Category Archives: Software

APMSX-card: MSX for Apple II – Part 1

board_details_s

APMSX-card is “Turbo Speed” MSX-computer-in-a-card solution for Apple //e enhanced (ntsc) and Apple IIGS. It doesn’t work in Apple II, II+, //c (no slots.. sorry Javier).

It is deloped by Ian Kim of Apple2.net out of South Korea, who is prominent Apple II hardware developer who have made many other products in a past, like the following :

-SEGA/ColecoVision-card (Z80+VPD)
-Mockingboard 4d (for Apple //c)
-Joypad for Apple II
-Z80 CP/M card
-SD Disk II+ 
-PS/2 adapter
-SD Smart Drive
-SD Music Card
-Hyperion 512k RAM-card

Ian used years in order getting it all together. Being in edge for abandoning whole project but with strong will he pulled it together! That was major task. It was risky project as it was known it would not be cheap card to develop, produce or sell.

What is MSX?

800px-msx-logo-svg

MSX was a 8-bit home micro computer standard founded by Microsoft and ASCII in 1983 trying to create standard for home computers like VHS was at home video tape machines.

MSX was specially popular in Japan even it was sold around the world – being moderately popular in europe, specially The Netherlands. 

MSX hardware was built around Zilog’s Z80 processor and usually 64k of RAM.

More can be read from : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MSX

MSX is also very much alive among hobbysits around the world, with new hardware and software coming out all the time. 

My first computer was Spectravideo SVI-728 MSX so this is like coming to the roots for me. The SVI-728 MSX was quite popular in Finland at the time, but nothing like Commodore 64 was. I only had the MSX for some years and it got replaced with Commodore 128 soon after and shortly with Amiga 500. The games i remember playing with the MSX were “Yie Ar Kung Fu 2”, “King’s Valley”, “Zoids”, “Oh Shit!” (later renamed to “Oh No!” for obious reasons) and some games translated from Spectrum. Getting games was difficult in my circles as everybody had Commodore 64.. so i was kind of was forced to get Commodore. I did like those Konami module games (even expensive) they were really smooth running.


APMSX:

apmsx_card_delivery_s

APMSX comes with:

– APMSX-card
– Joypad and extension adapter-cable  
– PS/2 extension cable for PS/2 keyboard (for full MSX usage)
– Video cable (APMSX to Apple //e)

You need to supply your own video and audio cables.

Originally APMSX-card was supposed to have slot for cartridge games but it was dropped due high cost and not 100% proven compability. That would have been really amazing if that could have worked for sure.

The APMSX-card can be used in many ways and purposes:

1) MSX computer with loading .ROM images directly from card reader.
2) MSX computer with HDD support (SD Disk II+ is needed)
3) Z80 Softcard Compatible CP/M 80 card.
4) 512k RAM card for Apple //e (even during the MSX runnning software)
5) Z80 CPU as co-prosessor, graphics accelarator or sound processor … etc etc…

The processor can be run in different speeds (MSX software) 4MHz, 8MHz and 16Mhz. The 3.58 and 7.16Mhz work only with DMA access of Apple II BUS (i.e. accessing SD Disk II+ in HDD mode).

Conviniently the MSX and Apple II can run at the same time. APMSX basicly is overclocked MSX computer up to 16MHz!

 

APMSX V1.23a
-MSX1 compatible
-VDP: TMS9918 (NTSC)
-PSG: AY3-8910
-RAM: 512KB SRAM
-CPU: Z80 Clock speed; 3.58Mhz, 7.16Mhz, 4Mhz, 8Mhz, 16Mhz.
-Mega RAM Mapper support: 256KB Mega RAM Mapper
-Mega ROM Mapper support: 256KB Mega ROM Mapper (Konami ROM Mapper, ASCII 8K/16k)
-DMA BUS share of Apple II resources RAM and I/O peripherals.
-Keyboard: 1 x PS2 Keyboard port
-Joystick: 1 x MSX DB9 standard port

Compatible with *NTSC* Apple //e enhanced and IIGS. With IIGS it however have some limitations with dual working with APMSX, limited memory card access, but general running MSX games or programming doesn’t have a problem on IIGS.

