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RetroMatt

Return to the Amiga 1200 - My Journey - Part 3

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Quote Originally Posted by RetroMatt View Post
#3) Initial Requirements & First Stage Mods

Two posts in one day - well, there's been a lot going on..

My Amiga is still in the same state it was previously - in bits awaiting return of the recapped motherboard & repaired keyboard.

They say the devil makes work for idle hands and he's definitely made a dent in my bank balance. It's easy to get carried away with upgrades and mods. I'm trying to be sensible in my approach so I listed exactly what I wanted to be able to do initially. I'll break each item down and comment on progress made.

1) Get some games & some floppy disks !

2) Add a HDD

3) Get an Internet Connection

4) Sort out initial peripherals (Joysticks & Mice)

5) Explore different Video/Audio options

As you will see some items end up being a bit of a rabbit hole and I did my best to spend as little 's as possible. If anyone has any recommendations for things to do different, inexpensively, please let me know.

So - let's break each item down and update on progress.

1) Get some games & some floppy disks !

I don't want to break the bank here. There was one game I knew I wanted to grab an original of - Eye of the Beholder. This was by far my favourite game on the Amiga back in the day. A little research and I found an AGA version for the 1200 was available. So - it was off on an internet hunt for a copy of this at a good price. eBay this time had one in great condition. Once my Amiga is back and assembled, this will be the first set of disks in it!

I'd also be needing some blanks & having a few more disk-based games won't hurt. At the time I'd found the Amiga on FB Marketplace, I'd come across another listing from a chap selling off a large collection of disks. There were a few big box games in there and at least one workbench disk. Most of the disks weren't visible, but there were a few hundred in the picture at least. He only wanted 40 & shipping so I bit the bullet and reached out. It seems I was in luck again - available & he'd post. This was 10 more, but for a bundle of this size I snapped it up.

Here's the picture I had to go on:

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Disks aside, I've found the best modern method of playing games is either:

i) Use a Gotek Drive and run ADF images
or
ii) Add a HDD and use WHDLoad

As I was already getting a HDD, I've gone that route, which looks the best option for a 1200.

2) Add a HDD

This was to be my first rabbit hole. My initial thought was to add a standard HDD. The costs back then were far too high for me as a student so I'd never bit the bullet and got one but had always envied those who did - so it was high on my list. However, there's now cheaper solutions available - a CF Card & IDE Adapter.

My research into this is still ongoing. In time I'll likely expand and upgrade further here and build my own custom image, but for now I opted for an pre-built solution which also has Workbench 3.1. This will save me a lot of time whilst I concentrate on other parts of this project. I settled for a solution supplied by AmigaOne Haven - touted as being the first person to bring the CF HDD to the Amiga, so I trusted I would be in safe hands.

I do want to upgrade and expand further here and use things like Magic Workbench but I'll get to that in time. My order was placed and the kit arrived a few days later. It's now sitting in my box of bits awaiting return of my motherboard too.

Whilst doing more research into this area it became clear that for better game compatibility it was advised to fit an expansion card - however, this is yet another rabbit hole, so I decided for now to hold off and do some more research into this area once I've go my basics covered before parting with any more money.

3) Get an Internet Connection

Yet again I took to Google to find a solution here. There were many posts in forums on this and a lot of suggestions, but in the end I opted for one which had a complete tutorial created. Big thanks to AmigaToday for this. For anyone interested, the tutorial is here: https://www.dailymotion.com/video/k7yF340BwUM9z3bVBLW

I've purchased the same Netgear PCMCIA WiFi card - which has already arrived - and this is also in my box of bits waiting to be fitted once my motherboard gets back. No doubt the tutorial will come in useful as it's quite comprehensive and walks you through step-by-step. I'll be sure to post how I get on in another update once I tackle it.

An interesting point I noted whilst doing my research into this area was that 8MB expansion cards can conflict with PCMCIA devices. I was pleased I'd held off purchasing an expansion card in light of this, so added it to my notes to be aware of when purchasing one. I also found that Kickstart 3.1 ROMs or later also had additional fixes for this and was a recommended upgrade. So - another item added to my list of upgrades.

4) Sort out peripherals (Joysticks & Mice)

Joysticks:

What appears to be a simple on face value turned into another rabbit hole. There'll be more updates on this topic.

