Category Archives: Video

VGA-scaler for Apple II

a2vgascaler_jpg-100374-500x500
Picture by a2heaven.com

This is bit older product, but still available (atleast occationally) from a2heaven.com 

There’s now also VidHD-card available for Apple II’s so there’s more options to choose from. VidHD requires however 1080p capable display (and those are 16:9) so if you want more authentic user experience with 4:3 display, this is option for you. VGA-displays are around and very easy to get, any type, color and size, be it CRT or LCD. 

VidHD add’s new graphics modes to Apple II, where VGA-scaler does not. It just grabs the video signals and converts it to VGA. Glad there’s many options for the hobbyist.

There’s also similar product available, add-on board for RamWorks III card – Ramworks III VGA extender that does the same trick. It’s installed to AE RamWorks III card and outputs VGA signal as well. That solution saves you a slot if you already have RamWorks III or IIII (by Reactivemicro).

So basicly, 
It is a card that takes the Apple II video signals and converts it to VGA signal output. It works with several Apple II models from II, II+ to //e models, PAL and NTSC. It can be installed in any regular slot of Apple II. Depends of which slot it’s installed, different cable setups must be installed.

It outputs the standard VGA 720×480 output. So the monitor must support that resolution. The VGA-scaler supports 20 different dispay modes with: color, color alternative, monochrome (green, white, amber – regular or bold modes for each), and emulation of scan lines for each mode (emulating CRT monitors for more retro feel).

The color modes can be changed with by pressing the button and the default mode can be chosen with dip switches at the card itself.

-40 and 80 columns text, with 24 lines.
-Low-Resolution, 40×48 (15 colors)
-High-Resolution, 280×192 (6 colors)
-Double-Low-Resolution, 80×48 (15 colors) * enhanced //e only 
-Double-High-Resolution, 560×192 (2 colors) * enhanced //e only 

It would be very interesting to find if this could be used with Apple /// ?

package
picture from a2heaven.com


The package comes with:

-VGA-scaler card 
-VGA-extention slim-cable and VGA-adapter
-Purple cable with clip
-Red cable with clip
-Yellow cable with clip (shielded cable for 14M signal)
-White cable with clip 
-5 jumpers, white, red, green, blue and yellow.
-Switch mode cable with button

Detailed installation manual pdf can be downloaded from a2heaven.com 

 

INSTALLING:

installed_s

I had it installed in an another unit earlier but now i installed it to my “test/hack” Apple //e UK PAL (unenhanced). I replaced the hook-cables as well as i found better type that are easier to install in tight spots like those IC’s that aren’t installed in sockets.

It’s relatively easy to install after you get the idea from the manual. It’s good idea to read it few times to be sure what you’re doing. There’s several revisions of each board made.

In this case, using //e and installing it to Slot 7, it required 3 wires to be installed:

– SEROUT > D12 74LS10 PIN 3  
– GR > C8 344-0022 PIN 2  
– 14M > C13 74LS166 PIN 7

The VGA-cable can be attached to the card by either directly to the VGA connector, or using the supplied slim-cable that allows you to get the cable out of the Apple II case and attach the VGA cable outside of the unit. The regular VGA cable wont fit inside the case from the slot openings of Apple //e.

 

DIFFERENT DISPLAY MODES:

modes
Picture from a2heaven.com

 

zaxxon_closeup_lines_s
With scan-lines

zaxxon_closeup_no_lines_s
Without scan lines.

 

zaxxon_closeup_lines_green_s
Monochrome green

 

The modes can be changed with by pressing the button. The default mode can be chosen with dip switches at the card itself.

-Color modes | with scanlines on/off
-Mono / regular / bold | with scanlines on/off

 

THOUGHTS?

The installation is bit tricky but if you take your time and carefully aproach the task, it’s not that complicated. There’s just different Apple II models and main logic board types that are different.

vga_card_installed_s

It does take one precious slot from your Apple II but that is not serious sarcifice as the result is much clearer video output. Another option would be the Ramworks III VGA extender if you already have the RamWorks III or IIII-card. One gains also different models of video, monochrome models, different color modes and as a extra feature, the scanlined modes that do look nice, emulating the good ol’ CRT.  So basicly the product is no-brainer to get unless you want the HDMI then you need to look into the VidHD card instead. It’s up to you.

I have the Ramworks III VGA-externder in my “main” //e and it works great, it needs naturally the Ramworks III or IIII-card but i happened to have one. That way i could save a slot and have RAM-card. Not bad. This VGA-scaler works similary, it just needs the slot and setting up is slightly more complicated (board variations). Both solutions have worked for me as i do not need right now the 1080p HDMI output. That might change however someday, if nothing but curiosity. But right now, i am very happy with VGA. The color modes are neat! Switching between them is quick and easy even i found myself stuck in few modes most of the time and not changing them. But, the option is there.

 

 

 

a2heaven_logo

VGA-scaler is available from a2heaven.com

 

FinApple 2019 (c)
Apple II Forever.