ROM images can be load from ProDOS .HDV hdd file where they can be launced from any suitable sd/usb/cf-card that supports HDD images.

To use the HDD in MSX mode, you need SD Disk II+ device, as there’s drivers/support only for it.

 
Installation:

apmsx_card_installed_1_s

I installed it to my Apple //e enhanced (ntsc) with just minimal cards on it. The power supply is pretty strong (AE Heavy Duty) but i do not remember if it was recapped or not.. so ..

– Apple //e enhanced (ntsc).
– My LG LCD/TV does not accept correctly the NTSC color signal. Some games did load with colors occationally,  but the colors are not correct in all titles. Need one that does PAL and NTSC correctly..
– APMSX works in any slot expect 3) but but suggested slot to use is 4 as the ready loaders (made in basic) are assuming slot 4. Easy to change however. I had the free slot so i went with the slot 4 here.

AUX – RamWorks8M (a2heaven)
SLOT 7 – Apple disk i/o card
SLOT 6 – SD Disk II+ (4GB SD-CARD) + ext. dial with display unit 
SLOT 4 – APMSX 

sdpluscard_s
SD DISK II+ for HDD in MSX mode support.

apmsx_and_connectors_s

Connections to be made:

-Joystick – extension cable with adapter to joystick 
-Audio OUT 1.5mm
-Video OUT RCA 3.5mm
-PS2 keyboard – Keyboard PS/2 connector for external keyboard
-Apple II video in – Video IN  > connected to //e board mudulator output
-Choose between IIgs/IIe

I used composite-SCART adapter to get video and audio to my LCD/TV.

 

Using the MSX:

PS/2 keyboard is needed if you need any keys pressed for the software/games or you want to use the card as actual MSX-computer.  The PS/2-USB adapter will NOT work. Luckily the PS/2 keyboards are still pretty easy to get. I obtained two different models, both basicly new. Sadly they were swe/fin layout so it’s hit-and-miss using it. If there would be more frequent use i’d get US/UK layout model for sure.

Ian Kim, the developer of the APMSX-card, provides few sample .hdv images to buying customers only as well complate user’s guide.

“APMSX.HDV” HDV-image is for starting the APMSX card. It is Prodos format including lots of .rom and other MSX-files.

If you want to use the MSX hard disk image, you need to connect it to D2 to be used by SD Disk II plus-device (no drivers for other hardware card reader solutions as of yet).

It is possible to use both computers with their own displays! This is somehing i didn’t yet test of. I only focused on playing games from the .rom files 🙂

 

MSX software:

As my display does not display NTSC correctly some colors are not correct. As well for some reasons, occationally starting the games they were black/white. Not correct sync on NTSC signal. This is something i need to invest on.

Switching from MSX mode back to Apple II is done by CTRL+RESET.

game_screen_colors_s ntsc_game_loaded_bad_s
With colors (not correct ntsc) – Black & White (ntsc)

game_screen_colors_2_s
But playability on games such “Yie Ar Kung-Fu II” (Konami) was absolute fun! This game i had as a cartridge back in the day. And yes i’m not that good on it even after all these years… These popular kungfu games were all bascily the same, fighting against enemy screen by screen and finally the big boss. The graphics just changed as well the movements. These cartridge games by Konami are really top-notch quality!

Video in youtube: https://youtu.be/tOPQe0SgrLs

msx_game_knightmare
Another MSX-favorite of mine “Knightmare” played great. It have very clear and arcade styled graphics and very enjoyable gameplay. This is one of the games i come back and play few rounds with.

 

msx_demo_screen_1_s
There were even some MSX-demos on hdv image file. I’ll need to find more of these – i have not followed the MSX-scene for years..

