Lyonsden Blog

Category - Amiga

How to use an Iomega Zip Drive with the Amiga A1200

Zip Drive Amiga

In this post I’m going to explain just how you can use an Iomega Zip 100 Drive with an Amiga 1200. The software side of this will be applicable to other Amiga models too but the hardware required is specific to the Amiga 600/1200 series as it utilises the PCMCIA port.

A Little bit of history

Before I delve into the guide a little bit of history. Back in the early 1990’s the most common media format available to Amigan’s was the humble 3.5″ DS/DD Floppy Disk. HD floppy drives were available too but were expensive and offered less than double the storage capacity anyway.

This was when Iomega launched their Zip 100 Drive, along with a new disk format that could hold a whopping 100MB. This was a big deal to me back then as standard Amiga floppies could only hold 880K of data and Hard Disk drives costed a fortune! The disks were very similar in size and shape to regular disks and about twice as thick as you can see in the photo below.

 

Zip 100 Disk size comparison

Zip 100 Disk next to a standard 3.5″ disk.

 

These drives were aimed at the PC and Apple Mac markets but enthusiasts quickly facilitated the use of them with Amigas too. There were three versions of this drive made that hooked up in one of three different ways; parallel port, SCSI and later a USB version too. However it is important to note that only one version is actually suitable for Amiga use and that is the SCSI version. (The parallel version can be made to work but it requires physically modifying the Amiga’s parallel port which is something I have no intention of doing).

If you have a big box Amiga there’s actually a fourth version – they made an Internal version of the drive with an ATAPI IDE interface but that’s a project for another time… if I ever get my own ‘big box’ Amiga system!

 

Zip Drive Amiga

This is what the back of a SCSI Zip 100 drive should look like. If it doesn’t look like this then don’t buy it – it won’t work.

 

Now of course by todays standards 100MB is a trifling amount, my mobile phone has 256GB of storage for example. My Amiga 1200 also has an 8GB CF card so technically I don’t really need any more storage. However all that misses the point. In my eyes, to have an authentic Amiga experience and relive the 90’s you need to use the appropriate hardware. Besides, most of the fun of using retro computers is getting old stuff working again… not because you need to, but because you want to!

 

Zip Drive Amiga

My ‘new’ Zip 100 Drive still sporting the ‘how to insert a disk’ sticker on the top.

 

Buying a Zip 100 Drive

Zip drives went out of production a long time ago so your only source is the second hand market now, which for most people will be eBay. There’s always a few on there in various conditions with prices ranging from around £40 to £120. Now of course what you buy is entirely up to you but from my own personal experience I’d say it is worth paying extra for a drive that has been fully tested and confirmed working. I tried the cheap and cheerful approach and ended up with three duds before I decided enough was enough and paid £90 for a fully tested one. Cheaper in the long run and a lot less hassle for sure!

 

Zip Drive Amiga

New Old Stock (NOS) Zip 100 disks are still readily available.

 

The disks can be bought very cheaply and there’s plenty out there, even brand new and sealed. Expect to pay between £1.50 and £4 per disk depending on quantity being sold and whether they’re new or used. You can even pick yourself up some rainbow Zip disks and caddy boxes to store them all in!

 

Zip Drive Amiga

Rainbow Zip 100 Disks.

 

Adding SCSI to the Amiga 1200

Despite it’s name, the SCSI.device on the A1200 is actually the internal IDE interface. That’s not going to work with our Zip drive so we need to get hold of a SCSI adapter of some kind. If you have a Blizzard trapdoor accelerator card then there was a SCSI expansion made for that. However these are pretty rare nowadays so I would recommend you pick up a Squirrel SCSI interface instead. These devices were made to slot into the Amiga 600/1200’s PCMCIA expansion port and opened up a whole new world of SCSI devices to Amiga enthusiasts.

 

Zip Drive Amiga

Amiga Squirrel SCSI Device.

 

The Squirrel SCSI Interface was made by a company called HiSoft but other companies would often bundle it with their own products. I picked up mine as part of a Power Computing CD-ROM drive bundle. Interestingly Power Computing is still going strong, although not surprisingly they don’t sell anything for the Amiga any more.

 

Amiga Squirrel SCSI Adapter

Squirrel SCSI Adapter plugged into my A1200’s PCMCIA Expansion Port.

 

The Squirrel is just a small box that plugs into the PCMCIA port and has a short cable with a 50 pin male SCSI connector permanently wired into it. No matter whether you buy the Squirrel on its own or with another device we now have another issue.

 

Zip Drive Amiga

No way our Squirrel SCSI is connecting to these out of the box…

 

The Zip drive has two D25 female connectors on the back but our only connector from the Squirrel is a male 50 pin Centronics plug. They don’t fit together so we need to get creative with our cabling. Ideally we would need a cable with a female 50 pin Centronics connector one end and a male D25 connector at the other but I was unable to locate one.

 

Zip Drive Amiga

All the hardware needed to connect our Zip 100 Drive.

 

Fortunately there are still a variety of cables and connectors cheaply available. What I ended up having to do was get a male D25 to male 50 pin Centronics cable and a ‘gender changer’ connector. The latter is basically a double sided female 50-pin Centronics connector.

 

Zip Drive Amiga

A closer look at the SCSI gender changer.

 

The gender changer allows us to join the two male connectors from the Squirrel and the D25-Centronics cable together as you can see in the next image.

 

Zip Drive Amiga

Two male 50-pin Centronics cables connected by means of a gender changer.

 

SCSI Chains

So now we have our Squirrel SCSI Interface fitted with cables that can actually connect to our Zip 100 Drive. However, before actually connecting everything up we just need to check that Termination is enabled on our Zip drive.

 

Zip Drive Amiga

Zip 100 Drive connected to Squirrel SCSI.

 

I’m not going to go into great detail here but suffice to say that SCSI (an acronym for Small Computer System Interface) is a system that allowed the daisy-chaining of multiple devices to a computer. To enable the computer to be able to identify each device in the chain they were all allocated an ID number from 0 to 7. In the case of our Zip drive we have the choice of selecting ID 5 or 6 via the little switch at the back. As this is our only device either ID will work but I will be using ID 5 for the rest of this guide.

 

Zip Drive Amiga

Zip 100 Drive with termination set to ‘on’ and ID set to ‘5’.

 

The other peculiarity with SCSI chains is that both the first and last devices on the chain have to be ‘terminated’. The Squirrel SCSI adaptor is actually classed as the first device (ID 0) and is already terminated. The Zip drive will be the last device on our chain and so must also be ‘terminated’. Often times on other devices you would have needed to plug a physical Terminator (a bit like a blank plug) into an empty socket to terminate a device. Fortunately the Zip drive has the circuitry built-in and selectable via the switch on the back.

Once the switches are set correctly (as shown in the image above) the Zip drive can be hooked up to the Squirrel and we are ready to proceed onto the next phase.

