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 16th, 2016

Big Mess o’ Wires introduces Floppy Emu Model B

Steve Chamberlain has revised his successful Floppy Emu product and added additional enhancements for vintage Apple II and Macintosh users. Check out Steve’s intro attached below.


model-b-750

Today I’m excited to introduce the first significant update to the Floppy Emu disk emulator for Apple II and classic Macintosh computers: Floppy Emu Model B. The new Model B has the same disk emulation functions as the Model A and Universal Adapter, but with several new convenience features:

  • Built-in Apple II Compatibility – Model B is directly compatible with the entire Apple II line, emulating a 5 1/4 inch disk, 3 1/2 inch disk, or Smartport hard disk. While Model A required a separate Universal Adapter for the best Apple II compatibility, Model B has the equivalent functionality built-in. Classic Macintosh and Lisa disk emulation is still supported too.
  • microSD Card Support – The SD card slot is now a push-push microSD type, identical to what’s used in most mobile phones. This will make it easier to find suitable SD card media, since the older full-size SD cards are becoming rare.
  • SD Card Hot-Swap – The SD card can be removed and re-inserted while the Floppy Emu is powered on.
  • Improved Protection Circuitry – Model B features improved protection circuitry on the disk drive interface connector. This circuitry will help protect the Floppy Emu from electrical damage caused by voltage spikes and surges. It also eliminates the risk of potential damage if an Emu board running the Apple II firmware is inadvertently connected to a Mac or Lisa computer.
  • Same Great Emulation Features – All of the time-tested Macintosh, Apple II, and Lisa disk emulation features from Model A are still present. Model B reads and writes emulated 140K, 400K, 800K, or 1.4MB floppy disk images, or hard disk images up to 2GB, if supported by your Apple computer. For full details, see the instruction manual.

If you’re new to Floppy Emu, it’s an external hardware device for vintage Macintosh, Apple II, or Lisa computers. It uses a removable SD memory card to mimic an Apple floppy disk and drive, or an Apple hard drive. The Emu behaves exactly like a real disk drive, requiring no special software or drivers. Floppy Emu is perfect for booting your favorite games, moving files between modern and vintage machines, and troubleshooting a computer without a working OS. Just plug in the Emu board, and you’ll be up and running in seconds.

Floppy Emu Model B is available for sale now. While supplies last, I’m also selling the remaining inventory of Floppy Emu Model A units for a reduced price. It’s disk emulation madness!

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.

November 2nd, 2015

UltimateMicro to begin shipping their new 8Meg IIGS RAM Card v2.0

UltimateMicro will begin shipping pre-orders of their new 8Meg IIGS RAM Card v2.0 starting next week. Priced at USD $249 in their store, there will also be a $279 Buy It Now option via eBay.

The design of this card started out as a clone of the CVTech 8MB card, but it’s an entirely new product now. Refinements and updated components promise to make this the ultimate RAM card available for the IIGS. Features include:

  • Gold Fingers for superior oxidation prevention and long life.
  • Tantalum and Ceramic Power Filtering Capacitors for longer life (4x minimum), extreme reliability and stability over time especially when compared to Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitors. Power Filtering Capacitors are the last line of defense when it comes to protection from corrupted data in RAM.
  • Resettable Fuse for short-circuit protection and to prevent damage to the Motherboard’s and RAM Card’s PCB traces, and to help prevent Tantalum Capacitor thermal runaway and damage.
  • Power LED to show the board is receiving power and the Resettable Fuse is functioning correctly.
  • ROM Expansion/Direct Access Connector for future projects and easy connection with existing accessories.
  • RAM Bank 1 and Bank 2 LEDs to show access (not DRAM Refresh).


UltimateMicro---8Meg-RAM-Ca
Click image for larger view of card.

October 31st, 2015

CFFA3000 Run #4 now available for ordering!

