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Tag - Networks

Getting an A1200 Online Part 1 – Adding a Network Card

In this guide I’m going to document how I got my Amiga A1200 online. I’ll cover installing a network card and configuring a TCP/IP Stack. I’ll also cover installing a Web browser and email program and maybe a few other bits and bobs too.

Prerequisites

  • Amiga OS 3.1.4 is already installed on my A1200 so this guide will reflect that.
  • My system includes a SCSI CDROM as part of my setup which I will be using to transfer larger files across in the early stages.
  • I have access to a floppy drive on my PC system that can format, read and write 720k DS/DD floppy disks that my Amiga can also read.

These are not all essential but if you intend to follow the guide you may need to find an alternative means of doing certain things as a result.

The Network Card

There are a few different options when it comes to network devices for non ‘big-box’ Amigas. On my A500 for example I’ve used a Plipbox device which plugs into the parallel port. There’s also the really old school option of using a serial Modem and a dial-up connection (there are still some companies that offer dial-up!)

However since I’ve freed up the PCMCIA port in my A1200 by replacing my Squirrel with a Blizzard SCSI Kit I decided to go for a PCMCIA ethernet card. Although PCMCIA technology is now obsolete there are still plenty of cards knocking around. I found a few in a ‘junk’ box that I used in Windows 98/XP laptops around the turn of the century. They’re usually available quite cheaply on eBay too. As a general rule it would appear 10Base-T cards are most likely to work whilst 100Base-T ones should be avoided.

After a rummage through my box and checking Aminet I settled on the old 3COM 10Base-T card shown below.

Amiga A1200 online

My Ethernet card.

Driver

The part number is 3C562D and there is a SANA-II driver on Aminet that supports this card (and a whole bunch of others).

The driver can be found here: Aminet – driver/net/3c589.lha.

Below I’ve included a list of all the cards supported by this driver. If you are trying to get hold of a card yourself then make sure it is one of the models listed to avoid disappointment.

3C5623, C562B, 3C562C, 3C562D, 3C563B, 3C563C, 3C563D, 3C589B, 3C589C, 3C589D, 3C589E, 3C3FEM556C, 3CCE589EC, 3CCE589ET, 3CCEM556, 3CCEM556B, 3CXE589D, 3CXE589EC, 3CXEM556.

Amiga A1200 online

Back of my Ethernet card with model information.

Installing the Card

Installing the card couldn’t be simpler, it just slots into the PCMCIA slot on the left-hand side of the Amiga. It will only fit one way (usually label side up) so don’t force it. The Ethernet ‘tail’ plugs into an adjacent RJ-45 socket or in my case a cheap and cheerful little 5-port switch under my desk.

Trendnet Gigabit Switch

My cheap and cheerful Gigabit switch.

However I wasn’t terribly happy with how the card and the tail hung over the edge of my desk. With the connecter on the ethernet cable already being quite fragile it just looked like an accident waiting to happen. Sooner or later I was probably going to catch that cable and snap the connecter off!

Amiga A1200 online

Accident waiting to happen.

Obviously I wasn’t alone in thinking this as a search online lead me to an pre-existing solution. This little gizmo I found on eBay takes the PCMCIA slot and twists it through 90 degrees so that cards can be inserted flat against the side of the machine.

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With the card fitted this way I no longer had to worry about snapping the connector off. Cabling was also streamlined thanks to the ‘tail’ now facing the back of my desk.

Amiga A1200 online

Ethernet card fitted to the PCMCIA adapter. Much better.

Installing the Software

Having downloaded the driver off Aminet on my Windows 10 PC I needed a way of transferring this to my A1200. For this task I used my trusty 720K PC formatted floppy disk to move the file across.

Amiga CrossDOS disk.

Putting files onto a PC formatted ‘CrossDOS’ disk on the PC.

I used a USB floppy drive on the PC side and CrossDOS (which is part of Amiga OS 3.1.4) on the Amiga to read the disk. This method only works for files smaller than 720k (the max capacity of DD disks on PC) but the LHA archive was only 54K so not a problem.

Amiga CrossDOS disk.

