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Old 11 July 2008, 16:57   #1
Flink
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Reviving an A4000 for a noble purpose

Hi!

I'm in the process of re-installing my old Amiga4000, and I need some help from you experts.

I used to be a fervorous Amiga user, and I'm starting out a small education enterprise (where kids can come and learn about lots of fun stuff, like computers, languages, history, r/c car racing, etc.). I'd like to have a small computer museum, from the Sinclair Timex 2068 (my first computer) to the MacPro Quad Xeon (you guessed it, my current computer), where kids can experience the evolution, develop small apps and games, and generally have fun with different generations. Most kids never saw anything but Wintel machines...

So, my A4000 must be revived! My specs:

* Amiga 4000 "Towerized" (it's not the Amiga4000T's tower, it's defferent, so I suppose this was an Amiga4000D)
* WarpEngine 68040 33MHz (from Macrovision) + 32MB RAM
* Retina BLT Z3 4MB ZorroIII Graphics Card (from Macrovision)
* SCSI Harddisk Quantum Fireball 4GB (on the WarpEngine)
* SCSI 2x CD-ROM (Caddy-loading)
* IDE Harddisk Conner 1.2GB

Ok, on to the problems. How may I connect the A4000 to a video device so I can see the screen (TV/VGA monitor)? It only has an Amiga RGB out (no Video Composite, S-Video or RF). I used to have one of those old multiscan NEC monitors to connect directly, but thats gone by now. I have a video cable (Amiga 23-pin RGB to SCART), but my 2 TVs with SCART show no video (the black image goes light grey when the Amiga is on, and flickers when I reset, but nothing else). The hard drives have no Amiga system (I think they where used on my PC). The A4000 seems to work, because I turn it on and it seems to boot from the Workbench floppy.

Before I attempt to copy AmigaSYS to the IDE HD and put it on the Amiga, I need to confirm the Amiga still works. Do you think it's simply not working? Any idea on how I can try to get the video signal from the 23-pin RGB out to a TV/VGA monitor? I have a RGB-VGA plug converter, but I need the Workbench on DlbPAL or something before I can connect my Sony VGA monitor, and for that I must access the "normal" 15KHz Amiga modes... even for the Boot Menu (both mouse buttons down on boot) to choose the boot drive.

On a slightly different note, does anyone have a manual for the Retina BLT Z3? Mine has the VCode board, whick adds S-Video and Composite out, but I'm sure it only works after the Retina software is loaded... outputting the Retina image.

Any generous soul care to help me? Thanks in advance!
--
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Old 11 July 2008, 17:22   #2
Yoto
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Olá Oscar!

Also from Portugal, and my first computer was a Timex 2068 too!

When I made my first scart cable i had the same problem (light gray image with flicker when reset). After rechecking the cable i saw a bad connected pin!...anyway some old scart tvīs need a 12v power supply thru the scart.
I built a Type 3 adaptor as kindly posted by Zetro here in this post and it works fine with all my scart LCD tvīs but not with my old CRT TV.
You may want to check this thread it if you havent done it already:
http://eab.abime.net/showthread.php?...ighlight=scart
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Old 12 July 2008, 22:54   #3
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Thanks!

I've quicky checked my SCART cable and saw no broken wires or solders. Still, it's not working... I've connected the A4000 to my Sony SDM71 VGA monitor, and it complaints the signal is 15KHz, 49Hz... wich I take as a good omen (it means there is a signal there, right?).

Maybe my TV and this cable are not getting along...

Does anybody have a nice external scandoubler/flickerfixer to sell?
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Old 12 July 2008, 23:01   #4
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15kHz, 49Hz sounds suspiciously like the 15kHz, 50Hz signal that a PAL TV uses - which isn't viewable on most monitors - but does suggest that things re at least sort of working.

Can you get hold of an A520 modulator from an A500 - that should let you see if you've got a real video signal by plugging the machine into an ordinary TV aerial.
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Old 13 July 2008, 03:19   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flink View Post
Hi!

I'm in the process of re-installing my old Amiga4000, and I need some help from you experts.



Ok, on to the problems. How may I connect the A4000 to a video device so I can see the screen (TV/VGA monitor)? It only has an Amiga RGB out (no Video Composite, S-Video or RF). I used to have one of those old multiscan NEC monitors to connect directly, but thats gone by now. I have a video cable (Amiga 23-pin RGB to SCART), but my 2 TVs with SCART show no video (the black image goes light grey when the Amiga is on, and flickers when I reset, but nothing else). The hard drives have no Amiga system (I think they where used on my PC). The A4000 seems to work, because I turn it on and it seems to boot from the Workbench floppy.

