.The official Csa2 (comp.sys.apple2) Usenet newsgroup Apple II FAQs originate
  from the Ground Apple II site. Ground Apple II administrator: Steve Nelson

.Csa2 FAQs-on-Ground Resource file: R022TRKSTAR.htm
.                   ....

TrackStar Questions & Answers
  last revised: 24 February 2003

  by Bill Whitson, Michael Kelsey, Wayne Stewart,
       Bryan G. Villados, Richard A. Cini, Jr.,
       Bart Prine, Jeff Hurlburt

What is a TrackStar?

     A TrackStar is a single board Apple 2 computer that plugs into a
PC Clone with at least one ISA slot or into an IBM PS/2 computer. With
this board (and an A2 disk drive) a PC can run Apple II software.

     Evidently, four Trackstars were produced:

Trackstar 64
Trackstar 128 (can upgrade to a Trackstar E via a field upgrade kit)
Trackstar E
Trackstar Plus (for IBM PS/2 Models 25, 25/286, 30, 30/286)

     Based upon an earlier Trackstar FAQs by Bill Whitson, and some
moderately ambiguous Diamond press releases, it appears that the '64
mimics an unenhanced Apple IIe; whereas the '128 works like an unenhanced
IIe with an extra 64k. The 'E and the 'Plus mimic an enhanced Apple //e.


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From: TrackStar FAQ v1.3.1  (5/15/97) by Bill Whitson

How compatible is it?

Given that I've not found any software that it won't run
I would have to say it's very compatible.  It has a
strange bug that sometimes causes programs to display on
a slightly compressed screen.

Can it transfer files Apple <-> PC

Yep.  It works great for that.  I used to use it to
make disk images of A2 disks on my PC.

How much is it worth?

How much do you want to pay?  I saw one go for $50 US
not too long ago (in '93).  They had a suggested retail
price of $445 when they were last sold back in 1988.

What do I need to run a TrackStar?

You need a PC or clone with a free 8bit ISA slot, a 360K
5.25" floppy drive, and a MGA, CGA, or Composite monitor.
The 8bit slot must allow for a full length card and the
motherboard under the front extension of the card must be
clear to within 3mm of the surface (the card extends down-

What do I need for a floppy drive?

The TrackStar can use either a PC compatible 360K 5.25"
PC compatible floppy drive or an Apple Disk II (Unidisks
may work, but this has not been verified).  If you're
using a PC floppy, the drive should be a TEAC for the most
reliable operation.  Other brands will also work, but may
not be as reliable and some will not work at all.

What operating systems will it work with?

Seems to work well with MS DOS from v3.2 to v6.22.  Later
versions require a setver entry set to 3.3.  Will also
work with OS/2 2.x in DOS mode.  Doesn't seem to work
with Windows 95 even in DOS mode.

What did the TrackStar originally come with?

Well, the 128 came with:

1 5.25" driver disk
1 manual
1 video cable
1 disk cable
1 keyboard overlay
1 resistor pack

What's the latest driver version?

For the 128 it appears to be v6.2.3.  I assume the
other models use a different driver scheme but I've
only seen my 128 and 2 others.

I have tried for two years to get permission from
Diamond Multimedia to distribute TrackStar software and
documentation to people who need it.  Since I have now
been told by them that they did not make the TrackStar
I've made the software and docs available by FTP at in /pub/trackstar.

<NOTE: The site mentioned above is no longer active. R/>

The files for the Trackstar 128 are ...

TS128.621.zip           TrackStar 128 drivers v6.2.1
TS128.622.zip           TrackStar 128 drivers v6.2.2
TS128.623.zip           TrackStar 128 drivers v6.2.3
TS128.overlay.zip       TrackStar 128 keyboard overlay
TS128.manual.zip        TrackStar 128 manual for in .pdf
TS.faq                  This FAQ

I just got a Trackstar board with no accessories...

It would seem you're not alone.  You'll also be missing
the manual, RGB monitor cable, and PC disk interface
cable.  You don't need the RGB cable if you're going
to use the a composite monitor and you don't need the
PC disk interface cable if you're going to use an Apple

Posted on Csa2 by me@here.com !

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What are the connections for a CGA video cable
to the molex connector on the TrackStar E?

The cable has an 8-pin female molex connector going to a 9-pin
Dsub9 male plug.

   -key-      1 2 3 4 5
 ]oooooooo[   ' ' ' ' '
  87654321     ' ' ' '
               6 7 8 9

   (connectors viewed from front)

     Molex                  Dsub9
     on TS                          to PC CGA video output
   1*  - - - - - 1 Ground
   2 - - - - - - 7 Reserved
   3 - - - - - - 3 Red
   4 - - - - - - 4 Green
   5 - - - - - - 5 Blue
   6 - - - - - - 6 Intensity
   7 - - - - - - 8 Horizontal Drive
   8 - - - - - - 9 Vertical Drive

*Pin 1 is usually marked "1" on the circuit board.

Pin2 of the Dsub9 has no connection. There's also a ground wire that
goes to the outside of the Dsub9 plug.