 

Zip Drive Amiga

My Zip Drive (sat on top of my MorphOS machine).

 

Getting the Zip 100 Drive to work with Amiga Workbench

 

I’m using AmigaOS 3.1.4.1 but I would assume this will work just as well with 3.0 and above.

To get the Amiga to actually read and write to our Zip disks we need to create a ‘Mountlist’ for them. It actually took me a few days of tinkering with different mountlists off Aminet before I found one that would actually work reliably. I’ve successfully formatted several dozen disks with this mountlist so I’m pretty happy with it now.

Now I could have created a mountlist that would allow the reading of PC formatted disks but as Zip drive PC compatibility ceased with with the demise of Windows XP I didn’t feel it would be very useful. Consequently this mountlist is purely for Amiga use.

Now as you will discover, there is no mountlist on your Amiga for Zip disks, even in the storage directory, so we must make our own. To do this we need to copy a spare one from the Storage/DOSDrivers directory and place it into the Devs/DOSDrivers directory. I used the AUX mountlist but any of them will do. This can be achieved by opening up a Shell prompt and typing the following commands:

copy sys:storage/dosdrivers/aux sys:devs/dosdrivers/ZIP0

This copies the AUX mountlist to the correct location and renames it at the same time.

We also need the icon file so press cursor up to bring back your last command and edit it to look like this:

copy sys:storage/dosdrivers/aux.info sys:devs/dosdrivers/ZIP0.info

Now open up that newly created ZIP0 file in the editor of your choice. If you don’t have one then simply enter this command into the Shell to use the built in text editor:

ED sys:devs/dosdrivers/zip0

Delete all the existing text in the file and then enter the following exactly as shown below:

FileSystem = L:FastFileSystem
Flags = 0
Surfaces = 2
BlocksPerTrack = 64
SectorSize = 512
Mask = 0x7ffffffe
MaxTransfer = 0x0ffffffe
Reserved = 2
Interleave = 0
LowCyl = 0
HighCyl = 1535
Buffers = 50
BufMemType = 0
StackSize = 600
Priority = 10
GlobVec = -1
DosType = 0x444f5301

 

It should look like this on the Amiga:

 

Zip Drive Amiga Mountlist

ZIP0 Mountlist entries

 

Once you’ve entered everything above, triple check it. Once you are certain it is correct make sure you save the edited file!

We’re not quite done yet. We need to add a few Tooltypes to provide the Amiga with a bit more info to go on. Click on the ZIP0 icon and select ‘Information…’ from the Icon Window and edit the Tooltypes.

Delete any existing entries that may be in the Tooltypes window and replace them with these:

 

DEVICE=squirrelscsi.device

ACTIVATE=1

UNIT=5

DONOTWAIT

 

It should look like this when you’re finished:

 

Zip Drive Amiga

ZIP0 Icon Tooltype entries

 

Check what you’ve entered is correct and then click save and reboot your Amiga. Pop a Zip disk in the Zip drive and it should pop up on the desktop looking like the image below. If it doesn’t then you will need to go back through the above and check you’ve got everything right.

 

Zip Drive Amiga

An uninitialized Zip disk.

 

Zip disks come formatted for Macs/PC’s so they will need formatting before they are useable on the Amiga. Just format them as you would any regular floppy disk. Click on it and select ‘Format Disk’ from the Icon menu. Give the disk a name if you like or leave it as ’empty’ (you can always change it later). The rest of the settings can be left as they are. I strongly recommend you do a full format as these disks are old now – better to discover any issues with them before you start to use them rather than later on when it may be too late! Better yet use IOTools – more about this later.

 

The Workbench Format Disk window for a Zip disk.

 

It takes around 5 minutes to do a full format of a Zip disk so go and have a cup of tea while it finishes.

 

Formatting progress indicator.

 

Providing there are no errors your should be presented with a nice formatted disk icon.

 

Formatted Zip disk icon.

 

It may look like an ordinary floppy disk, but on closer inspection you can see that this disk has nearly 100MB of space available.

 

Zip disk with 96M free space.

 

Iomega Tools

Now by all means we could leave things here, I mean everything works as it should after all. However I’d recommend installing Iomega Tools as well. This software provides a lot of extra functionality that would otherwise be lacking from the Amiga experience. Things like a software eject, password protecting disks and access to hidden drive settings.

One of the main reasons I like this software is that it offers the ability to override the default sleep time of the Zip drive. By default your disk is kept spinning with the heads in constant motion for 15 minutes before spinning down after any disk activity. This will generate a lot of unnecessary wear and tear on both the disk and drive which is something we should be avoiding. Zip drives aren’t getting any younger after all!

 

Amiga IoTools

IoTools Main Window.

 

You can download this free software off Aminet. There is no installer – just copy the main IoTools program to either your WBStartup (recommended) or your Workbench Tools directory.

WBStartup is recommended so that the software is always running. Things like the sleep timer settings are stored in the software itself so it needs to be running to have any effect. You can still install it elsewhere if you don’t intend to use the Zip drive all the time and are happy to run it manually whenever you do use it. Alternatively you can select ‘Park Drive’ and ‘Start Disk’ to manually stop and start the drive respectively.

 

Amiga IoTools

Amiga IoTools Settings Screen.

 

You need to configure the settings of your SCSI device and drive for the software to work fully. The settings that worked for me are shown in the image above. Most boxes are set to their default. The ‘Device’ setting which is truncated in the image is ‘squirrelscsi.device’. If you do have the software running every time you boot your Amiga then you might want to tick the ‘Open Iconified’ box which will help keep your Workbech screen tidy.

Drive Settings is where the sleep countdown is located. I recommend a time of 5 minutes as a good compromise between convenience and preservation.

 

Amiga IoTools

Zip Drive Sleep Settings.

 

The Lock or Unlock Media screen eeis where you can password protect your disks or remove the protection completely.

 

Amiga IoTools

Password protect your Zip disks here.

 

The Format Disk window is incredibly useful and is what I used to format all of my disks. Choose the Format and Verify option and it will do a full format whilst also performing a thorough check of the Zip disk, mapping out any bad sectors as it goes. This takes approximately 9 minutes per disk which is a lot longer than even the full format I mentioned earlier. However I feel it is worth the investment of time for the peace of mind it offers.

 

Amiga IoTools

Format and Verify option will make sure your disks are in good shape.

 

The Disk Status screen offers some interesting stats about the currently inserted Zip disk…

 

Amiga IoTools

Amiga IoTools – Disk Status Screen.

 

As does the Drive Status screen.

 

Amiga IoTools

IoTools Drive Status Window.

 

If you have a disk in the drive the ‘Run Diagnosis’ option will do a thorough check of the drive to make sure it is operating correctly (it doesn’t delete any info on the disk).

 

Amiga IoTools

IoTools Drive Diagnosis complete.