Before I attempt to copy AmigaSYS to the IDE HD and put it on the Amiga, I need to confirm the Amiga still works. Do you think it's simply not working? Any idea on how I can try to get the video signal from the 23-pin RGB out to a TV/VGA monitor? I have a RGB-VGA plug converter, but I need the Workbench on DlbPAL or something before I can connect my Sony VGA monitor, and for that I must access the "normal" 15KHz Amiga modes... even for the Boot Menu (both mouse buttons down on boot) to choose the boot drive.Any generous soul care to help me? Thanks in advance!
--
Oscar
You can use a VGA Box to view the standard modes via composite to a VGA monitor.

What about your graphics card. what does that output?

You could also try an proper Amiga SCART cable from AmigaKit if you are having issues with your one.
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Old 13 July 2008, 18:08   #6
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You should probably try real hard to get a Commodore RGB monitor. Even if you manage to get things set up and working with a VGA monitor, in the future you'll need one if the os gets corrupted and you can't boot properly or have to use the boot floppy. I have two that I hardly ever use, but they sure have payed for themselves by being there when I need them.
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Old 14 July 2008, 11:11   #7
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Thank you all!


@alphonsus: Yes, that's what I thought, too. I forgot all about the A520; I remember having one in my A500! I'll have to "scan" my friends to see if someone still has one.

@NovaCoder: the VGA box is a cheaper way to scandouble, right? From what I saw, we feed the Amiga TV signal (composite or S-Video) and get a VGA signal, above the 30KHz. That's great, but doesn't really solve my problem, since I'm only on RGB (my A4000 has no Composite out).

My Retina outputs VGA, but without the Workbench drives loaded, it does nothing at all (although the Retina has it's VCoder board, wich apparently outputs Composite and S-Video, but I don't know how to activate those outputs, and I'm guessing they work only after the drivers are loaded). Does anyone have a Retina BLT Z3 manual? I've search the net and the usual Amiga Hardware sites, but had no luck.

@ed cruise: That's what I'll be doing in the short term. A friend of mine still has an old monitor, and I'll borrow that to test the Amiga.

@all: I think the beast is working, I've put a Eye of the Beholder disk inside and it seems to boot. The Warp Engine makes that "gong" sound on boot, wich means everything is OK.

I've prepared an IDE harddisk on WinUAE (an old Amiga HD), and put it on the A4000, but it did not boot. From what I remember, I really must access the boot menu to choose the boot drive... so I'll wait until I have the Commodore RGB monitor.

In the meantime, I'm trying to identify my tower. I've seen it on the Amiga at NASA article, here. It's the towers layed down on their side in the last picture. Anyone knows this tower (brand, manufacturer)?

Thanks,
--
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Old 14 July 2008, 11:18   #8
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Resurrecting 4000s is now my mission .

Sounds like it's working. If the drives spin up etc and then it boots from floppy you're in good shape.

First things first though, if you have not yet removed the battery from your 4000, assuming it's a barrel type battery and not one of the coin style ones, DO IT NOW! If not before

If you are lucky and the battery hasn't damaged anything, putting power through it might push it over the edge... Really, remove it now.

Regarding monitor, get a different scart cable and, if you're still getting nothing, try using a CRT tv if you have one anywhere. If all that fails, the 520 is a cheap and cheerful option for checking your machine works.
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Old 14 July 2008, 11:22   #9
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You shouldn't need to access the boot menu to choose the boot drive providing the RDB is set properly (use HDToolbox on winuae to confirm that it's all working, and that you've got it bootable, and a bootpriority that means it'll get a look in - although saying that, if there's no other drives bootable apart from floppy, it should boot)

Take everything else off the IDE chain and just have that drive attached... Make sure it's not set to cable select and the cables are the right way round

Never heard a "gong" sound from my warp engine!
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Old 14 July 2008, 12:24   #10
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@chiark:

Thanks for your input! As for the battery, I have a big problem; as I said before, I'm positive this A4000 is a desktop machine put into a tower (the A4000T has Composite Video out, according to the Amiga Hardware sites). There is a ZorroIII expansion board and the WarpEngine attached to the motherboard; this means I can only see a small part of the motherboard. I can't locate the battery, and I'm pretty sure it's underneath the ZorroIII plane (it's huge).

I'm really not very inclined to disassemble the machine, at least without knowing it's working properly, since I'm affraid something would not work afterwards. It is a very old machine, and the last few years it was stored with the tower slightly open, wich means it's got plenty of dust inside.

I'll try to get the A520 as soon as possible to test it. I fear you might be right about putting power through the battery after all this time of inactivity!

Thanks again,
--
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Old 14 July 2008, 12:35   #11
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@chiark:

In WinUAE, I can't see my HD on HDToolBox, it simply does not appear. I launched HDToolbox from the Workbench install disk (with the HD added to the drives list) and from the HD, with the same result.

Am I doing something wrong?

Thanks again,
--
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Old 14 July 2008, 13:39   #12
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I completely understand the reluctance to strip it down... I had one 4k die on the operating table: FAST RAM was working quite happily, then removing the battery and cleaning caused FAST RAM to disappear . It's a connection problem, and it would have reared its head sometime.

you're best off biting the bullet and addressing the problem now, I think . Not an easy thing to say.

