Amiga 600 SD hard drive upgrade

It’s certainly been an all Amiga weekend but before it ends, I’ve got one more hard drive install to perform – this time it’s my friends Amiga 600.

Prior to purchasing a IDE-CF board for my A1200 last year, I was using a SD-IDE adaptor. It’s been sat unused in my spares box ever since so I thought I’d give it to a friend and let him get reacquainted with Amiga’s again.

I never had an Amiga 600 myself, a friend of mine did and it sure looked smart compared to my truck sized Amiga 500. I remember though, how frustrating it was that a good portion of my A500 software simply didn’t work. I remember ready many articles in magazines at the time regarding the A600 compatibility problems and I must admit, it kinda out me off wanting to upgrade. Shortly afterwards, Commodore released the Amiga 1200 and for me, there was no doubt then that I’d skip the 600 and go for AGA-goodness.

Using the A600 this afternoon though, I’ve grown quite fond of the little fella. In a way, it reminds me of the Commodore Plus/4….except getting inside to fit the hard drive can be a little puzzling at first….to Google!

Once the screws are removed on my A1200, the top part of the case simply lifts off. On the A600 though, you need to push in on the lower back part of case to release the plastic lugs. I also had to unplug the floppy drive power cable too, so I could lift the top case all the way back.

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IDE-SD and 2GBSD card fitted. I’d previously installed the 68k version of ClassicWB after mounting the card as a hard drive in WinUAE.

http://classicwb.abime.net/classicweb/68k.htm

Once I’m happy it’s working, I’ll add a little tape to the back panel to provide a little shielding.

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Switch on…always a tense moment when you’re working on someone else’s retrowares – Woo, lights, always a good sign.

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Yay

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This is a stock Amiga 600 so there’s only 1mb of Ram therefore not a great deal of use with WHDload. I did manage to get one older game to work but had to use a start up script to boot into shell prompt rather than hungry Workbench. By doing so, I get as much free Ram as i can for WHDload.

I’ve added a few games from my collection where the original floppies had a HD installer included so at least my friend has a few games to play directly from the SD card.

Whilst hunting through some more of my floppy disks, I found a collection of classic arcade games contained a cover disk from Amiga Format magazine. There was ports of Missile Command, Defender, PAC-Man, Centipede and this rather smooth Asteroids clone.

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So yeah, after this afternoon, I think its safe to say that I’m now sold on Commodore’s littlest Amiga. The hunt for my own begins.

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Rebuilding my Amiga 1200 CF Hard drive.

Following on from yesterdays post and with having the day off work today whilst we await delivery of a new oven, I thought I’d start from the beginning again and rebuild my non booting Compact Flash Amiga Hard drive.

I found throughout the process of partitioning, formatting, installing ClassicWB and migrating my data over from a backup image, using the video tutorial below was a great reference point –  especially changing the Max Transfer rate on the HD partitions…something I’d forgotten all about.

If you want an concise, yet simple to follow guide for setting up your own Amiga CF HDD, then this one is well worth taking a look.

After a lot of work and a fair few cups of coffee later……..will it boot this time?

Go StiGGy!

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Whist researching various forum regarding Amiga harddrive backup and restore methods, I came across this interesting post that shows you how to create a clone of a drive (including removable storage) using WinImage.

Tutorial – http://eab.abime.net/support-hardware/67293-tutorial-fast-backup-restore-cloning-amiga-cf-s-d.html

Usually my weapon of choice for cloning pretty much anything computerwise has always been CloneZilla but i thought I’d take a look at this anyway.

As the you can tell from the guide, it’s pretty straight forward and before long I had a nice (.vhd) backup image of my entire CF card. This file format is supported in WinUAE too, so you also mount the image as a drive for verification etc. I did, and it booted perfectly.

To fully test my backup image, I used WinImage again and restored it onto a blank 4gb CF card I have. Once completed, I swapped CF cards in my Amiga and and booted. Perfect again.

I think .vhd backups are the way forward for me from now on especially as you have many more options for restoring and accessing the files.

Now that I’ve got my Amiga working back to the way it should be, I can finally start messing around with those PCMCIA network cards and FTP heaven.

 

 

My Amiga hard drive decides not to boot anymore.

Bugger!

Well, let’s start at the beginning.

