Monday, November 5, 2012

A600: Beefing my A600 Software and Hardware wise

Hi my friends,

After spending some time fiddling around with my A600's custom ClassicWB that it took quite an effort to make it good for my needs, I couldn't help it by wanting to even more beef my beloved Amiga.
All may know that my most beloved OS is OS3.9 but sadly, all my previous efforts into installing OS3.9 to my 030 A600 wasn't so nice for my taste.
It works, and it works well, but GlowIcons plus 16 colors WB (even in 640x512) isn't as responsive as I would like. That was the reason for sticking with ClassicWB Full in the first place anyway :)
So... I thought about giving one more try to ClassicWB 3.9 but customizing as much as I could to make it more responsive for my taste.

Ok... this is what ClassicWB 3.9 looks like when you install it to an ECS system with 16 colors at a resolution of 640x512 (PAL Hi-Res Laced).

And this is when you change it 8 colors... Yeah I know it sux a bit, but just wait a bit more :)

That's more like it!  Changing screenmode to SuperPlus (800x600) with some nice backdrop, changed via ImageStudio to MWB palette.

This is the default GlowIcons iconset before doing anything...

And this is the same, but this time using PeterK's icon.library that supports except from ALL icons even on WB3.0 systems, fast decoding even on PNG icons with it's embedded decoder! (not datatype related!)
It's not such a huge difference, but you can see some shadow differences if you compare it side by side.

Last but not least... AND THIS WAS THE HARDEST PART, was to replace WHOLE iconset of OS3.9 to the one that I made for my previous custom environment based on MagicWB icons!!!
Seems a bit weird at first seeing MWB icons and an 8 colors palette for an OS3.9 system but who cares?
Check also on the following screenshots the replacement of Amidock with the more lightweight and looking AWESOME for small icons ToolManager.

You can see in the following screenshot, some version checks from my custom Kickstart 3.9 that loads via ACA's MapROM feature.

Just to praize a bit of PeterK's work, I thought of doing one more screenshot checking out some DualPNG, and OS4.1 MasonIcons, as well as some older NewIcons and GlowIcons through his AWESOME library.

Don't want to sound too excited, but the system was responsive as a rocket! Boots just fine and rebootless due to custom kickstart, and it blazingly fast, giving the expresion that you might have an 040 underneath (LOL). Icon loading is superb and overall I'm TOO excited about this system which is from now on my ONLY system that I use on this A600.

I'm attaching a really quick teaser video just to understand where all my excitement comes from :)

More updates and info will come in the future as atm I'm still fiddling around with what more stuff to put in this OS :)

Apart from that, despite owning one of the few ACA630@30MHz and 64MB of RAM, I couldn't help wanting to beef a bit more the CPU clockage but not to extreme levels as I know that it would push the memory beyond specc.
So this is my beasty ACA with it's default 60MHz oscillator giving 30MHz speed to my Amiga. It's a small square oscillator but Jens putted both square and rectangle oscillator support to the PCB layout as you can see bellow.

It just needs a bit of careful unsoldering...

And mounting the socket carefully into place :)

And that's about it \o/ On the following example I used for fun despite knowing that it probably won't work... an 80MHz oscillator sent to me by Zetr0.

System booted just fine... and Workbench loaded!!! I was WTF? time to fire up some SysInfo for benchmarking... and Whoa!!!

I was about to cry from joy and when I realized that system crashed a bit after getting back to Workbench :(
I tried a restart but then system refused to boot.
I waited some minutes and system booted just fine again, but after 2 mins it crashed once more... Ok I expected that tbh, so I didn't try it more. It was definitely going beyond specc and I couldn't do anything about it.

Then came Stachu100 to the rescue with a free 66MHz oscillator that he sent me as a gift :)
Once putting the oscillator on... I had a feeling he was a keeper!
System booted just fine, and SysInfo was fired up once more... This time with a bit worse results as normal, but better than the stock 30MHz one.

I left the Amiga playing modules via EaglePlayer for about 1.5 hour without a single glitch!!! Yey!
After that I run my MMU support script and voila some new results (lower than before but this is typical as it was the same in my previous 3.1 ClassicWB setup)

Still awesome though, now that MMU was working I could also fire up WhichAmiga for some leet infos :)

Since MMU is on (on request) I can also run my ShapeShifter setup with Indy support that works just fine but will show on another time on a full video presentation.

Till then... I hope you enjoyed it :)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Custom illuminated frame in my playroom

Hi my friends,

Most of you might already know about the nice rendered wallpaper that user Intercepto created on

If you don't you should definitely grab it and just have it in your collection

Anywayz, about 1.5 year ago, I managed to find this as a poster from a forum link that I can't remember. I made the order and it reached my door pretty soon.
The poster was pretty wide (as the wallpaper is) at about 135x62cm and a custom frame was ordered in a nearby frame shop.
When I received the completed frame with poster and mat glass and everything was alright, I realized that despite I loved my newest frame... the picture was indeed very dark and details weren't visible.
The only thing what you could see was the A500 with Cannon Fodder, the lamp and the window :(

This wasn't nice for my taste and whatever effort I put into giving a little light to the frame had bad results so I had to do something more drastic!!!

