap had popped off, but it was matter of just putting it back, nothing was broken. It was like early geek-christmas gift for me when it arrived!


So what did arrive all across the big waters?

a3_arrived_setup_s
Apple ///
128k model originally, Recapped 115V PSU (just warning sign to myself so i wont power it up with 230V..)

a3_65c02_cpu_s
65C02C CPU was swapped already on board! This is great, the Titan //e card then runs “enhanced” //e 128k software as well.

a3_onthree_oclock_s
..and there were even “OnThree o’clock chip”-installed just missing the battery holder. I’ve never seen the “OnThree o’clock chip”-kit how it looks like or what it did contain, would be interesting to see.

a3_disk_ii_for_iii_s
Disk II for ///
This is early type of drive for the ///. Before Disk /// was released, Apple used the Disk II enclousure and put Disk /// analog board inside the Disk II enclousure. The mechanism is the same and the analog board looks like it had the daisy chaining option added.

a3_disk_ii_for_iii_back_s
Disk II for /// backside:

a3_onthree_512_memory_board_1984_s
On Three 512k Memory expansion card 
With A4-sized user’s guide and original driver/software-floppies. This card is VERY RARE.

a3_titan_iii_plus_ii
Titan /// plus //

a3_titan_iii_plus_e_s
/// Plus //e 

With original manual and driver floppy that however doesn’t boot, but have copy of it. These cards are VERY RARE.

a3_floppies_s
Original floppies:

a3_warranty_s
-Universal Parallel Interface Card – Boxed with floppy and manual.
-SOS Operating System – Boxed with manuals, floppies and paperwork. Not complete but almost.
-Apple extended warranty folder – This is really neat, with original papers and brouchures.
-“Do-it-yourself for Apple ///” – Original booklet by Sun Remarketing .
-Different kinds of Apple broucures from 1980-1982.
-“On three” 3.5” Unidisk driver’s user’s guide A4-sized and driver floppy. I don’t have the interface card (LIRON, Apple 3.5″ Interface card) but i do have 3.5″ Unidisk-drive. I should get the new “The Apple II 3.5″ Disk Controller Card v1.0” by Reactivemicro.com to try this out.

a3_colors_screen_s
-RGB-video cable. This outputs color video from Apple /// to my small LCD/TV. The colors are however NOT totally accurate. Somebody start making good RGB-cables for the the ///… anyone?

 

Universal powersupply:

a3_universal_powersupply_s
Swapped the universal powersupply from reactivemicro.com before powering it first time. For the safety of all the cards and longlivety of the computer itself. The swapping procedure is quite easy, specially for the Apple ///. It requires you just to unplug the old one (see my other post about this earlier : https://finapple.hho.fi/finapple/index.php/2017/06/08/installing-the-universal-power-supply-to-apple/ ). 

I’m suggesting everybody specially with the Apple /// doing this. The /// can have issues of all possible varieties so tacking one from the very early source, the stable powersupply, is really good idea. While swapping the new powersupply, it’s good idea to replace the power cable as well while you are at it.

Titan /// plus // & /// plus //e (Apple //e 65C02 128k):

Good review of the cards can be found from the “On Three Magazine: Volume 5, Issue 7”. There’s pdf of it available in Mike McGinnis’s excelent site : https://www.apple2scans.net 

Just few words about the Titan cards. Titan card-set was great to have back in the day when you had an Apple /// but did not have Apple //e, or you wanted to run them occationally in same computer for reason or an another. The original built-in emulation wasn’t perfect, it was limited to 48k Apple II+ and it wasn’t enough anymore in later part of the 80s when 64k or 128k memory reguirement became more or less standard. The ammount of RAM used by the built-in emulation mode is proven to be impossible to circumvent so far.

Titan card-set basicly gets around those (by hardware) limitations and you’re able to run Apple //e 128k -level emulation. The emulation however is not 100% perfect but depends of your needs, it might be enough. I personally found it interesting (even i have bunch of Apple //e’s of various revisions and models) so i’ve wanted to get one for my Apple /// for ages. You could upgrade your /// board with 65C02 processor to upgrade your //e emulation to “enhanced” as well. Titan Tech. was selling the processor for $35.00 at the time. These Titan cards are VERY RARE.

So how to actually use it?

The Titan cards gets intalled in slots #2 and #3 of the Apple ///. There’s flat ribbon cable that get’s installed between the cards and one cable that is installed to motherboard (Video chip).

(POSSIBLE) SLOT ASSIGNMENTS IN TITAN //e (128K) – EMULATION MODE:

SLOT | NAME USED FOR: 

#1 I/O CARD
=J4 /// plus //e board, BOTH POST = output from Slot 1 will be redirected to builtin RS-232-C serial port.
=J4 /// plus //e board, ONE POST = output from Slot will NOT be redirected to serial port.

#2 I/O CARD
=Titan ///+ – card (must be installed in #2)

#3 80 COL. CARD
=Titan //e – card  (must be installed in #3)

#4 PROFILE
=For modified ProFile card (in //e mode):
-J5 jumper BOTH POSTS = ProFile in //e mode.
-J5 jumper ONE POST = other devices.

#5 PROFILE
=For /// RAM-disk usage only.

