Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Amiga CD32 has arrived

I am excited to say I received my Amiga CD32 today in the post!

This machine needs no introduction to fans of the Amiga - this was Commodore's last ditch effort to save itself from bankruptcy. As history taught us, it was not successful...

Having said that, the Amiga CD32 was an interesting machine, and a worthy successor to the CDTV system. It had on 68020 processor, AGA support and a new Akiko chip. Essentially an Amiga 1200 with a CD drive and a Akiko chip!

I used to have an Amiga CD32 in the mid 2000's and collected plenty of original CD32 games for it while people were keen to get rid of them and before they got expensive.

However the Amiga CD32 suddenly stopped working in 2012 (refused to power on) and so I had to shelve all my CD32 stuff and wait for another working system to come up.

Unfortunately most of the CD32's for sale are NTSC ones, which are no use to me here in Australia as the games are all PAL.

Patience is a virtue, and finally in 2016 I could secure a PAL Amiga CD32 from an Australian selling theirs on Ebay for a reasonable price too.

It arrived today and as you will see, it is in excellent condition:

It included the original Getting Started and Consumer information manuals, and a couple of CD32 Gamer and the Oscar/Digger CD that came with the original CD32 bundle when it was released.

Opening the CD loader cover shows a neat and tidy internal setup, free of dust and damage :-)

The previous owner also had an SX-1 expansion but had already sold it before I got a chance to secure it - shame about that!

Here is a view of the rear of the CD32, showing the AV out, S-Video out and RF modulator ports.

On the left side is the 2 joystick ports and an AUX port for a keyboard...

The power supply is a neat and tidy unit, although I am not sure it is is the original one or not. From memory the original was grey coloured.

I connected it up to the AV to HDMI converter to enjoy the CD32 in 1080p on my TFT screen, and it works great out of the box:

Always keen to get the music cranking, I put a Audio CD to listen to on the CD32, which allows me to show the Audio CD player interface, which is similar to the CDTV one, with a few small changes:

Personally I prefer the CDTV audio player better myself...

As I mentioned, I collected a reasonable amount of CD32 titles back in the 2000's, and I got out a small selection of them to try out on the CD32 - after 4 years I can finally use them again:

Pinball Fantasies CD32 edition is first up:

I also tried out Banshee, which is a fun vertical shoot-em-up:

To finish up (it is a work night after all), I had a quick go at Zool CD32 version, which looks amazing with a full 256 colours compared to the ECS version..

I will be playing with this machine more over the coming weeks and months, but for now I am glad to have a working Amiga CD32 again!

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Multiple CDTV Upgrades

This weekend I decided to focus on doing a couple of upgrades to my CDTV. This included adding Joystick and mouse support, 8MB fast memory, Workbench 3.1 extended CDTV ROMS, SCSI hard disk support and another go at the AztecMonster SCSI to CF Card converter too!

I have previously covered my CDTV in this blog here, the gotek setup here, and also my last attempt at trying to get the AztecMonster SCSI hard disk working on the CDTV here for some catch up reading!

I also showed this system at the most recent Adelaide Retro Computing meeting in April 2016 here.

What can I say - I did some shopping! I bought an Extended CDTV ROM set, Workbench 3.1 ROMS, and 8MB fast memory expansion for the CDTV (wow, rare!), and Joystick and Mouse port converter for the CDTV (which allows normal Amiga joysticks and mice to be used on the CDTV)

Close up of the CDTV extended roms (with Amiga Forever rom license) and the 8MB fast memory expansion board - both bought new from Ebay.

The Joystick and Mouse converter was also purchased new from Ebay.

The 8MB Fast memory board was a real surprise - two new boards came up for sale on Ebay and I grabbed them. It seems the CDTV has a "Diagnostic port" which can be used to run this expansion card, giving the CDTV a much needed upgrade from 1MB CHIP memory to 1MB Chip plus 8MB Fast memory - some closeups of the board, which is very compact:

Since the 8MB fast memory upgrade was by far the easiest upgrade to do, I tackled this first - I opened up the CDTV and located the Diagnostic port:

Here is the Diagnostic port:

Here is the 8MB fast memory board attached to the CDTV:

I fired up the CDTV to try it out:

I booted up a demo CDTV title which had the option to boot to Workbench, so I could check the available memory on the system:

Excellent - 8MB Fast memory and 1MB Chip meaning my CDTV now has 9MB memory!

This is important for the next part of the upgrade work - the Extended ROMs giving the CDTV an upgrade from Workbench 1.3 ROMS to 3.1 ROMS - here are the old ROMS and the new ROMS next to each other after I removed the old ones from the U34 and U35 sockets on the CDTV:

I then installed the new extended CDTV ROMS into the sockets.