 

msx_demo_unleashed_s
“MSX unleashed” – demo.

 

Thoughts?

The card is NOT cheap investment if you want to use it for gaming and in real MSX-computer mode, you’ll need the SD Disk II+ device as well. With that money you can actually buy an real MSX/MSX2 – computer, not sure what those MSX sd/usb solutions cost but possibly still cheaper. But remember, it took years to develop the card as well, building this card is not cheap either. But for simple MSX game/rom playing, you don’t need SD Disk II+ device, just some device that does ProDOS HDD emulation is enough.

But it really depends. This is extermely compact and convinient solution with lots of other possiblities for hacker-mindeded persons as the card lives alongside the Apple II. It can be made to be much more what it currenly is in the future. The one minor setback is that only SD Disk II+ card is supported if you want to have HDD in MSX-mode. Somebody for a task to write driver for CFFA3000? 

Playing games was easy. Just needed to boot the ProDOS HDD-image and start the game by loading the ROM. For some games there’s ready made basic loader but with APMSX-loader program you could load any ROM easily. For some reasons they do not always start. I am not sure if it’s my setup or what’s the problem. But Ian’s manual mentions this as well. But after reloading or even rebooting, all the games/software on the image worked and were fast as they should to be playable. I didn’t notise any graphical or audio issues. Only my display lacking the real NTSC support was issue for me. For playing i used either the pad that was supplied with the card or my old-favorite, TAC-2. 

The actual MSX-computer mode i didn’t use much yet. That i will get into later as well the CP/M and using the card as RAM expansion etc. More in Part 2.

..i hope someday somebody would do Atari2600/5200/7800 card as well.. that would be neat as well! Why? Because, why not!

 

logo_ians_dream

APMSX is available from:
apple2.net

FinApple 2019 (c)
Apple II Forever.

 

Tillbehör till Apple!

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Just few finds lately,

Apple II & /// brouchure “Tillbehör till Apple” (Gylling System-Elektronik AB), Febuari 1982, In Swedish. In English it would be translated as “Accessories for Apple”. It lists all kinds of producs that were available for Apple II and /// in Sweden, late 1981-early 1982.

Disk II analog board, for repairing some Disk II drive i have with missing analog board/broken parts. Never have too many of these. Actually i could use complate DISK II-drive without the enclousure, to replace one early DISK /// (in Disk II enclousure) mechanical parts. Contact me if you have one?

 

“Tillbehör till Apple” PDF (OCR in Swedish) is available here: https://archive.org/details/Tillbehor_Till_Apple

The quality is not perfect. This is first scannings with the new CZUR AURA book scanner and i’ve not got the setup pefected as of yet. I might rescan this but here it is for time being.

 

FinApple 2019 (c)
Apple II Forever.

Applesauce client v1.1 with 3.5″ disks

devices_s

John Morris, the developer of Applesauce device has added support for 3.5″ drives and also released sync-sensor for the drive to be used. Applesauce client v1.1 was released in (5.5.2019) and it supported fully the Apple 3.5″ drive, reading and writing back to the disk.

Installation:

It’s easiest to follow the teardown instructions by ifixit.com  
https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Apple+3.5+Drive+External+Floppy+Drive+Teardown/92324

installed_edit_s

The sync-sensor is installed next to the spinning wheel of the 3.5″ drive in bottom. The idea is the same, basicly the sensor reads the magnet strip that is installed to the spinning wheel for more accurate location of the disk.

There is room for the sync-sensor cable to route if out of the case along with the connector cable.

Testing?

writing_disk_s

I had only few original 3.5″ (Apple IIGS) floppies so i chose the “Marble Madness” that i had in hand. I first read the .a2r flux image out of the disk and then made .woz out of it (analyze and save). The .woz file then can be written back to blank disk.

working_copy_booted_s
I booted the written copy with my IIGS (ROM3) and it worked perfectly. Pretty amazing!

marble-madness-disk-1-side-0_s marble-madness_sync-disk-1-side-0_s

“Marble Madness” (GS) – without the sync-sensor installed vs with sync-sensor installed (both booted).