#6 DISK DRIVE 1,2
=Only drives 1,2 as in Apple II. No daisy chaining supported.

#7 USED
=Clock/calendar chip. Slot is marked “USED” either it’s installed or not.

Using the Apple //e 128k-emulation:

a3_apple_ii_games_s

By booting the Titan-bootdisk it presents few options:

1) Start using Apple ///
2) Change Apple //e emulation
3) Start Apple //e emulation

#”Start using Apple ///”:
-You can boot SOS-disk and go back to, Apple //e-emulation with “open apple” + pressing and releasing RESET-button and the Titan emulation menu will appear again. I found this this is very, very handy.

Also “open apple” + RESET will bring the Titan emulation menu back when using Apple II programs.  Very handy for changing programs without need to boot the Titan bootdisk again.

#”Change Apple //e emulation”
-Double Hi-res graphics
*Double Hi-res graphics is something that was not in the original emulation options. It is a way of getting the 560×192 pixel graphics display in 80-columns that is available in some IIe programs.
-Printer settings
-Communication settings
-Save settings

#-Start Apple //e emulation
-Insert Apple II disk and press “3” to boot the disk.
 

What? No modern flash storage optinons?

a3_cards_installed_s
Those wondering why not use the CFFA3000? Well you can. But. Apple /// can not boot floppy images from it directly. Only way Apple /// can boot is from internal floppy drive (or emulator attached to the connector) so CFFA3000 is kind of useless in that sense. You can use it for HDD emulation from CF or USB-card or reading floppy disk images from it. The floppy booting option can be used in Apple II (48k/128k) emulation mode as well.

a3_cffa3000_cf_prodos_s
I instaled the CFFA3000 to the only vacant slot of 4 and setup the ProDOS 2.4.2 to smartport (4) and and it worked fine. Acccessing the menu can be done by CALL-15312.

a3_cracking_with_passport_s
It’s strange feeling running Apple /// with //e 128k emulation and cracking Apple II original disks with 4am’s Passport. And it works. Something is silly wrong there… but so right.

 joystick_s
The Titan //e-card have plug for 16-pin joystick. Either dummy block or joystick MUST BE installed or the card WONT WORK. I have dummy block installed (or, selfmade equilevant in this case). I actually have not got around installing joystick to it yet.

ProFile. If you want to use the Profile hardisk with Titan-cards, you need to do small modification to the Profile-interface card. It’s matter of bending few legs of IC-chips, nothing major. The procedure is explained in the Titan manual (pdf).

The Titan-cards are endless source of fun to play with on ///.

“On three” 512k Memory Expansion-board:

on-three-512k-ram-card_s

There’s great writeup at Mike McGinnis-blog at:
http://www.6502lane.net/2011/01/17/a-look-at-on-threes-512k-memory-board-for-the-apple-iii/

Some software supports the board and 512k straight away some may reguire patching with the update floppy provided with the card.

 

THOUGHTS OF IT ALL?

Titan /// plus // & /// plus //e is/was one kind of lifesaver for /// user’s who needed to run //e 128k software. It have it’s tricks and quirks but overall it’s brilliant piece of hardware. Would be awesome if it would be cloned due the nature of it’s rarity so more more /// user’s could have it on their hands and use it. I’ve heard there’s some process of reverse engineering these cards but i don’t have any more information about that if it’s happening or not. All software have worked so far what i’ve tried on but if you need to install card for some certain software that depends it been installed on certain slot, you might get intro troubles. 

The 512k memory expansion is actually usefull if you run your business applications or need RAM-drive. Some software supports it automaticly, some does not and you have to patch it first. I’ll need to dig into this more closer later. I’ve heard there’s some process of reverse engineering this card but i don’t have any more information about that if it’s happening or not.

Sadly the Uthernet II card doesn’t work if you have the Titan cards installed. The ADTpro does boot but it crashes before it finishes loading. Also other software under Apple //e emulation that could use the Uthernet II card, like what i tried: A2osx, IP65:TELNET65 or SMS-EVERNOTE-TELNET-TWEET-package – do not work perfectly.

The Softcard /// works fine with the Titan cards no conflicts there whatsoever.

I’m kind of curious trying the 3.5″ Unidisk drive with the /// but at the moment i can’t afford the interface card. Maybe sometime in 2019 i’ll get the possiblity for this? I not not sure how usefull it would be, but the card can be used with //e or GS mainly so it could be tested with /// as well if i get the card. 

I’ll try get the HDD emulation working with ClassicIDE + CF-card combination. Just need some adapter to be able to install the CF-card into the ClassicIDE.

Thanks to :
Mike McGinnis for great blog at : https:///www.6502lane.net and https://www.apple2scans.net 
– For great information about the Apple /// & scans, diskimages etc. (Appears to be down right now, you can access the site from archive.orgs waybackmachine).

Mike McGinnis & Paul Hagstrom for the great podcast “Drop /// Inches” http://drop-iii-inches.com/
– For great podcast and information about the Apple ///

http://apple3.org
– For all information, pdf, diskimages etc.

rm_logo_jpg
Universal Powersupply is availalble from reactivemicro.com for $70.00 + shipping ($25.00 for the new cable).

 

FinApple 2019 (c)
Apple /// Forever.