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technoman
13th January 2015, 02:53
Hi all, new member here so before I get to my questions, lemme give you some background. I'm a huge retro gaming/computing fan, so this stuff is nothing new to me. Been into emulation and modding stuff for a while now, so retro-computing isn't that new to me. However, with that said my forte lies more within the realm of Nintendo, Sega, the console/handheld wars and the Microsoft-Apple conflict. Would like to increase my skills within the realm of Commodore so hence the (probably) noobish questions. Now with that being said, let's get down to business:

Due to the nature of Commodore's sales in the US and it's success in Europe, specifically England, I heard that most of the software and scene releases (sorry if that kinda thing is no-no, wondering because of cracktros) are in the PAL region. Because of this, would it be a better idea to look for a PAL C64 and Amiga? How much more would that drive up cost percentage wise?

Would I need anything special (other than a voltage converter) to get it to work with an NTSC monitor?

As far as Amiga models go, which would be the better buy if you wanted something that worked with the largest amount of games and imaging/movie software? Would the A500 still work?

What are some of the must have peripherals for the systems besides the tape drive and floppy drive?

What is some of the must have software that isn't games? Looking to get into developing cracktros/demos?

What are some of the best mods to have and where can I get them done (can do almost anything myself unless it involves soldering)?

What is the best monitor (other than the 1702) or CRT TV resolution/size to use with the systems?

Do I need any special type of floppy or will any correctly sized IBM-PC compatible work (probably need a data tape also other than any plain old casette, right)?

What type of software and hardware modifications would I need to take it online (can I use ethernet or will I need to dig up a 56K modem)? Not expecting much other than to use it for IRC and maybe the rare, still existing BBS.

ColourWheel64
13th January 2015, 05:04
Oh, the MSDOS logo. Well, it's as easy on the eye as it ever was lol.


Due to the nature of Commodore's sales in the US and it's success in Europe, specifically England, I heard that most of the software and scene releases (sorry if that kinda thing is no-no, wondering because of cracktros) are in the PAL region. Because of this, would it be a better idea to look for a PAL C64 and Amiga? How much more would that drive up cost percentage wise?

Modding an ntsc c64 to pal can be pricey unless you're friendly with a soldering c64 hardware fanatic as the VICII, the cystal and jumper require changes.

I'm being careful, because discussions of cost on this forum is generally a no-no. Specifically when it comes to the value of an item. Please bare this in mind when you realise how evasive people become when it comes to price discussion. (make sure you've fully read and understood Amibay's rules)

It might be worth buying a pal c64, but this will be heavy. You might be able to save money by leaving the uk psu and sourcing an american one, which will still be compatible with the c64.

As for an Amiga, just get whichever model you can. They all support ntsc and pal screenmodes.


Would I need anything special (other than a voltage converter) to get it to work with an NTSC monitor?

Your amiga should be fine, but the C64 will need a monitor that supports the PAL screenmode. You can get a unit that takes in a PAL scart and it converts to NTSC s video, but they are generally expensive, and the image is poor quality and the sound is out of sync with the video. A PAL monitor is the way to go. Much of south america use PAL so I wouldn't be surprised if your NTSC monitor supports it.



As far as Amiga models go, which would be the better buy if you wanted something that worked with the largest amount of games and imaging/movie software? Would the A500 still work?

You answered your own question there. For disc games the A500 is the machine of choice. However, the discs might not work, and if they do they might not last very long. There is software called WHDLOAD which makes amiga games installable to hard drive and also improves the compatibility across the entire range of macines.

You'd be well advised to get an A1200 with 4mb or more fast ram and a hard drive fitted. Most of us here have compact flash cards like the ones you get in cameras for harddrives. The way WHDLoad works is that the discs are copied to ram as RAM discs. This is why it's good to have some extra fast ram to fit all the discs in. Each disc is approximately 880kb, so if you wish to run a 3 disc game then you'll require 3 x 880kb on top of the game's original resource requirements.

Generally, software comes in three flavours of resource requirment: OCS 512kb, OCS 1mb and AGA 2mb versions. OCS games are generally 32 colour and AGA games are 256 colour.

There is also ECS, but since it wasn't much of an improvement over OCS and there were so many A500 users out there, games producers chose to support OCS.

AGA amigas are the A1200 and A4000. The rest are either OCS or ECS.

Most games support OCS because the A500 had the largest user base of all the amigas.

Some games are AGA and look amazing.

The amiga has two types of memory: chip ram and fast ram. chip ram is comparable to the IBM's base memory and fast ram is comparable to the IBM's upper memory.

