Saturday, April 25, 2015

Amiga 1000 Comspec 2MB AX2000 with Kickstart 2.0 Beta

I finally received my 2MB Comspec AX2000 expansion module for my Amiga 1000 from Canada this week. I was very keen to try it out, and to finally try to run Workbench 2.0 on my Amiga 1000 with it!

The Comspec 2MB expansion module came with a utilities disk and a Workbench 1.1 disk:

The module also has a passthrough expansion connector, allowing me to connect other expansions to the Amiga 1000 without having to remove the memory expansion to do it - I plan to make good use of this feature later on:

I was surprised to see this was Made in Canada:

It was a bit fiddly to install since I run the Gotek floppy cable through the expansion slot also, but I managed to get it installed on the Amiga 1000:

Another look, showing the Gotek on top:

After booting the Kickstart 1.3 and Workbench 1.3 off the Gotek, I get the Workbench screen and the extra memory is now there:

I now have 2.5MB memory - I put in the Comspec AX2000 utilities disk into my external Amiga 1010 floppy drive to run the memory test program on it, which passed no problem:

Excellent stuff! But of course I couldn't stop there. As regular readers know I have already got a 512k expansion module on the Amiga 1000, which I removed to install this new 2MB expansion module.

Since the 2MB module has a pass through connector, I should still be able to use the additional 512k memory module as well!

I quickly connected it up:

Looks a bit odd, but fits well enough - a closer view:

After booting up again, I now get 3MB total memory - awesome! This memory is made up of the 256k original included memory plus the 256k front expansion memory module, 2MB external Fast memory module, and 512k external Fast memory module:

This makes for a very useful Amiga 1000 - with 3MB memory it should be able to run pretty much anything OCS that I can throw at it, including the memory hogging Eric Schwartz animations which I will try soon!

First though, there was an outstanding thing I wanted to try first. I learnt recently about the existence of a Commodore 2.0 Beta kickstart that works on the Amiga 1000!

I really wanted to try this out and luckily for me I was able to get hold of a Kickstart 2.0 beta disk. For this you need to boot Kickstart 1.3 first, then boot this disk.

The disk then soft kicks Kickstart 2.0 beta into 512k continuous memory space and then reboots into Kickstart 2.0 Beta mode! Very cool - and I had wanted to try it out. Unfortunately the old expansion module (512k) was not continuous 512k for some reason and didn't work.

I had high hopes using the 2MB Comspec memory module with the 2.0 beta disk:

The 2.0 Beta kickstart is being read into memory - excellent, didn't get this far last time I tried it with the old expansion module:

Kickstart has been loaded and ready to reboot below - I quickly change the Gotek to a non-bootable disk before the system soft reboots itself:

And voila! Kickstart 2.0 Beta on the Amiga 1000:

So next I rummaged through my drawers to locate my Workbench 2.0 disks, which I found eventually:

Because this is Kickstart 2.0 I can boot the real floppy disks from DF1: so I did so:

Workbench 2.0 loaded successfully and here are some screenshots of it running on the Amiga 1000:

I honestly had no idea you can even do this on the Amiga 1000 until recently - I always thought you were trapped with kickstart 1.3. Even in 2015, I can still learn new things about Classic Amiga systems!

On a close up of the Workbench screen you can see the 512k Chip memory (Graphics memory) and 2MB Fast memory. It is not 2.5MB memory as you might expect because the soft kicked kickstart 2.0 beta is using the first 512k of the Fast memory:

I was very glad to get 3MB memory now on my Amiga 1000, and to be able to try out Workbench 2.0 on Kickstart 2.0 Beta as well!

Now I need to find a hard disk expansion module for it - let me know if you have one in working condition :-)

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Balhannah Railway Station

This weekend I took a trip to the abandoned Balhannah Railway Station in the Adelaide Hills, in the town of Balhannah.

As the station is completely fenced off with clear signs to keep out, I took ALL photos here from behind the fence of the station. I made sure to remain behind the fence at all times. Click any photos to enlarge.

The Great Southern Rail Overland train to Melbourne (Twice weekly) and regular freight trains still use the standard gauge railway lines through this station.

