Lyonsden Blog

Tag - Amiga

My New Amiga CD32 Console

Amiga CD32

Introduction

I never owned an Amiga CD32 Console back when they launched in 1993. I remember reading about them in Amiga Format and wanting one desperately but could never justify or afford one at the time. Not long after they launched Commodore went out of business and so the CD32 quickly disappeared from the shelves and from my mind.

Fast-forward some 25 years and I recently found myself pining after one of these mythical beasts again. Reading numerous articles about them in magazines and on the ‘net added further fuel to the fire. So I did the only sensible thing a middle-aged bloke could do and bought my very own Amiga CD32! Here she is in all her 32-bit glory!

 

Amiga CD32

My new Amiga CD32 console

 

For it’s age and what I paid for it I think it’s in great condition. Sure there’s a couple of blemishes and the badge is scratched but for a 26 year old machine I’m more than happy with it. It’s already been fully re-capped so I don’t have to worry about that side of things either.

 

Amiga CD32

Close-up of the Amiga CD32 control panel. From left to right: reset button, power and drive activity LED’s, volume slider and headphone socket.

 

All the ports, buttons and outputs work as they should. However I can’t really see myself using it as a CD player much but at least the option is there should I want to!

 

Connectivity

 

Amiga CD32

Amiga CD32 expansion port

 

Amiga CD32 expansion port

A look inside the CD32 expansion port

 

There’s an expansion port on the back which can be used to install all manner of wonderful contraptions. In the past there were FMV cartridges, floppy drives and the SX-1 which could convert the CD32 into a full blown computer. Nowadays you can hook up a TerribleFire expansion which offers extra RAM, faster CPU’s, IDE interface and more. I’ll definitely be looking to utilise this port soon!

 

Amiga CD32

Amiga CD32 rear connectivity. From left to right: power rocker switch, power socket, RF aerial output, s-video, composite video and right/left audio RCA sockets.

 

There’s plenty of connectivity round the back as standard. No less than 3 video output options, RF, composite and S-video. The latter provides by far the best picture if you have a TV capable of utilising it.

 

Amiga CD32

View of the Amiga CD32 rear – that rusty screw definitely needs sorting…

 

 

Amiga CD32

Amiga CD32 left side. From left to right: controller port 1 (for gamepads), controller port 2 (for gamepads or a mouse), aux port (for an Amiga keyboard).

 

Amiga CD32

Amiga CD32 right side. Not much to see here really.

 

Amiga CD32

Made in 1993 in the Philippines.

 

Amiga CD32

View of the CD tray and laser pickup.

 

The CD mechanism is pretty basic but it gets the job done. My CD32 came with a spare laser pickup assembly but hopefully I won’t need to use it for a long time! Discs don’t click into place like on a lot of modern CD players. Instead they’re held in place by the friction of the lid pressing down on the CD when it closes.

 

Amiga CD32

Inside of the lid. This is what presses down on a CD to grip it.

 

A Few Issues

 

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If there’s one facet of this CD32 console that concerns me, it’s this rear left corner. The rusty screws are an eyesore but also easily rectified. No, the thing that worries me is that it looks like the lid has cracked at some point and been glued back together. The repair actually looks quite effective and from a normal viewing distance isn’t that noticeable (I’ve zoomed in close in the above photo). However there is a spring loaded lever underneath this corner which ‘lifts’ the lid up automatically once you start to raise it and so this area is presumably under a lot of strain. I’m not going to do anything with it for the time being other than keep on eye on it. I will however be keeping my eyes peeled for a replacement lid just in case!

 

A Quick Peek Inside

Because, why not? Had to make sure that it had actually been re-capped as advertised (it had) at the very least! Also wanted to take a look at the Akiko chip which is only found in the CD32. This is the chip that allows it to convert planar to chunky graphics in hardware for 3D games.