The A1200 can support up to 2mb chip ram and 256mb fast ram, which I think is the most memory of all amigas. The A4000 supports 128mb fast ram, but it supports faster memory.



What are some of the must have peripherals for the systems besides the tape drive and floppy drive?


You will definitely require an awesome stereo to pump your Amiga's MIND BLOWING stereo sound through.

A great joypad is the honeybee/Competition pro CD32 joypad. If you prefer a stick then The competition pros and zipsticks are very good. There are many other makes of pad and stick, but you may find that the membranes need replacing after a few months of good hard play.

My favourite mouse is the wizard 3 button mouse, but any amiga compatible mouse will do.

A hard drive and fast ram to make your amiga seriously usable is a wise first move and then printers, genlock (overlay amiga graphics over a video source), midi, sound samplers, accelerator cards, SCSi, USB, ethernet, CDROMs. The sky is the limit (although you might discover that the sky is considerably closer to earth than with a PC when it comes to modern PC peripherals)

If you find that you're getting some serious use out of your amiga then I'd recommend at least an 030 accelerator. Motorola cpus come in as 000, 020, 030, 040 and 060.

The A4000 came with 030, 040 and 060 cpus. The A1200 came with an EC020 (the EC is a cost reduced version of the 020 processor). The other amigas came with 000s except forthe A3000 which I can't remember what chip it came with. It can be upgraded to an 060 though.

I wouldn't recommend any 040 chip due to the heat they generate. The 030 runs cool and gives you a nice zippy amiga. The 040 and 060 are the fastest chips. The MC68060 chips run cool enough to install inside a standard A1200. When the 040 and 060 boards were available, it was common for the A1200 to be rehoused in a tower case which helped with the heat issues of the XC and 040 chips.

If you ask me, I would only consider either an MC68030RC50 with MC68882RC50 fpu in a bliazzard 030 MkIV or if you fancied spending all your money in one go then hunt down a blizzard 060 fitted with an MC68060RC50. No FPU is required for the 060 as the 68882 is part of the chip!

When purchasing, try to get the MC versions of the chips e.g. MC68030RC50 (means an MC 030 running at 50Mhz) and avoid the XC versions e.g. (XC68030RC50). The XC versions are pre main release chips that generate a lot of heat. When your amiga heats up, it won't last very long. Also avoid chips where the name contains LC or EC in the name e.g. MCLC68060RC50, because these are feature reduced chips.

With your accelerator, I'd recommend maxing out the memory. The blizzard cards hold 128mb as standard, and then you can get a SCSI kit for them which allows you to upgrade by another 128mb. SCSI kit also allows you to connect SCSI CDROMS and hard drives.

You'll probably never actually need one, but an FPU can be installed with an 030. There are two, the 68881 and 68882. The 68882 is the most up to date so best to get that, and make sure it ends in the same RC number as your cpu.


What is some of the must have software that isn't games? Looking to get into developing cracktros/demos?

Jesus on e's is what most would advise. However, there are so many good ones. I'd type "amiga demo" into youtube and see which ones you like personally. There are loads. I'll do my best to revisit this thread and post up some good ones I find.

My favourite software is:

graphics and animation - Deluxe Paint IV

word processor - Final Writer

music - Octamed soundstudio

samples -audiomaster

Basic - Amos pro

Assembler - Devpac

run n jump game creator - backbone

My recommended games list is: IK+, Sensible world of soccer, Marvins marvellous adventure, Hunter, Dynablaster, Brian the Lion (AGA), Lemmings, Ruff n tumble, Kid chaos, Turrican 2, Super Stardust (AGA), Pinball Illusions (AGA), Super cars 2, Monkey Island, Xenon 2, Beneath a steel sky (CD), Syndicate, Dreamweb (AGA), Guardian, Civilisation, Dune 2, Lionheart, All terrain racing, Breathless, BC Kid, Jimmy Whites Whirlwind snooker, Gloom Deluxe(030), Another world (out of this world), Bubble and Squeak, Swiv, Toki, Eye of the beholder, Alien breed 3D (AGA/030), Zeewolf 2, Populus 2, Colonization, Shadow Fighter (AGA), Myst (CD), Elfmania, Lotus turbo challenge 2, Banshee (AGA), Road rash, Aladdin (AGA), Player manager, Dungeon master, Stunt car racer, Flashback, Rainbow Islands, Indiana Jones Fate of Atlantis, Superfrog, Sim city 2000, Roadkill (AGA), Monkey Island 2, Alien Breed Tower Assault (AGA), Liberation Captive 2 (CD), Benefactor, Frontier Elite 2, Speedball 2, UFO Enemy unknown, Settlers, Virocop (AGA), Worms Directors cut (AGA), Desert Strike, Cannon fodder, Shadow of the Beast, Agony, Gods

There's also a brilliant magazine available called Amiga Future. Its actually a german magazine, but they have so many english subscribers that they translate it to english too! It's available at vesalia.de



What are some of the best mods to have and where can I get them done (can do almost anything myself unless it involves soldering)?

