Amiga Resurrection Part 3-4 by Alistair B - Cleanup on aisle 9 for International Amiga Day

Last time I had spent a rather long time rummaging through boxes, looking for caches of disks and other miggy related gubbins, and to my surprise discovered pretty much everything I expected to find. Lots of disks, the Amiga itself, modulator, PSU, A590 hard drive and it's PSU. The gang's all here, but it's now time for the scary part. Switch-On! I don't really want to blow up my old friend so I'll be making sure all reasonable precautions are taken before subjecting her to the power.

Previously :

Part 1 - Why I'm doing this

Part 2 - Finding all the parts

In the last part I formed an action plan. Here are the results:

1. Get a disk cleaning kit. DONE!

2. Open her up!

Actually, not a great deal to report... it's not a 500+, so there's no battery to leak. The capacitors are all intact, no leakage or blowing. The entire motherboard looks like it's factory fresh! The green is clean and shiny, all the solder junctions are shiny. All in all quite disappointing (in a good way!)

3. General clean down of the case and keyboard. DONE!

I'm not going to lie, there was a lot of dust in the keyboard, and the sticking spacebar (which has been sticking since forever, to the point I thought I'd got a virus as one time I booted up and workbench did nothing except move the cursor across the initial shell window as it trapped the boot script before getting underway!) is still sticking. It seems to be the "anti-roll bar" that keeps the space bar level as you press it down on one side jamming between the back of the key and the actual key mechanism. The keytop is slightly distorted and I don't think it's easily fixed. It may be easier to just replace it. So for now I've gone with a light dusting and wipe down and will do a proper clean once I've had a successful power-on. There was a slight curve in the keyboard back panel, but a slight bit of pressure put that straight.

4. Try and fix the sticking floppy eject. DONE!

There was a bit of corrosion on the sliding surfaces in the eject mechanism but a bit of friction (manual operation of the mech), the tiniest drop of WD40, and a bit of a scrape with a screwdriver has made it all nice again. there was some dust inside the drive but nothing excessive and the heads appeared shiny, so all looks good for a clean with the head cleaning kit.

5. Inspect the motherboard top and bottom for corroded joints and anything else that may be lurking. DONE!

Cleaner than some new PC's I've seen!
Nothing to see here, move along.

6. Dry run the PSU to make sure it doesn't commit fiery suicide. DONE!

Retreat to minimum safe distance!

The PSU got its test run on the patio. there was no way I was having a blitzed PSU stinking up the house! Fortunately there were no explosions. I'm 50% relieved and 50% disappointed...

7. Make (or obtain) a RGB SCART cable. (although the modulator turned up so may not need to initially if I'm short on time. Thus I picked up bits to make a scart cable but so far have been unable to fathom how to release the pins in the scart plug to allow for soldering the wires without resorting to a sledge hammer... looks like it's A520 modulator for now (yay... another component in the chain to fail!)

8. Connect it all up and see what happens! (with fingers crossed).

On one hand I'm really happy that after 20 years of sitting around in various houses, with a few house moves thrown in that everything seems to have held up really well. Even the disks appear to be mould free for the most part. Well I've found one so far which appears to have some fungus on the surface. All will need to be checked before going near the disk drive though. I am slightly disappointed there wasn't something interesting to fix, but in retrospect even something fairly simple may have been a showstopper.

So it came time for a dry run ahead of amiga day. I was still waiting for a joystick and a USB mouse adapter to arrive (originals vanished in one of the house moves) so any actual tests would be limited to keyboard, but the important basics were all together. PSU, Amiga, modulator, composite cable to TV and a box of disks. :). It all got set up on the living room coffee table (after evicting some of my son's toys... heh. ) Just miggy, PSU, modulator and a composite connection to my 37" LCD.

Time for power on... 3...2...1... I was actually really nervous about it. The PSU hadn't been powered with load, nothing else had run for nearly 15 years... Anything could happen. I held my breath and flipped the switch. Nothing happened. No fizz, no pop and no bursting into fiery noxious flaming death!

BUT! The screen flickered from black to white. Then a shade of grey. Then another. She did her self test diagnostic dance (a happy dance!) then finally purple. With the Amiga rainbow tick/checkmark and animation of a disk being inserted that was introduced in kickstart 2.0.


So far so good. The disk drive is making that comforting clicking every few seconds while waiting for a disk. So how about some disks. Well with no joystick or mouse I'm a bit limited. Nothing past a cracktro (mouse click required.)

First game out of the box... F/A-18 interceptor. I have 1 meg so should get some top-gun esque loading music. In it goes... The drive flicks into action with the characteristic thunk as the disk lands, with a slide-click as the rotate mech engages the disk centre and the motor spins up. The stepper motor chunks away as it reads the tracks. Chick-chick-chick-Grrrrr-chick-chick-chick. It all sounds healthy, no grinding, no squealing, everything just as it was 15 and 20 years ago, as if there had been no time at all in between.

