reverse engineering the Apple IIe Diagnostic Card

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speedyG's picture
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Hello to all AF members,

at the end of April after VCFe has passed by i´m starting to reverse engineer the Apple //e Diagnostic Rom Card.
This card was used by dealers and service technicians to make fast diagnostic on Apple //e systems.
It contained a diagnostic programm in Eproms and was able to uncover nearly every problem known by the Apple IIe.
It has never been released to the public and therefor only very few of this cards have been made.....
but it has for sure quite a large value for larger user communities and local user groups or collectors with
larger amount of IIe computers in their collection for assisting their local staff by maintaining the members computers.....

i´ll therefor perform a reverse engineering task on this card and publish the information here in an own thread....

here at first step a view on the top and solderside of the card:
the topside:

and the bottomside:

sincerely speedyG

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speedyG's picture
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Re: reverse engineering the Apple IIe Diagnostic Card

Hello to the AFmembers,
here is the first step:
film from solderside converted to red layer and Picture with componentnames inserted:
here the picture with components:

here the picture with the red layer of the solderside:

have fun and enjoy easter holidays
sincerely speedyG

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Re: reverse engineering the Apple IIe Diagnostic Card

Hi Speedy,

Did you ever go any further with this project?

Looks quite useful.

I seem to recall in my distant past a diagnostic eprom for the Apple 2/2+.

I believe it replaced the monitor rom.

I've been looking for one of these as well.

I think I might have one stashed away in the shed somewhere, but that's not likely to see the light of day for years.

Cheers, Martin...

speedyG's picture
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Re: reverse engineering the Apple IIe Diagnostic Card

Hello Martin,

well to tell the truth, it was delayed for several months, due to the running projects of the Mountainb Computer expansion box.
That task is now nearly completed .... i´m just waiting for some scopepictures to arrive for completion of that task.

Within this upcoming week also the CFFA1 card should arrive too....( the fact that the first shipment had been "lost" somewhere in transportation
from arrival at german airport to customs caused a severe delay to the project of the "Apple-1 expansion cards" project )
- if that happens, then i will also be able to complete the task of testing the expansion cards that i have developed for the Apple-1
replications and i can start to release the ordering pages for that project and prepare for the order collection and shipping of that cards tooo....

that will be exactly the time, when i will pick up this project and the project about the "sound and speechcard for the Apple II series"
from their "sleeping status" back to "active status" again and proceed with that projects. I hope that i will be able to close this 2 projects
of the "diagnostic card for the Apple IIe" and the "sound and speechcard for the Apple II series" within this year too.... and then
the next step will be to develop some kind of "software machine code expansion for graphic capabilities" to the Apple-1 replicas
in the beginning of the next year.

at least also if a project sometimes get´s delayed... never mind... i´m not the kind of guy to surrender on such tasks.... if i start
something, then i carry it out till to the end.... delays may occur due to my limited abilities resulting from
health status or other factors... but after a while they will be picked up again and continued till completion.....

sincerely speedyG

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gsmcten's picture
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Re: reverse engineering the Apple IIe Diagnostic Card

Speedy Said:

Quote:

"i´m just waiting for some scopepictures to arrive for completion of that task."

Are you waiting for Keatah?

Do you need more pics from me?

Steven Smile

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Steven (gsmcten)

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Re: reverse engineering the Apple IIe Diagnostic Card

SpeedyG,

That's excellent news.

You are truly a great addition to all things Apple (1 and 2).

In Australia we would call you a legend Smile

Thanks for the update.

Cheers, Martin...

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Re: reverse engineering the Apple IIe Diagnostic Card

gsmcten wrote:

Speedy Said:

Quote:

"i´m just waiting for some scopepictures to arrive for completion of that task."

