My Rack Mountable Amiga 1200

It’s been a while since the last time I have posted anything but I would say recentish personal circumstances can be blamed for a large proportion of that.

Back in the days when I lived in shared housing, I came across a strange beast on EBay claiming to be a rack mountable Amiga 1200. At the time, I was after a replacement A1200 motherboard and decided to buy this out of curiosity. The claim was that it had been in use by an RSL club in Australia and performed things such as Club Keno results and advertised upcoming events.

When I received the computer and opened it up I quickly realised there was a decent amount of custom work done to get the A1200 to carry out its required tasks and decided it would be interesting to get it up and going again. As I mentioned, I lived in shared housing which lacked the space to set this up at the time as well as provided an unstable environment.

Move forward to the present day. After my move into a more permanent residence, I have been slowly sorting out my retro Amiga kit out and came across my A1200 Rack Mountable ‘server’. It is currently missing the KS ROMs and an accelerator. I have since dug up an accelerator for it but I only have a spare pair of KS 3.0 ROMs and the A1200 apparently has Workbench 3.1 installed.

I saw a post on AmigaWorld about rack mountable Amiga’s and decided to grab a few snap shots of mine before I carry out any work on it.

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.

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.

AmigaOne X1000 in the House

… or oh crap, I didn’t did I?

So, I have been using my little AmigaOS4.1 machine quite a lot over the last few years since its purchase and have found myself pushing it more and more and finding the little Sam440ep@533MHz was a little lacking on the power side. A lot of people will think to themselves ‘well der it’s only 533Mhz’ and while there is that, it is amazing what I was able to do with only 533MHz.

The main areas I found the lack of speed being a problem were the heavier 3D applications and the classic Amiga emulation.

So while I found the whole X1000 First Contact announcement interesting, it was still effectively a beta product, albeit a beta at a very advanced stage and polished. I was just not willing to spend the money on the chance there may be a problem with it.

Now, once the people who did order the X1000 started to receive their new toys and relay their experiences via the various Amiga forums out there, I have to admit, I did get a little jealous. At this point, I was starting to consider getting the Sam460ex to replace my existing machine but at the time, the sound driver was still being developed for it so I decided to adopt a wait and see attitude. Well, during the wait and see period, there was an announcement back in March 2012 of a second batch of AmigaOne X1000 and if you were interested to register your interested so I did and about a week later I received an email notify myself that my interest was registered.

Anyway, 2013 roles around, I have been watching people receive their AmigaOne X1000’s but since the first ones to be sent out where to be for the First Contact people, I am not to stressed but by March, I was really starting to get bugged by the limitations of my existing machine since I was finding myself using it for more demanding tasks.

Since I had not seen anything to tell me I had missed out on the AmigaOne X1000 I decided to see if I can get information from the horses mouth about my personal situation. I had seen people being told on the Amigans forum to PM AmigaKit to find out your current position in the list so I decided to do the same. Long story short, about a week later I get an email informing me that they had reached my name in the list and I was encouraged to choose my configuration and order.

I thought about it for a day. I spoke to the other half about it who turned out was less worried about the cost than I was and encouraged me to get it since, ‘If you don’t, you will not get a chance again for this particular system’ and so I placed my order.

So, the deed has been done, the machine has been ordered. While it was a bit more than I would have preferred I know by past experience it will receive constant use. The other point is while I know it is a hobby/niche market, without support it will die so I suppose you could say I also put my money where my mouth is.

Cinemaware Summer 2012 Trailer

Well, that is what this Youtube clip is calling it. This is a nostalgic blast from the past which goes into the beginning of Cinemaware and the early years of the Amiga which then transforms into an advert to let people know of the upcoming re-releases of Cinemaware products on present day appliances.

Even so, it’s worth a watch for that nostalgic feeling and I would hazard a guess that some people will appreciate the presenter, which some of the Youtube comments allude to.

New Multi-CPU Card for Classic Amigas with Extras!

For the classic Amiga lover, there has been the announcement of a new multi CPU card currently in development. Looking at the specs, if it becomes a reality, I can see it being a big hit with classic users due to the amount of extra functionality you can add to your system all on one card.

The UltimatePPC provides many new features. The current shortlist of features for “Revision A” is:

  • 33MHz 68040 CPU
  • 1.0GHz Freescale PowerPC CPU
  • 128MB of DDR3 memory for the 68040
  • An additional 2GB of DDR3 memory on an SO-DIMM
  • USB2 host controller with integrated 4 port hub
  • SATA2 controller with two SATA ports
  • 10/100/1000 Ethernet controller
  • Embedded 2D video with DVI connector

via Welcome to UltimatePPC.

