Amiga 500 (500+)

Popular in Poland in early 90s, this 16-bit home computer has a nice, mouse-driven GUI system (with command line processor) and allows some complex multimedia operations. It's more powerful than C64 in its CPU, sound and graphics capabilities. A new Motorola 68K processor is much faster, allowing even to simulate multitasking, but programming in machine language is not as easy as in C64. Because of this, and a lack of relatively cheap high-capacity storage (for example a hard drive) Amiga 500 was used mainly for games.
After selling A500 (in fact a stripped down mutation of Amiga 2000), Commodore released (but sold it for a very short time) Amiga 500+ - it was A500 with memory expansion installed by default, giving 1MB of RAM. RAM in Amiga was used for operating system, programs and a RAM drive.


Manufacturer Commodore

Origin U.S.A
Year of unit 1991
Year of introduction 1987
End of production 1991(1992 - A500+)
CPU Motorola MC68000
Speed 7,093MHz
RAM 512K+512K
ROM 256K (Kickstart 1.3), earlier 1.2
Colors: 16-64 of 4096
Sound: Stereo, 4-channel, 8-bit PCM
OS: Amiga Workbench 1.3 (1.2)
Display modes: Text: Simulated
Graphics: 320x256, 320x512, 640x256, 640x512.
 
 

 

Media: 3.5" Floppy disk (FDD embedded)
RAM disk
 

Power supply:

Female 5-pin DIN square t the computer:
1 -   +5V DC 2.5A
2 - Shield ground
3 -   +12V DC 1A
4 - Ground
5 -    -12V DC 0.1A

I/O: Joystick connector
Mouse connector
RS-232 serial port
Parallel port (Centronics)
External floppy interface
RCA audio (stereo - x2)
Expansion port
Memory expansion port
RGB Video output
Monochrome Luma video output
 
 
 
 
 
 
Possible upgrades: 500+ was equipped with 512K RAM upgrade in memory expansion port, giving 1MB of RAM.
 

DO NOT USE C128 POWER SUPPLY (or vice versa)!
IT'LL DAMAGE THE COMPUTER!

 
    Add-ons in collection:
Software accessibility: Quite Easy (TOSEC, sites)  

To get a color picture, you need a SCART adapter or Amiga 520 TV modulator, which gives composite output. Here you'll get a pinout of Amiga - Comodore 1084 monitor cable.

Because I haven't planned to add it, I'm adding here: Amiga 500 "newer" mainboard jumpers (M/B with additional RAM holes):
JP2 - Expansion RAM access method: 1-2 - Chip RAM, 2-3 - Slow RAM
JP3 - Expansion RAM (2-3) or pre-installed RAM (in holes) (1-2)
JP7A - Turning slot Expansion RAM on (1-2) and off(2-3), works only when expansion is put on board (JP2 in 1-2). Otherwise meaningless.
To expand memory inside Amiga, you can use any 4256 (256K*4, four chips are needed) memory chips, placed in corresponding holes IN SOCKETS. Early motherboards don't have the holes, so you have to use expansion board. As you solder, you'll probably loose some compatibility wth older games.


Amiga 600

Amiga 500 was a low-end computer. To get full Amiga 2K computing experience, few other things were needed. First, booting the machine with floppy was good for games, but not for any serious work. Flipping disks was the worst thing, especially when creating music with many samples... on many floppies. Amiga 600 had a compact look, PCMCIA slot for expansion and IDE (ATA) hard disk connector (and sometimes ready cradle) inside. To use it, a 1:1 cable between two (2mm raster) small IDE connectors was needed.
Amiga 600 was more expensive, but it gave much better computing. It has newer operating system, Workbench 2.05, which was installable to HDD, had better graphics capabilities and higher resolutions. Unfortunately booting game floppies still neded to be booted from the floppy.


