March 31st, 2015

UltimateApple2 and ReactiveMicro refine the No-Slot Clock

If you’ve listened to the latest Open-Apple podcast (#45), you’ll know that Mike Maginnis and I have recently had the opportunity to test a few new products from UltimateApple2 and ReactiveMicro.

First up is an improved clone of the No-Slot Clock (NSC), aka the Dallas Smartwatch DS1216E. Well, it’s more than a clone, really. It’s more of a refinement.

The original NSC was a bit of a breakthrough — no Apple II (prior to the IIGS) had a built-in clock. So if you wanted your Apple II to keep track of the time and date, timestamp documents, etc. you had to use a clock card which used up a valuable slot. For example, the Thunderware ThunderClock Plus was a popular product but it was just one of dozens of similar but incompatible competing products. The NSC on the other hand was a chip and lithium battery within a 28-pin socket. You could install the NSC into just about any other 28-pin ROM socket, piggyback the ROM into the NSC, patch your ProDOS and viola’ — your Apple II could tell the time. Compared to many of the clock cards of the day, the NSC was an inexpensive (and ultimately disposable) alternative. It’s expected 10 year lifespan seemed more than adequate… at least at the time.

The NSC wasn’t perfect for everyone though. For Apple //c users in particular, the NSC with a ROM piggybacked on it was just too thick and often interfered with some of the RAM expansion products inside the //c’s cramped interior. Even in the Apple //e, there were occasional clearance issues with thick ‘double wide’ cards.

That brings to the here and now. The NSC has been discontinued but is still available from various sources. New, old stock units with indeterminate batteries are for sale on eBay, but like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates, “you never know what you’re gonna get.”

Happily, something new and better has now been produced. UA2/RM has developed an NSC successor that is slimmer and features a user replaceable coin cell battery. Why didn’t Dallas Semiconductor think of this? They probably did but wanted to sell their expendable Smartwatches as cheaply as possible.


photo 2
Compared to an original NSC, the new one is much more svelte.

We were given a couple of prototypes to examine, the original v1.0 and a revised v1.1 unit. While both function perfectly, neither represents the final product. During initial assembly of the first prototype, Henry Courbis determined a few changes were necessary to make future assembly easier (circuit routing apparently) and during our testing, we made a few suggestions of our own. There will be a v1.2 and that *should* be the final production unit.


photo 1

So how well do these new NSC units work? Flawlessly. The legacy Smartwatch software we use now works with the new NSC adapters just fine — of course you only use it to set the time and date initially, and patch ProDOS. I’m hoping UA2/RM distributes a Y2K-compliant version of the software with this product.

More good news, this new NSC fits into Apple //c computers with memory expansion ports just fine. It’s still a tight fit, but you can now have your clock and RAM at the same time.

As of this writing, pricing hadn’t yet been determined. I expect that if it sells for the same or even a little higher than the old-fashioned NSC, it will be a good value. The user-replaceable coin cell battery alone insures this will be the last clock you’ll ever need to buy for your Apple II.

UPDATE: The anticipated price will be USD $40.

March 15th, 2015

Cloned TranswarpGS in testing — IT LIVES!

Achievement Unlocked! ReactiveMicro and UltimateApple2 appear to have successfully cloned the Applied Engineering TranswarpGS! A2Central has been granted exclusive access to pictures of the prototype running self-diagnostics during a marathon burn-in session (at 16.5MHz), along with pics of the assembled prototype’s front and back. Within a week or so, prototypes will be shipped out to A2Central and Open-Apple Podcast for actual real-world testing and review!

THIS IS SO EXCITING but it’s just the beginning! Geoff Body is close to releasing the schematics for the TranswarpGS, and is working with Henry Courbis to develop updated firmware and features (like larger cache, faster performance or even a redesigned board using modern components). Dagen Brock is also helping out, so expect something fun on the software side later on.

Wait… we mentioned we had pics. Are you ready for those?