And of course the official press release.

Our press release of May 22nd, 2012: AMIGA MEETS GIGAHERTZ

Gideon Zweijtzer (of 1541-Ultimate fame) and Rutger Bevaart have teamed up to bring renewed innovation to the Classical Amiga by announcing the UltimatePPC today, the ultimate CPU expansion card for the Amiga 3000 & 4000. This new card will bring unparalleled performance and many great new features to the Amiga series of computers that were not available previously and give current users a viable upgrade path for aging components. It also opens new possibilities for newer versions of the Amiga Operating System or alternatives to run on your classic hardware with great performance. The UltimatePPC puts your Amiga right back on your desk as the most versatile and fun computer that has ever existed!

Right now the UltimatePPC is in active development, we expect to be able to take pre-orders at the end of 2012. Please visit our project website at http://ultimateppc.nl for availability information, specifications and detailed status reports.

Gideon & Rutger

via Welcome to UltimatePPC.

An Interesting Week in AmigaOS Land

This week in Amiga land has been interesting. There have been a few announcements of interest. Some have been expected, others I definitely was not expecting.

The first cab off the rank would be the announcement of the availability of the AmigaOne X1000 Limited Edition. This is the first chance the generally public has to get access to the new, high end hardware to run AmigaOS4 on. The announcement seems to have been met by the public with mixed results, mainly due to the price point. I have to admit, I was really keen for one but with the price it is going for, I will have to definitely stop and think about it but as has been constantly expressed by those involved, due to the hardware involved, it was never going to be a cheap option and was more for the rabid enthusiasts out there anyway.

The details of the deal are:

The First Contact system includes the official AmigaOne X1000 Boing Ball case in either black or white and includes the Nemo rev 2.1 motherboard complete with 1GB of DDR2 RAM, a Radeon HD4650 graphics card, 500GB HDD,
DVR R/W optical drive, Audio & Ethernet cards.

Prices start from: £1699, USD $2682.56 (excluding AmigaOS4 license, shipping, handling and sales tax).

The next new thing was the launch of an official AmigaOS web site. I found it interesting that this is one of a few things the community at large has been crying for and now it has been launched, it looks well done and is informative yet some people are complaining about it. As they say, you can’t please all the people all the time.

Personally, I found it has a good blend of information from details about the Operating System and Applications which can be used on it, links to the support forum, links and details about the Community at large and other useful pieces of information or links and directions to the various areas you may interested in. This has all been wrapped up into a tidy, professional and easy to navigate site.

Now here is the piece of news which really came out of left field. Hardware already exists and AmigaOS is already running on, albeit in early form, a new netbook computer! This is another of those things the community has been going on about wanting for a while now so as you can imagine, there has been a lot of frothing at the mouth about this unexpected piece of news.

The details are being discussed on a few forums at the moment but the details in this thread are the closest to the source of truth at this point in time. The limited details being discussed are:

Price: $300 – $500 including OS4 license.
It’s a specific AmigaOS product. PowerPC based.
Prototype has external VGA port.
Prototype can use external USB mouse and keyboard.
Delivered with OS4 preinstalled

Thus is all subject to change, so don’t complain to me when any or all of the items below do not make it onto the final device:
– It’s a netbook. That means it isn’t intended to compete with a desktop system. It is using an integrated graphics chip. No RadeonHD. No PA Semi.
– Price point will be the complete system, including AmigaOS 4. Hopefully, it will be around $300, but we cannot say this for sure yet so calculate a price of $300 to $500.
– The prototypes we have (plural, yes) all have 2 USB ports, internal audio with external jack plugs for headsets/microphone, Keyboard and touch-pad mouse.
– The prototypes have built-in Wireless and wired ethernet. Whether both or just one of them will be on the final device I do not know yet.
– Internal mass storage. Don’t ask me about the capacity, few gigs AFAIR.
– The prototypes have 512 MB memory -I think-. No idea about the size of the final product.
– AmigaOS *is* running on the device, although in a very early state. There are questions to be answered still, so the tentative release date is somewhere near the middle of 2012.
– It’s NOT used Mac hardware

The price is definitely right and it will be a great entry point to get people back into the Amiga world again due to a number of factors such as price (of course), space requirements, portability etc. but before you get to excited, the tentative release date being thrown around at present is mid-2012. Since we are near the end of 2011, it’s not as bas as it sounds but still requires a little patience. The other interesting point I read in the thread was about the hardware. When asked if it was an existing PPC netbook being ported to, the following was the reply:

No, this is a specific product for AmigaOS, not just any netbook. It’s a PowerPC-based system.

