Lyonsden Blog

Tag - Amiga 500

Powerglove Reloaded and Tiger Claw

Powerglove Reloaded and Tiger Claw

Just received Powerglove Reloaded and Tiger Claw in the post from RGCD and they both look absolutely awesome. The new style of packaging makes them look really premium and they’re going to look amazing displayed on my shelves.

 

Powerglove Reloaded and Tiger Claw

Comparison with standard DVD case

 

As you can see from the photo above, the boxes are much wider and ever-so-slightly taller than a standard DVD case. This allows more space for cool artwork on the spine and of course extra room for goodies inside!

 

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Both boxes were crammed with extras including: the game on 3.5″ floppy disk, the game on CD (with jewel case and inserts), instruction manual, postcards, stickers, pin badges and a very useful spare 3.5″ disk label to put on your own backup copy of the game! Both games also came with glorious A3 colour posters featuring the game artwork on one side and maps of the games on the other. Tiger Claw also came with a really cool rubber shuriken. Even though it’s made of rubber it’s still pretty pointy though!

 

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I already own Powerglove Reloaded and Tiger Claw on the Commodore 64 (digitally) but these Amiga releases just looked too good for me to pass up.  At £16 (or just £15 without the floppy disk) I think they’re an absolute bargain too and I could not be happier with my purchase.

 

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I was also relieved to find that both games loaded and played flawlessly off their respective floppy disks on my heavily modified Amiga 500 computer. Happy days!

Fusion Issue 3

Fusion Issue 3

The latest issue of the relatively new retro/modern gaming mag, Fusion Issue 3 arrived this morning. Had a quick flick through and there’s lots of suitably ‘christmassy’ themed stuff in it to enjoy. The ‘Guide to gifts of Christmas past ‘ looked especially interesting. A great trip down memory lane for any kid that grew up during the 70’s and 80’s. Plenty of other stuff too including a review of the new NeoGeo Mini, a look at some of the best games you can get for the PS Vita and loads more. Definitely looking forward to reading it over the weekend in front of the fire!

 

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Amiga Future Issue 135

Amiga Future 135

Plenty of reading material this week as in addition to K&A Plus 11, Amiga Future 135 is also out now. This edition is packed with all the latest news from the entire Amiga scene…

 

Amiga Future 135

Amiga Future 135 News pages

 

…including an in depth look at Gamescom 2018 that took place in Cologne back in August this year.

 

Amiga Future 135

Gamescom 2018 Feature

 

There are also plenty of reviews of both old and new Amiga games including the newly released ‘Extended Collector’s Edition’ of Rocket Ranger.

 

Amiga Future 135

Rocket Ranger Extended Collector’s Edition Review

 

A little late for me personally (having installed this about 6 months ago) but still of great interest, is a detailed review of MorphOS 3.11, the latest iteration of the long running replacement Amiga OS.

 

Amiga Future 135

MorphOS 3.11 Review

 

There’s plenty more to read about besides the few things I’ve highlighted already so if you are interested in finding out more about this long running Amiga magazine take a look here.

K&A Plus Issue 11

K&A Plus Issue 11

This magazine is only published a couple of times a year but is always packed with great content and K&A Plus Issue 11 is no exception. This is probably the biggest magazine both in terms of thickness and content there is for the Commodore range of machines in 2018, packing in a whopping 81 pages and none of them are filled by adverts!

 

K&A Plus Issue 11

Single Button Games & Exploding Fish Reviews

 

This issue has a fairly even split of content between the Commodore 64 and Amiga computers which is fantastic for me as I actively support both formats. There’s news, reviews, tutorials and retrospective articles covering both machines and even some stuff for the Vic 20 and the post Amiga MorphOS and AROS systems.

 

K&A Plus Issue 11

Mini reviews of C64 Racing Games.

 

The star of the whole issue for me is the included (if you pay a little extra for it) 5.25″ Coverdisk featuring a brand new game for the Commodore 64 – ‘Tower of Rubble’. This is the first 5.25″ Coverdisk I have seen since Commodore Disk User ceased publication back in 1991.

