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Old 11 June 2018, 10:41   #1
dommer
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Basic hardware amiga A500 questions.

As in my other thread, I've been an amiga guy for a long time, big fan, but only a user in the last year, unless you count Icaros Desktop. Then its about two I guess, lol. But with this A500 I have some questions that I just need answers for.

These are the specs of the machine:
CPU: Motorola 68K with AdSpeed Accelerator (14MHz full CPU speed)
Ram: 8mb "graphics" ram, 4.5mb system ram from internal and trap door addon
Chipset: Untouched I think?
Sidecar: GVP-A500-HD+ Hard Drive (either 48 or 60mb as far as I can tell but I have no clue)

So I just have a general list of questions that, if can be answered, will help projects along for me.

Goal: Make it a funtional amiga that runs AOS 3.1 or higher, boots from HDD, and uses a better CRT than the commodore 1060/70 (can't remember what exactly it is) that I had prior to owning the machine. If it can go online and do IRC on top of playing games and being used to develop debian's M68K release, bonus.

Can I change the hard drive in the sidecar? Do I have to format it prior to replacement or can I do that in-os?

What accelerators can I get? Just vampire 2 or what?

Better chipsets to upgrade to?

What is the max ram it can handle?

How does the Apple Mac emulator work? Has anyone here used it?

How many floppy drives can I give it? What about Hard Drives?

What does a "Dos Emulator" do? Where can I get one?

What is available for networking hardware?

What Amiga can I upgrade this thing to match? A1200? A3000?

Can I give it a CD drive?

Can I only use one monitor?

Can I use AmigaExplorer to pull data off of the hard drive?

I'll have more questions later to throw into here, but those are the ones at the front of my brain ATM. Thanks for any answers you guys have.
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Old 11 June 2018, 10:57   #2
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Quote:
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What accelerators can I get? Just vampire 2 or what?

The cheapest, simplest option here is probably the ACA500+. This will give your A500 8MB of RAM and mass storage in the form of 2 SD cards. But this will take over your side port, so you won't be able to use you current HD (not a problem IMHO, the SD cards will be faster and cheaper).



Quote:

Better chipsets to upgrade to?

Depending on your motherboard revision, upgrading the Agnus chip should be relatively painless. For a rev5 (like mine) the 8372A is pin compatible, but it may require some modifications (not necessary with the ACA).



For the other chips, not sure if it can be done at all.



Quote:
What is available for networking hardware?

The Plipbox is a cheap option that should work on an A500. I haven't got one, so it is only a guess.



Quote:

What Amiga can I upgrade this thing to match? A1200? A3000?

In my case, if we only consider raw speed and you believe what sysinfo says, it is quite fast. I don't remember the exact results, but if I recall correctly my ACA500+ 50Mhz is between a 1200 and a 3000.



But you won't get the other niceties, of course (AGA, 020+ instructions, etc.)
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Old 11 June 2018, 11:23   #3
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Originally Posted by dommer View Post
Can I change the hard drive in the sidecar? Do I have to format it prior to replacement or can I do that in-os?
You should be able to, as long as you have the required software on a floppy

Quote:
What accelerators can I get? Just vampire 2 or what?
Lots of accelerators have been released over the years, but the ACA500 and Vampire are currently produced models.

Quote:
Better chipsets to upgrade to?
You can upgrade OCS to ECS for some extra graphics modes.

Quote:
What is the max ram it can handle?
Without an accelerator the 68000 can use 2 megs chip RAM and 8 or so megs of fast RAM. With an accelerator, much more fast RAM can be added.

Quote:
How many floppy drives can I give it? What about Hard Drives?
Four floppy drives total. Hard drives, that depends on the controller, generally two IDE drives or up to seven SCSI drives

Quote:
What is available for networking hardware?
Using the serial and parallel ports various options can be pursued, perhaps something like the Plipbox.

Quote:
What Amiga can I upgrade this thing to match? A1200? A3000?
There are some things those systems have that you can't upgrade to, e.g. AGA or Zorro III expansion slots. But otherwise you can match them.