Originally Balhannah Railway Station was on the former broad gauge line that was shortened to Belair Railway Station for Adelaide Metro broad gauge line services. The broad gauge line itself from Belair onwards was replaced back in 1995 to a dual standard gauge line to Melbourne.

Update 10/5/2015: Balhannah Station used to also be a junction station, which a branch line diverged from here towards Oakbank, Woodside, Charleston, Mount Torrens, Birdwood and on to Mount Pleasant. This branch line was opened in 1918 and closed in 1953, but still had some rail traffic to Oakbank Race Carnival yearly until the early 1960's. The branch line rails have long been removed and the stations too, but the former alignment can be seen by following a gravel road near the station through a cutting and following the Onkaparinga Valley Road. This can be seen well on Google Maps.

A section of this former branch line between Oakbank and Mount Torrens is now converted to a bike trail called the "Amy Gillet bikeway". It is planned to extend the bikeway along the former rail alignment to Mount Pleasant in the future. Thanks to Pressman (SouthOzRail forum) for most of this extra info.
The station itself is in very poor condition, covered in Graffiti and eaten out by termites too. I assume it will be demolished at some stage.

Zoomed in photo of the former goods siding (from behind the fence) with the crane also in situ:

View towards Balhannah Station on the platform (positioned behind the fence) - you can also see the signal box building structure still in situ:

View of the Entrance to the Balhannah Railway Station from behind the fence:

I thought it might be interesting to show Railway fans what Balhannah Railway Station looks like in April 2015, as I suspect it may not be around for much longer.

My X1000 sent to AmigaKit and MorphOS temp replacement

A quick update that after some working with the AmigaKit techs last week on troubleshooting, it has been determined that my AmigaOne X1000 board cannot be fixed here - it looks like a power issue possibly caused by the brief power outage while flashing the CFE but can't be sure yet.

It has now been sent back to AmigaKit in the UK for further analysis - hopefully the problem can be identified and fixed - I really want my X1000 back and working!

When pulling apart my X1000 to prepare the motherboard for shipping I took some photos of the board itself which I thought might be of interest:

Rear of the X1000 board:

Finally is a close up of the Varisys logo (they manufactured the X1000 board), with some signatures below that - like on the Amiga 1000 case (not sure who's signatures though!). There is also the "Keep this party going" B-52's reference, in line with all the original Classic Amiga motherboards having B-52's song titles on them too:

I am hopeful that the issue with the X1000 board can be identified and fixed so I can quickly get back on track with using the X1000 with AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition again!

Although it is just not the same, I have temporarily setup my MorphOS 3.7 Powerbook G4 in the X1000's place while waiting this week, as I can't stand the daily reminder that I can't use my X1000 anymore:

Resolution of the external TFT display under MorphOS is not great since it is limited to the same screen resolution as the Powerbook G4 display, which is not the same as the display can handle. The resulting image cuts the bottom off the screen (even with playing with screen positioning) and means I have to reposition the dock higher on the powerbook screen to see it on the TFT screen:

If someone knows a good way to fix that under MorphOS without losing the ability to use the screen on the Powerbook too, I am all ears!

For now, the MorphOS PowerBook G4 is my main NG Amiga to play with until the X1000 is hopefully fixed and returned to me soon!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

X1000 Troubleshooting and Repair Part 1

As covered previously, I am having big problems with my X1000 after a Flash upgrade - it no longer boots. I thought it might be helpful today to explain a little more about what I was trying to do and what happened, and the troubleshooting steps I did so far, as it may be of assistance to other X1000 owners when troubleshooting their machines in future.

I purchased a brand new Sapphire R9 270X with 4GB memory to run on AmigaOS4.1 Final Edition on the X1000 with the new Warp3D and updated Radeon HD 2.7 drivers. (click on any images to expand)

Here it is, installed in my X1000:

It is a large graphics card, needing two slots and two PCI-E power plugs to work:

On power on the X1000 Boot screen appears - because I have only one graphics card installed and not two, the boing ball is red rather than blue:

The new card booted into Ubuntu Remix on my X1000 fine, no issues. I also put it into my Core I7 PC and confirmed it works perfectly in Windows 7 displaying up to 2560x1600 on my 30" display so it definitely works correctly.

