What have i gotten myself into? A1200 in the making...

samaron

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Well, this is another Amiga 1200 tower conversion. The catch is that I'm fairly fresh with Amiga computers. Have owned a 1200 and 500 for soon 15 years, but never really got around to tinker much with them. If anyone have suggestions, please come with them. I'm still learning and trying to do my best. Yes, I am also fully aware this is a quite hefty system to start with. No pain, no gain. :ninja:

So this autumn I got the brilliant idea that I should put together an awesome Amiga 1200. The goal is to expand it a lot, that's why I landed on a tower conversion. It is to be loaded with games and demos, as the demoscene is something I find really fascinating. It should also run some more challenging games, like Quake, Doom or whatever.

I searched high and low for a computer cabinet that would fit the A1200, but all the stores seemed to be sold out. Managed to come across a tower at my country's number one advertising site. It is an old Elbox E/BOX 1200 cabinet, it came with a CD-ROM, floppy drive, motherboard, PowerFlyer (FastATA), Mediator 1200 and Voodoo3. Got a mouse from a friend and dug out some old PC keyboard I found with AT connection. I discovered this site in my search for an accelerator card and bough a Blizzard 1260 with 64MB RAM and a SCSI kit for it with 128MB RAM. I soon realized my PowerFlyer were crap and bought a new FastATA MK-IV CF/SATA from Elbox. I also bought a new motherboard which is fully recapped by a nice chap on this forum.

The current specs are:
E/BOX tower
Amiga 1200 rev 2B motherboard
Blizzard PPC - 68060 @ 66 MHz, PPC @ 330 MHz, 256MB RAM, SCSI controller
Mediator PCI 1200
Voodoo3
Fast Ethernet network card
Sound Blaster 128
CD-ROM (secondary master)
160GB hard drive (secondary slave)
4GB CF card (primary master)
Amiga OS 3.9 with Boing Bag 2 and ROM update
Classic Workbench v28 for OS 3.9
PFS3 filesystem on all disks

I'm sure you're eager to see some pictures now, so here we go!

This is the front and back of the tower:




Really a big mess, but it is my computer and game console experimentation area after all... You can also spot my LaserDisc player in the background, so it is the home cinema room as well. :LOL:



I'd love to get a proper Amiga keyboard for this computer, but they're just impossible to find...



And some shots of the inside as well. Don't mind the makeshift cooling solution. I'm going to improve it soon... ;)




I had a long battle getting the Voodoo3 to work, but I finally got it to display a picture on my PC monitor. It is 1440x900.



Last a picture of the new and fresh FastATA MK-IV!



I have ordered a Indivision 1200 AGA MK2cr and Mediator 1200TX from AmigaKit, these will probably be shipped over the weekend. So more pictures to come soon when I pull apart my Amiga again. :p
 
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dougal

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Very nice :)

One day I would love to do an A1200 tower project.
 

samaron

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Got slightly bored trying to get the Sound Blaster running, so I thought it would be a nice brake to tinker with Doom. Downloaded DoomAttack and copied the WAD file from my MS-DOS computer. Didn't get the music working, but the sound effects work. Guess it is a matter of configuration. I chose the native screen resolution in the preferences and fired up the game.



As you can see, the screen became a small post stamp on the monitor... Not only that, it ran really, really slow. You could see the screen scrolled one frame per second when moving. I then proceeded with using the fake native resolution option. It filled the screen and actrually ran quite smooth.



I then went back to trying to figure out what is going on. For some reason running the graphics though the voodoo3 is really sluggish and using the on-board graphics ran quite smooth. Strange... I also noticed I get graphic corruption in DirectoryOpus when moving my mouse pointer over the buttons.