Rich Dreher of R&D Automation has announced the opening of sales for the fourth run of his wildly popular CFFA3000 flash storage and disk emulation card. You can order the CFFA3000 from here. Initially, there is a limit of 2 boards per customer.



October 27th, 2015

Tecnobytes announces Tecnowarp reserve list

Tecnobytes is now accepting pre-order reservations for the upcoming Tecnowarp accelerator card for the Apple II Plus and IIe.

The Tecnowarp features four software selectable speeds (1.0MHz, 2.0MHz, 3.6MHz and 7.2MHz) and can use an external switch to toggle turbo mode off and on. It also boasts user upgradeable firmware and jumperless configuration via inbuilt menus. No dips or jumpers to set!

Performance-wise, the Tecnowarp appears to be comparable to the elusive Applied Engineering Transwarp II which also ran at 7MHz.

The Tecnowarp is priced at $250 USD each (PayPal and shipping fees not included), discounts for multiple board orders.



October 11th, 2015

Hands on with the A2Heaven Apple IIc VGA Adapter

Review written by Javier Rivera

The apple //c is a little marvel and it is a favorite among retro collectors for its beauty, versatility and size. Lately there has been a lot of development for the platform around storage and display, as media is harder to acquire and slow, and CRT displays are aging and failing. Also there’s the problem of color: a lot of old displays are green or monochrome, and the color options are sometimes hard to get. All these constraints have engaged creative minds around the world, like France, Bulgaria, Japan, Korea, Brazil and US just to name a few, to come with new and creative alternatives.

The video problem for the Apple //c has been a special one: the signal from the video port is not a typical standard, and very few attempts to use the connector have been made. The first was from Video7, who made a “video enhancer” that connected to RGB monitors. Later there was a home-brew from France called “Guimauve 2000” that connected the //c to a VGA monitor.

Lately, Nishida Radio came out with a beautiful adapter that not only worked very well, but was very small and connected to the back of the computer. The only drawback of the last two solutions is that they don’t include protective enclosures, the components are exposed.

Recently, Plamen Vasilyov from Bulgaria, a prolific Apple II hardware creator, came up with his version of a VGA adapter. I had the fortune of getting ahold of the device and it is a simple yet effective VGA converter. The device not only works flawlessly, but is also elegant and simple. Comes in a white plastic printed enclosure, with a rainbow cable that connects to the //c video port (very retro Apple II style) and provides on the output side a three-row 15-pin DB-15 VGA connector.


vga

The feature that sets this adapter apart from the others is a small button next to the connector: by pushing it will provide 8 different video modes: Color, Green, Monochrome, Mono White, Color-scanline, Green-scanline, Monochrome-scanline and Mono White-scanline. The beauty of these modes is that you can emulate different monitors with one button: a color, green, monochrome and white monochrome monitors, and with the addition of scan lines it recreates the CRT look and feel, very popular in the console game scene.


photo 3

These modes also make working with 80 column and graphic desktop applications very easy, allowing readable and crisp clear text at the touch of a button.

Green | Green w/scan lines | Color | Color w/scan lines

The device sits on the back of the computer out of sight but easily accesible to the switch, is small, light and very well crafted. I’m not surprised as his other creations (//c dclock, Senior PROM, Audio cards and his famous Disk II floppy Emulator) are known for quality and reliability.

I greatly recommend this adapter, as not only does what it is intended very well, but provides extra options found only in high end gaming devices.

At the time of this review, the price of the Apple IIc VGA Adapter had not yet been announced. Separate NTSC and PAL versions will be available.

October 11th, 2015

Uthernet II cards begin shipping

The first batch of Uthernet II cards are shipping from A2RetroSystems in Canada! I HAZ CANADA POST TRACKING NUMBER, EH!

October 11th, 2015

How Quinn Dunki got her BEEP back

Quinn Dunki embarks on a quest to correct a great injustice; fix the oddball, non-standard system beep of the Apple IIc Plus.



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