Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A600: Trying 800x600 resolution & setting up ClassicWB 3.1

Hi my fellow Amigans,

Some days ago, I saw with surprise Ratte's post over A.org about a new Beta firmware from Jens for Indivision ECS and his new version of SuperPlus driver that didn't have the alert box!

I immediately downloaded the appropriate files and after flashing my Indivision ECS with the new version 1.10 and copying the SuperPlus driver over my Devs:Monitors/ drawer it was time to test teh beast :)

Well the results were more than outstanding!!!




I just couldn't believe how awesome it is to have an ECS mode filling the entire screen of my LCD Monitor without the need of overscan stuff!!!

Only problem is that the 800x600 mode with 16 colors on ECS system having an ClassicWB 3.9 installation... despite my numerous of optimizations, wasn't so much enjoyfull.
Whatever I have tried, the ECS chipset is really slow comparing to AGA :(

That was time for desperate measures then... Hopefully Bloodwych's new ClassicWB packs versions gave me the morale boost I needed to start installing everything from scratch! LOL

This time I decided NOT only to not use OS3.9 as a base but only 3.1, but ALSO to not install the latest and more heavy ClassicWB 3.1 versions like AdvSp and Adv.
Instead I decided to go with the ClassicWB 3.1 Full version which has the MagicWB look and feel.

Ofc that installation needed a lot of alterations which were done after spending a lot of time with it. Those were the following:
  • Reduce the number of colors to 8, based on MagicWB colors on Scalos
  • Install fonts and reconfigure Workbench and DOpus based on these fonts.
  • Convert some demo Backdrops to 640x512 and 800x600 to 8 color format based on MagicWB palette
  • Change ALL the iconset of ClassicWB Full since it's based on SmallMagic iconset made for 640x256 PAL resolutions that seem really streched on Hi-Laced or 800x600 ones. That was ONE HECK of a painful procedure since it was made One-By-One!... not for the faint hearted for sure. :S
  • Custom recolored and altered SilverBlue skin by Rebel (check white titlebar) in order to match better with the 3.1 look and the MagicWB colors.
  • and finally, a system of mine couldn't be called a system, without some custom Kickstart magic loaded via ACAtune. It contains modules from Kickstart 3.9 along with some other stuff  like HRTMon, and newer SCSI.device 44.2 from Doobrey to be able to support my 16GB CF card and big Work (10GB) partition :)

Here you can see a screenshot from the main Workbench screen once system is booting.



This is the primary partition OS3.1 along with it's contents



This is the  Programs drawer which you can see every single change of icons that I made!



And last but not least, same procedure also in Prefs as well :)



Just for getting a better view, I'm attaching a YouTube video of my A600 booting so you can check the response time and quickness :)



I really love my A600 now... Many stuff to setup yet like Subway, MAS-Player etc... but I'm not in a hurry.

Stay tuned \o/


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A4000: Custom audio connector

Just before I install my repaired A4000 mobo by Cosmos, I thought...
"Why don't you put an internal Audio cable so you could insert it into ESS-Solo-1's input?"
 I thought that in the past, but there was no way I would dismantle the whole Amiga to do such a mod :)

Now I had the opportunity :D

So, I got some nice cable and soldered it underneath the mobo to the RCA connectors



I really like the small cut that existed by default on the mobo! It gave me the necessary space I needed for the audio cables to pass underneath.

After installing everything and putting Grex and the cards... I had to install the internal audio cables!



You can see the new audio cable coming from the back of the default RCA headers (on the bottom left) and going on one connector on ESS-Solo-1/
Also you can see the CD Audio cable that I had made in the past (you can see previous article about it) as well mounted in ESS-Solo-1.

One more panoramic photo bellow where you can see everything mounted .



So... ESS-Solo-1 has the following now:
  • Backplate - Green = Line Out
  • Backplate - Blue = Line In
  • Backplate - Red = Mic In
  • Internal - CD1 = Paula (Shows as "Aux" in Solo Mixer in Workbench)
  • Internal - CD2 = CD (Show as "CD" in Solo Mixer in Workbench)

Everything works perfectly now!

Stay tuned \o/

Monday, January 23, 2012

A4000: Mobo got a nice service :)

As I said in my previous article, I was without my A4000 mobo for about 2 weeks due to sending it to Cosmos for general repairs.

The mobo was operating just fine as you can tell from the previous Blog articles, although it required at a point a professional service for some stuff like:
  • Repairing the RTC circuit (it didn't work)
  • Replacing all the SIMM sockets with new ones having metal brackets
  • Replacing all caps (they were just fine but a refresh is always nice to have)
  • Checking SuperBuster's socket (it was kinda bent)
  • Putting sockets in PIO GALS in order to put the updated PIO-2 GALS.
  • ... and finally a general lookout.
 Cosmos supplied me with photos of his repairing process so I'm presenting some of those here.

First of all and after removing the SIMM sockets, he realized there were 2 cut tracks underneath, so after clearing them a bit, he bridged them :)






Now the sockets could be replaced... so this is how it was before



...and after the replacement

 

After that, it was time to replace teh caps which is easy stuff for him :)
Motherboard with the former caps was like this...



