AMIGA alive

AMIGA alive

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Building the TerribleFire TF530 accelerator board, part 5: Testing. More testing. And... happiness.

I'm learning new things about the TF530 almost daily...

Documentation is a problem when trying to build these accelerators: there's no place where you can quickly look up how to do something. Instead you have to dig through Stephen Leary's hour-long videos on YouTube, or a single endless thread on English Amiga Board, or ask in forums. Which is not a bad thing, but it's very inconvenient if you want to make progress. That's why I created some sort of "user manual" for the TerribleFire boards:

Anyway, what's happened since part 4 of this series?

Full setup with CF-adaptor and -card
Things were actually looking pretty good. I've been using a 24Mhz oscillator to build the board, and the original firmware (from a "rev. 2 final" GitHub checkout). But I wanted to rev up the board a little... Other people are using clockrates of 36, 40, or 50 Mhz. And then there are a couple of new revisions of the firmware. And in one or the other way these have to match. I've tried a 40MHz oscillator, and two other (apart from the original) versions of the firmware. Then there's the IDE controller. Simply plugging in an IDE cable - without any device attached! - changes the A500's behaviour in combination with the 40MHz oscillator. Exchanging the 1.3 Kickstart ROM for a 3.1 one made a difference once again. Lots of testing, and lots of glitches, and more testing, and more glitches: mousepointer uncontrollable, random crashes, boot picture gone, ...

It seems that the 33Mhz 68030 doesn't like overclocking very much - but with a 32MHz oscillator (33Mhz oscillators seem to be rare), it now runs stable! I expect a few more issues - like checking RAM soldering points - but for now I declare it "working fine". It boots quickly from the 512MB CompactFlash card attached, and with the additional 2MB of RAM on the TF530 and the new 3.1 Kickstart ROM the A500 is now an up-to-date, very usable Amiga!

Yesss! I am __very__ happy with it. :-)

SysInfo speed test with the 32MHz oscillator installed
Nice to have: an LED on the CF-card-adaptor

An "in progress" conclusion

From a personal perspective, I can say that I've learned a lot. I mean: A LOT. Stephen Leary's videos give a huge amount of information, and by building the accelerator I've expanded my set of tools, improved my soldering skills, and gained some knowledge about the parts used. Overall, for me it's a huge step forward in understanding the inner workings of Amiga computers, the TF530, and electronics in general.

And of course the Amiga 500 got a huge update, it's a completely different machine now. For a very reasonable (money-wise) price.

So the whole process is a massive success for me. :-)

No outside signs of the changes on the inside... :-)

Still, there are a few things to keep in mind about the TF530 accelerator and the build process: First of all it takes an insane amount of time to build, if you don't know what you're doing beforehand. I certainly didn't. There was a lot of research involved, on all levels. Secondly, the TF530 is clearly not an industrial-grade product: it's an "in progress" project, a moving target. You have several options when it comes to CPU and oscillator, and these have some interdependence with the firmware releases, which are still going on. The physical layout of the TF530 isn't perfect, you (may) need a relocator board to fit it into your Amiga, you (may) need to use specific connectors, and still it fits only barely between the Amigas other components and casing. For example, adding a Kickstart-switch may turn out to be quite difficult now with the TF530 in place.

But all these quirks don't change a simple fact:

It's effin' great! 

Thank you, Mr. Stephen Leary!

Thank you very, very much for sharing,
and lighting up the fire - the TerribleFire!

So far, so good. I currently consider this to be the last entry in my little series about building the TerribleFire 530 accelerator board. But who knows. And there's so much more to do... maybe a TF328?

Overview and back catalogue of the series:

Saturday, December 9, 2017

The passion. The scandal. The truth?

Is this the bomb everybody was hoping wouldn't go off? Looking back on the last months of phase 5 digital products' public relations.

As you might have seen on this website, on facebook, on YouTube, or on one of the numerous other news outlets, phase 5 digital products have announced several new products, and they have done so for what seems to be a very long period of time. Developing and releasing a highly complex hardware add-on for the Amiga (or any other) computer requires a ridiculous amount of knowledge and time. Everyone who has tried - and hopefully succeeded in - bringing his/her product to marketability knows the many different steps necessary to reach this goal. phase 5 have released tiny bits of information - pictures of individual parts, unpopulated PCBs, artwork, etc. - over the last year, keeping interest high and eyebrows raised. But Amigans asked for more than just tiny bits: suspicion was also raised, due to the lack of hard proof of the existence of the new devices everyone was so eagerly waiting for.

Two events seemed to change the situation, the cat-and-mouse game of announcements and curiosity: first, the release of a list of new products, with some specification-, pre-ordering- and pricing-information, and later the Amiga32 event in Neuss, Germany, on Oct. 28th 2017, where phase 5 were expected to "finally" (in the eyes of many Amigans) show some working BlizzardPPC-2 boards, or any other of their new developments.

To my knowledge, Mr. Salvador Fernandez Gomez of phase 5 briefly attended the Amiga32 event, brought with him some unpopulated PCBs, and talked to some people, among which was Mr. John "Chucky" Hertell.

The passion

The year is 2017, it's been 32 years since the Amiga was born. Everyone who's using an Amiga computer nowadays has some individual reasons for doing so, but we all share some of the motivation: a deep passion for the nostalgia we associate with the Amiga, from back in the golden days when it ruled the world, and an equally deep, and lasting, respect for the technical achievement of it's creators. With phase 5 representing the spearhead of Amiga hardware development in the mid to late 1990s, every Amigan was instantly on the edge of his/her seat, jaw dropped, when receiving the news of phase 5 being back in business again in 2016/2017.

