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Call For Yellowstone Beta Testers

Here we go! Beta testing kicks off today for the Yellowstone universal disk controller for Apple II. Yellowstone is a replacement for the Liron disk controller, the Apple 3.5 disk controller, and the standard Disk II controller, all rolled into one. It even handles Macintosh disk drives. After a soldering marathon this week, I now have five working Yellowstone boards and three working Yellowstone testers. All the testers work with all the boards. The ducks are finally in a row. Let’s do this.

Before jumping into beta testing specifics, some readers may be curious to know how the Yellowstone tester turned out. The goal of the tester is to program and verify a newly-assembled Yellowstone board, as quickly and easily as possible, without requiring any other equipment. The tester development proved to be a major project in its own right, and occupied most of my available time for the past couple of months, but I’m happy to say it’s finally working. Here’s a video demonstrating the tester operation:

 
Calling Beta Testers

I need your help! I’ve tested the hell out of Yellowstone, but I won’t be truly confident it’s ready until it’s passed through other people’s hands, with other types of computers and disk drives, and other software environments. That’s where you come in.

The ideal Yellowstone beta tester will have:

  • at least 5-10 hours available for testing in the next two weeks
  • a personality that enjoys making lists, spreadsheets, and similar record-keeping
  • a variety of Apple II computers and disk drives, especially an Apple II+, Duo Disk, Unidisk 5.25, Apple SuperDrive (FDHD Drive G7287), third-party 3.5 inch drives from Applied Engineering / Chinon / Laser / American Micro Research, and CPU accelerator cards.

I need to be slightly picky about who gets these beta cards, since I only have a few of them. The cards should go to people who are in the best position to help with testing, either by virtue of the hardware they have or the energy they’re willing to put into methodical testing. If this appeals to you, please get in touch with me using the Contact link at upper-right of the page, and let’s talk! If you’re more interested in Yellowstone for personal use and you aren’t sure you’ll have time or energy for beta testing, you’ll have an opportunity to get one soon when they become generally available.

 
What You’ll Get

The draft instruction manual for Yellowstone offers a good overview of its capabilities. In brief, any type of Apple II or Macintosh floppy drive from the 1970s – 1990s should work with Yellowstone, as well as intelligent Smartport-based hard disks such as Floppy Emu’s Smartport HD emulation mode. It supports two drives of different types connected at the same time, or up to five drives for intelligent Smartport devices. Drives with 19-pin D-SUB DB-19 connectors and 20-pin rectangular connectors are both supported.

For the beta testers, I will also be including a pair of DB-19 female adapters. These will probably be a separate accessory when Yellowstone goes on sale, since not everyone will need them, and the DB-19 female connectors are rare and somewhat expensive. You’ll need these DB-19F adapters when connecting drives like the Duo Disk, Apple 3.5, or Macintosh M0131. The adapters aren’t needed when connecting a Floppy Emu, a Disk II, or internal / bare drive mechanisms using a ribbon cable with a 20-pin rectangular connector. The wiring of the DB-19F adapters is designed only for use with Yellowstone, so don’t try to connect them anywhere else.

I think that’s everything, and I’m very excited to be launching the Yellowstone beta today. Thanks in advance for your help, and don’t hesitate to contact me if you’re interested in being a beta tester.

Read 8 comments and join the conversation 

8 Comments so far

  1. Nick - November 5th, 2021 5:05 pm

    I posted a link to this over on Apple Fritter in case there are qualified people there who don’t follow the blog. Which they should!

  2. Wayne Stewart - November 6th, 2021 12:04 am

    I have numerous Apple II and II+. All the Rev 4 and newer revisions. Enhanced and unenhanced IIe and IIgs Rom 0, 1 & 3
    In 5.25” I have DuoDisks, Disk IIs, UniDisks, Appledisks, Laser and a few Disk II clones
    In 3.5” I have UniDisks, M0131, A9M106, G7287, Laser, AE 800k and 1.6mb drives. Also have 3 different aftermarket 3.5” drives. Don’t recall the brands, I’d have to check in storage.
    I’m in Canada in case that’s an issue

  3. Warren - November 6th, 2021 1:56 pm

    I have been following this from the start all those months/years ago and am so pleased that you have the finish line within touching distance.
    Many thanks for all these updates and troubleshooting, it has been a great ride.

    Sadly I haven’t all the hardware to offer beta testing but put me in for one of the first batch of retail boards. 🙂

  4. Buddy - November 6th, 2021 8:00 pm

    Very exciting! Great work!

  5. Emil - November 7th, 2021 2:51 pm

    Congratulations on making it to this point! What an epic development process it’s been to follow.

  6. Leeland Heins - November 7th, 2021 5:42 pm

    I probably can’t devote the time to be a beta tester right now, but I sure would love to buy one when they go into production. Been waiting for this one for a few years.

  7. Martin - November 7th, 2021 6:26 pm

    I’ll be patiently waiting for the full release! I’ve been needing a 3.5 interface card for years.

  8. Steve - November 8th, 2021 10:47 am

    Thanks everybody! I got a great response from very qualified beta testers, so I’m all good for now.

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