 

Amazingly the software is still supported too – it was last updated in May 2020. I even contacted the author, Thomas Richter, with a query and he got back to me within minutes. How’s that for Amiga support!

 

Zip Drive Amiga

Zip Drive is now part of my A1200 setup.

 

Anyway I really enjoyed my little Zip drive adventure and am making good use of it to organise my collection of Amiga ADF’s, Music and more.

I do hope you found the guide useful… it has taken me many an evening and weekend to pull all the info together and get it into a cohesive post. If you found it interesting/helpful then please let me know in the comments below!

 

 

Installing Amiga OS 3.1.4 – Part 5 – Finishing Touches

Amiga Workbench Wallpaper

In parts 1 through 4 of this guide I covered everything needed to install Amiga OS 3.1.4 on an Amiga 1200 from scratch. However there are still a few things that can be done to improve the installation.

I’m afraid this post ended up a lot longer than I anticipated so I’ve put some links below that will take you straight to each section.

 

Fancy Glowicons

If you’ve seen any screenshots of Amiga OS 3.1.4 on the internet you may well be wondering why we haven’t got any fancy new icons with our Workbench install. Well for some reason the installation of these was never automated so this is something you must do yourself. The good news is that these icons are tucked away on the ‘Storage’ disk and can be installed manually quite easily.

Boot your Amiga up and then insert the ‘Storage’ disk into the drive. Next, open up the Shell and enter the following command:

copy storage3.1.4:glowicons/#? sys: all

This will copy the icons off the floppy disk and onto your Amiga’s system partition.

 

Amiga CLI

This command will copy the new icons onto your Workbench drive.

 

There are quite a lot of icons to copy over so it will take a little while to complete. You should see a load of text scrolling up the window before the command prompt finally returns.

 

Amiga Shell or CLI

When you see the Workbench:> prompt appear the icons have finished copying over.

 

At this point you can close the Shell and reboot your Amiga.

 

Amiga Glowicons

New Workbench 3.1.4 Icons!

 

When it reboots you should be greeted by much more colourful Workbench screen filled with lovely new icons. You may need to spend a little time re-arranging them to your liking but they definitely look a lot better than the old ones!

 

Amiga Preferences

Here you can see all the new Preferences Icons.

 

Setting the Screen Mode

 

By default your Amiga will have configured the screen mode to either PAL (640×256) or NTSC (640×200) High Res mode. This results in a very stretched looking Workbench screen and doesn’t give you much space to work with either.

 

Amiga Screen mode

Vertically stretched Workbench screen in PAL Hires mode.

 

Assuming your monitor will support it, I recommend changing the display mode to High Res Laced. This doubles the vertical resolution providing the correct aspect ratio for your Workbench screen and twice the space for icons and windows.

 

Amiga Screen mode

Amiga Screen modes

 

And here’s what Workbench looks like once the screen mode has been changed – much better!

 

Amiga Screen mode

So much more space and our icons are now the correct shape!

 

I’m very lucky with the screen I’m using with my Amiga. It’s an old LCD TV with a 720P screen. It supports RGB SCART and is able to display all of the standard Amiga screen modes. What’s more, because it’s an LCD panel, interlaced modes do not flicker like they used to do on CRT monitors. This means I can get all the benefits of the extra resolution that interlaced modes offer without any of the negatives! Twenty years ago I would have needed a very expensive Multiscan monitor or a flicker-fixer/scan-doubler to achieve this (or have to put up with the flicker!).

 

Overscan Settings

I noticed something a bit odd after installing Workbench… my screen wasn’t centred and there was a weird border on the left, top and bottom of the screen. Basically dead space that I wasn’t able to utilise… until I cast my mind back 25 years and remembered about overscan border settings with CRT monitors.

 

Amiga Preferences.

 

In a nutshell the overscan settings were a way to tweak your display to maximise the available screen space. Most CRT’s were housed in plastic cases that partially shrouded the outer edges of the tube by varying degrees and thus hid a part of the image. Typically beyond the limits of the designated display area the borders used to be black and you would adjust the overscan settings to get rid of this and have as much ‘picture’ filling the screen as possible.

Modern TV displays and monitors no longer have overscan as they are able to display 100% of the image thanks to flat LCD panels so we should be able to get our Amiga to fill that display completely.

To achieve this load up the ‘Overscan’ preferences to get the display shown below.

 

Amiga Overscan Preferences

Amiga Overscan Preferences

 

Click on ‘Edit Text Size’ to bring up the overscan adjustment screen shown below.

 

Amiga Overscan Adjustment.

 

As you can see from the above image, the borders I was seeing on my screen are perfectly illustrated here. To get rid of them what we need to do is click on those black squares and drag them to the very edge of the outer box like in the image below.

 

Amiga Overscan Settings.

 

If you notice the resolution of the screen has increased from 640×256 up to 692×275 which is a nice bonus. Click OK to save these settings and then click on ‘Edit graphics size’ and repeat the exact same process. Finally click on ‘Save’ to ensure that these settings are stored permanently.

 

Amiga workbench screen

Look ma, no borders!

 

Amiga OS 3.1.4.1 Update

Amiga OS 3.1.4 was released in 2018 and in 2019 a small update (3.1.4.1) was released which fixed a number of minor bugs. This update can be found on the appropriately named ‘Update 3.1.4.1’ disk that we created back in Part 1.

 

Amiga OS 3.1.4.1 Update

Starting the 3.1.4.1 update process.

 

Pop that disk in the drive and then look inside the Install directory and choose the installer in the language of your choosing. Next, run it and click on ‘Proceed’.

 

Amiga Installation Mode screen

Choose an installation mode.

 

Now you must select the installation mode. As this is a straightforward upgrade I chose Novice.

 

Amiga Language Selection Screen

Choose your language.

 

Then the language required for the install…

 

Amiga Installer progress

Installer doing its thing.

 

After which the update started to install. I think it took around a minute to complete.

 

Amiga installation complete message

Installation complete.

 

When the files have finished copying across a new window will appear to confirm the install has completed. Hit ‘Proceed’ and then reboot your Amiga.

We’re not quite finished with this update though as there is also a FastFileSystem v46.20 upgrade to perform which we will tackle next.

 

Installing FastFileSystem Patch 46.20

 

To begin this part of the upgrade process we need to launch HDToolBox (found in the ‘Tools’ directory) and then click ‘Partition Drive’. If you have more than one drive shown here then make sure you select the one you wish to update.

 

Amiga HDTooBox Window

Amiga HDTooBox Window

 

When the partitioning window appears select your boot partition (the one on the far left) and then tick the ‘Advanced Options’ box. A bunch of extra settings should appear below as you can see in the next image.

 

Setting Direct SCSI Transfer option for DH0:

 

Now what we need to do is make sure that the ‘Direct SCSI Transfer’ box is ticked for DH0. (Mine wasn’t).

