Amiga 500 stuff

A couple of months ago a friend of mine gave me his two Amiga 500 computers which he wasn’t using. That was a real treat for me as I’ve never had an Amiga of my own. I was deciding between an Amiga 600 and an Amiga 2000 then everything suddenly went IBM and so did I.

The Amigas were a little worse for wear…

Two dirty old Amiga 500s

I talked to a lot of people online to find out what I needed. Firstly, they obviously needed cleaning up. I removed the cases and all of the keys from one of the Amigas. I scrubbed them in the kitchen sink and got all the keys and both cases looking nice. I then left the cases in the sun on and off for a few days to retrobrite them. It worked a treat! Next came reassembling.

I had talked to a friend of mine (Shallan50k) and he had spare Amiga keys so sent me two which were missing from the second Amiga. It took a few weeks and me being lazy left anything else for a while. I did purchase a power supply on eBay from someone in Australia. I talked them down $5 which ain’t nothing!

I also found they both had expanded memory which was nice. One had the official Amiga memory expansion and the other was a third party one. I asked on Facebook and they said the official Amiga one is better and a bit faster so I went with that. I was advised to remove the backup batteries for the clock as they can easily degrade and spill acid all over the boards. Fortunately, they had not as yet.

Amiga RAM Expansion A501 RTC Battery Replacement (Read desription first!) -  YouTube
Amiga 501 memory expansion

I soon discovered that the output would not be great to my LCD TV, particularly since the Amigas would only output in Black and White as I had no other way to connect to the TV. But, I could test booting and they did! One has Kickstarter 1.2 and the other 1.3! I hear 1.3 is ever so slightly better so decided to make that my main computer. I soon ordered an A520 RF modulator. Not great, but better than nothing.

Amiga video connector - Wikipedia
A520 from an online pic I found

This lets you connect Video out to a TV of any kind. I plugged that into my Amiga 500 and TV and the audio RCA cables from Amiga to TV and booted up again. It worked!

Now, how to get games and other programs onto the Amiga 500? Well, talking to a Facebook group I was highly recommended the GoTek drive.

GoTek style device from eBay

I read the instructions and had to boot a couple of times to get it right, but now I could load ADF (Amiga Disk Floppy image files) onto my Amiga! Brilliant!

The keys from Shallan50k had arrived so I went to put them into my Amiga. I soon discovered two other keys had been broken when I removed them from the other Amiga. So I had two Amigas with two missing keys each. I decided to use my Kickstart 1.3 Amiga as the main one. It was only the key plungers which were broken so I took two from the 1.2 Amiga and put into the 1.3. I opened the package from Shallan50k only to find he had also supplied me with the plungers! Oh well, at least I had an Amiga with a complete keyboard and GoTek Drive. What’s next?

I needed a good joystick and mouse. The Commmodore 64c I bought a year ago had a crappy, mostly-working joystick so I asked on Shallan50k’s Discord and was recommended a Monster Joystick.

Plywood BASIC Mini Monster Joystick kit – Cherry Red

Due to the Australian Dollar sucking so much compared to the British Pound Sterling I decided to go with the cheapest model at £29.99. It’s fine and works very well, but being the lazy type I again didn’t assemble it for a week or so. It took me a few goes of assembling/unassembling/reassembling before I got it going (read the instructions ahead if you don’t want a bad time!). I hooked it up to my Amiga and tried a game only to find I had connected the wires inside incorrectly, so disassembled half of it again and put it together again. Tested. SUCCESS!

Now, a mouse.. hmm. I was recommended an adaptor from a place online which lets you plug any USB mouse into your Amiga. However after the price plus postage to Australia it was about $65 AUD. I soon discovered from them that Australia was blocking shipments from standard mail (they were sending it from Spain) and they could only get it to me via DHL which was another $20. AUD$85 for an adaptor but no mouse was too much so I requested and got a refund.

I still need to get a mouse going. Luckily people recommended a place in Melbourne which sells PS/2 to Amiga mouse adaptors! Sweet! However I do not have a PS/2 mouse. *Sad WauloK noises* I asked online and was sent a free PS/2 mouse from a very nice person! Hooray! It arrived within a week as it was coming from further south in Australia.

PS/2 to Amiga Mouse converter

The converter shown above had not arrived after 4 weeks. In the meantime I had made the order for the Monster Joystick from the UK FIVE DAYS after the mouse converter. The joystick arrived after about 4 weeks. It took another week for the converter to arrive from Melbourne WHICH IS IN THE SAME DAMN COUNTRY! Thanks for nothing, Australia Post! The mouse had also arrived so I plugged them into each other and the Amiga. Testing was a success and now I can play Lemmings (and other games too, I suppose!) on my Amiga 500.

I put the parts of the spare Kickstarter 1.2 Amiga in my garage and I can use them in the future if I ever need spares for the main one.

So, I had tested a couple of games on my Amiga 500 and they went ok. Once everything was assembled and tested I put a few other games onto my GoTek USB stick and tried them out. For some reason the music sounded HORRIBLY HORRIBLE! I could not work it out?! Bubble Bobble had a little ditty which was ok but sounded way better on my C64c. The same for other games. I tried Tetris and Great Giana Sisters. OH THE PAIN.. THE PAIN (thanks, Doctor Smith!). I could not figure out why my Amiga had such horrible music! Surely it should be leagues ahead of my C64c?

I tried swapping the L & R audio leads. Now I could hear the bass and drums instead of the main melody. So, the Amiga works. I tried another RCA cable pair (gold plated) and the same issue occurred. I tried swapping to other video slots on my TV but it was still horrible. I posted a little video to Discord to see if anyone had any ideas but most people are in the UK and hence were snoring.

The TV had been a hand-me-down from a friend and so I had no manual for it. I grabbed the remote for the TV and tried changing audio settings in the Menu. Disabling virtual surround-sound. Tried a few other things. Still no dice. Then, I saw a button labelled “A/B”. Hmm. What could that be? Well, I have nothing to lose so I pressed it. Some words in an overlay greeted me with:

STEREO MODE ON

WTF??? I loaded up Great Giana Sisters again and lo and behold, my ears were hearing the music of angels! I put on Tetris. It wasn’t great but it was better than the ear-bleeding sounds of before. So this was the problem. Ever since I got the TV it had been locked in Mono audio mode! I’ve been watching movies etc for the last few years in Mono without any idea! Well, it was good to know that was the simple issue and not a broken Amiga or TV. WHEW! That night I played a bit of International Karate + and had lots of fun. I like it when games on the Amiga have the same music (but sounding better) as the Commodore 64. I had tried Commando, but no Rob Hubbard tune was to be heard. The same for a few other games, but IK+ had a rendition of Rob’s soundtrack. I loved every minute of it.

The Amiga 500 with cleaning, retrobriting and new peripherals

I might even look into developing a game some time in the future. My Commodore 64 game is due out at Christmas and is free for subscribers to FREEZE64 magazine.

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