 

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CD32 Controller

The controller that came with my Amiga CD32 console is in superb condition. In fact I’d go as far as to say it’s in mint condition. It doesn’t look like it has ever been used. Sadly though it actually proved to be faulty – the D-pad ‘up’ just doesn’t work at all. Very disappointing – no idea what is wrong with it so will have to open it up and take a look soon.

 

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Amiga CD32 Competition Pro Controller

 

Luckily I was able to pick up this Amiga CD32 compatible ‘Competition Pro’ gamepad off eBay pretty cheaply. No to be confused with the almost identical ‘honey bee’ which is much more expensive, although I’ve no idea why! Although it doesn’t look as cool as the official controller it works perfectly. At the end of the day that’s all that matters so I can still play with my new toy until I get around to sorting the original controller!

 

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PSU

Sadly my CD32 console didn’t come with an original Commodore PSU but rather this modern one made by LaCie. Although given the ropy nature of some of the official C= PSU’s maybe that’s a good thing?

 

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That Badge – Revisited & Fixed!

OK, I’ll confess that the scratched Amiga CD32 metal badge annoyed me more than I though it would. I started hunting around for a possible replacement. Replacement badges are quite commonplace for the Commodore 64 and Amiga computers so I had planned to replace my scratched up old one with a brand new one. Turns out CD32 badges are quite hard to come by. However I did come across a guy in Switzerland selling vinyl CD32 stickers on eBay that he claimed fitted exactly so I ordered one.

 

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True to his word, the vinyl sticker was indeed a perfect fit in terms of size. It’s also a very close match in colour and tone to the original, certainly close enough for me anyway. It was a little tricky to get it lined up perfectly, but now it’s in place I think it looks fantastic. Sure it’s not quite as glossy as the original, it’s got more of a silk finish, but I’m very happy with the end result.

FYI, I didn’t remove the original badge – I simply stuck the new one on top of the old metal one. The reason I did this was so that if I ever wanted to go back to a 100% original finish I could simply peel the new one off.

 

We have ignition!

Here’s a quick video I did of the awesome CD32 boot-up sequence. This must have been amazing back when it launched, two years before Sony’s original PlayStation in the UK! The quality is a little bit ropy as it’s only connected up to my TV using composite video at the moment.

 

 

Definitely time to dig out my CD32 Scene magazines and see what games I need to buy to start my collection!

Modding Amiga 500 Floppy LED to Display IDE Activity

Introduction

Unlike the Amiga 1200, the A500 was never designed to allow the fitment of an IDE Hard Disk Drive (HDD) inside it so naturally it never included an HDD activity LED. For the longest time this was never really an issue. Sidecar expansions such as the A590 were the only way to add HDD’s to the A500 and they came with their own drive activity LED. However, now that many owners are fitting expansions like the Vampire into their Amiga 500, things are a little different. These new devices facilitate the use of 2.5″ HDD’s or Compact Flash (CF) cards inside the casing of the A500, something that was never possible before.

The problem with this is the lack of a drive activity light. It can be quite disconcerting at times when you turn on your ‘Vampired’ Amiga 500 and nothing appears to happen. You sometimes wonder if it’s actually booting up or simply frozen. The same issue crops up whilst loading a game or running a program. There’s simply no way to tell if your Amiga is doing anything, especially if you’re using a CF card as they are completely silent. At least if you have a 2.5″ HDD they do at least make some sounds whilst being accessed.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could add a hardware activity light to your A500 to solve this issue? Well, recently I stumbled across a nifty little mod from Arananet that claimed to allow you to do just that by using the Amiga 500 floppy disk activity LED to show IDE HDD/CF activity. It’s called the ‘IDELED’ and is only €7 plus postage so I ordered one and sat back waiting for it to arrive.

Incidentally, if you fancy making this modification yourself all you need is a phillips screwdriver (to open the A500 case up), some wire cutters/strippers and a soldering iron. Don’t worry if you’re not an expert solderer, I’m rubbish at soldering but this is very basic stuff and should be well within most peoples capabilities.

