Making My Collection Usable - Part II - The Commodore Amiga (photos)

Bill Loguidice's picture

As mentioned previously, I've been going great guns in an attempt to make my overly large collection of 400+ videogame and computer systems more accessible and immediately usable. In other words, figuring out how to waste less of my precious time setting up this stuff and use more of that time actually using what I want to use. Part of that initiative is to take the most "important" computer and videogame systems and put them front and center - and ready to go - in various rooms. I'll discuss the classic videogame consoles in more detail in another post, but basically I've set up a 32" Sony Trinitron CRT to supplement the other basement TV and can now plug in various consoles in that area quickly and easily, though I've changed up where (and how) I'll be making the actual systems themselves accessible. Anyway, where last we left off, I couldn't get my Amiga 600 or 1200 to work, which left me to choose between my Amiga 500, 1000, or 2500HD (with 8088 Bridgeboard). I chose the latter.

With the above in mind, it was of course bugging me that neither the 600 or 1200 were working, so I resolved to address the issue within my limited skillset, and of course when time permitted. Long story short, the 600 is dead, but the culprit in the 1200 was a deceased 40MB hard drive, which was easy enough to remove and replace with a Compact Flash adapter and card with the OS and additional software. In the mean-time, I also got a PAL Amiga 1200, stock, with its own Compact Flash adapter and card with the OS and additional software.

Commodore Amiga 1200
Commodore Amiga 1200
The inside of my US Amiga 1200. I wrapped the hard drive cage in electrical tape and then put double-sided foam tape on the Compact Flash cage to hold that in place. I can easily remove the Compact Flash card. Note the internal Real-Time Clock to the right of the Compact Flash card.

My US 1200 already had a trapdoor expansion with 8MB, that, after many hours of troubleshooting (again, long story short), wouldn't work properly with WHDLoad games on the Compact Flash card (the main point of having such a setup for me) unless I knocked the memory down to 1MB with the jumpers. That did the trick, but didn't leave me with enough RAM for every game to work off the Compact Flash card. I have a compatible trapdoor expansion on the way, however, which is an ACA-1231/42 MHz CPU 68030 with MMU 64MB RAM and RTC, so my PAL Amiga 1200 its going into should be pretty kick-ass (I'm also swapping out the Kickstart 3.0 chips for 3.1). The US Amiga 1200 (which will remain Kickstart 3.0 for now, will then get the hand-me-downs, including the other Compact Flash card that isn't set up as nicely as the primary one (I'll replace that at a later date with a better one).

Commodore Amiga 1200
Commodore Amiga 1200
Commodore Amiga 1200
Putting it back together. The Amiga 1200 is very easy to open and tinker with, and amazingly so considering its all-in-one design.

Commodore Amiga 1200
The crummy one of the two Compact Flash cards running on the 1084S.

Commodore Amiga 1200
The 8MB trapdoor expansion card in the PAL Amiga 1200. It's dumbed down to 1MB for compatibility.

Commodore Amiga 1200
The inside of the PAL model.

Commodore Amiga 1200
The PAL model with the good Compact Flash card on a modern LCD with a SCART to HDMI adapter. Only my PAL system works reliably with this connection, so the PAL unit is now my main system over my US (NTSC) unit. That's probably better for maximum software compatibility anyway, even with the relatively easy switch between PAL/NTSC modes on either unit. In fact, I'm using my US power supply rather than adapting the UK power supply -- it makes no difference either way.

Apple Macintosh SE FDHD
Commodore Amiga 1200 and Apple Macintosh SE FDHD
Anyway, since the Amiga 1200 has a smaller footprint than the 2500HD, I was able to store the 2500HD in the other room and put a classic Mac in its place. I'm not sure if I'll replace it with a newer, more versatile Mac at a later date, but this will suffice for now.

The Amiga 1200 then went on the same table as my Commodore 128DCR, since they can both share the same monitor rather easily without any overlap, except for left audio, which I can easily swap out when I want stereo on the Amiga.

I had some fun with the girls running the PAL Amiga 1200 with a SCART to HDMI adapter to a cheap projector in the dining room:
Commodore Amiga 1200
Commodore Amiga 1200
Commodore Amiga 1200
Commodore Amiga 1200

Comments

Nathaniel Tolbert
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The A600

The A600 is not necessarily dead. Since the only thing on the machine that usually goes bad is the roms or the caps, both of those are entirely fixable. Depending on the damage done to the traces all of the damage can be bypassed or corrected. Can you take some pictures of the A600 Mobo? (As high quality as you can?) I have fixed a couple of these in the the past with the help of an engineer friend I have and he has been repairing Amiga computers since the the early 90's I believe.

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Bill Loguidice
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The Amiga 600

I'll see what I can do, Nathaniel, thanks. I may end up just selling it at this point because it just doesn't serve a need considering the other Amigas I already have that work just fine.

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Nathaniel Tolbert
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Nicest thing about the A600

Nicest thing about the A600 is the compact form factor. There are also a lot of expansion options for it now. Soon there will be a new accelerator with enough power and ram to run any WHDLoad game, you can expand the chip RAM with an A603, or A604 which also gives you the ability to add a Scan Doubler/Flicker fixer to use a modern monitor, and a clockport (2 ports with the A604) so you can even add USB or a Delfina sound card. All of this in a case that is half the size of an A500 or A1200. It is very impressive when you think about it.

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Bill Loguidice
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Yep
Nathaniel Tolbert wrote:

Nicest thing about the A600 is the compact form factor. There are also a lot of expansion options for it now. Soon there will be a new accelerator with enough power and ram to run any WHDLoad game, you can expand the chip RAM with an A603, or A604 which also gives you the ability to add a Scan Doubler/Flicker fixer to use a modern monitor, and a clockport (2 ports with the A604) so you can even add USB or a Delfina sound card. All of this in a case that is half the size of an A500 or A1200. It is very impressive when you think about it.

Yes, it is a great size, though it will always lack AGA, so you're cut out of CD32 and 1200/4000 stuff. I think the extra bulk and the easier expansion of the 1200 make that the ideal choice of ALL Amiga systems these days considering the wonders of WHDLoad. Obviously the 4000 is nice, but they're brutally priced and oversized in comparison.

As for the scan doubler/fixer thing, the flicker can be a bit annoying on a 1084S, but I find that using an Amiga SCART cable with a SCART to HDMI adapter on a modern LED monitor gives a tremendous picture.

With all that said, I think we can all agree that WHDLoad and a compact flash device makes a properly expanded 600 or 1200 a true joy to use. I should have gone the WHDLoad route long ago.

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Nathaniel Tolbert
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AGA is good.... but..

The amount of AGA specific games and software is miniscule. I think there were two or three hundred games and programs that used AGA (I'm including art programs and genlock programs as well as games.) With close to 5000 games that support OCS/ECS. The AGA chipset is great, don't get me wrong, but by the time it came out it was too little too late. If commodore hadn't lost that lawsuit and had been able to sell the CD32 in the US, it might have been a different story. But they just couldn't produce enough machines in the time available to meet demand. Also it doesn't help that Mehdi Ali was literally screwing the company over to increase his personal worth.

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Bill Loguidice
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Yes, but...
Nathaniel Tolbert wrote:

The amount of AGA specific games and software is miniscule. I think there were two or three hundred games and programs that used AGA (I'm including art programs and genlock programs as well as games.) With close to 5000 games that support OCS/ECS.

Sure it's only a small portion of the collection, but if you can play AGA *and* OCS/ECS games on the one machine, why not? That's what makes the 1200 the best value overall by far of all the possibilities. Again, if you JUST want OCS/ECS stuff - which includes the CDTV - the 600 is perfectly fine, particularly when you pop in a 3.1 Kickstart chip (I did that on my 1200), but really, in terms of ease of expanding and flexibility, I just don't see the point if given a choice.

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Nathaniel Tolbert
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There is a chunk of games

There is a chunk of games that do not work at all under AGA no matter how you try to run them. It's just the way they were designed. They expect to load effects above the 1 Meg ChipRAM (or 512K if they are really old) and they crash because that space is now reserved for ChipRAM. But you are correct in that most of the software will work. All the titles that everyone will recommend will work fine. Part of the fun of the A600 is seeing how much you can do inside such a tiny tiny case. I have an example of what can be done, and it is very impressive (way outside the realm of anything I will ever do..) that you can see on Amibay by member Mfilos that you can see here - http://www.amibay.com/showthread.php?t=5726 that is why I find setting up an A600 more interesting and fun that an A1200 You have a significant amount of space in an A1200 case to make modifications as you see fit. And if you need more space, then you buy a tower case. There isn't an alternative case made for the A600 at all. You have to get creative. I guess I find it so fascinating because I love puzzles and I really like seeing the different ways people solve them.

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Bill Loguidice
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Added a Commodore Vic-20 to the mix

Commodore Vic-20

This is in the same spot as the TI-99/4a, since they can share the same monitor output into the 1084S. This is one of the older Vic models (I have a few Vic-20's) with the 9v flat power connector and supply rather than the C-64-style round connector. I'll keep the famous Mega-Cart in the Vic most of the time. In fact, that's what I'll doing with most of the systems, keeping their flash/multi-cart solutions present full-time, then just use the interchangeable software when needed.

More updates to come...

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Bill Loguidice
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I have the "classic videogame

I have the "classic videogame nook" setup with my main remaining large CRT left. Here's a pic of the girls enjoying Mr. Chin on the Coleco Adam:

The girls playing Mr. Chin on the Coleco Adam

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Bill Loguidice
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Someone had asked me on

Someone had asked me on Google+ about putting the Adam on the carpet. Here is my response:

There are lots of reasons why this is OK. For one, the carpet is a flat carpet, so it's more or less the same as a floor. Two, the Adam only vents on the top, and even if it didn't, its little risers still provide clearance on the flat rug. Three, that white box you see between the TV and the Adam is the power supply. It's what you would normally find in its giant printer, but it's been removed and re-cased. With the Adam, most of the heat/power/issues reside in the printer, and in the case of this conversion, the separate power supply, so it's all well accounted for.

In the future I DO need to put that TV back on a table of some sort and find an able-bodied person to help me try and lift it. I may try to do it myself if I can get the support straps and find the right table.

My biggest challenge with using the Adam there was finding a compatible monitor cable. It has a straight up composite output, but no way to get sound out of it. RF is obviously all but useless, particularly with the noise that the Adam (and ColecoVision for that matter) puts out. That left the monitor cable. It should in theory be compatible with most TI-99/4a, Commodore 8-bit, and Atari 8-bit monitor cables, but I wasn't having any luck. I finally got a NEO Geo AES cable to work with it.

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