The A600 Thread

chrisgreen

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Why fight one battle when you can be fighting on two fronts at once?

As several people know from our WhatsApp discussions, I drunk bought an Amiga A600, the most pointless and hated of all the Amiga models. That Amiga A600 turned out to be a dumpster fire, as it had a 1MB Chip Ram expansion inside with a VARTA clock battery that had leaked spectacularly! The damage to the board, and the on-board chip ram, was substantial and everything was coated in battery acid. This morning, that one was returned to the seller and I am expecting a full refund.

However, it did pique my interest in the A600, and so when another keenly priced example turned up, I went for it. This one turned out to be in good condition, and had been clearly cared for by its previous owner.

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Keyboard is in great shape, apart from a very small amount of dirt and some of the previous owner's DNA. Easily cleanable. The case is also in good shape. Next to no yellowing, tiny bit of dir inside and out (and nothing that can't be fixed by a few mins in the kitchen sink.

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As expected, most of the case clips have broken. This is sadly a common problem as the A600 clips are even more fragile than the A1200 ones. The A600 case clips are more akin to the hook clips found on most breadbin Commodore 64 cases (which also break just by looking at them). A 3D printed clip repair kit has been ordered. These glue in place over the top of the original clips using some decent epoxy and do a much better job. Especially on the right hand side of the case (where the floppy drive is) as a single case clip holds the entire right side of the case closed (there's no screw post on the A600, on on the 1200).

Other things to note - the top shielding is still in place. Very rare on a A600 as even Commodore stopped fitting the top shielding eventually, not to mention that most owners back in the day tossed the top shielding to make room for a Fast RAM upgrade or an accelerator. The hard drive cradle is missing (but I have a spare) and the previous owner fitted a 4GB CF Card in place of a hard drive. This machine also has a replacement floppy drive. The raffle ticket is a signature trait of a known eBay seller called Retro Pixels who specialises in reselling used, working Amiga floppy drives. On the plus side, the drive works, is in good condition and is the correct model for the machine.

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No corrosion, and the only damage is the broken arm of the PCMCIA slot. that combined with the bent pins inside suggest it had something plugged in that was subsequently knocked. Either way, cheap to have replaced when it goes off for recapping. The expansion edge connector appears to be unused.

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It is a 1.3 revision board. Known to be a bit stroppy with some ACA accelerators, but otherwise OK. As I plan to only fit a Furia to it, I should be fine. FYI, the battery acid damaged one was a 1.5 board, known to be a bit better, but mostly in terms of accelerators. Everyday usage on the A600 is the same across all versions.

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IDE connector is in good shape. RF Modulator top is a bit tarnished, but that doesn't matter as I will be having the RF modulator removed completely to make room for a HDMI output.

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Floppy connector is also fine. No obvious leakage from the caps and no bad smells. But, it's going off next week for capping anyway.

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There are a couple of very small rust spots on the outside of the 9-pin mouse/joystick D connectors, but nothing to warrant replacing them. I suspect most of this will come off with an ultrasonic bath and a bit of brushing.

Fortunately, dragging this machine up to date won't be as big or expensive a project as the A1200. First priority is recapping (which will also include an ultrasonic bath, a new PCMCIA port and removing the RF Modulator). Once back, I'll add a 1MB Chip Ram expansion with RTC to the edge connector. Finally, I will eventually add a Furia 020 accelerator with 8MB of Fast RAM. I also intend to remove the floppy drive and replace it with an internally fitted Gotek (which I already have).

While the motherboard is away, the case top and bottom will get a much needed clean, as will the keyboard and its keys.
 

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HEXdidnt

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I'll be watching this thread with keen interest... I think I may have made a bit of a mistake in upgrading to Kickstart 3.1 and Workbench 3.1 (bought from Sordan.ie a couple of years back), as it now behaves oddly with some software (on Monkey Island 2, for instance, the position of the mouse pointer is offset from what it's highlighting), and one or two older games don't want to run at all (though the accelerator accounts for that - they run perfectly without it, just horribly slow).

It'll be good to get some ideas of what I can really do with my A600 to really make the most of the setup I have. Some sort of internal HD output would be great, though my GBS8200 is adequate for the moment now I've added a resistor to the VGA adaptor and put some copper tape on the underside. More than anything, I'd just like to spruce up Workbench a bit...

What I find weird about this new machine of yours is that the previous owner put in a four gigabyte CF card as a hard disk... but didn't bother getting a RAM upgrade? Just having an HD really cuts into the amount of available RAM... Not adding another meg seems insane.
 

chrisgreen

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Funny you should mention that @HEXdidnt - sat on the desk in front of me is the RGB2HDMI hardware (the Pi Zero for which arrived this morning). Now this is still very much a work-in-progress in terms of supported screen resolutions (still OCS for now, with flakey ECS support), but it does output an impressive HDMI signal and upscales the native output of the Amiga. The ECS support issue is purely software, and will come with future updates.
 