 

Amiga Direct SCSI Transfer

Direct SCSI Transfer

 

We then need to ensure that this is also ticked for each of your other partitions. To do this just click on each of your partitions on the top bar in turn and tick the ‘Direct SCSI Transfer’ box for each one.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

The next task is to apply the FFS patch to the drives. To begin the process click on the ‘Add/Update…’ button at the bottom of the window.

 

Amiga HDToolBox add update button

Add/Update button.

 

This should bring up the following window that lists all of the available file systems you can use.

 

Amiga File System Maintenance Window

File System Maintenance Window

 

Now the readme supplied with the update seems to be rather vague here. The first time I tried this update myself it didn’t work. In the above window you can see two file systems listed. Custom File System and Fast File System. What actually needs to appear here is ‘International (FFS)’.  So in the end to get this to work I clicked ‘Add New File System…’

 

Don’t touch this.

 

I didn’t change the default path in the box that popped and also accepted the following details that popped up without altering them (below image).

 

Amiga File System DosType

Don’t touch this either.

 

After I clicked ‘OK’ I was dropped back to the System Maintenance screen and this time my file system was listed at the top with the correct version number.

 

International (FFS) Now on the list.

 

I clicked ‘OK’ and was dropped back to the initial screen where I could see that there were changes waiting to be written back to the drive.

 

HDToolBox - with changes to be saved to drive.

HDToolBox – with changes to be saved to drive.

 

After clicking ‘Save Changes to Drive’ I got a very scary message warning me that it was going to destroy all the data on my drives.

 

Amiga Commit to Changes message

Dire warning message!

 

However the readme file does warn you about this message and insists that it can be safely ignored. Feeling suitable comforted I pulled the trigger and clicked ‘continue’ then rebooted my Amiga. Happily it rebooted without a hiccup – phew!.

The last thing to do was do a quick test to make sure the update had been successfully applied. To do this I opened a Shell window and entered the following command.

version dh0:

 

Amiga Shell

Version DH0 command

 

The version command returned ‘Filesystem 46.20’ which was spot on. Mission accomplished.

 

Fixing my GlowIcons!

There now remained just one nagging problem – throughout my whole time preparing this guide the appearance of my icons bugged me. They didn’t look as good as the ones in the screenshots I’d seen. My icons were displayed on a sort of background ’tile’ which should have been transparent. Basically they looked ugly and needed sorting!

 

Amiga Workbench Preferences Screen

Amiga Workbench Preferences Screen

 

After rummaging around the Preferences directory I eventually found ‘Workbench Preferences’ which contained the settings I needed to modify. On the right hand side is an Icons section and for some reason mine was set to ‘Poor Quality’ and ‘Large Border’. I have no idea why this was the case but I changed them immediately to ‘Best’ Quality and set the Border Size to ‘No Border’. I saved the settings and like magic my Icons were transformed into the beautiful little works of art they should have been all along.

I have to confess I don’t remember this particular preferences program from back in the day which is why it took me a while to figure it out. It could be a new feature of Amiga OS 3.1.4… or I might just have completely forgotten about it!

 

Amiga WBPattern Preferences Screen

Amiga WBPattern Preferences Screen

 

At this point I also decided to throw on some wallpaper to brighten up my desktop. This is easily done by heading to the WBPattern Preferences and setting Background Placement to ‘Workbench’ and Type to ‘Picture’. Then it’s just a matter of clicking ‘Select Picture…’ and browsing to an image of your choice. Amiga IFF images of 256 colours or less work best here as they load instantly and don’t gobble too much of your precious Chip RAM. Pictures using over 256 colours will also be dithered which spoils their appearance which is another reason to choose wisely.

And that pretty much wraps up Part 5 of my Amiga OS 3.1.4 installation guide. Enjoy the fresh lick of paint and tune-up this gives your Amiga!

Installing Amiga OS 3.1.4 – Part 4 – Installing Workbench

Having created the physical floppy disks in Part 1, installed the 8GB CF card and ROMs in Part 2 and partitioned the CF card in Part 3 it is now time to look at installing Workbench 3.1.4.

The first thing to do is boot up the Amiga using the 3.1.4 ‘Install’ disk. Once the desktop has loaded open the Install disk and look inside the ‘Install’ directory. There will be a bunch of different language installers so run the one that you need, which for me was the English one.

 

Installing Workbench

Various Workbench installers in different languages…

 

This will load up the Installer and give you a little introduction about what it will do. Click ‘Proceed’ to begin.

 

Starting the installation.

 

Now you will be presented with another window that will allow you to add additional languages to an existing install. As this is a clean install just click on ‘Install Release 3.1.4’.

 

Requester giving option of installing another language.

 

Next you need to choose the installation mode – I chose Intermediate.

 

Installing Workbench

Selecting Installation Mode.

 

Installation Mode?

After selecting either Novice, Intermediate or Export User and then ‘Proceed with Install’ you are presented with the Installation Options screen. Here you can choose to ‘Install for Real’ or ‘Pretend to Install’. I believe this could well be unique to the Amiga? I certainly don’t recall ever having the option to do a pretend install on any other system. It can be useful to perform a pretend install on occasions as it lets you discover any potential issues and gives you a chance to fix them before committing to the actual install. However as this is a clean install we’re going to select ‘Install for Real’ and then boldly hit that ‘Proceed’ button.

 

Install for Real… or Pretend?

 

You should see a brief message about ‘Release 3.1.4’ being installed on the Workbench partition. This is because it has detected it is the first bootable partition – if you gave yours a different name back in Part 3 then it will be shown here.

 

Installing Workbench

This is where the actual installation starts.

 

Click the ‘Yes’ button to begin the installation and then choose which language(s) you want installing on the next screen. For my install I just wanted English so just left that option ticked.

 

Installing Workbench

Pick what languages you want installing.

 

Next you need to select what printer drivers you want. I selected them all because space is not an issue and you never know what you might want to hook up to your Amiga in the future.

 

Amiga Printer Driver Request Screen

Choosing a which printer drivers to install.

 

Another decision needs to be made on the next screen about which keymaps are required. Or in other words what language setting do you want for your keyboard. In my case as I live in the UK I chose a British layout before clicking ‘Proceed’.

 

Choosing a keyboard language or ‘keymap’.

 

Let the Disk swapping commence!

After a few moments you will be asked to insert the Workbench disk. There should be no need to click proceed, your Amiga should detect the presence of the swapped disk and continue automatically.

 

Installing Workbench

Insert Workbench Disk Screen

 

A bunch of files will be copied across to your new System drive.

 

Amiga copying files across.

Workbench install – copying files.

 

And then you will be asked to insert the Locale disk.

 

Insert Locale Disk Screen

 

Which will copy more files across… before asking for the next disk – Fonts.

 

Insert Fonts Disk Screen

 

Then the Storage disk…

 

Insert Storage Disk Screen

 

And then finally it will ask you to re-insert the Install disk.

