GS Laptop ….Alternative

Well with the release of the pricing and the discussion going on over at CSA of the real GS laptop it made me think of one of my projects a few years ago to put together a “GS EmuLaptop”. I thought it would be useful to post for anyone who likes the idea of a GS portable, but struggles to justify the price tag of a real one.

The goal at the time was getting something together which had the feel and usability of a real GS.  Bernie ][ the rescue 3.0 is the most complete Apple IIGS emulator (imo) and this was the emulator i wanted to use. Obviously this means Classic Mac OS only, but this was fine as the laptops i was looking to build the emulaptop would be able to run OS 8 (best support for Prodos disks). In the end I decided that the Powerbook G3 Wallstreet 2 range was the right laptop. The second hand price of the laptops were about £50 on ebay UK and were modern enough to run some older versions of OSX (upto 10.3 I think) and get internet access. The Powerbook G3 is also very easily upgradable/maintainable and you can upgrade RAM and HD much easier than the later ibooks G3s.

The Wallstreet 2 allowed for the use of the GS keyboard and mouse (make it as authentic as possible), could read real 800k Prodos disks and with a USB/PC GamePort adapter i could also use my favorite joystick ( a CH Mach3 – you could in fact use any PC joystick here). Lombards and Pismos would also work but I wouldn’t have got ADB support/800k Floppy Support. With a Compact Flash Adapter (either PCCard or via USB adapter) you can boot directly of a real CF card from a CFFA board (or similar) on the emulated GS, though only the 1st partition is usable.

One benefit with Bernie over other emulators is the ability to calibrate joysticks that are attached. Bernie can support the Gravis Mouse Stick 2 as well as usb joysticks via Sprocket support. If you are a game player then keyboard doesn’t always cut it.

This was all done with a minimum of cost.

  • PowerBook G3 (WallStreet 2 Model), 266Mhz, 64MB, 4GB = £50
  • 512MB Ram Upgrade = £20
  • 40GB HD =£20 (not really needed, but the original HD was a little noisy)
  • USB PCCard Adapter = £10
  • Compact Flash PCCARD Adapter = £10
  • PC Gameport – USB adapter = £10
  • Mach 3 PC Joystick = £15

Edit – I will add that yes having a keyboard and mouse doesn’t make it that portable 😉 and after using Sweet16 last night with its networking feature on my laptop it is very handy when you want to have a play (for gaming I will stick to the above for best experience bar real GS).

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