A closer look at the IDELED device

The device arrived in a little anti-static bag with no instructions. It’s a tiny little 1″ square circuit board that incorporates an 8 pin socket one one side and 8 pins on the other. There is also a small hole for you to solder a wire to, plus a few components that allow it to ‘do its thing’.

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Getting Started

The IDELED is designed to sit between the Amiga 500’s keyboard connector and the keyboard cable. This gives it access to the floppy drive LED circuit and allows that to be used as an IDE activity LED in your Amiga 500. After opening up your A500 the first thing you need to do is carefully unplug the keyboard connector, lift away the keyboard and set it to one side.

 

Amiga 500 keyboard connector

Unplug the keyboard connector (circled in red).

 

You’ll then have access to the 8 pin keyboard connector on the mainboard which will look like this:

 

Amiga 500 keyboard connector pins

Keyboard connector pins

 

Next you need to attach the IDELED board to the keyboard connector pins on the mainboard. Make sure that you connect it the correct way around – orient the board so that the keyboard connector is at the back if you are looking at it from the front of your Amiga. It should then look like this:

 

IDELED board

IDELED fitted to keyboard connector

 

At this point I connected the keyboard to the pins on top of the IDELED board. You might want to leave doing this until after you’ve soldered the connecting wire but I needed to experiment a bit and wanted the A500 powered on and the LED’s working. At this stage the project looked like this:

 

Amiga IDELED board

IDELED board fitted between mainboard and keyboard cable

 

Solder time

The next job is to attach a short wire to that little solder point on the left side of the IDELED board. The wire needs to be long enough to reach the IDE connector on top of your Vampire (or other accelerator card) with enough slack so that it’s never under any strain if you have to move things around in the future. You will need to strip off a few millimeters of insulation from each end of the wire before you go any further. It’s much easier to do this before one end of the wire is attached to anything. I’d also suggest ‘tinning’ the exposed wire each end as this makes soldering them easier.

Insert one stripped and tinned end of the wire into the little hole in the board and apply a blob of solder. You should now have something looking like this:

 

Amiga 500 IDELED board

IDELED board with ‘activity’ wire soldered on

 

Locating pin 1 and 39

The other end of the wire needs to go to ‘pin 39’ on your IDE adapter. This is the pin responsible for transmitting drive activity. If you have a CF adapter like mine (pictured below) then you should be OK to just hook the wire up to the same pin as I did.

 

Amiga Compact Flash IDE adapter

A closer look at my IDE CF adapter (without CF card fitted)

 

Amiga Vampire CF flash adapter pins

Locations of pins 1 and 39 on my 44 pin IDE adapter

 

 

To locate ‘pin 39’ on my adapter I used the 44 PIN IDE connector diagram below for reference. Note the way the pins are numbered – it alternates up and down with 1 top left, 2 bottom left, 3 back to top row and so on. My particular adaptor has the upper row of 22 PINs connected to the top of the circuit board and the lower row of 22 pins to the underside.

 

Diagram showing pin numbering of a 44 pin IDE connector

2.5″ 44 PIN IDE pin layout & numbering

 

Provided it was connected up the correct way round originally, the purple edge of the ribbon cable indicates which side ‘pin 1’ should be. Thankfully the Vampire card clearly indicates where ‘pin 1’ is (see the little ‘1’ above the bats head in the photo above) so my cable was oriented correctly. Once I was sure of the location of ‘pin 1’ it was a simple matter of counting along to identify ‘pin 39’. Obviously if you have a different kind of adapter then you will have to confirm its location yourself. Hopefully the information above will help you out.

 

Amiga 500 IDE activity LED - pin 39 activity wire soldered on

Wire soldered to pin 39 – not the prettiest soldering job in the world but it does the job.

 

The completed modification

 

Amiga 500 IDE activity LED fitted

View showing the completed modification in its’ entirety.