 

Insert Install Disk Screen

 

Now at this point I was faced with the following warning as I had an accelerator installed with a 68030 CPU. I was able to click ‘Proceed’ and carry on but a version of this warning would pop up every single time I booted up my Amiga until I sorted it. Click here and then head down to the bottom of the page for information on how to resolve this issue.

 

Installing Workbench

CPU Warning.

 

And that should be your Worbench 3.1.4 install complete!

 

Installing Workbench

Congratulations – Workbench Install Complete!

 

Remove the floppy disk from your Amigas drive and reboot it. If all has gone to plan your Amiga should silently boot into Workbench 3.1.4 looking a lot like the photo below with all your partitions visible on the desktop.

 

Amiga Workbench

Amiga Workbench 3.1.4 Screen.

 

And that concludes Part 4 of my Amiga OS 3.1.4 installation guide – Installing Workbench.

Now we could leave it here, after all we now have a fully operational installation of Workbench 3.1.4 on our Amiga. However there are a few more things we can do to tweak and improve the install and I will cover these in Part 5.

Installing Amiga OS 3.1.4 – Part 3 – Partitioning a Compact Flash Card

Compact Flash Card

Having created the physical floppy disks in Part 1 and installed the 8GB CF card and ROMs in Part 2 it is now time to set about partitioning and formatting the compact flash card so we can install Workbench 3.1.4 on it (in Part 4).

To start the process of partitioning a compact flash card I booted my Amiga off the 3.1.4 Install disk. Once it booted I ran the HDToolBox program found inside the ‘HDTools’ directory.

 

HDToolBox

HDToolBox Program

 

This brings up the window below where you can see all of your installed hard drives. Mine is listed as a SCSI unit which is normal as this is how the Amiga sees the internal IDE controller.

 

Amiga HDToolBox

Amiga HDToolBox Main Window

 

Clicking on ‘Change Drive Type’ brings up the window below. As this is a new CF card there is nothing on it yet so you must click on ‘Define New’.

 

Amiga HDToolBox - Selecting a Drive

Amiga HDToolBox – Defining a New Drive

 

Which brings up the the ‘Define a New Drive Type’ screen. You need to click ‘Read Configuration’ at this point which will bring up another message. Simply click ‘continue’ to move on here.

 

HDToolBox

Informational Message

 

The software will then take a moment to scan the CF and identify the size and parameters needed to access it.  After the scan has completed it will display this info in the window as seen below.

 

HDToolBox

Drive Parameters

 

Now you can simply click ‘OK’ to get back to the ‘Drive Type’ window and then click ‘OK’ once more. At this point you will be warned ‘Are you sure you want to change the drive type for the current drive?’ Clicking ‘Continue’ will return you to the main HDToolBox screen once more.

 

Amiga HDToolBox

Back to the main screen but now with a ‘Changed’ drive status.

 

Now that HDToolbox knows the ins and outs of our CF card it is time to partition it into drives. Of course we could just make it one big 8Gb partition, after all Amiga OS 3.1.4 now natively supports large drives. However I always like to split mine into at least 2 partitions to keep things organised.

To start this process click on ‘Partition Drive’.

 

Partitioning a CF (Compact Flash) Card

Select ‘Partition Drive’.

 

Which should bring up the partitioning window as shown below.

I chose to make my first partition 500MB, this will be my System/Workbench drive. To select the size you simply drag the little triangle pointer and slide it along the bar. It’s virtually impossible to size a partition exactly so just get it as close as you can.

You need to give the partition a name – I called it DH0. I also ticked the box to make it bootable as this is the first partition and will be the one the Amiga will boot off.

 

Partitioning a CF (Compact Flash) Card

Creating the first partition.

 

To create another partition you click ‘New Partition’. Don’t be tempted to click the ‘OK’ button until you have finished creating all your partitions. For my second partition I called it DH1 and made the size approximately 1.5GB. I will be using this to install applications and save documents to. I will probably keep a small selection of music on this drive too.

 

Partitioning a CF (Compact Flash) Card

Creating the second partition.

 

I left my biggest partition for last so it could use all of the remaining space on the card. This worked out at a little less than 6GB in total. I called this partition DH2 and this will be where I install WHDLoad games.

 

Partitioning a CF (Compact Flash) Card

Creating the third partition.

 

You can click each of your partitions in the bar to check their details. Once you are happy that they are all exactly the way you want them to be, hit ‘OK’. You should then be back to the main HDToolbox window.

 

Partitioning a CF (Compact Flash) Card

HDToolBox with ‘changed’ drive status.

 

You must now click ‘Save Changes to Drive’ for all the settings you have configured up to this point to be written to the disk (CF card). The window should then change to look like this:

 

Amiga HDToolBox

HDToolBox back to ‘Not changed’ status.

 

Congratulations! Your new Amiga drive has now been prepped and partitioned! The final step is to format the partitions. To do this you need to reboot the Amiga whilst leaving the Install disk in the drive so it can boot off it.

 

Uninitialized Amiga Disks

The three partitioned but currently ‘uninitialized’ drives created earlier.

 

When your Amiga has finished rebooting you should see a screen similar to the one above. You will notice that the partitions show either as ‘Uninitialized’ or just as a weird name (or both in my case).

 

Amiga Icons Menu

The Format Disk menu item.

 

They now need to be formatted so that the Amiga can actually use them. To format a partition you just click on its icon and then select ‘Format Disk’ from the ‘Icons’ menu.

 

Formatting a Partition

Formatting and Naming DH0.

 

In the above example I called my DH0 partition ‘Workbench’ but you can call yours whatever you like. If you are interested in the new long file names feature of 3.1.4 now would be a good time to select that tick box.

 

Disk Format Warning

First format warning…

 

Make sure you select ‘Quick Format’ or you’ll be waiting a very, very long time for the format to finish. You will get a couple of scary warnings that give you an opportunity to back out if you’ve accidentally selected the wrong disk to format.

 

Disk Format Warning

Second and final format warning.

 

Click ‘Format’ in response to both of the warning messages to seal the deal. A few seconds later a drive on your newly partitioned and formatted compact flash card should appear on the workbench screen. Now simply repeat this process for each partition you created earlier.

And that concludes Part 3 of my Amiga OS 3.1.4 installation guide – Partitioning a Compact Flash Card.

I must admit I had originally intended to include the Workbench install in this part too but decided against it as I thought this post was long enough already. Therefore I will be covering the installation of Workbench in Part 4 shortly.

Installing Amiga OS 3.1.4 – Part 2 (Fitting a CF Card & Kickstart 3.1.4 ROMS)

Having created the physical floppy disks in Part 1 of this guide it is now time to fit the IDE Compact Flash adapter and the 2 Kickstart 3.1.4 ROMS.

