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Randy

New to Amiga, just got a 1200

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Just picked up a UK 1200, cleaned it up and am checking out the A500 power brick now.  Being new to the system, any suggestions are welcomed!  Currently, I have on order a DB 23 to RGB to connect to my multisync monitor, a CF adapter and CF that includes WB 3.1 & 1500 games which I assume that when added to the IDE connector in the case will allow me to boot into as well as having 3 partitions, one including the games in WHDload format (what is this?), and finally and PCMIA adapter.  As I noted, I am new to the Amiga, although I had an A500 25 years ago and just don't remember much, in fact the only way I know I had one is I have a couple of games that are marked "Amiga", so any suggestions will be very helpful!  Thanks!

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2 hours ago, Randy said:

Just picked up a UK 1200, cleaned it up and am checking out the A500 power brick now.  Being new to the system, any suggestions are welcomed!  Currently, I have on order a DB 23 to RGB to connect to my multisync monitor, a CF adapter and CF that includes WB 3.1 & 1500 games which I assume that when added to the IDE connector in the case will allow me to boot into as well as having 3 partitions, one including the games in WHDload format (what is this?), and finally and PCMIA adapter.  As I noted, I am new to the Amiga, although I had an A500 25 years ago and just don't remember much, in fact the only way I know I had one is I have a couple of games that are marked "Amiga", so any suggestions will be very helpful!  Thanks!

Good stuff! Yep, the card will attach to the IDE port and behave exactly as a hard drive would. WHDLoad is a package that lets you run games from the hard drive that otherwise would be floppy-only. It's a system of game-specific patches and configurations that allows WHDLoad itself to in some ways virtualise the required Amiga spec to run the game, giving a very convenient way of accessing all those titles.

 

However, this will come at a price: Adding a hard drive uses a certain amount of RAM, booting to the OS will use a certain amount as well, and WHDLoad will use a certain amount too. All this means that if the A1200 is just stock (i.e. it has no RAM or CPU expansion fitted), then you're going to struggle to run many of the games. Older, small, single-floppy games are most likely to run fine, but games that need a 2MB Amiga (and even some that need a 1MB Amiga) are going to struggle. I would strongly suggest getting at least a RAM expansion. There are some brand new ones available these days for not that much money (in Amiga terms, at least...) 4MB is about the minimum you want for running most games, and 8MB will make it a more pleasant experience overall.

 

However, bear in mind that the A1200 has a conflict between the PCMCIA port and the second 4MB of expansion RAM. So if you use an 8MB expansion, the PCMCIA port might work fine, it might not work at all, or it could immediately crash the OS as soon as you plug something in. Most 8MB expansions include a jumper to set it to only use 4MB instead for this reason, so you can limit you RAM temporarily when you need to use the PCMCIA port.

 

Oh, and unless you're absolutely sure it's been done already, get the capacitors changed in that A1200. If they're not already leaking, they soon will, and they can cause significant damage to the motherboard.

Edited by Daedalus2097
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Thanks Daedalus, that is helpful!  A question I have is regarding ADF files, are they files that are run just like native Amiga files?  Or are they some special format that requires some kind of driver, like the WHDLoad, to be able to run?  As much as possible I would like to run the files, and that would be primarily games to start, from the CF hard drive.  I'm sure that copy protection on some games would prevent that, over in the Atari ST world, there are a lot of games files that Peter Petari converted to run on the hard drive, removing copy protection in many cases.  Is that something that is doable on the Amiga?  And yes, I hear that getting a mem expansion will have to be the next step. Thanks!

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ADF files are images of Amiga floppy disks, so they're not really useful as they stand. You can mount them as a virtual floppy drive on the Amiga using DiskImage, but most games won't work that way since they disable the OS when they run and access the floppy drive directly. There are few ways you can use them for games: you can write them to a real floppy disk using something like ADFer (shameless plug...), you can use them in an emulator like WinUAE, or you can use a Gotek floppy drive emulator to read them and make the Amiga think it's dealing with a real floppy disk.