A long time ago, in a gala…..A few months ago, a  colleague of mine was tipping out some of his home tech  and knowing that I was a sucker for older computers asked if I had any use for a very old Windows 95 laptop?. ‘Yes I do’, said I, thinking that it  would make a rather nice DOS based gaming laptop. It arrived, it looked great and even had USB and PCMCIA ports (woooo!) Both of these, used in conjunction with FreeDOS  would be very handy for transferring all those lovely retro DOS classics instead of breaking out the floppy disks – which is fun at times, but FTP is so less time consuming,

This was a few months ago and I’ve been having lots of fun setting it up and revisiting classics like Doom, Commander Keen and all manner of CGA/VGA pixelated goodness.  But what’s this got to do with an Amiga?

Well….to accompany the laptop there was two 3COM PCMCIA network interface cards and researching into them a  few weeks ago shows that this particular model is well supported with drivers on the Amiga therefore allowing the Amiga to connect to  internet. Wooooo, I thought, especially as my Amiga 1200 is now packing a nice Ram & 68030 upgrade.

My Amiga set up on the geek desk again.

IMG_4153 (Custom)

 

Back in December (see blog post – https://stiggyblog.wordpress.com/2012/12/07/amiga-hardrive-backup-via-winuae/) I mentioned that I was using a 4GB CF card as internal hard drive for my Amiga 1200. I’m still using this setup and all is still working as expected,

So with all things looking good, over on my PC, I downloaded all of the relevant software including, TCP/IP Stack, Amiga web browser and drivers for the PCMCIA card and placed them into a folder on my PC desktop.

When I want to transfer files from my PC to Amiga, I would use the Amiga emulator –  WinUAE and a method along the lines of –

Take the CF harddrive out of the Amiga.

Plug it into my CF Card reader attached to my PC.

Load WinUAE and mount the CF card as a Amiga Hard drive (set as boot drive)

Use WinUAE’s ‘add directory/archive’  feature to  mount the PC folder containing my downloaded files as a secondary Amiga Hard drive.

Start WinUAE which should boot Workbench from my CF card and also have the PC desktop folder available too. I can now transfer files from the PC folder to my CF card  either by drag/drop or Directory Opus.

Workbench and my PC folder (Amiga Files)

Workbench v3_000

I’ve done this many times in the past but, as you can probably tell, it’s all rather  time consuming – this is the reason why having my Amiga connected to my network would be incredibly convenient as I could simply FTP any downloaded files directly from my PC to the Amiga, or download them directly from the web  using a suitable Amiga web browser.

Sadly, this time around, things kinda nose dived.

So there I was, CF card mounted in WinUAE, desktop folder mounted in WinUAE and workbench booted.

I started to copy over the files and when it got to the last file (driver file), an error popped up saying something along the lines of a corrupt file please try again. I tried again but it wouldn’t copy.

I obtained a different copy of the file, got everything set up again and this  time around it copied over just fine.

I closed WinUAE and refitted the CF card into my Amiga and booted.

Instead of the familiar Workbench screen i got this 😦

Workbench v3_004

Doesn’t look too good does it!

I removed the CF card, mounted it back in  WinUAE and tried to boot it under emulation……sadly the same error.

The CF card reader I’ve used here is not the one I’d usually use when working on storage cards/WinUAE so maybe it was that that didn’t like my CF card….or maybe the CF card failed?

All was not lost though as I had a backup image of the CF Amiga Hard disk in HDF format.

So, grabbing the file from my NAS, I loaded it via WinUAE and the familiar Workbench desktop appeared including  all my stuff  as expected….phew! All I need to do now is restore the files back to my CF card.

My CF card has three partitions, one for Workbench and the other two for all the other software and files i have. I’d guessed that it was my Workbench partition (DH0) that was damaged, therefore using WinUAE and an image of the Workbench (install) disk #1 disk, I used HDtoolbox to delete, recreate the partition and format it.

Workbench v3_001

I then restarted WinUAE, with my backup HDF image mounted (set at primary boot device) and also mounted my CF card.

I’ve then used DOpus to copy the entire contents of  HDF Workbench partition to the Workbench partition on my CF card.

001

Once complete, I booted with the CF card and…………………………………drat!

Workbench v3_004

To verify  that my backup image was o.k, I performed the same restore procedure again but instead of copying it to my CF card, i created a new HDF drive and restored it to this instead.

Once completed, i booted with the new HDF image and this time  Workbench loaded o.k.

So…… from that quick test I can surmise that my  backup image appears to be  o.k, and it’s starting to look like i have issues with my CF card, partitions, sectors, blocks etc etc

What I haven’t tried is a complete wipe of the CF card and start again but that will have to wait until tomorrow as staring at a 4/16 colour Workbench screen all evening is tiring indeed!

If anyone has any advice or suggestions etc, I’d love to hear from you.

