LOAF Fixes an Amiga (or: ¡Hola Amigas!)

Actually those differences only apply to 512k chip ram+512k fast ram setup (regular a500 with only 512k upgrade). Those with at least 1mb chip ram would get more cockpit gfx (such as comm's face gfx) and those with 1.5 mb of total ram and above would get the all animation and gfx available (such as the moving hand).
I might be wrong regarding the 1mb chip ram setup (A600/A500+), but I know that the RAM available made the only difference. Other than that it was exactly the same game (apart from audio experience and the rotating ships on the arcade lookalike flightsim)...

It's a real shame, that back then, not everyone experienced Amiga WC at its best. But now you should, even if you use an emulator option...

Thanks for clearing that up, like I said, I had both an A500+ and latterly an A600 and in neither case did the hand move, it's been so long I can't recall about the VDU pilot graphics... but I understand the two machines I owned were basically the same spec, except the A600 was 'condensed' and the A500+ had extra slots for memory upgrade. I've tried emulation, but I suspect nothing would be more rewarding than getting hold of another Amiga, mine both died years ago. Maybe an A1200 as I always fancied one but never had the money as a kid.

It would be principally for Wing Commander, but I know I'd end up buying other classic trash; Road Rash, Sensible Soccer, Flashback and Another World all spring to mind. So many wonderful titles on this platform.
Actually those differences only apply to 512k chip ram+512k fast ram setup (regular a500 with only 512k upgrade). Those with at least 1mb chip ram would get more cockpit gfx (such as comm's face gfx) and those with 1.5 mb of total ram and above would get the all animation and gfx available (such as the moving hand).

In the DOS version the hand may disappear altogether if it doesn't have enough free memory. The comm faces and cockpit damage vanish too, as you describe happening on the Amiga . With even less memory, all explosions (including those on the surface of damaged capital ships) are replaced with a flak burst. Just before it stops running altogether, the in-flight music is disabled. I hope someone told George Sanger and Dave Govett that Wing Commander will compromise on every visual effect it can before losing a single note of their score.

It's easy to experiment with these in DOSBox. Open your DOSBox.conf, and set memsize to 0 or 1. (DOSBox always allocates a minimum of 1 megabyte.) You should find that Wing Commander starts with "No expanded memory detected", and that cockpit effects (the hand, comm faces and damage) are gone.

To go further, launch with "loadfix -<memory to consume in KB> wc". At "loadfix -48 wc", I find that the explosions turn into flak bursts. At 80, the message "Limited music will play" appears, meaning that in-flight music is gone, except in the Trainsim. At 96, the game won't start. Exact numbers needed to reach these states depend on how you configured both DOSBox and Wing Commander.

While it's sad to think of the many people who never knew how many effects Wing Commander had, the alternative was to have it not run at all. The efforts made to keep the game running under the most claustrophobic of conditions - and to display whatever effects it could - are awe-inspiring.

However, I wonder if they should have given greater priority to the animated hand. It seems like a gimmick, but I'm sure my aim deteriorates without it. Note that it does provide meaningful feedback, especially to keyboard users. Your turn rate ramps up when you hold down an arrow key, so that you can make fine aim adjustments by tapping keys. Hold down shift to turn at the maximum rate without ramping up.
I am distinctly relieved to announce that the Amiga's main board is on its way to New Zealand! How much does it cost to mail an Amiga board to the other side of the Earth? $22! The post office estimated that it would take about a week to get there... then a week for the repair itself and another week home. So: let's look for the Amiga to return in March!

What should arrive in the mail this afternoon, then? My CD32 copy of Wing Commander/Dangerous Streets. D'oh!

I picked up a cheap ($15) PCI video card with a feature connector for use with the VFX-1 unit. It is a Trio64V2/DX, which is supposed to work well.
Does anyone remember several months ago where the point of this project was to put an LCD on Bertha? I forgot, too. I guess my desire to never have to lift a 70-pound CRT ever again got the best of me. I've had $75 of gift card money from Christmas sitting in my Amazon account for the last two months and I suddenly realized it was time to make the switch. I did a bit of research and found that the "HP LP2065" was the LCD of choice for retro gamers. They don't make them anymore, but Amazon had a refurbished one for cheap... and so now a new screen is in the mail! It's a 20" 4:3 LCD, so it should be about the same size as the previous monitor... just be much, much thinner.

... and just in time, too! Because I'm going to use the imminent arrival of the VFX-1 (next week!) as an excuse to break down the whole system and rejigger what goes where. Since I'm down to one keyboard I'm going to move the MIDI modules and the reciever up to the desk, giving me more shelves for computers below. Ideally Karga's tower will move over to the left so everything is better centered. I'll try to move the various switches up to eye level, too (since there will only get to be more of them.) I also want to make the power outlets more accessible.