 

K&A Plus Issue 11

Tower of Rubble Coverdisk

 

There’s loads of content, far too much to list but some of the highlights for me are: A look into the Spy vs Spy franchise, H. R. Giger’s Dark Seed, reviews of ‘Retro Radio Stations’, an article about the pro’s and cons of modifying/upgrading retro machines and an ‘Amiga in your pocket’ tutorial showing you step by step how to convert a windows tablet into a portable Amiga!!!

 

K&A Plus Issue 11

A look at Dark Seed on the Amiga

 

If you want to find out more, or order yourself a copy, head on over to the Komoda & Amiga Plus website. The magazine is produced in Poland and shipping to the UK only takes a few days.

 

Worthy

Worthy Amiga game

It certainly took quite a while for Worthy to arrive, at least in physical form, but it was well worth the wait. This is the first new (physical) Amiga game I’ve bought in about 25 years! It includes both a CD and Floppy Disk copy of the game plus a digital version too so all bases are covered! It’s an OCS game so will work on the original A500 no problem.

 

Worthy Amiga game

Back of the box

 

I have to say I was really impressed with the physical presentation. The packaging is very faithful to the type used back in the Amiga’s heyday with a large cardboard box and glossy outer sleeve. Inside is the more modern and mundane DVD case that houses the floppy and CD.

 

Worthy Amiga game

The DVD style case inside the big box

 

I won’t bother reviewing the game as there’s plenty of info here but I will say I’m thoroughly enjoying it and it’s great to see new games making an appearance in 2018!

 

Worthy Amiga game

Contents of the DVD case with instruction manual, floppy and CD versions of the game

 

Anyway, here’s one final photo showing the game on a shelf alongside a few of my other Amiga games. It certainly doesn’t look out of place next to its much older forebears!

 

Worthy Amiga game

Worthy next to popular games from the Amiga’s heyday

Commodore Amiga – A Visual Compendium

Commodore Amiga - A Visual Compendium

Probably a bit late to the party with this one as it has been out a while but I spotted this on Amazon a while back and just couldn’t resist ordering it. Published by Bitmap Books, ‘The Commodore Amiga - A Visual Compendium‘ is just that. Every page features a lavish illustration of something from the Amiga’s history. There are screenshots of games, game artwork, hardware and more. It is presented in a lovely zoomed-in pixel art type of aesthetic which works really well for the subject matter.

 

Commodore Amiga - A Visual Compendium

Feature about Turrican 2

 

Every single page (and there are over 400 of them) is packed with nostalgia. I can pretty much guarantee that you will be transported back to the late 80’s or early 90’s in no time – I definitely was!

 

Commodore Amiga - A Visual Compendium

Lotus 2, one of my favourite games of all time on the Amiga!

 

If you were into the Amiga scene back in the day then I can’t recommend this book highly enough. It’s a cracking trip down memory lane and a great source of inspiration if you’re looking to expand your Amiga game collection.

 

Commodore Amiga - A Visual Compendium

Nice shot of the Amiga 500…

 

I purchased the hardback edition but there is a cheaper paperback version too. I’m actually not sure if the hardback version is still available now to be honest. Its definitely a book that you need to own physically – it just wouldn’t really work as an ebook.

 

Commodore Amiga - A Visual Compendium

Unfortunately (kids eh?) this was probably the most used bit of software I had!

 

It incorporates a couple of very useful ribbon style bookmarks in the spine and a matching paper jacket to protect the hardback cover underneath. If you are interested in finding out more about ‘Commodore Amiga – A Visual Compendium’ you can have a look on Amazon here. There is also a Commodore 64 version which I intend to get too!

 

Commodore Amiga - A Visual Compendium

Another 2 classic games

 

How to access IMAP email on an Amiga 500 in 2018

How to access IMAP email on an Amiga 500

Yep, you read the title correctly, this article is a step-by-step guide on how to access IMAP email on an Amiga 500 in 2018! This works with any IMAP email system including Gmail!