 

Assuming you’ve connected everything up correctly (check  before you screw the case back together), you should now how a fully working IDE activity LED on your A500.

 

Demonstration

In the video below you can see my Amiga 500’s new IDE activity LED flashing away whilst it boots into Workbench. The loud clicking sound is just my empty floppy drives clicking – the anti-click software doesn’t run until workbench has finished loading.

I’m really pleased with this mod, it was cheap, pretty simple to implement and above all else, really useful. No longer will I be in the dark about when my CF card is being accessed!

 

 

But wait, there’s more!

When you pop in a floppy disk the activity LED still flashes away as usual so there is no loss of functionality. Quite the opposite in fact as the LED even flashes when I use an SD card (the Vampire supports SD card storage too) which is totally awesome and something I definitely wasn’t expecting. An added bonus is that because Commodore simply labelled the A500’s floppy activity light as ‘Drive’ it’s still labelled correctly! How’s that for future-proofing!?

Anyway that about wraps this article up for now. I do hope you found this article both interesting and useful. If you did, please let me know by leaving a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

Amiga Future #138

Amiga Future #138

Another cracking issue of Amiga Future (issue number #138) plopped through my door yesterday. Really looking forward to putting my feet up this weekend and reading through its 50 pages of Amiga goodness.

Inside there’s several game reviews including UWOL: Quest for Money, Celtic Heart, Distant Armies and more. A review of ‘SnapShoter’ which is a combined Clipboard manager, screen capture, video recorder and also Dropbox file synchroniser for your Amiga!  There’s also a nice little review of Iris, an email program I use myself on my MorphOS machine. Iris is included on the cover CD too which is a nice touch. Speaking of the coverdisk, it includes full games in the form of Deadline and Magic Forest 2 plus a load of other stuff for all flavours of Amiga hardware.

Here’s a little peak at some of the pages of Amiga Future #138. 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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Amiga User 6

Amiga User 6

There’s certainly no shortage of reading material this month as Amiga User 6 arrives alongside K&A Plus magazine. This is another twice a year publication and is also an equally weighty tome packed with interesting articles.

This is definitely a mag devoted to the more serious Amiga user. Although games do get a mention occasionally, the bulk of the pages are devoted to applications, utilities and the like.

There’s a great piece that looks into exactly what areas of the Internet you can still access on old Amiga systems and how to do so.   There’s also part 2 of an article delving into the intricacies of MUI and a interesting article looking into the history of Sid Meier’s Silent Service.

 

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There’s tons more to read, far too much to list here so if you fancy getting hold of your own copy take a look at the amiga.net.pl website. Like K&A Plus, Amiga User 6 is also produced in Poland but again the English is excellent and delivery to the UK is pretty quick.

 

K&A Plus Issue 12

K&A Plus Issue 12

K&A Plus magazine is only published twice a year but is always packed with great content and issue 12 is no exception. Weighing in at 81 pages there’s plenty of content to get stuck into over the coming weeks.

 

K&A plus

What a great cover!

 

Although the magazine supports all Commodore machines (even MorphOS and AROS systems) the bulk of the magazine is devoted to the good old C64 and original Amiga systems and that suits me just fine.

 

K&A Plus Issue 12

Here’s a look at the contents page showing the breadth of articles

 

The magazine is packed with interesting articles and reviews of new games for both the C64 and Amiga computers.

 

K&A Plus Issue 12

The rise and fall of Psygnosis

 

As a scouser, one article that immediately caught my eye was ‘The rise and fall of Psygnosis’. This deals with how the company sprang into existence and what they got up to before being engulfed by Sony and ultimately, closing. There’s even some photos inside their old Liverpool offices where they used to work.

 

K&A Plus Issue 12

Expedition to the world of Dune

 

Another fascinating article is ‘Expedition to the world of Dune’ which is a in depth look at the transition from book, to movie and ultimately the games.

 

K&A Plus Issue 12

Gunship 2000

 

As a big Microprose simulation fan the article about Gunship 2000 for the Amiga also warranted my immediate attention.