Retro gaming week #9

With all the shenanigans of converting the Jamma arcade machine to a Mame cab just lately, coin-op games have been the staple of this week retro gaming and two classic shooters i’ve re-re-revisiting time and again are in –

Phoenix – Centuri (1980)

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Pure nostalgia this one – When I think back to early arcade gaming the first game that springs to mind is Phoenix. Back in the day, it was pretty common to see an upright or cocktail cab in the corners of cafes, student clubs and chip shops. The one I remember the most was in a greasy spoon cafe not too far away from the school yard. It was an upright Centuri cab complete with that terrible faux wood paneling, but despite is looking awful, was incredibly popular during lunch (and unofficial) break.

Being the only game in the cafe, the unspoken rule was one credit if there was a queue behind you and owner of the cafe would jot down the scores and would offer free lunch to the highest monthly score.

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I’ve only got to hear ‘Romance de Amor’ and I can picture the starfield scrolling down ready for the first wave of attacking birds and then onto the button bashing finale as you punch a hole through the orange defence shield of momma bird – surely a good test of a new arcade build. I play Pheonix and I’m transported back to that cafe on a Friday lunchtime happy in knowledge that the weekend was just around the corner. Bacon sandwich anyone?

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Here’s the second classic shooter i’ve been playing a lot of this week, and another that I used to drop so many pocket money coins into.

Moon Cresta – Nitchibutsu (1980)

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As with Phoenix, the aim is to blast away at everything whilst trying not to get hit yourself. There’s no boss stage with Moon Cresta but after clearing a few stages, you get the chance to upgrade your ships single laser gun by docking with another craft. Sadly the trade off is that your ship is now much bigger therefore so watch that incoming fire!

I may have lost ship one, but two and three docked together makes for one mighty ship.

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Moon Cresta is also one handful of games that I could recognise straight away by just one sound effect, the laser fire FX is so memorable!

Incidentally, if you fancy looking at some of home computer conversions, the ZX Spectrum version is almost arcade perfect in gameplay. Sadly the sound effects are a bit feeble.

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Setting up my emulation PC for the Mame cabinet meant transferring a hefty amount of data from my NAS and so to pass the time, I’d got my Commodore Plus/4 setup on the geek desk for a spot of gaming whist I waited. Here’s two games I keep returning too, the first being a conversion of a classic coin-op

Moon Buggy – Anirog (1985)

Moon Buggy was ported to many systems including countless clones and I’ve probably played more versions of this game than I can remember – Some are great and many are really poor. The Plus/4 – Commodore 16 version by Anirog is extremely playable though and a faithful conversion of the arcade classic. The difficulty curve, I think, is just right, starting off nice n easy and then gently increasing and rewards those who dare jump early or late.

The aim off the game is to patrol the the surface of the moon and destroy all invaders you encounter. You moon buggy is equipped with forward facing and surface to air guns as well as jump jets to propel yourself over the many craters and rocks you’ll encounter along the way.

Timing your shots, speed and jump jets is critical to completing a stage as well as keeping an eye on the ground and in the air….yep, lots to do!

Graphically it looks rather nice too with just a hint of parallax scrolling on the background and although your buggy is a simply drawn, this version does have the signature wheel explosions if you happen to fall foul of any lunar obstacles.

I think the only critisim i have is the high pitched sound FX of the enemy can sometimes become tiresome but apart from that, top notch 1/6th gravity fun.

Anirog have produced some great game covers, Moon Buggy is certainly one of them.

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Another Plus/4 game I’ve been playing is one that was only released a few years ago..you’ve gotta love the retro gaming community!

Adventures in time – Psytronic (2010)

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It’s one of those games that you’re either going to love or loath due to its necessity on the pixel perfect jump…or leap into the unknown.

Give it time though and once you start to learn the layout of a few screens and the enemy patterns Adventures in Time certainly starts to grow on you and for a Plus/4 game, it looks incredible good too and has some of the best music i’ve heard coming from the TED.

I was first introduced to this last year at a Retro Event in Derby by Chris http://www.commodore16.com/ Snowdon (here’s hoping there’s going to be another one) and have been meaning to sit down with this again whenever I had the Plus/4 setup again.

A great game which all C16/plus4 owners should try.

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On to another game that’s starting to grow on me despite a fustrating start.

Gem Chaser – ZX Spectrum (2013)

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There’s been a raft of new games released over at World of Spectrum and this one from a few weeks ago. It’s a remake of an indie Xbox game and all you have to do is run/jump your block around the level collecting the coloured blocks before the timer runs out. Sounds easy right?

Well, you can only collect a coloured block that matches your own colour. Failure to do so will result in a time penalty and as time is very short, you don’t want to be doing that very often.

