Saturday, May 29, 2021

Amiga 3000 work, Retro Meeting, Turbo Sprint and other things

 I was planning a number of different blog posts this month but I just didn't have time to put them together due to work commitments.

So in the interested of time and getting a post out this month I decided to bundle lots of different things I did this month into this one post. So it will jump around a bit but hopefully it will still be interesting.

An exciting thing that happened this month was the release of AmigaOS 3.2 for Classic Amigas. My CD and physical AmigaOS 3.2 roms are ordered and you should definitely expect a blog post on the builds once I have them!

Before getting into the work I have done on my systems this month, I received my Amiga Addict magazines and this very cool mug, which I have been heavily using while playing with my systems this month! I love this mug.



I also received my Zzap 64 2020 and 2021 Annuals and March 2021 magazine this month! Plenty of reading material now!


Amiga 3000 Work

This month I decided to revisit my Amiga 3000 system. Those who read my blog regularly will know I did a 3 part step by step build of my Amiga 3000 on this blog last year. I include the links below to avoid rehashing that material: 

My Amiga 3000 Build Part 2

My Amiga 3000 Build Part 3

It is well worth the read, as I explain about the SuperKickstart setup of this Amiga 3000 and how to build AmigaOS 3.1.4 Superkickstart roms. I will do the same process for the 3.2 rom once I have them!

The reason I revisited the system is because it stopped working...specifically, a couple of things stopped working. 

The machine would randomly lock up and constant recoverable alerts which I hadn't managed to fix. Also, the output display from the native VGA scan doubled output comes out with yellow corruption on the display and the screen distorts too...and finally, the hard disk partitions all corrupted, losing all my build work, which I hadn't backed up outside of the hard disk that died (I had a separate backup partition but that was toast too). The hdd and power led lights also don't work when the case is on - I have to fiddle with them to get them to work with the case off, but this is getting harder and harder...

Yikes, so many problems!

I was frustrated by all this, and left the system for a long while. Indeed, it is why I have been bit quiet on the Amiga front for a while - these problems took a lot of motivation from me for Classic Amiga projects. I spent time on my Pi400 and AmiKit XE testing during this period for my Amiga fix and I covered that in my blog also.

But I decided to try to fix the A3000 this month.

Pulling apart the case, it occurred to me that the previous owner hadn't properly neutralised the battery acid spill from the motherboard. I could see damage to the denise chip and probably this is what was causing the output corruption.


I removed the Denise chip and neutralised and cleaned the connectors and the board too.


That done, I then took the Indivision ECS board from my Amiga 600 system (as it is no longer useful since the issues caused by the Vampire...) and attached it to the A3000, and put the cleaned Denise chip on top:


I don't plan to ever put another battery in the A3000, but it occurred to me that the indivision ecs installation does prevent installing a battery unless you add some extra legs to the Denise chip connector to raise the indivision to a height you can attached a CR battery or similar..

I then had to put the VGA connector from the Indivision ECS on a spare Zorro slot external cover to connect to the rear of the Amiga 3000, as below:


VGA connector attached to the slot cover, ready to be installed on the A3000 rear slot:


Here it is installed - I placed it on the bottom most slot, with the RapidRoad USB / X-Surf 100 card above it:


I then powered on and tested it, with the VGA connected to the Indivision ECS now, and the output of the Amiga 3000 was now fixed up, which is great! No more yellow corruption and screen distortion! One problem fixed.


I celebrated, as you do, with some demos like Bass-O-Matic by Crusaders - thanks Dr. Awesome! Your mods always get me into the Amiga mood. :-)


While enjoying the demo tunes you can read some Calvin and Hobbes comics and play a Space invaders game too :-)


I set to work to rebuild my Amiga 3000 on AmigaOS 1.3 and AmigaOS 3.1.4, in the same way as I did in my original build last year, using an external SCSI2SD card, formatted 512MB WB_1.3, 512MB WB_2.x (OS3.1.4), two 512MB data partitions for Workbench 1.3 that fit inside the 2 gb visible barrier for 1.3 FFS, and then 2x4GB and 1x3GB partitions for OS3.1.4 for demos, games and mods naturally :-)


I did a full step by step build previously as linked earlier in this post if you want to see how I did that, so I won't go through that again here.