John Morris about the copy protction at twitter:
“Marble Madness has an “impossible to copy” track at $20 side 1 (400+ nibbles too big) that was clocked in a way that the IIgs couldn’t write out. Applesauce detects the abnormality and re-clocks the write on the fly. This exact protection scheme proved to be so effective that many competing publishers adopted it. It evolved a bit over the years, but largely remained the same. It is structured in a way that sector copiers think they copied it, but the sectors were actually just a decoy”.

This shows how genious the Applesauce client (and John) really is! 

Applesauce can be bought from:
https://applesaucefdc.com

FinApple 2019 (c)
Apple II Forever.

 

 

Kasettilamerit: rescuing Turku GameLab Apple II disk collection:

screen-shot-2019-02-13-at-22-44-59

Turku Gamelab borrowed about 80 pcs of Apple II 5.25″ floppies to be preserved. Some of the disks were original, some typical “backup” material that went from hand-to-hand among the hobbyists back in 80’s. Most likely most of the material is preserved already, but.. who knows. Just in case.

The floppies were read with Applesauce device and saved as .a2r and then converted to .woz, the format that is more useable. Most emulators read .woz files thesedays as well some hardware devices to be used the the real Apple II hardware.

Some images had personal information so they were excluded from the collection.

Most intresting find was those few graphical rolling on-screen demos made for Finnish electronics retailer “Mustapörssi”. There were demos for “Access //” and “AppleWorks”programs. Mustapörssi sold Apple II’s in mid to late 90’s, atleast //c and IIe.

AppleWorks:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzAFmMdWzmY

Access //:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRv_-HY6dW0

The collection is downloadable at:
https://archive.org/details/TurkuGameLabAppleIICollection

The .woz files can be loaded with emulators like: OpenEmulator (macOS), Virtual II (macOS), MAME, microM8, EPPLEII.

Or with card readers for real Apple II’s like: wDrive or Floppyemu.

 

Finapple 2019 (c)
Apple II Forever

 

Apple Plot med Apple Plot Kurvor Och Diagram:

002_s

Recent find, this time nice sealed software with Swedish manual (to be scanned):

Apple Plot (Sealed)

-Manual (English)
-Apple Plot Kurvor Och Diagram (Gylling & Co. AB, 1981, In Swedish)

 

001_s

Apple Plot is a program that allows you to create, manipulate, display and print graphs and charts.

 

003_s

I didn’t open the shrink wrap and test the floppy. I do however have the floppy and manual already in my collection.

 

Hope to find more Nordic Apple II and /// material!

FinApple 2019 (c)
Apple II Forever.

 

Apple III PFS report med Handledning för användaren:

booklet_and_keyboard_s

Found an nice boxed copy of “FPS: Report” for Apple ///. What makes it interesting (to me) is that it’s complete set (it looks like it) and it’s localized version and have two manuals in Swedish. These localized materials are very interesting to me.

 

box_opened_s

PFS: Report (Apple ///)
-Two software floppies “Report”, “Softwork”
-FPS: Software Catalog
-FPS: Report – Manual (Ringbound, In English)
-FPS: Report – Handledning för användaren (Two Swedish manuals/are the same)

 

The disks are now imaged to .dsk and .woz and available in “ususal places”.

I’ll scan the Swedish manual when i finally.. someday, do receive the new book scanner i’ve ordered.

 

These kinds of finds keep me going with this hobby!

Please contact me if you have more Nordic Apple II or /// software, manuals – or anything.