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 (but the English is great) and shipping to the UK only takes a few days.

 

Retrokomp – A brand new Retro Computer Magazine

Retrokomp Magazine

I originally spotted Retrokomp Magazine a few months ago. I thought it looked interesting but sadly it was only available in Polish at the time. That’s changed now though so I ordered myself a copy for €10 plus postage last week and it arrived today.

 

Retrokomp Magazine

A technical article looking at diagnosing issues with the Commodore 64

 

So what exactly is it?

Retrokomp Magazine is a brand new retro computer magazine that focuses on 8-Bit and 16-Bit machines and is published by amiga.net.pl in Poland. Although it covers other makes and models of machine there is a lot of Commodore content covering everything from the VIC20 though to the Amiga. The other machines covered include Atari, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC and the old Apple computers. It’s produced in full colour to a high standard on A4 glossy paper and there are 74 pages in total.

 

Retrokomp Magazine

Detailed look at the long lost methods of interacting with 5.25″ floppies and how you can convert them to .D64’s

 

The first thing that struck me as I flicked through it is that it’s not like most of the other magazines in circulation right now. This is not a game-centric magazine, it’s very text heavy and it contains a lot of articles and information. This is a good thing in my opinion as there are plenty of other magazines that cover games already.

I’ve read a few of the articles in full and they’re well written, interesting and informative. They’re the sort of articles that I will either refer back to in the future or prompt me to start experimenting with a particular piece of kit or write a program. They remind me a little bit of the sort of articles you used to get in Amiga Shopper magazine (RIP).

 

Retrokomp Magazine

Making a VIC20 sound generator, complete with type-in listing

 

A quick run-down of the Commodore-centric articles in this issue:

  • Transferring data to the C64 (looks at converting real floppies into .D64 files)
  • Controlling the floppy disk drive (in depth look at floppy disks usage on the 64)
  • Expansion cards for the C16 – Plus/4 family (everything from adding more RAM to sound cards)
  • Diagnostic info for repairing Commodore 64’s
  • Better sound for the VIC20 (how to write your own sound generator – complete with listing to type in!!!)
  • Hardware expansions for the CD32 (looks at several devices you can get to expand the capabilities of the machine)
  • Devices supported by handlers (a look at Amiga DOS handlers and what you can do with them)
  • Tandem IDE controller (a look at the Tandem IDE CD-ROM drive controller for the Amiga)

 

 

Retrokomp Magazine

CD32 Expansions

 

Verdict

Although I’ve not read all of the magazine yet, what I have read so far impressed me. Even the non Commodore articles look interesting, so if I ever pick up one of those other machines there’s plenty to come back for.

Basically if you are interested in using your old computers for anything other than simply playing games on then I’d definitely recommend giving this magazine a try. It’s clearly targeted at hobbyists and tinkerers like myself and has plenty to offer.  If, however, you are only interested in games then this probably isn’t the magazine for you.

 

Retrokomp Magazine

Happy days – a program listing to type in! This alone made the purchase worthwhile. (yes it’s deliberately blurred)

 

Amiga Future #137

Amiga Future #137

Once again, just in time for some weekend reading, the latest issue #137 of Amiga Future was posted through my letterbox this morning. I was reassured to see that it’s packed to the gills with great content as usual with a particular focus on reviews this time.

 

Amiga Future #137

Amiga Future Front Cover

 

There’s several game reviews including Powerglove Reloaded, The Kiwi’s Tale, Trap runner and more. A review of SMBFS which allows the Amiga to access NAS drives using the Samba File System (might do an article about setting this up in the future). There’s a great review of Amiga Forever 8 from Cloanto, latest Amiga news, Aminet uploads and plenty more to read. The coverdisk includes a full release of NemacIV plus lots of other goodies too.

I also received a notification that my 12 month subscription was about to expire, certainly doesn’t seem like 12 months since I last renewed! Anyway, at under £63 (€69) for another 12 months (including coverdisks) it was an easy decision to renew it.

