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Old 13 October 2020, 18:21   #1
YouKnowWho
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PCMCIA or Expansion card Booting on Virgin A1200

Recently got my hands on an Amiga 1200. Made in UK, Commodore era. When it arrived it was obviously that it was never opened. Screws untouched. Warranty label untouched. Just a lovely clean A1200 with 3.0 Roms. I want to keep it sealed and as lovely as it was when it came off the UK production line for as long as it will be possible to do so.

Must I always boot from a floppy on this thing? It's not the end of the world if I have to, as the sounds and handling of the floppy adds to the fun original experience.

But it would be nice to put something into the expansion slot (RAM/SD card) or a PCMCIA card that this thing can just boot from on power up.

Any suggestions on what options are possible and how to do it without opening this 1200 are much appreciated.
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Old 13 October 2020, 18:25   #2
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If you don't open it and recap it, its intestines will slowly be eaten by acid from the leaking caps. Perhaps you reconsider, virginity is a stupid and obsolete concept.
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Old 13 October 2020, 18:30   #3
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If you don't open it and recap it, its intestines will slowly be eaten by acid from the leaking caps. Perhaps you reconsider, virginity is a stupid and obsolete concept.
I can't stress this enough. What grond is saying is true, and it has to be done. It's not mint anymore when it one day will have corrodoed and eaten away traces from the electrolyte leakage. Those SMD capacitors are notorious for leaking.
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Old 13 October 2020, 18:36   #4
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Having a sealed Amiga is not a desirable thing.

Open it, get it inspected, cleaned and recapped.

If you must, you might be able to source NOS seals.
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Old 13 October 2020, 18:48   #5
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Regarding the options.

You could get an IDE adapter and use an CF or SD card as a HD. This will require opening up the A1200 anyways.

Alternatively, you could try to find an Archos OverDrive HD which connects to the PCMCIA slot. I have one of these and it works as expected on an A600 and A1200, but you are limited to the slower PCMCIA speeds compared with IDE.
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Old 13 October 2020, 19:12   #6
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Regarding the options.
Alternatively, you could try to find an Archos OverDrive HD which connects to the PCMCIA slot. I have one of these and it works as expected on an A600 and A1200, but you are limited to the slower PCMCIA speeds compared with IDE.
Thanks solarmon. I did recall this ARCHOS unit, but I missed the one that was lingering on eBay for months and months and months. I like it because it really gaves the 1200 that 500 with A590 look - just with better CPU, more chip and AGA obviously. I didn't like it because it added onto the 1200 width, which I think is beautiful designed because it packs so much that previous Amigas didn't into this form factor. I know I'm talking to the converted, but the A1200 in my view is the most beautiful Amiga - because it can do so much by Amiga hardware standards in such a compact format.

Is there no expansion card option that exists? All memory expansions are SCSI only, no IDE that would fit an CF/SD piece under the trap door? I guess that Amiga on the Lake memory card has an SD slot on it that could be used after a floppy for a stealth way of having a big volume inside the thing - but I confirmed it won't boot from it.

I hear what you guys are saying - but I've been into a few Amigas, and I've never seen the little surface mount caps leak. Even in other things like a few DATs, cassette decks and portable CD players - they just seem to dry out and wither. Never came across a leaked cap. Even the cylinder ones in the size used inside the Amiga I usually see them dry out. Nothing gives me any indication that this one was in a humid environment. It seems to have lived a protected life of a pure virgin!

I have opened 1200s, and I won't take this one's virginity until she signals her needs for me to do so!

I know what I'll do...I'll store her upside down when not in use. :-)
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Old 13 October 2020, 20:35   #7
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If you don't want leaky capacitors then you have to use it, don't store it.

I have Amiga Technologies A1200, so far so good, but this A1200 is a later model, so it may have better capacitors.
My A600 leaked most of them and damaged the traces, causing erratic behavior and problem reading floppies. It's fixed now and works fine.