And last but not least, Timeberwolf. This is Firefox for the Amiga. I have seen two seperate update posts on this subject.

The first one was just an informative post letting the community at large know of the current progress of the project with a nice screenshot.

Timberwolf playing Youtube videos

The next piece on Timeberwolf was Youtube footage of Timberwolf running on an AmigaOne X1000. Not the best camera work but some nice confirmation that it works and appears to work well even though it is still in development.

Oh, I don’t know how but I almost forgot this little bit of news. The Hyperion Blog announced that the developers are working on AmigaOS 4.1 Update 4.

The good thing is that this is yet another free update for those of us running AmigaOS 4.1. It should hopefully iron out the last of the bugs new features added to the OS may still have and the post also alludes to the potential of some nice surprises that may come with the release of the update.

All in all, it has been an interesting week for the Amiga community. Dare I say exciting with much promise over the horizon? All we can do is wait and see.

Ideas on Getting an Alternative Operating Systems Name Seen

For those that know me, they know that I enjoy playing with retro computers and the occassional alternate Operating System. I would hazard to guess that most of them don’t understand my fascination.

While I do enjoy playing with the more common offenders such as the Commodore 64, various models in the Amiga range and others, my main hobby OS of choice is Amiga OS4. Don’t bother with the criticisms since there is a good chance I have already heard most of them already and before you ask, yes you can use an Amiga for useful tasks. I typed this blog entry up on a Sam440 running Amiga OS4.1 update 3.

This post is not out there to extol the virtues of a particular Alternate OS over another but more on something I have pondered on now and then, and that is how to spread the name of your Alternate OS of choice. Mine just happens to be Amiga OS4 and so I will use that as the example.

By their nature, most alternate Operating Systems are labours of love, even those that do have a more commercial bent since but they will not be bringing in the big bucks like Apple of Microsoft. This translates to the fact that not much money will exists to throw around, especially to advertise your precise baby.

This is true for the various Amiga OS’s out there, including Amiga OS4. Yes, there is a small amount of advertising out there but what little does exist, is usually in publications which Amiga owners will already be subscribing to, not in areas where potential new blood could come from. A lack of new enthusiests in your hobby of choice tends to greatly limit the growth of it which in turn causes other knock on problems. With an Operating System this means less users, so people being less willing to create programmes for the platform and all the other problems people talk about when the topic of new Operating Systems/computer systems arise.

There is one strength I have noticed with Amiga OS4 and that is it has a core of enthusiests willing and able to port open source applications and games to the Amiga OS4 platform and do a good job of this! This is where we can start to advertise the platform.

If your a developer or a skilled porter and manage to port an application or game to the Amiga and it is of a decent standard such that the original programmer would be happy with the result, why not inform the original developers of the fact and provide them with a link to the Amiga port, along with some information and ask them to link to the Amiga version from their website for all to see. The basic premise is to get the Amiga name seen by a wider audience than it currently is being seen by. Also, one of the biggest complaints platforms receive by people who may or may not be interested in them is the comment on the lack of software available. If people start to trip over the Amiga name more and more often, then the name stays fresh in their minds as well as re-enforce the notion that the platform does have software being written for it.

Believe it or not, there are people out there who are interested in trying new computer platforms as a hobby and seeing an alternate platform being supported in various locations and getting ports of software which also exists for Linux, Windows and Macintosh computers helps to strengthen this idea. The ironic part is that I have come across Open Source products which I didn’t know existed until they were ported to the Amiga and went on to also use them via main stream Operating Systems. Some recent examples are The Mana World and a new game being developed called Flare which is looking promising.

To take it a step further, Amiga OS4 has also recently received ports of commercial independant software titles. Generally, a native Amiga executable is created which uses the data files of the game in question, so if you have purchase the title, you can then play it on your Amiga which can be a bit of a kick. For example I have been enjoying Aquaria and Gish on my Amiga. I doubt it will provide a massive amount of revenue for the developers but again, approaching the developers and asking them about the possibility of having them link to the Amiga version of the executable with a small blurb on their site about it would be a good thing for them and the Amiga community.

What ever your alternative Operating System of choice is, enjoy and good luck with getting the rest of the world to recognise its obvious greatness 😉