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Animated GIFs on an Apple II


Before the Internet, computer enthusiasts needed to get their cat pictures, image macros, and animated gifs somehow. If only [Nate] was writing code back in the 80s: he created a video player for the Apple II, essentially turning the classic computer into a machine that can play one or two animated gifs.

Vintage microcomputers aren’t especially noted for a huge amount of RAM, or being very fast, so [Nate] needed to bring in some extra hardware to give his recently acquired Apple II+ a 64k RAM disk to store the gifs.

The gifs are loaded off the floppy drive after being converted on a PC with a Python script, reducing the resolution and colors to 280 x 192 pixels and an amazing rainbow of four colors. For some gifs, seen below, it’s actually slightly impressive an Apple II can pull off this trick. It’s amazing  [Nate] got this thing to work, as well.

If you have an Apple II set up, you’re awesome. You should go peruse [Nate]‘s git and make your own animated gifs for your awesome classic computer.

[Read more...]

USB Apple ][ disk emulator


One of the most commonly frustrating things about having an old Apple ][ lying around in your basement or attic is the lack of software. While at one time in the late 80s you may have had your own copy of Oregon Trail, that disk is either lost or non-functional, and it’s pretty hard to get new disk images onto 5 1/4″ disks.

To solve this problem for himself, [Eric] came up with an Apple disk emulator. A project like this has been done many, many times over the last few decades, but [Eric] put his own twist on it: he doesn’t use a microcontroller. Instead, he used a simple USB FTDI device to talk to the Apple disk drive.

The FTDI device in question is a UM232H chip that takes a USB connection and turns it into an SPI bus. Of course the Apple ][ disk doesn’t speak SPI, so [Eric] needed to do a little logic conversion with a 74LS251 multiplexer and a 74LS161 counter.

In the video after the break, you can see [Eric] loading Apple disk images on a IIc from his new Intel Mac. It’s a neat build, but it’s not done yet: [Eric] plans on adding a microcontroller with an SD card, allowing just about every Apple ][ game every made to fit in your pocket. Yes, [Eric]‘s project is quite similar to the A][ pocket serial host we saw just a bit ago, but this will hopefully have a lower component count.

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Pocket Serial Host acts as an Apple II disk drive


[Osgeld] is showing off what he calls a sanity check. It’s the first non-breadboard version of his Pocket Serial Host. He’s been working on the project as a way to simplify getting programs onto the Apple II he has on his “retro bench”. When plugged in, the computer sees it as a disk drive.

The storage is provided by an SD card which is hidden on the underside of that protoboard. This makes it dead simple to hack away at your programs using a modern computer, then transfer them over to the retro hardware. The components used (starting at the far side of the board) are a DB9 serial connector next to a level converter to make it talk to the ATmega328 chip being pointed at with a tool. The chip below that is a level converter to get the microcontroller talking to the RTC chip seen to the right. The battery keeps that clock running when there’s no power from the 5V and 3.3V regulators mounted in the upper right.

The video after the break shows off this prototype, the breadboard circuit, and a demonstration with the Apple II.

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Hackaday Links: June 3, 2012

When pigs fly…. close enough.

There are too many jokes to be made about this one. It’s a quadcopter made out of a dead cat. [Bert Jansen], the artist behind this, calls him Orville. He died from natural causes, and what better way to remember a feline friend that liked chasing birds?

Refurbishing an Apple ][

That thirty year old computer in your parent’s attic isn’t going to clean itself, is it? [Todd] put up a series of videos tearing down a 1982 Apple ][ plus, cleaning everything along the way, and doing a very nice demo of AppleSoft BASIC. This is where the revolution started, people.

Ohm sweet Ωhm

Cross stitch isn’t for grandmothers anymore. Adafruit put up a cross stitch tutorial to go along with their resistor color code cross stitch kit. Now down to Hobby Lobby to find black cross stitch cloth and make the ‘ol skull ‘n wrenches.

Welcome! To the world of yesterday!

Boing Boing found an amazing cyberpunk photo spread that appeared in the Mondo 2000 ‘zine back around 1992 or 1993. Even when keeping in mind that this is a self-parody, it’s still incredible. Hackers have laser pointers? And pagers?

Making Arduino projects smaller

[Scott] caught wind of a way to shrinkify Arduino projects, so he turned an Arduino protoboard into an ATtiny85 programmer. As a neat bonus, [Scott] can use the attached breadboard to build circuits around the ’85.


Giving a Powerpoint presentation with an Apple ][

When [Vince] saw a coworker give a presentation with an iPad, he thought to himself what a tremendous waste of computing resources he was witnessing; an iPad is just as powerful as an early Cray supercomputer, and displaying slides isn’t a computationally intensive task. We’re assuming [Vince]‘s train of thought went off the rails at that point, because he came up with a neat way to give a presentation with an Apple ][.

To get his slides onto his Apple ][, [Vince] created a tool to convert the text and images for a presentation to an Applesoft BASIC program. Yes, six-color images are supported in a wonderful 280×192 resolution. The presentation was transferred onto a CompactFlash card and loaded onto the Apple with the help of a CFFA card, making it much faster to load images during the presentation than a 5.25″ disk would allow.

Of course, after the presentation some of [Vince]‘s coworkers wanted to play Oregon Trail, a request easily handled by the voluminous CF card loaded with Apple ][ programs. You can check out video demo/walkthrough of his presentation after the break.

[Read more...]

Original Prince of Persia game source code released

The game that launched a multi-billion dollar franchise is now laid bare for your hacking pleasure. [Jordan Mechner] just posted the once-lost source code for Prince of Persia. This game was ground-breaking for its use of rotoscoping to mimic the movements of an actor (in this case it was his younger brother). Oh, and it’s a ton of fun to play.

This comes at an appropriate time since yesterday was the the 35th anniversary of the Apple II release. PoP was written for that platform but should be easy to get running on an emulator if you’re just interested in cloning the repository so that you can play it through once again. Interestingly enough, the source code went missing for many years. [Jordan's] been looking for the original source code for a decade. Turns out his Dad came across a cardboard box with some original copies of the game in it and shipped it off for [Jordan] to take care of. Inside was a set of 3.5″ disks that are pure retro gold.

So here’s your chance to inject yourself into the game. The question is, will you be the Prince or will you be Jaffar?

Ammo Tin ][

Ammo crate PCs have been around since Unreal Tournament LAN parties, but this one goes further back than that; [Simon] put an Apple II in an ammo crate. It’s a fitting anachronistic build from the same guy that built the TARDIS MAME cabinet.

Thankfully, [Simon] didn’t tear apart an Apple IIc for this build. A bare-bones Celeron motherboard was acquired for this project to run the AppleWin emulator. Instead of shoving all the parts into the box and calling it a day, [Simon] did it right and fabricated a very nice frame for the computer. With a wimpy CPU and no expansion cards, the Ammo Tin ][  can run very cool without drawing a lot of power.

We really have to hand it to [Simon] for this build. The metal work on this build looks great (it should for someone who is rebuilding an Austin 7), and we’ve got to respect the love for the Apple II. Now all that’s needed is a real Apple II keyboard on that USB port.


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