Manufacturer Commodore

Origin U.S.A
Year of unit 1993
Year of introduction 1992
End of production 1993
CPU Motorola 68000
Speed 7,093MHz
RAM 1MB
ROM 256K (Kickstart 2.05)
Colors: 4-64 of 4096
Sound: Stereo, 4-channel 8-bit PCM
OS: Amiga Workbench 2.05
Display modes: Text: Simulated
Graphics: 320x256, 320x512, 640x256, 640x480, 640x512, 1280x200, 1280x256
 
 

 

Media: 3.5" Floppy disk (drive embedded)
RAM disk
Internal 2.5" Hard disk (if installed)
 

Power supply:

Female 5-pin DIN square t the computer:
1 -   +5V DC 3A
2 - Shield ground
3 -   +12V DC 0.5A
4 - Ground
5 -    -12V DC 0.1A

I/O: Joystick connector
Mouse connector
Serial port (RS-232)
Parallel port (Centronics)
External FDD interface
RCA audio (2x)
PCMCIA
IDE 2.5" inside
Composite video
RF out
Memory expansion connector
 
 
 
 
 
 
Possible upgrades: Memory can be upgraded by adding board or piggybacking chips.
 

DO NOT USE C128 POWER SUPPLY (or vice versa)!
IT'LL DAMAGE THE COMPUTER!

 
    Add-ons in collection:
Software accessibility: Quite Easy (TOSEC, sites)  

 


Contents: Starting Image file formats Recording media Links

Starting:

These computers have a very limited ROM, called Kickstart. It can initialize and check the computer, display a nice logo with hand inserting floppy and try to load OS from disk. You need to provide a floppy with version the same as in Kickstart ROM (there are some very few exceptions), so it'll boot an OS.
OS is mouse-driven, so it's quite easy to navigate thru it.
Unfortunately Amiga's disk accessing method is totally different than in PC - it means that Amiga floppies can't be read or written in PC drive.
Ah, I almost forgot: For beginners: Alternative contents of pull-down menu bar is shown with right-clicking.

My Amiga 600 had problems with a HDD during installation. Some HDDs just don't work. If devices doesn't show after partitioning, it means that you should try another HDD.

Installation of Workbench to a new HDD (A600):
1. Put WB installation disk to Amiga
2. Turn it on. Wait, system will boot to desktop with install disk icon. Open it.
3. Open HD Tools. Then HDToolBox.
4. Now a very important thing. It'll show one drive, yours, as SCSI or something. Click "Change drive type", then in a new window click "Read configuration". It'll auto-detect disk's geometry.
5. In the same window, in File Name field, you should write Ram:junk - it'll mount a large drive properly. For better identification you can write Manufacturer's name and Drive name as you wish. Click OK.
6. Click OK in Drive Type window, where your drive should appear. Yes, you  want to change drive letter (continue).
7. Click on Partition drive. Now you can specify partitions.
8. If you can't get to partition drawing, click "Delete partition" once. With slider, set the first one for Workbench. You won't need more than 200-250MB. After setting size type DH0 in Partition device name and check "Bootable". Confirm settings by clicking "New partition".
9. Click on the right side of the graph, specify another partition size with slider. Change its name to DH1, DO NOT click Bootable. Confirm with New partition button. Do the same thing with all your partitions, naming it DH2, DH3, etc.
10. OK, now click "Save Changes to drive". Confirm. Confirm reboot.
11. If you don't get partitions visible on desktop after reboot, your HDD is incompatible. If they are, with strange names, it's OK.  Click on DH0, from Icons select "Format disk". Enter name, confirm. It'll perform formatting. Do the same thing with al other partitions.
12. Open Workbench installation disk. Click on Install, English. Follow the instructions on screen.
 


Image file formats:

 - ADF - Amiga Disk Format - Amiga's disk image.
 - DMS - DiskMaster image. You can convert it to ADF using DMS2ADF, but it's not always reliable.
 - LHA - not an image, it's an archive compressed with LHA. Sometimes it's LHZ or LZX
 - IFF - a bitmap, picture. XNView should open it.
 - SVG - SuperView Graphics - NOT todays SVG vector graphics. Specs are in "SVG-Specs.lha" file in my fileland, as it has been removed from Aminet.

More Amiga-specific file formats can be found here.

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Recording media

It's not so easy with only one Amiga...
If you have an Amiga and no system disks, the only thing you can get is the "insert floppy" screen. There's no way to make system floppies on a PC.
You have two ways, both of them requiring another Amiga:

1. Get another Amiga's system disks, which will boot your computer (versions must be the same), and then make system disks for your computer.
2. Get another Amiga and make system disks for your computer on it.

