January 2023 Updates

So much has been going on lately its almost hard to keep track of at this point. My purpose is to take you through my journey to the past, its excitement of reexploring past and present and the intriguing challenges with lessons learned.

So lets role through the high-level list.

Amiga Vampire V4 SA

I have to say this has all progressed nicely! I am actually sort of writing this post on the Vampire, VNC into a new little mini PC I purchased for the retro station, using Chrome browser in WordPress. I have my discord app up as well in the VNC remote window. This makes for a very complete experience now! Core 9128 and OS 9.2 remain very stable!

Lets talk about the VNC for a moment. I first tried with an older PC, actually an older i5 Mac Mini from Circa 2008 running windows 10. What I learned quickly is a slow PC Host for VNC makes for a crappy experience on the Amiga. I happen to have another MiniPC I use for other projects ands tried it. Bingo, so much better and rock solid. So to reduce swivel chair to the SDRZone that sits across from the Retro Station I just got a nice little AMD 5900U Mini for the retro station. I just plan on using it for UAE, SD Card Images, ect. It will more or less be a slave to my retro world full time. I and others have caught some flack for wanting a modern browser on the Amiga Vampire Platform. I think that VNC is the most realistic answer for this at present. You can get a cheap PC for not much more than a Raspberry Pi 4 and just dedicate it as I have. Why not just browse on the PC when needed? Well, some of us retro dreamers like the idea of being able to still live off the Amiga and other than the browser gap, for the most part once can as a casual computer user. It is true that I will add the pics from my main PC’s to finish this post up prior to publishing, however, its because I have all my photo editing software there.

Back ion topic now! So the business case for an Apollo is strong. You will see evidence of this in my Crystal Amiga post. While some will frown at mention of other Amiga capable platforms in this post, I have to say that on a stable Core and OS version, the Apollo offering really beats them, all. If you don’t need the nostalgia of the Amiga case and look, then hands down you will save money going with the vampire and by far get the best in terms of speed. Mister has a nice emulation, but it doesn’t have the speed and 68080 CPU. The Amiga Forever and Amikit solutions are strong, and actually faster in Sysinfo, however, the Vampire just feels like the upgrade you always hoped for in the past.

I added the Real-time Clock to my Vampire and it works great! Its nice seeing the correct date and time!

Up next now for the Vampire is for me to methodically explore the OS, the new utilities that Apollo has created and get very versed on the modern day Amiga OS and truthfully some of the older day OS. There is a lot to explore. Some will be explored on the ICEDrake and 1200 when that is all setup. I do want to run some of the older OS versions like 3.2 and 3.9 on the Apollo hardware. It will be nice to have the ability to switch OS’s when I like.

So as I sip my morning coffee and blog while listening to Alan Parson on Amiga Amp, I am reminded of golden days in just how well the Amiga Multitasked. With the Amiga 1200 sitting right in front of me, nostalgia looms large, satisfaction feels deep and its time to move on to the next section and more updates! Once bitten you will become loyal for eternity!1

Crystal Amiga 1200

I ordered a FlickerFixer and CF IDE Buffer card from Individual Computers out of Germany. They arrived yesterday and last night I installed both. They both were very easy to install, the direction for the physical installation are very good and have pictures which are very helpful. Working with the FlickerFixer itself after install has been rather challenging requiring me to bail myself out with Firmware flashes to return the device back to its original state. I just need to read up on it more and I think I should resolve the issues I am having. I have stumbled into a few modes that I liked already, a vast improvement over going through the SCART conversion box. I am still struggling to get the PLIPBox networking working with Roadshow. Ironically I discovered some network issues that would have prevented it from working and resolved those now. Next up I will start over with the PLIPbox.

The Flicker Fixer is a very easy install.

