Cat Weasel v4 Running in an XP VM

I’ve managed connect my PCI Catweasel card to pass-though on my ESXi server. I took a bit of work and it’s not perfect (ie no Joysticks or Mice work) but the disk subsystem works great. I added to my server a Multi Function 3 1/2 drive with USB reader, which I thought was a stretch to get working — but in the end it was fine. I also added a TEAC 5 1/4 drive which reads and writes perfectly. The Disk Imaging tools work reasonable well but get stuck sometimes.

I tested some Amiga, Apple and C64 floppies and was surprised how fast they imaged or transferred down.

Stability was an issue initially, but after making some adjustments to processor and memory layout of the VM, XP and the Catweasel card are working great. The other subsystems on the card are not used, but what I really wanted was a multi format disk reader and writer.

Click on the thumbnail to see the desktop in action.

C64: (teaching old dogs new tricks)


I will say three things about Michal’s c64 programming series: his video’s are fun, fast and packed with information.

I am not a bad assembly programmer, -not the best- but not bad. After watching a few seasons of his videos I started to notice subtle ways to improve my style.

There is a common problem with programmers in general. We need a problem to learn something and anything else in the way gets filtered out. So when Michal’s videos had Basic language sections, I was going to skip them for more interesting topics. I’m glad I didn’t. In fact, a few assumptions (over the years) that I’ve made were proven wrong (about the DATA statement in Basic). Suddenly, I wanted to know if there were other things that I was mistaken about.

Before you complain about it being a paid service; its worth it. Its a good refresher and its interesting to see how he works and his logic. He even manages to get automated testing into the mix.. on an 8bit 64k machine. It’s worth the money and I’m happy when a new episode appears in my inbox.

A2000: Goldfinger – Xsurf/Rapidroad – SCSI2SD

Hardware Changes and Adjustments (Part 1 of 3)

  1. OS3.9 on DH0: and OS1.3 on DH1:  — Easy booting to each OS.
  2. Replaced the AMIGANET 1.1 / Hydra with and XSurf100 using AmiTCP. Networking is going great in OS3.9
  3. Combined with XSurf100, is the RapidRoad USB addon card. I’ve mounted a variety of devices — setup was a little weird but once it was working, it worked well. Was impressed by the device support.
  4. Got 2 more GVP 4MB ram modules, Chip: 1MB, Extended: 16Mb on the 030
  5. With the 030 Processor Upgrades to 50MHrz and an MMU, FASTROM Enabled.

I had two Primary machines in Artschool, one was Yuri and the other was a Pentium 133 in the school lab. Years later, after working at the same school and passing the baton on to another — someone showed up to a house party with my Old computer in tow. The machine had been in storage and I had a disk backup of the machine. The IDE drive was cooked and there was some damage to the machine’s PSU. It was a gift I wanted to get going.

In order to get the rest of the changes completed, I needed to pull out the motherboard from the case.

PEAK650VLBI found a Goldfinger card on Ebay, which if you want to know more about them: Here and Here. The card is a PEAK650VLB, which is basically everything you need for a computer (minus a soundcard) on one ISA card. It’s like the bridgeboard for the Amiga, but a million times better. It has a 1ghrz Pentium 4, with 64 megs of ram, EIDE controllers, USB and two NIC’s (100mb). It’s a 16bit ISA Card, with a PCI edge near the front of the card. So it can be placed in either BUS system type.

The Amiga has ISA slots — 2 8bit and 2 16bit, which are dumb slots. And the PEAK650VLB is a card that takes over the ISA BUS, so I could add a few ISA cards into the mix. Last time I checked, the only 8bit ISA cards I had were a modem and PS2 port. Everything else (including my P133) was 16bit.

The Amiga 2000’s 8bit ISA slots can be upgraded to 16bit, if you solder on the extra connector. The PEAK650VLB is a monster full sized card (the heat sinks add to the girth), but because of the PCI connector it will not fit in the stock 16bit card slots.. only the outer slots (8bit) have the space to take the card. So it looks like some soldering is needed.

*I desoldered two of the 16bit ISA card slots from my old P133*.

ISAI did not know what I was thinking when I did that. It was such a brutal exercise initially. A solder sucker and iron took forever to get the first slot, which I will never get that time back again. Even after the solder comes off, trying to find the pins that had a minuscule amount of solder on them (preventing the slot from coming out) was impossible. Solder wick was faster on the second attempt, but still the connectors were impossible to pull out from the sheer amount of pins.

