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ScuzzBlog: Diaries September 2018

Entry 5th September 2018: Post 01: Amiga 1200 - Max Transfer


Amiga 1200 - MaxTransfer
I have this Amiga Technologies 1200 that was made during the Escom
era, devoid of hard drive and shielding. The base and motherboard
were once part of a tower as it has the tell tale slots to the
edge by the floppy drive where it was mounted in an EZTower. I
should know as I have to detach my base motherboard from my tower
on a regular basis. Also the end port has been modified for a
scandoubler flicker fixer and there is a ribbon slot cut into the
rear of the casing.

So the evidence points to the computer being used in a tower. This
means that the shielding is missing. It also came with very long
power cables off the floppy which suggests it also maybe had an
internal or external 3.5" IDE hard drive in its lifetime. Poor
thing is pretty dormant these days so I thought I would spring her
back to life.

Back in the winter days of 1995 I was struggling with drive space.
Trust me anything related to the computer in those days cost a
lot of money. Storage was costing around 1 a megabyte so a 500MB
hard drive cost say 350 to 500. Except you could get a 1GB IDE
3.5" drive for the same price. I decided to take the plunge and
with the help of Gordon Harwood bought an internal 3.5" drive for
my Amiga 1200. I must have spent all Christmas trying to get it
working. Just was so hit and miss.

I recall taking a break from work and walking to a phone box in
Fareham Hampshire and calling Gordon Harwood and exchanging the
1GB IDE 3.5" for a neat 550 GB internal 2.5" which I still have
fitted to my beloved favourite Amiga 1200. I only found out later
that I needed a much bigger power supply. The computer then was
fitted with a GVP Turbo which new when I bought it cost over 350.
You can do the maths yourself but for accelerator with 4MB RAM
and a hard drive of 550MB you were shelling out close on 1000
in 1995. The Amiga was in no way a cheap machine to own.

Anyhoo... Back in 1996 I bought a Windows 95 machine so I could
finally get on the internet. Don't forget that prior to the age
of the internet your computer world was a very solitary affair
and your only contact with other Amigans was reading the comments
in magazines. I live in a small village in the New Forest and
trust me there wasn't any user groups. And in truth how was I ever
going to find out about them. And so with pressure from work and
the need for internet and CD player with a graphics card I took
the plunge and bought a Colossus Pentium 120 1GB hard drive tin
box that cost well over 2000. Not a bad machine and still have
it running. I named her Lara. I had thought my data storage problem
days were over until I discovered that with the full system install
of Windows 95 I needed 750MB of my 1GB hard drive. So that last
quarter of the poor Seagate got hammered. Eventually it fell over.

So when I was sifting through my small cupboard of busted and
removed hard drives, of which I have a lot, I found poor old Lara
that original drive, plus another of the exact same type. So I
hot footed to the bench and set up the Amiga Technologies machine
and decided to see if I could bring the drive back to life.

Here goes.... and this again turned out to be a long couple of days.

Meet Jermaine

Amiga 1200 MaxTransfer

OK meet Jermaine

She has an external 3.5" Seagate IDE.

The hard drive was originally in my
Colossus Windows95 Pentium 120 from 1995.

The ribbon feeds out from the Amiga's
internal pin connector and out through a
small slot cut into the casing.

Power is provided from the floppy drive
port. The PSU is the A500 heavy brick.
A standard A1200 PSU wont generally work.

The ribbon has to be modified to work
with the different number of pins
between the IDE and the Amiga pins.

I have another one of these 1GB drives.

And various cables of differing lengths.

Note that the last four pins are vacant.

Difficult to fit the shielding so it
is missing from this computer.

And so she is ready to rock and roll.

The hard drive simply sits out the back.
I do have a Power Computing external casing
but seems hardly worth the effort.

All was working fine until I tried to
to use software copied from a whole disk.

DOpus just wouldn't work from an ASSIGN.

I decided to check with the other drive.
This time mounted inside.

Clean installation and yet same problem.

I could run DOpus from the floppy.

And also if I copied the files over
one at a time. But not if I simply
copied the whole disk.

Also the ART 1 and ART 2 pictures from
DPAINT plus DPAINT itself refused to work
when I copied the whole disk.

Yet when I copied the files over one at
a time they worked without fault.

This all pointed to an issue with MaxTransfer.
Problem was that I couldn't get HDToolBox to
enter in either a rate of 0x1FE00 or 0xFE00
until someone pointed out you have to press
the RETURN key after entering the number and
not just hitting the OK button.

Note that you get to MaxTransfer from clicking
CHANGE when you call up the Advanced Options
when formatting. You can change the MaxTransfer
at any time. It does not affect the data
on the drive.

I decided to download HDInstTools from Aminet
to better check those MaxTransfer settings.

Some don't like the tool. I had no problem.

And there we go. Worked like a charm and
I was able to access DOpus and DPiant
from a copied disk.

And the drive worked just like she should.
So I set IDE MaxTransfer to 0x1FE00.

As you do !

[ Update 4th September 2018 ]

I have been using this computer to create
a series of animations using VidiAmiga. I
have a SONY DVD player connected to the
VidiAmiga digitiser and a Toshiba TV and
also a Parnet connection to my wonderful
A1200 in the 2000 case for back up.
I have to swap out the Parnet cus the Vidi
use the same Parallel port.

I have a 4MB PCMCIA card cus in truth that's
enough to support the necessary file sizes.
I keep animations to around 2MB in size. They
tend to grow when I save in Anim8 on MainActor.
The VidiAmiga saves in Anim5 but the frame rate
is very slow. MainActor cures all that. I also
have the key for MainActor so I don't get
the annoying pop-up.

Sadly I hit a snag with the 3.1 ROM as it refused
to show the LowRes interface in DPaint and also
point blank refused to show part files from
edited animations in VidiAmiga. Added to the
fact it wouldn't run Arcade Snooker from a
copied disk.

How do I know its the 3.1 ROM well in the end
I pulled the 3.1 ROM and replaced with 3.0
and then installed 3.0 over the top of the
3.1 Workbench and it solved all my problems.

So I'm good

Jermaine works just fine. And I have been
able to make use of busted drives from 1995.
Just needed the 3.0 ROM, WB 3.0 and MaxTransfer
set in HDToolBox to 0x1FE00... Not hard, or is it.

That's retro for you


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Last updated 5th September 2018

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