February 12th, 2016

ZDNet posts article on how communist-era clones of the Apple II influenced today’s technologists

ZDNet has posted an interesting story on how clones of popular computers (notably, copies of the Apple II) built during the communist era have influenced today’s technologists in Bulgaria, Romania and other former Soviet Bloc countries. Even today, the Apple II Community is benefiting; Plamen Vayssilov’s A2Heaven.com is a great example.

January 26th, 2016

UltimateMicro releases Ramworks schematics, announces 4MB kit coming soon

We are glad to announce another ReActiveMicro release to the Apple II Community!

We have published the RAMWorks III 2 Meg Plus Expander schematic and programing files.

https://goo.gl/HkraX8

With the RAMWorks III and the 2 Meg Plus Expander now fully documented we can start the RAMWorks IIII Kit project and continue with adding AUX RAM to the IDEA2c Drive project.

The RAMWorks III Kit project is planned to be a RAMWorks style Apple IIe AUX Slot RAM Card with 4Meg of RAM and sell for about $80. It will also maintain compatibility with all AE’s RGB daughterboard options.

As named, this project will be sold in “kit” form and feature DIP and through hole parts for ease of assembly. We will work to keep the IC count to about 10 units so even a novice should be able to completely assemble the kit in about 1 hour. With some luck this project will be ready for the SolderFest session of KFEST 2016.

All are welcome who would like to help with testing or writing software. We would like to update AE’s RAMWorks III Test program to allow for 4Megs. Please contact “Support at ReActiveMicro.com”.

January 8th, 2016

Mockingboard v1a and SSI-263 back in stock at UltimateMicro

Henry Courbis has informed us that the Mockingboard v1a ($85 USD) and SSI-263P Speech Synthesis Chip ($65 USD) are back in stock, thanks to Tom Arnold. They won’t last very long.

November 9th, 2015

A2Heaven opens its gates at last


2

Plamen Vayssilov has opened A2Heaven.com, a new Apple II site to sell his Apple II products. The site will also host a blog and forums for technical support.

Plamen, a Bulgarian retro-computing enthusiast, has been prolific in cloning and reverse-engineering and even modernizing several Apple II peripheral products, such as the Mockingboard, AE RAMWorks and RAM Express, Apple SCSI card and many more.

October 8th, 2015

Mockingboard v1a in stock at UltimateMicro

UltimateMicro has 26 Mockingboard v1a cards in stock. This is a 100% compatible clone of the Sweet Micro Systems Mockingboard A, (upgradeable to a “B” with the addition of an SSI-263P Speech Synthesizer chip). It’s also features a few modern enhancements. The Mockingboard v1a is only $85 USD plus shipping. At this price, THESE WILL GO FAST!


MBv1a
Short of an actual Mockingboard, this is the best, most compatible product available.

September 5th, 2015

UltimateMicro announces RAMFactor 4MB Expansion clone completed and shipping

UltimateMicro has finished cloning the RAMFactor 4MB Memory Expansion card and final testing of this elusive and highly sought after peripheral is underway. So far, the clone is working as expected and should be shipping VERY SOON to those who pre-ordered. Henry will be contacting those lucky people early next week. Meanwhile, here’s a pic of the card!


2015-09-04 - ReActiveMicro - RF 4Meg Expander v1.0
Click picture for LARGER view.

September 1st, 2015

Open Apple #50 (August 2015) : Rebecca Heineman, Plamen’s Clones, GS/OS Updates

This month on Open Apple, we sit down with Rebecca “Burger Becky” Heineman. Becky is a legendary Apple II developer (not to mention many other platforms), and was the keynote speaker at KansasFest 2015. We discuss Becky’s KansasFest experiences then and now, how the community has changed, and what she’s up to now. She has a lot of Apple II gold archived away, and we’re starting to see more and more of it as a result of the continued warmth and friendliness of the Apple II community.

Tune in after that interview, when Quinn and Mike go on to talk about amazing Bulgarian hardware products, new ways to acquire Byteworks software, the mysteries of Double Hires graphics, and of course Halt & Catch Fire. KansasFest stories abound, Mike plugs the Apple III, and Quinn acts oblivious to Mike on the subject of Prince of Persia. Listen in awe as she tells the exact same story about Mechner’s source code, immediately after Mike says the same thing. We swear your co-hosts do listen to each other most of the time, folks.

Place your orders now for the hottest new fragrance, R3TR0: By Gagne.



August 18th, 2015

Coming soon: A2Heaven.com


a2heaven2

Plamen Vayssilov will soon open A2Heaven.com, a new Apple II site to sell his Apple II products. The site will also host a blog and forums for technical support.