I also backed up the 16GB SD Card to an image file using Win32 disk imager on my Windows 10 machine so I have a full backup and can restore at any time should I have a hard disk corruption again. I tested writing to another 16GB SD card and confirmed it worked perfectly in the A3000. :-)

As part of the build I loaded on some music software like Music-X and Octamed SoundStudio under OS3.1.4 so I could use the SC-88 MIDI sequencer to play back MIDI files on the Amiga 3000. I love doing this!



You'll notice that I didn't setup any graphics cards. Also, I ran X-Surf 100 in Zorro 2 mode. The reason for this is because I found out while building my Amiga 3000 again that any Zorro III card I installed immediately made the system unstable.

I spent quite a bit of time trying to narrow down the cause, swapping out multiple cards, running just one Zorro III card at a time with nothing else installed, and determined it happens for ANY Zorro III card installed in the system. I don't know enough to fix such a problem. Maybe it is the daughterboard, or maybe the battery damage affected Zorro 3 somehow? I don't know. I took it out and couldn't see anything obvious but then I don't know what I am looking for!


I decided that I would accept this limitation, and ensure I only put Zorro 2 cards in the system (or Zorro 3 cards that can run in Zorro 2 mode). When run like this, the Amiga 3000 is rock solid and has no issues at all.

The downside is I am limited to 8MB fast mem on the system (Zorro II limitation). Due to this, I decide to take out the Picasso II Zorro 2 card from my Amiga 2000 and put it in the A3000 instead:



I then set to work installing the drivers, Picasso 96, etc. Soon I had a nice display going:


I installed my external MAS Player to the Parallel port and installed the MHI drivers on the system so I can play MP3 files on my Amiga 3000. 


I covered the MAS Player hardware and setup on my blog here if you want to read more detail on this!

I put the case back on at this stage:



Next up, I set to work to get a SCSI CDROM and SCSI zip drive working on the Amiga 3000. 

I originally bought the AppleCD 300 external SCSI drive and Iomega Zip drive last year to use on my Apple Powerbook 165c laptop. However, I hit a snag in that the powerbook had a SCSI2SD installed by its previous owner, but it hadn't been set correctly and so other SCSI devices can be used when connected externally. 

I could fix this, but it means pulling apart the Powerbook 165c, and if you look at the process to do this on IFixIt, it is hardly a trivial process to get to the drive. So for now, I decided to use both drives on the Amiga 3000 instead, so they are getting used!

I needed to re-arrange the A3000 external devices to make room for it, and the spaghetti junction of SCSI cables and converters needed to make it all happen...



I worked it out in the end, moving the MIDI SC-88 and MIDI breakout box to the left side, and the SCSI external devices and the external floppy drive to the right side - it looks nice in my opinion!


I had to mount the external SCSI2SD on the rear of the SCSI Zip drive, as it needs a DB25 connection. The CDROM drive uses the larger SCSI-1 50 pin connector thingy, and so I needed a converter from the DB25 connector on the back of the Amiga 3000 to the CDROM drive first. This is because the SCSI2SD external device has no pass through, and has to exist at the end of the SCSI chain.

So I had to buy this converter to make it all work together:



So the SCSI chain goes:

SCSI connector DB25 > SCSI-1 50 pin to CDROM drive, 50 pin CDROM drive pass through to DB25 Iomega ZIP drive, and finally the SCSI2SD external drive plugged into the DB25 pass through connector on the Iomega zip drive. Whew!


I checked SysInfo to make sure all devices are detected correctly and to note their SCSI ID numbers for the setup work to come - looking good:


I then set to work setting up a ZIP0 device mount list in DEVS:Dosdrivers, and the mount list file for that looks like the one below for Amiga disks. As below, I set up similar entries for supporting ZIPX (PC formatted disks) and ZMac0 (Mac formatted disks), using the appropriate filesystem in l: for each one:


With that done and a reboot, I could now read the contents of the PC formatted zip disks from the previous owners of the zip drive. 


Thailand graphics brochure originals for a travel agent it seems. Why don't people think about how easily others can access their data when selling off disks without wiping first?


Anyway, I couldn't care less about their data, so I formatted the zip disk as an Amiga formatted disk as below:


With that done I could now read the Zip Disk as an Amiga formatted zip disk!


I set to work copying data from my Amiga 3000 to the Zip disk to test it - it worked well:




I next installed the CD File system drivers from AmiNet (AmiCDROM 1.5) and also GroovyPlayer, which I plan to use to play CD's on the Amiga 3000 under OS 3.1.4:


I should probably do something under AmigaOS 1.3 partition so I can play CD's under OS 1.3 as well - maybe another time.