We've been through rough times, we've taken a lot of s**t from PC and Mac users, we couldn't play DOOM for quite some time - but with the retro movement that's going on for a couple of years now, with the Vampire accelerators out and growing in numbers, and phase 5 announcing updated and new "classic" pieces of hardware the future never looked better.

We've waited for almost 20 years - no surprise the Amiga community reacts with borderline insane eagerness and curiosity to these announcements from the former kings of Amiga hardware.

The scandal

Mr. John "Chucky" Hertell is a highly respected Amiga user. He's a hardware guru like very few others, he builds stuff that lesser Amiga-mortals can only dream of. And he's one of the administrator of the biggest Amiga-related group on facebook.

Somehow, around easter this year, Mr. Hertell managed to purchase two unpopulated BlizzardPPC-2 PCBs directly from Mr. Salvador Fernandez Gomez of phase 5. He had asked for unpopulated, production-run-quality boards, waiving support and warranty. He received them, which probably makes him the first person outside of phase 5 to hold any of their new products (or: part of these) in his very hands. 

Being a highly skilled Amiga-electronics expert, he started populating one of these boards, at least to some degree, so he would be able to see at least part of the (un-)finished product in action. He recently presented the results of his work on the boards in a facebook-livestream (which can now be watched on YouTube). Now he also published his experience, including his correspondence with Mr. Salvador Fernandez Gomez regarding the issue, on his blog website.

His discovery is staggering: There is - very simply put - no electrical current flow on the new BlizzardPPC-2 PCBs he had received. They're missing essential, vital connections between electrical ground (GND) points, which are the outlets for electrical current. Without an outlet there cannot be any flow. Complex circuits have plenty of ground points, and modern multi-layer PCBs dedicate a complete layer/plane to grounding, to which these points are connected. It looks as if the BlizzardPPC-2 PCBs he had received are missing the entire ground layer/plane.

The truth?

Is ugly. Up to the Amiga32 event in Neuss, the mood had already been poisoned by what looks like false announcements by phase 5 to many, and countless harsh, sometimes downright disturbing comments by Amigans. But Mr. Hertell's experience took it to a new level. Now even derogative pictures showing Mr. Gomez are popping up. Being an administrator of the biggest Amiga-related group on facebook puts Mr. Hertell in a special position, which now has resulted in a lifetime ban of Mr. Gomez from this group (and probably others).

Did Mr. Hertell break the boards he had received? Very unlikely, close to impossible. Did he make a mistake testing the boards? Nah, comeon, he's the man, he builds stuff like this.


...did Mr. Gomez expect Mr. Hertell not to find out? Would Mr. Gomez take the risk and send something that's not even working on the most basic level to one of the highest skilled Amiga experts out there? Who, on top of that, is also one of the administrators of the biggest Amiga-related facebook-group?

Don't be ridiculous. This wouldn't make any sense, even if Mr. Gomez would be planning a blatant fraud since day one.

We know some facts, and judging from these facts there is really not much we can look forward to, phase-5-wise. (Or... is there?) What's disturbing is the fact that for Mr. Gomez it would be so easy to clear his name from any suspicion: A photograph of phase 5's production. Or of some working boards. Where's that Blizzard 560? AmigaONE-1200? Pretty much anything will do.

But some may have forgotten: Mr. Gomez and phase 5 do not owe us anything. Everything they announce or promise is up to them. We have no right to demand. We can, and should, and have to keep our eyes open, and our money safe. Every day, and everywhere. But some Amigans are crossing the line between caution, and impudence. There's a lot of passion involved - sometimes too much.

Let's hope Mr. Hertell and Mr. Gomez are able to resolve their issues. It really shouldn't be that hard. Mr. Hertell's experience speaks loud and clearly. But it still leaves (a little) room for interpretation.

Apart from this incident, has any person suffered any loss from any of phase 5's current ( pun intended... ­čśë ) actions? Probably not, and even in this case it can still be resolved.

Let's not make it uglier than it already is.
Let's hope Mr. Gomez proves all the naysayers wrong.

The truth about phase 5?
Time will show.
And we will watch closely.

What do you think? Leave a comment!

Please keep in mind that the opinions expressed here are purely my personal feelings and observations. I'm in no way affiliated with Mr. Hertell, Mr. Gomez, or phase 5 digital products.

Please report errors in the above article by leaving a comment, so they can be corrected.


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Demoscene: Nerve Axis on TV in 1998 / "Relic" live

Now this has to be a unique, and one of the rarest pieces of Amiga history ever: demo group "Nerve Axis" gets visited by TV channel ".tv" ("dot TV")!

This took place in 1998, after they had released they had won the Assembly 1997 demo competition with "Pulse" demo, and were working on the successor called "Relic".

This is probably the only time in history a TV team visits an Amiga demo group at home, at work.

(Are you aware of any other such occasion? Please leave a comment below!)

Today of course we all know that "Relic" went on to win the Assembly 1998, and became a legend in it's own right. It's a demo of biblical proportions, and it's destruction sequence is unparalleled to this day.

Thanks to YouTube we can relive the moment this got presented to the public:

For perfect quality it's of course best watched live on your AGA Amiga. :-)

But if you don't have one handy right now, and you don't mind Amiga-emulation (WinUAE), here's another hi-quality version:

Huuuuge respect and thanks to Nerve Axis for their amaaaazing work!


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Gaming news: Elfie the Unicorn, Heroes of Gorluth, Tales of Gorluth II

New games! Amiworx and Amiga68K-Productions have some new stuff waiting for you classic Amiga gaming aficionados.