I have to say, open it, and see. If the solder around the caps is dull, not shiny, the you have a leaky cap problem.

When you open it, install the hard drive, problem gone.
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Old 13 October 2020, 20:40   #8
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Originally Posted by YouKnowWho View Post
I hear what you guys are saying - but I've been into a few Amigas, and I've never seen the little surface mount caps leak.
Consider yourself lucky. Though only A600/A1200/A4000D/A4000T/CD-32 has this problem, all other Amigas use through-hole caps only, which rarely leak. The mentioned Amigas has a batch of bad SMD caps that are notorious for failing and destroying motherboards. It can be hard to spot the leakage if you don't have a trained eye and know what to look for. One hint is that the pads are usually not shiny anymore, but dull, and sometimes have a hint of dark green on them.

EDIT: It's possible that the later Escom/Amiga Technologies models have a good batch of SMD caps.

Storing the machine upside-down is probably not going to help, but I'm not sure. You can store this machine sealed if you want to, but if you one day notice that the machine doesn't work, then don't come here and cry about it, we warned you.

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Old 13 October 2020, 20:46   #9
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Originally Posted by YouKnowWho View Post
I hear what you guys are saying - but I've been into a few Amigas, and I've never seen the little surface mount caps leak.
..

I have opened 1200s, and I won't take this one's virginity until she signals her needs for me to do so!
If the machine is never powered on, it might not leak as quickly, but as soon as you power it on, you kickstart the process due to the high leakage current they will have by now.
Leaky caps were not a problem with 500s, but they are almost always problematic in 600 and later models. If you wait until it 'signals you', it would have been leaking a for a long time, causing serious damage to the PCB. Replacing them now means you can just do a recap and avoid repairing the PCB. It's like going to the dentist regularly instead of waiting until you need a root canal..
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Old 13 October 2020, 21:01   #10
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....but if you one day notice that the machine doesn't work, then don't come here and cry about it, we warned you.
There is a down side to everything 8bit.

A virgin 1200 will never know the joy of being opened.
An opened 1200 can never again be a virgin 1200.

With so many promiscuous A1200s out there in the wild, this A1200, for better or worse will be condemned to chastity!

Now, is this Archos side-add on the only solution? There really is no way to fit a bootable CF card in the expansion port with some RAM?
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Old 13 October 2020, 21:20   #11
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You can use a floppy boot disk to load a HDF image from the PCMCIA/CF card.

http://eab.abime.net/showthread.php?t=57259
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Old 14 October 2020, 00:15   #12
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If you wait until it 'signals you', it would have been leaking a for a long time, causing serious damage to the PCB.
I can see you guys are really concerned about this one A1200 staying a virgin, and it is causing a real distraction to my dilemma of not wanting to screw anything onto her to add HDD like capability.

I'll tell you what I'm going to do. I'm going to set aside the money I would spend expanding her internally with all the goodies. And when she betrays me, that is when I will break the seals of Commodore celibacy to throw her out to replace her with a newer younger sexier...ReLoaded Mobo!

All I'm saying is...you guys convinced me to put this virgin A1200 on notice. She has been warned. I WILL RELOAD her if she leaks!

Also, since the 1200 is in a constant power-on state, that is you power it on with a power supply, doesn't that drain all the capacitors down when the system is powered off?

If it makes you feel better...I am not leaving one thing a virgin - the 240V A600 power supply that came with it. It is a lovely more modern design with a giant Commodore on it, completely clean and not at all yellowed. I gutted it, took out the epoxy block out, and will put one of those Polish electroware_pl dudes lovely PSes inside the original A600 case to let this thing be refurbished, 120V and looking all original but rocking modern 120V guts. I'm going to convert two A600 power supplies that way.
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Old 14 October 2020, 00:20   #13
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You can use a floppy boot disk to load a HDF image from the PCMCIA/CF card.

http://eab.abime.net/showthread.php?t=57259
It seems to be my only option to boot from floppy. Be it a PCMCIA or Memory Card with SD on it, it is the only way - which adds some retro authenticity to the experience to be sure. Strange oversight in all the expansion cards.

