Archive: Computer Collector Newsletter / Technology Rewind, Jan. 2004 - March 2006

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Bring on the BastelCard

by Evan Koblentz

Did you ever consider expanding an Apple II with a custom circuit board? Did you dismiss the idea because, after all, where would you get a prototyping board without ruining a perfectly good collector's item? Hans Franke's new BastelCard is the solution.

There wasn't time for us tinker with a card, but we received a draft of the instruction manual. Hans admits it is not perfect. It's written in Franke-speak, which means mostly English with some German humor included at no extra charge! Alas, it gets the point across sufficiently. He writes (copy edited):

"The Apple II series of computers are systems with all the features of modern computing but still simple enough to allow a complete understanding and tinkering with its 'guts'. [Many people were] tempted to do so, but many projects stopped when it was time to build a prototype. There are no more ready-made prototype cards available for the Apple II bus. Adapting cards made for other systems or etching a board in the kitchen sink requires time and dedication, while going directly from sketchboard to pilot production is not everybody's stlye, not to mention the cost of production, anywhere from between 50-200 Euro for a single board and for a single use."

"This is where the BastelCard fills the gap. Like a classic prototype board it allows you to create you own circuits without the need to etch a board. In addition it offers support logic and state-of-the-art flash storage for ROM-resident driver software for your design. No need to spend time adding an EPROM or looking arround to find a working PROM tool. ... Due to its superior hardware features it may also be used as a base card for small production run designs."

The card's specifications include:
- high quality, industy-standard manufacturing (gold-plated slot contacts, high-quality silk screen)
- flash storage (1 MB of non-volatile storage, 256 blocks with 256 bytes each at /IOSEL
- configuration functions (enable/disable flash, enable/disable configuration block, enable/disable where-I'm-stuck, status LEDs)
- support logic (chip select decoding, IRQ daisy chain, where-I'm-stuck logic)
- daughter board (add-on modules, buffer logic)
- support software
- huge prototype area
- sample designs included (adding a ROM disk, user RAM, floating point co-processor, ethernet module)
- all schematics and source code included

BastelCard will be available in mid-August in three versions: 1., the bare board (no flash); 2., with 1MB of flash; 3., with high-quality PC104 connectors. Franke expects the second option to be the most popular, and that will sell for between $65-$85, he said. The price may dip beneath $60 if there is enough quantity, he added.