Are you waiting for Keatah?
Do you need more pics from me?
Steven Smile

Hello Steven,
yep that´s correct....
but to all AF-members ... let´s be fair.... Keatah has provided more than 60% of the job by all the measurements
he made....and he - similar to me - is the kind of guy, that prefers activities in the summertime rather more than "winter-
games".... so it´s now his time for recreation and vacation.....we should give him the time to relax and load up
his batteries of life..... enjoying the nature outdoors.... i´m sure he will turn back to the task and provide us
with the scopepictures, as soon as he is back to his "Apple desk"....

and related to additional pictures....well in fact the folder is filled up with plenty of them.....
so up to the moment this part is completed and nothing more to do.... so just take time for yourself
Steven and do some recreation too....

and the statement of legends... well i hope i´m far away from that.... legends in regular understanding mostly
have passed away
to turn to legendary status....

maybe i´m something more likely similar to a kind of expert or "guru" if you like to use a exotic term....
but there are guys around here, that earn that kind of title far more than me.... for example wsander -
he realy did spend quite a time in the staff of Apple Computers in Cupertino and had chance to hang around
with WOZ....

sincerely speedyG

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Re: reverse engineering the Apple IIe Diagnostic Card

Speedy said:

Quote:

"maybe i´m something more likely similar to a kind of expert or "guru" if you like to use a exotic term...."

My personal opinion is that you, Keatah, David S., and several others
on the site share the title of "Grand Poobah".

You are not afraid to get your hands dirty and dig into something.

(Although The Royal Order of the Water Buffalo's has been presided over
by Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble for years) lol

Note: For those who do not know who Fred, Barney, Wilma, Betty, Pebbles, and Bam-Bam are,
you are going to have to use Google and look up "The Flintstones".

Steven Smile

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jwg1962's picture
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Re: reverse engineering the Apple IIe Diagnostic Card

I just won an auction on eBay for one of these and this is the only info I can seem to find on it. Does anyone have the manual or instructions for this. I know it was only sold to dealers, but I figure someone must have scanned something on this?

Jay

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Re: reverse engineering the Apple IIe Diagnostic Card

Somewhere I think I have the info but I'm not sure where - so that might be a summer endeavor. James Littlejohn might have it also.

In the meantime:

http://a2central.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/SlotTest.JPG
http://a2central.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/FuncTest.JPG

These cards will probably be displayed at KFest this year, if I can talk JL into it.

speedyG's picture
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Re: reverse engineering the Apple IIe Diagnostic Card

Hello to you both,
in general you can just state that the card just performs the same tests like the Apple Dealers Disk does for
the Apple II and II+.
It´s just the difference that instead of booting from Disk and loading tests from Disk the same tests are performed
from menu starting out of ROMs and that of course it tests the IIe ROMs and the MMU and IOU ( not for integrity but
for function ).
And reverse engineering will be performed in second half of this year....
up till last weekend i still was running in tasks to exhibit a running alpha syntauri system at the VCFe in Munich.....
the problem finally turned out to become a transportation problem, because i was left in my place
with the entire equipment without any support for transportation....
nevertheless this thread is at the moment just delayed but not cancelled....
at the current moment i´m finishing a task with a soundcard from stnyx....
he might probably later publish info´s on the card...
speedyG

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Re: reverse engineering the Apple IIe Diagnostic Card

Hi SpeedyG,

was this project ever finalized ?

Thanks and have a nice weekend.

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Re: reverse engineering the Apple IIe Diagnostic Card

Speedy,

DrKenB has this card:

https://www.ebluejay.com/item/4918826

I tried to enlarge the picture, but she starts
phasing out after enlargement.

Steven Smile

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speedyG's picture
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Re: reverse engineering the Apple IIe Diagnostic Card

Hello tokabln,

please don't start tossing more tasks at same time to me.....
you asked me to complete MCEB files for reproduction and i replied that
i will complete that task besides other running tasks within this month....
that task is running and i've completed nearly half of that task to generate
Gerberfiles.....
so i'll first complete that before i start completion of other tasks....

at this task there have been no replies for more than 3 years....
so don't expect me to start jumping just because after more than 3 years
one inquiry as reply arrives on the scene....

i'll take a thought about this task after the others have been completed...

Hello Steven,
the card from your link is exactly the same i displayed at the beginning of this thread.

sincerely
speedyG

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tokabln's picture
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Re: reverse engineering the Apple IIe Diagnostic Card

Hi speedG,

that wasn't my intent. So sorry for this... it was just a question.

Wish you a nice day

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Torsten aka tokabln

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Re: reverse engineering the Apple IIe Diagnostic Card

speedyG wrote:

Hello tokabln,

please don't start tossing more tasks at same time to me.....
you asked me to complete MCEB files for reproduction and i replied that
i will complete that task besides other running tasks within this month....
that task is running and i've completed nearly half of that task to generate
Gerberfiles.....
so i'll first complete that before i start completion of other tasks....

at this task there have been no replies for more than 3 years....
so don't expect me to start jumping just because after more than 3 years
one inquiry as reply arrives on the scene....

i'll take a thought about this task after the others have been completed...