With that done, I can now read CDROM disks on my AmigaOS 3.1.4 setup on the Amiga 3000! Here is a Aminet CD 30 that I hard to hand to try out.


Here is GroovyPlayer installed, and it works great with the AppleCD SCSI drive and I could enjoy some music CD's now while working on my Amiga 3000 :-)



I was very proud of my build at this point, backed it up on my PC using win32 disk imager again, and decided to pose for a selfie to celebrate, wearing my new Amiga sponsored Football shirt, used by Chelsea in 1994 English Premier League season. 


I didn't buy this in 1994 though - I bought it brand new last year! I found out that Chelsea Football Club was doing a retro remake of all their playing shirts from the past - so I got this one for obvious reasons :-)

As an aside, I know very little about English premier league football. I have no idea who Chelsea are, so don't think I am a mad supporter or anything like that. Indeed, I have no idea when/if they ever won any games, premierships or anything else about them for that matter. I just liked and wanted the Amiga branded shirt :-)

Next, I wanted to sort out the LED situation. Here is the A3000 LED panel, which does work if you push and twist the LEDs into the "right spot". However, with the case on, they never work.


I found that Sordan.ie is selling a replacement LED panel for the Amiga 3000, which I picked up. 

This new panel merges the power and HDD led for onboard SCSI hard disks into the first LED, and the second LED is used to connect to a Buddha IDE Zorro card LED connector, to show disk activity for IDE devices. Very handy!


Here it is installed on the A3000 in place of the old original one:


Now I have working LED's with the case on, and I can add further IDE storage in the future (using a Buddha Ide card which I do have) and also see the disk activity for that too. For now though, I don't need that functionality as the Buddha card is not installed.




As a final thing to play with on the Amiga 3000, I had a go at trying to get this Apple Macintosh emulator AMaxII+ card working on the Amiga 3000. (For the observant of you, I did this Mac work before the LED changeover work above).


It was originally included with the Amiga 3000 when I bought it, but I didn't use it initially. It has the Mac Roms already installed, and a pass through for the internal floppy drive to be usable by the card when running the Macintosh emulation. I installed it in the Amiga 3000. As it is a Zorro II card, I don't expect any hardware issues having it installed.


Next, I set to work preparing two 1 GB SCSI partitions for use by AMax when running. To do this, I set up two partitions called AMAX0 and AMAX1. They need to have specific names to be picked up by AMax:


I then formatted them as Amiga FFS, as per the instructions I found on the official Amax website:


With that done, I downloaded the Amax software from the Amax site I linked above, wrote out the floppy disk images to real floppy disks and installed the software on the AmigaOS 3.1.4 hard disk:




With the installation successfully completed, I then ran Amax II software and there is a few different configuration options, based on what functionality you want to have working in the emulation:


When I select the Hard Disk  / SCSI preferences, you can see below it has automatically detected the correctly named AMAX0 and AMAX1 partitions, and set them as bootable and mounted:


Under video preferences you can set the screen resolution, screen colours and more:


With serial/parallel preferences you can choose whether to pass through the serial ports and parallel ports from the Amiga to the emulation. Useful for connecting a printer I suppose. Might be able to use the MIDI port connected to the Serial port perhaps? Might have to test that later!


You can also set the memory options. The Amax software doesn't play nice with AmigaOS 3.1.4, so when you finish using it, you have to reboot. So don't sweat making sure AmigaOS has memory available also.


There are also general preferences which I didn't play with:


When I selected Start Amax, I get this install screen before starting. Annoyingly the floppy disk supplied on the "official site" are pirated, and cracked. I have the legit roms installed, so I didn't need this...


Here is the boot screen, ready for me to put in a Macintosh formatted 800k floppy disk.


Naturally, this is where I hit a snag. I didn't have a system disk. Or any 800k Mac disks for that matter. The powerbook 165c uses 1.44MB floppy disks for its Mac system disks.

So I needed to track down the 800k System 7 floppy disk images off the internet (found on Macintoshgarden.org if you want to know), and I then used my Powerbook G4 laptop running OS X to download them and other Macintosh applications. 

 

This Powerbook G4 and Powerbook 165c are both needed for me, as I needed a Mac with internet access to get the files, extract and preserve the extra binary data the older macs need (which is lost on non-mac systems). I then copy the files to 1.44MB Mac formatted floppy disks connected to the powerbook g4 via USB floppy drive. 800k Mac floppy disks can't be read using usb floppy drives so I can't write out the files on the Powerbook G4...