It loaded to workbench... And didn't auto load the game. Oops. No mouse. WAIT! The mouse can be controlled with the keyboard. What was it? Oh yeah. Right-Amiga + direction arrow, and left-alt+left-amiga for left button. Ok. Launch the game. Fingers crossed. Chick-chick-chick.

Eeeee-uuuhhh. Eeeeee-uhhhh. Read error. Oh no. Oh well, try another.

Next one, original Sensible Soccer.

Chick-chick-chick... MUSIC! Oh hello old friend! Suddenly I'm 16 again and playing mini tournaments with my mates! Doing well so far and esc lets me on past the intro. Insert disk 2. Chick-chick-chick.... And we're in! It even loads into a demo match and San Marino is playing Turkey. (San Marino is winning) so it all looks good.

Next Prince of Persia. Uh oh. It has a cracktro. Nothing on the keyboard gets past it. Still the angel cracktro is nice. Typical sine-text and chiptune goodness.

Next PUGGS IN SPACE! The demo that launched legendary Tim Wright's Psygnosis music career. It plays through fine and my wife is giving me the WTF eyes. So enough of the dry run, the living room needs the telly back.

On to 1st International Amiga Day (Part 4) :

It's HERE! It's the 1st International Amiga Day. Time to fire up an Amiga, use an Amiga emulator, whiten an amiga, fix an amiga, help a non-techie fix their amiga, wear an amiga T-shirt, or just THINK about amigas on this day. I'm intending to fire up my old pal and trusty stalwart. I could do most of the things in the manifesto, but limited time means I'm just going to be attempting to run a few games and find out what still works, but with the rest of the refurb happening as and when I can.

So now this has arrived :

Something else that needs a clean!

But the mouse adapter only got sent Friday, so no mousing for now.

The day itself ended up being incredibly busy for me. My son had toddler football, and I had some errands to do, then a birthday party to go to so my amiga activities wouldn't be able to take place until later, but at least I got to figure out why my scart cable didn't work. Wrong resistor on wrong pin (and red and blue wrong way round...) but it needs a rewire which is a task for another day.

So with the little dude in bed, it's time to play!

Guess how many work, and how many are blank...
Sadly, it turns out that despite having found 4 boxes of disks, around 75% of my games were missing. (most of my originals at that.) No monkey island (1 or 2) no killing game show, no agony (Alistair is a sad panda).

To really rub salt into the wound, most of the disks that have worked have been mouse games and everything else is failing. I'm seeing a lot of red/black flashing text.


Finally! Chaos Engine! SOMETHING WORKS! Meanwhile my wife is taking pictures and posting them on facebook in an attempt to out me as some sort of ultra geek. Too bad it's too late, they all already know!

Chaos Engine! Harder than I remember...
I play for a while realizing how awful I am at it. So lets find something else. Thunderhawk. Seems to have the longest unskippable intro ever, or it's looking for a mouse button. GAH! MOUSE AGAIN.

Indianapolis 500... Manual based copy protection <facepalm> go find a PDF.

How the heck should I know... now where did I put the manual.
Where there's a will.... there's a PDF.
But oh, What's this? Number row keys don't work.. Or F1, w, s, x, i, k, and a few others. Grrrrr. Something is amiss on the keyboard. So much for all the hardware being up to snuff. :( I guess the slight bend in the keyboard wasn't as benign as I at first thought. Another task for the post Amiga Day work list.

So finally it's time to get the living room TV back to being a TV. It's been emotional. It's been good getting the old girl running again but there's still plenty of work to be done. It's the start of a new chapter in the old dear's life. Refurb, then some planned upgrades. An ACA500 is likely and maybe even further accelerators, a kick switch and who knows what else.

The only thing that remains is to talk about the massive amount of support Amiga Day has had. There were so many people having Amiga parties, posting pictures of enormous collections and sharing memories. Developers from the day even showing their love for the platform. Adrian Cummings made source code from doodlebug available, Stoo Cambridge did some new art for the day, Gábor Székely did some work on an iOS dungeon crawler that was actually started as an amiga original, new chiptunes were authored, video walkthroughs and wallpapers drawn up and many many many videos, articles and factoids were shared.

This was how she looked when in her prime on my desk sometime around early 1994

For me, this has been a reminder of the best computer I've ever had. The only one that I've kept for 25 years. That brought me and many friends together. That has given me so much enjoyment and left the biggest impression, and I'm glad to have been part of such a large distributed digital party ;)

Thanks for the 4096 colour memories.
Amiga forever
Viva Amiga
Live long and prosper Amiga

Til next time mon Ami...

-Alistair Brugsch

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