HEXdidnt

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So it's using the same basis for HDMI output as the interface for the SAM Coupé... That'd be very convenient if there was a way to have a single unit that could be used on both. I'd definitely like to get my hands on one for the SAM, but the apparent scarcity of Pi Zeros at the moment would make me feel a bit selfish for getting two of 'em just to give me HDMI output on two retro computers.

@chrisgreen, where did you get your Pi Zero, out of curiosity, and are they still in stock?
 

chrisgreen

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Ordered my Pi Zero from The Pi Hut. There is no shortage of any of the Pi devices?
 

HEXdidnt

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Just checked there, and the only one in stock is the Zero WH - all the other Zeros just have 'Notify Me' buttons (which I've used!).

Certainly the impression given by the guy who made the SAM interface was that they're in stock one minute, and gone the next, with increasingly long delays between restocks over the last year or so. Prices appear to be pretty variable too, with some outlets adding a zero versus The Pi Hut.
 

chrisgreen

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Well you need a Pi Zero HW for the RGB2HDMI anyway and they have plenty of those. PiMoroni has plenty of stock too.
 

chrisgreen

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The replacement case clips arrived this morning:

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The kit includes two different types of clip for the rear of the case, as well as two different designs for the all-important and very fragile side clips. Suspect I will be using the hollow side clips on the A600 given the lack of space next to the floppy drive.

The clips will be held in place with strong glue. I’ve still got some of the super strong plastic epoxy I used to fix the broken clip on the CPC 6128 Plus. That clip is now the strongest part of the case, so will use the same here.
 

HEXdidnt

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I'm told the SAM version can use any flavour of Pi Zero - from the standard 1.3 (preferable) to the W and WH (the extra bells and whistles of which would go to waste).

1.3s look to be out of stock at most Raspberry Pi suppliers, and then limited to one per customer when in stock. Where available elsewhere, prices have been massively inflated. Will have to consider whether I should just get what's available when I go the SAMhdmi route, and maybe later swap it out for the basic model if I also go HDMI on the Amiga.

Will have to look into replacement clips as well - they're pretty much all wrecked on both my Amiga 600 and my sister's...
 

Retro

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Amazing how much joy something as mundane as clips can bring when they’re a critical component.

Chris, I’m wondering, would it be possible to mod the case to add a screw on the sides held by a single clip? I reckon it would be sturdier and more reliable than the clip.
 

chrisgreen

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I'm told the SAM version can use any flavour of Pi Zero - from the standard 1.3 (preferable) to the W and WH (the extra bells and whistles of which would go to waste).
More accurately, you need a Pi Zero with the GPIO header pins attached (otherwise you can’t attach it to the RGB2HDMI board), which means buying a WH (the obvious option as the H means it has the header factory soldered on), or buying the regular Pi Zero, buying the GPIO header pins and arsing about soldering them on yourself. You will not save any meaningful money going down the latter route (in fact, by the time you factor in the header, soldering materials and time - you’ll end up spending more than the cost of a Pi Zero WH in reality).
 

chrisgreen

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Amazing how much joy something as mundane as clips can bring when they’re a critical component.

Chris, I’m wondering, would it be possible to mod the case to add a screw on the sides held by a single clip? I reckon it would be sturdier and more reliable than the clip.
No, not viable. There’s nothing on the top half of the right side of the case for a screw to go into. Left side is fine. That has a clip AND a screw post. Funnily enough that’s the one clip that hasn’t broken!

Thankfully, these 3D printed clips seem pretty robust. By the time I’ve glued them, I reckon they’ll survive a bomb blast. They should also survive a fair few openings and closings in teams of wear.
 

Retro

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That's a really odd design to leave such a weak spot. Look forward to your New Improved washing powder case.
 

chrisgreen

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Today saw a lot of work on the A600. Will post in more detail tomorrow on the build with pics, but having got the motherboard back from recapping, today I cleaned the case by putting it through the dishwasher, cleaned the keyboard (by hand, not in the dishwasher), added repair clips to the case (which proved to be crap - two broke the first time I closed the case - all these clips have been removed now, with some hopefully better printed ones coming from a different seller), fitted a RGB2HDMI adapter, fitted a Furia accelerator and a 1MB Chip Ram expansion, fitted an internal Gotek and confirmed it all works.

The A600 is up and running again and I am amazed at how good the RGB2HDMI is. But the failure of the case clips was a big disappointment as without them the case does not close down the right hand (floppy drive end) edge. If you ever need to replace broken clips on a 600 or 1200, I recommend you don’t buy from CommodoreMAD on Etsy/Madmanwithafryingpan on eBay/ami64.com (it’s all the same seller). The print quality is poor and the filament is weak. The 3Df replacement ones I have coming are from Italy. They are based on the same design, but hoping they are printed with better filament and to a higher standard.