 

FinApple 2019 (c)
Apple /// Forever

“Bridge Challenger” (Personal Software, Casette):

casette_sBRIDGE CHALLENGER 
By George Dulsman. A bridge playing program for the Apple II. 16K RAM. $14.95

whole_set_s
Local, Finnish Apple II history at it’s best! Got this with the recent Apple II-clone “BOSS-1”.

cover_s
-Apple II 16k RAM.
-Clear plastic box cover missing. Will try to find replacement for this somehow.
-Box have marking of original price of “100,-” in backside.
-Original receipt for “100mk” (Topdata Oy, Helsinki, 2/10/82)
-Original manual, loading instructions and warranty card.

original_receipt_s
Original receipt

loading_s
Loading instructions

The digitized file of the tape is available from Brutaldeluxe already:
https://www.brutaldeluxe.fr/projects/cassettes/personalsoftware/

The game manual and and paper stuff from the box scanned here:
https://archive.org/details/BridgeChallengerPersonalSoftware1978InstructionsLeaflet

 

FinApple 2019 (c)
Apple II Forever.

Apple II and /// software finds

falk_ii_screen_jpg2461
FALK II

Found some interesting boxed software sometime ago. All in great condition and complete so far i can tell. What makes it more interesting (for preservation and locality sense) some are in Swedish.

These all are now preserved in .woz format. The manuals are to be scanned later when i get a new book scanner (2019).

pfs-graph_s
pfs: Graph (Apple II)

pfs-report_s
pfs: Report (Apple II)

falk_ii_cover_s
FALK II (Apple II, Swedish)

falk_ii_2_s
FALK II (Apple II, Swedish)

falk_1_s
FALK II (Apple II, Swedish)

falk_ii_manual_s
FALK II (Apple II, Swedish)

pfs-file_s
pfs: file (Apple ///)

a3_writer_iii
Apple Writer /// (Apple /// – with Swedish floppy and manual)

a3_writer_iii_swe
Apple Writer /// (Apple /// – with Swedish floppy and manual)

 

Things kinds of finds keep me going with this hobby!

 

FinApple 2018 (c)
Apple II & /// Forever.

 

 

p.s. Please contact me if you have more Nordic Apple II or /// software! 

 

Roadtrip: Swedish Apple’s

It all begins when i was contacted by Peter Fuks, who was an Chairman of the AUG (Apple User’s Group Sweden) in 1999-2002.

http://A2central.com
Apple User Group of Sweden – formed in the early 1980s, the AUG still has 30-35 enthusiastic members. The group usually meets twice a year in Stockholm and Gothenburg, usually 5-10 people each, and has an extensive software library, ”mostly older games on 5.25? disks. To join the group, the fee is 150 Swedish crowns (US $10) per year. For more information, visit the group’s web site at http://www.appleusergroup.org.

So Peter offered some Apple ][ material he needed to dispose due need of space and lack of time as well other hobbies taking time when he got retired and he knew i could preserve the software and if there were, anything else, paper material for the other users and for the future.

I was very honored and we figured out the dates as i’d need to travel from Finland to Sweden with ferry and take my car with me. It took some months to find the suitable dates and i booked the tickets to Viking Line-ferry that goes from Helsinki to Stockholm. It’s about 16.5 hour per side with the boat so it would take about two days for the trip in total.

Leaving: “It was Roadtrip time!”on_boat_s
So it was roadtrip time! My friend Marko joined me to the trip and i picked him from train station and we headed to the ferry. I booked the tickets so i could drive the car in the boat first, and get out, first. That would save time and nerves.

leaving_boat_inside_s
Lots of cars and trucks use the ferries to get over the sea to Sweden.

Arriving: “SĂĄ här är vi i sverige”
Arriving at 10:00 to Sweden. Weather was nice but slightly clowdy. Nice and dry compared to Finland when we left..

