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Any info on Video Technology Laser 500 computer?


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#51 The Usotsuki OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Nov 1, 2012 4:41 PM

I think Belgian keyboards are usually AZERTY even in Flanders?

#52 carlsson OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Nov 2, 2012 2:51 AM

Furthermore, I found some pictures on the Old-Computers site. Those display a Laser 500 with AZERTY keyboard but on the back side has a RGB DIN output rather than RF. It suggests that there were AZERTY models both with RGB + composite and with RF + composite like mine. I saw the one on Heimcomputer is a QWERTY with RF + composite.

#53 nippur72 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Nov 2, 2012 2:53 AM

I suppose the larger card edge connector is an expansion port, the slightly smaller one is a printer port, the RCA connector in the middle is RF (at least it worked that way), then labeled connectors for cassette and monitor and a piece of possibly removable plastic where it might be room for a SCART connector, but no actual connector.


The big slot is labeled for "memory expansion" but I don't remember any cart ever being made for it (we had access to almost all 500 peripherals). The expansion port is where all the devices where connected, disk drive, joystick and printer (indeed there was a very big and clumsy adapter). As for the removable plastic, yeah, I remember it! We used to remove it and connect a jack cable to the piezoelectric speaker that was very close to it. That way audio could be sent to video via RCA-AUDIO-IN as in Commodores.

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#54 carlsson OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Nov 2, 2012 7:25 AM

I still wonder if the various VTech Laser models have any compatibility what so ever when it comes to the expansion slots. Obviously those of the same heritage (e.g. 350, 500, 700, 750) might share peripherals, but it'd be cool if at least electrically e.g. the 2001, perhaps not the 3000 and 128 as those rather are Apple clones, also followed the same pinout. It'd be a bad move to conduct empiric testing without studying the schematics before.

#55 nippur72 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Nov 2, 2012 9:33 AM

I am not sure about disk drive, but the same joysticks plugged in both L310 and L500. This makes me guess they maintained a sort of electrical compatibility between models.

#56 31336haxx0r OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Nov 3, 2012 7:31 AM

I have a spare Laser 500 PCB around. I could investigate the expansion port's pinout if time permits.

#57 carlsson OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Mar 11, 2014 3:32 AM

Necro-ing an old thread, but does anyone know of a software respository for the Laser 500 / 700 or whichever are compatible? I suppose I could type in my own BASIC programs, but given that the computer even is emulated in MESS, I kind of imagine that somewhere there is at least some ready made software to obtain. I checked all the linked sites above and ran a cursory Google search but didn't find anything but pictures and specs.



#58 enthusi OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 7, 2014 5:39 AM

Hi,

I just got myself a Laser 500.

Not yet connected to anything.

Once I have some time I shall hook it up though.

It came as bare computer. No cables, PSU, drives, disks, cartridges either :)



#59 31336haxx0r OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 17, 2014 4:37 AM

It has a 7805 voltage regulator internally. so anything that puts out at least 7.5 Volts under 1 Amp load works fine as a PSU. :) Can't remember which terminal of the jack was positive and negative.



#60 carlsson OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 19, 2014 2:03 PM

The PSU with my Laser 500 is rated 10V DC 1A, centre positive polarity. It also says 126 degrees Celcius, not sure if it is as hot as it will get?



#61 nippur72 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Apr 20, 2014 5:17 AM

if you manage to make it work, it would be nice to see a video of a running L500, there are none on youtube



#62 enthusi OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 22, 2014 2:30 PM

HI and thanks for the info.
Today I plugged it int and bang: works like a charm.
Some keys need slightly more pressure than others but all seems to work quite well with some 9V DC 1A PSU.
Now I will have to read up a little on this Laser to have it running something 'useful' ;-)

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#63 nippur72 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 23, 2014 2:02 AM

Wonderful! It makes me remember of the old good days!

 

Yes, the keyboard is really silly, I always wondered why they choose to make it so cheap-looking (the L310 had a much better keystroke feeling).

 

The F-keys constains some pre-programmed basic macros, we used to switch to "TEXT 80" and "COLOR 15,0,0" before doing anything else. You can reprogram them with "KEY 1, string" if I remember correctly.

 

There is also a standard Z80 machine language monitor ("MON" or "MONITOR" can't remember).