Next job will be to install OS 3.2 onto the 64GB CF Card inside the machine.
 

Retro

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Nice to see I'm not the only one still up at Late O'Clock. 😁

Gotta check out that RGB2HDMI picture sometime. Comparing it with the previous inferior solutions would be interesting.
 

chrisgreen

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Last night’s build was quite a leap forward.

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With the motherboard having been recapped and cleaned, I ordered a low-cost accelerator/fast ram expansion - the Furia 600:

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This uses an overclocked 68EC020 - the same processor found in the A1200 - but in this case running at 33Mhz. I went for the active cooling version. In hindsight this wasn’t a smart move as one of the clips that holds the heat sink in place would interfere with the RGB2HDMI adapter. This was worked around by removing that clip, so it means the heat sink is only held in place by one clip and the heat sink compound. It’ll have to do.

From here, it was a simple case of snapping the RGB2HDMI adapter onto the top of the Denise chip, and then snapping the Furia onto the top of the 68000 CPU. Both boards feature upturned chip holders for the purpose. Not what they were designed for but it does work and has been a tried and tested solution on the Amiga since the 600 and 1200 first appeared.

The result looks like this:

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You will also see the board has gained a 1MB chip ram upgrade + real time clock - attached to the expansion edge connector.

Alongside the updated processor and HDMI video output, this means the machine now has 2MB of chip ram and 8MB of fast ram.
 
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chrisgreen

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The RF modulator has been removed and in its place is a 3D printed mount for a HDMI socket and a button to control the RGB2HDMI. This needed some filing to get it to fit in the space as the coil behind the Amiga’s power socket was hitting it. But it is in place and is held in with two screws they go through the motherboard where the RF modulator was previously ground soldered. A bit of 3D printed angles scaffolding sits on top that holds the Pi Zero WH (the one with the factory-soldered GPIO header) and the actual RGB2HDMI board. The RGB2HDMI connects to the board on top of the Denise via a ribbon cable.

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HEXdidnt

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One thing I'll be very interested to see is how Monkey Island 2 performs on this souped-up Mini-Me of the Amiga range.

I upgraded my 600 to Kickstart/Workbench 3.1 when I resurrected it a couple of years back, and MI2 has a weird offset between the (vertical) position of the pointer and the thing it's highlighting, leaving the game essentially unplayable. As far as I can tell, MI2 is the only game affected...

Worked perfectly when I switched back to Kickstart 2, but then half of Workbench 3.1 doesn't work...
 

chrisgreen

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F2BAD292-C3A3-40F5-806B-914A10DD883A.jpegThe A600 case was cleaned by putting it in the dishwasher on a 35degree eco wash. They came up like new.

The keyboard was cleaned the old fashioned way, by hand. I did not remove the keys, but cleaned them in situ. I also made sure I got the cleaning wipes down I between the keys to get to the plastic backplate below. Everything then got an aggressive blasting with compressed air to remove any remaining debris.
 

chrisgreen

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One thing I'll be very interested to see is how Monkey Island 2 performs on this souped-up Mini-Me of the Amiga range.

I upgraded my 600 to Kickstart/Workbench 3.1 when I resurrected it a couple of years back, and MI2 has a weird offset between the (vertical) position of the pointer and the thing it's highlighting, leaving the game essentially unplayable. As far as I can tell, MI2 is the only game affected...

Worked perfectly when I switched back to Kickstart 2, but then half of Workbench 3.1 doesn't work...
We can give it a try at the next meet. I’ll dig out the ADFs for the game.
 

chrisgreen

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The big failure of the evening was the case clip replacement. The clips I sourced turned out to be poorly printed and even weaker than the actual case. Two broke immediately on assembling the case.

I’ve ordered some more from an alternative source and will try again another day. Despite the epoxy having set, I was able to remove them all without damaging the case.

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The four clips across the back fit inside the original clips, so are easy enough to do. The replacement clip for the right side, next to the floppy drive, is more of a pain to position and to hold while the epoxy sets.

Like I said, these ones were crap, but hoping the new set (this time coming from a seller in Italy I have bought from before) will be better.

Also had to modify the Gotek Mount to fit around them:

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chrisgreen

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FCDD4BC1-E505-4F86-99A8-62EF1EA52AF7.jpegFitted an angled CF card adapter with secondary IDE header. This has a CF to SD card adapter in it with a 64GB SD card. This will be the hard drive for the machine.
 

chrisgreen

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It works!

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The HDMI output is spot on straight off, and the Furia is working faultlessly.

Obligatory Frontier Elite 2 test:

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Next steps will be to redo the case clips repair and then install Workbench 3.2 on it. But for now it is reassembled and it is fully functional.
 

CosmicCruncher

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Making good progress there. A shame about the case clips, as always there is a lot of trial and error involved in these projects.

I'm very keen to see this one up and running, especially the RGB2HDMI. Are you also looking to use WHDLoad?
 
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