Quote:
Can I give it a CD drive?
Yes, IDE or SCSI.

Quote:
Can I only use one monitor?
You can plug in several monitors but they will all show the same image. Installing two Indivision ECSs might give you two separate screens although I'm not sure how far developed that functionality is.
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Old 11 June 2018, 18:12   #4
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You should be able to, as long as you have the required software on a floppy



Lots of accelerators have been released over the years, but the ACA500 and Vampire are currently produced models.



You can upgrade OCS to ECS for some extra graphics modes.



Without an accelerator the 68000 can use 2 megs chip RAM and 8 or so megs of fast RAM. With an accelerator, much more fast RAM can be added.



Four floppy drives total. Hard drives, that depends on the controller, generally two IDE drives or up to seven SCSI drives



Using the serial and parallel ports various options can be pursued, perhaps something like the Plipbox.



There are some things those systems have that you can't upgrade to, e.g. AGA or Zorro III expansion slots. But otherwise you can match them.



Yes, IDE or SCSI.



You can plug in several monitors but they will all show the same image. Installing two Indivision ECSs might give you two separate screens although I'm not sure how far developed that functionality is.
Is there a way to get AGA funtionality per chance?
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Old 11 June 2018, 18:22   #5
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Yes, with a Vampire V4 for sure, with a Vampire V2 maybe, if the problems with SAGA are gone.
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Old 11 June 2018, 18:34   #6
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Yes, with a Vampire V4 for sure, with a Vampire V2 maybe, if the problems with SAGA are gone.
Interesting. Is there a vampire for the 2000 by chance? How much USE do they normally run for?
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Old 11 June 2018, 18:35   #7
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@dommer

You can't truly upgrade an A500 to AGA, no. Not in the same way you can upgrade it to ECS.

The Vampire is an expansion which can bypass the actual chipset with an AGA-compatible re-implementation. But I don't think it's 100% done yet.
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Old 11 June 2018, 19:38   #8
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@dommer

You can't truly upgrade an A500 to AGA, no. Not in the same way you can upgrade it to ECS.

The Vampire is an expansion which can bypass the actual chipset with an AGA-compatible re-implementation. But I don't think it's 100% done yet.
:

I've seen a lot of Dan Wood's videos. I'm aware of what some of the accelerator hardware is, but not all of it. DEF not the originals. The ADSpeed is news to me.
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Old 11 June 2018, 22:51   #9
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Whats the easiest way to get the A500 online?
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Old 12 June 2018, 05:08   #10
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Is there a limit to what floppy drives I can use? I have a buttload of just drives, but do I need specific ones?
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Old 12 June 2018, 06:49   #11
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The Plipbox is probably the most straightforward way currently.

You need to have Amiga specific floppy drives, although many PC drives can be converted with a little bit of soldering (a few signals need to be rerouted). External drives also need some extra electronics to be recognized properly. Lots if info on both subjects in the net, Google will help
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Old 12 June 2018, 07:48   #12
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The Plipbox is probably the most straightforward way currently.

You need to have Amiga specific floppy drives, although many PC drives can be converted with a little bit of soldering (a few signals need to be rerouted). External drives also need some extra electronics to be recognized properly. Lots if info on both subjects in the net, Google will help
Haha. Well I have tried to look, but I never know exactly how to search for what info I am looking for.
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Old 12 June 2018, 08:44   #13
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Well straightforward queries like "can i use pc floppy in amiga" or "amiga plipbox" bring up lots of stuff

https://retrocomputing.stackexchange...r-use-in-amiga
http://eab.abime.net/showthread.php?t=30944
http://lallafa.de/blog/amiga-projects/plipbox/
http://eab.abime.net/showthread.php?t=86195
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Old 12 June 2018, 10:16   #14
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Is there any reason I couldn't put my amiga's into dvorak? QWERTY is really awkward for me.
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Old 12 June 2018, 10:30   #15
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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dvorak...Keyboard#Amiga