Who would have thought 30 years ago that we’d be able to get electronic mail on our Amiga 500 computers in 2018. It really is a testament to both the original designers of the Amiga and to the ingenuity and tenacity of the current community that this is actually a real possibility now. In this guide I’ll show how to get it working, step by step. It’s entirely feasible and actually works really well! Read on to find out what you need and how to get it configured.

What you need

First things first, you need to head on over to the SimpleMail website to download the latest version of the software (currently 0.44). Click on the downloads page and select the appropriate installer file from the list. I’m using Workbench 3.9 so downloaded the simplemail-0.44-0s3.lha file. If you’re using anything less than Workbench 3 then I’m afraid you are out of luck.

access IMAP email on an Amiga

The SimpleMail page on the SourceForge website

 

access IMAP email on an Amiga

The download page – choose the OS3 version.

One you’ve download the installer go ahead and install it and meet me back here for the next step. If the program doesn’t run then go back and check the readme file. There are a number of additional custom MUI classes that it requires to run and you may need to download and install one or more of these too.

Launching SimpleMail

Find the folder where you installed SimpleMail and open it. Inside there should be a Readme, an AmigaGuide document and the program itself. Double-click the SimpleMail icon to launch the software. After a brief splash screen you should be presented with the main application screen. This is the point at which we can begin to configure the program to get our emails.

access IMAP email on an Amiga

The SimpleMail folder

 

access IMAP email on an Amiga

The SimpleMail Splash screen – very attractive!

 

access IMAP email on an Amiga

The main program window

How to Configure your email account

Select “Configuration…” from the Settings menu and then Accounts from the configuration screen that pops up. This is where we can add our account and do lots of other things later on to get the mail program working just how we want it.

access IMAP email on an Amiga

Here is how you access the configuration screen.

 

access IMAP email on an Amiga

The ‘Accounts’ section of the configuration screen.

Adding your email account

The next step is to add your email account and you start the process by clicking on the ‘Add’ button in the top right of the window. I should point out that the program has very helpful tool-tip descriptions that pop up if you hover the mouse pointer over a particular button or text entry box for a few seconds.

access IMAP email on an Amiga

Click this button to begin adding your email account

The account name can be anything you want – this is just a label so you know what the account represents in the future. Enter your name, email address and reply address (if you want one) associated with your email account.

access IMAP email on an Amiga

Entering the account name and personal info relating to the account

Setting up IMAP – the ‘Receive’ configuration

  1. Click the IMAP4 radio button in the ‘Receive’ section..
  2. Enter your IMAP server name in the ‘Server’ box.
  3. Enter the port number in the ‘Port’ box.
  4. Ignore the Fingerprint box for now – this will be automatically filled later on.
  5. Select the type of security your account uses next to the ‘Security’ drop-down menu (for SSL select TLS).
  6. Enter the username and password you need to authenticate with in the ‘Login’ and ‘Password’ boxes respectively.
  7. Lave the rest of the settings in this section as they are.
access IMAP email on an Amiga

Entering your IMAP details

Setting up SMTP – the ‘Send’ configuration

  1. Enter your SMTP server name in the ‘SMTP Server’ box in the ‘Send’ section.
  2. Enter the port number in the ‘Port’ box.
  3. Ignore the Fingerprint box for now – this will be automatically filled later on.
  4. Select the type of security your account uses next to the ‘Security’ drop-down menu (for SSL select TLS).
  5. If your SMTP server requires authentication (most do these days) then click the ‘Use SMTP AUTH’ tickbox.
  6. (If required) Enter the username and password you need to authenticate with in the ‘Login’ and ‘Password’ boxes respectively.
  7. Leave the ‘Login into POP3 server first’ and “Use IP as domain” boxes unticked.
access IMAP email on an Amiga

Entering your SMTP settings

Testing your setup

Now it’s time to see if everything works! Click the test button over on the far right. This will first test your IMAP settings and then run through your SMTP setup to make sure everything is in order.

access IMAP email on an Amiga

Testing your account settings

You will see the following error appear twice, firstly for the IMAP connection and secondly for SMTP. Click ‘Trust Always’ to have SimpleMail  save the certificate ‘fingerprint’ so this error doesn’t re-appear in the future.

access IMAP email on an Amiga

This error will appear but it’s OK to click Trust always as you know this is you email provider.