As a kid, the Competition Pro vs Zip Stik argument had already been played out for me. I'm a Zip Stik fan boy - always will be. However, one of my friends had a Suzo "The Arcade" and I loved the feel - but as I had a Cruiser I didn't really need any more joysticks for 2 player action with my Dad. Now I'm back onto the scene with a little more disposable income I'll add this to my setup. There are mixed reports on reliability, but I knew I would be getting a Zip Stick anyway. Add the Slip Stik into the mix once repaired and I'll have 3 great joysticks to play with.

I've managed to source the Suzo - shout out to Amiga Scene in the Netherlands for that. Not the cheapest purchase I've made, but definitely won't be the most expensive. I'll provide a breakdown of costs in a following post, once my initial purchases have been made

For the Zip Stiks, I've sourced two "questionable" ones. One of them declared as faulty, the other has been in a loft for some time. After doing even more research and watching the excellent YouTube videos from Ms Mad Lemon on fixing them, I've also gone ahead and bought some Zippy Microswitches - I'll be refurbing both joysticks here.

For the Slip Stik - this was the more difficult one to find parts for. I've struggled to find a component list so have gone with a few cheap items and found a tutorial on upgrading the fire button to a microswitch. As I don't have a fire button, it seems a logical upgrade.

I've also purchased a 9 Pin DB9 Joystick Tester. Shout out to pondu67 from Norway on Ebay for this.

Once it all arrives and I get to refurbing, I'll be sure to post an update on how I get on.

Mice:

I want to replicate my childhood setup as much as possible for that nostalgia feeling and the mouse is a HUGE part of that. The mouse that came with this machine is a Primax MU525. It works - there's nothing wrong with it, but it just doesn't feel the same. Back in the day I had the Amiga 1200 mouse which had the bigger left mouse button so set about sourcing one of those.

I've now sourced two of these mice. One of them is fully upgraded to a new laser setup. Another not-so-cheap upgrade, but if you take into account buying the mouse yourself and upgrading it, I actually saved money here. That said, I'm not sure if the look/feel will be what I'm after but I'm sure performance will be much better.

Before I found that, I'd already gone ahead and put an offer in on another mouse - same larger left mouse button, but this was stock original. I was exploring upgrading this to a laser, but then dropped on the pre-built one. For now, I'm reserving judgement on which will be the mouse I end up opting for - but no doubt once I've made my choice I'll be selling off the other one.

As I'll be doing some 2-player action on some all-time classics such as Rainbow Island, Bubble Bobble & Pang etc. with my better half, I also opted for a cute little mod - an auto mouse/joystick switcher with LED so I don't have to faff about switching between the two. It's amazing the mods out there now for the Amiga !

5) Explore different Video/Audio options

I'll try and keep this update short and to the point and post a more comprehensive update on this later. I mentioned in my initial post I've changed tack and was exploring an alternative solution for wiring up my Amiga 1200 to a screen. This in itself has turned into a little bit of a rework of my desk space & technology area in my back bedroom (which has no bed and is really just some tech space for me). I'll cover the desk mods in another post, but to update on my initial config / working theory.

I presently have a Mini ITX PC (built myself) hooked up to a HP monitor. I also do the occasional stream for some PC Games I play and hook up my PlayStation through a USB TV Capture card. Having looked in more detail at the specs for the RGB > SCART adaptor it's clear I can wire this through my USB TV card and use my capture S/W in Full Screen as the monitor for the Amiga. I'm hoping with good results.

This is all working theory at the moment, but I've tested it out with a portable DVD player and that worked.

Here's my plan:

Amiga 1200 > RGB/SCART Cable for Amiga > SCART Male & Female to 3 RCA Phono Adapter > 3 RCA Cable > TV Tuner

Until I've got the Amiga fully assembled, this is still a working theory, but I'm confident it will work. I may upgrade to HDMI eventually, but this will work for now.

For the Audio - that's still a WIP. I have a full audio setup with Mixer, Technics Decks and Amp so once I figure out the Techno card, I'll rewire all of that too. For now though stock sound through my current setup will be ok.

Anyway - that's enough of an update. To leave you, here's a pic of all of the bits that have arrived so far:

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Updated 18th May 2020 at 23:16 by RetroMatt

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