Sunday, 24 May 2015

Gotek using External floppy cable on CDTV

Interesting thing I bought recently on Ebay is a external Amiga floppy disk connector plus cable with integrated floppy drive power supply that can be used to connect a Gotek floppy drive emulator to an Amiga!

For those with Classic Amigas with Workbench 2.0 and above, this is excellent as it means you don't have to open your case up to install the Gotek - it simply plugs into the external floppy drive port and choose to boot from this device in the Early startup menu.

I previously showed the Gotek hooked up to my Amiga 600 and Amiga 1000 using the internal floppy drive connector - opening the case and going into some detail on the operation of the Gotek so I won't repeat myself again here - click the Amiga 600 and Amiga 1000 links for more info!

But today, I am using the external connector on the CDTV to use the Gotek! This is because, unique to the CDTV, the external floppy drive IS DF0 and bootable on Workbench 1.3 without modification internally!

Here is the Gotek drive with USB attached, and the external floppy cable with power:

This is my standard CDTV, connected via AV to a TV screen (looks like a computer monitor I know but it is actually a TV with a tuner in it and remote control):

Here is the Gotek all connected up, ready to plug into the floppy connector on the CDTV - I love the simplicity and the fact a separate power source is not needed for the Gotek with this setup. Just plug in and go:

Here is the Gotek now plugged into the CDTV:

First power on and we boot into a Classic Amiga game - Katakis:

It works fantastic - I recommend picking up the external connector if you have a Gotek drive. I assume it will work well with a HxC floppy drive too, but not tested.

Since I had the CDTV on, I couldn't resist loading up the Psygnosis Commodore Demo CD - very cool:

Unless you have a CDTV or emulate one, chances are you missed out on this rather interesting CDTV only CD - there are a few that were only released on CDTV:

I plan to bring the CDTV and Gotek setup as above to the Adelaide Amiga 30 meeting on Monday night, so if you are in Adelaide please come along to the meeting and you can see it in the flesh and try it out yourself!

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Dual Boot AmigaOS 4.1 FE and MorphOS 3.8 on Sam 460CR

I finally got it working - Dual Boot AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition and MorphOS 3.8 now running on my Sam 460CR!

Above is the AmigaOS4.1 Final Edition running on the Sam 460CR, showing the MorphOS partition and Data partitions used by MorphOS. (Click to expand any pictures)

Below is the MorphOS 3.8 running on the Sam 460CR off the partitions shown above (MorphOS can't see the AmigaOS 4.1 SFS2 partitions):

The secret to getting this working was a tip off on the Amiga forums by Kyle (here) on how to boot from SDCard on the Sam460CR, in combination with the latest Sam 460CR/EX 2015-A firmware from ACube (shown in this blog here), which removes the 2GB restriction on SD Cards...It means I can install MorphOS 3.8 onto a large SDCard!

To get this working I opened the Sam 460CR case and installed a 64GB SDXC Card (stock standard - brand new):

The SDCard slot on the Sam 460 is mounted on the back of the board itself - here is the SDCard installed and ready to start work on it:

I first booted into AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition and prepared an additional SFS0 partition called Data on the SATA hard disk (size 101GB) to be used by MorphOS. It can then also be read by AmigaOS4.1 and so sharing data is easier (MorphOS can't read the SFS2 partitions created by AmigaOS 4.1)

I then format the partition:

I then booted the Sam 460CR from the MorphOS 3.8 DVD and ran the HDConfig tool in the Tools folder.

We use this HDConfig tool to delete the existing SD Card partition, install the Amiga RDB (instead of default MBR), and then prep the SDCard as a DOS/07 (FFS LNFS) partition, using the full size of the SDCard, called DH0.

Note: I tried using SFS0 for the partition rather than FFS LNFS - it doesn't boot. So I stick with FFS LNFS.

The reason to do this ahead of the MorphOS installation, is to avoid drive partitions and names being created (like System: and Work: that MorphOS uses on automatic install) that conflict with the AmigaOS 4.1 partitions already in place on the hard disk (In AmigaOS 4.1 it already has two partitions called System: and Work:).

Here is the prepped SDCard in HDConfig, ready to save:

I then formatted the drive using the MorphOS format tool, and then installed MorphOS on the SDCard using Manual partition size, and selecting the partition I created earlier.

Installation completed:

After the install to the SD Card is complete, I show the completed install on the SD Card partition MorphOS, ready with all the required files:

I can then remove the MorphOS CD and reboot the Sam. 

At this point I press Enter when prompted by U-Boot, then select in U-Boot to boot the USB HD (which is the SDCard slot in the Sam 460).

It then boots MorphOS 3.8 on the Sam460CR from the SDCard! Success!

