Friday, 31 July 2015

More Amiga Hardware Modifications

It was time to use my A4000 a bit more so I decided to add some modifications to it. First I made the power supply less noisy by fitting a newer fan. I then ordered some new media devices, and they were delivered quite fast:

  • CF card: Speeds up the Amiga, and no need for the noisy, slow and heat generating hard disk anymore.
  • GOTEK drive: Use USB devices to access and boot from ADF files.
  • A new Amiga mouse, so I don't have to use the crappy old one I am using now.
  • A new internal floppy drive.
In this post I will record what I have done to get the hardware in the Amiga, what the pitfalls were in the build and the gotcha's I encountered.

Hardware Installation

Here you see the CF card adapter. It is mounted on a bracket, and it fits on the back of the Amiga 4000 box.  This is quite handy as it will enable me to pull out the card easily and put data on it from the PC. This does mean I needed a long IDE cable (I ordered one along with it) AND I need to get power it as well.

The A4000 power supply has two small floppy power connectors. As the CF adapter also needs a power connection I needed three connectors, in case I want to be able to attach my floppy drive as well. Luckily, my neighbor had one of these conversion cables laying around in one of his boxes:

Problem solved.

As the IDE cable I have is not long enough to connect both the CF adapter and the CD drive I have disconnected the drive for now.

The GOTEK drive was connected to the floppy connector cable. I was not able to get the floppy drive working as DF1. When I connect both drives to the same cable both drives start to behave strangely. I've removed the floppy drive from the system until I can figure out what is going wrong.

Installing Workbench on the CF card

First things first: preparing the CF card. I connected the CF card to my multi-reader on the PC, and started diskpart through the command line. After selecting the right disk, I gave the command clean. This will make the disk go offline in Windows.  If you do not do this you will get an error in the HDToolbox program when you want to write changes to the drive later on.

I used WinUAE to install Workbench. After configuring an A4000 with the correct ROM version (3.1 Kickstart, revision 40.068) for my Amiga 4000. Better be safe. :)

I followed this video, which gave me all the info I needed, but formatting the disk under Workbench resulted in the error: Not a DOS disk.  After some hunting around I found out what worked for me: on each partition, turn off International Mode, like so:

To get to this screen, enable the Advanced Options on the partitioning screen, and then select Change:

From here on I was able to install Workbench from the Installation disk.  After this its a matter of pushing the CF card in the mounted adapter and boot the Amiga. Splendid!

Here is my system as it is today, running Workbench 3.1:

Using The CF Card

The machine boots from the CF card in 3 seconds... Amazing boot speed, really.

Adding data to the drive is easy: connect the card to your PC, Start WinUAE, add it as a hard drive, and then add another  hard drive to the machine by selecting a folder with the data you need to add. After this you can start the emulation and drag the files to the main hard drive.  This is the main reason I chose to use the bracket mounted CF adapter.

Using the GOTEK Drive

The GOTEK drive has an interesting feature. After selecting the ADF files, nothing happens after the restart. But when I reset the Amiga by pressing ctrl-amiga-amiga the machine boots from the floppy just fine.  I do not know if this is something that is happening on the A4000 only. It took me a couple of hours to figure it out though, as all videos on the internet show the Amiga booting correctly after restarting from the selector software. I thought there was something wrong with my cabling or software. Oh well.

Here is my Amiga playing Zeewolf, one of the best games on the system, imho:

So far so good. Now I just need to fill up the USB stick with ADF files.  Later on I will get DevPac or AsmPro running for some coding, maybe :)

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