"Tales of Gorluth" by Amiworx got some sort of sequel by the name of "Heroes of Gorluth". It's an action adventure platformer, and claims to have some interesting NPC interaction, boss battles, lots of action, and high quality graphics and sound. It's available as digital download, and CD-ROM edition, which is limited to 300 copies, and requires a 68020 CPU, ECS/AGA, and 2MB RAM. You can get a glimpse of it's epicness over at:

"Tales of Gorluth II", it's predecessor, which you can still purchase on CD-ROM, now is also available as a super-affordable digital download version:!/Tales-of-Gorluth-II-DIGITAL-DOWNLOAD/p/96528705/category=0

Finally, "Elfie the Unicorn" is a cute new game for kids by Amiga68K-Productions. It's a Gianna-sisters style jump-and-run game made especially for the developer's daughters, and requires a 14Mhz CPU, ECS/AGA, 2MB and Kickstart 3.0 or higher. "Elfie the Unicorn" is still in production - more testing/balancing, new difficulty levels, and maybe new levels will be done - but you can already download a beta version, and it's free:


Saturday, October 28, 2017

Building the TerribleFire TF530 accelerator board, part 4: Software and Installation

Handling ~40GB of downloaded installation archives is not for the squeamish. And I built the M68000 CPU socket connector. And then there comes the moment of truth.

Disclaimer: This is not an instruction. Use at your own risk. No responsibility taken for whatever you do. Safety first. Kids, dont try this at home. 

That's what she looks after cleaning.

Now that I have a complete TF530, it's time to upload the firmware to the Xilinx CPLDs. Wow, Xilinx really offers a lot of software for download. (And US export regulations are weird.) Picking an older, smaller (3.5GB) version of Xilinx ISE for Linux from their website didn't work out, does not recognize my Diligent-based "Xilinx Platform Cable USB" JTAG interface. Trying Windows version, no success.

Nope, this one wouldn't do the job. Need more software.

Next Linux version (8.0GB) didn't work, too. Trying Windows version, no success. I've downloaded about 25GB so far... Well, long story short: A few days and a few more versions later, namely 14.6, there's a new button in Xilinx ISE's GUI: Diligent USB device. Yay. Finally. Job done, nerves wrecked.

Connecting the JTAG cable, and uploading the firmware then worked flawlessly.

Plug it in!

I'll be installing the TF530 into an Amiga 500. The TF530 has to be connected to the M68000 CPU socket on the mainboard. My first thoughts were to build something using wires, but that would leave the TF530 floating around the Amiga's casing, requiring some support. So I decided to go with the "68000 Relocator" board and build some connector from standard 2.54mm-grid pin headers soldered to it. The CPU socket on the mainboard is pretty flat, and it turns out that when using these pin headers you have to solder them to the "68000 Relocator" just at the tip, lifting up the board from the CPU socket as far as possible. And of course we don't want to damage the CPU socket by inserting wide pins into the very narrow CPU-pin slots, so the pin headers need some filing! Only next time I will do the filing before soldering the TF530 to the Relocator board, saves a lot of cleaning... But I'm quite pleased with the results, and it looks as if I can still - should I ever need to do so - put the M68000 CPU back into the socket and it's pins will make proper contact.

Final step of installation is to connect the TF530's "A500" header to the Amiga 500's expansion port. "OVR" to pin 17, and "INT2" to pin 19. A small 2-pin header can (and probably should) be installed there, to be able to unplug the TF530 and the wires. I created it from two individual pins, because the distance between the soldering points on the mainboard is less than 2.54mm. Now that we have pin headers on both ends, a connector cable with two individual plugs on one end and a 2-pin-plug on the other, will certainly come in handy.

The INT2/OVR header, and building the connector cable.
What's left to do? Nothing!

Turn it on!

I have to admit this is quite a moment. I started this journey about nine months ago. This is the moment of truth. I'll have a bottle of cold beer ready to go. With a display and the PSU connected, I'm powering up the Amiga...

The TF530 fully installed. Will it work?


...nothing. Black screen. No floppy clicks.

Maybe we should install some jumper at "CLOCKSEL".
Let's try again.

And...'s alive!

Now where's that bottle of beer?

Next time we'll see how she really does - watch out for part 5 of our series "Building the TerribleFire TF530 accelerator board"!

Overview and back catalogue of the series:

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Web browsers: iBrowse 2.5 news & Voyager goes GPL

It wasn't a hoax: IBrowse lives! In April 2017 we reported news about iBrowse being (still?) actively developed (again?), and a few days ago the iBrowse page was updated with more information. Additionally, Voyager web browser has resurfaced with a GPL source code release!

The changes in iBrowse 2.5 are too numerous too list, but here are some highlights:

- PPC native version for AmigaOS 4.1
- AmiSSL v4, and MUI 4 & MUI 5 support
- OpenSearch support, allowing search engines to be added to iBrowse's search bar
- support for large files/downloads (>4GB, AmigaOS 4)
- updates to the HTTP, HTML and JavaScript engines
- updates to TextEditFields, disk caching, cookie handling, password manager, etc.
- various bugfixes

iBrowse 2.5 hasn't been released to the public yet, but the authors are working hard on re-establishing the process of obtaining a keyfile for users. iBrowse 2.5 will be shown at the upcoming AmiWest and Amiga32 shows.

Voyager, the third of the three classic "big" Amiga webbrowsers (the others being iBrowse and AWeb), has been made available as GPL'd source code. With Voyager's source code released we can hope to see Voyager being updated, and/or ported to other platforms soon, namely to AROS.

See links/sources below for more details.


Sunday, October 8, 2017

Apollo Team Activity Report: GOLD 2.7 core, GOLD 3 core, Vampire V4

Apollo team has released an activity report on their forum website, addressing some current issues, like the halted Vampire V2 600 production, as well as ongoing new developments.