Fitting the IDE Compact Flash Adapter

For this I needed to open up my A1200 to gain access to the mainboard.

 

Location of the 5 case screws.

 

Removing the top half of my A1200’s case was just a matter of turning it over and removing five screws. I’ve circled their locations in the photo above. There were three along the front edge and one each side of the case. The two rear edges of the case are held together by some little lugs and recesses in the case itself.

 

Pin 1 of ribbon cable aligned with pin 1 on mainboard.

 

Fitting the IDE Compact Flash adapter simply involved fitting the 44 pin cable connector to the IDE header on the board. Notice how the coloured strip of the ribbon cable aligns with PIN 1 on the board. I chose an 8GB CF card for my install as Workbench 3.1.4 now natively supports large drives. However a smaller card would work just as well. I think my original A1200 had an 80MB (yes I do mean Megabyte!) drive back in the 90’s so 8GB is an insane amount of storage!

 

Foam pad fitted to insulate underside of adapter.

 

As the compact flash adapter has lots of solder pads on the base, I stuck a thick foam pad on the underside. This will ensure that the contacts don’t short out when sat on top of the metal drive bracket. (This drive bracket would have been used to house a 2.5″ IDE HDD back in the day).

 

CF adapter in it’s final resting place.

 

 

Removing the old Kickstart ROMS

Luckily the Kickstart ROMS have their own little cut-out in the metal RF shielding so there is no need to remove the shield to access them.

 

Kickstart 3.0 ROMS

The original Kickstart 3.0 ROMs. Note the empty socket pins on the left!

 

I used my trusty chip puller to remove these, gently alternating pressure from one side to the other until they popped out. You could use a small flat bladed screwdriver to do this. Make sure to alternate from side to side, lifting the chips one millimetre at a time so you don’t bend the pins. If you want to make life even easier, use an old screwdriver and bend the blade 90′ at the end to make getting it under the chip easier.

 

Kickstart 3.0 ROMS

Pulling out the Kickstart 3.0 ROMS.

 

 

Fitting the new Kickstart ROMS

With the old ROMs removed it was time to fit the new ones. After making sure the pins would line up OK (they were splayed out a little too far) I began to fit them.

It’s vitally important they are fitted correctly and besides the usual static precautions there are three things to watch out for.

  1. The chips have to go in the right sockets. The chip marked as ‘HI’ must go in the front slot. The chip marked ‘LO’ must go in the rear slot.
  2. The chips must be oriented correctly. The end with the notch must be fitted so that it is on the same side as the notch in the socket.
  3. The sockets have 42 pins whereas the chips only have 40! You must make sure to leave the 2 pins on the left side of each socket empty.

 

Kickstart 3.1.4 ROMS

The 2 new Kickstart ROMS fitted correctly.

 

Thankfully testing the ROMS is pretty straightforward. Flicking on the power should display a brand new boot screen. That boing ball is definitely new! You can also see the updated ROM version and copyright message.

 

Kickstart 3.1.4 ROMS

The brand new Hyperion Amiga boot screen.

 

That concludes Part 2. In Part 3 I will deal with partitioning and formatting the Compact Flash card.

Installing Amiga OS 3.1.4 – Part 1 (Obtaining the Disks)

For my ‘new’ Amiga 1200 I decided I wanted to have the latest Workbench running on it so I ordered myself a copy of AmigaOS 3.1.4 from Sordan in Ireland. It arrived a few days later in a small cardboard box and consisted of a ROM Installation Guide, 2 Kickstart chips and a bunch of labels for you to stick to your own Amiga OS 3.1.4 Disks.

 

Amiga OS 3.1.4 Disks

This is what you get when you purchase Amiga OS 3.1.4

 

Registering my Purchase

To actually obtain digital copies of the disks I had to register my serial number (found on the top of the Kickstart ROM’s) on the Hyperion Entertainment website. After doing that I was able to download a bunch of ADF files and a few other things (Wallpapers, Icon packs and documentation mainly) on my PC.

 

Box of Blank 3.5" Floppy Disks

Time to crack open a nice box of 3.5″ Floppies.

 

It would have been nice to have received the disks in the box but it’s no real hardship creating my own and it cuts down the price quite a lot. I love working with real floppy disks anyway, the tactile feel of them in use and listening to the whirring of the drive as it accesses them*.

*I hate working with grotty, mouldy, faulty old disks that end up giving me nothing but aggravation and a headache.

 

3.5" Disk made in England

You don’t see this much any more…

 

I decided to use my trusty Amiga 500 to create the disks as it has an SD Card reader that makes transferring the files across from my PC a doddle. Once I’d copied the ADF files over I loaded up my favourite ADF software, GoADF and dug out a box of new 3.5″ DS DD floppy disks and set about creating my 6 Workbench disks.

 

GoADF

 

Creating the Workbench Disks

I started with the Workbench disk first, selecting it from the list of ADF files provided. Double-clicking the name of the ADF loads the image into the software.

 

Amiga OS 3.1.4 Disks

Here we can see all the Amiga OS 3.1.4 Disk images in GoADF.

 

Alternatively you can click the ‘Load image’ button on the bottom left of the screen.

 

GoADF

Load (ADF) Image.

 

As I wanted to create a physical disk from the ADF files I selected ‘Image to disk…’

 

GoADF

To write ADF images to a real floppy you must select the ‘Image to disk’ option.

 

Which loads up the disk creation window. Here you can select which drive you want to use and whether you want to format and/or verify the disk.

 

GoADF

My disks were IBM PC formatted hence the ‘not a valid DOS disk’ warning.

 

I opted to both format and verify the disk. You simply can’t be too careful when working with floppy disks these days. Most DS/DD floppy disks have to be at least 20 years old by now as new ones haven’t been manufactured in a long time.

 

GoADF

At this point it might be a good time to check that the disk you have inserted really is the one you want to use!

 

Writing the First Disk

Clicking ‘write image to disk’ brings up the obligatory warning that the disk will be overwritten. Clicking ‘yes’ begins the process which starts off with the disk being formatted.

 

GoADF

Formatting the disk…

 

GoADF features a neat virtual representation of the floppy disk marking each sector white as it’s formatted…

 

GoADF

Writing the data to the disk…

 

Then blue as the data is written to it…

 

GoADF

Verifying the disk…

 

And finally places a small black dot in it after the data has been successfully verified. A couple of minutes later a little box appears to confirm the disk has been created successfully.

 

GoADF

Hurrah – one down, five to go!

 

And here’s the completed disk with it’s snazzy label affixed.

 

Amiga OS 3.1.4 Disks

Amiga OS 3.1.4 Workbench Disk.

 

Now it was just a matter of repeating the process for the other 5 ADF’s to give me a complete set of Workbench disks.

 

Amiga OS 3.1.4 Disks

A full set of Workbench 3.1.4 floppy disks!

