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Bought an Apple IIc - my first Apple ever - looking for guidance

1200XL M.U.L.E.

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May 9, 2021
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I bought an Apple IIc from a local thrift store for $45. It was labeled as “Vintage Apple Keyboard - Untested”. I have never owned an Apple so I know absolutely nothing about ecosystem. My only experience with Apple computers was playing Oregon Trail and some BASIC programming in a computer class in the 80s. I am well versed in PC/XT/AT, Atari 8-bit, and Atari ST ecosystems.

I am looking for some direction and guidance to get started. Also, what kinds of “gotcha!” traps should I be ready for?

I figure step one is buying a power supply. Has anyone tried this one?


I paid $45 for the machine. Did I do OK here? You’re only good as your last deal, right? :)
 

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HoJoPo

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That power supply should work just fine.

If you don't have any software for the Apple II series, you should buy the ADT Pro USB to serial adapter and serial cable kit he sells as well:


And pick up some blank Double Sided Double Density (DSDD) 5.25 inch floppy disks to hold software on.

Another option is the floppyEMU, which will emulate 5.25 and 3.5 floppy drives, as well as a smartport hard drive (if your //c has a new enough ROM revision to support smartport devices.)
 

1200XL M.U.L.E.

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@HoJoPo Thank you for the reply! I appreciate the pointers to the USB adapter kit and floppyEMU. The floppyEMU option seems more versatile. First, I should check if the IIc even works. I will order the power supply now. If the computer turns on then I will move further forward.

Disks - I have plenty of DSDD disks for use in my Atari 8-bit and PC/XT machines.

What video display options are available for the IIc? I see the composite video output jack. Google showed me a VGA adapter box made by A2Heaven but it is out of stock.
 

HoJoPo

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@HoJoPo Thank you for the reply! I appreciate the pointers to the USB adapter kit and floppyEMU. The floppyEMU option seems more versatile. First, I should check if the IIc even works. I will order the power supply now. If the computer turns on then I will move further forward.

Disks - I have plenty of DSDD disks for use in my Atari 8-bit and PC/XT machines.

What video display options are available for the IIc? I see the composite video output jack. Google showed me a VGA adapter box made by A2Heaven but it is out of stock.
Composite video is standard so will work with most TVs, the VGA adapter would be nice but isn't necessary. The matching AppleColor composite monitor is fairly high resolution and has a switchable color killer for better 80 column display, the matching Apple Monitor //c (little green monochrome monitor) is pretty popular:

1655052188575.png

The //c can run on 12V to about 19V, so if you have a 7 pin DIN female plug, you could build your own cable to test with another power supply, or maybe test by insulating some clips/pins to temporarily power it up.

1655052313907.png
 

njroadfan

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Just use the composite video for now, bonus points if you have a CRT. Once you have a power supply, it should fire right up and try to boot off of a floppy. The most common problem with these machines is RAM chips failing, which would usually result in the machine not booting at all.
 

1200XL M.U.L.E.

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@HoJoPo and @njroadfan ...

Composite video it shall be, then! I have a few screens with a composite video input so I should be OK to test there. Do any owners use a composite to VGA or HDMI adapter box?

I am familiar with the barrel DIN connectors and cables. My Atari 8-bit and ST machines use them for video and external floppy drives (ST). Alas, I do not have any spare connectors that I can hotwire a power supply into. :( After posting my message last night I ordered a power supply. It should arrive this week.

Faulty RAM. Another issue I had plenty of past experience with. That one can be tricky. Is there a recommended diagnostic program I should run that will test all the subsystems?

@oldpcguy ... Thanks! I am hopeful the machine fires right up and runs like a champ. If not then I will come knocking. ;)
 

1200XL M.U.L.E.

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Thanks for the reply, @HoJoPo !

Now I have a tracking number for the power supply. It's slated to arrive Jun 18th. Hopefully it arrives sooner than that. Finger crossed the machine fires right up. Then all sorts of fun projects can begin! :)
 

njroadfan

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Hit Control-Reset and get to a BASIC prompt. Type PRINT PEEK(64447) then hit Return.

If the machine prints "255", you have the original ROM revision that does not have the built-in self test or SmartPort drive support. If it prints "0", you are good to go.

 

1200XL M.U.L.E.

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Thanks, @njroadfan ! I remember seeing there are multiple versions of the ROM, including several super-charged homebrew versions. This will be a good reference.

The tracking info for the power supply says I should receive it today! Fingers crossed the tracking info is accurate! The package is one city away as of 2:18am.
 

1200XL M.U.L.E.

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Alrighty! The power supply arrived this afternoon. :)

I connected the power supply and a small LCD display that has a composite video input to the IIc. The computer fired right up! (y) One item of concern to me is the floppy drive. It makes a loud, rapid-fire clicking sound and then spins down. Is this normal?

The ROM check says I have version 0.

I ran a memory (system?) test by pressing both Apple keys, control, and reset. After a kaleidoscope of colors the IIc said, "System OK".

What else can I do to test the system without a boot disk?

Also, is there any chance someone here can send me a boot disk to try? I will PayPal you the cost of the disk, shipping, and a little extra. 😇
 

twolazy

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Thats normal upon boot. The drives in these are pretty noisy. If no1 speaks up, I can send you a few diskettes of whatever you need to get started.
 

HoJoPo

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With ROM 0, you have smartport support, so the FloppyEMU would work great with your //c, to emulate 3.5 or 5.25 drives or a smart port hard drive.

With the ADTpro kit from Apple2Online, you can transfer whatever disks you want from the Apple II archives to physical media via the serial port.
 

1200XL M.U.L.E.

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@twolazy Thanks for calming my nerves on the floppy drive. I never heard a floppy drive click like this one does and I was starting to get a little worried. And thanks for the offer on the diskette! :) I may PM you later.

@njroadfan I disassembled the computer and discovered the speaker connector was partially disconnected. After reseating it I now hear beeps when I perform the self test!

@HoJoPo Yes, I will definitely look deeper at the ADTpro kit. It feels similar to the APE (Atari Peripheral Emulator) in the Atari 8-bit ecosystem. That package allows me to open disk images (typically *.ATR) and use my Windows PC to send/receive serial data via USB to/from the disk image.

I wanted to share some images of my take-apart and cleaning of the IIc. They should be attached to the bottom of this message.

Everything cleaned up decently well but there also wasn't a whole lot of dirt, dust, and grime. Just a bit here and there. I was really impressed with how solidly put together it feels. The Atari 1200XL and Atari 800XL are from the same era and they don't seem as robust. I think this is reflective of all the cost cutting Atari did during the price wars of that time. Apple smartly side stepped all that silliness and focused on quality. I mean, the Alps keyboard alone makes the whole system worth it! :biggrin:

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Kehvarl

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May 15, 2022
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Location
Phoenix, AZ
The rapid clicking is a nostalgia-inducing sound for me. To simplify things, the Apple disk controller doesn't check for a limit switch when bringing the drive head to the home position; instead it just tells the drive to pull the head back until it would be at track 0 no matter where it had started out.
 
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