IMG_20150315_101840

IMG_20150314_234007

IMG_20150314_234027

isb

March 2nd, 2015

Coming soon from Tecnobytes – ClassicIDE mk-II


Coming soon from Tecnobytes Classic Computers, the ClassicIDE mk-II


ClassicIDE

March 2nd, 2015

Plamen Vaysilov selling ALF MC1 kits

Prolific Bulgarian Apple II enthusiast Plamen Vaysilov has produced another clone of a famous card, the ALF MC1. You can get your own kit (i.e. assembly required) via eBay for USD $60 ($51+$9 S/H).


ALCMC1

November 23rd, 2014

UltimateApple2 preparing to release several new products

Anthony Martino and Henry Courbis are about to offer for sale several new products. First up is the new ‘8 MEG RAM CARD v2.0′ for the Apple IIGS that is switch selectable between 4MB-8MB in 1MB increments, making it fully compatible with both the ROM 01 and ROM 3 Apple IIGS. We’re anticipating being able to review this card very soon, so stay tuned for updates. Pricing has not yet been disclosed but availability should be only a few weeks away.


10383639_1504720386447868_4655326932500518638_n

Just built and testing the first few 8 Meg RAM Cards (see pic). What makes this card unique and the best solution out there for your IIgs memory needs? Well I’m glad you asked!

The Ultimate-ReActiveMicro 8 Meg RAM Card features Gold Fingers for superior oxidation prevention and long life.

Tantalum and Ceramic capacitors for longer life (4x minimum), extreme reliability, and they are very stable over time especially when compared to aluminum electrolytic capacitors.

A resettable Fuse for short-circuit protection and to help prevent Tantalum Capacitor thermal runaway.

ROM Expansion/Direct Access for future projects.

DRAM Address Termination.

Full Power Decoupling and Filtering for ALL chips.

Power LED to show the board is receiving power and the Fuse is functioning correctly.

And of course what project is complete without a blinky LED? We have TWO DRAM LEDs to show access and functionality! One LED for each bank of 4 Megs.

As you can see from the pic we also did away with the jumper and used a simple to understand DIP Switch along with adding the legend on the board so it can’t be lost.

Some may wonder why we used a CPLD yet kept the 74F245. Yes we could have added the logic to the CPLD however the 74F245 is meant to drive a higher TTL load (the data bus) than a CPLD. So although it would technically work it’s not good practice. This is also why we used DRAM Address Termination – to reduce ringing and related signal issues, and is just good design work.

Apple //e users and other 8bit fans won’t be left behind. Got RAM? Also coming are cloned versions of the Applied Engineering RAMWorks 2MB expansion and RAMFactor 4MB expansion cards. Expect a much improved No-Slot-Clock with user replaceable battery as well!

From James Littlejohn, offered exclusively through UltimateApple2 will be the new ‘LittlePower Flip’. The new LittlePower Flip is an improved design, essentially combining the previous LittlePower IIGS, IIe and II+ (three separate adapters!) into a single ‘flippable’ super adapter. The Flip will be perfect for quickly testing those dodgy power supplies, motherboards or even when used as a permanent part of your Apple II computer’s power solution.

November 13th, 2014

Tecnobytes sells out limited batch of Apple IDE cards… more coming soon

Tecnobytes Classic Computers announced yesterday via the Facebook Apple II Enthusiasts forum a small run of 10 boards for their new Apple IDE card (a ‘replica’ of the original CFFA v2.0 from R&D Automation) would be for sale. Within a few hours, they were quickly snapped up for $125 each (including shipping). Tecnobytes promises more are coming — and as soon as they’re available, we’ll post it here.


soldout2

October 24th, 2014

UltimateApple2 and ReactiveMicro to bring Transwarp GS clone (and more) to the masses

The trigger has been pulled, UltimateApple2 and ReactiveMicro are going to attempt to clone the much sought after (and often freakishly expensive on eBay) Applied Engineering Transwarp GS accelerator. Will they be heroes or zeroes? Others have tried and failed, so this is a risky but potentially rewarding project. UA2/RM already offer tweaker upgrade products and services for the Transwarp GS, so they know their way around the board’s quirks and voodoo. If anyone is going to succeed, it’s likely going to be the team of Henry Courbis and Anthony Martino.

