Category Archives: Hongkong

vTech Laser 128E/EX/EX2 memory expansion card:

all_parts_for_the_kit_s

This is a clone of memory expansion card for Laser 128E, EX and EX/2 models, 702175 Rev.C – made by Renee Harke. It’s not compatible with the FIRST revision of 128 but is with the later, 128E. I have the -E revision (later motherboard design with the RAM-expansion port).

It provides up to 1MB of “Slinky” RAM for the Laser 128 aka you can use it as RAM-disk etc.

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See more details a:
https://reneeharke.com/tech/2019/12/31/laser-128-memory-expansion.html?fbclid=IwAR0qxykFwOPGudYMXQEdqquYckDdlJE7JZo2yfnLaZVZBsJCILKgBvyK0HY

Renee sells this either as a kit with all parts included or fully soldered ready-to-be-installed.

I bought this as a kit with all parts included because soldering is fun!

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After soldering (took few evenings as i didn’t have the time to put on this project in one-go) i used the quite handy tool sold in ebay (few euro’s) that bends the IC-legs (it has two different sizes) to correct angle – so they are easier to install to the sockets.

 

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I had removed the metal shield already as it’s pain to install back .. so installing the card was pretty easy and straightforward. Renee even included the 3 little screws needed for installation – that’s nice detail and good thinking.

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Installing the case back together is slightly more frustating compared to //c – even it’s very similar design. I’m really not a fan of the plastics vTech used…

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Also need to configure the Slot 5 as “INTERNAL” for the RAM.

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The internal RAM test can be found from the monitor (CALL-151) and then typing C50AG  … i was happy my soldering was successfull…. it worked!

 

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..and it was seen by the ProDOS as correct size.

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FinApple 2020 (c)
Apple II Forever.

 

 

 

 

vTech Laser 128EX:

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Latest acquisition to my collection is finally here: the vTech Laser 128EX !

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Compared to the 128E that i already have, the EX is slightly different, internally. It have added 64k of Video RAM on board as well the the board design itself is slightly diffrent. It have the faster 65C02 processor with possiblity to adjust the speed from standard 1MHz to 2.3 or even to 3.6MHz. So in a way it makes it something between Apple //c and Apple //c+ in a odd clone way.

The 128E had also the memory expansion slot (just no card preinstalled) as the EX model does. The EX however was delivered from the factory with the card, i’m not certain how much, if any, RAM they included. I’ve heard 128k and 256k but i’m not sure of it.

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Mine came with 256K RAM on the expansion card and i thought adding it to full 1MB – as of – why not?

RAM card : 256k X 1 chips (41256) 120ns

8  chips = 256K *installed*
16 chips = 512k
24 chips = 768k
32 chips = 1MB

ram_borrowed_from_s

I had an extra original Apple IIGS RAM card that had the same memory type installed so i just “borrowed” the chips from to this card so it have now full 1MB (256k x 1 DRAM).

I saw in facebook that you can test the installed ram with internal ram test with C50AG from monitor. It showed no errors.

The unit came with the correct ROM version, 6.0. That was the last revision for EX. The version 6.1 was then later released for the EX/2 that was the last of the Apple II compatible models they produced. There were more-or-less secret plans of clone model of Apple IIGS but it never materialized. I believe it was shown/demoed at some Applefest in early 90’s in the States but very little information is available about it. Now think of that…

Changing the speed of CPU is fairly easy, either from the boot by pressing “1” = 1 Mhz, “2” = 2.3MHz, “3” = 3.6MHz or simply  CTRL+RESET+1, 2 or 3. The cursor shoud flicker faster in faster modes, or just CTRL+G giving the different pitched beeb.

 

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There’s also port setup menu that you can access by CTRL+RESET+P.

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Undermeath of the unit there’s the same options for altering the setup of the slot assignments as in Laser 128E. You can enable the external or internal slots 5 and 7. I’ve wondered if i should change the crystal and add the switch for LCD panel for one and see if it would work as PAL unit… but both my Laser’s are so good condition i don’t really want to mess with them. I need project unit for that….

The slot assignments are:

SLOT 0 = Built-in 40-col display
SLOT 1 = Parallel/Serial printer interface 
SLOT 2 = Serial communication interface
SLOT 3 = Built-in 80-col display 
SLOT 4 = Mouse interface 
SLOT 5 = 1 Megabyte expansion RAM interface // External slot 
SLOT 6 = Built-in 5.25″ disk drive interface 
SLOT 7 = Built-in 3.5″ disk drive interface // External slot 

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I actually like this model – yes the plastic is bit cheap(ish) and the keyboard is not really that great compared to let’s say 4100-serie Apple //c or //c+ but it’s good in it’s own way. The model is almost like tuned up //c with Zipchip 4000, ROM4x, Unidisk 3.5″ and 1MB RAM added to it. Wish to have the VGA-adapter for it however.

 

FinApple 2020 (c)
Apple II Forever.