New Amiga 500 Accelerators

I managed to acquire an Amiga500 a few months back. I had been thinking about getting one for a while and when a a decent condition A500 with a few extra bits (IDE HD and 8Meg RAM) presented itself at a decent price I went for it.

Before obtaining the A500, the lowest spec Amiga which I have used for a number of years was an un-accelerated A1200. Due to this, I found the A500 for general use somewhat sluggish. True, I mainly purchased it to play some of the old classic games but I thought it would be kind of cool to expand its power somewhat so I went out to the interwebs to see what my options where.

Let me just say, I was completely underwhelmed by my options, basically there wasn’t any  except for the Indivision ECS but nothing in the ompf  department.

Move ahead a few months and not only has a new A500 accelerator been announced but two have been! Enter the ACA 500 from Individual Computers and the TurboFlyer 530 from Elbox.

Both are not quite yet available but the ACA 500 is available for pre-order and the TurboFlyer 530 has been announced as becoming available on February 2014.

ACA 500

The ACA 500 is a new accelerator for the Amiga 500 and Amiga 500+ computer.

It offers faster performance, extra memory and Compact Flash card media slots which can be used for a bootable hard drive and Compact Flash media slot (add optional CF card below)

It also features an A1200-style expansion connector which is compatible with some A1200 expansions (see below for details).

Product Features

  •   68EC000/10 clocked at 14MHz, so will accelerate the Amiga 500’s performance
  •   2 MB RAM of available memory on board: 0.5MB can be allocated to MapROM function
  •   External expansion which slots into side of A500 so there is no need to open the Amiga 500 case
  •   1x Bootable Hard Drive Compact Flash card slot which is bootable and can read or write Amiga cards
  •   1x Media Compact Flash slot which can read/write PC FAT formatted cards
  •   Compatible with existing trapdoor RAM expansions (up to 1.8 MB)
  •   Compatible with existing Chip Mem expansion upgrades
  •   Custom expansion port for local hardware (14 MHz 16 bit, double Zorro speed)
  •   Clock port for compatible hardware expansions such as Silversurfer or Catweasel Mk2 Anniversary Edition
  •   Optionally expandable by adding a new ACA 1220 ¹ or ACA 1232 accelerator card
  •   Licensed Kickstart ROM images 1.3 and 3.1 installed in onboard Flash ROM
  •   FAT95 file system installed in internal Flash ROM
  •   Compatible with WHDLoad game software
  •   Bootable Hard Drive Available ² (add optional CF card below)    Add Compact Flash Card
  •   EasyADF software optionally available pre-installed on CF hard drive (add optional CF card with EasyADF below)

DataFlyer 530

Elbox Computer is pleased to announce the new product for Amiga computers: TurboFlyer 530.

TurboFlyer 530 is a new 68030-based accelerator with integrated FastATA CF/SATA controller for Amiga 500/500+ and A2000 computers. TurboFlyer 530 it is an internal expansion, plugs into the 68000 processor socket.

Features:

  •   68030 processor (with MMU) clocked at 40MHz
  •   16MB of fast 32-bit DRAM memory on board
  •   Integrated FastATA CF/SATA controller:
  •   Fast transfer rate of up to 16.6MB/s
  •   Supports PIO-0, PIO-4 and PIO-5 modes
  •   Two buffered and terminated EIDE ports for four devices
  •   AllegroCDFS filesystem included
  •   LBA 48 support in the onboard BootROM (support of drives over 128GB)
  •   Automatically configured EIDE/CF/SATA/ATAPI devices
  •   Can boot from FAT16 and FAT32 formatted devices
  •   Includes custom expansion port for local hardware add-ons
  •   MapROM function (uses 1MB from 16MB of the on-board DRAM)
  •   Compatible with trapdoor Slow memory expansions (up to 1.8 MB)
  •   Compatible with Chip memory expansions
  •   Compatible with WHDLoad software

Pricing and availability:
TurboFlyer 530 will be on sale in February 2014 at the suggested retail price of 240 EUR (VAT excl.).