If you ever have to pull out a lot of stuff from a board, something like a rework station is needed. Sparkfun has one: 303D. There are moments in life where you think: Where was this 10 years ago? The third slot and the remaining two came out in a fraction of the time. I wish I had a 303D from the beginning. Awesome! Chopped off the 16bit part of the slot and solder to the Amiga.

So with the two slot’s upgraded, we get the next round of upgrades:

  1. PEAK650VLB with Pentium4 1Ghrz, 64MB ram.
  2. AudioTrix Pro Sound card (ISA) with Soundblaster Emulation
  3. Compactflash Drive to EIDE Converter. 4GB storage on CF.
  4. Custom made bracket for the CF Card, to load out the back of the Amiga
  5. DOS 6.22, Windows 98 and Debian Linux installed.

DUNE2DOS 6.22, was a pain to get working with a more modern system. PNP and BIOS configs to get the sound card to work in DOS was something I pleasantly forgot.. but after a little brain massaging it worked. I installed DOOM3D and DUNE2, both of which I still have the original install disks. I copied over my original school/work backups from an ISO I made years ago. FRACTINT still looks great 🙂

I still need to make a backplane for the USB and Serial Ports for the PC side.


SCSI2SDThe last of the upgrades is SCSI2SD. This device basically is a hard disk replacement for computers with SCSI-2 interfaces. Insert an SD card, connect the device to a USB computer and configure how many SCSI devices and their sizes. Connect the device to the computer’s SCSI chain, boot and partition. It was pretty easy.

I did some speed tests before and after. I was a little sad with the results:

Seagate HAWK: 2.1MB/sec
SCSI2SD: 1.6MB/sec

Maybe a different card choice or configuration might improve the stats. But the real amazing thing about this is that you can take the SD card out, back it up as an image and put it back. Multiple cards, multiple setups. I’m going to try and workout why the transfer loss, but at the moment I am happy with what I couldn’t do that easily before the change.


A2000: Next batch of upgrades

Well, this has been fun. Lets start with juggling soldering irons is only good for the dexterous — which strapping a brick to my solder station is looking like a better idea every day.

Yuri got a batch of upgrades.

BatteryStarted with removing the battery, which was getting fuzzy. After reading all the debates about coin batteries or cordless phone batteries — I decided to use the original battery type. I made a small metal fold under the mainboard, so the battery could just snap into place, then be removed if needed. Hard to see and its actually jammed in there too. I have never taken the motherboard out of that machine, but after it was on the bench for a while I noticed that its pretty bendy, enough to pop the 68000 out of alignment. Many Yellow boot screens, then push push push.. ahh.


PSUBackI had a spare ANTEC PSU around, decided to get that installed. A jumper change on the main board, easy. I cheated this time and bought a power adapter. I had fun building the other PSU — but the adapter was cheap and I ordered a few other little things from (so why not). ATX PSU’s of course have a different component layout — but the ANTEC’s come with a handy metal jig/adapter you can screw on. A few extra holes here and there and the PSU was mounted.Not the most elegant mounting in the world, but not bad either. Fan’s in modern PSU’s seem to vent up not out the back, so I mounted the PSU slightly lower in the case. I’m going to try to find a slot based fan, to help with the heat in the machine. But power up!

DeniseHuggerWho doesn’t hate interlace flicker. My eye’s were dying, along with one of my 1084 monitors. So the next addition was: Indivision ECS flicker fixer VGA adapter. I have to say, that OS3.9 and a reasonable resolution (sans le flicker) is pretty good looking (I used WB 1.3 in 4 colour mode for most of my life). I was always jealous of 2.04 ROM’s (friend had an A3000), but I loved my setup in the day. I wish I had taken the plunge earlier. Anyways, the card plugs into Denise’s slot and then Denise piggy backs on top. A grounding wire finishes up the install. A note to Denise pulling, use a screw driver — chip pullers are not designed for big ones. Just use a small flathead and pop the chip from each side and rock it out. The Adapter card, really really is a tight fit and requires a little bit of man handling. In the end, you can watch from an 1084 and the VGA at the same time. The back and forth is pretty amazing. I keep looking at my WB screen on the LCD — I really do like it.

68030Proc3 parts: 68030 (50 mhrz with MMU), 68882 companion and 50 mhrz crystal. This mod, I have been dying to do for a while — but didn’t have the balls. Who doesn’t want a 20% boost in speed. After getting “Smell the rubber.. I wanted to know what was next :). Yes, burnt PCB 🙂 No not really. Looking at the board, this particular GVP supports 50 mhrz so the base hardware can take it. Getting the crystal off the board (as it was soldered in place) was the worst time I have every had with a PCB and soldering iron. It was impossible to get out. I was trying to save the crystal in case something happened. I have 3 of them (2 x 50’s and a spare 40) but a certain point, a pair of thin side cutters and the snip snip, off  it goes. A new socket, yes 🙂 pop in a crystal and some jumper configs (which some didn’t make sense) — Wham! Power up 🙂

While the board was on the table, I kept screwing with the MegaChip2000 — which is still not working. So that’s going in a box until I can figure things out with that.