Here’s a little peak at some of the pages of Amiga Future #137. If you’d like to purchase a copy then take a look here.

 

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Hibernated 1 – A New Text Adventure

Hibernated 1

Been waiting for this particular game to arrive for what feels like an eternity after having pre-ordered it last year. As of today that wait is finally over! Hibernated 1 – This Place is Death is now on my desk waiting to be played! 🙂

This isn’t a review as I’ve not had time to play the game yet, just a look at the physical edition and what’s inside it. Hopefully once I’ve completed it (always the optimist) I’ll write one.!

 

Hibernated 1

Amiga 3.5″ Disk & MicroSD Card

 

Which format?

I deliberated over whether to get the game on the Commodore 64 or Amiga for a while before ordering. In the end the Amiga won out due to it being able to display a greater number of characters per screen row. Given this is a text adventure I thought that was the most important consideration. However the beauty of this release is that although I chose the Amiga, this only affects the physical media the game ships with. On the MicroSD card are digital versions of ALL of the supported formats, including the Commodore 64. The other formats on the card are; Atari ST, Amstrad CPC, Spectrum and IBM PC along with some bonus stuff like concept art.

Eight Feet Under

An extra bonus is that a digital copy of the spin-off game, ‘Eight Feet Under’ is included – you can download it from itch.io and again you have the same choice of formats as above. You can also choose to get Hibernated 1 digitally if you like, it’s available here and you can name your own price.

 

Hibernated 1

A look at what’s inside the box

 

Box Contents

Inside the box there are plenty of goodies to enjoy, here’s a quick rundown:

 

  • A5 full colour game manual
  • A3 full colour poster
  • Game on physical disk
  • Digital version of the game on MicroSD card (in a snazzy Hibernated case)
  • Password to download ‘Eight Feet Under’ from itch.io
  • Terran Alliance round cloth patch
  • Stickers
  • Adverts for some other poly.play games

 

Couple of screenshots

Here’a quick look at the loading screen and the opening screen to the game.

Open eyes… 😉

 

Hibernated 1

Loading Screen

 

Hibernated 1

Open eyes…….

 

CD32 Scene Issue 2 – Out now!

CD32 Scene Issue 2

Nearly six months after its debut, CD32 Scene Issue 2 is finally out. It’s lost the coverdisk, it’s a little thinner but it’s also cheaper too. Best of all I’m happy to report that the quality of the writing has vastly improved. It’s not perfect and there are a few printing errors near the front but it no longer spoils the content of the magazine.

 

CD32 Scene Issue 2

Reviews

 

Speaking of content… Review wise we’ve got Zerosphere, Heroes of Gorluth, Tiger Claw and Power Glove. There’s a look at some of the recent PD releases and the next part of the A-Z of CD32 games.

 

CD32 Scene Issue 2

A look at recent PD releases

 

There’s also an interesting overview of expansion cards available for the CD32 (both old and new), news, an interview with Richard Löwenstein and some game previews.

 

CD32 Scene Issue 2

Expanding the CD32

 

As the author is quick to acknowledge, the CD32 scene is quite small at the moment and there isn’t a massive amount of new content that can be covered. However I enjoyed everything CD32 Scene Issue 2 had to offer and think it was well worth the £3.99 asking price. I feel it’s worth pointing out that most of the games featured work on regular Amigas too, so even if you don’t yet own a CD32, the content is still mostly relevant.

 

If you’d like to get hold of your own copy then take a look here.

Stop that Amiga drive clicking noise!

stop Amiga drive clicking noise

Ah, the Amiga’s Drive clicking noise… For some this is the Amiga’s heartbeat, for others like me, it’s a source of increasing irritation the longer I have to listen to it. The same was true back in the 80’s and it’s still true now, especially as I have 4 drives that all click in unison! It only occurs when the drives are empty so you could stick a disk in each one to shut them up, but I’ve never been fond of that solution.

