I Spent quite a bit of time this weekend working on my Amiga. It has been a few years since I used it for anything other than recording music (for CVGM.net) and thought it was about time I got it working again. For quite a while now I have had the itch to get back into programming on the Amiga, and couldn’t think of a better time. Its also not that often lately that I have a few hours of downtime to actually devote to filling the entire kitchen with old computer stuff 🙂
Over the years as a programmer on the Amiga, I have accumulated a fair amount of Amigas, and also bought a few bits here and there. All my Amiga 1200’s are PAL, and every time I fly home to the UK I always bring one back with me if I can find one. On my trip last year, I was able to find an “Desktop Dynamite” pack for 50 quid, so I threw away a bunch of closes and packed my suitcase with wonderful Amiga goodness instead. The machine I had been using previously had a broken pin on the PCMCIA slot, which seems to be a common thing to break on all my Amiga machines over the years.
The most useful device I ever bought for my Amiga was my Catweasel A1200, it lets me hook up all kinds of drives to the system, and access them natively. In this modification, I will be replacing the built-in floppy with a PC drive. It will prevent me from booting via floppy disk, but the benefits of being able to read Amiga and PC disks while in Workbench are worth it. I also have a Scandy VGA ScanDoubler device thingy that clips over top of some of the chips in the Amiga and lets me connect it directly to a VGA monitor, though I tend to run into a few problems from time to time with it (it might be because my PAL Amiga doesn’t like it, I bought it in the US so it might be NTSC based) such as the screen flickering green or with a tint of blue. For this particular project, I have decided to leave it out of the system and I will put it back in another time. For now, I will settle for my 1084S and a nice Interlaced screen.
The hardest part about working on the Amiga is getting the hard drive working. By default, the Amiga has a size limit of 4gb. I had bought 2 4Gb IBM HD’s online for $1 through Ebay just for this. Now we had to get them working on the Amiga! This is where UAE comes in. One of the nice new features of the newer UAE is the ability to connect Amiga hard drives natively and use them like a real hard drive, instead of the traditional HDF files. It does however still have some problems. It cannot yet (at the time of writing anyways) partition the drive correctly, so all the partition work must be done on the real Amiga. This was a bit of a ballache for me, as I have every Workbench disk except the Install disk (that contained HDToolbox) so I ended up connecting my A2000HD and using an old version from there, just to get the partitions going. From there, I could connect to the drive to the PC and mount it natively.
To begin with, I tried to copy a version of AmiKit to the drive. The copy process went very well, however I ran into a lot of problems getting it to work on the real Amiga. After a few hours of trying to get it to boot, and never reahing the desktop, I decided to take another approach and instead I went with a more simplified Workbench from ClassicWB (http://classicwb.abime.net/) which only required my OS 3.9 CD. The bare basic programs and tools were installed, which was enough to get me started at this point. I added some more games and demos for WHDLoad, and that’s all I really needed. I also took advantage of being online with UAE, and added the newest Catweasel drivers, and a few other tools.
My Amiga has a wireless Netgear card, and I need to use the prism2.device to get it to connect to the network. Once I get moved into my new place next week, I will get that all set up and working. I tried briefly with the Genesis TCP stack and just couldn’t get it to see the card. Nothing like browsing the web on a 16 colour Amiga Interlaced screen! Oh how modern day kids are spoiled!
Detailed Amiga Specs: Commodore Amiga 1200 (PAL, Personally Purchased From the UK), DKB 1240 & 32Mb RAM (030 & 6882 FPU), Catweasel A1200, 4Gb IBM HD, OS 3.9 w/Boing Bag 1 & 2, ClassicWB Image.
Some Pictures Of Beauty:
In the last week or so, I have been convinced to un-box my Pegasos II motherboard and boot it up to have a play around with it. It has been at least 3 or 4 years since I last even looked at the board, let alone turned it on. I got the board when I was employed with Epic Interactive, as I ported several games to MorphOS/Mac/Linux at the same time. At that time, I was using MorphOS 1.4 which was very buggy and not very intuitive. While it was nice to be able to run all of my old Amiga apps again, the instability of the OS made it a very troubling task. I still remember the nightmares I had trying to get various ports to build correctly without crashing the system, or editing code changes. Good old days 🙂
After playing around with the Open Firmware (which I am quite sure is horribly out of date) I was able to figure out how to boot the Peg from the CD, and install the OS to the hard drive. It took me a little while to get used to where the different settings were, then I couldn’t figure out why it wouldn’t see the HD, until I realiszed it wasn’t in RDB mode. After that, slapped on a few Amiga partitions and bingo, off it went.
My experience in the short time I have played with the OS is that it is much nicer and cleaner than it used to be. It has come a long way with the new Ambient and other tools. I will take a full play with it and even get it online in the next few days to see just what is out there and available for it. I was very happy to see that they finally included a TCP stack as standard that didn’t have to be registered by itself to use fully. As much as I loved Miami (and did pay for it back in the days of the Amiga), I don’t have my keys anymore and wasn’t able to get Nordic to re-issue them to me.
As much as I would like to start making games for MorphOS again, im not sure if I want to pay the $111 euros to get a license key for something I won’t use all that often, and still not even sure if it’s something thats worth developing for. Based on the price alone, which is a little bit less than buying the new Windows 7 operating system upgrade, i’m sure that there are many people who are still only using the 30 minute restricted version. I have a few games that could be ported, but they will have to wait for a while.
If any MorphOS developers have any free keys they want to give away, feel free to throw one this way 🙂