"Amiga
Amiga operating systems from the 1986 version 1.2 onward enable the user to modify the keyboard pattern by using the setmap command line utility with "usa2" as an argument, or later in 3.x systems by opening the keyboard input preference widget and selecting "Dvorak". Amiga systems versions 1.2 and 1.3 came with the Dvorak keymap on the Workbench disk. Versions 2.x came with the keymaps available on the "Extras" disk. In 3.0 and 3.1 systems, the keymaps were on the "Storage" disk. By copying the respective keymap to the Workbench disk or installing the system to a hard drive, Dvorak was usable for Workbench application programs."
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Old 12 June 2018, 14:08   #16
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It seems to me that what you want to gain from your A500 is not really sensible, unless you are upgrading an A1200.

The benefits of A1200 are exponential to the A500. If you opt for Custom Towered unit like myself, the possibilities are almost endless. My Amiga allows me to go on line and do most of the modern tasks of today, albeit a little slower of course.

The A1200 IMHO is the best overall Amiga system for upgrading and use. Although the A3K and A4K would be the dominate units in terms of rawness.

The A500 may have been the most popular but it is NOT the best for upgrading. Mediator set up for RTG and SC card set-up isn't an option on the A500. Also until SAGA is perfected AGA is also not an option and when it does come along, it wont be cheap. That stated nothing to do with Amiga hardware is cheap, yet it continues to remain popular. Just goes to show how good Amiga really is. I guess something's never change!

If you want a serious kick-ass Amiga 500 then your only option is Vampire! Although the purist are going to pan you, should you choose this option.

For an all round great machine, TF accelerator with 3.1 ROM and 4 to 8GB CFHD.

Your Amiga 500 system as it stands is a great example of an original classic. Why change it? Get a Towered A500/A600 or A1200 and expand the ass out of that instead! This way you have original classic and unique modern original classic together.
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Old 12 June 2018, 15:50   #17
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It seems to me that what you want to gain from your A500 is not really sensible, unless you are upgrading an A1200.

The benefits of A1200 are exponential to the A500. If you opt for Custom Towered unit like myself, the possibilities are almost endless. My Amiga allows me to go on line and do most of the modern tasks of today, albeit a little slower of course.

The A1200 IMHO is the best overall Amiga system for upgrading and use. Although the A3K and A4K would be the dominate units in terms of rawness.

The A500 may have been the most popular but it is NOT the best for upgrading. Mediator set up for RTG and SC card set-up isn't an option on the A500. Also until SAGA is perfected AGA is also not an option and when it does come along, it wont be cheap. That stated nothing to do with Amiga hardware is cheap, yet it continues to remain popular. Just goes to show how good Amiga really is. I guess something's never change!

If you want a serious kick-ass Amiga 500 then your only option is Vampire! Although the purist are going to pan you, should you choose this option.

For an all round great machine, TF accelerator with 3.1 ROM and 4 to 8GB CFHD.

Your Amiga 500 system as it stands is a great example of an original classic. Why change it? Get a Towered A500/A600 or A1200 and expand the ass out of that instead! This way you have original classic and unique modern original classic together.
Haha. Well ATM I'm just trying to get files off of some text craft floppies, but I've always wondered what you can actually force an A500 to do. If I can manage to find a vampire I want to do that, I'd love a rock-road USB board, etc. I want to push this machine as far as I can just as the previous owner would have done himself, not just leave it as a pretty thing on a shelf.
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Old 12 June 2018, 17:47   #18
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Its a case of today, tomorrow yesterday and sorry but the A500 does not live in the era it was born out of. Trying to make old equipment perform very much in a way it was never designed to do, and expecting it to hold up takes a whole heap of effort and dedication. What is at risk in all of this is the Amiga, which by the years become ever more rare. Mainly due to failed projects where owners have sadly gotten disinterested and then failed to carry on.