Here is my setup to make this happen:


So I formatted a 1.44MB floppy disk on the Powerbook 165c first, using it's Mac floppy drive internally:



I downloaded some software called Disk Copy 6 via the Powerbook G4. This software is used to write out Mac floppy disk images to disk, and this version runs on my Powerbook 165c:


I copied to my 1.44MB mac floppy using a USB floppy drive on the Powerbook G4. I then copy the files off the floppy disk on the Powerbook 165c to a hard disk scratch folder I created, then extract using StuffIt expander and install the software on the Hard disk: 



Switching back to the Powerbook G4, I downloaded the System 7 800k floppy disk images from Macintosh garden. 


I then have to copy one floppy disk image at a time to the 1.44Mb Mac formatted floppy disk so I can transfer it to the Powerbook 165c. I can only fit one 800k disk image file  per 1.44MB floppy disk. This irritating and slow transferring process is exactly why I wanted the zip drive on my Powerbook 165c....anyway, I push on.

I copy the image files to my Powerbook 165c in a newly created System 7 folder on my hard disk:



I then use Disk copy to write out the disk image I copied to a 880k Amiga floppy disk, which is only 800k formatted on a Mac:





The floppy disk is now written out to the 800k floppy disk on the Powerbook 165c.



So now, the moment of truth, does it work? I tested it on the Powerbook 165c and it does boot on it, so I know the written out floppy disk works. I put it in the Amiga 3000 floppy drive, it reads and then nothing....


I spent a lot of time to get to this point, and it was so frustrating that it didn't work! 

Not sure where to go from here so I will leave this for now and come back when I am ready to try it again!


Turbo Sprint new game for Classic Amiga

This month also saw the release of Turbo Sprint for Classic AGA Amiga systems. I am super excited about this, as Super Sprint (which this game is heavily based on) was one of my favourite arcade games back in the day. I was always disappointed it was never released for Amiga. Now finally, in 2021, it is!


I tried it out on my Raspberry Pi 400 (running AmiKit XE 11.5). It works perfectly and I love being able to play this game on the Amiga finally!


I have ordered the physical boxed version with floppy disks and CD32 disk, and will play this game on the original Amiga system hardware when it arrives. For now I have the digital version in ADF form to play!




Adelaide Retro Computing Meeting May 2021

I decided to take my now working Amiga 3000 and a few Amiga Addict magazines to the Adelaide Retro Computing Group meeting this month. 

I didn't take the whole SCSI CD/ZIP and MIDI setup as it is too time consuming to pack/unpack/repack/unpack, but I had the SCSI2SD installed on the external port and the MAS player for playing MP3's, and a number modern Amiga games on display for people to play on the night.


Life in Adelaide has been pretty normal for quite a while now, with no local transmission of Covid, no masks and no lockdowns since a short one back in October 2020 for 3 days. 

The Retro meetings have been running monthly since then, and I have been attending the events each month this year. It is nice to be back again and able to socialise with other Computing fans like me!

There are a number of systems on display that night, like this Sega SC3000:


Commodore 64's were well represented too:


Some Retro PC's were also there, like this Japanese Ai-PC16 laptop:


Here are some black and white (creme) IBM PC's from the late 1990's. I have a IBM 300 Pentium 200MMX PC at home I use for DOS PC demos and to run OS/2 Warp 4. Little bit more interesting I think than just running Windows 2000 like the ones below. YMMV :-)


Here is an Apple II, with plenty of floppy drive options available :-) (you can see a PowerMac G4 in the background too)


Tandy 102 Portable computer anyone?



2008 Macbook Pro rebuild

Recently I got back my 2008 MacBook Pro from my mum. She has used it since 2014 when I upgraded to a Mac Pro (2013 Trashcan). Recently it had issues with locking up, even after rebuilding, and so I upgraded her to a M1 MacBook Air.

This machine is firmly from the golden Steve Jobs era of Apple. It still has all the useful ports inside, DVD burner drive built in, end user easily replaceable hard disk and battery.

I decided to rebuild it as a tribute to Steve Jobs, running all the MacOS X Lion and other applications it ran back in 2011 when he passed away and Apple changed forever.


Amazing to realise it is almost 10 years ago since that happened. 

I rebuilt the machine, backed up the Time Machine, and then the hard disk failed, completely. head crash - I could hear it...explains why Mum was having so much trouble with it - it must have been on the way out when she was having issues.