Using a PC formatted ‘CrossDOS’ disk on the Amiga.

The LHA archive unpacked to a single ‘3c589’ directory that contained the installer for the driver.

Amiga A1200 online

This is what the unpacked archive should look like.

Running the installer was very straightforward, there were no options that needed to be tweaked.

Amiga A1200 online

Running the 3c589 installer.

I simply clicked on ‘proceed’ a couple of times to complete the installation, whereupon it informed me that the driver could be found in the DEVS:networks directory.

Amiga A1200 online

Installation complete.

That’s all there was to it for the network card driver installation. However there’s one more thing that needs installing which I’ll explain below.

PCMCIA Bug Fix

Unfortunately there’s a bug in the implementation of the PCMCIA slot on the A1200 that was never fixed. It’s nothing major but it can cause a few irritations if not dealt with. Basically it’s supposed to be a hot-pluggable system and cards should be reset automatically when inserted. However the bug prevents this from happening so you can be left in a situation where the card stops working and requires a full power cycle of the A1200 to fix. For me this manifested itself each time I reset my Amiga using ‘CTRL A A’. It happened frequently enough to encourage me to look for a solution.

Fortunately there’s a fix available Aminet which requires the installation of two command line programs called CardPatch & CardReset. They’re available here:

Aminet – util/boot/CardPatch.lha

Aminet – util/boot/CardReset.lha

There’s no dedicated installer for them so they need configuring manually.

Once I had the LHA archives on my Amiga I extracted them to my RAM Disk. The CardPatch and CardReset commands need copying to C: and this can be achieved by opening up a Shell window and entering the following two commands:

COPY RAM:CardPatch C:

COPY RAM:CardReset C:

Amiga PCMCIA Bug

Copying commands to C:

Now we need to get these commands to run during the Amiga’s boot-up so that the card will work after a system reset. To do this we need to edit the Amiga’s ‘startup-sequence’ file. You can either use your editor of choice or the one built into AmigaOS.

To use the built in editor to amend the startup-sequence enter the following command:

Ed S:Startup-Sequence

Amiga PCMCIA Bug

Command to use the built-in editor to amend the startup-sequence.

This will open up the file ‘startup-sequence’ into the editor ready to edit. Now add the following 2 lines near the beginning of the file after the SetPatch command:

CardPatch

CardReset

As shown in the screenshot below. I’ve also added a comment (indicated by the use of a semi-colon) to remind me what these commands do for future reference but this is entirely optional. Don’t worry if your startup-sequence looks different. Every setup will differ depending on what hardware and software you’ve installed on it.

Amiga PCMCIA Bug

Add these lines to the startup-sequence.

To exit and save the changes press Esc, then press x and finally press enter. Alternatively select ‘Save and Exit’ from the Project menu.

And that wraps up Part 1 of this guide for now. In Part 2 I’ll go through setting up a TCP/IP stack which will finally connect our A1200 to the Internet!

Network your Commodore 64

I’ve had my 1541 Ultimate II+ cart for around a year now. It’s a fantastic modern addition to my Commodore 64 and one that I certainly wouldn’t ever want to be without. However in all that time I’ve never bothered to explore using its built-in Ethernet port. Well the other day I finally got around to setting it up and am really glad I did too. I thought I’d share my experience in case it can help someone else get more out of their device. Basically this post will explain how to network your Commodore 64   (with a 1541 Ultimate II) to copy your games, music, demos, documents or anything else straight to your 1541 Ultimate II without ever needing to swap USB drives around.

 

Connecting to your network

You may have noticed the red ‘Link Down’ status that appears on screen when you press the menu button on your Ultimate cart. The is basically the built-in network card of the device telling you that it’s not connected to anything. The ‘MAC’ with the 12 Hexadecimal codes along side is the ‘MAC Address’ of your cart in case you need to find it on your network router.

