Saturday saw yet another congregation of the Lincolnshire Amiga Group, 11 people where able to make it this time round, which isn’t a shabby turn out at all.
While my girlfriend took along her trusty A600 for a session of point & click adventuring, I’d brought along my Amiga 3000 still needing attention and my micro AmigaOne with freshly installed 512mb SDRAM. This time around it finally seemed to be working, unlike last time, when the ram I bought produced errors while surfing the net. Just as I had been warned, the Au1 is a picky little bugger when it comes to ram. Hopefully this time I’ve found a stick of SDRAM that will work. While sitting beside my GF who was enjoying a game of Monkey Island II, I realised after all the time spent setting up the Au1 so that it was working with all the right apps, had completely neglecting the subject of games. This left me sitting at LAG without a game to play. Luckily I had packed my A1200 which had one or two games on the HDD, “UFO: Enemy unknown” being one of them and also one of my favourite Amiga games. Ok I might keep getting wiped out by the Aliens, but there’s something about the isometric game which I find very appealing. I’ve tried playing other newer incarnations of the game, but frankly nothing beats the original for me.
One of the reason I had took along the A3000 was in the hope Gaz would be able to give it a looking over. The man knows a heck of a lot more than I do about the A3000, not surprising when I’ve hardly had one more than two years. In anticipation of meeting up with him, I had printed out the pin configurations for the A3k. My plan was to return the A3000 to its stock settings and then slowly add hardware a piece at a time. Getting it to even boot would be a result, given it would turn on and display nothing at all, except a blank screen!
The last time the A3k had worked, was prior to installing an A3640 processor card and a brand new ZoRAM 128mb card. After installing the two cards, the power supply in my aging A3000 finally decided it had enough and decided to pop, perhaps taking offence to being asked to power more demanding hardware. A bright spark and puff of smoke and the PSU was toast, leaving me with a major problem. Where the heck was I meant to find a replacement? I couldn’t really phone Commodore for technical support. Fortunately I was in luck, some boffin had worked out how to use a modern ATX power supply in an A3000 and A4000. Glancing at the how-to, it was unlike any project I had taken on before. Now I will take on most things for the hell of it, but playing about with the guts of 240v power supplies and transformers just makes my spider sense tingle. Thoroughly convinced I was going to electrocute myself or fry my Amiga. I spoke to Gaz, who was more than willing to help me rewire a PSU at the next LAG. In the mean time I found a mini ATX psu, the sort found in Compaq and Dell compact office computers. By all counts, it looked like it would fit inside my existing A3k PSU casing, which would keep the Amiga looking original.
After a lot of help from Gaz, the new PSU was up and working, with only a few wires left for me to tidy up, the more hazardous work having been done already. Installing the new PSU in the A3k, I was actually rather nervous, the explosive memory of the old PSU was still in my mind. So I donned a set of insulated gloves before switching the A3k on. With a whir of the fan and a blink of the front LED the Amiga powered on. Except it wasn’t booting from the hard disk drive or posting an image on the screen. Something was up and this time it wasn’t the power supply.
Now we fast forward to LAG 31, remember I wasn’t playing games? Right well instead of a romp of Monkey Island 2, I decided more fun would be had taking the A3000 apart, because that just how rock and roll I am!
Dragging Gaz away from his machine and sitting him in front of the A3000, I explained what I’d done so far and my plan with the jumpers. The print out really wasn’t needed, as he poked his head in the Amiga and adjusted most of the jumpers from memory. See? I told you he knew more about the A3k then I did, any doubters should get to the back of the class.
Switching on the machine I held my breath, a few moments passed then finally the screen came to life! Hurray! My Amiga was alive! It had narrowly dodged becoming a glorified paper weight on the shelf. One after the other we slowly installed the zorro cards until the machine was up and working with my Picasso II video card, X-surf network adaptor and 128mb ZoRAM memory expansion. The new psu was handling everything that was thrown at it, in addition the inside of the Amiga looked no different to any other A3000, aside from a few shrink wrapped wires. Overall I think this mod / repair scores an awesome on my fix-o-meter!
A big thank you has to go out to Gaz for all his help, Rockape for the A3640 and several guys on the Amiga.org forum, who kindly pointed me in the direction of the jumper settings for the A3000 motherboard.
(Written on an Macintosh Plus with 4mb ram & 500mb Hard disk.)