 

The WHDLoad system generally disables or bypasses any copy protection, as well as adding additional features such as optional trainers (infinite lives, level skip hotkeys etc.), support for additional button controllers like the CD32 pad, remappable functions (e.g. keyboard keys to the controller, mapping up to extra buttons for jump), bug fixes and so on.

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15 hours ago, Randy said:

Just picked up a UK 1200, cleaned it up and am checking out the A500 power brick now.  Being new to the system, any suggestions are welcomed!  Currently, I have on order a DB 23 to RGB to connect to my multisync monitor, a CF adapter and CF that includes WB 3.1 & 1500 games which I assume that when added to the IDE connector in the case will allow me to boot into as well as having 3 partitions, one including the games in WHDload format (what is this?), and finally and PCMIA adapter.  As I noted, I am new to the Amiga, although I had an A500 25 years ago and just don't remember much, in fact the only way I know I had one is I have a couple of games that are marked "Amiga", so any suggestions will be very helpful!  Thanks!

 

I think memory will be an issue with your set-up.  I'm assuming you have the stock 2MB which isn't enough to reliably run WHDLoad and the cheap 4/8MB upgrades are unreliable (most of the games either won't run or will crash in a few minutes).  I found a PCMCIA adapter with ADF Blitz to be the most effective but I'm fortunate enough to have tons of DD 3.5" floppy disks lying around - I don't see any reason why a Gotek wouldn't produce the same results.

 

You'll need another program called TUDE (The Ultimate Degrader and Enhancer) to successfully run most OCS/ECS games on a stock A1200.  This can go on your CF hard drive along with ADF Blitz (if you're using a real disk drive).  Make sure you use a light Workbench or you'll have no memory to run games.

 

Floppy disks or ADFs are really the only way to go unless you plan to spend a fortune on a memory expansion to reliably run WHDLoad.  I know this from bitter experience.

Edited by English Invader
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I'm interested to hear which memory upgrades weren't reliable for you, as they're pretty simple devices and haven't come across any issues with them myself. Did they pass an extended memory test run with ATK, DiagROM or similar? It's possible that the issue was with the WHDLoad slave or setup instead.

 

For writing ADFs, ADFer is my update of ADFBlitzer, with added features like verify after write, low memory track-by-track support, progress bar, cancel button and support for virtual drives.

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I don't have A1200 myself but I do follow Amiga scene closely and have never heard some excessive complaints about "cheap memory" problems. Perhaps you were just unlucky. Sure, you should buy from trusted manufacturers and they aren't cheap.

 

Adfs are okay for one disk games, but can become a major chore even with some 2-disk games, never mind bigger titles. Imo WHDLoad or hd installs are the only way to have some sort of hassle-free Amiga experience. I initially thought I'd be ok with just Gotek for my A500, but after a few weeks quickly upgraded to ACA500+ because the constant faffing with disk swapping was just unbearable.

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25 minutes ago, Daedalus2097 said:

I'm interested to hear which memory upgrades weren't reliable for you, as they're pretty simple devices and haven't come across any issues with them myself. Did they pass an extended memory test run with ATK, DiagROM or similar? It's possible that the issue was with the WHDLoad slave or setup instead.

 

For writing ADFs, ADFer is my update of ADFBlitzer, with added features like verify after write, low memory track-by-track support, progress bar, cancel button and support for virtual drives.

This is the expansion I used:

https://amigakit.amiga.store/product_info.php?cPath=182_25_87&products_id=12690

 

I did the basic stuff like adding the A500 KS ROM and so forth but I didn't tinker with any major settings.

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Man, I have to register more software...

I was just going to suggest you register your WHDLoad to get a real license key.  (It used to run better licensed.)

 

Then I checked the site and it no longer needs registration (if you are running 18.2 or higher).

So I registered it, and they stopped accepting registrations...

 

Same thing happened with WinAmp on the PC a while ago.  I registered, and I swear it was like 4 weeks later, they said they weren't taking registrations anymore...

