March 11th, 2013

Apple //e Quickcam – Now in Hi-Res!

On Friday, David Schmenk posted a video of a neat hardware hack: a Connectix parallel Quickcam running real-time images to his IIe through an Apple Parallel Card.  Today, he showed off the natural evolution of his hack: the Quickcam transmitting in glorious monochromatic high resolution.  According to Schmenk, it’s slow – about 1 frame per second – but it works!

iie-quickcam

Be sure to visit the Apple II Enthusiasts Group on Facebook to follow David’s progress.

March 11th, 2013

How MOS 6502 Illegal Opcodes really work

An extensive article detailing the illegal opcodes present in the original MOS 6502 has been posted over at pagetable.com.  Check it out here.

 

6502

Note: this article is rather old (2008) (age being a relative thing on the interwebs), and as the author states, much has been written to document the opcodes already.  The difference here is this:

I am not aware of any article that tries to explain where exactly they come from. I’ll do this here.

Pagetable.com is an excellent resource for learning assembly language, or brushing up your skills if you’re already an expert.

March 8th, 2013

Eamon Micro-Adventure Contest announced

A new contest has been announced over at the Eamon Adventurer’s Guild.

If you’ve read through the old NEUC and EAG newsletters, you’ve undoubtedly run across one of the contests held years ago. (This is why there are about a billion Eamons mentioning a “Life Orb.”) They tended to produce some pretty solid adventures. Of course, actually sitting down to write an Eamon is a pretty daunting task. While it’s certainly a lot of fun, to write an entire adventure requires some investment of time. So here’s the compromise:

Consider a large Eamon dungeon in the shape of a tower. The challenge is to write in approximately ten rooms a miniature dungeon making up one floor of the tower using either Apple II Eamon or Eamon Deluxe. You can add monsters, treasures, secret doors, and weapons… whatever your mind can generate, so be it. Frank and I will string them together into a (dis)continuous whole and judge on the basis of pure awesomeness.

The winner will receive a plaque on the glorious Wall of Fame (in Frank Black’s Waiting Room micro-adventure) to be memorialized for all eternity. (We’ll throw in a free subscription to the newsletter as well.)

Go here for all the details and contest rules.

March 5th, 2013

Brutal Deluxe releases Mr. Sprite

Paris, March 3rd, 2013 – Brutal Deluxe Software is proud to announce Mr Sprite, a command-line tool to manage sprites and to simplify the integration of sprites into Apple IIgs games.

Discover Mr Sprite at http://www.brutaldeluxe.fr/products/crossdevtools/mrsprite/

Mr Sprite is part of the Brutal Deluxe’s Cross Developpement Tools Project, a full set of utilities available on Windows (and other) platforms to enable the creation of new Apple IIgs software : 65c816 Assembler, 65c816 Disassembler, 65c816 Simulator, Graphic File Converter, Resource Catcher…

Antoine Vignau & Olivier Zardini
Brutal Deluxe Software

http://www.brutaldeluxe.fr/

BD has also posted “Mr. Sprite Tech“, an in-depth look at the technical magic behind the program.

February 14th, 2013

Bill Budge to give Pinball Construction Set ‘postmortem’ at GDC 2013

classicGames

Bill Budge will be making an appearance at GDC 2013 to give a “Classic Postmortem” on his hit software title Pinball Construction Set.  From the GDC 2013 news item:

… Bill Budge, father of the seminal Pinball Construction Set will lay out one of the earliest examples of an in-game editor – a title that game developer legend Will Wright has credited as a key influence on the simulation games that launched him to stardom

Published in 1983 by Electronic Arts, Pinball Construction Set created a new genre in video games that encouraged user generated content where players could trade personalized content via floppy disk. The game’s editor allowed players to construct their own virtual pinball tables, and players could save these tables to disk and trade them with friends.

The editor’s clean and simple interface even served as inspiration to designs behind SimCity six years later – The Sims creator Will Wright cited Pinball Construction Set as his key inspiration while speaking on the GDC 2012 panel “Forgotten Tales Remembered.” Bill Budge, the father of the seminal Construction Set entry, will lay out the blueprints for how he created his own game and one of the earliest examples of an in-game editor.

This should go nicely with Budge’s release of the PBC source code earlier this week.

GDC 2013 is scheduled to take place March 25 – 29, 2013 in San Francisco.  Registration and travel information can be found here.