In addition to this I also needed to install the Kickstart 3.1 ROM chip in place of the Kickstart 1.3 ROM chip on the CDTV - here is the old one:

And here is the new one, with the old one removed and placed next to it for comparison:

So next of course I installed the Kickstart 3.1 ROM chip into the CDTV:

With the new chips in place, I turned on the CDTV to be greeted by the Kickstart 3.1 boot screen:

However, the fact I am seeing this screen is a problem.

The CDTV should be showing the CDTV boot screen, not the Kickstart 3.1 boot screen. Because the CDTV both screen is not showing, it is not possible to boot any CDTV CD's, or play music CD's with this upgrade!

Wow, this was not expected.

I used the early startup menu (using the CDTV controller which acts as a mouse and joystick) to access the boot menu:

The Boot device screen tells the story - no CD to boot from:

This is not good at all. I connected up the Gotek to the external disk drive port on the CDTV (which is DF0) and selected the Workbench 3.1 Install disk to boot on the Gotek:

I could then boot from floppy disk (actually adf) from the Gotek to get the Workbench 3.1 Workbench, utilising the new 3.1 roms:

But, still no CD support. I am afraid this particular upgrade is a bust, and although it is great to have Workbench 3.1 on the CDTV, not having the CDTV boot menu and CD booting support is not acceptable.

So regretfully I have to downgrade the CDTV back to the original CDTV ROMS and kickstart 1.3:

I kept the 8MB fast memory expansion in place since it was working fine.

The next step was to get the new Joystick and mouse converter working on the CDTV. First I needed to locate the U75 socket as per the instructions, which is the chip below:

I then removed the chip and installed it on the converter as below:

The instructions included with the converter were clear and easy to follow:

When I went to put the converter in place on the CDTV though, I ran into a problem - specifically the joystick port fouled a component on the main board, making it impossible to push the converter into the socket:

Some more views showing the problem:

I took the connector off to show it a bit better:

I decided to implement a high quality "bend the pins" solution:

I worked out that with the bent pins the connector would just clear the component and still allow me to put the lid on the CDTV - here it is installed:

With that done, came the fun job of threading the joystick and mouse port cables around and underneath the CDTV main board to come out of the expansion slot at the rear of the CDTV:

I had to remove the composite module from the rear of the CDTV to make it possible to route the cables and ports through:

I then had to unplug temporarily the CDROM connection so that the cables could run inside of it to route easily underneath the CDTV main board:

Here are the two ports routed through to the expansion port, ready for tidying up:

Because I have the SCSI controller expansion in the other bay, I have nowhere to house the ports neatly - ideally they would be mounted into the expansion bay frame (not here as the scsi controller is there now). Instead for now they come out the bottom of the composite module and they stay reasonably well in place with the screws applied:

I connected up a standard Amiga mouse and Joystick to the new ports:

The last step of the instructions explains that you can turn the mouse mode on the CDTV on with a press on the left mouse on the real mouse and the A Button on the CDTV controller. You can't use both at once as it causes problems so one is always disabled. The Joystick is not affected.

The bending the pins thing to make it permanently use the real Amiga mouse - errr, thanks but no thanks.

Here is the completed installation, ready for testing:

I fired up the game Pang from the Gotek, and the joystick worked straight out of the box, which was great! I can now play any Amiga games on the CDTV that really do need a joystick (the CDTV controller is hard to use as a joystick for many games).

I then booted up the Workbench and confirmed that the real Amiga mouse worked perfectly too. This is much more convenient for navigating the Workbench when needed than using the controller.

If you unplug the real mouse the controller based mouse still functions perfectly. :-)

Successful installation number 2! Actually, the Kickstart 3.1 and extended ROMS install was successful too, it just doesn't do the CDTV functions I wanted it to.

Next was another go at the Aztecmonster SCSI hard disk support on the CDTV. This blog post covers my last attempt at getting it to work, which didn't go well..

Since then I received an email from a guy who managed to get the Aztecmonster working, using the Extended kickstart 3.1 ROMS and a 1GB CF card. Thanks mate for your helpful guide and pictures of your setup!

Unfortunately though, with the CDROM functions not working for me with the extended Kickstart 3.1 ROMS (covered earlier in this blog post), with the 1.3 kickstart I am not sure if I can still get the Aztecmonster working using your tips, but I decided to give it a go anyway.

First step was buying a 1GB CF card:

I then connected the 1GB CF card to the Amiga 4000T via USB to CF card converter so I could prepare the CF card for use on an Amiga:

I then ran HDToolbox, selecting usbscsi.device to scan for the CF Card. It immediately found it and prompted to install it - excellent:

The size configuration read automatically looks ok so I make no changes here:

After clicking on Install, I then went to partition the disk in the HDToolbox, which had auto created two partitions:

I removed them and created one bootable partition called DH0:

Next step is the important one I believe - the filesystem used on the disk. The tips I received was not to use FastFileSystem on the AztecMonster. Under kickstart 3.1 that is fine since it supports other file systems, but on 1.3 I think it only supports Old FastFileSystem (OFS) and FastFileSystem (FFS).