Take anti-static precautions. I use cans of compressed air to clean connectors etc out - make sure you don't end up covering the connectors in propellant if you do go down that route! (Hold the cans vertically)

As for the IDE drive, you should be able to get HDToolbox to register it if you change the appropriate tooltype of HDToolbox to be DEVICE=uaehf.device (edited as I think it's uaehf.device, not uaescsi.device)

Good luck!

Last edited by chiark; 14 July 2008 at 13:47.
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Old 15 July 2008, 02:00   #13
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Ok, I took a look at the board with a small mirror. I still can't see the battery, but I can feel it with my finger (it sure is the barrel type). What is not funny, is that I can see a corrosion mark (complete with rust on the edges) where a small puddle seems to have been on the "floor" of the tower... right beneath the battery.

I still have hope, because the mobo is in vertical position, it probably didn't do much damage... well, I guess I'll have to dissasemble it.

Where on earth will I find a replacement for the battery? Does the Amiga work without it?

Thanks,
--
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Old 15 July 2008, 02:26   #14
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We stock new A4000 batteries here:

http://amigakit.leamancomputing.com/...roducts_id=132
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Old 15 July 2008, 12:32   #15
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Wotcha Flink,

OK, good news that it's vertical: one of my machines was configured like that and there was *no* damage despite a massive leak. Even the Real Time Clock worked . The horizontal boards suffered at least a broken RTC and at worst a total loss of FAST ram as well...

I've bought 10 rechargeable coin-style batteries from Farnell - these should never leak. They cost me just over 3 quid each... I can get you one to portugal for Ģ4 if that'd help? PM me if interested.

First things first though, get that battery off the motherboard - cut it off if you can't desolder it. Be aware that the leak will be acidic or alkaline so try not to touch the leak, and wash your hands afterwards! Clean the board with something like isopropyl alcohol and an old toothbrush (or your wife's)
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Old 16 July 2008, 11:13   #16
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Hi again,

Thanks for your input. I've got an A520 modulator from eBay, and it's on it's way to me. That will do for now, to check if everything works. If it does work, then I'll investigate my Retina BLT Z3's outputs (still can't find manuals for the thing).

As for the battery, I'll really have to disassemble the Amiga, but it's not as bad as I thought. Only the Retina and the Micronik ZorroIII backplane have to come out to reach the battery. The mobo and the WarpEngine will stay in place. I'll probably take your kind offer, but let me find the time to take a better look at the A4000 (and probably post a few pictures).

Another related question: is it worth it to get the 3.1 ROMs? I'm guessing I have 3.0, because the mobo is a revision B. Having 3.1 ROMs would enable me to get OS3.9, right? Since I'm disassembling it, I could take care of that too.

I can't wait to see my Amiga working again, I feel like the first time I got it in Lisbon (from a 3D designer) and I had to wait the trip of more than 3 hours before I got home. I think I spent two whole weeks with it, installing things, setting up Workbench, playing The Settlers, Genetic Species demo, running Imagine, LightWave, ImageFX... it was incredible how Workbench/AmigaOS 3.1 was customizable, each one was different, I felt right at home. It was *my* Amiga, *my* Workbench.
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Old 16 July 2008, 11:34   #17
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Pictures? Zetr0 will love you forever

I use 3.1 on mine with 3.9... I think it's worth having 3.1. Unfortunately, you will need to remove the WarpEngine to get to the ROMs.

I know exactly what you mean about the amiga being a very personal thing: the system was great because a human being could understand the purpose of every file on that disk, every line in the startup-sequence, every line in user-startup, and tailor everything to your preferences.
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Old 16 July 2008, 13:38   #18
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@chiark:
Every file? I remember jumping on my chair everytime I saw harddisk activity and there was nothing going on to justify it. We actually knew everything the Amiga was doing, because the system is really simple and efficient.

I'm really hoping I can make this A4000 work; I'm even considering a nice paint job on the tower (the plastic has yellowed with time). Do you know somewhere I can take a look at some Amiga mods?
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Old 18 July 2008, 11:09   #19
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Do you know somewhere I can take a look at some Amiga mods?
They're here, right on EAB:

Hardware mods
Hardware pics
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Old 19 July 2008, 01:24   #20
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Bad news.

Today I got my A520 modulator. I connected it to the A4000, then to the TV on composite, turned on... and nothing again, just the white screen. And no floppy activity. All subsequent boots gave a black screen and no floppy activity.

Now I noticed the motherboard power cable is getting hot. Not a good sign. Oh boy, I fear I will never see my A4000 working again!

I was so excited... well... I guess I'll disassemble it, remove the battery, reassemble and hope for a small miracle... I'm on holidays now, I'll do it next Monday.

In the meantime... if you have any suggestions, I'd appreciate them very much.

Thanks,
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