So... after searching around, I thought of putting LED strips behind the poster for it to get illuminated (like the posters of movies most times seen in Bus stops etc. Bad thing is that these are in rather thick frames with big fluorescent lamps installed. Rather easy stuff, but my case was indeed more challenging cause frame was thin enough having a large carton behind the poster to hold it together with the frame.

My order from eBay consisted of 4x 5meter LED strips, 1x Remote control to On/Off the LEDS and a PSU for powering them

Order took about 2 weeks to reach my doors and when it did, I made a quick example of fitting some LED strip lines sticked with some duct tape behind and attached to the poster...
WHAT a terrible example that was...

As you can clearly see, the LEDS are clearly seen and the poster isn't showing at all. OK I knew that this was an example, but I had to do something more drastical.

So... I ordered a Plexi-Glass that was milky white in order for light to be diffused better into the Plexi-Glass and then to the poster itself.
This is how it looks attached to the back of the poster.

Except from the milky Plexi-Glass, I ordered another piece of 3mm wooden backplate, in order to use this to mount the LED strips. Using the already mounted carton was a NO-NO for 3 reasons.
1. It was cut to be attached to the back of the poster (alas if I mounted the LEDS to it... it would attach to the poster as well)
2. I was afraid that LEDS would be kinda HOT so I wanted some space between the LEDS and the poster
3. Using it on the back of the frame would have gave me a bit more of space for LEDS to be more far from the frame so still not so visible.

So this is how the LED strips attached to the custom 3mm wooden backplate look like

It took A LOT OF TIME to measure EXACTLY the width at which the LED strips would be mounted in order to be ok (you can cut every 3 LEDS in every strip) and for all 20m of strip to be enough!
OFC all the cut strips, had to be soldered and bridged to each other via thin wires (15 strips x2 sides x2 solder joints each! Do the math and you'll understand the work!)

After the bridging I had to build a custom PCB that would hold all the power lines from all 4x strips.

So now I had only one cable that would power all 4 strips at once :)
(FYI, you can't bridge all 4x strips together in one line cause then after the first 2 strips the light on the other 2 is dimmed and looks crap! Different power per strip is the best).

It was about time to test the strips, so I connected the PSU and powered up the backplate and VOILA!

I was very happy that I haven't blew up anything, and I was ready to give some test to the final frame...
Result was indeed A LOT BETTER...

I still DIDN'T like it 100% though, cause after I sticked the backplate with the frame... the strips where visible again (not at the level they were but still... not good for my taste)...
I went to the frame shop again next day and ordered another frame but this time it wasn't 1cm thick but 3.5cm+ wide.

After putting it back together and closing the backplate, I hanged it on my wall and I was ready for the big and final test...

YEP, and this time was PERFECT!!! Sadly the images can't show how beautiful this frame looks with the backlight, and dont' forget you can dim it with the remote control if it's day or night according to your needs.

(I need to cover the cable and paint it with wall's color but that is really minor atm).

I hope you like this mod. It's not exactly Amiga hardware oriented but hey... At least it has an A500 with Cannon Fodder LOL.

Soon more to come :)

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Setting up my playroom on my new home

My friends,
I'm really sorry I haven't updated this blog recently but as some you know I had many stuff involved in real life.
First was the birth of my lovely daughter that takes a great deal of my attention these days, but also a misfortune of having to move house since my former owner wanted it for herself.
Moving was done in min August and I can say I finally finished EVERYTHING :)
Most difficult part was space that wasn't enough in the office/playroom so I had to design and build a newer furniture that would host all my most recent acquired consoles, and my newly acquired LED 3D TV :)

Needless, to see the result exceeded my expectations and as you can see it's really functional for my gaming needs...

Ok time for some pictures:

So this is the new furniture that I designed and hosts my consoles, TV, WiFi Router, plus some plastic selves for my storage needs (lotsa cabling, adapters, audio stuff, Amiga computers and extra stuff).

On the following picture you can see a close up of the center and main area that hosts all my devices

And here you can see some explanation (although most are not needed lol) of what is what :)
You can see that behind the TV there's some light. It's nothing more than a White LED strip that I used to lighten a bit the TV from behind for nightly gaming times that without light it was tiring.

Of course, the alignment was carefully examined, because I wanted the consoles with Wireless enabled controllers to go above TV (since it's not a problem) and all the other consoles with Wired controllers to go bellow the TV. You can imagine it would be a huge fail to have the console with wired controller above the TV having to see a cable while you play!