February 13th, 2013

Bill Budge posts Pinball Construction Set source

Bill Budge has posted to github the source code to his seminal hit Pinball Construction Set, according to this Y-Combinator item.  Some sharp eyes in the comments thread noticed that although the code is for the Atari 800 version of the program, it was developed on an Apple II, a common practice in those days and made easy by the fact that both platforms use a 6502 processor.  According to one of Bill’s recent tweets: “The Atari 800 had a raster mode that was very similar to the Apple II Hi-res graphics. The code had minimal differences.”

pcs

Bill has also tweeted that he intends to go through and comment the code, which you can find here.

(HT: Sean Fahey, image source: The Digital Antiquarian)

February 1st, 2013

New CFFA3000 Firmware released

Rich Dreher has released a new firmware (3.1) for his popular CFFA3000 card.  This latest update offers, among other things, folder support on FAT volumes, “making it easier to organize a large number of disk image files.”  Per David Schmidt’s post to comp.sys.apple 2, here’s a list of everything you can expect when you flash the new firmware:

== Folders ==

Now allows folders on FAT volumes, making it easier to organize a large number of disk image files. Folder names will appear with a trailing ‘/’. Press <Return> on a folder to navigate into the folder. Press ‘-’ (or use <Ctrl>X, or <Apple>UpArrow) to move back up to a parent folder.

The firmware will remember the current folder for both the CF and USB media. The path shows up at the top left, above “Items:” to separate the current-folder lines from the contents below. The current folder always resets to the top level when you insert the USB drive or CF card.

You can use folders inside folders, up to 8 levels deep. The item list can only show up to 255 items in a particular folder; if you have more files than that, please break them up into sub-folders.

== Assignments Screens ==

<Crtl>B: Now reboots the slot for which you’re making assignments.

Disk II assignments: Comma and Period rotate among the panes.

SmartPort Assignments: When there are more configured images than the “SmartPort Devices” setting, the extra ones appear at the bottom of the right-hand column, marked with ‘*’, and if you highlight one you’ll see “(Unavailable – SmartPort full)”.

Pressing ‘-’ in a right-side pane deletes an assignment (like Delete / Control-D).

<Apple>Space in the right-hand column toggles between SmartPort and Disk II assignments.

Apple IIgs only: <Shift>Tab cycles backwards through the panes (like Comma does).

== Menus ==

When a menu item for an adjustable setting it highlighted, ‘<’ and ‘>’ indicators now show which ways the menu item can be adjusted.

The “Quit” or “Boot” menu item now lets you choose which slot to boot from, using the Left and Right arrows.

Quit: Without Booting
Boot: Slot N
Boot: Slot N (Continue)
Boot: Reboot

In the “Other Settings” menu, replaced “Delay for Menu Key” setting with “Menu at Boot” which may select from “Always”, 0.1s..0.2s….up to 25 seconds.

If you choose “Menu at Boot: Always” and your Apple II finds the CFFA3000 at startup, you’ll be able to press Return to continue booting the CFFA3000, or use the arrow keys to choose another slot.

The menus use some MouseText characters (when running on an Apple IIgs or an Apple //e enhanced). If you don’t want to use MouseText, you can turn on DIP Switch 2.

== Performance ==

The CFFA3000 does read-ahead caching from USB or CF, while the Apple II is busy copying the previous block. This requires CPLD v6. Which version you have may be checked any time by going into the menu and selecting the “About” menu. The CPLD version is displayed near the top of the screen.

Various speed improvements in the 6502 and 65816 firmware including faster coordination with the CFFA3000′s microcontroller, and faster entry for ProDOS and SmartPort calls to the card.

== New DIP Switches ==

DIP Switch 1: Flip on if your Apple II or Apple II+ has a “lowercase chip” to allow the CFFA3000 to display lowercase letters.

DIP Switch 2: Flip on if you don’t want to use MouseText.

DIP Switch 4: Flip on if you are using an Apple III. Since Apple III requires the GS DIP Switch to be on, this lets the CFFA3000 know whether it must use the 6502 firmware or the 65816 firmware.

Note 1: To use the CFFA3000 on an Apple III, you must turn on both the GS DIP Switch 7 and DIP Switch 4.
Note 2: The firmware will optimize for the GS’s 65816 when the GS DIP Switch 7 is on and Switch 4 is off.

== Compatibility ==

The end of the Disk II slot ROM now more closely resembles a real Disk II. This makes at least one version of Karateka work.

If you already have the 3.1b2 firmware loaded, here are the specific changes that come with the final 3.1 firmware:

* Pressing ‘-’ in a right-side pane deletes an assignment (like Delete / Control-D).
* In addition to the existing “go up” methods, Left arrow now navigates Up to Parent Folder in the source column.
* Changed message to “Unavailable: SmartPort full or bad file.” instead of just “(Unavailable – SmartPort full)”.
* New Blank Image: When choosing the size, show the can-adjust indicators, ‘<’ / ‘>’ (MouseText when available).

