Lyonsden Blog

Tag - Vampire Accelerator

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!

 

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

Brand new Amiga A500 cases being manufactured in 2018

Just discovered an interesting Amiga 500 Indigogo Project that has launched. The team behind the project are aiming to manufacture a batch of brand new A500 cases that will replicate the exact design and quality of the original whilst also adding some fantastic new features and options never previously available. The most obvious new feature is that the cases come in a variety of colours, white, black, translucent and ‘original A500’. Much more interesting though, especially to owners of the Vampire series of accelerator cards like myself, is that they are integrating support for these cards right into the case itself! There is going to be an expansion bay over by the floppy drive which will facilitate the fitment of an HDMI port, SD card slot, Ethernet Port and USB port. All without any cutting of the case. (kind of ironic given I have just butchered my A500 case to achieve the same end!)

 

vampcaseaccessories

The extra Accessories available to integrate with your Vampire card

 

If you have any plans to buy the stand-alone V4 Vampire (when it becomes available) they even include a chassis for that too. Another nice feature is that they will include a trapdoor cover with built-in ventilation slots – a very welcome addition to get some extra cooling for the Vampire chips. Last but not least they plan to offer set of replacement keycaps so we can replace those tired and yellowed 30 year old keys for some shiny new ones.

The guys behind this have already successfully produced a range of well received replacement cases for the Amiga A1200 range of computers so I feel pretty certain they both know what they are doing and that they can deliver on the promise. I’ve already personally backed this project and look forward to getting my Vampire SE case in April 2019!

Find out about the project here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/new-compatible-case-for-amiga-500-plus#/

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.

Formatting the SD Card

Incidentally, if you’d like to know how to go about formatting your SD Card check out my post – How to Format an SD Card for Amiga to PC File Transfer.

 

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

Installing the Vampire V500 V2+ in my Amiga 500

Vampire V500 V2+

With the arrival of the weekend it was the perfect time to give my A500 the Vampire V500 V2 treatment!

Getting started – removing chips

First off I needed to remove the original Motorola 68000 CPU and the Kickstart chip.

Vampire V500 V2

Amiga 500 motherboard with empty 68000 CPU socket

Vampire V500 V2

Removing the Kickstart chip with a chip puller

Installing the card

The next step involved carefully inserting the Vampire board connector pins into the empty CPU socket. This actually took a hell of a lot more force than I thought it would. I’ll admit I was scared of damaging the CPU socket or the motherboard itself with the amount of pressure I had to exert. Anyway it eventually slotted in all the way and no harm was done. Please do make sure you remove both the CPU AND the Kickstart chip though – this wasn’t mentioned in my instructions (but they’ve been updated since I got mine to mention this). If you don’t remove the Kickstart chip then the Vampire board won’t sit flat and the CPU connections may be unreliable. Thanks to Igor Majstorovic for taking the time out to let me know about this!

Vampire V500 V2+

Vampire V500 V2+ fitted to A500 CPU socket

Cables & CF Card setup

The next step was to hook up an HDMI cable to the socket on the board and fit a Compact Flash ‘hard drive’ to the Vampire’s 44 pin IDE header. I opted for a 32Gb CF card as this is the size of the Apollo OS (Coffin) image. (This is a pre-configured Workbench 3.9 system that you can download and use with your Vampirised A500.

Imaging the card was simply a matter of downloading the Apollo OS image from here and using Win32 Disk Imager in Windows 10 to write that image to my Compact Flash card.

Vampire V500 V2+

Vampire V500 V2+ with CF Card and HDMI connected up

For once in my life everything went as it should and when I powered up my Amiga 500 it worked! As Hannibal would say; ‘I love it when a plan comes together!’ I was greeted with a really cool Vampire logo boot screen after which the Workbench loaded just a few seconds later.

Vampire V500 V2+

Vampire V500 V2 Boot Screen

Vampire V500 V2+

Vampire V500 V2 ‘Insert Floppy’ Screen that appears if no bootable device is present

My Vampire Card has arrived!

Vampire V500 V2 Card

It’s finally here, after months of waiting, My Vampire V500 V2 Card! Still need to gather a few other bits and pieces before I can fit it but here is a quick look at it in all its’ glory for now.

Vampire V500 V2 Card

Amiga 500 Vampire V500 V2+ Box

Vampire V500 V2 Card

Inside the Vampire box

Vampire V500 V2 Card

Vampire V500 V2+ Card – 44 Pin IDE connector visible on the left

Vampire V500 V2 Card

Vampire V500 V2+ Card Reverse – pins on the right fit into the original 68000 CPU socket.

Vampire V500 V2 Card

Vampire V500 V2+ Card Ports: MicroSD on the left, HDMI, JTAG programming port, I/O Expansion port just behind and to the right.