Kickstart31The ROM switcher went from 1.3/2.04 ROM’s to 1.3/3.1 ROMS. I had decided to burn a copy of OS3.9 and give that a run. The install for that was slow. Well the CDROM was slow, part of me was wondering it floppy swappin’ would have been faster. Getting the Hydra and the serial port card to go was interesting. The hyperCOM4 card is going to be an eternal pain.. Always keep copies of drivers.

Configuring OS 3.9 was fun, but also interesting to compare modern OS’s versus anything Amiga. AML-C for copy, is annoying to do — who uses left control-c to copy on a PC? I’m sure there is one guy out there, but really.. getting my UI and operation reflexes took a little longer than I thought it would.


Ok, now the sysinfo 🙂


hehe, something to note — this shot it taken from an LCD. Looks great 🙂

Willem PCB45: The Red Head Stepchild of EPROM Programmers

BurnerAndAdpaterMaking ROM’s has been on my mind for a long time. Every so often the need arises, or so I have told myself. A while back I bought a Willem PCB45 EPROM burner, thinking I’ll be burning ROM’s every day till I die. It went in a box and life got in the way. Life got in the way of a lot of my projects.

It seems that in burner market, there are hordes of these guys, well not all these guys. There are PCB4C’s, 5’s, 3B’s and others. Look up PCB45 and its really hard to locate any info. My cheap (serves me right) no manual or power adapter off of Ebay purchase was starting to piss me off.

Download the latest version and you are out of luck. I needed to go back to a version that supported my hardware. Then you get the host of other problems of living in a modern world, software designed for 32bit XP which needs an actual LPT port. You know the first five minutes of plugging in a USB cable and wondering.. is this thing going to detect? Ahh its for power only.

Managed to make a few C64 carts and PETROM’s. Looking into a few Atari Carts and maybe a GVP SCSI 4.15 upgrade for my Amiga.

Fun with Turbo Chameleon 64: Minimig Core

xCards2* Update *

It’s not a matter of compatible cards by the looks of things. My TC seems to have some timing issues. I’ve had this problem before with a firmware update — but fixed in a later update.

Speaking with Alastair about what the issues could be it ended up that the latest version of the Minimig core wasn’t working — but older versions did. He mentioned a new build sometime in the future to test out the timings.

* Old News * 🙂

Well as of today, I still can’t seem to find an SD card that will run the Minimig core correctly. A while back I had one, but it got crushed. I threw the card out and started fresh (had backups), but nothing I do seems to work. So these are the cards I have tried, formatted FAT32, FAT16, exFAT, with various clsuter sizes and with smaller partitions (for the 8GB cards) or using the complete size of the SD card.

The same cards will work with MSX core, or load files for the TC64’s C64 file browser. A few other people have mentioned issues with particular cards. I’m looking around for other cards to try…

1541-II: Dirty Harry


Backing up the collection, is causing some permanent damage. Every so often the drive just starts gagging on a disk, so I stop the process and open the drive. I’ve actually started to just leave the case off and move my coffee to the other side of the desk. Majority of the disks don’t have issues, but then there are a few that strip large quantities of their magnetic surface off. I ran out of isopropyl, so I switched to booze (something high proof :)). The strange thing is the booze seems to work better. Less disks are getting trashed. might be for other reasons like stronger better made floppies — or ones that were taken better care of. The majority of these disks are from different people, maybe 1/5 are mine and the others are donations from friends and bulk purchases from other equipment buys from ebay. Does anyone have any suggestions for bulk backup of collections to D64?

I’ve written a few scripts in powershell, to handle the bulk of the work. The script does a directory of the disk, if that is successful it takes the header name, uses that as base filename. Then it copies the directory to a txt file, runs D64copy shows the progress. If I type a name after the script command, it will use that name instead of the dir header. I wonder if there is a way to save the error map from D64copy as well?

KickAss IDE: The Best C64 Cross Development Platform

KickAss IDE, is a great setup. On my Win7 machine, I really enjoy using it. After years of mixed tools for c64 dev, having a full IDE is amazing. If you are into doing some c64 coding on a windows machine, pick it up!

It’s too bad there isn’t a OSX port, I ended up using the Kick Assembler with UltraEdit on OSX.

The installer is at CDSB: