Amiga Uplift Part 1: Accelerator

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Looking around today in 2018 there are many choices for accelerating your Amiga 500. At one point in the far past the A500 was my primary computer and I had purchased the GVP A530 in order to run programs like NewTek’s Lightwave on the A500. The A530 was marvelous piece of kit for the Amiga and it turned the A500 into very powerful computer with lots of CPU, RAM, and disk space for almost any task. My A530 is long gone (it was sold years ago) and when they come up today on Ebay for sale they go for crazy amounts of money– and besides– even if you manage to get one there are still two (maybe three) issues. One is that some software has compatibly issues with the ‘030 CPU. Second you still have to deal with GVP DIMMs (unless you got it fully loaded) and last you still have to deal with old SCSI 1 drives- although there are SCSI to CF adapters (I’ve used the Aztec Monster for my Mac) they are an additional cost and can also have compatibility issues themselves. But you can bypass all those issues by purchasing a new, modern accelerator that uses modern components.

Amiga 500 hc508 accelerator card
The HC508

After looking around online I settled on the HC508 from Amedia Computer company, located in France. The HC508 is a sweet little card (from their web page):

Provided with one 68HC000 processor @ 50MHz (68000 instructions 100% compatible), 8MB of FAST ram, 512KB of flash memory (for loading a kickstart file), One Compact Flash slot, One IDE 3.5 inch 40 pins connector, A Boot menu for managing the options

I liked keeping compatibility w/ the 68000 and just pumping up the speed. The CF card and IDE was nice also. For about $200 you get the accelerator and for $35 more you get a CF card with WB already installed and ready to boot.

A530
The A530 fit the A500 profile perfectly and was wicked fast for the time

The accelerator arrived after about a week of shipping and customs and after opening it, inserting the included CF card containing WB 2.1 and newer Kickstart ROMs, and attaching it to the A500 expansion port it booted right up. Once I verified it worked I next wanted to back up the CF card with WorkBench on it since that was my only copy- no floppies come with this anymore. I purchased a USB CF reader and 4GB card from Amazon and then backed the card up to a disk image and then imaged that onto the new CF card.

Steps for imaging the WB CF Card on Apple’s OSX

Making an backup image

On almost all mac laptops, an inserted CF card will come up as /dev/disk2, but use diskutil list to make sure. Then backup using the dd command to a local file.

$ sudo diskutil list
...
/dev/disk2 (external, physical):
...

$ sudo dd if=/dev/disk2 of=amiga_WB.img bs=1m
Restore Image

Now you have the backup image on the Mac– keep it safe in case you need to make another WB card. Eject the original card and insert the new blank CF. After inserting you may need to unmount the new card (usually they are DOS formatted which OSX will recognize and then automount) and then use dd again to write out the image onto the CF. Using the raw device /dev/rdisk2 usually speeds up the writes.

$ sudo diskutil unmountDisk /dev/disk2
Unmount of all volumes on disk2 was successful

$ sudo dd if=./amiga_WB.img of=/dev/rdisk2 bs=1m
3823+1 records in
3823+1 records out
4009549824 bytes transferred in 196.589467 secs (20395548 bytes/sec)

Next post will look at my one surprise extra purchase for this project: another A500 from ebay. I needed a power-supply.

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