Pins as viewed looking at the front (chip side) of the board:
        --- keyway  ---      |
        . . . . . . . .      |
        1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8      |

Wayne Stewart
11 March 2001

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Where can I buy a Trackstar?

Emerald City Sales



Comp.sys.apple2.marketplace newsgroup


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Where can I find more info/documentation?

Contact Emerald City Sales ( http://www.ahhz.com/ ).  In 1999 they were
still selling a set of Xeroxed sheets from the Trackstar E manual for
abound $10 - $15.

Richard A. Cini, Jr.'s Trackstar Page

The Mac Geek ( Bryan G. Villados )  Trackstar Page

GS WorldView's archive


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Where can I download Trackstar utility software?

Emerald City Sales

GS WorldView's archive

Richard A. Cini, Jr.'s Trackstar Page

Also see Q/A "What is the status of TrackStar support software?"


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What kinds disks can a TrackStar use?

     TrackStar can use several kinds of disks and virtual disks (files
on your PC that TrackStar treats like disks).  On most TrackStar setups,
a user will be able to access ...

o- regular Apple II 5.25" diskettes via an attached Apple II disk drive which can
be set for Slot 6, Drive 1 or Slot 6, Drive 2 (using the tsutilit.com utility).

o- at least one virtual hard disk (up to 10MB in size) created via tsutilit.com and
assigned to Slot 7. The virtual hard disk will, typically have a name ending with ".hd1".

o- virtual "trackstore" disks. These are actually 260k files with names ending
in ".app", such as startup1.app. TrackStar can access trackstore files as 140k DOS 3.3
or ProDOS disks at Slot 6, Drive 1 and/or Slot 6, Drive 2.

o- 5.25" diskettes in PC drives. This requires a special connector and, generally,
the presence of older PC 5.25" drives.


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How do I connect an Apple Disk][ drive to my Trackstar E?

     Trackstar E can connect to a Disk ][ drive having the ribbon type cable with
a 20-pin connector block on the end. According to the Trackstar E manual, you
connect the cable to the pins at J4. The colored stripe on the cable must be on the
left as you face the Trackstar board.


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How do I use trackstore 'disks'?

     Here are some 'nice to know' things about trackstore "disks":

o- The terms "disk" and "drive" become a bit mixed up when talking about
trackstore disks. Actually, TrackStar generally treats a trackstore disk like a
Disk ][ drive which has a 140k diskette inserted-- i.e. a drive + diskette.

o- You can have any number of trackstore (.app) disk files. These can be created
using tsutilit.com or you can duplicate an .app file by copying and renaming-- easy on
your PC using a utility such as Xtree.

o- All of the trackstore disks (.app files) which you want to be available for use
should be in the same PC drive and folder as your other TrackStar files. Usually,
this will be a folder named "TS", "TStar", etc. on your PC's C: hard drive.

o- The TrackStar 'Help' menu accessed by pressing F1 followed by ESC, lets you
freely swap in whatever trackstore disk you like as the Slot 6, Drive 1 or Slot 6,
Drive 2 disk so long as the particular Slot 6 drive has already been set up (via
tsutilit.com)  as a drive which uses trackstore disks.

o- Tsutilit.com lets you set up your drives so that you can boot from a trackstore disk.
This is very handy for getting a TrackStar system 'up' and going when little useful
software is available on regular Apple II diskette. Trackstore disk files with good file
handling utilities, etc. can be downloaded, unzipped and moved into your TrackStar stuff
folder. These 'disks' can be booted or used to get programs onto your TrackStar's virtual
hard disk (or moved to an actual Apple II diskette).

o- By default, when you start Trackstar it will try to boot a trackstore disk (.app file)
named "startup" something-- e.g. "startup1.app". To have a choice of trackstore disks to
boot from after starting star.com, you must remove trackstore (.app) files named "startup1",
etc.. from your TrackStar stuff folder. (You can move them to some other folder or rename
them to some name besides "startup".


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Where can I get ready-to-go trackstore 'disks'?

     You can find a couple Trackstore images in .zip form on some
popular Apple II archives. One, dosutils.app, is a bootable 'DOS 3.3'
diskette with several utilities. The other, pdutils.app is a bootable
ProDOS diskette with DSK2FILE v4.3, Block Warden, Shrinkit v3.4, and
Copy II Plus. Look for the files at ...

GS WorldView's archive


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What is the status of TrackStar support software?

Emerald City Sales package

     For at least the Trackstar E and, possibly, earlier Trackstars,
the utilities made available by Emerald City Sales (870-743-3872;
http://www.ahhz.com/ ) work reasonably well.

     One problem (for 'E' board users) is that the chief config utility,
tsutilit.com, is for the Plus version TrackStar. This may affect having a
second virtual hard disk and possibly affect the color/mono option.

     Otherwise, this tsutilit.com has worked fine for setting up drives,
creating trackstore disks, and other important tasks on the TrackStar E
boards everyone seems to be experimenting with. Star.com seems to
work fine, too.