To boot AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition I just let the system boot as normal - it will then boot the hard disk.

As a test I then removed the hard disk, so that only the sd card remained. It won't boot at all without the hard disk, as the hard disk has the SLB_v2 needed for the Sam to run. 

I guess you could install the SLB onto the SDCard if you didn't want to use a hard disk at all - haven't tried it yet though, and not really a priority for me.

Anyway - goal achieved! I can now dual boot MorphOS 3.8 and AmigaOS 4.1 final Edition on the Sam 460CR. No more opening the case to swap cables around! Fantastic!

I guess the next target is to triple boot Linux on the system using the former MorphOS SATA hard disk - another task for another day!

Monday, 18 May 2015

New Acube Systems Firmware for Sam 460CR

Today Acube Systems released a firmware upgrade for the Sam 460ex and Sam 460cr systems and I quickly rushed to install it on my Sam 460CR. It is nice to get a new firmware so soon after buying the Sam system.

First here are some shots from the old Sam460CR firmware that came with the machine - initial power on:

Old U-Boot Preferences Menu:

 Old Boot Select Menu:

I was disappointed to find that they charged money for a firmware upgrade for a system. It is the first time I have ever had to pay to upgrade firmware on a computer.

That said, it was not that expensive, and I was keen to try it. So I coughed up the EUR9 (+Paypal fees) to buy it from Acube's online shop which is linked from their website here.

The features list for the updated firmware are listed by ACube as:

- new redesigned GUI with an 'amiga' style, enabled via Menu->Video Options->Console->Silent
- unified support for Sam460ex and Sam460cr boards
- support for USB EHCI, now booting from a SD card is very fast
- better support for USB devices
- removed 2 GB limit for USB sticks
- better compatibility with newer Radeon HD graphic cards
- introduced a new menu entry to change the x86 gfx BIOS emulator accuracy. If your graphic card
  show some visual problems on startup, try increasing the x86 BIOS emulator accuracy
- new DDR2 boost settings: read, write, read + write (up to 5% speed increase on reads and up to 
  10% on writes)
- DDR2 boost setup done from a new menu entry
- added support for old Permedia2 graphic cards, for 'history' reasons :-)
- added 'ping' command

- corrected a bug in the serial port GPIO configuration

Particularly of interest to me is the better usb support, memory boost, better compatibility with newer Radeon HD cards and the removal of the 2GB limited for USB sticks.

I then downloaded the lha archive as prompted, and burned off the included ISO, ready to go:

There are simple instructions to follow, but unlike the X1000 CFE firmware upgrade process, the Sam 460 firmware upgrade is very easy:

After it boots from the CD, you then press Space to start the firmware uprade:

And off it goes...first, erasing the firmware:

Then writing the new firmware:

Firmware update complete, ready to power off/on after removing the cd from the drive:

The new firmware looks very different indeed when the 460CR is powered on:

The U-Boot preference menu:

As mentioned in the readme included with the firmware software, there is an option In the Preferences Menu, Under Video Options > Console, to simplify the display to be a little more Amiga-like by changing the Console to from Verbose to Silent:

Here are some of the other U-Boot screens in the new firmware - the memory boost options, disabled by default:

It was a little disappointing for a paid update that no new multi-boot functionality was included. I particularly expected it to be possible to dual boot MorphOS and AmigaOS 4.1 with the new firmware but it appears mostly the same as before:

Last but not least, the System Information screen:

After changing the Console to Silent, a different boot sequence appears, which looks a lot nicer, packaging the AmigaOS4.1 initial kick layout file boot sequence into the firmware screen in a more integrated way:

I do like the upgraded look to the update firmware - the Silent option on the console makes it much nicer boot sequence too in my opinion - below is the initial boot of the AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition disk - other multi boot options can appear here also, but no idea how to add MorphOS 3.8 to it:

AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition still boots and works as normal after the firmware update:

MorphOS 3.8 also booted up after the firmware update - like the old firmware though, the nice boot menu for AmigaOS 4.1 is not visible when booting MorphOS...

I will play with it some more later on as I have limited time today, but wanted to show people what the upgrade firmware looks like and what to expect.

To be honest I had hoped for more multi boot options, preferably with a easy to setup multi-boot functionality for MorphOS 3.8 / AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition multi boot, and indeed Linux too.

The graphical touches to make the firmware look nicer are welcome of course. I still think this could  have been released as a free firmware update though.

Looking forward to the next update with multi boot support for MorphOS 3.8 and AmigaOS4.1 on the same hard disk or separate disks, and hopefully that will be free for people who bought this upgrade...

In the meantime though, thanks to ACube for their work in updating the firmware and new features - it is certainly an improvement.