Now in order for these 2 fingerprints to be saved permanently, preventing any future warnings from popping up every time you try to download or send email you must save the configuration using the ‘Save’ button at the bottom left of the configuration window.

access IMAP email on an Amiga

Prompt reminding you to save the configuration.

Correcting Errors…

Now at this stage you might end up with the following screen with everything highlighted in red! Don’t panic – this just means that the test failed due to an error in one or more of your entries. Go through and double/triple check every piece of information you have entered. Make sure the ports are correct, there are no typos in the server name etc.

The problem in my case was the passwords as mine contain numerous weird and wonderful characters. Now this isn’t normally an issue but for some reason the keyboard mapping on my Amiga was wrong so these characters were actually appearing as something else entirely when typed…

You cannot see the password you are typing so I highly recommend opening up a shell window and typing your password into that just to check it appears correctly. Once you have ironed out any kinks with getting it to appear properly, go back to SimpelMail and enter it again in both boxes.

access IMAP email on an Amiga

This screen means you’ve made a mistake somewhere!

Final steps

Hopefully you’ve got every bit of information correct now and can see a screen similar to the one below with the fingerprint boxes fully populated.

access IMAP email on an Amiga

Success – IMAP and SMTP settings have been correctly entered and tested,

Don’t forget to click on ‘Save’ at the bottom left of the configuration window otherwise all your hard work up to this point will be lost!

access IMAP email on an Amiga

Don’t forget to SAVE the configuration!

After you have saved the configuration you will return the main program window. You should see your newly added email account appear at the bottom of the folder list. At this point it will not have downloaded any of your emails or even folders for that matter.

access IMAP email on an Amiga

Your new email account initially appears like this…

Accessing your emails

Now click on the name of your email account and SimpleMail will connect to your email server and download a list of all the folders within it. This will include your Inbox, Sent items etc. along with any custom folders your have created too. This might take a few seconds – you can see what is going on by checking the status bar at the bottom of the window.

access IMAP email on an Amiga

You will always know what is going on by checking the status area of SimpleMail

 

access IMAP email on an Amiga

Your email folder heirarchy

At this stage the program still hasn’t downloaded any of your emails. To do this you must left click on any of the folder titles for it to fetch the contents of it from the server. In the below example I clicked on my Inbox and it fetched 17 mails from the server. This took just a few seconds – if you have hundreds or even thousands of mails it will take a bit longer.

access IMAP email on an Amiga

This is the progress bar. If you have a lot of emails then it will move quite slowly

 

access IMAP email on an Amiga

Inbox with 17 new emails.

 

access IMAP email on an Amiga

Main program window with Inbox emails displayed in the top right pane

Finally – Viewing an email!

Even though the messages are now displayed in the list view, these are only email headers. The body of the messages have not been downloaded. Click on an email to download the message – the body will be display in the bottom right viewing pane. If you would like the program to automatically download full messages you can of course enable this but it will greatly slow down the process of fetching emails.

Unfortunately SimpleMail does not yet support HTML mails so you will only see the plain text version of them like the example below. Personally this doesn’t bother me too much as most HTML mails are sent from companies trying to sell you stuff. Friends and family send plain text emails so I can live with that.

access IMAP email on an Amiga

Example of how HTML mails are presented

Downloading Complete emails rather than just the headers

As I mentioned above, you can have SimpleMail automatically download complete messages, including the full body. It does make reading through your mailbox quicker, but at the expense of longer fetch times. Only you can decide if the trade-off is worth it. To do this, left click on the folder or Inbox you want to make the change to and select settings.

access IMAP email on an Amiga

Selecting the settings option

Now you should see a window like the one below. Select ‘Complete mails’ from the ‘Download’ drop-down menu and then click OK. The next time you perform a fetch/click on that folder it will download each and every message inside it in full.