Originally back in the 80’s I installed a ‘Noclick’ program off a magazine coverdisk that silenced my drive. Sadly I no longer have either so I had to find something else. The good news is that there are quite a few on Aminet (yes Aminet is still alive and kicking!). I tried several before finding one that would reliably silence all my drives. By the way, as a rule of thumb – if any ‘noclick’ program doesn’t silence your drive after about 10-20 seconds after running it then don’t use it – it’s incompatible with your drive type and could possibly damage it over time.

 

stop Amiga drive clicking noise

There are quite a few ‘noclick’ programs to choose from but not all worked for me…

 

The one that worked for me is:

noclick20_usr.lha – http://aminet.net/util/cdity/noclick20_usr.lha

For the record I have four drives (1x internal Chinon drive, 2x external Roctec drives and 1x Gotek with sound mod) and it silenced all of them.

 

Amiga drive clicking noise

Here’s the contents of the noclick20_usr.lha archive decompressed to my Ram Disk.

 

Like most things on Aminet it is compressed using LHA so use something like Directory Opus to unpack it to your RAM Disk. Once there you can copy it to a location of your choice to run as and when you need it. If you want it to run all the time then copy it to your WBStartup directory which will cause it to run automatically every time your boot your Amiga up.

 

stop Amiga drive clicking noise

Copy NoClick to your WBStartup directory to have it run each time you boot up your Amiga.

How to Format an SD Card for Amiga to PC File Transfer

SD Card Amiga PC Transfer

Introduction

The whole benefit, to me at least, of having an SD card reader on my Amiga 500 is to allow me to transfer files to and from a PC. In order to do this the SD card needs to be formatted in such a way as to be readable by both systems. Turns out it’s not too hard to do. This post will show you exactly how to achieve this and also serve as a reminder for myself in the future when I inevitably forget what I did!

 

Stuff You’ll Need

I used a MicroSD card for this task but the process would be the same for a regular full-size SD card too. I have personally got this working with a 32GB card and more recently with a 200GB MicroSD card! Please note that I have a Vampire Card in my Amiga (which has a MicroSD card slot) and use Apollo OS (Coffin R34 – Amiga OS 3.9). This solution is based on that scenario. If you want to find out more about my Vampire upgrade please read about it here and adding an SD card reader here.

 

By the way, this should work with most SD cards you may have lying around. However if you don’t have one or would like to know one which definitely works then here’s the exact 32GB MicroSD card I bought on Amazon.

 

Formatting the card on a PC

First things first – the card MUST be formatted on the PC, not the Amiga. The format we need to use is FAT32 as this is easily readable on the Amiga whilst still being compatible with the PC. The main disadvantage with FAT32 is it has a 4GB file size limit but this should never really be an issue with the Amiga as most of the files we will be dealing with are only a few MB in size.

I’m using Windows 10 which annoyingly doesn’t have a native FAT32 format option (only NTFS or exFAT). After searching around I settled on this free 3rd party FAT32Format app to get the job done. If you already have some FAT32 formatting software then by all means go ahead and use that. If not then this one is free and very simple to use, you don’t even need to install it, just run the executable.

  • Run the .exe file you just downloaded and make absolutely sure that the drive letter under ‘Drive’ matches that of your SD card.
  • Leave the ‘Allocation unit size’ at the default setting.
  • Give your card a name under the ‘Volume label’ heading but keep it short. No more than 11 characters and avoid using any symbols. In the example below I called mine ‘AMIGA SD’.
  • Ensure ‘Quick format’ is ticked (otherwise it’ll take forever) and then click ‘start’.
  • When the format warning box pops up click on ‘OK’.

 

SD Card Amiga PC Transfer

View after the card has been formatted

 

A few moments later you should have a nicely formatted FAT32 SD card! As you can see from the image below it has been correctly formatted as FAT32 and shows approx 29GB of free space. It’s perfectly normal to lose some space when formatting disks so don’t worry that it doesn’t exactly match the capacity of your card.