Model details:
Sapphire R9 270X 4G GDDR5 PCI-E DVI-I / DVI-D / HDMI / DP Dual-X OC WITH BOOST
Product: 299-1E271-B00SA
SKU# 11217-04-41G

Note that many people have been able to get this working successfully with no problems - I think it is down to the card I have.

On AmigaOS4.1 Final Edition, I have the latest 2.7 Radeon HD drivers, Warp3D purchased from AMIStore (shown below) and installed with the latest MiniGL installed from I did all this before I installed the 270X graphics card in the X1000.

Normally my X1000 has a Radeon 5450 HD and Radeon RV730 installed, with monitors for each, plus the PCIGraphics monitor needed for dual display (all in dev/monitors). Screenmode is 1920x1080 for both cards.

To have the 270X installed, I removed the 5450 monitor from DEVS/Monitors, and copied the Radeon RV730 monitor and modified it to have Monitor name "Radeon", Tooltypes changed board name of "Radeon" and COMPLENGTH of 6. DDC auto detect is not used - all resolutions are supported by the LG 24" monitor connected to it and are 60Hz.

I confirmed that with that new configuration file I could still boot the X1000 with the Radeon RV730 card installed by itself - it uses the "Radeon" monitor, even if the Radeon RV730 monitor is present too!

I then added the 270X and removed the RV730. On power on the X1000 boot logo shows, the AmigaOS4.1 Boot screen appears, and then a strange blue Workbench screen appears:

The intro sound plays over the top of this screen, but the background, icons, mouse and keyboard cannot be used.

Looking at the screen, it looks like the same resolution as the AmigaOS4.1 boot screen, which I guess is 800x600x256. So I put the RV730 card back in, booted up as normal and changed the screen resolution to 800x600x256 and changed the gfx card back to the 270x again.

This time the X1000 boot logo, AmigaOS4.1 boot screen appear as normal, and then it gives me a similar wb screen to the one above, but this time not blue, but looks like the colours are right. However the background, icons, mouse and keyboard still don't work:

I then changed back to the RV730 and removed all wbstartup items but no change when I put the 270X back in. I also tried removing non-essential stuff from the user-startup too but no change.

I tried DVI and DVI-D connectors (as I have two displays I connect both on each boot so I can see) - the display issue is the same on both connectors.

It looks suspiciously like AmigaOS4 is unable to initialise the resolutions on the R9 270X graphics card above the default 800x600 of the boot logo.

I tried booting from the AmigaOS4.1 FE CD with the R9 270X - same screen comes up. I tried booting from another HD containing amigaos4.1.6 with 2.4 drivers and get same screen too. (looks more like 3.1 screen but same issues).

To my knowledge there has been no update to CFE since the dual display support was added in late 2012.

It was then suggested by the author of the Radeon HD drivers (and Warp3D) on the Hyperion Support forums to update the CFE with the version from the A-eon website. It was loaded onto a usb stick (which I am fairly sure was the same version that I already had).

The cfe.bin on the website does not have a version number or date of release shown, so it is impossible to know if it has been updated or not - I think this should be fixed to avoid confusion in the future.
Unfortunately the rom signature after flashing didn't match the A-eon cfe upgrade instructions of what should be there, no matter how many times I checked and double checked what I typed in (I have done it before). I must have retried 10-15 times without rebooting following every step carefully. After power off and power on, unsurprisingly it didn't boot.

Note that I don't blame the author at all - he was only trying to help me resolve the issue. I was just very unlucky.

I switched to the rescue jumper on the X1000 (never used it before) as below, to boot the backup bios but it doesn't boot either.

So no X1000 any more - completely bricked.

I tried my Radeon 9250 PCI, 5450 PCI-E, RV730 PCI-E gfx cards individually in the X1000 in both rescue and normal mode - no change. no screen comes up, no boot logo, no cfe. I outputted to VGA and DVI monitors to ensure if any output came up I would see it (the benefits of having two screens)

I used a 2GB USB stick to flash with as I know the cfe can't read the usb if bigger than that, and I don't have a smaller one. There were other files on the USB stick and perhaps that played a part - I don't know.

I am well aware of the importance of not rebooting if the flash doesn't work - I followed the instructions precisely and I have flashed the x1000 before successfully to enable the dual display.