Java for the Amiga

I have to admit that I have been keeping an eye on this Java porting effort to see how it went. There have been a couple of aborted efforts in the Amiga world to port Java to the platform but this one has managed to get itself to a semi-useful state. While I am not the biggest Java fan in the world, I can see that there would be some benefits for the Amiga community if a relatively recent and stable version is ported to the platform. Be it ports of some useful Java software or Amiga users who know Java and can not develop Java Apps for their favourite platform.

Enter JAmiga, where an usable version has been uploaded to OS4Depot which you can download and try out. If you do decide to install it to have a whirl, it has AmiUpdate support so anytime it gets updated and you run an update on your Amiga, it will automagically update your Java install for you.

A few things to note about this version, it is an early release but:

  • It is Java 1.5 with parts of 1.6 supported.
  • Doesn’t support Swing/AWT at this point in time, making it CLI only.

Regardless, it is good seeing initiatives like this. Even though certain people will more than likely complain about certain features missing, all projects need to start somewhere. So if you wanted Java on the Amiga, have a play and I am sure the author would love to get constructive feed back in regards to his project.

Trevor and Matthew presenting the A-Eon update (Live from AmiWest 2013)

Saw a link in a recent forum post which covered a talk Trevor of A-Eon fame was giving. It covered a number of interesting points such as:

  •  Naming of the new systems. The idea is to keep a link to the original roots of the Amiga and the AX prefix was initially thrown around but there are talks of shortening it.
  • A quick update on the Libre Office port.
  • A new MP3 type of sound card for classic systems being finished up for sale. Clock port and Zorro versions. This is something I am interested in getting.
  • With the newer motherboard  versions, the public will have a choice to purchase a whole system, think of the existing X1000 offer, or just the motherboard.
  • Plus a few other things.

See below for the actual YouTube footage.

 

A Few Poor Quality Before/After Pictures of my Accident

I have had a few requests from people to see pictures in relation to my accident. Here are a few very poor quality X-rays of my right arm and leg. They are photocopies of my X-rays which were given to me and I then scanned so don’t expect brilliant image detail. As is normal, click on the thumbnail to get the full sized image.

First up is my arm. Before and then after shots.

before_arm_xray_resized

Right arm before surgery.

after_arm_xray_resized

Right arm after surgery.

Next up is my lower right leg. A few complete breaks in the before shot. Look at all that yummy metal in the after shot.

before_leg_xray_resized

Right lower leg before I had surgery.

after_leg_xray_resized

Right lower leg after surgery. Look at all that metal, yummy.

If you are easily squeamish you probably shouldn’t read any further.

With the before picture of my leg, what you are seeing is my leg after the critical emergency ambulance officer straightened my leg and put the bones back in which is something I mentioned in a previous post. Simply put, after I hit the ground I looked at my leg and noticed my bones sticking out through my jeans.

Development Release: Slackware Linux 14.1 Beta (DistroWatch.com News)

Or… ZOMG! The World is Going to End – Grub for Slackware!

I came across the below entry at DistroWatch today. The announcement is about Slackware14.1 Beta and mentions some of the things to expect with it. One of those items is that Grub is to be added to the main tree. For those who don’t know, Slackware still uses the LILO boot loader.

Today Patrick Volkerding declared the “Current” branch beta which means that the upcoming stable Slackware Linux 14.1 is in the final stages of development. Quoting from the changelog: “Hey folks, I’m calling this a beta! Really, it’s been better than beta quality for a while. There will probably still be a few more updates here and there (and certainly updates to the docs). Enjoy, and please test.” Other important changes include update to Linux kernel 3.10.12, the introduction of GRUB into the main tree (“Welcome GRUB!”), and updates to the just-release Mozilla Firefox and Thunderbird 24.0 (the extended support releases). This will be the first stable version of Slackware Linux in over a year. As always, there are no official installation DVD images during this development period, but interested testers can download the latest unofficial build of the “Current” tree provided by Slackware developer Eric Hameleers: slackware64-current-install-dvd.iso (2,331MB, MD5). Pre-orders are also available.

via Development Release: Slackware Linux 14.1 Beta (DistroWatch.com News).

