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Old 16 September 2021, 05:08   #1
Malakie
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Anyone tried using a PCMCIA USB 2.0 Card on the A1200?

Hi.

Anyone know if it is possible to use a PCMCIA USB port card on the A1200? If so, attach a zip drive or HD to that?

And one last question, I have a zip 250 USBPCM model drive.. What is the second port on that drive? One is a standard USB and the other looks kinda like a SCSI port but the connector is too small and a bit different than what I am used to for a SCSI setup.. I have zipp 100 Plus and a Jaz and they have a very similar port but on this zip 250, while similar in shape, it is not the same type connector.
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Old 16 September 2021, 06:54   #2
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The only PCMCIA to USB adapters I can find are Cardbus, which is not compatible with Amiga PCMCIA.

The 'parallel' connector on the Zip250USBPCM drive connects to their PCMCIA adapter card. It might be SCSI protocol or it might be proprietary. The adapter card appears to be type II PCMCIA so it might work with the Amiga, but someone would have to write a driver for it (not easy and no guarantee that it can be done).

Zip drives are slower, lower capacity, and more importantly unreliable compared to other solutions such as Compact Flash and SD Card. You never know when it will crap out and destroy all your disks. I would not have one today even for the nostalgia - some things are best forgotten!
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Old 16 September 2021, 07:09   #3
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Originally Posted by Bruce Abbott View Post
The only PCMCIA to USB adapters I can find are Cardbus, which is not compatible with Amiga PCMCIA.

The 'parallel' connector on the Zip250USBPCM drive connects to their PCMCIA adapter card. It might be SCSI protocol or it might be proprietary. The adapter card appears to be type II PCMCIA so it might work with the Amiga, but someone would have to write a driver for it (not easy and no guarantee that it can be done).

Zip drives are slower, lower capacity, and more importantly unreliable compared to other solutions such as Compact Flash and SD Card. You never know when it will crap out and destroy all your disks. I would not have one today even for the nostalgia - some things are best forgotten!
Thanks for the info on the PCMCIA stuff.. As for the zip and jaz, I have used those for years on Amiga's. Never had a major failure.. A few disks finally failed with too many bad sectors but as long as they are not banged around while actually spinning, I have never had any problems... back then or even today.

I am currently running 100 meg zip and a 2 gig jaz on each of my two working systems.

Of course I am also using a bunch of different CF cards as well.. I use the jaz and zip mainly for storing stuff like documents, images and any archives I need to save and keep. I don't use them for constant playing games or things like that.
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Old 16 September 2021, 08:11   #4
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Lucky you. I had several Zip100 drives and they all went faulty. This was so common that the term Click of Death was invented to describe it.

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The phrase "click of death" originated to describe a failure mode of the Iomega ZIP drives, appearing in print as early as January 30, 1998. In his podcast of September 18, 2008, Mac journalist Tim Robertson claimed to have coined the phrase in the early 1990s...

Iomega Zip drives were prone to developing misaligned heads. Dust inside the Zip disks or dirty heads caused by oxide build-up could misalign the heads, but in newer devices it was due to poor quality control and manufacturing defects in the drive itself.
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Old 16 September 2021, 20:01   #5
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Yes and that was an issue with the early 100mb Zip drives but not so with the later 250mb and larger drives. They got a horrible reputation after that issue but much of it was overhyped and often unfounded. Personally I have used 100mb and 250mb zip disk for a decade with no issues but I also only use the 250mb drives. They have been supremely reliable for my Amigas as well as my MACS.
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Old 16 September 2021, 23:24   #6
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Lucky you. I had several Zip100 drives and they all went faulty. This was so common that the term Click of Death was invented to describe it.
Well, I used them back in the late 80's while working for Commodore and then later on over the years until I had placed everything in storage.

And now, only one drive had an issue that I pulled out of storage and it was due to moisture corrosion so I just parted it in case I need something for the other drives.. Those are zip 100's. I had two 250's and am not sure what died on that so just throwing that out as there are no real things to salvage.. thus I bought this second one that works fine but want to hook it to my Amiga.. problem is not sure how as it has a port on it I am not sure what type it is. And a USB port as well.

On PC it and the other one work fine.

I also have a couple ORB drives which have never failed me even once. These are my favorite removable drives and back in the Amiga old says, I had a bunch of them.. Not only more reliable overall but 10x more quiet by far.

