First look: New Apple II VGA card from A2Heaven

The Apple II computers are still very popular among retro hobbyists, but one of the problems some people face is the availability of video display options when their CRT fails. There are still some TVs that accept composite video, but sometimes the display is fuzzy or the colors are inaccurate. Then 80 column display becomes a nightmare, as much of these screens are not clear enough.

DSC_0036A2Heaven sent me a pre release of their new product: the Apple II VGA Scaler. It is a video card compatible with all Apple II series (minus //c and IIgs) and solves the problem of connecting the computer to modern VGA displays. It is compatible with NTSC and PAL systems. It supports all modes that the Apple II provides, but does not add any new capabilities.

DSC_0038The Apple II VGA Scaler supports the following Apple II video modes:

DSC_003940 and 80 columns text, with 24 lines
Low-Resolution: 40 × 48 (15 colors)
High-Resolution: 280 × 192 (6 colors)
Double-Low-Resolution: 80 × 48 (15 colors) *
Double-High-Resolution: 560 × 192 (2 colors) * *
** due to advances in Apple II design, these modes are NOT supported on the earlier Apple II, Apple II+, Apple Europlus and Apple IIe revision A

The card is a beautiful and simple design, with the classic white color that distinguish a2heaven’s products, comes with several cables and an extension to connect to the back ports too.

DSC_0051The instructions recommended connecting the card to slot 7 – depending on the Apple II, you will need to connect some extra jumpers to some chips. After several minutes of reading the instructions and making sure the jumpers were connected to the card correctly, I went ahead and fastened the jumpers to the pins. It was easier than I thought. It worked!

I already have a //c VGA adapter and this one works just like it: by pushing a button you can change modes, from color to green, monochrome, amber and other clear modes for text reading. Also, all modes have a “scanlines” version which add lines to emulate old CRT monitors.
DSC_0045Overall it looks sharper and cleaner, and the colors are solid and brilliant.DSC_0042

Although my choice of monitor was not the best, you can see the different modes and colors available as it’s a LCD conversion from an original IIe monitor. I will try to get different monitors so the difference is more distinguishable.


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About the Author

Javier Rivera

I'm an apple //c fanatic, born in Mexico but living in sunny Miami, FL, the perfect place for retrobrite! I like restoring computers to bring them back to their old glory. Also like to combine new technology with vintage hardware to give new uses to them.