access IMAP email on an Amiga

Getting the software to download Complete mails instead of just the headers

Renaming your email account

You may have noticed that your email account has an odd name. The program seems to name the account itself based off the server it connects to. Don’t worry though, you can easily change it to something more recognisable. Simply right-click on the mailbox name to bring up a folder menu and select ‘settings’.

access IMAP email on an Amiga

Selecting Settings option in the Folder menu

Here you can enter the name you want to appear in the folder list by entering it into the ‘Name’ box under Folder properties. Hit ‘OK’ at the bottom of the window when you are done.

access IMAP email on an Amiga

Entering your mailbox folder name

You should now be back at the main program window and your mailbox should be named correctly in the folder view.

access IMAP email on an Amiga

Mailbox now showing the correct name

Concluding

And that is it – you can now access IMAP email on an Amiga in 2018!

SimpleMail is constantly being worked on, so if you are reading this in the future there may well be a better version out with even more features.

I have only given you the bare minimum instructions here to get you started with accessing your email. There are plenty of other things this software can offer. Mail sorting rules, signatures, integrated address book and so on. You can also resize each of the viewing panes or remove them completely. Have a play around with it all and enjoy.

Gmail!

I run my own mail server but this should work for any IMAP email out there. I have personally tested it with Gmail and it works perfectly. Here’s a screenshot of the configuration screen so you can see what settings I used.

access IMAP email on an Amiga

Gmail configuration

Some extra info about system requirements

For the record I got this running on an Amiga 500 with a Vampire V500 V2+ accelerator card. The biggest advantage this offers is speed – up to 12 times faster than a stock A500! You certainly don’t need a Vampire to run SimpleMail though. What you will need is Workbench running off a hard drive or CF card solution already. I’m pretty sure you would also need at least an 020 accelerator card to get any of this running at all.

Of course this isn’t just limited to Amiga 500 computers, that just happens to be what I use. It should work just as well on the big box Amiga’s and of course the A1200 too.

Anyway, I really hope you found the article both interesting and useful – if you did please let me know! If you have any questions or requests then drop me a message and I’ll do my best to answer them.

access IMAP email on an Amiga

Adding an SD Card Slot and HDMI port to an Amiga 500

SD Card Slot and HDMI port to an Amiga 500

So you may be aware that the Vampire V500 V2+ Card gives your vintage Amiga 500 both a MicroSD card slot and an HDMI port for hooking up to a modern display.  Trouble is the ports are on the board itself which is rather inconvenient if you don’t want to leave the top of your Amiga’s case off.  After doing a little research and searching around I discovered that you can get some nifty little extension cables for both ports which will allow you to ‘move’ them to the exterior of the Amiga’s case.  This post will explain how to add both an SD Card Slot and HDMI port to an Amiga 500 computer.

SD Card Slot and HDMI port to an Amiga 500

Location of the HDMI and MicroSD ports on the Vampire card. Not exactly easily accessible once the lid is back on!

Purchasing the right cables for the job

The HDMI cable was a little tricky to locate at first as there are just so many options. Once I got the search term correct I stumbled into the right cable for the job.  The cable I bought (below) was an Adafruit Panel mount HDMI Cable - 40 cm which you can pick up from Amazon.  It’s just the perfect length and almost seems tailor made for the Amiga!

SD Card Slot and HDMI port to an Amiga 500

40cm HDMI extension cable

The MicroSD slot extender was a much easier product to locate.  This Micro SD to SD Card Extension Cable I picked up from Amazon is perfect.  You will find that you can actually get both MicroSD to MicroSD and also MicroSD to SD extender cables.  I decided to chose the MicroSD to SD option as I thought it would allow a little extra flexibility in terms of what cards I can use with it.  With it I have a choice of using both regular SD cards or  MicroSD cards now with the use of a MicroSD adapter card.