Anyway... just for means of information, every console that I own is pretty beefed up and I can show some screenshots with some brief explanations bellow...

Loaded with Xecuter and working via latest XBMC. It's connected via Component connection to the LED TV via the Automatic Component switch.
I really enjoy this machine not only for it's games, but also for all the Emulators that it hosts in it's 500GB Hard Drive and mini Media Center capabilities streaming music/videos from my main XBMC PC/Server combo on the living room via SMB. Full of Win!

Modded with DMS4 using ToxicOS to load a great deal of games via it's 500GB Hard Drive!
Not much to say about this console. It rox :)
It's connected to my TV via the Component cable and also through the Automatic Component switch along with the XBOX.

This is where all started with :)
A gift from my good friend Leo (Keropi) which is modded with switch for PAL/NTSC, switch for 50Hz/60Hz and a custom cable for giving Scart some Stereo output from the headphones socket.
Also it runs it's games from an Everdrive cart using an 2GB SD card.
Really awesome device that had lotsa fun with :)
It's connected to the TV via a Scart cable that goes through a manual Switch (since my TV has only one RGB scart socket).

This is the latest addition to the collection.
It's a modded SNES with SuperCIC (switchless modchip) but ALSO with an IGR (In Game Reset) mod.
Ofc it has a dual LED for the IGR change to PAL/NTSC which replaced the original LED (so it looks as original \o/).
SNES loads it's games via the outstanding Powepak cart which as most people know, has the DSP1 chip for these extra games that have it, and also loads blazing fast :) Powerpak requires a compact flash card, so a 4GB card is being used atm :)

It's connected to the TV via a Scart cable that goes through a manual Switch (since my TV has only one RGB scart socket).
(Don't be fooled by the following picture. CF card is not attached because whole SNES + Powerpak + CF card exceeds the height of my 13cm shelf for 5mm!!! Don't worry though... Mod will come soon for that, extending the CF socket with a ribbon).

XBOX 360
This awesome XBOX 360 it's a Jasper JTAG hacked one, running whatever games I want from it's internal 500GB Hard Drive. It supports just fine Kinect etc, but can't run online content (not that I need it tbh).
It's connected to my TV via HDMI cable.

This is an awesome fat PS3 version that was originally bought with DEX firmware version 4.20.
After trying it's procedure of mounting games via BD images of an external Hard Drive which I didn't like, I found out that I could just downgrade it to the awesome 3.55 DEX firmware (Rogero) being able to FTP whatever game I wanted to the embedded 320GB Hard Drive :)
I can upgrade it whenever wanted to any newer 4.x DEX firmware at any point (not that I see it happening anytime soon) :)
It's connected to my TV via an HDMI cable as well.

So this is it :)
I guess you will see more posts from me from now on, now that I settled in my new home and finished setting my work/game space :)
See ya soon!

Monday, June 11, 2012

A4000: Installing Indivision AGA mk2

Hey peepz, long time no see, but I had a really good excuse :)
On 26th of May my lovely daughter was born and for that matter I was fully devoted to her and my wife :)
I'm really happy that everything worked out just fine, and that a new girly Amigan was born.

Anywayz... this weekend I found some time between her sleeps to tinker my lovely A4000 and my newly acquired Indivision AGA mk2 (for A4000/CD32).
Many have already made some reviews and troubleshoots via the known forums but here I will present my own POV.

So, this is what the package includes

The screw that was provided to secure the GND cable to the Indivision was a bit bigger than the hole so I secured the GND cable to the already mounted screw with plastic stand. Kinda weird though.
In order to mount Indivision to Ratte's auto switch you need all of these adapters LOL!

Well, until I make a custom cable (20pin to 10pin) I thought of mounting all this huge combo  on the right side of the custom Fan.

Ok that was the first part. This was what the installed Indivision looks like (sorry for the dark photo, I forgot to put the flash on). The bend ribbon was put that way in order for the Voodoo custom fan not to touch it :)

And that was the assembly again of the Grex with Voodoo...

...and the rest of the PCI cards :)

Powering up the Amiga showed the new Individual Computers logo on the top left of the screen.

If you see correctly you'll see that there are some vertical bars which are annoying! While searching Ratte mentioned this as well, and with a custom cable that he made, the bars disappeared. Apparently all these adapters tend to kinda screw the signal a bit. Soon I'll fix that as well :)

Just before I close this article I'll present some differences between Indivision mk1 and Indivision mk2 using SysInfo program on it's native resolution.

Indivision AGA mk1 (SysInfo screen)

Indivision AGA mk2 (SysInfo screen)

Indivision AGA mk1 (SysInfo detail)

Indivision AGA mk2 (SysInfo detail)

As you can see (and if you put aside the vertical bars) it looks really good and the resolution seems to have a better scaling than the previous version!
Here's hopin' for future and better core releases along with new Indivision Config tool!

Stay tuned :)