Some highlights from their report:

- GOLD 2.7 includes faster IDE, hardware sprites, optimized rewrite of RTG graphics driver, MapROM functionality, hybrid software/hardware FPU, HyperThreading, and more

- GOLD 2.7 core will be available for Vampire V2 500, V2 600, and V4

- GOLD 3 will bring AGA support to OCS/ECS Amigas, and seems to be routing Paula-audio to the HDMI output

- a list of non-Amiga website reports about the Vampire V4, which boldly shows that the outside world does take notice

Judging from the list of new features of the GOLD 2.7 core users can expect a major overall increase in performance.

Especially the Apollo core's current lack of an FPU is a crucial difference to "real" M68k based accelerators (with an FPU), but it looks as these days will soon be gone. It'll be interesting how the other manufacturers of accelerator boards will react to this - namely: phase 5 - as they now have some serious competition when it comes to floating-point number crunching.

Again, Apollo team has given us some spectacular report on their progress. Together with the latest phase 5 announcements this makes 2017 probably the most exciting Amiga year since the turn of the millenium!


The Cult of Amiga

Website "Popular mechanics" has published a nice article that kind of gives a rundown of the entire history of Amiga computing, and an insight into the enthusiasm that still keeps the platform alive.

The Cult of Amiga Is Bringing an Obsolete Computer Into the 21st Century


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

New page: More of the best - Amiga games you must have seen, part 2!

When researching for our previous article "Best of the best - Amiga games you must have seen", a lot more games came to mind that excel in one or the other way, and need to be mentioned but didn't make it into the article. So here's part 2! Again, we're focussing more on technical or stylistic achievement, and less on mass appeal or nostalgia.

Have fun with our new page...

More of the best - Amiga games you must have seen, part 2

Sunday, September 17, 2017

AmigaOne X5000 in "Supercuts" tv commercial

That's a nice one: Charles Paek has used A-EON's AmigaOne X5000 (precisely: an X5000 beta in a X1000 case) in a tv commercial for US hairdressers "Supercuts", 9000 branches strong. You can see the X5000 with it's boing ball design prominently standing on the desk, and even AmigaOS 4 running on it for a brief moment.


Saturday, September 16, 2017

Building the TerribleFire TF530 accelerator board, part 3: Parts inspection, and soldering

Let's see what we've got. And how we're gonna put it together. This one had a little surprise for me.

Disclaimer: This is not an instruction. Use at your own risk. No responsibility taken for whatever you do. Safety first. Kids, dont try this at home. 

Parts and BOM, and the shiny blue PCB.
It looks like I haven't missed much so far. Everything required to populate the board is there (except for the CPU socket connector, for which some substitute will be built), and I'm still able to identify the individual components! :-)

Parts and tools.
So, with Stephen Leary's instructional video (see below) on my computer's screen, I started soldering. May I note that not only does his video provide helpful and important information and hints, but also is a pleasant accompaniment when working on the TF530.

Soldering the first SMD chip on to the board quickly resulted in the chip being roasted, and the PCB damaged. Lol. Surprise. It turned out to be waaaaaay more difficult than I had expected.

Working with tiny SMD components poses some unexpected problems. For example if you're used to soldering hole-though parts you will most likely use way too much solder on your first attempts. Well, I did. Then, when you got used to using really very little solder, you find out that you cannot easily suck away the solder if you've made a mistake, because the amount of solder is too little for the desoldering pump to work on. Then you may learn the painful way that tiny PCB chip pins are reeaaally weak, you have to treat them really gently. And finally, when checking results of your soldering, you may find out that your grandma's magnifying glass does what it's supposed to do - to magnify - but it's scratched or unclear, and really creates more confusion than it does help.

First chip in place. Dirty, but undamaged!
But after some practicing with the damaged board and chip, things looked better. I learned to use the right amount of solder, the right amount of soldering flux, and to move the soldering iron at the right speed, and started working on a new board - with far better results.

More components.
After some hours of focused soldering and (visual) checking it looks as if my first TF530 might soon be ready for testing.

TF530r2 fully populated!
She's currently no beauty and needs some serious cleaning, but she makes her owner very proud. :-)

If you wanna try to build one, here's Stephen Leary's first "how to" video (we're still waiting for the second):

Next time we need to find out if she's alive - watch out for part 4 of our series "Building the TerribleFire TF530 accelerator board"!

Overview and back catalogue of the series:

Monday, September 11, 2017

Phase 5: Cyberstorm PPC 2! MK IV! Cybervision 64 3D 2! Blizzard 1230 MK V! Preordering! Prices!

Dreams seem to start becoming reality at phase 5...

After months of rumours and speculation, and some pictures and announcements by phase 5 digital products, it looks as if they're close to delivery: Phase 5 have posted a pre-order price list of their upcoming products on their facebook page!

Pretty much all their well-known products are there - in updated versions! The Cyberstorm PPC becomes the Cyberstorm PPC 2, the Blizzard 1230 is now at version five ("V"), the G-Rex PCI daughterboard is updated to G-Rex 2, etc.

And there's also an interesting new addition, called "Blizzard 560 MK I + SCSI + Ext.".

YouTube channel "Amiga Wave" seem to be the first to have received the pre-order price list, and they have released a nice presentation with some technical information (see "Sources", below).

68060 CPUs on the various accelerators now run at 60MHz, PowerPC clock rates have been upped to 400Mhz, and PCBs of course have been refined and updated. There's a new SCSI-Kit "V" for the 1230 MK V and 1260, and it's 1230 MK IV compatible.

Prices will make most people choke - almost 1000EUR for the Blizzard 560 - but we can safely assume these products are top-notch quality and performance.