SD Card Slot and HDMI port to an Amiga 500

MicroSD Extension Cable

Deciding where to locate the ports

I decided the HDMI port needed to be at the back of my A500 but that the SD card would be much more useful if it was located somewhere along the side.  There is quite a lot of free space underneath the floppy drive, ample to accommodate the HDMI socket.  However because the SD Card Slot is housed in quite a chunky plastic case there wasn’t room for it under the floppy, plus I already have my floppy boot selector switch there anyway.  So, I chose a spot that sits just under the keyboard where there is plenty of space and it’s also super convenient for me to pop cards in and out.

SD Card Slot and HDMI port to an Amiga 500

Final Cable Routes

SD Card Slot and HDMI port to an Amiga 500

HDMI Socket secured with hot glue. It ain’t pretty but it’s very secure.

SD Card Slot and HDMI port to an Amiga 500

Plenty of clearance around floppy drive

SD Card Slot and HDMI port to an Amiga 500

SD Card Slot Hot Glued in position

Creating the cut-outs and securing the new ports

The slots for both ports were cut out using a Dremel tool (if you have one you should know instinctively how to do this!). Take care to use a low speed otherwise you risk melting the plastic.  The ports themselves are held in place with some hot glue, perfect for this sort of project as it flows freely around things before setting hard.  I used a few blobs of hot glue to keep the SD extension ribbon cable out of harms way too as it’s quite fragile.  It could easily become trapped and get damaged by the A500 keyboard when it is replaced if it was left unchecked.

SD Card Slot and HDMI port to an Amiga 500

Top view of HDMI Socket with floppy drive back in place

SD Card Slot and HDMI port to an Amiga 500

Finished HDMI Port

SD Card Slot and HDMI port to an Amiga 500

Finished SD Card Slot with MicroSD adapter sticking out

End Result

I’m pretty pleased with the end result, with hindsight I probably should have tidied up the HDMI cut-out a little with a file as there are a few rough bits left… but it’s around the back of the case and out of sight so no biggie.  The HDMI port is rock solid and should have no problem with me plugging and unplugging a cable in and out.  Likewise the SD card slot is nice and secure and more than up to the task of dealing with regular card swaps.  Perhaps a version in white (or off-white LOL) would have been better but I just couldn’t find one for sale anywhere.

Improvements?

Only other thing I might do in future is add an RJ45 extender when the Apollo Vampire team make the Ethernet port expansion option a reality.  Although I already have Ethernet through the use of the fantastic little plipbox device this is currently hogging my parallel port so I cannot print without first unplugging it – hardly ideal.

Fitting an SD Card Slot and HDMI port to an Amiga 500.

Fitting an External, Boot – selectable Gotek Drive to an A500

Amiga Gotek External Cable

I wanted to avoid having to have one of these hanging off the back of my A500.

I wouldn’t really call this an upgrade as such, more taking advantage of the latest developments in the Amiga scene. In case you’ve never heard of it, the ‘Gotek’ drive is basically a 3.5″ Floppy Drive emulator. Instead of putting floppy disks in it you plug in a USB flash drive that can contain up to a thousands Amiga Disk Files or ‘ADF’s’ (floppy disk images).

There are quite a few versions of these floating around on eBay, internal and external. I decided pretty early on that I wanted mine external so I could keep my A500’s DF0 as a real floppy drive so I opted for an external drive. I wanted to have the install look as authentic and neat as possible so I opted to install my Gotek inside an old external floppy disk drive that I picked up off eBay for spares/repairs. If you want to do the same just be careful to pick one that houses a regular sized floppy drive and not a reduced height, slim one as the Gotek won’t fit. You can see what I mean from the photo below which shows my finished Gotek drive underneath a couple of Roctec slim drives – it should be pretty obvious that the slim drives don’t have the necessary height to accommodate the Gotek drive.

The other choices available now include the option to have an OLED screen that can display the name of the ADF file you select and the track info and also a built in speaker that can simulate the noises of the real thing. It’s more of a buzzer than anything else but it’s pretty effective and much better than sitting in silence waiting for Cannon Fodder to load!