Driving to: “On our way to Järfälla”
Järfälla is about 20km away from downtown Stockholm to north-west so it’s rather easy task to drive there and back. There’s not that much time as the boat leaves back in afternoon but enough for quick round trip there. Or so we thought.. My GPS-navigator is about 10 years old that was however ok, it did work out well. Just IF i would have believed the route it offered.. I tried to use my own very easy, very fast route that i could now however track from the GPS-device itself…  so we drove some 15km to wrong direction first then i started to actually pay attention to the GPS and changed the route… and we found the place. Rather easily in the end 🙂

At Peter’s home: “Meeting Peter”
jorma_peter_marko_s
Me, Peter and Marko:

Peter and his wife, Gunnel, were waiting. So we drinked some coffee, talked about the tech in general (Peter collects old radios and those are so beautiful!) and the loaded up the car. We were sadly bit on a tight schedule so there were not so much time i was hoping. Peter and Gunnel were as nice people as you could think of.

Peter’s Computers:
peter_fuks_s

Peter have/have had, lots of Apple ][ computers over the years. He had kept two i think, of Apple //e’s. The main unit he had was really COOL hacked one with just motherboard inside, external keyboard, HDD, 5.25″ and 3.5″ drives with powersupply in another external case!
He had Slotbuster, Phasor cards on his board among PC Transporter setup. What an great period perfect hack-unit!

peters_apple_iie_s
Inside of the Peter’s Apple //e with SlotBuster-card.

 

Leaving: “Heading back to Stockholm”
apple_ii_from_sweden_packed_s
Car packed with Apple ][-goodies..

leaving_sweden_s

Getting back to the ferry thru downtown Stockholm was easier than i tought. The GPS took us thru the oldtown of the Stockholm and thru the  construction area of Slussen, but the route was so FAST. We got in time to the ferry and even had to wait quite a bit to get in.

getting_into_ferry_s
Waiting to drive the car inside the ferry at Stockholm harbor.

At home:
Roadtrip was over! Took about 40 hours for the total trip or so.

Of cos when getting home, i unloaded the material to my work/hobby/mancave-room but only few hours later, had time to start looking into them (i was exicited of cos).

What were there?apple_iis_s
Apple ][-case : REAL ][ but no serial number on bottom for some reason, only reads “2000”, Apple //e (taiwanese clone), Apple //e.

pineapple_board_s
Pineapple : Apple II+ clone motherboard + ROM card

boards_cards_sApple //e international NTSC board, CP/M card (Microsoft card clone) with Microsoft Softcard manuals & floppies. The //e board reads “broken” so it might need some work to get it working again.

user_news_swedish_s
The Swedish Apple User’s Group (AUG Sweden) “User News” – magazines from 1982-1983.
These are very interesting! These all will be scanned of cos.

books-catalogs_2_s
Manuals of all kinds and some game manuals for various games (copied), Apple II books etc. Some of the books “Bag of Tricks” and “Beneath the Apple DOS” seems to be Taiwanese/Hongkong copies. Deep Dark Castle Magazine’s are interesting, somesort of BBS-user’s magazine i think?

books-catalogs_s
Few books, catalogs, Beagle Bros. manuals, Pineapple catalog/magazine.

books-catalogs_3_s
Apple Answer Books Vol.1 and 2 and some manuals and catalogs.

softcard_s
Microsoft Softcard manuals with disks (13-sector).

original_software_s
Original games (EPYX)) and Apple Special Delivery title and even one Apple /// software.

software_tapes_s
Early (1979) original games in casette with boxes (!). These things are quite rare.

magazines_sMagazines of all kinds: Call A.P.P.L.E., Nibble, Byte, InCider, User’s News (Swedish) etc.

broderbund_sBroderbund – catalogs.

hdd_s
Heavy-beast, HDD-drive (assuming 5MB) with the interface card. Never have had an “real hdd” with Apple ][ before.

hdd_back_s
Connections in the back. Made in Sweden i’d say.

card_connection_s
Interface-card.

scsi_card_s
Model/number.

floppies_s
Floppies : about 50 pcs (Apple II and CP/M).

Lots of material to be preserved! It’s like christmas for geeky Apple ][ guy like me.

FinApple 2017 (c)
Apple ][ forever.