HDAudio driver is complete! | Hyperion Entertainment Blog

As a X1000 owner this is good to hear for a number of reasons and I get a PCI slot back as well!

Caution, technical content does follow and if you want the pretty pictures, please go to the parent Hyperion site as linked to below.

via HDAudio driver is complete! | Hyperion Entertainment Blog.

I am happy to announce the release of the finished HDAudio driver for the AmigaOne X1000!

The driver now supports recording as well as playback. It also now supports S/PDIF optical output.

There have been questions about whether full “32 bit” audio really makes a difference. I’d like to dig a little deeper to better understand the technical specifications.

There are two primary factors that contribute to the quality of a digital sound recording. One is resolution, or how many bits per sample, and the other is sample rate, commonly 44100 or 48000 samples per second.

As you look at the waveform of a sound recording, these two numbers determine the vertical and horizontal resolution of the wave.

I’ll begin with the “bit width” or vertical resolution.

The original Amiga’s sound output supported four channels at eight bits of resolution. Eight bits means there are two hundred and fifty six possible vertical “steps” that can be used as the wave is generated. Now we spread those steps across a -2 volt to +2 volt span and we get 0.015625 volts per step.

At the time of the Amigas introduction, that was a pretty fair sound playback. But only 256 steps is not as “high fidelity” as we might like. As a comparison, Compact Disk Audio is reproduced at 16 bits per sample. This makes for a big improvement in resolution. 16 bits offers us 65536 possible “steps” to spread across the -2 volt to +2 volt range. Now the step size is 0.0000610351562 volts per “step” of vertical resolution. So 16 bit audio is a HUGE increase in accuracy.

Getting back to our driver, AHIPrefs offers both 16 Bit HiFi and 32 bit HiFi modes. But I’ll bet that neither of those modes gives exactly what you might expect. As AHI mixes lots of different sounds together, possibly each sound with it’s own volume and pan settings, it can be useful to have more resolution available to work with. Here’s the clue: ALL AHI modes that say “HiFi” are sending 32 bit data out to the sound device! The “16″ and “32″ only describe what goes IN to the AHI mix routines. if it says HiFi, you WILL get 32 bit output to your card!

Or will you? In truth, while AHI is making it’s calculations using 32 bit registers and 32 bit math, it only promises 24 bits of accuracy. Is this anything to be concerned about? Not at all. I’ll tell you why. 24 bit samples will resolve to a “step size” of 0.0000002384185 volts per step. Wow! That is about one quarter of a microvolt. Those with an electronics background can probably tell you, that attempts to accurately work at those levels are just ridiculous. We have reached an accuracy that is beyond the ability of our amplifiers and speakers to reproduce. Put simply, 24 bits is the reasonable limit of current technology, or at least affordable technology.

So our 32 bit samples are flying out of AHI and in to the HDAudio codec. While the ”container” is 32 bits wide, even the “high definition audio codec” that we have in the AmigaOne X1000 only resolves the top 24 bits. So it seems that in the end, both AHI and HDaudio agree that 24 bits is the reasonable limit for now.

And how about sample rate or the “horizontal” resolution?

How rapidly a sound is sampled and played back can also have a BIG impact on sound quality. It all starts with the Nyquist-Shannon sampling theorem or more commonly the Nyquist theorem. It’s pretty simple. As you record an audio signal, you must sample at at least twice the frequency of the highest pitch being recorded. Any sound that is higher than half the sampling frequency will be converted to noise and nasty noise at that.