#64 enthusi OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 24, 2014 11:23 AM

Yeah, I tried the F-Keys :)
At first glance there really doesnt seem to be much info about this gem on the net.
Will check a bit further and see if something can be programmed on it or even somehow load into it (via cass-port and line-out of PC or something :)

#65 carlsson OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 24, 2014 2:23 PM

Previously in this thread, one of Nippur72's old type in games was published. I suppose in lack of other software, one could type it in and "save as WAV" in order to hopefully distribute it, even if the higher order binary format would not be immediate to extract. I checked the BASIC course that came with my unit, but it only goes through all the standard commands. JamesD posted a program that would emit all possible keywords. I saw that MESS should emulate the 500/700 series, but without any software to load, emulation only has limited use.



#66 JamesD OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 25, 2014 12:15 AM

Previously in this thread, one of Nippur72's old type in games was published. I suppose in lack of other software, one could type it in and "save as WAV" in order to hopefully distribute it, even if the higher order binary format would not be immediate to extract. I checked the BASIC course that came with my unit, but it only goes through all the standard commands. JamesD posted a program that would emit all possible keywords. I saw that MESS should emulate the 500/700 series, but without any software to load, emulation only has limited use.

Keep in mind that a few BASICs have some hard coded keywords that are associated with other keywords.
I seem to remember running into that on another VTEC machine, the Creativision, after I posted that code.
 



#67 MADrigal OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed May 14, 2014 2:58 AM

Ok here some pics (sorry I don't have a scanner, I've done them with my android phone):

This is Laser 500 disk drive FD100A, cover of the Laser Computer Club magazine (ITALY) December 1986:

 

AYEEEEEEE!!! What the hell is that magazine?!?!?!?!?

 

I absolutely need to have full scans of that magazine.

 

I am part of 2 projects:

 

- CreatiVEmu, the website devoted to CreatiVision and Laser 2001

- Retroedicola, collecting gigabytes of scans of Italian computer magazines from the 80's.

 

I have never heard of that magazine series, I really had no idea that VTech published magazines here in Italy. And I read "year 1 - issue 6", so they even published no less than 6 issues wow!!!

 

I'm also the lucky owner of a FD100A floppy disk drive, unfortunately it lacks manuals, so the article printed on the magazine would be of great help to me.

 

I'm now sending you a PM, so we may arrange for some scans eventually. :)



#68 CatPix OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed May 14, 2014 6:27 AM

Furthermore, I found some pictures on the Old-Computers site. Those display a Laser 500 with AZERTY keyboard but on the back side has a RGB DIN output rather than RF. It suggests that there were AZERTY models both with RGB + composite and with RF + composite like mine. I saw the one on Heimcomputer is a QWERTY with RF + composite.

I have both a Laser 210 and a Laser 500 (I think?) they both have SECAM L RF output and a RGB DIN output. I can't tell if composite output through the DIN plug is available tho.

 

Nice infos about thos computers.

I got both in a big case, they were apparently used to tech people about computer (the cases bear the mention "Teaching Institute" and come with the unit, one RF cable, one Datasette and one demo tape, plus a huge instruction booklet).

 

I'll take pictures later and post them here if anyone is interested. I guess you are as much as I am :) . Finding games, accessories and other stuff here is almost impossible.


Edited by CatPix, Wed May 14, 2014 6:37 AM.


#69 MADrigal OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed May 14, 2014 6:31 AM

it would be great to get information and pics on every variant of the laser 100/200 series.

 

i am interested in getting the "codes" printed on the last page of every manual, and inside of the box (flaps). they help me understand the timeline of vtech's releases, which is helpful for my creativision project :)



#70 carlsson OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed May 14, 2014 6:40 AM

My setup looks like this, except it an AZERTY keyboard:

http://www.starekompy.pl/laser500.html

 

It might very well be so that the majority of computers remaining come in those faux leather cases with the tape recorder and BASIC course.

 

As for Laser 100/200 and VZ variants, I've seen there is a relatively active group on Yahoo! Groups about those, related to the VZ Alive! site. But the models we discuss here don't have the same following anywhere.



#71 CatPix OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed May 14, 2014 9:29 AM

Hey, that's the same institute, except mine come in gray plastic cases with foam inside :D

 

So here are the pictures. I though they were not here, but they are!