I grabbed a Workbench 1.3.3 disk I have, which I believe has the older fastfilesystem on it:

I then added the l:FastFileSystem driver to the RDB of the new CF card using HDToolbox, and removing the autocreated International FastFileSystem used under Workbench 3.1:

As you can see it changed the older driver as a CFS\00 filesystem, and I then modified the DH0 partition on the CF card to use this.

After saving the changed, I then ejected the usb to CF converter and plugged in again (no reboot needed). I then ran Mounter to mount the new CF Card partition (I needed to modify the tool types for Mounter icon to scan usbscsi.device first):

It appears as above. When I mount it it asks to confirm which partition(s) I want:

Now because I already have DH0 on my system, it allocates it the next drive name number along, namely DH1.

From the Amiga shell, I then cd to the c drawer on the Workbench 1.3 floppy disk. Why? So I can format the DH1 partition using the Old FastFileSystem, labelling it as Workbench. I want to keep things as 1.3 compliant as possible since the CDTV needs that.

You can tell I am using the old Workbench 1.3 disk because the info command below shows incorrect drive sizes in the Shell for my larger than 4GB disks. With the format completed, the new drive appears on the Workbench screen:

I then copied the contents of the Workbench 1.3 disk to the new Workbench partition:

That done, I now have a bootable Workbench 1.3 CF Card drive less than 1GB, ready for action:

I now turn my attention to the SCSI controller module I previously added to the CDTV:

On the module board is the 50pin SCSI connector I need to use for my testing:

I ran the scsi ribbon cable I have from that port through the bottom of the module so I can mount the aztecmonster outside the cdtv while testing:

To make sure everything works first, I grab my old A2000 50MB scsi drive and connected to the scsi connection, and then powered the drive using an external molex power supply used for external IDE/SATA to USB disks normally:

As you can see the system boots up nicely, although I had to remove my nice simgen generated background as the CDTV doesn't like it for some reason and reboots on running it every time.

So, having established the setup is working, I then connected the Aztecmonster SCSI to CF Card converter, and installed the 1GB Cf card I prepared earlier:

I tried to power it on, but once again (despite checking the aztecmonster and seeing a quick flicker as the card is detected), the system does not boot from it. Very disappointing.

I am not sure what else I can do to make it work!

I pulled apart my Amiga 2000HD system and took my current 1GB SCSI disk from it, which has two partitions, one for Workbench 1.3, and one for Workbench 3.1:

The reason for testing this drive is because it is the same capacity as the 1GB CF card, so if the scsi controller has an issue with the size of the CF card then this shouldn't work either.

On power on with the 1GB scsi disk, it booted and worked straight away - hell, even the background simgen worked this time!

So it means the Aztecmonster is the issue here, the scsi controller support 1GB disks perfectly fine.

On the A2000 I have an Indivision ECS which flicker fixers the interlace display I was using, but on the CDTV I have no such thing (although I know it can be installed), so I changed the settings to turn off the interlace.

For some reason this broke the Simgen again, so I had to turn it off to get it to boot - and here it is running some modules through Delitracker under Workbench 1.3:

In this configuration I found the CDROM still worked perfectly on the CDTV, and I can access CDROMS from the 1.3 Workbench booted from the 1GB SCSI disk.

I noticed whether I used the switch at the back of the SCSI controller to turn it on or off, it had no effect on the hard disk booting! It would always boot, regardless. Quite disappointing that feature doesn't work as advertised!

I also found I couldn't boot CDTV titles with the hard disk attached.

I fixed this problem though by adjusting the boot priority under the Workbench 1.3 HDToolbox, which was set to 4 on the 1GB hard disk from my Amiga 2000. I changed it to 0, so that CD would boot properly on the CDTV again with the hard disk attached.

After that it was all good, so I got a little distracted playing Hired Guns from the hard disk on the CDTV, now that I could use a real Amiga mouse on the CDTV to play it with:

Because the molex power supply has a on/off switch itself, it means I can easily choose whether to run the hard disk or not on booting the CDTV, as long I am using the scsi hard disk externally.

This setup is not how I want it yet - I still want the aztecmonster to work..but I had to give up for today!

The fact that the scsi on/off switch doesn't work as advertised (preventing use of the CDTV boot screen) means that my ultimate plan to install the scsi disk inside the cdtv wouldn't work anyway right now.

I suspect that the failure of the kickstart 3.1 extended roms to function as advertised (no CDTV drive support working) is the main reason for the issues with the Aztecmonster.

It is a shame I couldn't finish this exactly how I wanted it, but as it is right now with the upgrades done today, it is a very nice Amiga 2000 replacement, with normal mouse/joysticks, 9MB memory, SCSI hard disk controller, and in a much nicer case with CDTV title and Music CD support! :-)

Any ideas on why the scsi controller on/off switch is not working are very welcome!

For now though,  I will enjoy it as it is, a much nicer CDTV!