To change your blocks colour, you need to pass through one of portals dotted around the screen. The trick to completing the level is to figure out the least timing consuming route and not to spend too much time running around haphazard.

Try not to destroy your vintage ZX Spectrum after the frustration this game will bring 🙂

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I was reading a review of a this particular game in this months edition of Retro Gamingtimes Monthly and thought i’d revisit on a the system I’d first played it on.

Pooyan – Konami (1982)

Pooyan is one of those games that i’ve heard about for many years but have not actually played it. Last year I was at one of the the Retro Computer Museum events and sat down to a system likewise that really didn’t know too much about either. Said system was the Sord M5 and it so happened to have a Pooyan cartridge loaded.

Suffice to say, I really enjoyed it and have since sourced a copy for my NES…..no chance of owning a Sord M5 myself though as they appear to be quite the collectable and demand a hefty price.

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Momma Bear in basket, fires arrows at balloonist wolves……huh?

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….,and finally, after the sad announcement and closure of Lucasarts annouced a few weeks ago, I’ve been looking back at some of their classic adventures on PC and Amiga. This week it’s the four disk Amiga version of ‘Threepwood’s island of Monkey secrets’….or something to that effect 🙂

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Happy gaming….Yarg!

Summer sunshine with Outrun

More heavy snow showers here at the moment and it’s certainly not looking very spring like out there. A quick dash out to refill the bird tables is about as much time I want to be out there this morning. It’ll be much better to stay indoors with mug O coffee and my C64 whilst I await another heating engineer.

Time for something a bit summery I think and a game which just radiates heat.

outrun_usgold

Outrun is summer, whenever I play on Mame and I think back to summer holidays spent along the coastline and the many arcades halls we used to hang around in over there . The smell of sea air mixed with fried fish, chips, hot donuts and ice creams, deep blue skies and hot bright sunshine glinting of mirror and bezel glass. Neon, chrome, the noise of a hundred arcade cabinets, the flashing lights, the awful carpets (is this the same in arcade halls around the world?), that familiar red car and the sweet sound of Magical Shower drifting over the din. The snow is melting already!

When the home conversions started to appear in 1987 I eagerly brought a copy for my C64. It wasn’t exactly arcade perfect of course but it was a damn fine conversion that was complete with two (of the original three) signature tunes playing out beautifully via C64 ‘s SID chip. Alternative, an audio tape edition of the original arcade music was also included for playback on your Walkman.

The only problem I had with the C64 version is that I didn’t have a disk drive at the time and therefore had to rely on the very slow loading tape edition. Because of this, track routes A thru to E had to be loaded as individual games. So for example, if you wanted to drive route C, you had to fast forward the tape to a certain position and load from there – none of that fancy picking of route as you drive along.

These days I’ll load the floppy edition from my SD2iEC but until recently I had no idea that there was actually two version of the same game released for the C64. One was released in the US and the other over here and the rest of Europe I guess? I happened across it whilst browsing around on CSDB and found a collection of arcade releases by Nostalgia that had been grouped together into EasyFlash cartridge images.

Compilation #3

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Each title contains a number of cheats/modifications, allows high score saving to the cartridge and well as backup to disk image. Of course, having the games run from cartridge also cuts the loading time to practically seconds…perfect for Outrun.

Being in .crt format you can play these releases using a C64 emulator such as Vice, but if you want to play them on a real C64, you’ll need to get yourself an EasyFlash Cartridge.

I picked mine up from eBay a few years ago <see previous blog post <https://stiggyblog.wordpress.com/2011/11/02/commodore-64-easyflash-cartridge-and-jiffydos-rom/>and you can still find them pretty easily on there either assembled or, if you fancy a spot of fun, in kit form.

ezflashkit

 

Immediately, you can see that the Ferrari and background is slightly difference between the US and European versions.

European version.

A nicely drawn rendition of the Ferrari although not much use of colour on the driver and girlfriend . Loving those cotton wool clouds just like the in the arcade though.

Outruna (2)

 

USA version.

A new car and some rougher looking clouds.

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Other than that, there’s little to tell the difference between the two – The track palette have been swapped around a little and i find that the US version is slightly easier to complete (or that the stages are shorter?)…all i know is that I’m completing the US version more times that the EU version.

Brunette (EU)….

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….or Blonde (US)?

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And as far as I can tell, the SID tunes are the same as well although I’d probably need to run these through SIDplay to be 100% sure.

Either way, Outrun on C64 Cartridge is a bags of run especially with ultra fast loading time. There’s also a a track selection screen too.

outrun_map

Brr, it still looks cold out there, but in here its summer again….although the illusion helps when you’ve got a toastie warm C64 power supply next to you!