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Tag - Blizzard Accelerator

Blizzard SCSI Kit MkIV

Blizzard SCSI Kit

Ever since I picked up my Blizzard 1230 MkIV card last year I’ve been hankering after the SCSI expansion for it. The Squirrel SCSI system I’ve been using for the past six months certainly works great but I really wanted to free up the PCMCIA port for other things.

Blizzard SCSI kits are pretty thin on the ground these days but after many months of searching I finally managed to get one. It came complete with the software disk, instruction manual, SCSI breakout port and even a 64MB SIMM!


Blizzard SCSI

Everything you get in the Blizzard SCSI Kit.


It’s in beautiful condition and if it wasn’t for the faded text on a couple of the stickers it could probably pass for being brand new.


Blizzard SCSI

Close-up of the 26-pin SCSI header on the board.


There are three connecters on the board. On the top there’s a 72-pin socket to accept a SIMM of up to 128Mb capacity.


26-pin SCSI header.


There’s also a 26-pin header for connecting the ribbon cable for the 25 pin female D-SUB SCSI port. Finally on the bottom there’s a 100 pin edge connecter which is used to connect the SCSI card to the 1230 MkIV accelerator card.


The business end of the card with a Symbios Logic SCSI Host adapter chip dated 1992.


Underneath the board there’s a single 100 pin edge connecter and a white insulating pad to prevent any short circuits when the card is installed.


Blizzard SCSI

View of the underside of the board. The large white area is insulating material to prevent short-circuits.



In the mid 90’s these cards were pretty cutting edge and offered Amiga 1200 owners some impressive features. The manual proudly claims that it will “set new performance standards in its class”.

The headline specifications are listed below:

  • Fast SCSI-II DMA Controller for the Blizzard 1230-IV or Blizzard 1260 Turbo Boards.
  • Transmission rates up to 7Mb/s asynchronous and up to 10 Mb/s synchronous on the SCSI bus.
  • 72-pin standard SIMM socket for memory expansion by up to 128Mb in addition to the memory already installed on the Blizzard Turbo Board. Completely auto-configuring.
  • Ability to connect 6 SCSI devices with ID’s between 0 and 7 (the Blizzard SCSI Card itself is device 0).


Fitting the SCSI Connecter Port


Fitting the card is a little more involved than the accelerator was as installing the rear-mounted SCSI port requires removing the floppy drive to gain access to the expansion port.


Amiga 1200 Expansion Port.

Expansion port blanking plate and the holes where the two floppy drive mounting screws fit.


There’s two screws holding the drive in place from the underside of the case, found next to the expansion port. The other screw is located inside the case along the lower edge of the drive just above the trapdoor. Once these have been removed the drive can be safely lifted to one side revealing the expansion port area.


Amiga 1200 Floppy Drive mount points.

Location of the three screws holding the floppy drive in place.


After removing the plastic blanking plate, the SCSI connecter slides into the vacant slot from the rear. If done correctly the hole in the metal plate should align with the hole in the Amiga case perfectly.


Blizzard SCSI

SCSI port connecter inserted into expansion slot.


The provided screw can then be inserted into the hole from the base of the Amiga and fastened into the threaded hole in the metal plate.


Blizzard SCSI

SCSI port fully fitted – you can see the securing screw on the base of the case next to the rubber foot.


This screw is the only thing that holds the port in place whilst inserting and removing SCSI cables so it needs to be securely fastened.


Blizzard SCSI

Metal plate now secured with the supplied screw.


It’s a pretty neat and surprisingly robust solution and looks almost factory fitted.


Blizzard SCSI

This is how the SCSI port looks once fitted. Also – I hadn’t noticed how corroded my mouse port was until I took this photo!


Fitting the SCSI Card

With the fitment of the SCSI port dealt with it was time for the main event – fitting the SCSI card.


Blizzard SCSI

View of the Blizzard 1230 MkIV and SCSI Kit IV installed in the trapdoor expansion bay.


The SCSI card needs to be married to the Accelerator card before it’s fitted into the slot. There simply isn’t enough room inside the case to attach the SCSI card once the accelerator has been installed. I took my time here as there’s only one way the two cards will successfully slot into place and I didn’t want to damage either by trying to force anything.


Blizzard SCSI

Another view of the Blizzard 1230 MkIV and SCSI Kit IV installed in the trapdoor expansion bay.


Once the two cards are correctly aligned the accelerator card (and only the accelerator card!) can be firmly pressed into its socket. Pushing the edge of the SCSI card might damage the edge connecter.


Blizzard SCSI

Close-up of how the ribbon cable connects to the SCSI card. Pin one is nearest the SIMM socket.


Pin 1 is next to the SIMM socket and the ribbon cable should be attached such that the red edge aligns with it. However in reality the SCSI cable will only fit one way due to how close the pins are to the circuit board.


View of the Blizzard 1230 MkIV Accelerator and SCSI MkIV cards from below.


Testing it all Works!

As always with an old upgrade like this I was quite anxious about whether it would actually work. After double-checking that everything was connected correctly I powered on my A1200 and waited. Thankfully a few moments later Workbench appeared and was reporting approximately 128Mb of Fast Ram available. Definitely a positive sign!


Amiga Workbench

132,065,208 bytes free – a very promising sign.


Next I loaded up the SCSI Config software off the Blizzard Tools disk to see if my devices were being recognised. Sure enough both my Zip drive and CDROM appeared as unit 5 and 2 respectively. Happy days!


Blizzard SCSI

Checking to see if my SCSI devices were recognised using the Blizzard SCSI Config utility.


Although my devices were visible to the system, my discs weren’t showing up on Workbench yet. This was because they were still configured to use my Squirrel SCSI hardware. To get them working I edited the ‘tool types’ for my ZIP and CD mountlists in DEVS:DOSDrivers, setting the ‘DEVICE’ to ‘1230scsi.device’ for them both (the name of the Blizzard SCSI host adapter).


Blizzard SCSI

Editing the ZIP mountlist tool type to use my Blizzard 1230scsi.device.


A quick CTRL-A-A reboot and everything was working – my Zip drives, CDROM’s and Music CD’s were all recognised correctly.


Closing Thoughts

This has been another great addition to my A1200. Not only do I have all my SCSI peripherals working but now I have an extra 64Mb of Fast RAM to play with. Additionally my PCMCIA port is now left vacant so I’m free to explore the addition of a network card or maybe a card reader.

Is this the end for my Amiga 1200’s trapdoor expansions? For the time being, probably yes. I could replace the 64Mb SIMM fitted in both cards with 128Mb SIMM’s to give me a total of 256Mb. However my A1200 already has way more RAM than I ever had back in the day so not sure if that is really necessary. Mind you, if I see some RAM going cheap I’ll probably go for it.

There’s always the possibility of replacing the 1230 for an 040 or 060 accelerator (or even a PPC one). Unfortunately these expansions are obscenely expensive nowadays so that would be hard to justify. Besides, I think the 68030 is the sweet spot for performance versus compatibility for the Amiga. I never say never though…

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!