Without further ado, here it is*:

Phase 5 official pre-order price list, taxes included, September 2017

- Cyberstorm PPC 2 (604e@400Mhz): 1490,- EUR
- Cyberstorm MK IV (68060@60Mhz): 1149,- EUR
- Blizzard 2060 MK II with SCSI-II (68060@60Mhz): 979,- EUR
- Blizzard PPC 2 603e+ (603e@400Mhz): 1249,- EUR
- Blizzard 1260 MK III (68060@60Mhz): 799,- EUR
- Blizzard 1230 MK V (68030@50Mhz): 399,-EUR 
- Blizzard 560 MK I + SCSI-II + Ext. (68060@60Mhz): 979,- EUR 
- Blizzard SCSI Kit V (SCSI-II): 279,- EUR
- CyberVision 64 3D 2 (S3 Virge, 4MB): 398,- EUR
- BVision 2 (Permedia 2, 8MB): 398,- EUR
- CyberVision PPC 2 (Permedia 2, 8MB): 398,- EUR
- G-Rex 2 PCI: 499,- EUR

Note that all of the products' production quantity is limited!
To 499 units, 250 units, or some even just 100 units.**

UPDATE Jan. 3rd 2018:
Please keep in mind that especially due to recent events the information provided by phase 5 digital products is highly controversial. You are strongly advised to do research before placing an order. We are still hoping all issues can be resolved. I am in no way affiliated with Salvador Fernandez Gomez or phase 5 digital products.

phase 5 digital products logo
(C) phase 5 digital products
*) With written permission by phase 5, given on 2017-09-11 via facebook. No responsibility is taken for the correctness of this - or any, for that matter - information.

**) That's super odd, phase 5. And again, no responsibility is taken for the correctness of this - or any, for that matter - information.

Phase 5 logo used with written permission by S. F. Gomez of phase 5 via e-mail on 2017-09-12.


Friday, September 8, 2017

AMIGA alive 03: Juggler (1986) and BoingBall (1984) (Video)

"AMIGA alive 03 - Juggler (1986) and BoingBall (1984)" is out! This time with a little history lesson: the legendary Juggler and BoingBall demos, shown in the early days of the Amiga, and responsible for stunning the audience. We hope you enjoy it, and as always comments are welcome!

Monday, August 28, 2017

AMIGA alive software: rewincy v0.8 - window and screen cycling

Our second - still rather tiny - software release is out. It's rewincy v0.8, a Workbench commodity for AmigaOS2.0 and higher. Rewincy will add Windows-"Alt-Tab"-like functionality to your Workbench: cycle through windows and screens, and zip windows, using your keyboard.

You can configure keys and colors, and run it from CLI or Workbench alike. Rewincy is based on M. Cortese's "Altabber", with added features, and just like Altabber it's freeware, of course. It has been cross-compiled from Linux to AmigaOS with vbcc, sources and makefile are included.

See Readme-file included for more information.

You can download it from AmiNet:

Friday, August 25, 2017

AMIGA alive software: rentp v0.4 - NTP time synchronization

Our first - tiny, admittedly - software release is out. It's rentp v0.4, a Network Time Protocol time synchronization utility for AmigaOS2.0 or higher.

Here's a usage example:

rentp -o120

...will sync time from Fedora's timeserver, using 120 mins.
UTC offset (=Germany summer daylight saving time). UTC
offset should be supplied, otherwise time will probably be
wrong (unless you live in UTC zone 0).


rentp -h

...will give you help.

You can download it from AmiNet:

Thursday, August 17, 2017

New page: Best of the best - Amiga games you must have seen

Our take on the "Best Amiga games" / "Top 10 Amiga games" subject, from a slightly different point of view, where a Competition Pro joystick is not the only Amiga expansion device allowed, and exceptional technical achievement, sweaty pixel art or perfect overall style may put a game on the list.

Have fun with our...

Best of the best - Amiga games you must have seen


Thursday, August 3, 2017

BANG! There it is: Vampire V4 standalone & Vampire V4 Amiga 1200

And this is how things happen. You have an Apollo team, and a Vampire team, and Kipper2k and Majsta and all the others, and they just go the way, all the way.

Today has been announced Vampire V4, and what a beast it is: it comes in different flavours, including an Amiga 1200 version, and a standalone version.

Among it's features are the Altera Cyclone V A5 FPGA, 512MB DDR3 RAM, FastIDE with two connectors (40 and 44-pin), HDMI* video out, dual Kickstart-flashrom, USB, ethernet, and MicroSD storage. Additionally, the standalone version will feature two DB9 mouse/joystick ports.

From the official announcement: "The Vampire V4 standalone system will be a complete new Amiga system powered by the 68080 CPU core and the complete SAGA chipset (AGA compatible)."

Probably most interesting are three I/O ports on the new Vampire V4. Currently we have no information about these, but could this be the basis for a new standard of Amiga expansion devices? Will this be what people build upon, and make the Vampire V4 the new Amiga?

It has to be said, though, that there's some sort of question mark regarding the Amiga 600 version of the Vampire boards. The announcement of the V4 says "Amiga 600 with kippa’s adapter (if produced)", and assuming that "kippa" is "kipper2k", things don't look too well: recently, kipper2k left a note on his website (see sources, below) that he doesn't intend to continue making the Vampire 600 boards. Let's just hope this doesn't affect the overall roadmap of the Vampire boards, and that someone will build the adapter for the V4 600.

Anyway, exciting times we live in!


*) probably, see sources below


vbcc - Volker Barthelmann's C compiler

The great compilers on AmigaOS (and for AmigaOS) like SAS/C and gcc (ADE/geekgadgets) are getting some serious competition by the name of vbcc, which is an acronym for "Volker Barthelmann's C compiler".

What makes vbcc great?