There are loads of guys here. I don't know many american ones, but I distinctly remember SkydivinGirl (http://www.amibay.com/member.php?860-SkydivinGirl)and TheMaster (http://www.amibay.com/member.php?6031-TheMaster) boasting about their american soldering skills. Whether or not they provide a service is unknown to me. I'm sure you will find some here on amibay though.



What is the best monitor (other than the 1702) or CRT TV resolution/size to use with the systems?


Personally, my favourite is the Microvitec line as they had built in flicker fixers. I also have a soft spot for the Philips CM8833 Mk 2, and flicker fixers are available as external modules.

Also, the indivision from individual computers allows PC monitors to be used with the amiga. Beware though, for these take some setting up.



Do I need any special type of floppy or will any correctly sized IBM-PC compatible work (probably need a data tape also other than any plain old casette, right)?


HD discs can be formatted to DD without issue. You can even purchase a HD disc drive so that you can use all the available space on an HD floppy. Amigas come with DD drives as standard. DD means double density and can store 880kb. HD means High density and can store 1.7mb. All amiga games were supplied on DD discs because that's what Amigas came with.



What type of software and hardware modifications would I need to take it online (can I use ethernet or will I need to dig up a 56K modem)? Not expecting much other than to use it for IRC and maybe the rare, still existing BBS.

On a PCMCIA equipped amiga there are inexpensive solutions available from online shops such as vesalia.de, and more expensive versions are available for zorro equipped amigas

Big box amigas e.g. a3000 have zorro slots similar to PCI slots on a pc.

You can even get a converter for zorro to enable pci cards to be used on the amiga. Some people have those old Voodoos hooked up to give a nice fast high resolution display, and of course PCI ethernet cards are ten for a penny or thereabouts.

You might even consider a PCMCIA compact flash drive which allows you to transfer files from your PC to your Amiga with relative ease. They're not hot swappable, so you'll be switching the amiga on and off a lot, but the boot up time is almost instant.

In fact, the boot time is so quick that you might get used to it and find your modern PC a bit sluggish in comparison.

I really hope this has helped and that you enjoy your journey with commodore. Especially if you take the plunge and have a go at soldering yourself.

roy_bates
13th January 2015, 08:46
"The A1200 can support up to 2mb chip ram and 256mb fast ram, which I think is the most memory of all amigas. The A4000 supports 128mb fast ram, but it supports faster memory."

with the aid of an accelerator, a standard amiga 1200 supports 8mbs of fastram,a standard amiga 4000 supports 16mbs of fastram


"The A4000 came with 030, 040 and 060 cpus. The A1200 came with an EC020 (the EC is a cost reduced version of the 020 processor). The other amigas came with 000s except forthe A3000 which I can't remember what chip it came with. It can be upgraded to an 060 though."


the amiga 3000 was shipped with a 030 on the motherboard.



"wouldn't recommend any 040 chip due to the heat they generate. The 030 runs cool and gives you a nice zippy amiga. The 040 and 060 are the fastest chips. The MC68060 chips run cool enough to install inside a standard A1200. When the 040 and 060 boards were available, it was common for the A1200 to be rehoused in a tower case which helped with the heat issues of the XC and 040 chips. "


040 based 1200 accelerators run fine inside the case,there fitted with fans the main concern should be airflow around it even in a tower,an 040 should always have active cooling anyway

030's don't actually run cool,but they dont need active cooling


"When purchasing, try to get the MC versions of the chips e.g. MC68030RC50 (means an MC 030 running at 50Mhz) and avoid the XC versions e.g. (XC68030RC50). The XC versions are pre main release chips that generate a lot of heat. When your amiga heats up, it won't last very long. Also avoid chips where the name contains LC or EC in the name e.g. MCLC68060RC50, because these are feature reduced chips."

there's not much difference heat wise between the xc030 and mc030 as far as i know same goes for 68882.
040's and 060's are different kettle of fish though...


"Personally, my favourite is the Microvitec line as they had built in flicker fixers. I also have a soft spot for the Philips CM8833 Mk 2, and flicker fixers are available as external modules."

im not sure about that flicker fixer part...


anyway,back to the c64...