 

Looks like once I register something, people figure out they've hit the bottom of the barrel and there isn't any point anymore.  ;-)

(Also means I need to update my WHDLoad version.)

 

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13 hours ago, English Invader said:

 

I think memory will be an issue with your set-up.  I'm assuming you have the stock 2MB which isn't enough to reliably run WHDLoad and the cheap 4/8MB upgrades are unreliable (most of the games either won't run or will crash in a few minutes).  I found a PCMCIA adapter with ADF Blitz to be the most effective but I'm fortunate enough to have tons of DD 3.5" floppy disks lying around - I don't see any reason why a Gotek wouldn't produce the same results.

 

You'll need another program called TUDE (The Ultimate Degrader and Enhancer) to successfully run most OCS/ECS games on a stock A1200.  This can go on your CF hard drive along with ADF Blitz (if you're using a real disk drive).  Make sure you use a light Workbench or you'll have no memory to run games.

 

Floppy disks or ADFs are really the only way to go unless you plan to spend a fortune on a memory expansion to reliably run WHDLoad.  I know this from bitter experience.

Thanks guys, this is helpful!  So, are there games that can run directly from the CF hard drive without an interposed program like WHDLoad?  Also, can you run ADF files directly from the PCMCIA card, or is that only for transferring files?  At any rate, it does appear that an 8 meg upgrade is needed with the 1200, so that will be a near-future upgrade it seems.  And from what I am hearing, most games do not run natively on the A1200 which is why WHDLoad is needed, correct?  Is there a list of games that come/play from floppies that can be used on the A1200?  I know from recent experience that (Atari ST) floppies are sketchy, while they do work OK when they work, far too many are damaged and/or cause deposits on the head that necessitates taking the floppy drive out a cleaning, failure to do so can result in a build up of old oxide or boogers that then can damage the surface of good disks. 

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WHDLoad makes it much easier and helps with things like NTSC/PAL, kickstart versions, etc...

And it gets the games running from the hard drive and allows you to quit the game without rebooting.

But most games can be made to run run from floppies on a 1200.

 

I've had really good luck with floppies myself, but WHDLoad makes things much easier...

Just remember, if you do use floppies, don't use DSHD.  Use DSDD.  Much more likely to have problems with HD disks.

 

Generally you use ADFs to write floppies.  There are some ADF mounting programs, but I don't think they'd work well for running games.

 

As for running games from the HD without WHDLoad, the bigger RPG, adventure games are more likely to allow you to install to a Hard Drive.

Elvira, etc...

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Thanks desiv, I know a couple of games I am looking to get are multi-disk games, including Dune 1 & II but don't know if they have copy protection on them off-hand...

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@desiv I went on a registration spree a long time back.  I know I was running non-legit software for a long time just not having the money to buy, or I would put up with the unregistered limitations.  I think the only software I reg'd was Miami (the key of which got stolen by something and replaced with a DC key, which also led to an email argument between me and Holger,) and MUI.  I am glad to say I was finally able to get caught up sometime around 2000/2001 and got everyone the money they deserved.

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10 hours ago, Randy said:

Thanks guys, this is helpful!  So, are there games that can run directly from the CF hard drive without an interposed program like WHDLoad?  Also, can you run ADF files directly from the PCMCIA card, or is that only for transferring files?  At any rate, it does appear that an 8 meg upgrade is needed with the 1200, so that will be a near-future upgrade it seems.  And from what I am hearing, most games do not run natively on the A1200 which is why WHDLoad is needed, correct?  Is there a list of games that come/play from floppies that can be used on the A1200?  I know from recent experience that (Atari ST) floppies are sketchy, while they do work OK when they work, far too many are damaged and/or cause deposits on the head that necessitates taking the floppy drive out a cleaning, failure to do so can result in a build up of old oxide or boogers that then can damage the surface of good disks. 