It... cross-platform / portable
...can cross-compile for different targets very fast
...produces small binaries
...has a clear concept, working default configurations, and is easily installed actively developed with modern standards in mind
...still supports AmigaOS1.3 and plain 68000

Portability & cross-compilation targets

vbcc's portability seems to be near-perfect. It runs on almost all AmigaOS flavours (m68k/Classic, PPC/WarpOS/PowerUP, PPC/AmigaOS4, MorphOS), as well as on Atari, Linux, Mac and Windows, and can compile for almost all AmigaOS flavours, and different Atari operating systems. Building vbcc under Linux works like a charm, if you know what you're doing you can set up a cross-compiler environment in just minutes.

(Note that there's also a version for AROS, but it looks like it's outdated / incomplete / development has stopped. (?))


Binary and target archives are provided via e.g. AmiNet:

Installation on Amiga can be done via the included Installer-script, which also copies a target's configuration files to vbcc's directory. The whole process is nothing magical, and can be easily applied to e.g. Linux. Very good.


Debugging software written by other authors, and porting software from other systems requires an insane amount of compiler re-runs. Combined with a large project this results in noticeable, sometimes painful time wasted just hitting cursor-up, return and waiting.

Compiling a "helloworld.c" type program (1.5KB of printf()s and the likes) with vbcc is about three times as fast as with gcc.

(Cross-compiling on your gigahertz-multicore Linux box is ridiculously fast, compared to Amiga-speeds. A 66KB sized sourcecode file with some includes and a few precompiled objects attached compiles in what can legitimately be described as no time.)

Size of binaries created by vbcc

A quick check gave these results:
1568 bytes of source code, helloworld.c type, #include <stdio.h>
gcc binary without ixemul.library usage (libnix): 25580 bytes
gcc binary (with ixemul.library usage): 18636 bytes
vbcc binary (vbcc's vc.lib): 4868 bytes

Porting programs written for SAS/C or gcc

vbcc sits somewhere in between: it has good built-in support for AmigaOS, but lacks some of SAS/C's features, and currently has limited support for GNU/POSIX. You may want to add some own inventions. If you add new header files and/or libraries for compatibility (e.g. from gcc/ADE/geekgadgets or libnix), you will run into (resolvable) conflicts. While SAS/C and ADE/geekgadgets provide additional developer tools (e.g. make) required in the build process, vbcc is (basically) just a compiler.

Cross-compiling binaries for AmigaOS on other operating systems

As has been said before, installation is simple, and almost identical on all host systems, and so is cross-compiling. Under Linux, two changes were required to make vbcc-Linux compile a previous vbcc-AmigaOS project: add compiler config option "+aos68k", and add Linux include path to NDK_3.9/Include/include_h directory to config file "aos68k" to Linux paths.


Overall, the impression left by vbcc is utterly positive. There are a few flaws, e.g. some error messages could be more precise, gcc's __FUNCTION__ and __LINE__ macros or a substitute would be very helpful, and AROS host and target modules would really be nice, but it works fine on different platforms including classic AmigaOS, is easy to use, creates quality code, is fast, etc. pp. and best of all it all comes with superb cross-platform capabilities: the concept of exchangable host and target modules is an invaluable tool for cross-Amiga-platform development, and may help unify the scattered Amiga landscape.

Huge THANK YOU to Volker Barthelmann and co-authors (vasm, vlink), and iComp GmbH for sponsoring vbcc m68k-AmigaOS!


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Building the TerribleFire TF530r2, Part 2: Obtaining the components

So I've made the descision to try to build a TerribleFire TF530r2 accelerator. The TF530 uses SMD components, which are really small, but the overall number of components is quite low. Based on that, I decided that with good eyesight and accepting some fail-rate it should generally be possible to build the thing.

Disclaimer: This is not an instruction. Use at your own risk. No responsibility taken for whatever you do. Safety first. Kids, dont try this at home. 

Parts and cost

As we know, the docs of the TF530 can be found at:

The readme file contains a BOM (bill of material), of which columns 2 to 4 are relvant for component indentification. It takes some time to get used to specifications and naming. When looking for parts, keep an eye on the "Package" (column 4 of BOM), which in some cases describes the required type (shape/layout/...). Also sometimes you will find out there are variations of components, like for industrial use, made of different material, etc., which are identified by some suffix appended to the name given in the BOM. Finding the matching socket for the 68030 CPU can also be a bit tedious, it has a special layout.

And of course there's the PCB (circuit board) itself, which you can order from

After hours of searching the internet, I got this impression:
- the PCBs are really cheap
- parts are generally available
- some parts seem to be a bit rare and can only be ordered from one or two retailers
- few parts are cost relevant: CPU, FPU, sockets for CPU and FPU, and SRAM
- the socket / connector to the Amiga's original CPU socket is a critical part that's rare, thus comparably expensive

I decided to go with a 33MHz 68030RP CPU, 40MHz 68882 FPU, and will not use industrial parts, which cost more and are probably more reliable, but I'm assuming there are no extreme temperatures etc. on the TF530. For the 68000-socket connector I'll try to modifiy some other pin connector (2.54mm pin grid).

It turns out that including shipment from different retailers we're still in the "around 100EUR" range for a complete accelerator board, which is an acceptable risk.

So I placed my orders.


TF530r2 PCB (circuit board) from
You probably want to order a "Protopack (+/-10)" which is the cheapest option, and gives you (about? +/-?) 10 boards to play with.

I ordered most of the parts for the TF530r2 from these retailers:

68030 CPUs and 68881 or 68882 FPUs are available on eBay.

Additionally, I ordered one or two individual parts via eBay directly from China if there was a good offer.