"Modding an ntsc c64 to pal can be pricey unless you're friendly with a soldering c64 hardware fanatic as the VICII, the cystal and jumper require changes.

I'm being careful, because discussions of cost on this forum is generally a no-no. Specifically when it comes to the value of an item. Please bare this in mind when you realise how evasive people become when it comes to price discussion. (make sure you've fully read and understood Amibay's rules)

It might be worth buying a pal c64, but this will be heavy. You might be able to save money by leaving the uk psu and sourcing an american one, which will still be compatible with the c64."

if your comfortable with a soldering iron its fairly easy as its only four solder points. the vic II is in a socket

it will all depend on the c64 model you have when it comes to converting one to PAL
if its breadbox c64 youll be looking for a 6569 vic II,if its a c64c its a 8565

the oscillator in question on the ntsc c64 is 14.31818 mhz,youll need a 17.734472 mhz for pal
the frequency is printed on the part so it should be easy for you to find it on the board for identification for the replacement.(its not far from the vic II)

jumper will depend on the board your looking at it will either have to be placed in a different position or added to the board for pal.
because its just a jumper,it means youll only need a piece of wire.

as for price,its simply a matter of looking for the parts ive mentioned and coming to your own conclutions as to wether its pricey or not.

SkydivinGirl
13th January 2015, 20:35
I could definitely help out if you need assistance with soldering if you need it. I'm also happy to help you learn to solder. Basic through hole soldering is easy to learn and we could probably get you up to speed fairly fast. :)

Getting a PAL C64 is definitely worth the effort since there is a lot of really great software/demos that only work, or works better, on a PAL system. For my first PAL system, I had the guts (motherboard, chips, etc) of a PAL C64 sent to me to save shipping the whole system. The power supply, keyboard, and shell of a USA system can be used with a PAL motherboard. I later managed to pick up a PAL C64G from another person in the USA.

Good luck!

Heather

technoman
14th January 2015, 16:32
Thanks for all the replies. So let me just get a take a recap of everything and see if I got it:

If you're going for an Amiga that works with (almost) everything, get an A1200. If I remember correctly, the A4000 was the last model released and has less of that retroey feel (I know the A4000 is old, it's just not as old as the A1200).

None of the Amiga's are region-locked so I don't have to worry about software issues.

As far as the C64 goes, get a PAL one, but it's a better idea to get it in pieces and build it yourself.

For Amiga peripherals, a HDD and fast RAM are a must and look into a faster CPU/accelerator.

Ethernet capabilites exist, I just have to find one for whatever system I get.

The indivision might be a good idea if I can't find a suitable TV.

Most floppies will work so I shouldn't have to worry about casettes.

If I left anything out just let me know. Thanks!

SkydivinGirl
14th January 2015, 16:51
As far as the C64 goes, get a PAL one, but it's a better idea to get it in pieces and build it yourself.
If you can find a good deal on a complete unit then you should definitely go for it. Otherwise, it will probably cost you less getting the parts or motherboard from a PAL system to convert a NTSC system.

Also remember that most monitors and televisions in the USA do not support the PAL video standard. Therefore, you either need to get a converter or a monitor that supports it. I suggest getting one of the Sony PVM series monitors. They show up on Craig's List and eBay quite often. If you see a model you like then you should search for a PDF of the manual to be sure it supports PAL. Most of them do, but not all of them.

Heather

zinamo
14th January 2015, 17:25
Hello, since I'm quite new to the amiga system too but I know PC quite well, I may give you some hints on how I started :-) Firstly I did some practice on WinUAE the amiga PC emulator, just to see how the kickstarter stuff worked, and how software for amiga looked like and how it behaved depending of the hardware (on the emulator you can try setting different ram quantities, CPU, chipset (ECS, OSC), different kickstarters, ecc.. This can be very helpful to decide which specs should have your machine and which expansions you will be looking for..
Eventually I decided for an amiga 500+ because it was easier (and cheaper) for me to find an A500 instead of an A1200; the A500 is much limited if compared to the A1200 but it's enought to have a lot of fun with little money.. and like for some bigger models, there is an hardware expansion with 80206 cpu for running dos!

