Sunday, 16 October 2016

Adelaide Retro Computing Group Meeting October 2016

This month's Adelaide Retro Computing Group meeting was held on 14th October and had a BASIC programming theme, where people were encouraged to bring along a BASIC program they had written for the event. 

For the event I brought along my new Amiga 1200, and my Commodore 64C with 1541 Ultimate II and WiFi user port module I planned to demonstrate during the event. More on this later on.

We ended up with plenty of AMOS Basic (Amiga) and C64 Basic entries and it was a great night!

We had this rather special TRS-80 system that George brought in, which of course was busy during the evening as the BASIC programming got into full swing!

Aron brought along his Amiga 500 with converted A590 using a SCSI2SD converter to show off his rather excellent AMOS basic game he wrote called Grav Wars:

Here is the game in action:

Here is the source art file for the game itself:

Here is the AMOS Basic source code for Grav Wars in AMOS Professional 2 on the Amiga 500:

 Alexis brought in this amazing BASIC game he wrote on the C64 the previous night for this event, called Retrocycle - quick bicycle racing game for 2 players:

Here is Alexis putting the game through it's paces! The source code in C64 Basic is on the printed sheet to the left.

Close up photo showing the program was written especially for our Adelaide Retro Computing Group event - wonderful to see this game at the meeting!

Nathan brought in his custom limited edition blue cased C64, with a Basic port of a text adventure game called "Search for the Ruby Chalice" from 1982, ported from a Tandy Coco! He also knocked out an interesting boot loading screen for the game with greeting to the attendees of the event! Thanks for this contribution!

Also added the C64 during the evening was a Page box expansion, with cartridge and user port scanner expansions, being shown off by the Jane M Jones on the night:

Retro goodness - a tape load of the text adventure game on the C64:

Coding in Basic certainly was fun, and we all helped each other out where we could to get things up and running - here Nathan and George are working on a BASIC program on the TRS-80.

Later on the TRS-80 was running text based Mandelbrot generation, coded in BASIC:

We also had a Commodore SX64 brought in, with another BASIC program in development on the night:

Here is the end product, a simple but interesting rotating colour screen and text program in BASIC:

Theo brought along his Epson portable to do some BASIC programming on the night as well:

Here is Theo hard at work:

Luke also brought along an Amiga 1200 with 030 accelerator:

Luke was playing around with AMOS Basic as well, playing mod songs using BASIC:

Luke and I had discussed running a null modem serial link between our two Amiga 1200's for the event, so we could play serial link games - here is the link and Lotus 2 running 2 player serial link up:

This setup was fun and I forgot how much fun Lotus 2 is played like this!

For a local South Australian connection, look no further than this rather special C64, using a C64 case made in South Australia, and running a special hardware modification made in South Australia by Micro Accessories of SA for the 1541 disk drive - it makes it load programs 25x faster than normal speed! It uses a special DolphinDOS 2.0 on power on:

Here is a close up of the modified 1541 disk drive internals with the extra board added. This connected to the user port on the C64, and was switchable to use the normal serial port connection as well. I then saw a demonstration of the difference loading floppy disks using the new hardware and the speed up is amazing.

Here is the machine running some C64 scene demos during the night:

On the subject of the C64 I also brought in a C64C as mentioned earlier. I had no time to program in BASIC for the event, but did a short (not very interesting) program anyway:

What was interesting though is the new WiFi module that plugs into the user port. This module allows the C64 to connect to WiFi access points, and acts as a modem for the C64 to connect to Bulletin Board systems (BBS) via internet gateways! How cool!

Here is my C64C using my iPhone 7 as a WiFi access point during the meeting, connected using Striketerm 2014 on the C64 (loaded on the 1541 ultimate II) to Cottonwood BBS in the USA. As per the below screenshot, the BBS itself also runs on a C64!

I was blown away with just how easy it was to get a C64 online, and to be able to relive a great memory from the 1980's and early 1990's with BBS's being so popular, on all Retro systems of the period:

Here is a close shot of the WiFi Module connected to the user port. This unit I purchased on Ebay from a AUG Amiga user in Melbourne.

Modern expansions like the 1541 Ultimate II (with it's disk image, cartridge image and tape image with adapter support) and the WiFi module show how modern add-on's for Retro computing can greatly improve the experience of using a real C64.

Also during the evening I had the Amiga CD32 set up with the projector, showing the preview I was given recently of a new game for it called Catacomb 3D which I reviewed on this blog here.

People were impressed how well it ran on the CD32:

An Amiga 2000 was also brought in but I missed getting a photo of it - sorry!

As usual the meeting was a lot of fun and I want to thank everyone who came along, and especially those that went to the effort of creating BASIC programs on the night! We can't wait for the next meeting!