Special thanks to the very friendly and helpful guy at CONRAD store (Munich, Moosach) who recommended to buy a soldering station and gave lots of information, you're doing a fantastic job

Delivery & Conclusion

The overall time spent on obtaining the parts has to be somewhere around 20hrs, for research, talk, orders, and purchases at local stores. 10 weeks went by from placing the first order to receiving the last one.

Everything arrived properly packaged, and hopefully it's the correct parts... I'll just have to trust them on this. ;-)

Blue TF530r2 PCBs look great, my "protopack (+/-10)" contained ten pieces. On first visual inspection one of them that has a tiny flaw between two IC soldering pads - maybe that's the "Protopack (+/-10)" option? Less quality control than ordering "10" (pieces)? I'll be using that flawed one for some SMD-soldering warm-up practice.

Overall I had one or two issues with the ordering process, but I'm pleasantly surprised how well everything worked, including resolving these issues.

Next time we'll see what we've missed so far, and be doing our first soldering tests - watch out for part 3 of our series "Building the TerribleFire TF530 accelerator board"!


Sunday, July 16, 2017

AMIGA alive 02: M-Tec Mastercard SCSI controller installation (Video)

"AMIGA alive 02 - M-Tec Mastercard SCSI installation" is out! This time we're installing a SCSI controller into our Amiga 1200. Hope you enjoy it, and as always comments are welcome!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

"Quasarius" - new oldskool arcade shoot-em-up for the Amiga

Do you like Space Invaders? Do you adore Deluxe Galaga? Do you remember Phoenix? Then this is the game for you!
Collect boni, earn extra ships, get the hi-score - Quasarius is a (very) classic Space Invaders type shoot-em-up game for Amiga by Raliza software. The graphics are simplistic, but perfectly moody, as is the soundtrack. "Quasarius" was written in BlitzBasic by Rafael Lima, with music provided by "Akira". It should run on any Amiga with at least 512KB RAM and OCS or above. (It has been reported that it doesn't run on Kickstart 1.3, though.)

You can download Quasarius for free from:

It's donationware, so consider making a donation if you like the game, encouraging the authors to continue developing for the Amiga. The developer already announced he's like to do a - probably (very) classic, too - side-scrolling beat-em-up game.

Here you can see Quasarius in action:


Cloanto releases Amiga Forever 7

New features include the ability to autostart the PC into any Amiga configuration, enhanced PowerPC emulation support, custom content folders and playlists, and a "playerless" title playback, preview and editing experience.

As always, "Amiga Forever" probably is the most complete Amiga emulation distribution: includes official Amiga ROMs and operating system, latest versions of WinUAE and WinFellow, applications, games, demos, videos, one-click player interface, ... (depending on "Amiga Forever" version/edition)


Friday, June 23, 2017

Vampire V2 / Apollo-Core GOLD3 boldy goes AGA chipset emulation!

Here's the next step in Vampire/Apollo-core development, and what an important step it is: Amiga-chipset emulation, namely AGA, is making good progress - now Vampire boards can do AGA graphics and audio via HDMI!

Once again, and finally, it looks like it's really happening: the looooong overdue update of the Amiga's screenmodes and connection capabilities in regard to modern displays.

Additionally, some programs - probably mostly games - will benefit from this new stage of Apollo-core in a specific way: due to not only the super-fast CPU-emulation but also the new AGA-emulation both residing on the Vampire now, there's no need for "turtle mode" anymore - in other words: the CPU doesn't have to wait for the slow Amiga-mainboard chipset blitter anymore, giving huge performance boosts to blitter-heavy applications.

AGA chipset emulation is still work in progress (e.g. currently PAL only), and hasn't been released to the public yet, but you can already watch some impressive demo videos:

Vampire 600 V2 / GOLD3 "No more turtle mode", parts 1 and 2


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

AmiGameJam 2017 game development competition results

The AmiGameJam 2017 Amiga game development competition ran from February 5th to March 30th 2017, and was held in two categories: Classic OCS/AGA Amigas and Next-Gen Amigas (AROS, MorphOS and AmigaOS4). The theme was "TV Shows and Movies" or "Christmas".

Six titles were submitted: Brus Lii, Santa Run (Next-Gen/AmigaOS4), Easter Egg, Max Knight Xmas Edition, Bridge Strike, and The Last Starfighter.

Based on 140 ratings, submissions scored from 1717 to 4720 points.

And the winner is...

...Bridge Strike, a vertically scrolling shoot'em up.

Project R3D
Code: Pawel Nowak (juen)
Graphics: Krzysztof Matys (koyot1222)
Music: Simone Bernacchia (JMD)
Sound Effects: Marcin Swiech (doomer)


You can download Bridge Strike, and the other games made for the AmiGameJam at:


Sunday, June 18, 2017

"Mini Metal Slug" for AmigaOS3 by Arti - and many other games by HunoPPC

Arti has ported "Mini Metal Slug", a "Metal Slug" remake, to AmigaOS3. It's a one-man-army comic-style shoot'em up game, and it demands some serious processing power: 68040 CPU, fast emulator, or Vampire accelerator is required.

You can find it on AmiNet:

Arti's homepage is:

The AmigaOS3 version is based on HunoPPC's AmigaOS4 port of the game. HunoPPC has done a lot of other ports, mostly for AmigaOS4, and some for AROS, MorphOS, Linux, MacOS, Windows.

Titles include "World of padman", "Return to Castle Wolfenstein", "OpenBor"
"Xgalaga", "Aliens versus Predator 2000", "Enemy Territory: Legacy", among others.

You can find a list of his projects on his homepage:

Here's a video of "Mini Metal Slug" running on a Vampire accelerated Amiga:


ALBs Blog - Freepascal, and online compiler!

If you like coding in Pascal on the Amiga, or if you want to start doing so, you should visit ALB's blog.