Then you will learn that file transfer between PC and amiga is not that easy if you have a floppy only system because even if it is quite easy to read a pc floppy on amiga, it is very complicated to write an amiga floppy from PC! An easy (and luckly cheap) solution is using a gotek usb-floppy flashed with a special firmware that allows you to load floppy images from an usb stick..
If you get an amiga with hdd (also an A600), you can replace the spinning drive with a CF card and file transfer should be much easier..
And last but not less important, you cannot use a PC floppy unit in the amiga even if they have the same connection! This was unclear to me for some time..

roy_bates
14th January 2015, 17:33
Hello, since I'm quite new to the amiga system too but I know PC quite well, I may give you some hints on how I started :-) Firstly I did some practice on WinUAE the amiga PC emulator, just to see how the kickstarter stuff worked, and how software for amiga looked like and how it behaved depending of the hardware (on the emulator you can try setting different ram quantities, CPU, chipset (ECS, OSC), different kickstarters, ecc.. This can be very helpful to decide which specs should have your machine and which expansions you will be looking for..
Eventually I decided for an amiga 500+ because it was easier (and cheaper) for me to find an A500 instead of an A1200; the A500 is much limited if compared to the A1200 but it's enought to have a lot of fun with little money.. and like for some bigger models, there is an hardware expansion with 80206 cpu for running dos!

Then you will learn that file transfer between PC and amiga is not that easy if you have a floppy only system because even if it is quite easy to read a pc floppy on amiga, it is very complicated to write an amiga floppy from PC! An easy (and luckly cheap) solution is using a gotek usb-floppy flashed with a special firmware that allows you to load floppy images from an usb stick..
If you get an amiga with hdd (also an A600), you can replace the spinning drive with a CF card and file transfer should be much easier..
And last but not less important, you cannot use a PC floppy unit in the amiga even if they have the same connection! This was unclear to me for some time..


that last part isnt totally true,some pc floppy drives can be converted with not much effort to work on an amiga

zinamo
14th January 2015, 17:36
sorry, my bad.. I'm still learning :-) I will look after this since can be helpful for me..

technoman
16th January 2015, 01:43
Hello, since I'm quite new to the amiga system too but I know PC quite well, I may give you some hints on how I started :-) Firstly I did some practice on WinUAE the amiga PC emulator, just to see how the kickstarter stuff worked, and how software for amiga looked like and how it behaved depending of the hardware (on the emulator you can try setting different ram quantities, CPU, chipset (ECS, OSC), different kickstarters, ecc.. This can be very helpful to decide which specs should have your machine and which expansions you will be looking for..

Your method is actually the reason why I made this post. I did the exact same thing but ended up confusing myself to no end :lol:


that last part isnt totally true,some pc floppy drives can be converted with not much effort to work on an amiga

I will have to keep that in mind. Does it have to be a certain brand?

Could I also do something similar with sourcing A1200 parts and building it myself, or is it not worth it in the long run? Also, another dumb question, mod tutorial stuff could probably be found on this forum, right?

zinamo
16th January 2015, 18:52
Your method is actually the reason why I made this post. I did the exact same thing but ended up confusing myself to no end :lol:



Well, at first I felt like you just said :-) to make things simpler I set the emulator to match the specs of a certain stock machine; in your case, you can set it to act like a stock A1200, save the configuration and then experiment with software (games, text editors, pics editors, file managers, ...) to see how it reacts and if it matches your expectations in terms of compatibility and speed. For example you can try copying disks and do other file management, you can experiment setting up the hdd (there is a very helpful video from Amibay member fitzsteve on Youtube) and installing the workbench onto it... When you feel confident enougth then try altering the hardware configuration :-)

If you want to know anything else, just ask..

roy_bates
16th January 2015, 20:24
that last part isnt totally true,some pc floppy drives can be converted with not much effort to work on an amiga

I will have to keep that in mind. Does it have to be a certain brand?

Could I also do something similar with sourcing A1200 parts and building it myself, or is it not worth it in the long run? Also, another dumb question, mod tutorial stuff could probably be found on this forum, right?[/QUOTE]


i dont understand what you mean by sourcing/ building 1200 parts? can you elaborate?

the easiest drives to modify are sony mpf920,some nec drives and a few others...yes im sure there are threads here and eab that shows how to do this.
they can also be used on some 8 bit computers that have floppy controllers.

also the amiga 1200 supports standard ide harddrives on the internal ide port(it supports two devices as standard set to master and slave boot drive is master)upto 4 gig on fastfile system, larger drives can be used on replacement filesystems.

technoman
17th January 2015, 20:30
i dont understand what you mean by sourcing/ building 1200 parts? can you elaborate?

SkydivingGirl had mentioned that for her first C64 she bought it in pieces and assembled it herself. Would it be more advantageous to do that with an A1200 or is it not worth it in the long run?

SkydivinGirl
17th January 2015, 23:19
NTSC and PAL C64s are quite different from each other. The NTSC and PAL A1200s have only minor differences so it's not necessary to pick one over the other. :)

Heather