...and after the replacement like this



Sadly there was one shity one that lost it's pads so they had to be replaced customly.





Perfect job isn't it? :D - Ok lets continue...
RTC circuit after examination had a burned Ricoh so it was replaced with a new one. One diode that was soldered into a Pin of Ricoh was placed under the socket in case of future replacement!




Previous owner (or a previous repair guy) had already putted a coin battery socket with a diode but it was floating in the air not so professionally.




Cosmos decided to mount it better in the mobo so he putted another smaller diode and twisted a bit the coin battery socket in a way so it could fit just fine :)





Socket was indeed kinda bent so after asking me, we decided to remove SuperBuster's socket and solder the SuperBuster 11 directly to the motheboard.




Well... one pad had issues but not something that couldn't be fixed with a wire to the nearby track :)




PIO GALS removed and sockets including the upgraded GALS were put in place.
This was what it was before...



...and this is how it's now with the sockets and the PIO-2 GALS in place.



Last but not least, some diodes had a little solder so Cosmos thought of giving a bit of fresh one since he had some issues in the past with those.
This is an example of how it was before...



...and after the refresh...



As always, I'm gonna give a full mobo photograph of before and after the whole service...

BEFORE:



AND AFTER:



Awesome job Cosmos mate! Thanks again and I can't wait to assemble everything from scratch to check it out \o/

Stay tuned


Sunday, January 22, 2012

A1200: Checking out my former lady :)

Hi peepz and I wish a good year to everyone :)

Last week was kinda painful cause I didn't have my A4000 to tinker, since I sent it's motherboard to Cosmos for general repairs (that will be covered in another thread though).
That's why I had time to check out the former lady that was sitting patiently in my office after I sold it's powerful heart (BPPC+BVision).

I thought about removing all components to clean them up and take some photos in case I decide to split and sell every part individually.

Those components are...

My modded Idefix Express



My loved Slim IDE DVD-RW with 44pin JAE to IDE adapter and 3way 44pin ribbon cable



My old and trusty Subway USB (Serial No. 13!)




...and one of the Clockport Expanders by DJBase and an EZkey PS/2 adapter


I was very sad to see these go so I decided for now to keep and re-install to my A1200.
The problem existed with Ian's ATX adapter and PicoPSU that for some reason, didn't work as intended. It worked but power button needed pushing A LOT of times which made me rethink about the whole idea of Push-On switch.

After fiddling around Ian's website and some schematics about ATX to Amiga Pinout... I removed Ian's ATX adapter (that took some time as I soldered PicoPSU directly to the adapter - you need to check some older posts to see it) and soldered the appropriate cables into it directly :)
After that, I only needed to wire Pin 13 and Pin 14 of PicoPSU into a simple On/Off switch and that was it.

That's one white nice switch I had on my stash for quite some time (which replaced my old switch that was mounted on Ratte's Auto AGA/RTG switch).



...and here is how I mounted PicoPSU now (without it's connector) into a plastic custom stand




Working really well I might add :)
Check the following 2 photos to get a better general look.




You can also check a quick video I grabbed showing how fast it boots ClassicWB 68k.



Not feeling bad about keeping the lot in the end (at least for now).
Only thing missing right now is an 030 I think... Oh well, ACA1231 is close :)

Stay tuned \o/

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Guide: Making Workbench prettier using Rebel's palette and skins

Many people that use Workbench 3.1 most of times want to be able to make their environment prettier being able to use more than the default 4 colors and also use colorful backdrops.
Don't get me wrong... Workbench was way ahead of it's time and it's really nice by default. Why not make it better though? :)

Many fellow amigans are already aware about Rebel and his 16 color optimized palette.
Just for means of history and information, Rebel spent years optimizing it and coming up with the most commonly requested colors from the largest range of Workbench applications and games. His palette is designed:
  • to be OCS compatible,
  • to use ONLY 16 colors,
  • to avoid DBLPal/NTSC flashing,
  • to work with MagicTV,
  • to not interfere with mouse pointer colours (you can use any color cursor you want),
  • to remap well to all popular iconsets (MagicWB, NewIcons, Iconographics and GlowIcons), music players, games and other Workbench stuff. 

Ok after this info... it's time to get down to business :)

First of all we need to download some applications and also some extra files. The download links along with a brief description per application, are presented bellow:

·         Birdie:  http://aminet.net/package/util/wb/birdie2000
Patch to configure windows borders using pictures.

·         FullPalette.prefs:  http://home.exetel.com.au/amiga/FullPalette.prefs
Rebel’s optimized 16 colors palette for FullPalette.

·         FullPalette:  http://aminet.net/package/util/wb/FullPalette22
Application with which you can lock the palette colors.

·         SilverSkin:  http://home.exetel.com.au/amiga/Skins.lha
2 beautiful Skins made by Rebel (Green-Blue) for Windows, Titlebar etc (for use with VisualPrefs).

