KansasFest Preview #2
This month on Open Apple, we sit down with Paul Lutus, author of seminal early Apple II software such as AppleWriter and GraFORTH. We talk about the impacts of software development on society, the value of the individual in the process, and the trials of coding software in the woods.
We talk extreme offsite backups, KansasFest keynotes, telnet BBSing, and the hurricane of awesome that is ReactiveMicro. We reminisce about the original Home Computer Wars (these kids today arguing about their smartphones are so darned cute), and also Boo Atari.
We trek from Bulgaria to Korea to Canada and back again, to bring you the latest in sound cards, solid state storage, and portable Apple IIc action. You won’t want to miss Quinn plugging Phil Plait for some reason. With our story on Atari 8-bits in Poland, this marks the most Atari content ever on Open Apple. It also qualifies us as the 698th currently operating Atari podcast. Boo Atari. See what you get when you poke the bear, people? ][ Infinitum.
Finally we can reveal Tecnobytes new product is an accelerator based on the original Applied Engineering Transwarp. Behold, the Tecnowarp!
Announcing a new Disassembler for the IIgs.
As my tribute to OZ Kfest, I am announcing my latest project…
BrkDown is a desktop WYSIWYG disassembler for the IIgs, and disassembles to source code from both the 8 data forks, and 16 bit multi-segmented data and resource forks, of an application or binary file. The output is optionally in either ORCA/M or Merlin 16 compatible format.
Powerful Functions allow manipulating of the resulting source, so it can be worked up into valid source code that can be later reassembled.
Many other tools are provided to make working with source files as painless as possible.
Please download and read the BrkDown PDF Manual for more information on how BrkDown works, and how to use it.
Both the PDF manual, and the application archive, as well as all my other software, can be downloaded from my web site:
We are happy to inform the Apple II community that the long-awaited game from Ninjaforce, Kaboom! is now officially released.
Kaboom! features a bombastic gameplay for up to four players. It requires an Apple IIgs with a hard disk drive and 2MiB of RAM.
Download Kaboom! or play it from Ninjaforce’s website at http://www.ninjaforce.com/
KANSAS CITY, MO — April 10, 2015 — KansasFest, the 27th annual convention dedicated to the Apple II computer, is now open for registration. Users, programmers, hobbyists, and retrocomputing enthusiasts are invited to Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Missouri, from Tuesday, July 14, through Sunday, July 19, for six days and five nights of sessions, demos, announcements, contests, and camaraderie.
The week kicks off with keynote speaker Rebecca “Burger Becky” Heineman, a prolific computer game programmer, designer, and industry veteran. Heineman will be available immediately afterward for a Q&A and autograph session.
Attendees are encouraged to share their knowledge by presenting their own hardware and software sessions, especially of the Apple II but including Macintosh, Windows, Linux, iOS, and others. All KansasFest sessions are presented by the attendees, who are known for unscheduled events and debuts, too. Whether it’s a behind-the-scenes look at new software, preorder opportunities for new hardware, a live-action text adventure, a podcast recording session, Structris tournaments, or an athletic round of Bite the Bag, there are experiences to be had and memories made at KansasFest that aren’t possible except in the company of surprising, brilliant, diehard Apple II fans.
Register by May 31 to guarantee a price of $385 for a double room or $455 for a single, which includes admission to all sessions as well as most meals. Official KansasFest shirts are extra and optional and must be ordered by June 22; registration for staying on-site closes July 1. To register, please visit the official registration form.
KansasFest invites any and all Apple II users, fans, and friends to attend the longest running annual Apple II conference. For photos, videos, schedules, and presentations from past year’s events or to sign up for the email list and for inquiries, please visit our website at http://kansasfest.org.
We’re big fans of the Apple IIGS (well, duh) but for all its cool graphics and sound capabilities, it’s kinda pokey when running its native GSOS GUI and compatible applications. That’s why accelerators are always in demand. They replace the stock 2.8MHz processor with a faster 65c816 on a card, usually 7MHz or faster, and give the IIGS a much needed kick in the pants. Thankfully, accelerators are about to become more plentiful.
For some people though, 7MHz isn’t good enough. The TranswarpGS accelerator itself can be made better, stronger, faster. We have the technology in the form of improved 65c816 processor, newer cache RAM, active cooling and an overall better understanding of the TranswarpGS board layout and GAL logic. Through upgrades, the TranswarpGS can be reliably overclocked beyond its original specifications.
Now we get to the figurative heart of the matter, the oscillator crystal that determines the speed of the accelerator. Like most accelerators for the Apple IIGS, the speed of a TranswarpGS is derived by dividing the oscillator’s frequency by 4. So a 28MHz oscillator results in a 7MHz operation, 32MHz equals an 8MHz board and so on. But even with upgrades, we can only push our 80’s technology accelerator so far before it balks and begins to malfunction. Not all TranswarpGS boards are equal either. Some boards upgrade more easily and go faster than others. To find out, you’ll need to keep a variety of oscillators on hand. Maybe several.
If only there was a way to easily and conveniently overclock the oscillator’s frequency until the optimal speed for reliable operation could be determined.
Now there is. From UltimateApple2 and ReactiveMicro, we have the new Scalable Oscillator, a small augmented oscillator replacement that works with your TranswarpGS accelerator (and probably ZipGS).
The Scalable Oscillator (aka SO) replaces the fixed-frequency oscillator on your TranswarpGS. A series of DIP switches determines what speed the SO runs at, from 28MHz through to a maximum 80MHz in .25MHz increments — that’s 7MHz through 20MHz in system speed.
The DIP switches from top to bottom are labeled 1-8. Switches 1-7 control the oscillator frequency using binary code, while switch 8 enables/disables the SO. You can piggyback your original oscillator into the SO for normal operation (by setting DIP 8 to off) but… we’re here to GO FASTER! AM I RIGHT?
The binary code used for DIPs 1-7 is determined by taking the desired oscillator speed and subtracting 8 from it. For example, to run your SO-enabled TranswarpGS at 10MHz, you need a 40MHz oscillator frequency signal — subtract 8 from 40, you get 32. 32 in binary is 0100000 or off, on, off, off, off, off, off. Simple, right? Don’t worry, a handy chart will be included with all (53!) possible DIP settings for the binary challenged.
A2Central and Mike Maginnis of the Open Apple podcast were allowed a sneak peek to play with this new tweaker toy. We discussed some of our hands-on experiences in OA Episode #45 but I’ll also post some of my perceptions here.
First off, the SO works as advertised. It was relatively painless to set the SO output frequency per the included chart (which you will *not* want to lose). You might be one of those set it and forget it types, but for anyone who likes to tweak their hardware, printing the chart out and taping it to your power supply or the underside of your IIGS lid might be a good idea. That way, its always there when you need it. BTW, this is *that moment* your middle school teacher said you’d need to know binary for someday.
The SO is pretty small. I had to remove it from the TWGS whenever I set the DIPs but that’s because my TWGS also has a fan upgrade installed (another fine option from ReactiveMicro). It could be tricky removing and installing the SO (but not impossible) while under the fan… but with the fan left in place setting the DIPs with a toothpick was equally tricky. That might be attributable to my excessive (i.e. obsessive) care (i.e. paranoia) over electrostatic discharge during the handling of all the components. I’m kind of a klutz.
I have to say, I very much like the Scalable Oscillator. For me, it beats keeping a drawer full of miscellaneous oscillators around.
The anticipated price of the Scalable Oscillator is a reasonable $35 USD and will be available in quantity within a few weeks.