 

However there’s a couple of other disks that needed creating – ones that no labels are provided for. The first is the ‘Modules Disk’ and the second is a new ‘3.1.4.1’ update that has recently been released containing the latest Workbench bug-fixes. The update disk was a separate download from the Workbench disks but is provided free for registered users.

 

Amiga OS 3.1.4 Disks

The extra disks needed. Sadly no professionally printed labels for these!

 

In Part 2 I will cover installing the ROM chips and performing a clean install of Workbench on a new CF/HDD.

Blizzard 1230 MkIV Accelerator Card

Blizzard 1230 MkIV

I recently managed to pick up a nice Blizzard 1230 MkIV accelerator off eBay which arrived a couple of days ago. I reckon I was probably just as excited to get this one in 2020 as I was back in the 90’s when I got my first one!

After opening it up I gave it a good visual once over and everything looked to be in good order. Not sure why the markings have come off the top of the chips but I won’t see them once it’s installed anyway.

Some Information about the Blizzard 1230 MkIV

My 1230 was made by Phase 5 Technologies which is the original manufacturer of the cards. Unfortunately Blizzard went out of business so later cards were manufactured by a company called DCE. Ironically it looks as though DCE still exists to this day making electronic circuit boards!

 

Blizzard 1230 MkIV

I’m guessing this was manufactured some time in 1995 looking at the board.

 

As standard the Blizzard 1230 MkIV comes with a 50Mhz Motorola 68030 Processor and can be fitted with a single 72 pin SIMM up to 128MB in size. Mine came fitted with a 64MB SIMM. The exposed edge connector is where an optional Blizzard 1230-IV Fast SCSI-II controller module can be attached. The SCSI module actually incorporates a second 72 pin SIMM slot meaning you could theoretically add a whopping 256MB of FAST RAM to your A1200 if you wanted to! Of course now I want to do just that but the SCSI modules are super rare these days!

 

Blizzard 1230 MkIV

The Motorola 50Mhz 68030 CPU (on the right) and 50Mhz 68882 FPU (left).

 

I made sure I got one with the FPU installed as this was not included as standard. These were never strictly necessary and most software didn’t benefit from having one. However VistaPro (one of my favourite programs) is just one such title that relies heavily on having one. The FPU really makes a significant speed difference for programs like this that involved performing a lot of complex mathematical calculations.

 

Blizzard 1230 MkIV

View of the reverse side of the board.

 

Fitting the card

I’d forgotten just how snuggly the Blizzard 1230 fitted inside an A1200. After triple-checking it was correctly aligned I needed to gave the card a worryingly forceful push before it finally clicked into position.

 

Blizzard 1230 MkIV

This is how the card looks fitted inside my A1200. The edge connector, visible on the upper left, is for the optional SCSI module. If I ever come across one I’ll add it to my setup for sure.

 

Of course the real moment of truth was turning the Amiga on. Happily this proved to be completely uneventful. Workbench booted up without a hitch and reported 65,957,656Mb of Fast RAM which was a great start.

 

Workbench Screen showing Chip and Fast RAM levels.

From 0 to 65,957,656Mb. A good start!

 

Speed Test

The next test was to load up the classic Sysinfo and make sure the CPU and FPU were correctly identified, which they were. Of course you can’t load Sysinfo and not run a quick speed test! My Blizzard equipped Amiga topped out at 9312 Dhrystones, or 9.72 Mips. Basically twice as fast as a 25Mhz A3000 which is exactly what you would expect.

Of course it’s nowhere near as fast as my Vampire equipped A500 and it actually cost quite a bit more too. But you know what? I don’t care. This just ‘feels’ right. The best way I can describe it is if you imagine upgrading a classic car. The Blizzard is like fitting a period authentic performance exhaust and carburettor to the engine whereas the Vampire is like replacing the whole engine with an electric one. Don’t get me wrong, the Vampire is an amazing piece of hardware and you can’t beat it in terms of value for money. However absolute power is not my goal here… it’s having an authentic Amiga experience.

 

Blizzard 1230 MkIV Speed Test

SysInfo Speed Report.

 

Real Time Clock Test

Anyway enough of that. There was one final test that would take a little longer to complete. The Blizzard incorporates a 3V rechargeable battery backed clock for keeping track of the date and time. However when I plugged the card in the date/time were completely wrong. The seller told me the card hadn’t been used in years which is why he was selling it so this wasn’t unexpected.

To test the battery I set the date and time correctly and then left the Amiga turned on for a couple of hours before going to bed. This would hopefully give it a chance to get some charge before turning it off for the night. Booting it up the following evening revealed it had retained the correct time so the battery was still working! Of course the battery may no longer hold enough charge to last for extended periods but for now I’m happy that everything appears to work perfectly!

 

Amiga keeping the correct date and time!

 

MMU Library

With the card installed and tested there was just one niggle for me to sort out. Every time I booted my A1200 I was getting the following error about no MMU library being installed:

“This system is running from a 32-bit CPU (68030, 68040 or 68060) which may require specific CPU libraries to be installed in the LIBS: directory of your hard disk.”

It then goes on to recommend you either install these files off the disk that came with your accelerator card or search Aminet. As I didn’t receive a disk with the card I went straight to Aminet and had a rummage around. Sure enough there was an MMULib.lha download for just such a scenario. I ran the installer and let it install an mmu.library and a bunch of 680×0 library files and then rebooted. And just like magic the error was gone – happy days!

Now I just need to get hold of that SCSI module!

Welcoming an Amiga A1200 into the fold.

Today the Lyonsden computer collection just got a little bit bigger with the arrival of a Commodore Amiga A1200 computer! 🥰 This is actually something I’ve been hankering after for a long time now. I’ve missed being able to play those old AGA games and also wanted to get back to using an ‘original’ machine. Not only that but the A1200 is just a more capable and expandable machine. It has an internal IDE interface as standard and a PCMCIA slot that can be used for a multitude of things. Wi-Fi and ethernet network cards, card readers, SCSI interfaces and so on. That AGA chipset is not just for games either, it provides a range of improved workbench screen modes that support up to 256 colours too!

Amiga A1200

View from the left.

The A1200 has been recapped already so hopefully it will provide many more years of faithful service now. It’s a really nice example and hasn’t been modified in any way which is how I intend to keep it. I’ve already heavily modified my A500 so hopefully I’ve scratched that particular itch well enough already!

Amiga A1200

View from the right. Original floppy disk drive fully intact.

The plan is to operate the Amiga A1200 just like I would have done 25+ years ago. That’s not to say I’ll be keeping it stock… oh no. But it does mean I won’t be fitting a modern FPGA accelerator into it for example. Whether I can operate it without a Gotek remains to be seen but I’m certainly going to try!

Amiga A1200

View from above.