I actually upgraded the original 256GB SATA disk back in the day with a 1TB hard disk, which ran fine until this happened - ten years for a hard disk is not too bad I suppose. 


Fortunately replacing it is easy with this model MacBook Pro. I had another 1TB hard disk from a old discarded PC laptop I recycled a few years ago. While there, I also upgraded the battery with a new old Apple replacement battery.


That done, I ran the OS X Lion USB boot disk (yes, Apple used to sell these!) and restored from my Time Machine backup prior to the hard disk crash. The system now runs perfectly again.


I would like to say a special "screw you" to Microsoft for making activating my purchased copy of Office 2011 for Mac a serious pain to get done. Activation via the web no longer works since Microsoft decided not to support Office 2011 back in 2017. They used to have a robot on the end of the phone support number to provide the activation for Office products after that. Now, this has been removed and there is no easy way to do it. (I tried phone support and they just direct you to their support site, which has no activation function available for Office 2011 - just a message to say upgrade to the latest supported version)

I found that if you manually installed all the updates for Office 2011 (which are no longer updatable via Auto Update as Microsoft has stopped it working), you get the option to sign in using your Microsoft 365 ID (I am licensed for Office via this) to activate the installation. This is more fiddly than it should be, because the older office doesn't support modern two factor authentication passwords, so you have to generate an older Mac App specific code, buried deep in the Microsoft 365 options.

After this, I could login and activate Office 2011 on the MacBook Pro. Seriously Microsoft, I paid for the product legally - let me activate it without that having to do this crap.

Anyway, it works well now, so let's move on!


iPad Pro M1

This month I also picked up the May released M1 iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. My old 4 year old 512GB iPad has long run out of space, and I was waiting for a replacement with a decent amount of storage. 


I don't use a laptop normally anymore, outside of work. I use my iPad for portable use and a Mac Pro at home. 

The iPad Pro needs to fit my music collection, videos I want to watch and all my photos (all 99,000 of them!).


Having 2TB is fantastic - it means I can finally fit all my music, photos and videos when travelling.
 

This iPad is extremely powerful with the M1 chip in it, which basically makes this iPad Pro the same specs as a MacBook Pro 13" M1 laptop, minus MacOS, but plus the touch display.

It is very handy and I am so glad to have it.


PinePhone Ubuntu Touch update

Last thing this month was a new release of Ubuntu Touch for my Pine Phone Braveheart edition mobile phone. 


Pine Phone is a very cheap, customisable, and very much in development (and not ready for production use) mobile phone and open source linux mobile platform. You can load other Linux mobile OS builds too. It is fun to play with and see how things improve as new versions come out.



As with the Pinebook Pro (which I have previously shown running Amiberry Amiga emulation on) and Pine Watch (with I don't have yet), Pine Phone can be easily disassembled, and upgraded, serial connection made, SD card and sim card installable, and more:


When is the last time you saw a mobile phone with function DIP switches you can change yourself :-)


I choose Ubuntu Touch, but there are other OS you can flash and run on Pine Phone if you want to explore.


Kinda cool having Terminal again on a mobile phone:


I was glad to see I can upgrade from within Ubuntu Touch itself. I didn't need to reflash with a new image.



The upgraded version 8 is more stable, and some of the functions are better, especially the settings and speed of menu transitions:


The settings menu is a big improvement, the icons are grouped and easier to navigate:



YouTube app is now included in the Ubuntu Touch setup, and works well in my testing, although full screen doesn't appear to work yet.


You can use the camera now too, but it is seriously slow to update. It does take photos, but it is reversed image...video doesn't work yet, neither does the front facing selfie camera.


I downloaded some games from the Open source App Store, and Esviji was quite fun actually!


Anyway, that's it for this month. Hopefully I will have my AmigaOS 3.2 CD, disks and physical ROMs next month so I can start building my Amigas onto 3.2!

In the meantime, please everyone stay safe with the current Covid situation globally. 


3 comments:

  1. Loved this post. Thank you for it. Mostly because it gave me the inspiration I ALSO need for my AMAX project. I also have the LED replacements. It will be a few months before I get to these projects since I'm moving.. but.. Im bookmarking the blog for inspiration. THANKS!

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  2. Awesome work, as always !!!

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  3. The Zorro III problem was a known problem that was fixed with the updated Super Buster 11. It even fixed a 3000 specific problem. The 4000 even needs the Super Buster 11...

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