With the networking issues, the fact that the resolution still being very limited on the Native Amiga, the sunk cost in the FlcikerFixer, its getting more and more tempting to go with an Apollo Icedrake and sell the flickerfixer and TF1260 accelerator once I have it all working. The idea to buy a recapped Amiga 1200 is tempting and then add the ICEDrake there. A black case would be nice! I did find a nice review on the flickerfixer and am running a 960×550 native screen resolution that is scaled up to 1980×1024 on my 1080P display. It looks pretty clean, however, there are glitchy artifacts at times, I suspect to heat and pushing the Amiga a bit. There are some glitches still in need to ironing out, games forcing a resolution change throw the flickerfixer for a loop and while the jump into the live screen mode settings allows you to shrink it back, its annoying.

So a little bit of time passed between me starting this post and finishing it, I ended up just ordering the ICEDrake and will install it. I will buy a second 1200 with recapped board up the road as a backup. It will have a black case. I will move the ICEDrake there once all is said and done, put the TF back in this amiga and keep it and a backup. Maybe I can send the MB off for recapping as well once I am up and running on the other 1200. The modern connivance of having the improved resolution, speed and networking will be a very nice for me on the 1200. As for the ICEDrake, I am going into it knowing it is still very much in development. There will be challenges as well!

All this said it may be a bit until I provide another update on the Crystal Amiga! Time for me to focus on some of the other projects. If not for nostalgia I will offer my bottom line conclusion of where I am at in this moment, the Apollo V4 SA is the best solution for those wanting to dive into Amiga Land. You will need to have some patience though and sort through setting things up, however, it will be well worth it in the long run. If you want a less dedicated experience, just get the Amiga Forever kit and setup a really nice HD Image and enjoy that way. Amikit is a cool addon for the Amiga Forever route.

No fears for my return to the A1200 though, I have over 1000 physical floppies to explore and so much more!

Crystal 64

I was able to find a video cable that works with the 1902A Monitor I purchased off ebay, I am happy to report that the monitor works well. Its only issue is one I understood and was advertised in the add, the power switch remains on. The C64 setup will get its own power strip with switch this weekend so I can just control it that way.

I have been building a SD card image with all the favorites I want for the Kungfu and Chameleon cartridges. This will have a myriad of cartridges, GEOS – (I have licensed copy now), games, ect to explore. Before I dig too deep there though, I have about 300 Floppies to explore. I will see what’s on them, potentially relabel the scratch type disks and matchup SD images of the legal stuff I own and put that stuff on the cartridges. Then I will decide what to keep, which disks to make as new blanks, and what to put backup on Fleebay for sale as scratch disks.

I did procure a second PAL C64. It seems to be in really good shape. I should not have had the first Crystal I purchased converted to NTSC. I will likely end up keeping both as spares and building a new modern 64. I have already ordered chips and a couple of Keyboards for that effort. Once I decide where I am at with it all I can always put the extra ones back up on Ebay and keep one for spare parts.

Chameleon

What a cool cartridge! And its so much more as its also a full FPGA platform! This arrived and I am already having some fun with it running other cartridges using its 4 slots, browsing disk images on the SD card, and testing out the two C64s. I did get the stand-alone doc for it, however it uses PS2 Mouse and Keyboard, so I have some adapters coming in hopes I can just use a USB one instead. This is a highly intriguing platform. I need to get a VGA to HDMI adapter working so I can try out the VGA port on it.

This should be a ton of fun and there will be a lot more to come!

MISTER

Not a lot going on there right now. A great deal of time has been going towards getting my Retro Station Desk sorted out in such a way that it is easy for me to switch to and use all these cool retro computing platforms without having to unplug and move hardware. The MiSTer does have a nice spot right now, however, it will move again in the future to a nice spot when I get there. I have run Amiga WB 3.1 from the Amiga Forever image and plan to create a nice HDF for it to better test how it handles the emulation and games. Having a dedicate PC now on the retro station will make life easer to build images for the various retro PC’s.

Next up will be a post on the retro station setup itself and how I have handled the multitude of platforms in a single area.

Until then!

@everstar