Plamen, a Bulgarian retro-computing enthusiast, has been prolific in cloning and reverse-engineering and even modernizing several Apple II peripheral products, such as the Mockingboard, AE RAMWorks and RAM Express, Apple SCSI card and many more.

June 20th, 2015

Tecnowarp 7MHz 512KB accelerator for Apple II, II+ //e available soon


tecnowarp

Tecnobytes has released a new demo video of their upcoming Tecnowarp accelerator card. It’s rated at 7MHz and has 512KB cache which puts it on par with the very rare Transwarp II card (which only had 256KB cache). Things we haven’t seen yet are adjustable slot configurations, diagnostics, adjustable speed settings, i.e. some of the standard features that were part of the Transwarp II and competing ZipChip products. We’re hoping to get our hands on a Tecnowarp as soon as they become available so we can test it out. In the meantime, here’s the video. The acceleration is impressive.


May 1st, 2015

Testing the UA2/RM TranswarpGS clone begins this weekend

BOY HAVE WE GOT BIG PLANS FOR THE WEEKEND!

A2Central has received its TranswarpGS v1.0 clone prototype and we are going to test it in our primary Apple IIGS starting this weekend.


IMG_20150427_113533_1 - Fixed For Handout

The first run of 10 PCBs are intended for testers and developers, with the remainder being sold to a lucky few who have offered to help fund the continuation of the project by graciously offering more than the retail asking price. If testing is successful, more PCBs will be ordered within a few weeks with full availability to be announced at a later date.

Our TranswarpGS test unit came with all the bells and whistles you’d expect on an upgraded TWGS except for an on-board fan. We’ve been asked to experiment using the card at 16MHz (and higher) without it, so the only cooling will come from our Kensington System Saver (which I consider essential equipment anyway). It will be interesting to find out if, or when, the card begins to get crashy without onboard active cooling. We know the old cards required cooling at higher speeds, but the new TWGS may not necessarily behave the same way or have identical requirements.

Our test rig is a ROM 3 Apple IIGS, with a ReactiveMicro 200W power supply. Currently installed are a typical assortment of cards:

4MB Sequential Systems RAM card (RAM slot)
R&D Automation CFFA3000 (slot 6)
Apple ‘Mustang’ SuperDrive controller (slot 5)
Drewbie Stereo card (slot 4)
A2RetroSystems Uthernet card (slot 2)

I usually have a 12MHz ZipGSX with 32K cache installed in this machine, so I’m expecting to see a noticeable difference in performance.

As we test the card, results will be posted here:

TEST RESULTS PENDING

What did we get?

Out of the package, aside from the TWGS itself, we received a flyer congratulating us on our purchase that also briefly describes the benefits of the card and a set of stickers with a chart of the Scalable Oscillator settings printed on them. The stickers are for placing on the underside of your Apple IIGS lid, so you won’t lose the settings when you need them most. No manual was included, but does anyone really need one? The original Applied Engineering TWGS manual is available online from several sources, and it remains applicable to the clone TWGS board.

Our TWGS also arrived with version 6 of the 32K cache board. By the time the clone TWGS is in full distribution, the version 7 32K cache board will be shipping with it. The primary difference is the version 7 board has a flash ROM on board, with LOTS of space to tinker with the TWGS firmware in the future. I’m attaching a pic comparing the 2 cache boards side by side.


TWGS_Cache
The top two cards are version 7 cache boards, the two bottom ones are version 6.
The new TranswarpGS v1.0 clone from UltimateApple2 and ReactiveMicro has a lot going for it. For one thing, all the components are brand new instead of being 25+ years old and benefit from modernization. New logic and manufacturing techniques should equate into power efficiencies and heat reduction for longer life and increased stability. Also, modifications that were previously considered hacks and upgrades are now standard features. There’s certainly more bang for the buck with the cloned TWGS.

The new TWGS includes:

High-speed WDC 65c816
32K cache board, with the current 1.8S firmware
Scalable Oscillator (preset to 16MHz) with .25MHz incremental tuning
High-speed GAL set
Enhanced “straight” CPU cable
On-board fan, for active cooling

Pricing

The price for the TranswarpGS v1.0 clone is $550 USD plus shipping. That’s probably not the price point some people were hoping for, but at least an option now exists for the Apple II Community for a new, modernized and faster accelerator in addition to the older, used accelerators. It’s extremely difficult to achieve discount pricing from suppliers on such small, niche product runs, especially one with this much silicon on it.

I’m grateful Anthony Martino and Henry Courbis undertook this project and brought it to completion. They were able to succeed where others have not. Good job guys.

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