Apple 1 Hardware Notes

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Cameron Cooper's Mimeo 

Cameron Cooper's Mimeo 1

Cameron has been helping me find old parts and is also my beta tester and first victim.  He sent me this picture of his built up Mimeo.  Cameron has gone to great effort and expense to find the white packaged IC's and vintage signetics TTL parts for his build.  Below is a close up of the 6502.
Cameron's white 6502

Mistakes in Apple's published schematics

These are a lot closer to reality than the Apple II schematics in the "Red Book", but there still are a couple of errors.

In laying out the board and reviewing my net list with Apple's schematics, so far I've found the following differences and errors between the schematics and the actual board.

from Signetics 1982 TTL data manual

Less than optimal design practices discovered

First is the floating inputs on D6-D9.  To the right is a scan of the text from the 1982 Signetics TTL Logic Data Manual.  Signetics definately discouraged the practice.  Note that one of the batches of Apple 1's that were built, used a lot of Signetics chips.  Apple improved their practices as time went on as the Apple II rev 0, only has one floating input, and that probably was an inadvertant bug.

apple 1 feedthrough
The second less than optimal feature found was the design of the +12V bus used to power the DRAMs.  This bus comes down from the power supply and reaches the area of the DRAMs on the bottom of the board.  There is a trace on the top of the board across the top of each row of DRAMs that carries the power to each chip.  To go from the bottom of the board to the top, the designers used the +12v pin of DRAM chips at location B15 and A15.  Normally, separate feed throughs are used to move a power supply to different layers.

 Once again, this sort of feature is not seen in the Apple II rev 0.

video flaw

Video Imperfection

There is a small flaw in the video section of the Apple 1, that causes spikes in the video signal. This results in extra pixels in the display. Here is a worst case display, with brightness turned way up, of those pixels, with no characters displayed ( the screen should be blank).

I have been able to confirm with some help that this fault also occurs on the Obtronix and original Apple 1s(check out the "blank screen" show on this page). I’ve tracked this down to cross talk between the video signal from C13-6 to the 3K resistor and CLK03, which feeds the 2504s clocks. These two signals share adjacent traces across the top of row D, just above the large ground trace.

Wendell S. has done some further analysis and has determined that the fault is caused by the high impedance nature of the video output circuit. Wendell writes “The node driving the 3K can be very high impedance when both C13-6 and D1-13 are high so the network is very susceptible to pick-up as you described (nice catch!). The impedance of the node is set by the base current of Q5 as it pulls down the emitter followers in the TTL outputs.”

You can eliminate this flaw by pulling down the output C-13, Pin 6 to ground, with a 2.2K resistor. Another fix is to bypass the trace by lifting one leg of the 3K resistor and C-13, pin 6 and running a jumper wire, avoiding the crosstalk.

Critical Timing

The 74161 at location D-8 is subject some very tight timing.  Tight enough that 74161A parts will not work reliably in this location because of slightly increased speed.  The symptom of the problem is that video gets out of whack while scrolling.  Here is a description of the problem

The high level of the input to D15-9 (preload) is just at 2 volts. There is a small glitch below 2 volts just before the char rate clock(CLA) raises. D15 responds by lowering VINH and things go south from there. D15 should preset VINH to high, but apparently the floating preset input drops a bit at the same time, resulting in a preset to zero. Apparently a 74161A at D8 is fast enough to occasionally see VINH drop and counts on the nearby raising edge of CLA, putting the state machine into a mess. Apparently the 74161 doesn’t have enough setup time to count at this point. The time between early VINH drop and the next clock edge is about 20ns, but that is just about at the limit of my old, uncalibrated scopes resolving power, so consider this an estimate. This appears right on the edge of the 74161 setup time spec. Apparently enough for an A part, but not enough for a non-A part, which ignores this glitch and continues on nicely.

I often wonder if this is the problem that Lisa Loop's Apple 1 was exhibiting back in the old days.

Apple 1, noise on -5 volt supply

I’ve noticed long ago that there is a significant amount of noise on the -5 volt supply on the Apple 1. The -5 power supply is connected to 16 4096 DRAMs, 7 2504v shift registers, and the 2513 character generator, 24 chips in all, spread around the board. Beside a 22UF cap next to the voltage regulator, there is only 1 .1UF decoupling cap connected to this supply.

Noise on -5 volt supply
Apple 1 - minus five noise

Here is an oscilloscope picture of this noise. Frequency of this trace is set to 5 micro-seconds/division. Top trace is -5 taken directly from a DRAM chip. Scale is .5 volts per division. Bottom trace is RAS taken from same DRAM chip. Scale is 2 volts per division. You can see that some of the noise on the -5 supply is being generated directly by RAS switching. This working system exhibits over a .5 volts of noise on the -5 supply to the DRAM chips.

While bringing up a new Mimeo 1 board, this excess noise on the -5 volt supply became a problem. This board exhibited intermittent memory write failures, with writes of zero bits occasionally failing. The bit would end up reading back as a one sometime later in time. It took me quite a few hours of debugging to figure out that the problem was due to all the noise on the -5 volt supply. The fix turned out to be a simple replacement of the single .1 UF decoupling cap on the -5 supply with a different .1 UF cap.

For those of you that don’t know, decoupling capacitors are typically distributed around boards that have digital circuits to limit surges in power demand from one chip from affecting the power supply to other components. The capacitors act as small power sources that can supply small amounts of power to nearby chips as the power demand from these chip changes due to switching logic levels. A commonly used ratio of decoupling caps to chips on a typical +5 volt TTL design is 1 decoupling cap to 2 74LSXX parts. I’m not sure what the ratio should be for -5 volt supply in a MOS design, but the Apple 1 implementation is clearly insufficient and results in a lot of switching noise on the -5 power supply.

Capacitors are rated for deviation from the specified value. Typical variations for the ceramic disc capacitors used in first batch Apple 1s are +80/-20. In order to optimize putting a higher value capacitor in this location, I built a simple capacitor tester. Future Mimeo kits will have a separately packaged .1UF ceramic disc capacitor that tested as having a value towards the higher end of the range seen. I recommend using this cap at location B13, which is the -5 decoupling capacitor.

The 6800 Section

At this time, I am not aware of anyApple 1 that was configured and run with a 6800 processor.  Steve Wozniak indicates that the 6800 section was actually designed  for the 6800 pin compatible 6501, so a 6800 monitor was never created.  Steve does not remember if they actually tested a 6800 on the board.  Steve does believe that they tested the clock circuitry, so the 6800 section should work.

Note that MOS technology was sued by Motorola for producing the 6800 pin compatible 6501.  MOS technology withdrew the 6501 from the marketplace, replacing it with the 6502.  Only a few 6501's are known to remain in existance.

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