Deep in the bowels of the Internet there are some crazy people who have a wish list for what the next Apple II should look like. The capabilities of this dream machine of 80s retrocomputing is generally said to be something with a 32-bit CPU, a UNIX OS, modern graphics, and networking. This sounds a lot like a Raspberry Pi, so [Dave] built an Apple II to Raspberry Pi adapter card.
Having a Pi talk to an Apple II over a serial connection doesn’t really give either machine the full capabilities of the other. To fix this issue, [Dave] wrote two pieces of software. The first is a UNIX daemon that listens to the Apple II on a serial port connection, handling the Apple II keyboard connection. The second piece of software is a ProDOS disk image file running on the Apple II. With these two pieces of software, [Dave] can run the Apple on the Raspi, or run the Raspi on the Apple, sending files and data back and forth with no problem.
Aside from providing a strange and awesome Apple II to UNIX interface, the Apple II Pi also has a lot of advantages that might not be readily apparent. An Apple II compact flash adapter can be used as an internal hard drive for these pieces of classic apple hardware, and the Uthernet Ethernet card for the AII brings networking. Both of these devices are absurdly expensive compared to the component cost of the Apple II Pi, and what they bring to the table can be easily copied by the Apple II Pi.
The Apple II Pi is just a simple double-sided board with a few resistors, a cap, header, a 7404 inverter, and a communications chip that’s $5 for quantity one. If you already have a Raspi hanging around your workbench and want to soup up an Apple II with some crazy hardware capabilities, you really can’t do better than getting one of these Apple II Pi boards. Now if we could only find the board files…
Video of the Apple II Pi below, showing off all the awesome capabilities of a Pi-powered Apple. Thanks [Itay] for sending this one in.
Continue reading “Apple And Raspberry Pis”
Need to share a printer between several Apple II computers? Of course you don’t, but back in the day this would have been a really awesome piece of hardware to own. It’s a Pacemark iiEasy Print (we’re not sure on the capitalization of the name so talk amongst yourselves). It is an automatic buffer and switch that you can have now-a-days for just a couple of Hamiltons. [David] doesn’t mention where he “acquired” his specimen, but all the details about his adventures reverse engineering the card are shared in detail.
First off, we have to mention his unorthodox bench tools. To the untrained eye it would appear that he has attached the iiEasy Print to a Commodore 64; and that eye would be right. [David] says he uses the C64 something like an Arduino (if that’s even possible). The green card is plugged into the C64 memory bus, connecting to the DIP socket breakout board on the left and the chip select pins for most of the other IC’s on the original board. The gist of this setup is that it’s simple to use the “passthrough” DIP socket to monitor what the 6502-like processor is doing, while mapping the memory with the help of the chip select signals.
What did he learn from all this? Quite a lot but you might as well click that link above and hear it from his own mouth.
I’ve had my hands on this Chromecast for almost a week now and I love it. Years ago I hacked my first Xbox after seeing [Kevin Rose] do it on The Screensavers (I did the hardware mod but that’s inconsequential). Why did I do this? So that I could run Xbox Media Center, the predecessor of XBMC. Since then I’ve dreamed of a device which can be hung on the back of the TV with Velcro and run XBMC. We basically got there with the Raspberry Pi, but the Chromecast is the form-factor that I had always envisioned. This lets me watch Netflix, while the RPi runs XBMC. The two are match made in heaven for under a hundred bucks.
That’s why I love the Chromecast device itself, but the bigger picture is that I love what it stands for. Keep reading to see what i mean.
Continue reading “Rant: Why I love what the Chromecast stands for”
Not wanting too many disks lying around his Apple II battlestation, [NeXT] started looking into hard drive solutions. There is the old-time solution – a ProFile hard drive initially designed for the Apple /// and Lisa, but those are rare as hen’s teeth, and just as expensive as newer Compact Flash adapters. [NeXT] had another option – SCSI, with an adapter card, but most of the SCSI devices of the era didn’t fit in with the cool ‘stackable’ aesthetic of AII peripherals.
With a bit of Bondo and some paint, [NeXT] modded an old dual disk drive into a retro-looking hard drive perfect for storing and running hundreds of old games.
[NeXT] began his build by taking an old Apple DuoDisk (the two-disk drive seen above) and Bondoing over the holes in the front. A drive activity light was added above the Apple logo, and the old drives saved for another day. Inside the new enclosure, an old 40MB hard drive, tested on a Macintosh SE/30, was installed along with a small power supply for the drive. With a few custom SCSI cables, the drive will be ready for it’s grand debut. We think it looks awesome just sitting there, and is sure to be the pride of [NeXT]’s collection.
[Tommy Ward] had a big problem with the cord for his laptop power supply. This thing’s not cheap so he figured out a way to fix the frayed cord on his Apple MagSafe. He asserts that the shortened rubber collar on the plug end of the cord is to blame for this type of damage. We think rough use may have something to do with it too, but having had to repair our own feline-damaged power cords we’re not about to start pointing fingers.
To pull off an appropriate fix [Tommy] pries apart the case housing the power converter. This lets him get at the solder connections of the cord. After removing it from the circuit board he clips off the damaged portion of the cable. To reuse the strain relief grommet he drilled out the old portion of wire and insulation, making room for the undamaged cable to pass through, adding a cable tie on the inside to aide in strain relief. The last part of the fix involves gluing everything back together.
If your power supply problems have to do with the computer connector itself there’s a fix for that too.
Knowing he was a guy who liked electronics and taking things apart, one of [Erik]’s friends sent him a vintage Apple QuickTake 100/150 digital camera as a bit of a joke. [Erik] enjoyed the gift, but since his friend hadn’t sent the necessary serial cable he really couldn’t do that much with it. He searched online only to discover the cable is very difficult to find these days, and thus very expensive. So, being the handy guy he is, he built his own.
Starting with an Apple MiniDin8 Male cable, he cut off one end and attached the wiring to a RJ45 connector. That got plugged into a modular adapter with a DB9 Female Plug end and wired up. The procedure required no soldering, and cost less than $6. Awesome.
Unfortunately the lack of serial cable isn’t the only problem he faced. QuickTake isn’t compatible with newer Apple computers that use Intel. You have to either have a much older Mac, or use a Windows XP emulator. If that wasn’t bad enough, the cameras only want to save photos in QuickTake file format. Luckily, [Erik] documents how he overcome all these issues in his post.
[Angus Gratton] recently cracked open a pair of USB to Ethernet converters to see what’s inside. One was an Apple branded device, the other a no-name from eBay. The former rings in at $30, with the latter just $4. This type of comparison is one of our favorites. It’s especially interesting with Apple products as they are known for solid hardware choices and the knock-offs are equally infamous for shoddy imitations.
From the outside both devices look about the same. The internal differences start right away with a whole-board metal shield on the Apple dongle and none on the off-brand. But the hardware inside is actually quite similar. There’s an RJ-45 jack on the left, followed by the Ethernet isolation chip next to it. From there we start to see differences. The off-brand had a blank chip where Apple’s ASIX AX88772ALF USB to Ethernet bridge controller is located. There is also a difference with the clock; Apple is using two crystals with the other using just one.