Copying disk from ADF image file to a physical floppy needs a cable to connect Amiga to PC. Connection is made using a null-modem serial cable, between Amiga's 25pin RS232 port and PCs COM port, usually 9-pin. You need a 25-pin female connector to Amiga and 9-pin female to PC. Connection is as follows:
 


DB25 Female plug (to Amiga)

DB9 female plug (to PC)
2 2
3 3
4 8
5 7
6+8 4
7 5
20 1+6


Now you can use one of 2 programs:
 - Commercial Cloanto Amiga Explorer - as 30-day trial, allows a full access to Amiga's drives.
 - Free, but a bit more difficult ADFSender Terminal, allows disk copying.

The procedure is similar in both cases:
1. Booting Amiga with good system disk
2. Running Command Line and configuring serial port
3. Receiving data sent by PC to a file in RAM disk
4. Configuring program in a RAM disk to use serial port with specified baud rate, parity etc.
5. Running program on Amiga
6. Sending system boot disk from computer.

To work with ADFSender, you must use Transdisk or Transwarp program on Amiga side. Explained HERE (method A).
To work with Amiga Explorer, you use its own program, explained HERE.
HERE is another method, but not tested by me

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One more thing: During transfer don't move Amiga's mouse. Seriously, it can damage transfered data.


Amiga 500 - Commodore 1084 monitor cable pinout:

This cable has 2 plugs: One is female DB23, another is male DB9. You can see the cable in A500's gallery, page 2. The pinout is as follows:

A500 DB23 side

1084 DB9 side

Meaning
13, 16-20 1,2 GND
3 3 Red
4 4 Green
5 5 Blue
10 7 /CSYNC

 


Links:

Software:
http://www.lemonamiga.com/  - games to download
http://hol.abime.net/  - Exhaustive game list
http://www.freeroms.com/amiga.htm  - More downloads
http://www.emuparadise.me/Amiga_ROMs/4  - even more downloads
http://www.doperoms.com/roms/Amiga.html  - well known site with games.
http://www.pictureinthesky.net/  - here are also some applications.
http://www.theoldcomputer.com/roms/index.php?folder=Commodore/Amiga/Applications/h  - More, some rare ADFs. Free registration is required, so use fake data or fake account from services like bugmenot.com.
http://amiga.technology/  - Amiga Emulator.
http://akson.sgh.waw.pl/~ppawlo/omnie.htm#komputery  - POLISH - old Amiga page, some interesting posts from amiga-news.de translated to Polish.


Hardware and hacks:
http://theweeks.org/toms-stuff/AMYHACKPAGE.html  - Amiga hacks
http://aminet.net/  - Here you'll find many files for Amiga, including programs, instructions and hardware hack tutorials.
http://web.archive.org/web/20021002103857/http://www.rit.edu/~wwt5491/hacks.html  - ZIP drive in Amiga tower
http://www.ami-media.net/amiga/old/HardwareHacks.html  - Amiga hardware hacks page
http://www.nyx.net/~rdavis/AmigaHints.html  - A number of Amiga hints
http://www.nyx.net/~rdavis/AmigaHints2.html  - More tips and tricks
http://web.archive.org/web/20100715090018/http://www.mylinuxisp.com/~jdbaker/oldsite/SmallSys/JDBAmiga.html  - One more successful try to put Amiga in tower, and more.
http://www.free.of.pl/n/norbid/  - POLISH - Adding ZIP to Amiga 500, PC floppy drive modification
http://amiga.resource.cx/  - information about various hardware.
http://www.textfiles.com/computers/8meg_exp.txt  - Expand your Amiga's memory to 8MB... no schematics.
http://www.ianstedman.co.uk/Amiga/amiga_hacks/amiga_hacks.html  - More hacks
http://www.thule.no/haynie/  - Amiga docs
http://web.archive.org/web/20040725081306/http://www.starnet.com.au/davem/amiga.html- Amiga overclocking site. Nothing about A500, but some interesting articles about overclocking and its history.
http://web.archive.org/web/20010424090951/http://www.amiga.dk/nybo/ - Amiga on the net, links and utilities.
http://web.archive.org/web/20130118070816/http://www.rabayjr.com/monte_o_seu_hardware.htm  - Many hacks, ZIP to Amiga 500, connecting VGA monitor to A500, keyboard controller, etc.
http://www.victortrucco.com/Commodore/ExpansaoA600/ExpansaoA600.asp - PORTUGUESE - Amiga 600 piggyback mod. Here is an English explaination, but photos were lost: http://www.amibay.com/showthread.php?t=8500 . These two tutoairls show different modifications, this Portuguese one is easier to solder.

 

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