·         VisualPrefs:  http://aminet.net/package/util/wb/VisualPrefs
Application for configuring lots of GUI settings (Titlebar, frames, gadgets etc).

In this guide, I will be using a bare and simple ClassicWB 68k installation but you can use any Workbench of your choice from a stock Workbench 3.0 till a fully buffed version of AmigaOS 3.9.


The initial step is for us changing our screenmode settings to 16 colors. You can do that from going to Prefs --> ScreenMode.



I’d strongly suggest to setup at least a PAL High-Res Laced (640x512) resolution as it’s a nice and spacey resolution where we can work easily and enjoy colorful and awesome backdrops :)
In my own example I have configured an 640x512 with 16 colors. After hitting Save you will see that the coloring of MagicWB colors was altered… but we don’t care much as soon we will fix that.
In the following screenshot you can see that I have transferred everything that is needed,  in a folder.



We're gonna proceed in installing VisualPrefs and FullPalette. I'm not gonna analyze further the steps of the setup as they both are very easy and straightforward and the only thing needed is to setup the patch that they are going to be installed. Just give a bit of attention though cause both installations DON'T create folders for these apps so it should be better of creating these folders before the installation or during the installation using the appropriate button.
For example for this guide, I installed these programs to my System partition  and in folders System/VisualPrefs and System/FullPalette as you can see from the following screenshot.



After the installation, we should make a reboot in order for VisualPrefs and FullPalette to initialize since both installations have modified our Startup-Sequence adding the appropriate declarations.

The next step is to copy the file FullPalette.prefs and also the folder Skins (which we already transfered into a temporary folder) to the folder Prefs/Presets. I personally used DOpus but you can use which ever file manager suits you or even Workbench itself :)



Next, we're gonna run the FullPalette application which by default exists on Prefs folder under the name FullPalette.



By Right cliking, were gonna choose from the Pull-Down Menu Project --> Open. In the window that will appear we're gonna choose the file FullPalette.prefs which we copied earlier under the folder Prefs/Presets.



You're gonna see that the color palette has changed! This is Rebel's palette and the only thing that you need to do is just hit Save to save the settings.



In case your system freezes upon saving (it's a known incident due to Intuition refresh) you only need to give a reboot with using Ctrl-LAmiga-RAmiga. When Workbench loads, the color should have changed.


So, the next step is to run VisualPrefs which exists also in Prefs folder under the name GUI.



By Right clicking we're gonna choose from the Pull-Down Menu the option Project --> OpenIn the window that will appear we're gonna choose the file  SilverBlue.pre (for Blue skin) or SilverGreen.pre (for Green skin) that we copied earlier under the folder Prefs/Presets/Skins.



Once you hit  the OK button a window will appear with a message in which you will click the choice Replace.



You'll notice that VisualPrefs is showing the skin that we chose (either Blue or Green) and the only thing left to do is to hit Save in order to save our settings.



By making a reboot you'll notice how much your Workbench has changed since the skin is already in use!



Of course there are still some things we need to do. Next step is to copy the application Birdie under the system folder C: (we have already copied it to a temporary folder).



Thenwe need to edit our Startup-Sequence with our favorite editor, adding the following declaration after VisualPrefs and FullPalette but before  ConClip.

Run <>NIL: C:Birdie SYS:Prefs/Presets/Skins/SilverBlue/Active SYS:Prefs/Presets/Skins/SilverBlue/InActive ACTIVEPATTERN REDRAWBITMAPS PUBSCREENS NOICONBORDER FLOODMASKMWB EXCLUDE=DOPUS.1

(If we chose the Green instead of the Blue sking then we need to replace the above declaration putting wherever you see SilverBlue with SilverGreen. Just for info...the reason we exclude DOpus is because it has a bad habit of not working rather well with Birdie, corrupting it's colorful configuration). 



After we finish editing our Startup-Sequence, we hit save and we're making a new reboot in order for Birdie to run with the new decarations.
If we wrote the command correctly as soon as Workbench starts you will see the gradient effect on windows frames




It's certainly more pretty than before but still... it isn't just right because the default Topaz font with a size of 8 it's not enough for the specific theme and skin, so it's advised to change the font size with a size of 13.
So we're gonna head to Prefs under the icon with the name Fonts and in the window that will appear, we're gonna choose for Screen Font a font with a size of 13. One good choice is the font XHelvetica or Helvetica.



Clearly now the whole environment is a lot nicer!



You can also change the Workbench Icon font with XHelvetica or Helvetica for better results.

The only thing left now is to choose a backdrop of our choice.
As a test of if you'd like, you can download my personal collection of 640x512@16 color backdrops that I uploaded on my Dropbox for you here:

It would be best to remove the Workbench Window by Right clicking the Workbench menu and choosing Workbench --> Backdrop… since it has no use for us now that we're using a backdrop.

Results would be exciting :)




Not bad at all for a computer this old :)
Certainly you can use this guide in any Amiga chipset (even OCS) although it would be really nice if an accelerator exists as Workbench under 16 colors on OCS or ECS chipsets isn't so much fun and responsive on a stock 68000 CPU.

Have fun and enjoy :)