I checked and rechecked and repeated the process multiple times. Others in the community have kindly checked the output from the cfe screenshot I put on my blog to confirm that I did so, the commands I did were right and that the numbers coming back from the flash were repeatedly wrong. I tried 10 times at least that I counted. Then the power dropped briefly - I didn't power off by choice.

The photo I took above is just before the power cut. I then switched the jumper to rescue mode, but in either mode I get the same non-booting system.

I got a null modem serial cable from a friend (shops were closed here for Easter long weekend). I tested it first on A4000t to Mac (with USB to serial converter) to make sure it works - it worked fine with the required settings set as used on the Amiga wiki for the Advanced Serial Debugging guide. Could transmit and receive data so the cable works.

Connected to the X1000 and Mac - no data. None, nothing at all on power on. In both rescue mode and normal mode. Not a good sign I expect... :-(

I was also asked about LEDS showing on the X1000 on power on. I took two photos of them - 4 LEDS are showing. Links to the photos are here:

That LED2 being lit is a bit odd. According to the A1-X1000 reference manual:

LED1 = general power supply fault
LED2 = CPU core supply fault
LED3 = SB600 power good
LED4 = CPU power good
LED5 = SB600 running

I then stripped the X1000 down to the motherboard and one ram stick as suggested - no change. Rescue and normal mode tested.

I bought a brand new CR2032 battery today and fitted it in the X1000 - no change. Rescue and normal mode tested.

I took my fully working Thermaltake 875W PC PSU from my Core i7 PC (only other PSU I can use) today and connected to the X1000 bypassing the original PSU entirely to power the motherboard - no change. Rescue and normal mode tested.

Original PSU reinstated and tested - no change. Rescue and Normal mode tested.

I also removed the CF card and tested - no change. Rescue and Normal mode tested.

For all tests I had the null modem serial cable connected to the Mac (115200, 8N1 and no checksums, no RTS/CTS and no XON/XOFF Set) and checking for any data output - no data outputted.

Still have the same 4 LED appear on the motherboard through all the tests above. I think we can discount the PSU, CF and battery at this point.

I have taken some close up photos of the x1000 motherboard below for Amigakit - note the hot glue in places was put there by Amigakit for transport to AU, not by me. You can also see the replacement battery I put in:

As Easter holidays is now over I have raised a ticket for the issue on Tuesday night (my time) with AmigaKit directly - I am now working with them directly on the issue and they have been very quick to help me out so far.

I want to take this opportunity to sincerely thank everyone who has put forward suggestions and ideas for me to try out, both on IRC and on the Hyperion Support forums. Your help has been invaluable.

Even though the problem is not yet resolved, by doing these various suggestions to troubleshoot has helped narrow down the potential causes.

Works continues still to troubleshoot my X1000 problem with AmigaKit, and I am sure there will be more updates soon in another part on how it is progressing. I am hopeful to have my X1000 back and running well again soon.

Friday, April 3, 2015

My X1000 no longer works

Sad to say today I lost my X1000 trying to get a Radeon R9 270X working on it with the new Warp3D and Radeon HD drivers.

To save typing I covered my issues on the Hyperion support forum here:

After updating the CFE bios (shown in the photo above) the X1000 is now totally bricked. I followed the instructions from A-eon to  flash the CFE to the letter (I have done it before) but the rom signature didn't match - I tried redoing the process 10 times with the same result. Then the power dropped out.

I then set the rescue jumper for CFE, but it doesn't let me boot the X1000 into backup CFE to fix the normal mode CFE for some reason. The system is now completely non-functional.

I feel completely stupid for trying steps I knew I didn't need to do - the CFE was the latest version anyway in my opinion, but was suggested that the CFE might have been bug fixed to fix a problem preventing the R9 270x from working under AmigaOS4.1 FE.

Can't begin to express my unhappiness and frustration with the last 24 hours.

Thanks to the good folks in IRC and Hans for their suggestions and input.

I know plenty of people have got their setups working well with the new drivers and cards too - I think I have just been very unlucky here.

Assuming it can be fixed by A-eon/AmigaKit it means sending it to the UK at my expense to be repaired at unknown cost and probably won't see it again for months. My motivation is very low right now.

So very sad. Some time away is needed methinks.