 

First, the Laser 310 (as it's a 310. I probably had a 200 at some point, tho)

 

gallery_35492_1161_245838.jpg

(in fact that's the Laser 500, but they have the same exact case so there is no point taking both a picture)

 

Everything you need is inside :

gallery_35492_1161_2845047.jpg

 

So this one is shipped with a RF cable; however, the unit itself got a DIN RGB output.

gallery_35492_1161_982301.jpg

And you can see it was rather badly cut; probably other models had a different plug, or it was poorly engineered from the start.

 

gallery_35492_1161_2030027.jpg

gallery_35492_1161_2288008.jpg

gallery_35492_1161_226213.jpg

 

The "learning computers" tape :

gallery_35492_1161_521874.jpg

 

gallery_35492_1161_2385587.jpg

Exciting programs...

 

A close-up on the back, with a fully translated sticker :

gallery_35492_1161_1543561.jpg

See the typo on "la" that is written "al"? In 1983. Well, it can happen. But keep that typo in mind.

 

 

The 500 come in the same case than the 310, However, now the case is too small so I have the datacorder aside in his original box.

gallery_35492_1161_1001205.jpg

 

Sadly, no docs on that one, it was lost over time.

gallery_35492_1161_899211.jpg

 

This time the unit is shipped with a SCART cable, and the RGB DIN hole is properly cut. It even bear the mention Péritel (the more usual name of the SCART plug in French)

gallery_35492_1161_525028.jpg

 

 

Well, let's look at the back again :

gallery_35492_1161_1892112.jpg

Same sticker, except it's 1985. And yeah, it's been two years, and nobody cared about the typo. Amusing detail :)

Also one of the round stickers says Peritel, and not SECAM. I havent tried the RF on this one, maybe it's PAL B/G?

 

The demo tape :

gallery_35492_1161_2615636.jpg

This time, at the end, you have "jeux" (games). I haven't tried them for a while.. but they are really crude BASIC stuff.

 



#72 MADrigal OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed May 14, 2014 9:33 AM

Wonderful report and wonderful pictures indeed! :)

 

About the typo: the hardware was manufactured bh VTech in Hong Kong, they probably hired some French translator and they didn't care much of the typos. Similar typos you will find in many VTech products. :-)

 

Would you kindly tell me which code is printed on one of the inner flaps of the tape deck box? Should be in the form 90-xxxx-yy. And which "copyright" year is printed on that box? 1984? I mean the box of the DR-30.

 

Lastly, I would make great use of your pictures of the "DR-10" tape deck as well as a picture of the power supply (if it's specifically made for that tape deck).

 

Would you kindly send me an email to lucantignano AT gmail DOT com, so I will tell you which sort of pic I would need.

 

Your pic will be published on the CreatiVEmu website. :)


Edited by MADrigal, Wed May 14, 2014 9:35 AM.


#73 JamesD OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed May 14, 2014 10:59 AM

VTech obviously did a lot of things on the cheap no matter which model.
It doesn't surprise me at all that they would use the same sticker on the back of completely different computer lines.
Does the plastic on the 500 appear to be the same brittle stuff used on the 200/300 series?
I know my VZ200's have a lot of hand soldered connections inside (labor was cheap I guess). Does the 500 have similar construction inside?

#74 CatPix OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed May 14, 2014 12:20 PM

The plastic and keyboard feel improved on the 500, tho not by much. And it feels so lightweight!

I can take a look inside, but I bet there was still a lot of hand soldered stuff. As you said, at the time, human labor was cheaper than automated soldering machines.



#75 CatPix OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed May 14, 2014 1:29 PM

Wonderful report and wonderful pictures indeed! :)

 

About the typo: the hardware was manufactured bh VTech in Hong Kong, they probably hired some French translator and they didn't care much of the typos. Similar typos you will find in many VTech products. :-)

 

Would you kindly tell me which code is printed on one of the inner flaps of the tape deck box? Should be in the form 90-xxxx-yy. And which "copyright" year is printed on that box? 1984? I mean the box of the DR-30.

 

Lastly, I would make great use of your pictures of the "DR-10" tape deck as well as a picture of the power supply (if it's specifically made for that tape deck).

 

Would you kindly send me an email to lucantignano AT gmail DOT com, so I will tell you which sort of pic I would need.

 

Your pic will be published on the CreatiVEmu website. :)

I looked fast, but I haven't seen any number on or in the box. I'll take multiple pictures and send them to you.

 

I send you an e-mail as soon as possible, and I'll take the picture tomorrow ;) as I moved, I didn't picked up this stuff.






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