 

Network your Commodore 64

‘Link Down’ Status shown in red

 

All you need to do to network your Commodore 64 is connect it to your router with an [amazon_textlink asin=’B00J3UYNII’ text=’Ethernet cable’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’lyonsden-21′ marketplace=’UK’ link_id=’885964d9-fae3-11e8-9619-05a5a6b29c97′]. Providing your router is configured to use DHCP (and by default, pretty much all of them are) your cart should pick up an IP address on your network straight away.

 

Network your Commodore 64

Ethernet cable plugged in. Note the Green link/activity light. This should blink on and off.

 

After you have plugged the cable in you should see a green activity light appear on the device itself. You should also see an IP address appear on the menu screen and the red ‘Link Down’ status should change to a green ‘Link Up’.

 

Network your Commodore 64

‘Link Up’ Confirmation Status and IP address shown

 

FTP Software

So far so good, but it’s still not much use at the moment. To be useful you’re going to need some FTP software on your PC. I’ll use Filezilla as an example as it’s free and easy to use. The principal will be the same regardless of what software you choose to use. (As a side note I normally use Directory Opus which is still going strong – only just for PC’s these days rather than the Amiga). Note, if you are going to download and install Filezilla it’s just the client you want, not the server version. Also make sure you un-tick any boxes during the install to avoid any unwanted ‘bundled extras’ being installed (one of my pet peeves these days). The FTP software is going to allow you to connect to the USB storage device that is plugged in to the 1541 Ultimate II and transfer files across.

 

Network your Commodore 64

Configuring the FTP software to connect to your C64

 

Adding your C64 as a ‘site’

Once you’ve got your FTP software up and running you need to add a new ‘site’ to it (basically your 1541 Ultimate II). Simply got to the ‘File’ menu and select ‘Site Manager’ and then click on ‘New Site’. Give the site a suitable name so you’ll be able to recognise it easily in future. I simply called mine ‘C64’. Now make sure all the various settings below are entered. These have already been entered in the screenshot above.

 

  • Protocol: FTP
  • Host: (this will be the IP address displayed on YOUR C64 screen)
  • Port: (you can leave this blank)
  • Encryption: Only use plain FTP (insecure). (You are only transferring stuff within your own home network so this is not an issue)
  • Logon Type: Anonymous

 

Once you’ve checked that all the above settings are correct, click on ‘connect’. The new site you’ve just created will be saved and it should connect to your Ultimate cart and display something similar to the screenshot below.

 

Network your Commodore 64

FTP software – PC on the left, C64 on the right

 

The top window is basically a scrolling log of the actions performed by the FTP software and is just for info purposes. The two areas highlighted in blue and red above are where you can get stuff done. The left hand side is your PC and the right hand side your C64, or rather the USB drive plugged into your 1541 Ultimate II. The upper window on each side is where you can browse through the directories / folders whilst the lower section shows you the contents of them.

 

How to actually transfer games onto your C64!

To transfer games across to your C64 all you need to do is click through to where they are stored on your PC in the left window, where you want them to go in the right window, and then simply drag and drop them over, it’s that simple.

 

Network your Commodore 64

Files being transfer over FTP

 

In the above screenshot I’ve dragged a bunch of Rob Hubbard SID tunes across from my PC to my 1541 Ultimate II’s USB drive. You can see a log of what is happening in the top window and view the individual files’ transfer progress in the bottom window.

 

Network your Commodore 64

The files on my C64 after being transferred across

 

The file transfers are really fast, taking just a few seconds so I find this a really quick and convenient way of getting new software onto my C64 without constantly faffing about with a flash drive. I definitely won’t be unplugging that USB drive from my 1541 Ultimate anytime soon now!

 

Reservations

One other thing you should probably do is to ‘reserve’ your C64’s IP address on your router. Most routers offer the facility to do this. This will ensure that every time you turn your C64 on it will pick up the same IP. If you don’t, it will likely get a different one each time and you will need to change the connection info in the FTP software.

 

Apparently you can also connect to the 1541 Ultimate using Telnet and use it for stuff life swapping disk images on the fly for multi-disk games. I might explore this in the future but I doubt it would be something I’d use much, unlike transferring files across which I do on a regular basis. Anyway I hope this has helped you to network your Commodore 64. If you have any questions or comments please do get in touch.