Does anyone know of an expansion card that goes under that takes a MicroSD perhaps or SD and will boot from it?
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Old 14 October 2020, 11:01   #14
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The thing is, there will be no outwardly obvious symptoms of the leakage (except, perhaps a fishy smell) until significant damage is already done, in which case more than a recap will be needed. Basically, if you have symptoms, it's too late for just replacing the capacitors - you've allowed the board to be damaged.

Ultimately, it's your machine and your money, so it's up to you, but if you leave it until it "betrays" you, the cost for repair will be far more than just the cost to replace the capacitors, since the rotten traces on the motherboard will need to be rebuilt by hand, and it will never be as clean and perfect as it could be if they were replaced before they did any significant damage. The A1200 Reloaded isn't yet available and there's no telling when, or even if, it will be. Re1200 motherboards might be available from builders if you have the cash. But both options are going to cost a lot of money that could otherwise be spent enjoying what you have with significant upgrades.

Now, options... You can add certain PCMCIA drives as was mentioned, but the A1200 has IDE internally which is the most common way of adding storage. There are some accelerators that go underneath that offer storage options from which you can boot directly, but they won't be cheap. Basically, to boot from anything other than the built-in options, you need a driver. That driver can be provided on the hardware itself, but that adds complexity and not every board does that, in which case you need to load it by some other means instead, e.g. floppy.
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Old 14 October 2020, 11:38   #15
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Ultimately, it's your machine and your money, so it's up to you
I have to disagree! Preservation of the Amiga heritage of mankind is a universal duty!

If you want to keep this poor A1200 as closely to its original state as possible, you can recap it with new SMD electrolyte caps that look just like the old ones (and probably will need a new recap in one or two decades). As already mentioned above you can even buy replica seal stickers to restore virginity as I hear is a common thing in a lot of countries where this stupid concept still exists. Cap leakage is like a cancer. You'll have to cut the skin to save the body.
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Old 14 October 2020, 11:45   #16
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Remember that a significant number of A1200s were opened to have hard drives installed when they were new, so your concepts of “original experience” and “retro authenticity” are flawed.
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Old 14 October 2020, 11:56   #17
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I have to disagree! Preservation of the Amiga heritage of mankind is a universal duty!
Perhaps I shouldn't tell you about all the Amiga cases I've butchered and thrown in the bin over the years then At the end of the day, it's not a particularly rare device - plenty of them have been preserved by collectors all over the place. While it's sad to let one rot into oblivion, it's hardly a duty of mankind to preserve the last 500,000 of them.
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Old 14 October 2020, 19:31   #18
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Remember that a significant number of A1200s were opened to have hard drives installed when they were new, so your concepts of “original experience” and “retro authenticity” are flawed.
If mine had a hard drive, I wouldn't be asking for this. It never had one, was never opened. It's a VIRGIN!
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Old 14 October 2020, 19:31   #19
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i have to disagree! Preservation of the amiga heritage of mankind is a universal duty! .
exactly!
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Old 14 October 2020, 19:33   #20
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Perhaps I shouldn't tell you about all the Amiga cases I've butchered and thrown in the bin over the years then At the end of the day, it's not a particularly rare device - plenty of them have been preserved by collectors all over the place. While it's sad to let one rot into oblivion, it's hardly a duty of mankind to preserve the last 500,000 of them.
Great to hear. But this one is the only virgin unopened one I have. It is mine, and I choose to keep it as it left the factory.

SHAME ON YOU Guys for trying to corrupt my pure Amiga 1200! :-). Re-seal with with fake VIRGIN stickers? I will KNOW she's not a virgin Amiga!
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