So how high do we need? It is generally held that human hearing range is from 20 Hz (cycles per second) up to 20000 Hz. So any frequency above 40000 should be great right? Well Yes and No.

One simple problem is that we still must filter out all sound above half the sample frequency, and most frequency dependent volume controls (graphic equalizers) work with gradual slopes. There is no “hard cutoff” at a certain frequency, so we need a bit of headroom.

But there is another reason. As a high frequency sound approaches the Nyquist rate, we are only sampling about once per half-cycle. While this will reproduce the frequency of the original, it will do it at a bare minimum of accuracy. In other words, as frequencies get higher, they get less detail.

So what does it really matter?

Audio CDs play back at 44100 Hz. Not bad at all.

Television/DVD audio is usually at 48000 Hz. Nice.

With the HDAudio chip in the X1000 we support both of those frequencies.

We also support 88200, 96000, 176400, and 192000.

So we can double or quadruple the sample rates of common media!

At first, I really thought it was all a numbers game, but when developing the driver, I can actually hear the noise decrease noticeably as the playback rates went up!

And that is where I’ll leave off. This was enough of a lesson for one day. I am very happy that I could contribute to the completion of this driver. And the chance to “raise the bar” regarding sound capability was really very nice icing on the cake.

Like many of us, I have been using Amigas for a long time. Today, right here in front of me is an Amiga that supports high definition audio, a modern high performance video card. It uses standard, off the shelf keyboard, mouse, monitor and many USB accessories as well. Most of these we unheard of in the classic days. But with all the new and shiny, it is still AmigaOS to the core.

🙂

via HDAudio driver is complete! | Hyperion Entertainment Blog.

Home for a few weeks, it’s time to try and catch up with life

The hospital decided to send me home for a few weeks. The rational for this is due to the fact they can not perform the next operation, knee reconstruction, until my skin graft has healed over correctly. Due to this, I will be sitting in the hospital for a number of weeks, taking up a bed and also risking infection by some kind of virus or bug so I have been sent home.

On the surface this sounds great until you realise I don’t have use of my right leg so require crutches or a wheel chair to currently get about which makes every day tasks a pain in the arse. I also require daily visits from a nurse to redress my skin graft, the main reason for this is due to the fact that I still have some leg bone and a tendon exposed after the initial skin graft so it needs to stay dressed in bandages. I also require constant blood tests since I am on blood thinners and will be for at least 6 months. So lots of fun.

Anyway, I am home and have to say, there are a lot of pluses with that, eg. MUCH better food, let me tell you, hospital food is the most disgusting food I have ever had the misfortune of being subjected to.

With the depressing stuff dealt with, onto a closer caricature to living.

Hospitalised! :(

Well, I was looking forward to playing with my new AmigaOne  X1000, play with puppet a bit a few other bits and pieces and try to enjoy life a bit. Unfortunately I only got to play with the AmigaOne X1000 once before the excrement hit the rotating device on the ceiling.

On the 30th of April at ~9:15am on my way to work I was involved in a motor vehicle accident where some jerk who I am guessing had the need for a penis extension expressed via the vehicle he drove (Nissan Patrol, they are big) decided to to turn right into a the street I was riding past. I was on my trusty little Honda CB400 motorcycle which I have for the last three years and loved to bits, when this jerk in his Nissan Patrol with a bull bar carried out the deed with no indicator and no checking what was in front of him. Needless to say, motorcycle 0, Nissan Patrol with bull bar 1. I should mention that my bike was a total write off. I would also like to ask why in hell does anyone require a bull bar in Sydney? There is a distinct lack of wildlife or livestock in and around Sydney which would necessitate the need for one.