And I even still have one SyQuest internal drive, 1 GB but I must have thrown out the platters long ago for that so it is not in use right now.


I JUST got my A1200 finally up and operational as of last night though.. the replacement membrane for the keyboard arrived and works perfectly. So while it took some work, I now have it running great.. just irritated though the A4000 was just destroyed.. still pisses me off on that one big time. Especially since I had a couple rare cards in that thing as well as one never released public for PC emulation.
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Old 17 September 2021, 00:51   #7
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I also have a couple ORB drives which have never failed me even once. These are my favorite removable drives and back in the Amiga old says, I had a bunch of them.. Not only more reliable overall but 10x more quiet by far.
Orb! Consider yourself very lucky to have had no issues with those - and back up the cartridges to another device if you still have anything important on them. I was constantly dealing with dead Orb drives or dead Orb cartridges way back when.



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Especially since I had a couple rare cards in that thing as well as one never released public for PC emulation.
Sorry to hear you lost that machine... would love to learn more about that PC board if you can recall the details.
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Old 17 September 2021, 01:15   #8
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Malakie: What was your job at Commodore USA? (Don't say CEO)
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Old 17 September 2021, 03:16   #9
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Orb! Consider yourself very lucky to have had no issues with those - and back up the cartridges to another device if you still have anything important on them. I was constantly dealing with dead Orb drives or dead Orb cartridges way back when.





Sorry to hear you lost that machine... would love to learn more about that PC board if you can recall the details.
I may do an article one of these days if I can find the time.. For now just trying to get what was stored for so many years due to military service, back working...

As for the ORB, have always used them and never had a platter failure even once. Luck of the draw maybe but one thing I did learn early on, NEVER move a zip, jaz or orb drive while the platter is moving/spinning. ALWAYS disengage it first.
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Old 17 September 2021, 16:33   #10
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There was only ever one 16-bit PCMCIA -> USB host adapter ever made (to my knowledge). That product had a chip designed by our company the OXU950.

I recently found the FPGAs used to prototype the chip and all the books used during the development of it.

https://twitter.com/a1exh/status/1265927704467169280

There were of course no drivers for AmigaOS ;-)
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Old 17 September 2021, 21:07   #11
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There was only ever one 16-bit PCMCIA -> USB host adapter ever made (to my knowledge). That product had a chip designed by our company the OXU950.

I recently found the FPGAs used to prototype the chip and all the books used during the development of it.

https://twitter.com/a1exh/status/1265927704467169280

There were of course no drivers for AmigaOS ;-)
I bet today those boards would sell huge.. So many USB devices out there now, the Amiga could benefit from.. plug in a card and whatever USB device you want, and it would open HUGE avenues for ALL Amiga computers.. From USB HD's to Ethernet cards to wireless cards to memory cards to much more.
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Old 17 September 2021, 21:09   #12
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Malakie: What was your job at Commodore USA? (Don't say CEO)
LOL no, I was the technical engineers that supported dealers around the country for repair, support, and basically anything that had to do with the hardware working, design changes, updates and such.
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Old 17 September 2021, 22:27   #13
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I bet today those boards would sell huge..
There's no driver for AmigaOS. Someone would need to write one for a USB stack like Poseidon. There are better solutions for Amiga already. Subway, Rapid Road
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Old 17 September 2021, 23:22   #14
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There's no driver for AmigaOS. Someone would need to write one for a USB stack like Poseidon. There are better solutions for Amiga already. Subway, Rapid Road
Oh I think many Amiga types would have no issue doing that.. There are a LOT of new hardware products still being made here and there for Amiga and my hope is one of these days, one of those people make something like this for the Amiga because it would sell huge.

Heck look at the Gotek or all the different USB mice, keyboard and even monitor gadgets you can plug in to use modern components with...

My A1200 is using a digital mouse, a wide screen computer monitor, and I can use the built in keyboard or my wireless keyboard with it... And there are other things as well I intend to add at some point.. Right now more concentrating on the A2000 I am salvaging though but it already has the USB mouse, clock update, Gotek and a few other things.
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Old 18 September 2021, 00:48   #15
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my hope is one of these days, one of those people make something like this for the Amiga because it would sell huge.
I don't think so. The budget PiSTorm CPU accelerator can reveal USB devices on the other side of the 680x0 emulation as native Amiga devices that use existing / no drivers.