Finished Gotek Drive

Finished Gotek Drive under my two Roctec slim external floppy drives

Close-up of Gotek Drive with OLED Screen

Close-up of Gotek Drive with OLED Screen

Boot Selector Installed in Even CIA Socket

Boot Selector Installed in Even CIA Socket

Mounting of Selector Switch

Mounting of Selector Switch

DF0 / DF1 selector switch

DF0 / DF1 selector switch

Repairing a Roctec Floppy Drive for an Amiga

Repairing a Roctec floppy drive

This is a guide to repairing a Roctec floppy drive for an Amiga 500 computer.  I thought I’d write this up as much for my own benefit as other peoples so I can refer back to it in another 20 years! LOL.

Roctec Amiga external floppy drive

Roctec Amiga external floppy drive

If you ever pop a disk in your external Roctec drive and hear a strange whirring noise and can’t read any of your disks then the chances are you are suffering from a perished or broken drive belt.

Perished Drive Belt

Perished Drive Belt

These drives use a rubber belt to connect the drive motor to the spindle hub. The rubber belt only has a finite life and given most of these drives are getting on for 30 years old now it’s hardly surprising that they expire.

cof

No tension in old perished belt

The good news is that it’s pretty easy to replace them and I’ll give an overview of what you need to do here.

Getting Started on the Repair

The first thing you need to do is undo the 6 screws on the underside of the drive case using a small philips screwdriver.

Underside of drive case

Remove these 6 phillips screws.

This particular drive case is made from a solid metal rectangular tube so you need to slide the floppy drive out. The aim here is to slide everything out of the BACK of the case. The first step is to gently slide the floppy drive forward out of the case far enough to detach the plastic fascia from the front of it. Unless you do this it won’t slide right into the case and out the back. There are 2 small tabs on each side of the fascia which you can gently bend with a small flat-bladed screwdriver and it will pop right off. Don’t force anything or it will break – it should come off easily.

Drive Fascia removed

Drive Fascia removed

Now you need to prise the back part of the drive out of the case using something thin enough to slide into the tiny gap between the case and the backplate, I found the blade of my pocket knife to be perfect for this but be careful not to injure yourself or damage the plastic/paint on your drive! Once you’ve got it moving slide it out slowly (a slight side to side wiggle can help here). It will be attached to the floppy drive via a ribbon cable so keep going until you’ve got the floppy drive out too.

Roctec floppy drive detached

Roctec floppy drive detached from controller board

The floppy drive has a thin metal cover that protects the mechanical innards and it is held in place by some little tabs on the edges and a solitary screw at the back right (when viewed from the front).

Roctec Floppy Drive Rubber Belt Path

Roctec Floppy Drive Rubber Belt Path

Replacing the Belt

Once the top is off you can see the drive mechanism, motors, heads and so on. Carefully remove what’s left of the old belt with a pair of tweezers. Be careful not to touch the drive heads with anything metallic or you may damage them. The photo above shows the path the rubber belt follows, indicated by the yellow line.

The next step is to remove the drive motor which is attached to a metal bracket that runs across the back of the drive. It is held in position by one screw in the far left corner and another on the right a few cm down from the corner. Don’t touch the two screws with the large flat heads either side of the motor. Be careful you don’t pull the bracket too much as there are two tiny wires connecting the motor to the circuit board here so be careful to support the bracket whilst you are handling the drive to replace the belt.

How to detach the motor and bracket

How to detach the motor and bracket

Drive motor and bracket removed

Drive motor and bracket removed

Once the bracket and motor are out of the way you can carefully thread a replacement belt around the large drive wheel, small tension wheel and keep a loop ready at the top right to go on the motor spindle. Follow the yellow path in the earlier photo and take you time as it can be a little tricky to get the belt into place. A small flat bladed screwdriver and a pair of tweezers are essential for this. Don’t forget the belt needs to thread behind the small silver pully wheel as this is what tensions the belt.