ALB's blog hosts the Freepascal compilers for AmigaOS, MorphOS and AROS, some other applications like Mapparium, GPSTool, and EdiSyn, and now he has even added an online Pascal compiler for AmigaOS, MorphOS and AROS.

Via a web interface, you can enter your Pascal code, choose the destination platform, click "Compile", and download your executable file.

There are two versions of the online Freepascal compiler: one for current browsers with full JavaScript, and one for older browsers (IBrowse, etc.) using HTML only.

Here's a video showing the online compiler in action:

Head over to ALBs blog and check out some Pascal:

Or go directly to the "FPC Online Editor/Compiler":

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Project Paula - a synthwave/cyberpunk tribute to the Amiga years

Oh yeah, those glory days, and those glory tunes! Speedball 2, Apidya, Flashback, Jim Power, Shadow of the beast, ... you name it, you sing it.

Now you can re-live the music originally composed by Chris Huelsbeck, David Whittaker, Paul van der Valk, Ron Klaren, St├ęphane Picq and others, for games including Dune, Turrican 3, Battle squadron, Unreal, One step beyond, and Lotus III, in full instrumentation and high production quality.

"Project Paula" has been released for download and streaming, a collection of remakes of famous Amiga game tunes by artists Volkor X, Fixions, Wrencan, Master Boot Record, Hypercan, and others.

It's a "name your price" purchase - you decide how much you want to pay.

Head over to, listen to the music, and make your donation:

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Writing Amiga floppy discs from a PC

So you've pulled your beloved old yellowish-brownish Amiga 500 out from the attic - ah, those memories...

You've connected the TV cable, your trustworthy black-red Competition Pro joysticks, and the power supply, and switched it on. With your eyes wet, you've stared at the kickstart disk on the TV display. On your PC, you've googled for those old games, have downloaded plenty of them, you're trembling with excitement, your hands sweaty, humming the title melody of SWIV, thinking "Icecream! Icecream!"... no, you were never one of those heretics that upgraded to an Amiga 1200, having fancy things like IDE or PCMCIA, no, you're OCS, you're 512kB+512kB, you're DF0:, maybe DF1: at best ...

...and now you're stuck.

You need some way of transferring those ADF-files to your Amiga 500. You can't just go "online", you don't have a nullmodem cable at hand, and if you even had: How to transfer some transfer software over to the Amiga in the first place...?

Enter ADTWin.

ADTWin for Windows PCs is a combination of software and a special floppy disk drive cable. This could be the solution to your problems, and a very helpful addition even for those who already have figured out ways of transferring files to the Amiga. ADTWin allows you to connect a PC floppy drive to your Windows PC's parallel port, and write ADF files directly to floppy disc, ready for your Amiga's floppy drive!

You need to build the cable yourself, have a spare PC floppy drive, and download the software. There might be compatibility issues with some drives, but PC floppy drives are cheap, just get a bunch of them on eBay or the likes.

Wanna know more, and give it a try? Just click the link below:


Saturday, June 3, 2017

Glenn Keller, Commodore Amiga Paula chip designer

"The Guru Mediation" did an interview with Glenn Keller, former engineer at Commodore, designer of the Paula chip, which is responsible for the Amiga's sound capabilities, serial port, and floppy disc drive interface.

Mr. Keller is a very nice guy, it's a pleasure listening to his ancedotes and information. He talks about the early days of Amiga development, the unreleased AAA chipset, and the longevity and revival of the Amiga system, among other topics.

Thanks to "The Guru Mediation" for the interview, and Mr. Keller for taking the time!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

May 31st - International Amiga Day

Happy International Amiga Day everyone!
What's your today's Amiga activity?
Make sure you have at least one! :-)

Happy Birthday, Mr. Jay Miner!
(1932 - 1994, "Father of the Amiga")

Thank you Mr. Dragon “Gyu” Gyorgy
(1966 - 2015, initiator of the "International Amiga Day")


Building the TerribleFire TF530 accelerator board, part 1: Introduction

Stephen Leary's TF530 accelerator board for the Amiga 500 is a nice piece of hardware for several reasons. It's low-cost, open-source, fast, has an IDE controller, and a great name.

Why not build one youself?

Disclaimer: This is not an instruction. Use at your own risk. No responsibility taken for whatever you do. Safety first. Kids, dont try this at home. 

You need some proper tools, and should have some good soldering experience - SMD parts are really small... And you need some patience and knowledge to find the components.

For starters, check the video below, where Stephen shows the first steps in building it "from scratch".

"TFV#45 - Building Your Own 68030 Amiga 500 Accelerator - SMD Components"

Find basic information, PCB layout, bill-of-material and software on Stephen's github account:

(Note: Stephen is still working the board, releasing updated revisions. Make sure you check board revisions, bill-of-material, and information accordingly.)

Also keep an eye on his YouTube channel, he releases new videos quite often, giving updates on his developments, explaining details of his boards, or even reviewing user boards:

If you need more information, you should watch Stephen's videos, and get in contact with other users via the "Terrible Fire Accelerators" thread on EAB / "English Amiga Board":

Now let's see if we can build the TF530 - watch out for part 2 of our series "Building the TerribleFire TF530 accelerator board"!

Amiga Kit (GB) and Relec (CH) to retail Apollo / Vampire accelerators

The next step in Apollo / Vampire accelerators development: After the boards have been put into mass production, they're now available from Amiga retailers AmigaKit in Great Britian and Relec in Switzerland!

AmigaKit reports that the first batch of Vampire 500 V2's has sold out in just hours - be quick to place your order!

You can read AmigaKit's news release here:

Your can read Relec's news release here:

Home of the Apollo accelerator boards: