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 30th, 2015

David Finnigan announces Marina, IP stack for 8-bit Apple II computers


Marina

MacGUI operator David Finnigan has announced ‘Marina’, a TCP/IP stack for 8-bit Apple II computers.

The web page says Marina is written in assembly language (Merlin Pro source code), and contains numerous features such as link-local addressing, address conflict detection, built-in DHCP client, malicious IP packet rejection and much more.

Cool stuff to be sure — we will eagerly keep an eye on this project’s progress!

March 28th, 2015

Juiced.GS Volume 20, Issue 1 now available

Juiced.GS Volume 20, Issue 1 (Mar 2015)Volume 20, Issue 1 (Mar 2015) of Juiced.GS, the longest-running Apple II publication in print, is now arriving in subscribers’ mailboxes. This issue features a guide to compiling cc65 code in Xcode on the Mac; the first chapter of a serialized Apple II mystery; a review of Assembly Lines: The Complete Book; instructions for using the GSport emulator on an AppleTalk network; a review of the Apple III emulator Apple3rtr; reflections on the Apple II community’s best years; and much, much more!

This is Juiced.GS‘s first quarterly issue of 2015, it’s twentieth year in print. Subscriptions for 2015 are also available at $19 each for United States customers, $24 for readers in Canada and Mexico, and $27 for international customers, with several free sample issues available as PDFs.

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 3rd, 2015

Mouser now stocking WDC development boards

Western Design Center (aka WDC) 65xx/65xxx development boards are now in stock at Mouser Electronics. Click HERE for the complete product list.

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

February 10th, 2015

Introducing DiscoRunner multi-dialect BASIC interpreter


discodudeicon

DiscoRunner is a multi-dialect BASIC interpreter. Its initial release supports Integer and Floating Point (Applesoft) BASIC from the Apple II.

DiscoRunner is different from other BASIC interpreters in that it is 99.5% compatible with the original languages. It accomplishes this by heavily simulating the host hardware (the Apple II) almost to an emulator level without the drawbacks of running an actual emulator. For example, BASIC programs are saved as text files. We can also add new functionality, such as an editor, a navigable CATalog and a coloured LISTing mode.

DiscoRunner comes with a library of close to a thousand classic programs to play, edit and muck around with.



February 4th, 2015

Retro Computing Roundtable #93 released

Michael Mulhern posted via Facebook:

In a host packed Episode 93, Earl, Carrington, Paul, Michael, Jack, and Ken discuss the controversial topic of “Are We Cheating Cheaters?” Flash storage devices, Internet modems, multi-cartridges with entire software libraries, super RAM add-ons, LCD flat panels – what’s so retro about all that?

Also discussed is the saving of Bob Bishop’s computer gear and doco, Apple ][ Statisfaction, as well as a plug for OzKfest.

Go ahead, click on the link and join us. I dare you :)

January 31st, 2015

Latest update on the Apple II Pi from UA2/RM

Whew! Busy week trying to complete the next version of the Apple Pi prototype. This version has a Clock and Firmware. We’re hoping with some help from David Schmenk to eliminate the need for a floppy when booting directly to the Pi. We’re also hoping to add support for the ‘B+’ version of the Raspberry Pi. Some users have also inquired about the feasibility of using the Ethernet port on the Pi for the Apple II. We’re looking in to this as well. If possible this will add yet another amazing feature and reason to own a Pi. We’re confident if anyone can find a way, Dave is our man.


pi

One of the biggest questions we get asked is “What is the Apple Pi and what can it do for my retro computing experience?” So once the next version is ready for release we will put together a FAQ video demonstrating what the Pi can do for you, and all it’s available features.

A bit more testing and possibly another board revision and we’re hoping to have something worth sending out to people for reviews. Keep an eye on A2Central.com and an ear on the Open Apple podcast (www.open-apple.net) for sneak peaks and news about availability!

« Previous Page« Previous Entries | Next Entries »Next Page »