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.

April 27th, 2015

Charles Mangin is ready for KansasFest. Are you?



KansasFest Preview #2

April 27th, 2015

Play Bob Bishop’s ‘Dung Beetles’ online

Pierre Durant posted via Facebook, his remake of Bob Bishop’s classic game “Dung Beetles” that you can play in your web browser. Check it out at: http://www.monkey-x.com/Apps/app.php?id=347


DungBeetles

April 19th, 2015

Open Apple #46 (April 2015): Paul Lutus, ReactiveMicro, and KansasFest Keynote

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.


oa podcast cover color (400)

April 10th, 2015

KansasFest 2015 opens for registration

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.

CONTACT:
Register: http://www.kansasfest.org/registration/
Email: http://www.kansasfest.org/contact/
Twitter: @KansasFest
Facebook: TBD
Google Plus: TBD

March 22nd, 2015

Chris Torrence announces Assembly Lines: The Complete Book available as a free PDF

I’m excited to announce that “Assembly Lines: The Complete Book” is now available as a FREE PDF on Open Library and the Internet Archive. Thanks to Roger Wagner for releasing the book under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 2.0 license.

https://archive.org/details/AssemblyLinesCompleteWagner

https://openlibrary.org/…/…/Assembly_Lines_The_Complete_Book



March 16th, 2015

Check out the source code for Don Worth’s Zap, FixCat and Linker

Mike Maginnis is busy posting some of Don Worth’s Apple II legacy online. Check it out at http://www.6502lane.net/

Source code for Zap, FixCat and Linker
Beneath Apple Manor
Bag of Tricks original manual files

More to come!

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 13th, 2015

VCF East, South East and Midwest coming up


Vintage Computer Festival East 10 – April 17-19, 2015 in Wall, New Jersey
Click HERE for details

Vintage Computer Festival South East – May 2-3, 2015 in Roswell, Georgia
Click HERE for details

Vintage Computer Festival Midwest 10 – August 29-30, 2015 in Elk Grove Village, Illinois
Click HERE for details (Facebook link)

March 10th, 2015

Brian Edwards of the UK Mirror is a [colorful metaphor]

Demonstrating he’s not much of an historical fact-checker, Brian Edwards dribbles out a hate piece that will probably rile you up too.

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