Upgrades on the way…

I’ve already got a Blizzard MkIV 68030 accelerator on the way for it and a SCSI CDROM drive is sat on the desk ready to be hooked up too. These are both accessories that I had back in the 90’s and so meet my criteria for keeping things original. I also plan to fit a hard drive (well CF card) and install the very latest AmigaOS 3.1.4 on it too. Basically lots of new projects to look forward to!

Amiga A1200

View showing the serial number and silver Commodore label.

A look at Fusion #12

Fusion #12

Time to take a look through this months Fusion #12 magazine and give a little insight into what you can find inside it.

 

Fusion #12

A look at the cover of Fusion #12.

 

As I’ve come to expect there’s a broad range of content this month. Topics include (non computer) games, toys, TV shows and of course computer games. Buckaroo is in the spotlight this month and is a game I played a lot with my mates during the 80’s. There’s also a look at merchandise from the TV show ‘V’ (and a look at the associated computer game too). I was glued to the TV every night when that show was on and remember being genuinely shocked when Diana stuffed a hamster into her mouth! Needless to say the article triggered many happy memories and reminded me of my teenage crush on Diana 😉.

Elsewhere there’s articles covering the Frey twins, the 1942 arcade game, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a flashback 1999 PlayStation chart and loads more.

Here’s a little peak at some of the stuff in this new issue:

 

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Here’s the contents page so you can see what else features in this issue:

 

Fusion #12

Fusion #12 Contents.

 

If you want to pick up a copy of Fusion #12 magazine then head on over to their website. The mag is £3.99 plus postage. Use the code ‘LYONSDENBLOG’ at the checkout to get a 15% discount. I will also receive a tiny bit of commission which helps towards the hosting costs of running this blog.

Amiga Future #145 – July/August edition out now.

Amiga Future #145

The latest issue of Amiga Future (Amiga Future #145) for subscribers has arrived. It features artwork from the game Fred’s Journey on the front cover.

 

Amiga Future #145

Amiga Future #145 Front Cover.

 

What’s in this issue?

There’s a good mix of stuff in this issue as always with plenty of reviews to get stuck into. I’m a big fan of adventure games so was delighted to see a review of ‘The Queen’s Footsteps’. This is a brand new text adventure for the Amiga that had completely slipped under my radar. There’s also a complete guide to speed-running your way through Monkey Island 2 but that seems like sacrilege to me!

 

Amiga Future #145

Issue #145’s cover CD.

 

There’s plenty of brand new game reviews in this issue. Fred’s Journey, Little Princess 1 & 2, Chips and Eye are all critiqued. Software wise there’s a review of Distant Suns 5 (which is included on the CD), Hollywood Designer 5 and RNOxfer, a new FTP client.

For the hobbyist there’s the regular AmigaOS 3.1.4 tips section, latest uploads to Aminet plus the latest Amiga news across 68K, OS4 and MorphOS systems.

 

Amiga Future #145

Contents of Issue #145

 

The Cover CD

The main event for this issue’s cover CD is a full version of Distant Suns 5. This is a Desktop Planetarium and whilst I do having a passing interest in space, this software is on a whole other level entirely. Budding Patrick Moore’s may well get a lot of mileage out of it but sadly for me it was of no interest.

 

This is a preview of what you can expect to find in the latest edition of the long running Amiga Future magazine, Amiga Future #145.

Full version of Distant Suns on this issue’s Cover CD.

 

Below is a little peek at some of the stuff inside Amiga Future #145. If you’d like to purchase a copy then do please take a look here and support what is now the last remaining commercially printed Amiga magazine!

 

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Never come across Amiga Future magazine before? Perhaps you’d care to take a look at some of my other Amiga Future magazine previews here.

Fusion Amiga Magazine – Special Edition

Fusion Amiga Magazine

This edition of Fusion magazine is for all us Amiga fans out there. It’s a special edition of the magazine, completely dedicated to all things Amiga (and CD32!). It’s just a little bit thinner than the regular magazine running to 52 pages all in.

 

Fusion Amiga Magazine

Closer look at the magazine cover.

 

So what sort of things are covered in this issue? Well there’s a mixture of game reviews, several Top 5 ‘best of’ lists, hardware guides and a bunch of Amiga-centric articles from luminaries in the scene.

The top 5’s include CD32 Games, Amiga Utilities and also Point and Click Adventure games. Meanwhile the hardware guide covers each Amiga model from the first A1000 right through to the final CD32 System.

Here’s a little peak at some of the stuff in this new issue:

 

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Take a peek at the contents page below to see what else features in this issue:

 

Fusion Amiga Magazine

Fusion Amiga Magazine Contents.

 

If you want to pick up a copy of Fusion Amiga Magazine then head on over to their website. If you use the code ‘LYONSDENBLOG’ at the checkout you will also get 15% off the price! I will also receive a tiny bit of commission to help towards my running costs.

Retro Format – A Brand new Retro Computer Magazine

Retro Format

Believe it or not there is now another Retro Computing magazine on the block! It’s called Retro Format and it’s a multi-format magazine that caters for all retro 8/16/32-bit systems. Born from a successful Kickstarter campaign, this magazine is mostly focussed on games, specifically reviewing them, much like you’d imagine an all format ZZap!64 might look.

 

Retro Format

Retro Format Cover.

 

Initial impressions are very good indeed. It’s a full-size magazine, 64 pages in length (cover to cover) and all printed in full colour. There are over a dozen full reviews of games for retro systems inside. The games themselves are almost exclusively new ones created recently for retro systems. The two main exceptions to this are John Wick (a new NES styled game for modern PC’s) and Strike Commander – an old DOS game.

 

Retro Format

Retro Format Contents Page.

 

The Reviews

I really like the review style. It breaks game scores down by Graphics, Audio, Playability, Lastability and then gives an Overall score. This is how games used to be reviewed back in the day and I welcome seeing this format again.

 

Retro Format

Retro Format Game Scoring System.

 

As for the reviews, the bulk of the magazine is split almost 50/50 between Commodore and Spectrum games with the remainder made up of a handful of MSX, CPC and PC titles.

There’s also a future classics section which looks at a couple of modern games for the Vita and Playstation VR systems. I’d say the jury is out on this section though as I’m not sure I felt it was relevant.

Besides the games there was a really interesting 8-page feature on the SEGA Dreamcast system along with some of the best games available for it. I ended my SEGA experience with the Mega Drive but this definitely piqued my interest and made me think about getting one…

 

More than just games…

 

Retro Format

A look at the Christopher Reeve Superman Movies.

 

The magazine is rounded off by a classic Movie and TV section which I enjoyed a lot. It features the Christopher Reeve Superman movies and also delves into some past episodes of The Twilight Zone. As a big  Sci-Fi fan I found these articles to be right up my street.

 

The original Twilight Zone – NOT the recently re-hashed abomination.

 

Here’s a peek at some of the reviews featured in the magazine.

 

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How to get your own copy…

If you are interested in purchasing your own copy of the magazine then head on over to the Retro Format website.