1) In answer to your first question, there are games that came with hard disk installable files back in the day but they're few and far between and tended to be football management sims, shareware or games/software that clearly appeal to an older, adult, intellectual type consumer; developers tended to err on the side of caution with games that appealed to a younger, less responsible market.  Some contemporary homebrews have separate hard disk installable files as well.  So, yes, there are some but you'll have quite a limited experience without WHDLoad.

 

2) The PCMCIA slot is for file transfer only so if you plan to use it you'll need floppy disks and a program to convert ADFs to real disks as detailed above.  If you use a Gotek floppy emulator, you won't need the PCMCIA or a conversion program as the Gotek runs ADF files and can run them straight off a USB stick.

 

3) An 8MB+ upgrade will be needed if you want to run WHDLoad but remember that not all memory expansions were created equal and you'll need to do your research before buying.  I personally regard the lack of standardisation for memory upgrades as a significant failing of the Amiga (by comparison an Atari STe takes off-the-shelf PC SIMM modules and a 4MB configuration will run everything there is to run on an Atari ST).

 

4 and 5) The A1200 has what is called the AGA (Advanced Graphics Architecture) chip set and there is a significant library of AGA games that the A1200 was designed to run.  This new chip set caused significant compatibility issues with OCS (Original Chip Set) and ECS(Enhanced Chip Set) games and a homebrew piece of software called TUDE (mentioned above) was created in 1994 to resolve these problems.  These problems are also resolved with WHDLoad.

 

6) Original floppy disks are a lottery.  I'm fortunate to have a reliable batch of DD disks that I'm able to use but I wouldn't want to rely on buying them from eBay in this day and age.  My advice would be if you have reliable disks and a working floppy drive, you might as well make use of them but if you haven't I'd go with the Gotek.

 

The Atari ST is a different beast when it comes to floppy disks.  The file transfer process happens on the PC and you need an old system with Windows XP and an internal floppy drive to do it and you'll spend a lot of time messing around with disk parameters and so forth before you'll finally get an ST bootable piece of software (I recommend a hard drive solution all the way with the Atari ST).  With the Amiga, the ADF goes on the CF card from your PC to the A600/1200 and in the space of a couple of minutes you've got a working piece of software (including the time it takes to format your floppy).

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It sounds like there's something funky with either your expansion or your motherboard then. I know lots of people with that expansion and various similar ones of near-identical design, and other than the connector being a little too thick, I haven't heard of any significant issues. Regarding standardisation, while a SIMM socket would have been nice, the A1200's well-documented expansion port offers far more flexibility than what's offered by an ST motherboard. The memory interface is straightforward to use, and if a memory expansion doesn't meet the standard specs, then there's something seriously wrong. Bear in mind too that not all SIMMs are created the same either, and compatibility isn't always guaranteed, even in the PC world.

4MB is enough to run WHDLoad. None of the older classic games that would typically be using WHDLoad for needed more than 4MB (and the newer games that did need more than 4MB would be beyond the capabilities of the ST anyway). The minimum you need to run any given game with WHDLoad is the game's original requirement (usually 1 or 2MB), plus 0.5MB for an alternative Kickstart if that's required, plus maybe 0.5MB for the OS and WHDLoad itself. So 3MB should be fine (and bear in mind that an A1200 with a 4MB expansion is a 6MB machine). Additional memory beyond that though does offer some advantages, the greatest being the ability to pre-load large games so they run entirely from RAM. This requires a little less than 1MB per floppy of the original game, so a 2-3 disk game should be able to fully pre-load with a 4MB expansion. This isn't strictly necessary, but means you never have any significant loading times at any stage once the game is running - unlike when running from floppy or ADF. Larger games would still need to pause to load data in at certain points, but an 8MB expansion is enough to pre-load pretty much every game, even monster 11-disk adventure games.

 

The other advantage of having more RAM available is that you can comfortably use WHDLoad without having to close other software you might have running, including OS enhancements. 4MB is still enough for running common customisations, but more games might be unable to pre-load if you have things like a network stack in memory, for example.

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