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towmater

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Coming soon from the forum next to yours...

 

sml_gallery_40446_1285_17335.png

 

 

It looks like it's supposed to be plug in card for the Apple, but with a place to socket an F18A video board. This is an intriguing idea, but would it be compatible? Will this start fights?

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I received a few pointers from Matthew on the F18A's requirements, so I'm fairly sure it will work, and no, no fights, it leads us to the Undiscovered Country.

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Cool! It'll be interesting to watch this over the next couple of years to see what this does to the Apple II community. I know for the TI, which already had color, the sharpness of VGA graphics was just mind boggling. Now more people use the F18A than any other video output method.

 

Please let me know when it's working and a video is available,

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the TMS chips were sold on apple II as "arcade board" and there are some programs that use it, now it wasnt used a lot back then, will it be used now, even with existing VGA, component, and even some examples of HDMI for stock apple II video.

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the TMS chips were sold on apple II as "arcade board" and there are some programs that use it, now it wasnt used a lot back then, will it be used now, even with existing VGA, component, and even some examples of HDMI for stock apple II video.

 

Well I'll be, I did not know that it used the TMS9918... FREAKIN' EXCELLENT!

I guess the Apple folks are in for one hell of a fun ride! I bet there will eventually be more than just a few who 're-visit' the old programs, or even start writing new ones! AWESOME!

 

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( CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE )

 

I'm betting YES, that people will flock to it. VGA monitors are a 'dime-a-dozen' and can be had very cheaply, they also have better visuals and take up a lot less space than those old CRT's. Now if you plan to hook it up to your 80" LED TV you could do that too!

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Only two more questions... I could not read the number for the other IC chip on the board, is it a buffer of some sort? I notice the original card shown above also had audio. Any plans to address that?

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It's a 74LS00. Let's see if we can find enough info to emulate the audio as well, any leads on schematics, or a source for a loaner board that we can reverse engineer will be helpful. I'd bet the mockingboard is compatible as it used a similar sound chip, but we can't test yet, the initial board is a few weeks from delivery (OshPark)

 

The F18A is code compatible with the 9918 chip, but also hides far greater capabilties that we could utilize.

Edited by towmater

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I know that it's an AY8910 (same chip as Mockingboard). My code for writing to the chip has it using C0x5 for "write register" and C0x6 for "write data" (this isn't Mockingboard-compatible).

Edited by The Usotsuki

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F18A does 80-columns, so in addition to functioning as a sprite board, an F18A sprite board could also serve as an 80-column card for a ][+, though it would need driver software and PR#3 wouldn't work.

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One would write 100% of the software in existence that would run on it. ;-)

I think you might be better served with an i7 imac, as more software will be available for that stolid platform.

 

But seriously, there is existing software that is theoretically compatible with this, and I'll be happy to let you know what once we have one running.

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I wonder how this would interact and co-exist in a //e with ProDOS and a basic 64K/80-Column card? And DHGR? That's practically a baseline configuration.

 

What about Apple II+ support?

PR#3 not working? Ouch..

 

I'm wondering why this wasn't made for the auxiliary slot and equipped with spring clips to pull signals from other chips, if needed, like they did with the old shift-key mods?

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I wonder how this would interact and co-exist in a //e with ProDOS and a basic 64K/80-Column card? And DHGR? That's practically a baseline configuration.

 

What about Apple II+ support?

PR#3 not working? Ouch..

 

I'm wondering why this wasn't made for the auxiliary slot and equipped with spring clips to pull signals from other chips, if needed, like they did with the old shift-key mods?

 

We are, of course, using bulk-power. It's actually hard to tell what this thing will do, as the board it is emulating was marketed variously as the "E-Z Color Graphics Interface", the "EZ - Color", the E/Z Color", "Micro Mint Sprite Board", all by "Micromint", "Micro Mint" and "Micro-Mint". That's part of the fun, and if enough is uncovered to make it worth your while, that would be awesome. Anybody who has any lead on the manual for the original board, please chime in.

 

To clarify, this is a second display output for the A2, so DHGR will be fine, it just won't be coming from this thingy. It's not a VGA adapter for your Apple, it is an enhanced graphics add-on that outputs TMS9918A graphics modes to VGA, plus some wild new SNES style modes that weren't available on the original. The PR#3 command may not matter as you'll have dual display capability with the F18A in 80-column mode.

 

Since the beast doesn't exist for a few more weeks, we'll need to figure some things out before sharing the board, for example the reset line is currently designed to be software trigger-able, that might be a bad idea for compatibility with old stuff if that's not the way Micro Mint's card worked.

 

As for II+ support, the original 1982 design by Steve Ciarcia for the card we're emulating here was said to be compatible with every A2 that existed at the time, so the iigs is the one we're not so sure about because of its variable clock rate. All testing will be done in a iigs however, so that should be straightened out quickly.

Edited by towmater
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Ah, EZCI - has the addresses shifted slightly relative to the Arcade Board and doesn't have an AY. I do have some code somewhere for it.

The 9918 doesn't need any address decoding. It's deriving RW and device select from the 7400. Perhaps the Arcade Board was meant to be in a certain slot to work?

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It's not slot-dependent; its location needs to be detected by poking around to see if there's a TMS9918.

 

For the Arcade Board, I use these relative offsets:

abrddat    =        abbase    ; read data from 9918
abwrdat    =        abbase+2  ; write data to 9918
abwrreg    =        abbase+3  ; write 9918 control registers

abpsgreg   =        abbase+5  ; write 8910 control registers
abpsgdat   =        abbase+6  ;       8910 i/o

and for the EZ Color/Graphics Interface:

abrddat    =        abbase    ; read data from 9918
abwrdat    =        abbase    ; write data to 9918
abwrreg    =        abbase+1  ; write 9918 control registers

In either case, I probe slots for the 9918, although some of my older code assumes slot 4.

Edited by The Usotsuki

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Stupid question, but won't there be outputs for a VGA cable somewhere on the board too, or how do Apple expansion cards generally work? I've seen a couple other cards without connectors where I had expected there to be connectors or cables, so perhaps there is some magic and general I/O pins elsewhere that the expansion card can hog?

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Never mind, I just checked pics of the F18A and realized it is a daughter board with its own pin headers, so no need for additional ones on the Apple expansion card.

Edited by carlsson

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