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Upgrading the Amiga 1200 Part 1

Today is the first part of my Amiga 1200 upgrade. As you may remember, earlier this week I took delivery of a recapped Amiga 1200, with the promise of more to come on the weekend. Well the weekend is now here so let's get started!

First order of business was removing the A1200 case to see the condition of things internally - as you can see it is in good condition:

The previous owner has installed a AmigaKit IDE to CF card, with a Amigakit prepped 4GB SD card. The owner also installed the AmigaOS 3.1 ROMS - the CF converter had been stuck to the Alice chip to stop it moving around. I removed this as I need access to the Lisa Chip:

Specifically I need access to the Lisa chip to install an Indivision AGA MK2 scan doubler with DVI output - these are available in MK2CR form from, Individual Computers, Vesalia and AmigaKit:

The Indivision AGA MK2 comes with a long cable to connect the DVI output portion to the expansion port on the Amiga 1200 including the screw needed to connect it to the A1200 case and an earth connection as well.

Here is the Indivision AGA MK2 now installed in the Amiga 1200:

The IDE to CF converter fits nicely on the top of it:

As you may be aware, Amiga 1200 cases suck to work inside, so it is easier to leave the casing off while testing things - here it is ready to try out:

The Indivision AGA Mk2 works well, and the Workbench appears almost instantly thanks to the CF card installed.

As covered in my previous blog entry, this Amiga 1200 has a MBX 1200z expansion card installed in it, with 8MB fast memory, real time clock and 68881 FPU:

It is enough to play whdload games and demos:

But...I want it to do more, so first I installed my Apollo 060, which runs at 66Mhz with 32MB fast memory:

Alongside this I also installed an older IDE expander I have that gives the A1200 2x3.5 inch IDE ports and one 2.5 IDE port. And my 60GB hard disk from my Amiga 600/1200 systems in the past:

Here is the IDE expander installed:

With this you can have up to 4 IDE devices installed in the A1200:

I then installed the Apollo 060. As you may know, an 060 accelerator needs updated 68040.library and 68060.library files on the hard disk in order to boot (included on the driver floppy disk). I already have these installed on the 60GB hard disk which is why I am using it to test:

This hard disk has AmigaOS 3.9 installed on it, and quickly boots up:

Having confirmed that the Apollo 060 works, I then removed it to try out an 030 accelerator I bought recently for the A500 ACA500 expansion (which takes A1200 accelerators):

Specifically this is the 2016 released ACA1233n 030-25Mhz accelerator from Individual Computers. I purchased mine recently from

This accelerator has 128MB memory and optional Real Time Clock expansion installed!

If you choose not to use the clock port for this, you can also use it to connect the Rapid Road USB expansion, and put the Real Time clock expansion on the internal Clock port on the A1200 instead.

The clock port on the accelerator apparently offers 50% better performance of the  Rapid Road USB when installed on it - will have to try that later!

Here is the ACA1233n installed in the A1200 - it is quite small and fits easily in the expansion slot underneath:

The boot up is a little too quick for my IDE hard disk so I get the insert disk prompt:

One reboot later and we boot up as normal and I now have 128MB fast memory and an 030 25Mhz Amiga 1200:

Performance is nothing to write home about - the Apollo 060 would of course be much faster.

However I have this Amiga 1200 because I wanted 030 compatibility with AGA demos. Lots of AGA demos released from 1994-1998 period were specifically written for 030 50Mhz Amiga 1200 systems, and don't work on 040 and 060 accelerator cards, such as in my Amiga 4000t.

Hence why I bought this system. However the 25Mhz CPU speed is not fast enough, so I have organised to buy a 55Mhz version of the 030 accelerator which should give me what I need to run all demos from that era on the Amiga 1200! More to come on that when I get it :-)

In the meantime I need to package the Indivision AGA mk2 into the Amiga 1200 case so I can finish this part of the work. I first needed to remove the floppy drive to gain access to the small expansion slot on the rear of the Amiga 1200:

Here is the slot before and after removing the plastic cover:

I then connected the DVI connector module to the expansion bay using the available screw hole to hold it in place:

Here is the view of the DVI port at the back of the Amiga 1200 as I put it back together partially:

Just before I put the case back on, with the floppy drive now back in place, with the ribbon cable from the Indivision AGA Mk2 to the DVI port module running underneath the floppy drive:

All connected up and ready to try out:

Of course I had to test a suitable 030 demo to start with - and what better than Essence's Makaveli demo from 1996:

Running nicely, even with only 25Mhz at my disposal:

Hunting around the CF card I found some modules to play back with Hippoplayer as well!

There is a lot more work to do on this Amiga 1200 - stay tuned for the next part soon!