Download the new firmware here.

(HT: David Schmidt)

January 31st, 2013

VCFSE 1.0 Officially Announced

David Greelish, producer of the Vintage Computer Festival Southeast, has issued the following press release officially announcing the new convention:

Announcing the First Ever Vintage Computer Festival Southeast

The original Vintage Computer Festival was founded by Sellam Ismail and held in Pleasanton, California during October, 1997. Now, finally, the southeast region of the US gets its very own!

January 31, 2013, Atlanta, Georgia – Vintage Computer Festival Southeast – a public celebration of computer history and nostalgia – will be held on Saturday & Sunday, April 20 & 21. Our mission remains the same as that very first show:

The main mission of the Vintage Computer Festival is to promote the preservation of "obsolete" computers by offering attendees a chance to experience the technologies, people and stories that embody the remarkable tale of the computer revolution.

We will educate and entertain!

Dozens of exhibitors will be present from all over the region, plus many from other parts of the country. Many different brands of historic computers will be represented in the exhibit hall for live demonstrations by their owners.

A large premier exhibit will welcome each attendee as they enter the festival – The Apple Pop-Up Museum which tells the story of how a small start-up company, founded in a garage by two young friends, became the leading consumer electronics and personal computer company in the world. The exhibit displays an exclusive collection of game-changing Apple personal computers and consumer electronics products while presenting the history of the company since its founding in 1976 to the present. An Apple I and the first Disk II and controller card are among the rare artifacts to be displayed.

A vintage game station will be available for children and adults to play a large variety of classic games on classic computers and game consoles.

Two retrocomputing kit building classes will be held, plus numerous, and inexpensive introduction to soldering classes.

Lectures are still being scheduled now, but our very special keynote speaker and presenter will be announced very soon!

The VCFSE is hosted and produced by the Computer Museum of America and the Atlanta Historical Computing Society.

One-day adult tickets to the VCFSE are just $5. Ages 17 and younger are admitted free. For hours, directions, and other details, please visit vintage.org (lots more info coming)

January 23rd, 2013

VCF East 9.0 postponed

VCF East 9.0, originally scheduled for May 18th and 19th of this year has been delayed until 2014 due to venue facility damage caused by last year’s Hurricane Sandy.  Evan Koblentz posted the following announcement to the classiccmp mailing list this evening:

VCF East 9.0, scheduled for May 18-19 this year, is postponed to next year. That’s because our venue sustained some Sandy-related damage.

It’s nothing unfixable (and no artifacts in our museum were harmed), but we are not certain about having the buildings repaired in time for the show.

So, in spring 2014, we’ll host VCF East 9.1. ;)

However we will probably have a swap meet and/or other smaller events this year. Details TBD.

January 21st, 2013

The return of the A2Central Downunder Chat

Andrew Roughan has announced the return of A2Central.com’s weekly Downunder Chat:

After a hiatus… it is time for a come back.

Calling all Apple II enthusiasts who are awake between 9pm and 11pm Australian Eastern Summer Time on Friday nights to visit the #a2c.chat channel on the A2Central IRC server.
That’s probably likely to be Aussies, Kiwis, people in Asia who aren’t working late, people in Europe who don’t have a day job, and insomniacs from the USA… but everyone is welcome.

I would like to discuss another gathering of like-minded individuals. Prior discussions on this seemed to indicate that the Sydney area was a central point. Validation of this from those who would attend is important before taking the next step to confirm a venue.

Other discussion topics will include where participants are located, local introductions, interests, projects, etc.

There is an informal Australian Apple II enthusiast email list that I maintain, so if you can’t make the chat but would like to be included in this then let me know.

The chat will be hosted on irc.a2central.com, channel #a2c.chat – use your favorite IRC client.

Connection on the bare metal is possible with an Apple IIgs using the Samurai IRC CDA
http://www.ninjaforce.com/html/products.html

If you’d like a web interface to avoid the trouble of installing an IRC client, try this:
https://chat.mibbit.com
or
http://www.reactivemicro.com/chatroom.php

Every Friday 9pm-11pm AEST
Server: irc.A2Central.com
Channel: #a2c.chat

If necessary, check how the time in your location corresponds with Sydney on this site:
http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/meeting.html
We are ahead of most of the world.

I won’t be able to make every week, so the facilitation will be done by regular chat attendee Jonnyboy – Jon Co.

Hope to see you there!

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