I have every variety of A500 there is and even still have my original Viper 520 CD with internal hard drive running 3.1 which is about as far as I would ever take the 500. Mostly I have 590s and GVPs running with modest RAM set up on an original Commodore monitor for playing games and reviewing software.

In the end its kinda yesterday for me with the Amiga as I tend to respect the era and use the computers as originally intended. The 1200 was released by Commodore and I doubt they ever envisaged their user base hanging onto their A500s. Just that there comes a point where hanging on to what you have and enjoying it for what it was is way more important than risking old hardware for the sake of a maybe and or a possibly.

One other comment and it regards the community you are also working with. My experience spans the most hectic of periods for the Amiga and I have seen users come and go. The days of endless useful and informative posts from user groups on say the uses of Samba for instance have all but dried up. You will get a general comment these days or a word from someone saying they use to know but its been a long time... but that is not going to help. And all the time you are likely to be mixing new tech with old tech and trying to get old tech working with new on very limited information. I say all this cus of my primary and main passion of saving the hardware. There is a view in archaeology that those who really care want for hidden structures, artefacts and tombs to remain uncovered... until such a day it can be done with minimum risk to the archaeology. I am not suggesting that the Amiga is a lost artefact in need of salvaging... but I do take the view that once broken or damaged or worse hacked beyond original recognition, the poor Amiga become yet one more fatality and the serial number added to the tomb walls.

And that is where any owner of an Amiga can make a big difference. Whilst in your hands you control the destiny of the Amiga. So will she live on beyond your time to serve future generations? It is a big ask to expect any Amiga owner to simply glass case their beloved Amiga. But for me its a far better thing to do than risk losing everything.

I just ask that what ever you do, you consider the Amiga first and your preoccupation with trying to make the machine into something it never was intended to be, second. Just think about it.

Keep the faith and be a survivor not one of those folk that have to say ' I use to have one of those '

By the way... that Viper was found in a box for an A500 with the words A500 crossed out and A1200 written in with black marker by a previous owner. It never was and never will be an A1200... even Commodore realised you need to actually make new hardware if you want kit to perform that way. Just saying.

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Old 13 June 2018, 08:10   #19
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Originally Posted by scuzz View Post
Its a case of today, tomorrow yesterday and sorry but the A500 does not live in the era it was born out of. Trying to make old equipment perform very much in a way it was never designed to do, and expecting it to hold up takes a whole heap of effort and dedication. What is at risk in all of this is the Amiga, which by the years become ever more rare. Mainly due to failed projects where owners have sadly gotten disinterested and then failed to carry on.

I have every variety of A500 there is and even still have my original Viper 520 CD with internal hard drive running 3.1 which is about as far as I would ever take the 500. Mostly I have 590s and GVPs running with modest RAM set up on an original Commodore monitor for playing games and reviewing software.

In the end its kinda yesterday for me with the Amiga as I tend to respect the era and use the computers as originally intended. The 1200 was released by Commodore and I doubt they ever envisaged their user base hanging onto their A500s. Just that there comes a point where hanging on to what you have and enjoying it for what it was is way more important than risking old hardware for the sake of a maybe and or a possibly.

One other comment and it regards the community you are also working with. My experience spans the most hectic of periods for the Amiga and I have seen users come and go. The days of endless useful and informative posts from user groups on say the uses of Samba for instance have all but dried up. You will get a general comment these days or a word from someone saying they use to know but its been a long time... but that is not going to help. And all the time you are likely to be mixing new tech with old tech and trying to get old tech working with new on very limited information. I say all this cus of my primary and main passion of saving the hardware. There is a view in archaeology that those who really care want for hidden structures, artefacts and tombs to remain uncovered... until such a day it can be done with minimum risk to the archaeology. I am not suggesting that the Amiga is a lost artefact in need of salvaging... but I do take the view that once broken or damaged or worse hacked beyond original recognition, the poor Amiga become yet one more fatality and the serial number added to the tomb walls.