Close-up of the small tension wheel you need to thread the belt behind

Close-up of the small tension wheel you need to thread the belt behind

Once you’ve got it threaded around the wheels correctly you need to get the final loop onto the motor spindle. It helps if you grab the loop with some needle nosed pliers here and pull it taught with one hand whilst guiding the motor spindle into the loop with the other. Once this has been achieved (it may take a few goes as it’s quite fiddly) place the bracket back in place and rotate the large drive wheel slowly and check the belt stays on, is running where it should and isn’t fouling any components.

Look carefully through the tiny gaps in the top of the drive motor you should be able to see the motor armature slowly rotating as you move the belt. If it is then job  done, time to put it all back together! If it isn’t then don’t fret, just double check the belt is following the correct path, isn’t twisted anywhere and hasn’t slipped off any of the wheels.

Congratulations, your Roctec drive should now be fit for active duty for another several years now!

Upgrading my Amiga A500 to 1MB Chip RAM (1MB Chip RAM Mod)

1MB Chip RAM Mod

Introduction

My A500 motherboard is a Revision 6A which means that it is quite a straightforward modification to get a 512K trapdoor expansion to be seen as additional Chip RAM. The 6A comes with the Enhanced Chip Set (ECS) variant of the Agnus chip called ‘Fat Agnus’ which is able to support up to 1MB total Chip RAM. This 1MB Chip RAM Mod will combine the 512k onboard RAM with the 512k Trapdoor RAM to give 1MB total Chip RAM, just like you get in the later A500 Plus models.

Chip RAM is needed for stuff like graphics as it is the only memory that the custom Amiga chips are able to access and 512k goes nowhere! Opening Workbench windows, increasing the screen resolution, adding a wallpaper all gobble up precious Chip RAM. The popularity of WHDLoad as a means to run old Amiga floppy games off a hard drive is also a problem for 512k machines as most of the games require 1MB of Chip RAM to function so without this.

Checking the Amiga board revision

You can check what revision your Amiga is by opening it up and removing the floppy disk drive. The revision number will be etched into a small area underneath along with other interesting information such as the serial number and when it was made. It looks like my board was designed in 1988 (30 years old this year!) but that it might have been assembled in 1989/90 going by the serial number sticker?

1MB Chip RAM Mod

Revision 6A motherboard confirmed

1MB Chip RAM Mod

Here’s a screenshot from SysInfo confirming the presence of an ECS Agnus chip – needed for this mod.

Under the knife!

The first thing to do is cut the small trace between the lower two pads (2 & 3). I used a small craft knife but any similarly sharp knife should do the job. Be very careful not to slip with the knife as there are several other tracks on the motherboard that you do not want to damage! To check that you have successfully cut the track you can use a multimeter – there should be no continuity between the two pads if the track has been cut properly.

1MB Chip RAM Mod

JP2 – Track cut between the lower 2 of the 3 solder pads with a sharp craft knife.

Bridging the gap

After successfully cutting the track between pads 2 and 3 the next task is to solder the top two pads (1 and 2) together. I found the easiest way to do this was just to keep adding blobs of solder to one of the pads until there was enough to drag across to the other pad and bridge the gap.

1MB Chip RAM Mod

JP2 with pads 1 and 2 soldered together.

The shortcut

Traditionally the next part of this modification required cutting a track on JP7A but just by chance I stumbled across an advert for a 512K Trapdoor expansion on eBay that bypasses this requirement completely. This particular RAM expansion has a series of jumpers on it that you can use to enable/disable a number of features including using it to expand Chip RAM. It also features a clock with battery backup so it’s a very complete little package. Anyway, in order to have the 512k of RAM added to the pool of Chip memory you need to remove the blue jumper – this basically has the same effect as cutting the track on JP7A.

1MB Chip RAM Mod

512K RAM Expansion with blue jumper disabled to enable it to be seen as Chip RAM.

Testing

The final step (after putting everything back together of course) is to turn on the Amiga and check that it now has a full 1 megabyte of Chip RAM.  Easiest way to check for sure is to load up good old SysInfo and go to the Memory Information screen and you should see 1.0MB Chip RAM displayed. Job done!

1MB Chip RAM Mod

SysInfo screen confirming 1MB of Chip RAM 🙂