I suffered some pretty bad injuries the worst of which was to my right leg which basically burst open, the least was to my right arm which got broken. I can tell you it is not nice seeing leg bones sticking outside of your leg that should be inside of you or having your own personal fountain of blood spurting all over yourself while waiting for an Ambulance to turn up and suffering from rubber neckers at the same time.  During my tenure I have had doctors who operated on me tell me they were surprised I lived. I also managed to just keep my right lower leg and foot which I was told was a miracle. So you know, while in emergency just before they operated I was told they were going to amputate. It was definitely a surreal moment which the pain killers I was on only heightened. I can’t really do much with my foot but it is still there as a floppy extension of my leg at the moment.

During the operation I was told I required a large amount of blood transfusions, try 5 litres, which basically means they had to replace all the blood in my body. I was also informed that as they started to get ready to operate on me, I simply lost to much blood and well, basically stopped, nuff said. Surgery took 10 hours.  I also received 22 units of blood in my first week I was in ICU (intensive Care Unit) of which I was resident of for about 9 days.

Since then I have been sent to the Trauma Ward, then the HDU (High Dependency Unit) and back to the Trauma Ward. I have had the pleasure of blood clots on my lungs and in my legs and reaching 40 degrees centigrade amongst other fun things. I have had so many devices and tubes connected to me that I required a minimum of two staff to move me out of bed, thankfully this has now been reduced to one drip line.

During the first two days after the accident, I was so out of it I thought I was having a nightmare which I would wake up from, get up, get ready and go to work. On about the third day, I woke up and realised that what I was experiencing was no dream.

So far I have had about a dozen operations with more still to come and I am now coming up to 8 weeks in hospital and when finished here will be shuffled off to another hospital which specialises in rehabilitation.

So far I would like to thank the Ambulance officer who rode with me in the back of ambulance on my way to Emergency at the hospital and then came back to visit me 2 weeks later to see how I was going, this guy was seriously amazing by sizing up the situation and taking control of it straight away which was relief since the first Ambulance to the accident made the comment that they had no idea what to do and sounded freaked out. Also to the skill of the doctors who saved my life as well as my leg and foot. The nurses who in the most have been great and understanding. My other half for organising all the paper work and keeping my family involved, I know it was traumatic for her, she has not ridden her bike since the accident and my family, friends and work colleges for their support as well.

I remember when I first started riding a number of years ago and being asked by a work college at the time who also road, ‘How many people tried to kill you on your way to work today?’. It may sound funny, the problem is, it is closer to the truth than people realise. I have on a number of occasions needed to take emergency action to avoid being taken out by a moronic driver, hell I have even had one or two occasions when I have had drivers intentionally try and take me out. Unfortunately, the odds were against me this time and I was unable to get out of the way. If you are a car driver, don’t be a tool, please use the indicator so people know what the hell you are about to do and look properly, just because you can’t see anything out the corner of your eye, does not mean someone is not there!

That’s enough of my nonsensical rambling and excuse the poor grammar and spelling.

(Update: Not sure why I originally put August in rather than April, at least they both start with A)

AmigaOne X1000 in the House pt2.1

Well, the AmigaOne X1000 is still with FedEx customs and has been since last Thursday. The estimated delivery date has been changed from ’23/04/2013′ to ‘N/A’ and its status appears to be both ‘Clearance in progress’ and ‘Shipment exception – Package part of incomplete shipment’ which is a bit disconcerting.

I guess I will have to see what its status is tomorrow morning before I head into work.

UPDATE: (26/04/2013)

I ended up calling FedEx when I got into work in the morning. Looks as though the number they were calling to contact me was getting fast busies. I ended up paying the import fee on the phone and so they went to ship it to me on Wednesday but since I was at work, I couldn’t accept it. I ended up getting the AmigaOne X1000 today but I haven’t had a chance to do anything with it due to real life getting in the way but I do have all weekend to play with the new machine.

I would also like to mention that when I checked my EMail, I found EMails sent to me by AmigaKit warning me of the situation and encouraging me to call FedEx to get it sorted. Good to know there are still shops out there that look after their customers.