The Two Worlds Meet


The A1200 lives!

My A1200 has been on the “repair shelf” since September last year, when it suddenly stopped working. It was quite hard to diagnose the exact issue as the combination of my Indivision AGA and monitor meant that it never synced up in time to see any error message, and I only got the very briefest flash of colour before the display went black. I thought I saw a purple flash a couple of times; this colour doesn’t appear in any of the diagnostic charts I could find, but it may have been my monitor’s attempt at displaying a red flash. In which case, it could be the Kickstart ROMS at fault, but I couldn’t be sure. I had tried replacing the ROMs with another old set of 3.1 chips, but there was still no improvement.

I tried disconnecting all expansion cards, accelerator and so on, but it seemed to be “bricked”. I pretty much stopped working on it when I got my X5000 but always wanted to get the A1200 back up and running; Emulation is great these days, but there’s no substitute for the feel and “soul” of an actual classic system.

Anyway, I recently ordered a set of 3.1.4 ROMs, mainly because I wanted to add OS 3.1.4 to my set of emulated systems on the X5000 but as I had ordered the physical chips, I decided to try replacing the ROMs on the A1200 with this set as well.

Installing the chips was quite straightforward but I strongly recommend the use of a chip replacement tool to help you. As I was pretty sure the main board was somehow dead, I didn’t use too much care and I just used a flat screwdriver to lever the old chips out. This bent and damaged the pins so they would have been unusable if I decided to swap them back in. Here’s what the new ROMs looked like inserted into the mainboard:

You can also make out the CF card holding my 3.9 OS and software, an Indivision AGA underneath (the red board) and a Blizzard 1230 Mk IV clocked at 50Mhz with 16Mb RAM. I put everything back together and not expecting much, flicked the power switch.

And, oh my word…. IT WORKED!

All I can guess at this point is that I somehow ended up with a couple of pairs of faulty ROMs before I tried the 3.1.4 set. It’s fantastic to have the old beast up and running again, and I spent an afternoon rediscovering all the projects I had been working on, got it back online with a PCMCIA network card, listened to some classic MODs and played some classic games.

The X5000 was not happy

The next morning though, disaster struck. I went to boot up the X5000 so I could get them networked together and share files, and….

Yeah, that doesn’t look good. Every time I pressed the power button on the X5000, the case fans briefly twitched but that was it, no further activity and the system wouldn’t power on. It was almost like it had died in protest at the A1200 being resurrected - like “Highlander”, There Can Be Only One!

I contacted AmigaKit where I purchased the X5000 from as it was still under warranty and they helped me through a very thorough set of trouble-shooting steps. Big thanks to Chris at AmigaKit who responded to my emails, and as it turned out was the person who originally put the X5000 together for me when I ordered it.

I guess this is one of the advantages of the Amiga scene being so “niche” - there can’t be many places where you can talk to the person who built your system and have them help troubleshoot it with you! Here it is with the sides removed while I was working on it (the inflatable Boing Ball came with my 3.1.4 ROMs):

We ran through what the status LEDs on the motherboard were doing, checked the SD card holding the BIOS, removed all expansion cards and also tried disconnecting the front-panel I/O and starting the system by connecting two jumper pins (to rule out a simple button failure or short in the case). The final step was to try a new PSU, and it finally span back into life!

A big relief, and I want to again thank Chris and AmigaKit for their help, and also to everyone who replied to my thread at AmigaWorld.

Together at last

And to round off this exciting few days, here’s what I had been hoping for the last few months - the “next-gen” and “classic” worlds side by side:

Some awesome Amiga times await!