USB Mass Storage devices appear as native IDE hard-drives. Mice/Keyboards/Joysticks as the standard Amiga keyboard/mouse/joystick. RTG & AHI.

I am sure there are other devices PiSTorm can share with the Amiga side in the future, Ethernet/Wifi, Midi, etc. Pretty much anything you'd ever want to connect via USB.

I think the day of native USB host controllers for classic AmigaOS may have passed.
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Old 18 September 2021, 01:03   #16
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I don't think so. The budget PiSTorm CPU accelerator can reveal USB devices on the other side of the 680x0 emulation as native Amiga devices that use existing / no drivers.

USB Mass Storage devices appear as native IDE hard-drives. Mice/Keyboards/Joysticks as the standard Amiga keyboard/mouse/joystick. RTG & AHI.

I am sure there are other devices PiSTorm can share with the Amiga side in the future, Ethernet/Wifi, Midi, etc. Pretty much anything you'd ever want to connect via USB.

I think the day of native USB host controllers for classic AmigaOS may have passed.

Well, that as you said, requires the pistorm hardware though.. what about just native support via PCMCIA like any other PC can use.. THAT is more what I mean.. I have a couple USB cards I use in my laptops to give them a few usb ports extra when transferring from external HD's.. something that would be awesome on the Amiga.

And A2000 can use those with the available expansion card you can install that I saw on one of the websites out there.
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Old 18 September 2021, 03:17   #17
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I recently found the FPGAs used to prototype the chip and all the books used during the development of it.
That's awesome.

But for developing an Amiga PCMCIA card I would forget about creating attribute memory etc. and just interface directly to the PCMCIA slot like others did, eg. Squirrel SCSI which uses 4 standard TTL logic ICs to interface a normal 53C80 SCISI controller chip. Our cards don't need to be PC compatible!

I am thinking of making a 'breakout' board for Amiga development, as I have a few old PCMCIA cards that could be used for the connector. The Amiga's PCMCIA slot is fully buffered with standard logic chips so it should be fairly safe for experimenting.

I have also decided that as much as practicable I will use standard logic gates rather than CPLDs or FPGAs, perhaps replacing some of them with GALs or a small CPLD when the project is finished. Programmable logic is OK, but I prefer designing with physical circuits which anyone can build and understand using standard parts. This is more in line with the 'retro' theme - and since I have drawers full of TTL logic ICs...
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Old 18 September 2021, 03:34   #18
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That's awesome.

But for developing an Amiga PCMCIA card I would forget about creating attribute memory etc. and just interface directly to the PCMCIA slot like others did, eg. Squirrel SCSI which uses 4 standard TTL logic ICs to interface a normal 53C80 SCISI controller chip. Our cards don't need to be PC compatible!

I am thinking of making a 'breakout' board for Amiga development, as I have a few old PCMCIA cards that could be used for the connector. The Amiga's PCMCIA slot is fully buffered with standard logic chips so it should be fairly safe for experimenting.

I have also decided that as much as practicable I will use standard logic gates rather than CPLDs or FPGAs, perhaps replacing some of them with GALs or a small CPLD when the project is finished. Programmable logic is OK, but I prefer designing with physical circuits which anyone can build and understand using standard parts. This is more in line with the 'retro' theme - and since I have drawers full of TTL logic ICs...
Except there a lot of Amiga people who don't have the knowledge to build things like that or do and don't want to hassle with it due to time etc...

Thus why I was thinking it would be nice to for someone to build them, do any drivers IF needed, and sell them for a fair price.. . I would buy a couple just to plug in my ext USB hard drives
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Old 19 September 2021, 05:40   #19
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Another nice thing would be to add pcmcia slots to other Amigas than the 600/1200. Not sure if that could be interfaced through Zorro slots or not though.
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Old 21 September 2021, 06:11   #20
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Another nice thing would be to add pcmcia slots to other Amigas than the 600/1200. Not sure if that could be interfaced through Zorro slots or not though.
You can buy Mediator boards for A3000 and A4000 systems to replace the daughter boards with PCI slots and Zorro III slots. There were PCI cards with PCMCIA slots on them back in the day. It’s just down to the best way to utilise what you want. Unfortunately as these things become available then most of us will have to try and hunt down the cards and the prices for those will rise in value. Just look at what we’re supposedly cheap PCI graphics cards such as Voodoo 3, 4 & 5. These now sell at premium prices
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