Monday, July 21, 2008

UFIC - Introduction

Project UFIC (USB For IDE Controllers)

The idea of this project is not to take the Compact Flash (CF) outside of the Apple II case but instead place a USB CF Reader inside it. UFIC is an alternate solution to the problem of accessing a CF card (or IDE/ATA hard drive) which is positioned internally in an Apple II computer.

UFIC is an adapter which plugs in between the Microdrive IDE controller and the IDE/ATA to CF Board. It consists of two IDE/ATA plugs, a type B USB plug, a USB to ATA/ATAPI bridge and a switch.

The operation of the adapter is very simple. When the Apple II computer is turned off, the adapter allows a USB connected PC to access the CF card (or hard drive). When powered on, the system bypasses the USB to ATA/ATAPI bridge and functions like it did without the adapter.

Note: You still need a utitlity on the PC side such as CiderPress ( to access the data on the CF card (or hard drive).

Note: A 2.5 inch hard drive will require more power than can be supplied using one USB port (multi USB port cable is needed). A 3.5 inch hard drive will require an external power supply.

Note: This adapter is specifically build for the Microdrive IDE controller. The same principle could be used for other IDE controllers like the CFFA and the Focus Drive. The only difference being different connectors ie CFFA would need 5 volts from the controller card instead of pin 20 and the Focus Drive would need 44pin plugs. A USB CF Reader could be used instead of the USB to ATA/ATAPI bridge to give the same result.

Suppliers of IDE Drives :-
Microdrive IDE controller -
Focus IDE HD Controller -

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Game Controller - Serial Switch Box

Sure, in most cases one game controller (joystick) will pretty well get you by for most games but in my opinion some games are just better played using the hand controllers/paddles (yes, I know, it is hard to believe) while others are just meant to be played using a free floating joystick. The problem with having these options means manually having to swap over the controllers or reconfiguring the joystick modes (free floating verses self centering). After a while this starts to become a pain, especially if you are switching between them regularly.

To find a solution, apart from tracking down the game controllers themselves, all I needed was a 4 way serial switch box and a 9 pin male to 9 pin male cable which I made up. The trackball was easily configured. It just got plugged in on the ADB bus between the keyboard and the mouse.

I am very happy with my solution as I have finally got my game controllers setup the way that I wanted. That is, available at a flick of the switch.

Parts List

Apple Joystick Model A2M2012 (Self centering)
Apple Joystick Model A2M2002 (Free floating)
Apple Hand Controllers Model A2M2001
4Way 9 pin Serial Switch Box
9 pin male to 9 pin male straight through cable
Kensington Turbo Mouse (Trackball) Version 5.0 Model 64210

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

External CF

The programming of the microcontroller is going to take a while. I will try and update my progress as much as possible but in the mean time I'll leave you with posts on some of my smaller projects.

External Compact Flash (CF) - External enclosure for IDE/ATA controller.

To add software to my Compact Flash (CF) based hard drive (MicroDrive IDE controller supplied by I was constantly opening the case to get to the card. The idea was to extend the IDE/ATA connection and get the CF card external to the IIGS. I was unable to use a standard IDE/ATA cable because it contained female plugs and so did the CF adapter that came with the IDE controller. Tracking down a straight through 40 pin extension cable (male one end and female on the other) proved to be unsuccessful.

I ended up purchasing a CF adapter with a 40 pin female connection (39 pins actually), hooked it up and to my surprise nothing happened. At first I could not get it to work at all. Power needed to be supplied to the CF adapter's power connector. It was missing pin 20 (KEY pin) which the original CF adapter used as an alternate 5 volt power source. I set about modifying the IDE controller card by adding two pins for external power however I never ended up using it because of a change in plan. Using the new CF adapter was going to be an ugly solution. Not only was the cable short but the power cable would have to be run alongside it. The power could have been fed via pin 20 of the IDE/ATA cable but that would have meant modifying the equipment (IDE/ATA cable, CF adapter) or creating new adapters.

Instead I chose to use the original CF adapter and managed to get a custom cable made up (Supplied by Qld Connectors & Cables - This also meant I could have a longer cable. The IDE/ATA bus is specified to be used up to a maximum length of 46cm. However, cables up to about 90cm have been used successfully. I picked a length of 70cm which would allow the CF adapter to sit nicely at the side of the IIGS. To run the cable through the IIGS slot I sliced the cable in three so that it would fit in without bending. The slot is quite sharp so it was a delicate job feeding it through. Finally I purchased a plastic enclosure from a local electronics store and my father helped me mount the adapter inside. Two light transporters were used to move the power and read/write signals to the front panel. A fair bit of the light is lost this way. From my sitting position I can see the power light even though it is dull but to make out the read/write light I need to move so that my eyes are in line with it. Rewiring the LEDs would have been a better performing option.

I was concerned with not having external power on the CF adapter but so far I have not had any problems. Then again my IIGS power supply isn't overloaded.

CHED - Parts

Enclosure (Apple 3.5 Drive - A9M0106)
Ebay -

Hard Drive 2.5"
Ebay - or PC recyclers

Mounting for circuit board and hard drive (IDE 2.5 - 3.5 Converter with Metal Frame)
Jaycar Electronics -

Cables to Hard Drive and USB Board (44-pin 2.5" IDE Laptop Male to Female Cable 15cm)
Cable was cut in half to form the two cables.
Mittoni -

USB to ATA/ATAPI Bridge (2.5" HDD Hard Drive USB 2.0 Case/Enclosure)
Ebay -

Connectors / Relay / ET-AVR Stamp Module (Atmega128)
Futurlec - or

4x20 character LCD (Newhaven Display: NHD-0420H1Z-FSW-GBW)
Mouser Electronics -

General Electronics
Jaycar Electronics -
Dick Smith Electronics -