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Amiga 2000

Not long after I received my much anticipated Amiga 1200 in the mail from Italy, a fellow Tokyo HackerSpace member had scheduled a trip to Hard Off in Akihabara.

For those not in Japan, the name of that shop sounds downright WRONG.

Let me explain:

Hard Off is a used hardware store (recycle shop). They are a national chain store, with shops all over Japan. They also have Book Off and Home Off.

The Hard Off in Akihabara is pretty small, so they really focus on niche items. Particularly musical instruments, high end gadgets and game systems, and odd computing gear (such as SUN towers).

On this particular trip, he spotted a particularly odd computer. It turned out to be an Amiga 2000. No mouse. No keyboard. And the staff had no way of verifiying it worked, other than "some lights turn on, and it makes noises."

Those of you who are Amiga owners would know that the video output is NOT anything of a recognizable standard. The shop COULD have used the composite output. But.. actually, the computer did NOT work... more in a moment.

Anyway, he quickly messaged me, and I was lucky enough to have checked and answered him back in time (I typically avoid all instant forms of social media. No one not face to face deserves my absolute immediate attention, anytime they feel like it, with the exception of family).

He struck up a deal with the shop, I struck up a deal with him. Unfortunately, it was going to cost about $300. the shop knew what they had, just not how to get it working.

He was kind enough to haul it all the way from Akihabara to the hackerspace, where I picked it up.

So, upon quick outer inspection, I knew it had at least a SCSI card. There were also several additional ports, which appeared to be another parallel port and two serial ports. and... drum roll... some sort of video card in the video slot. With 4 BNCs. That could only be a Video Toaster card!

I got it home and powered it up.. and.. no joy.. red drive light. No flashing. Nothing on composite output. Well.. time to pop the hood anyway...

I had forgotten that the FIRST slot on the left of the PSU was the accelerator slot. The SCSI card was in fact a 040 accelerator, with SCSI on the back, as well as an additional parallel port and ONE additional serial port.

The second port, which I also thought was serial, was in fact the RGB output from a flicker fixer installed on the main board. After whipping up a quick cable hack, it was VGA compatable and plugged into a spare monitor!

And I confirmed that the video card was in fact a Toaster.

Well.. to get the thing up and running, my first instinct was to take out cards one at a time until it booted, or I was down to the bone stock machine. It did not take long.

The Video Toaster card is the cause of the failure to boot. As soon as I had that out, I was in Workbench 2.1.

Still no keyboard our mouse. I jumped on a Japanese auction site and amazingly enough found an Amiga tank mouse and won the auction. But still to this day, no keyboard (hard to come by one in good condition).

So, here are my plans:

  • Build a PS2 to Amiga keyboard interface. Likely arduino or PIC based.
  • I have some parts worked out to switch from SCSI to IDE.. or at least at the moment an IDE CD drive
  • Eventually go solid state, IDE (such as CF card), with a CF card slot on the front, next to the original floppy
  • I have an idea in mind for a total user interface replacement: Keyboard emulation, USB mouse to amiga mouse emulation, and game pad
  • Obviously, 3.1 roms and OS3.9 (or as far as I can go without PPC support)
  • Capacitor treatment
  • Gut the original PSU and mount a new PSU inside the old PSU case (maintain physical mounting scheme)
  • Safe clock battery mod

By the way, the previous owner already pulled the clock battery, cleaned up some corosion, and somehow stopped it (chemical treatment? Dunno). I just have to reconnect a safe battery to the appropriate pads on the mainboard.

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