I started searching the web again and found several posts about some WarpOS/Warp3D thing to set up the 3D portion of the voodoo3. This software is supposed to be on the Mediator Multimedia CD. I checked my files and couldn't find any software like that. Then I realized that what I downloaded from Elbox is just an update pack, not the full CD. No wonder I couldn't get things to work properly when I'm missing a lot of software... Not really my day when it comes to Amiga 1200 expansions I guess, and the punishment of buying second hand stuff. Hopefully I can find the full CD somewhere on the web so I can get up to speed again.
 

samaron

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The Mediator I have is the very first model, and also a discontinued product. The TX is 10 years newer and is slightly more updated. Also see now that it comes with the Mediator Multimedia CD which I need.
 

jack-3d

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I tested first model versus TX few years ago and there was no speed difference (I tested 2D and 3D on Voodoo3 plus overclocking). TX will just give you 2 more PCIs. But anyway buying a newer HW with warranty + supporting Elbox+Amigakit is good reason ;o)
 

samaron

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Indeed support is a good reason. Actually impressed that someone still develop and make hardware for this old computer. Warranty is also nice to have. :cool:

I do believe that there isn't any speed difference. I guess the hardware around it is the bottleneck. Although the extra PCI slots probably won't be used, it is always nice to have the possibility for further expansion. Could probably put in a TV card and buy a Spider II USB card and put in. Just to fill up the space. :p
 

samaron

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Got some thermal pads today that I ordered from eBay. So I grabbed my hacksaw and cut off a portion of the heat sink I strapped on with rubber bands. Cleaned off the old thermal paste and mounted the heat sink with the thermal pads. I mounted a Noctua fan I bought (NF-A4x10 to be exact) and turned on my Amiga. The fan is running on 12 volts, and the small size made me expect it to be noisy, but were pleasantly surprised! It is practically silent. Not only that, the CPU is now running really cold. Almost can't feel any heat at all when touching it. This modification is probably not necessary, but I like to be on the safe side. Included a few pictures of the outcome:



 

samaron

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Got a few parts today. Upgraded the CF card from 4 to 8GB. Using PFS3 filesystem and OS 3.9, so no issues with that. Were hoping I could fit all the games onto the CF card in one partition. Would guess about 7GB should to the trick. The system it self has 500MB.

Also got the new Mediator 1200TX and scandoubler. It was a tight fit, but managed to squeeze everything in. :D Had a few issues. First it wouldn't recognize the 060 card, when that was reinserted it wouldn't recognize the SCSI adapter and had to reinsert that as well. When installing the software from the mediator CD I also got an error saying the mediator wasn't found. Turned out I forgot to set one of the jumpers... :roll: Anyhow, got that installed and set up picasso96 again. Now everything seems more stable than before. The workbench start up correctly every time now. Before it would sometimes have a big mouse pointer, missing the FastATA etc...

When I installed the Indivision scandoubler, I put an anti-static bag over the part that would be covered by the FastATA. Probably not necessary, but better safe than sorry. The FastATA is lifted by adding two extra sockets for each chip. I also turned the cable between the Gayle and FastATA around to give it some tiny extra clearance from the mediator. The bracket for the DVI output from the scandoubler is borrowed from some old graphics card I had lying around. Would say everything turned out nice. :)

The next thing now is to figure out how I get the 3D part of the voodoo3 working properly, getting sound output from the SB128 and networking up and running. I'm also really considering getting a PPC card and just be done with it. Have to do some more reading on the subject first I think.


 
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fitzsteve

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Hey, nice project - reminds me of my old Tower project :D

Here's a couple of links to help you out. First one, unless Elbox have fixed it in new versions of MMCD (probably not knowing Elbox lol) the wrong version of the Warp3D driver is installed by the install script, the A4000 version! So you might well need to replace some files, see here:

http://eab.abime.net/showpost.php?p=708439&postcount=119

Now, for 68k/Warp3D I found you had to choose the 'MMU' option during the Mediator install, look out for that when you're doing the 'Mediator Config' bit (this is what set's the envac variables)

PM me if you need the Warp3D version of Quake to test, I can send you the files you need save you messing around trying to get it to work.

There's a 68k Warp3D version of Quake II as well but you need to buy this from Hyperion, it's very slow (unplayable) on anything less than 75mhz 060 though.

If you got for a PPC then you might need to go through the Mediator Config again and uncheck the MMU option, I don't know why but PPC/Warp3D never worked for me with the same settings as 68k/Warp3D.

If you have problems getting sound or networking going try another PCI slot. They're setup via the Mediator Config as well and is pretty straight forward, of course you need a TCP/IP stack to go Online, I use MiamiDX but you can use whatever one you like. I stick with Miami as it has a nice Wizard GUI to setup your connection.

http://eab.abime.net/showthread.php?t=52235

I think that will help you a bit for now. By the way, there's no need to use fake native modes for Doom, grab ADoom, it will run in RTG, just create a screen mode of 320x240 and edit the Tooltype to use this mode, it runs nice and smooth like this.

