Monday, April 24, 2017

My Hardware #5 - Amiga600HD

A couple of years ago I've published an advert on Gumtree, saying that I was looking for old computers. One of the replies I got was from a guy who said that he has a boxed Commodore 64 and Amiga 600 for sale. When I asked for the price, he said 120 PLN, which is around 30 euro, so without any hesitation I said Yes :) The guy even brought the hardware by train to the station near my home. So for a insanely low price I got myself two new computers, some disks, joysticks and C64 stuff like datasette, cartridges and tapes.

The Amiga looked very nice, with only slight yellowing. It is an A600HD model, which had an original 30 MB 2,5" with workbench installed. It worked fine, so I started looking for some upgrades, to make it more useable. First thing I changed, was replacing the old HDD with a 4GB CF Card, and getting a 1 MB Chip Ram Expansion from Individual Computers. Later I ordered a 4 MB Fast Ram expansion from Kipper2k, only to replace it a year later with a Ninetails 020/28 accelerator.

Ninetails itself is worth a mention. It's a 020/28 turbo card with 11 MB of Fast Ram, designed and built by polish Amiga user Rafal Chyła a.k.a. "sanjyuubi", who produced a small batch of those cards a couple of years ago. From what I know there were only around 20 built, so I'm lucky to have one !

So just to sum up my config:
Amiga 600HD
2 MB Chip, 11 MB Fast RAM
4GB CF card as HDD, 64Mb CF on PCMCIA for data transfer
4xKickstart switch
Amiga OS 3.1 with Classic WB package

I use the A600HD mostly for watching ECS demos and playing Gunship 2000.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

KEBAB - polish Amiga & C64 magazine 1992-1993, covers gallery

Kebab was a polish Commodore64 & Amiga magazine, originating from an Amiga diskmag (also named Kebab), issued by the first ever polish scene group - Quartet. Creators of the magazine aimed at promoting "serious" use of C= computers, so the magazine consisted mainly of programming courses, and hardware modifications rather than game reviews. It also had a lot of demoscene reports.

Recently I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to buy most of Kebab's issues in mint condition, from the old, leftover stock. Below you'll find scans of the magazine's covers, which in my opinion are quite spectacular.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

My Hardware #4 - Philips VG-8235 MSX2

MSX platform was never a popular computer system in Poland. During communist times we had some SVI's imported, but they never got very popular, mainly because of the lack of software available in my country. But as a retro computer enthusiast I was always interested in this format, mainly because it is so exotic here. My interest peaked in 2016, when I've seen an MSX2 demo Baltak Rampage by Traktor, released at Revision 2016. It amazed me, that this 8-bit machine has such great graphics capabilities, and I started scanning online auction sites for potential hardware. After months of waiting, I found Philips VG-8235 auctioned on It was unchecked, without any warrandy (sold "as is") and probably found on some German scrapyard. Nevertheless, MSX2's are very rare on polish auctions, so I placed a bid, and won the auction with final price of around 250 PLN (around 60 euro).

Here are the computers specifics from MSX.Org:

Brand Philips (Manufacturer: NEC)
Type VG-8235
Year 1986
RAM 128kB
VRAM 128kB
Media MSX cartridges, 1DD floppy disks
Video Yamaha V9938
Audio PSG (custom chip integrated in MSX-Engine S3527)
Chipset Yamaha S3527
Extras 360kB 3,5" floppy disk drive, external disk drive connector, reset button, firmware on disks (MSX-DOS1 - Home Office - Designer)

When I recevied the VG-8235 it was ultimately dirty, the disk drive wasn't working, and some of the keys didn't respond. But it booted into BASIC, so I had hope. On pictures below you can see, that the reason for keyboard problems was dirt, and that floppy drive had the rubber belt torn to pieces.

I replaced the drive belt, cleaned the keyboard parts and diskdrive with vacuum cleaner and alcohol, I also soldered a cable to connect an external floppy drive. A cool feature of VG-8235 is that it has an external FDD port, compatible with standard PC 3,5" floppy drives. So a 1.44MB 3,5" drive from my old PC works fine with it and formats 720kb disks. Which is useful, as VG-8235's internal drive is just single-sided with 360kb capacity.

So, after cleaning and some minor repairs my Philips VG-8235 is fully operational. I also equipped it with SD512 card reader/memory expansion module, which I described on my blog some time ago, so now my MSX has more RAM (768kb), than my vanilla Amiga 1000 (512kb). Below are some pictures from the current state, and a video showing booting from SD512 into SofaRun, and running Space Manbow *.rom image with .