 

SD Card Amiga PC Transfer

SD card properties viewed in Windows after formatting.

Configuring the Amiga side of things

Now it’s time to take the SD card over to your Amiga for the next stage of the process. This is going to involve editing a DOSDriver on the Amiga with the parameters needed to successfully read and write to your SD card. Unless you’ve been messing around with SD Cards already there won’t be an SD0 device in your Amiga’s SYSTEM:DEVS/DOSDrivers directory. Fear not though because you can finding it lurking in the STORAGE directory (SYSTEM:Storage/DOSDrivers) waiting to be put to good use. Find the SD0 file and open it in your editor of choice, for me that’s the one built into Directory Opus. Edit the file so that the contents look exactly like the one in the image below:

 

SD Card Amiga PC Transfer

SD0 DOSDriver File contents (shown in Directory Opus Editor)

 

SD Card Amiga PC Transfer

Slightly clearer copy of the config (pasted into Wordworth to make it clearer to read)

 

Save your changes to SD0 and close the editor. This next part is particularly crucial otherwise, despite all your efforts thus far, the card will still be unreadable. You need to move the file OUT of SYSTEM:Storage/DOSDrivers and place it INTO the actual SYSTEM:DEVS/DOSDrivers directory. Doing this will force the Amiga to read the config on boot and enable it to recognise an SD card when present. You can do this in a number of different ways but again my preferred method is Directory Opus.

 

SD0 DOSDriver File Content

Edited SD0 correctly placed in DOSDrivers Directory

 

Once you’ve done this, assuming the card is already inserted, reboot your Amiga (CTRL-A-A) and when Workbench has loaded back up you should see a lovely SD card icon on the screen similar to the one below.

 

SD Card Amiga PC Transfer

SD0 Icon on Workbench

 

The next image shows a 200GB MicroSD card working and you can see the Amiga recognising the card capacity as 183.3G.

 

SD Card Amiga PC Transfer

200GB MicroSD card working on the Amiga. 183.3GB of space 🙂

 

Here’s a regular 32GB card working recognised as being 29.1GB capacity. If you remember from earlier on that reported size is pretty much the same as how Windows saw it.

 

SD Card Amiga PC Transfer

32GB MicroSD card working on the Amiga. 29.1GB of space.

 

Useage

 

I find my Amiga/PC formatted SD card incredibly useful, not only for transferring files between systems but also for storing CD’s on. I don’t have a CD drive on my Amiga but I do on my PC. Any Amiga CD’s I get, such as the Amiga Future Coverdisks, I simply copy into a folder on the card and they’re instantly available on the Amiga. The 200GB card is particularly useful for this purpose as it can potentially hold nearly 300 CD’s plus all my other stuff.

 

I have noticed that SD cards work a little differently on the Amiga. You can’t just insert one and expect it to appear in Workbench. The card needs to be present in the card slot before you boot your Amiga up. Likewise, if you remove it, it will still show the icon on your Workbench. For these reasons I’d recommend always inserting the card whilst your Amiga is off and not removing the card until you’ve shut down your Amiga just to be safe. If I ever find a way around this I’ll update this post.

 

Anyway, I hope this post proves useful for a few people, I know it took me quite a lot of stumbling around before I brought all the parts of the puzzle together!

 

Tales of Gorluth (New Amiga Purchase)

Tales of Gorluth

Couple of new game purchases arrived for my Amiga today. Tales of Gorluth and Heroes of Gorluth. These are both brand new games that I freely admit I’d never heard of until stumbling onto them a few weeks ago.

These are traditional 16-bit RPG style games with a mix of top-down and platform play, a bit like the early Zelda games. Although the games are on CD, you don’t actually need a CD drive on your Amiga to play them thankfully (you can copy the files onto a memory card). Looking forward to giving these a go soon!  I got them from here.