Also in the pipe, Tom Arnold is working with UA2/RM to make the revised Mockingboard 1A available again. Even more interesting are the rumors of an Applied Engineering Phasor clone that are being circulated. The constraint of cloning any Apple II sound card is in the availability of vintage speech synthesizer ICs or finding a modern substitute. Solve that riddle, and we can expect our Apple II computers to sing. We just need programmers to support the sound cards we have now.

RAM! 8MB CV Tech clones for the Apple IIGS, Ramworks and Ramfactor with buffed out expansion options and an updated (intelligent?) Apple2Pi card all are in the pipe from UA2/RM. Stay tuned! Winter is coming.

May 19th, 2014

Do you want 16MB of auxillary RAM in your Apple IIe?

The real question is, ‘what would you do with 16 megabytes of auxiliary RAM?’ Well, there’s AppleWorks (but it only recognizes 1.5MB) and only a few other programs like SuperCalc that can adequately justify adding more than 1MB of RAM to your Apple IIe. Sure, you can also add a print spooler and a RAM disk but then, what’s next?

We’re about to find out. Matt Jenkins is close to turning his prototype RamWorks clone, dubbed ‘ScramWorks’ into an actual card. Initially, Matt looked at an 8MB version, but it’s just as easy and with little increase in cost to max out the card for the ultimate 16MB auxiliary card.

During their early years, Applied Engineering advertised memory add-on cards for the RamWorks line totaling between 14MB to 16MB (achieved by stacking multiple expanders), digital and analog video adapters and even optimistically developed a 65c816 option card, perhaps in the hope of spurring 16 bit development on the Apple II line. By the time the RamWorks II and III were introduced, AE had reduced their advertising claims to 3MB and the 16bit option card was a gizmo that little to nothing took advantage of. That was then.

So what’s new and different today? Honestly, very little. Matt is looking into making the card compatible with the older AE RGB interfaces, or more likely, integrate Nishida Radio’s VGA adapter into the design. That would certainly be practical.

It would be up to today’s hackers and enthusiasts to develop the killer apps or utilities to make 16MB of RAM dance on the Apple IIe. I will buy one (or two) in the hopes someone will do exactly that.

If you’re interested in the ScramWorks project, let Matt know. He has a survey up to gather information on what the community needs and expects.

March 17th, 2014

Willegal reproduction SwyftCards said to look good, work great


swyft-repro-only

Get the scoop here.

November 16th, 2013

Briel Replica 1 Tenth Anniversary Limited Edition announced

Briel Computers is celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the Replica 1 by releasing a limited edition (and new revision) of their insanely popular Apple 1 compatible computer. The first 50 boards make up the limited edition 10th Anniversary Replica 1; each will be serialized and sport a collectible red PCB. After those are sold out, the new 10th Anniversay Edition Replica 1 PCB will revert to its usual green color.


R110

As always, if you’re comfortable with a soldering iron you’ll have the option to purchase the new Replica 1 as a build-it-yourself kit ($149 USD) or for the non-techie and/or time-constrained, as a fully assembled and tested product ($199 USD). The limited edition 10th Anniversary Replica 1 will be available for pre-order on November 28th, 2013 — Thanksgiving Day in the USA.

R110 kit

The new board has the following changes:

  • Smaller size (only 7″ X 4.5″)
  • Reduced chip count, only 8 chips plus USB-Serial adapter
  • Single universal power adapter mini-USB connector for serial interface and power
  • Can be powered from a PC or Mac USB interface
  • Universal drivers for serial connection for data transfer now at 9600 BAUD
  • Dual boot mode, standard Apple 1 with Woz Integer BASIC or Applesoft Lite (selected with jumper)
  • Improved video with choice of NTSC or PAL (PAL mode not tested)
  • Optional USB Power supply and cable, no need to search for a compatible power supply

Look for a review of the new Replica 1 10th Anniversary Edition in the next issue of Juiced.GS later this year!

« Previous Entries | Next Page »