Hello Steven,
the card from your link is exactly the same i displayed at the beginning of this thread.

sincerely
speedyG

Any particular reason you are getting upset about this guy asking a question? Am I missing something?

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Re: reverse engineering the Apple IIe Diagnostic Card

Er... back on topic?

Besides building the ROM images (do they exist online somewhere?), it seems like a prototype would be a relatively easy task using an Apple II card protoboard. If all went well then new cards could be printed and populated.

I think this is a noble project, considering that Apple //e computers are only getting older. If someone could provide the ROM images from the card (or better yet, burn a few EPROMs) I would be excited to attempt prototyping it.

EDIT: Here's a card currently being sold online, in case anyone is interested (and from the USA) https://www.ebluejay.com/item/4918826

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Re: reverse engineering the Apple IIe Diagnostic Card

CWJ,

That's the Card DrKenB has on his site.
Speedy has the pictures of it.

I almost spent the $100.00 that he wants for it, so I could donate it to the cause,
but I just can't afford it right now.

Steven Smile

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Re: reverse engineering the Apple IIe Diagnostic Card

Good morning,

I found the ROM images here:

http://mirrors.apple2.org.za/ftp.apple.asimov.net/emulators/rom_images/

and here:

http://mirrors.apple2.org.za/Apple%20II%20Documentation%20Project/Interface%20Cards/Debugging/Apple%20IIe%20Diagnostic%20Card/ROM%20Images/

That's my last comment to this thread after getting the above response.

Have fun...

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Re: reverse engineering the Apple IIe Diagnostic Card

Thanks for finding those! Am I missing something here, then? I don't have an EPROM burner but beyond that, building a prototype shouldn't be too hard.

I think I've found my spring project...

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Re: reverse engineering the Apple IIe Diagnostic Card

Hi Guys,

I now own two of these. I bought one on eBay this morning. Another one went to $50.00 right after with Box and All. I didn't see that one.

http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_nkw=Apple+IIe+diagnostic+Card&_in_kw=1&_ex_kw=&_sacat=0&LH_Sold=1&_udlo=&_udhi=&_samilow=&_samihi=&_sadis=15&_stpos=16002&_sargn=-1%26saslc%3D1&_salic=1&_sop=12&_dmd=1&_ipg=50&LH_Complete=1

When this one arrives I will check it out and report back. I have an EPROM burner so I can try to burn a few and we can go from there.

THanks,
Jay

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Re: reverse engineering the Apple IIe Diagnostic Card

Well, I did a presentation at KansasFest this year and showed them this card at work and there were over a dozen questions about re-making this card. So I went ahead and speced out the parts needed for it and at QTY=1 they came to round $20.00. That doesn't include burning the ROMS or the board. Just the TTL chips, ROM Chips, and discreet parts.

So I really think there is an interest in re-making this card and possible looking at the ROMs to make it work on the Platinum IIe also.

I am willing to invest time and funds into this project. I own four of these (3 revision A and 1 Revision b) models. When I get home, I am going to look at the differences between the REVA and REVB models to see what the difference is. (Unless someone on knows).

I am going to try to find schematics for it if I can. If not, I guess the part that Speedy might know how to do that I don't is get the file for the board ready to send to a PC board manufacturing house.

If we can outline what the next steps are I will rustle up the help to get this moving again.

Thanks
Jay

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Re: reverse engineering the Apple IIe Diagnostic Card

Thank you for doing so, and congratulations on going to KFest.

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Re: reverse engineering the Apple IIe Diagnostic Card

I'm happy to help with the ROM burning if needed.

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Re: reverse engineering the Apple IIe Diagnostic Card

I reverse-engineered the card awhile back. I haven't yet submitted it at a PCB place, so it remains untested.

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Re: reverse engineering the Apple IIe Diagnostic Card

That's great and I do have real interest in 1 (one) card...

but I do believe that it will be very difficult to get a bunch of 2112A RAM chips anymore.
I just searched the internet and found one supplier who wants to get 20$ per chip excl.
shipment while he has 2 items only.

