There were some interesting periphals for the vTech Laser 128 series including the external expansion box. It was externally powered, external box that held two slots inside for Apple II compatible expansion cards.
Original expanion box (picture by Javier Rivera (c)).
Original expansion box inside (picture by Javier Rivera (c))
The box is now obiously quite rare and hard to find but luckily A2heaven.com had a new version made. It doesn’t come in a box but in a plain expansion card you can plug in the side expansion connector of the Laser 128 providing now two more slots (5 and 7) to be used.
A2heaven.com Laser 128 expansion slot card features:
-Adds two external slots to Laser 128 (Slot 5 & 7, congifurable)
-It can use internal or external power supply (USB).
-Build in LED to control all voltages
-Build in jumper to select ON/OFF of all power lines (+5,+12,-5,-12V)
-Provides -5V power on slot.
-Legs attached to card so it touches the table surface and not cause bending.
This is fantastic solution for Laser 128 users, otherwise you’d be limited to ONLY one expansion slot. The slot assignments can be altered from the switches from bottom of the unit, either enabling the slot 5 and 7 internal OR external use. WIth the adapter, you can have both slots 5 and 7 as external as pluggable slots.
The “Chinese Education Computer”-models (CEC-I and CEC-E) had also one expansion slot, either on top (CEC-I) or on left side (CEC-E) like Laser 128 does. No idea if this would work the CEC-I or CEC-E as well. They also actually have setting dips on their motherboards but naturally just for one slot.
So i went ahead and tested some cards that i was intereted to run with the Laser 128, either alone or together:
And these cards worked fine, i have no reason to believe other’s would not work but these gave the most benefit when added on.
-Booti-card #7 (hdd, by David Mutimer)
-Fastchip //e #5 (Acceration up to 16.6MHz by a2heaven.com)
-ReActiveMicro Drive/Turbo IDE Controller #7 (hdd with CF – Reactivemicro.com)
-MegaAudio #5 (Mockingboard etc emulation by a2heaven.com)
-Atari/SNES joystick adapter (byteboosters/console5)
After testing i used the unit for few weeks for playing and found no issues or problems with it. There might be some exotic cards that have issues but that goes for everything. But having cards like booti that adds hardisk functionality or accelerator like Fastchip or Megaudio speaks for itself really. That’s something not otherwise could be added to Laser 128 by any means. I am not sure how popular the original expansion box was – maybe mostly used by the powerusers of the day. That’s really something that we missed with Apple //c.
I found the expansion card being very usefull if not essential for using Laser 128 users.
Laser 128 Expansion Slot Card is available from a2heaven.com
The card used used here wasn’t sponsored by a2heaven.com
FinApple 2020 (c)
Apple II Forever.