     The startup1 trackstore disk you get from EC is, evidently, totally
empty-- in fact, it is not even formatted. A bootable startup1-- file
startup1.app-- has been sent to EC; so, maybe this has changed. (You do
not need to have a startup1 disk in order to use your Trackstar.)

     The File Transfer utility is used for transferring files to-from
the PC part of your system and the Apple II part.  It seems to work

Trackstar E v1.3 (1988) package

     This was made available by Art Luna. It includes an improved
tsutilit.com which makes more options available at startup.

Trackstar 128 package

     This was made available by Mike "Moose" O'Malley.


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Someone said I need to add a video output adjustment. How do I do this?
I got a TrackStar E and plugged it into our old PC. It seems to
be booting a diskette okay from an attacked Disk ][ drive; but,
the composite video doesn't give any kind of display on a
monitor I know is good.

     When installing a TrackStar E, it was a chap to discover that
composite video from the board would not work with either of our
composite monitors-- i.e. an Amdek Color-1 and a surplus B/W monitor.
The monitor displays indicated that the video level from TrackStar's
composite output was probably too high.

     On an Apple II+, this would be no special problem because there
is a mini-pot to adjust the video output level. If either monitor had
an adjustment for video level input, it would not be a problem, either.

     A check of the TrackStar board revealed that composite video comes
from the emitter of a transistor connected to ground via a 75 Ohm
resistor. So; the level is fixed. This output goes through a small RF
choke to the RCA socket on the back of the board.

     The cure is to replace the 75 Ohm resistor with a pot. If you run
into a similar problem using a composite monitor with your TrackStar E,
here are step-by-step directions for swapping in a Video Output
adjustment ...

1. On the back of the board, find the trace going to the 75 Ohm resistor
and the choke. (The choke is close to the RCA socket. The 75 Ohm
resistor is near the choke.)  Cut the portion of the trace going to
the choke.

2. De-solder and remove the 75 Ohm resistor. (You can snip it off if
you like.)

3. On a 200-300 Ohm potentiometer-- I used a, roughly, 250 Ohm mini-pot--
connect three leads. (The length of the leads depends upon whether you
have some place on the back of the PC to mount the pot or just plan to
put some tape around the pot and let it flop around near the board. I
don't know how long the leads can be before noise pickup is a problem.
It seems like a good idea to keep length within about 8" or so.)

Use three different color wires-- say White, Green, Black. Viewing the
pot from the back, connect White to the Left tab, Green to the middle
tab, and Black to the right tab. (Mainly, the Green wire needs to be
on the middle tab.)

4. Solder the Green wire to the end of the choke which used to be
connected to the 75 Ohm resistor-- i.e. the end _not_ going to the
RCA socket.

Solder the White wire to the place the 75 Ohm resistor used to be
connected which used to connect to the choke before the trace to
the choke was cut-- i.e. this is the point which goes to the emitter
of a nearby transistor.

Solder the Black wire to the other place the 75 Ohm resistor used to be
connected. This is the Ground end.

Note: Mixing up the White and Black leads is okay. The only reason for
connecting them a certain way is so that a clockwise turn of the
pot = increased Video Output.

The circuit you end up with looks like this ...

 Pot                         /
  _______ White_____________/ emitter of transistor
 Z <----- Green -----------UUUUUUUUU-------- to RCA socket center pin
 Z                          Choke             Composite Video Output
 Z_______ Black____

5. Insert the board. Find some place safe to mount the pot or let it sit
so no leads or metal parts touch any circuit. Connect the monitor and
power up the computer. Start TrackStar and adjust the pot and monitor
for a good display.

Note: This gives a good B/W display. So far, I have not gotten any color
output from our Trackstar E.


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Ref. Pentium-class workstation internal cache and
ThunderClock emulation

     Some more news on the TrackStar E front.  If you have a Pentium
class workstation or faster, disable the internal cache.  I now get video
and the Apple drive "clatters" on Apple reboot.

     The ThunderClock emulation is fully ThunderClock Plus compatible.
I ran my utility disk and, guess what, IT CONFIGURED MY PC'S TIME AND
DATE!  ALT-ESC toggles between DOS and //e emulation.  In DOS mode, I set
the time and date correctly and switced back.  The ThunderClock Plus
software immediately recognized the changes and sync'd to it.

Michael Kelsey
20 February 1999

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Ref. Using a composite color monitor and and using a PC CGA monitor

     It seems to be quite common that several TrackStar E's output a bit
different composite signal than a typical composite monitor expects.  I
just tested with a composite monitor this last Friday (an Amiga model) and
nothing appeared.  Everything remains consistent on the CGA front, though.
It would appear the ideal setup is to retain a CGA monitor for the
TrackStar E, at least until we have an opportunity to test the true
TrackStar E software.

Michael Kelsey
7 March 1999

     This fits with the info listed in a Trackstar E press release. The 'E
is supposed to support IBM MDA, Hercules, and CGA-compatible monitors as
well as EGA and TTL VGA when used with a multisync monitor.


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