So I believe to get such chips the shipping will be expensive at least from US
to Germany.

This will probably true for the PCB as well. So the question is, if I could get the Board files
to handle PCB request for Germany. Because it's less expensive to get boards from China.

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Re: reverse engineering the Apple IIe Diagnostic Card

I have a local source for the 2112A chips and am willing to bankroll a test run of the PCBs.

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Re: reverse engineering the Apple IIe Diagnostic Card

FYI, I'm in for at least 1 card.

Gotta ask, but is it possible to reduce the height of the card, or is the intent to make a replica?

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Re: reverse engineering the Apple IIe Diagnostic Card

I'm in for one as well, looking promising.

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Re: reverse engineering the Apple IIe Diagnostic Card

I will take one also

Cooper

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Re: reverse engineering the Apple IIe Diagnostic Card

The card is tall because Apple didn't want the technicians running the card with the lid closed. Once you have the schematic diagram down pat, the parts can be re-arranged however way you want. I wouldn't attempt at optimizing the design until there's a firm understanding of the firmware, in case the firmware addresses the components in a certain way.

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Re: reverse engineering the Apple IIe Diagnostic Card

groinksan wrote:

I wouldn't attempt at optimizing the design until there's a firm understanding of the firmware, in case the firmware addresses the components in a certain way.

I strongly doubt that to be the case, though physically forcing the card to be run with the lid open seems plausible.

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Re: reverse engineering the Apple IIe Diagnostic Card

Not in this thread, but in another thread a couple of people brought up the idea of basically starting the whole diagnostic card from scratch. Instead of cloning the IIe card, there should be a focus on reverse-engineering the IIe diag ROM to learn how it works, and then building something better.

I did actually disassemble the English ROMs (077-0026 and 27) and learned a great deal on how the card works. So far it assembles great with sbasm, and the checksums on the object code matchs the original. It would be fun to make ROMs for other languages that don't already exist, such as Hawaiian (I live in Hawaii.)

The most interesting things I've learned about the card so far is 1. how the CPU is tested, and 2. the lack of checksum/ROM support for the platinum IIe.

For the CPU test, the ROM runs the CPU through just about every 65x02 instruction in existence. Not sure how effective of a test that is. I guess it is possible for the CPU to pop a gate or two and still run 99.99 percent of stuff out there, so these instruction tests may come up with an error.

For the checksum/ROM support, the diag ROM was made before the platinum IIe existed. For example, the platinum IIe has a CF ROM, while the previous models of the IIe has CD and EF. The built-in checksums in the diag ROM does not recognize the CF ROM, so the ROM test will fail on the platinum IIe. Everything else seems to work on the platinum IIe.

One other thing I discovered upon reverse engineering the card is that the empty ROM socket in the middle really doesn't do anything. It is possible to expand the ROM code, but that never happened. Also, replacing the SRAM with something else may be a design challenge, since the glue logic would be totally different if, for example, someone tried to switch to DRAM. Keep in mind that this diag ROM card is virtually a complete IIe, excluding video support, its own CPU and everything that goes with it like an oscillator. For example, the SRAM on the card is used instead of the DRAM on the main logic board, in case the DRAM is in fact defective.

With all of that out in the open, what I would do to make a great diag ROM card:

1. Use SRAM that is more available.

2. Have a 65C02 or even a 65816 on the ROM card, so that it can run even if the CPU on the logic board is dead.

3. Support ALL models of slotted Apple II systems, and not just the beige IIe.

4. Connect the composite video out to the diag ROM card, so that it can test the video output coming out of the logic board.

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Re: reverse engineering the Apple IIe Diagnostic Card

Sounds good. That actually might be the better way to go. As I said, Henry Corbus from Reactive Micro is wanting to partner on this. I was actually dumping the ROMS on a revision B card this past weekend.

I think another reason they are using SRAM is that it is TTL compatible and you don't need refresh signal circuitry for it.

I am more than willing to partner on this and I have Henry's contact info, we just need to figure out how we can work together on it.

Don't know if you saw these. James Littlejohn had these at KansasFest one year.

Functional Test Card

and

http://a2central.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/SlotTest.JPG

I'll take pictures of my cards and put them up here tonight or tomorrow.

Thanks,
Jay

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