Quake68k (the non Warp3D version) supports 320x240 RTG as well, but you're better off with the Warp3D version (BlitzQuake)

Have fun!
 

dougal

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The 68060 doesn't need a fan but then again a fan does no harm either :)
 

samaron

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Thank you for the information, fitzsteve! I'll PM you later regarding Quake. Probably have a couple of other questions as well. Going to try out the driver swap and setting up networking first. :)

You're probably right, dougal. The reason I installed the fan is simply because it got really hot, almost burned my finger on it. The heat sink alone helped quite a bit, but I like to overdo it sometimes. Now it is running cool. :cool:
 

samaron

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Not much going on here. Did get the new Mediator 1200TX and Indivision AGA 1200 MKIIcr. At the moment I'm having a fight with getting Warp3D to run correctly. If I play quake, the game starts to glitch, turns into a big graphical mess.

The scandoubler is working just fine. Had some trouble with it starting to display a red or blue tint in the image. After pulling everything apart again I saw it wasn't completely pushed down. As you can see in the pictures, I just took a bracket from some old graphics card I found and used that to mount the DVI output. Still have some interference in the picture, which show up on the regular RGB output as well. Faint wavy lines going across the screen and some mild shadowing. I didn't connect the grounding wire to it, but it couldn't reach any grounding point anyway. It is too short. Is it really needed, or is it okay to not connect it?

Also bought an 8GB CF card for the system. Split it up to a 500MB system partition and the rest into one partition. Want to be able to copy over all the games to the CF card. Not sure if the 4GB card would have enough space for that. Also made a simple vinyl sticker to make it look a bit nicer. Nothing fancy, as the vinyl cutter at work doesn't have multiple colors.




 
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samaron

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Not much going on here. Still having a fight with the graphical glitching, hopefully I'll figure that out.

Did a minor "modification" to my Voodoo3 card. It were running really hot, which isn't a surprise with the poor quality heat sink. The glue isn't even covering the whole chip under it. I got my self a couple of 12 volt fans that I put together and mounted them with cable ties. Didn't want to decrease the potential value of the card by removing or modifying the original heat sink. The outcome isn't that bad, it runs a lot cooler now than it did. :)

I'm also going to mount a 120mm fan in the front of the tower case later this week when I get time. Probably not necessary, but I feel more comfortable with knowing it should have enough cooling.

 

samaron

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Have now mounted the 120mm fan in the front of the case. Drilled out mounting holes and a few extra that the air can flow through. I also removed a piece of transparent plastic covering the extra openings in the front of the case. The two at the bottom that doesn't have LEDs. If I put a piece of paper in front of them now, it stayes there, doesn't fall down. I'd say it provides enough airflow through now. Probably now necessary, but I like to be certain it gets enough cooling. Also provided some pictures of how the tower case looks like now. The two extra CD-ROMs are not connected, they are inserted just to cover up the hole temporarily.





 

UberFreak

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Nice to see I'm not the only crazy person left still using LaserDisc!
Bonus points for the Panasonic SVHS (model FS200?) deck I also spotted in your pic! (still own a few of those myself).

I really regret selling my Pioneer Elite CLD-99, but I got an insane price for it & really needed the money.
These days I make do with a Pioneer CLD-704 player, which is very very close to the CLD-99 in picture quality.

Oh, and nice Amiga as well :D
 

samaron

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You got a good eye! It is indeed a Panasonic FS200 and the LaserDisc player is a Pioneer LD-S9. A lot of movies that were never released on digital formats. Good players to play LD and VHS on. :)
 

UberFreak

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LD-S9... nice!

I would love to have one of those (or the HLD-X9) but they are very hard to find & cost a fortune.
These days I dont watch enough LDs to justify the expense.
 

samaron

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Got this plate made to cover up one of the drive bays. It isn't finished, still need to make some brackets so it can get mounted. Laser engraved to a piece of plastic. Couldn't find anything that were about the same beige color as the rest. Anyone have some suggestions on how to make the color match a bit better?

 

fitzsteve

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You could leave it in the Sun for a few months? lol
 
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