And that is where any owner of an Amiga can make a big difference. Whilst in your hands you control the destiny of the Amiga. So will she live on beyond your time to serve future generations? It is a big ask to expect any Amiga owner to simply glass case their beloved Amiga. But for me its a far better thing to do than risk losing everything.

I just ask that what ever you do, you consider the Amiga first and your preoccupation with trying to make the machine into something it never was intended to be, second. Just think about it.

Keep the faith and be a survivor not one of those folk that have to say ' I use to have one of those '

By the way... that Viper was found in a box for an A500 with the words A500 crossed out and A1200 written in with black marker by a previous owner. It never was and never will be an A1200... even Commodore realised you need to actually make new hardware if you want kit to perform that way. Just saying.

scuzz
http://www.scuzzscink.com/amiga/car_001.htm
I see your sentiment, and your website. IMO if an amiga A2000 has survived this long since production running in a dusty ass barn every day with a CNC mill right next to it, it will continue to run A+ for at least that same amount of time. Any machine is capable of anything, its up to the user to make it happen.

I can accept that the hardware is ancient. I won't deny that. But I think that the Amiga deserves continued development outside of the newer PPC machines (but I do want one stupidly bad). Anything can be made possible.

Personally I want to work on the M68K port of debian and dev some games that I have wanted to make for a long time. I like your comment of the user drives the future. I find that very true.

I'll have to look through your site more. I'm jealous of your tower machines :P
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Old 13 June 2018, 16:06   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scuzz View Post
Its a case of today, tomorrow yesterday and sorry but the A500 does not live in the era it was born out of. Trying to make old equipment perform very much in a way it was never designed to do, and expecting it to hold up takes a whole heap of effort and dedication. What is at risk in all of this is the Amiga, which by the years become ever more rare. Mainly due to failed projects where owners have sadly gotten disinterested and then failed to carry on.
This maybe true, yet you cannot deny that by persons such as myself who custom build Tower Amiga computers, it helps to continue preservation of all Amiga systems. Not only by fabricating them into new modern Tower units to give a modern look with a retro feel, it also attracts younger followers. Why? Because they want to know what the hype is all about and find it cool that these Retro computers, can be taken to the next level and possibly beyond. Same could be said for those offering new Accelerators and upgrades.

Quote:
Originally Posted by scuzz View Post
I am not suggesting that the Amiga is a lost artefact in need of salvaging... but I do take the view that once broken or damaged or worse hacked beyond original recognition, the poor Amiga become yet one more fatality and the serial number added to the tomb walls.
Not sure if I totally agree with all you are stating here. Yes anyone with lack of knowledge or correct equipment shouldn't even think about starting a project, until they have at least done some research. They could do what dommer did and ask here in EAB. Reaching out to those in the know really does help, specially on decision making for said Amiga projects.

Hacked beyond all recognition, hmm, I know you are a purist just from your statements, which is perfectly OK and I respect that. Although you should realise that a customised tower unit, still offers so much to the original system, if done properly. Sometimes it can be way better than the original design.

Quote:
Originally Posted by scuzz View Post
I just ask that what ever you do, you consider the Amiga first and your preoccupation with trying to make the machine into something it never was intended to be, second. Just think about it.
Why would you state "something it was never intended to be"? Just because Commodore defunct, doesn't mean that Amiga did. OK so no more new machines were developed but designs for original systems could continue. Take this as an example of what I am stating here: Imagine we never had 060 Accelerators for the A1200 back in the day. Then, someone in the present designed one and put it into an Amiga 1200. Would this not be how it was intended because it wasn't available or offered, back in the day? Progress is always accomplished by understanding, passion, desire and persistence. OK, so available tech and finance helps too, although I guess you know what I am getting at here.

The next Gen Amiga is probably something that shall never be...? Yet original classic Amiga units customised and/or upgraded with new tech, offers hope for endless possibilities, for Amiga and its future.

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Originally Posted by scuzz View Post
Keep the faith and be a survivor not one of those folk that have to say ' I use to have one of those '
This is something many have probably said over the years.
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