If the USPS tracking is to be believed, the second video card needed to support the VFX-1 will arrive tonight or tomorrow and I'll put that in this weekend (along with a physical switch to swap between it and the Voodoo 5.) The big challenge will be exchanging the LAPC-I for an MT-32. While I own two MT-32s, I've never actually used one so there's a little trepidation there. But the three-day weekend should be just the thing to have everything ready so I can slip the VR helmet right in! (... you /know/ it won't be that easy.)
I guess I'll come right out and say it: I bought a glass head.


This creepy fellow is going to store the VFX-1 while it's not on my head (which, let's be honest, will be most of the time.) Glass heads for storing VR gear are available for cheap ($19.95) at Pier 1 stores, which I learned through a circa-1996 VFX-1 FAQ. Apparently they're somewhat famous... but as a man I have, of course, never voluntarily shopped at Pier 1. Also in the picture is the PCI video card with a feature connector, which showed up in the mail last night. If tracking is to be believed then the new monitor and the VFX-1 should arrive in the next 48 hours... which means that I will have some work to do over the three-day weekend!

Still no word on the Amiga. The surgeon said he'd let me know when it arrived, so it must still be on the way to New Zealand.
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No news yet! It hasn't made it through New Zealandian customs yet. Hopefully any day now!

I tested the CD32 and it works great... but I'll have to wait for a future post about consoles to do more.

(Actually, everything else is in pieces right now, as I took apart all of Karga and Bertha to reorganize them and leave room for the Amiga while I was installing the VFX-1... and I haven't EXACTLY gotten them back to working again. My desk area is currently a sea of cables.)
Good morning everyone!

I apologize for the lack of updates. Last week was the /worst/ for this project.

I had dedicated President's Day to taking the whole setup apart to install the VFX-1 and to reorganize the various external compnents to make room for the eventual return Amiga.

First I opened up Karga and put in the VFX-1's ISA card and an S3 Trio 64 graphics card. I removed the Roland LAPC-I (RIP, world's longest ISA card) to free up a slot for the VFX-1 controller. LA MIDI would now come from an external MT-32. I was a bit hesitant to make this change, because while I OWNED two MT-32s I had never managed to get either of them to work (I hadn't tried /hard/, though.) Luckily, I VERY QUICKLY figured out what I had been doing wrong in the past: to 'chain' the MT-32 to your setup you need to go from the "MIDI THRU" port of the previous device (an SC-55mkII, in my case) rather than the "MIDI OUT" port. That worked great and I think it's an even better solution because I now get an external display that shows me what instrument is playing at any given time (and which will display 'INSERT BUCKAZOID' when I quit Space Quest!)

(Interesting aside: removing the LAPC-I technically plummets Karga's bluebook value. EVERYTHING else is cheap to replace and largely unwanted... but LAPC-Is can sell for $500-$1000 today. I don't know why, but they do.)

But that success was a false positive. Next I re-ran all my cables so the MIDI boxes, the receiver and the KVM switch would tuck into areas of the desk. I moved Karga himself to the left so I could center the rudder pedals and I put the Game Voice, modem and VGA switch on top. And when I put everything back together... no picture on the monitor! All that work and the new graphics card was a dud... and I'd screwed something up so that the keyboard wasn't working either! I couldn't even take fun pictures of the mess because my iPhone's camera had a nasty scratch that was making everything look fuzzy. Then I checked the tracking for the Amiga and found that it had apparently moved only five miles in a week. And then the new monitor arrived... BROKEN! The whole experience left me just plain crestfallen. I couldn't even think about the project for a few days. I left Karga open by the desk, cables everywhere.

Like most rational human beings, I deal with depression by spending an unreasonable amount of money on Dune memorabilia:


And methodically reorganizing my blurays and narwhale finger puppets:


What a difference a week makes!

I sat around feeling sorry for myself and started playing through Mass Effect 2 on Insanity to be ready for Mass Effect 3. Then came some great news: the Amiga had arrived in New Zealand! I should have known USPS tracking just sucks (it's STILL in Gaithersburg, Maryland as far as the government is concerned.) That little bit of news revitalized me and I set about ordering some more parts:

* Working on the assumption that the S3 was bad, I purchased another one on eBay... for $2.50. Oddly, it came from an art supply "co-op" and showed up wrapped in an empty box of candies (like the kind of fancy candy you buy for a pretty lady or someone in the hospital.)

* Cables, cables, cables! The greatest thing in the world is placing a big Monoprice order and that's exactly what I did. I ordered some shorter VGA cables so I could switch between Karga's 3dfx card and the S3, a female-to-female serial cable to finally plug in the 'mouse' part of the Thrustmaster TQS, several cables so I could split the audio between the speaker system, some velcro dots because the modem kept falling on the floor and a hundred rainbow velcro ties with which to clean up my giant mess of cables.

* PS/2 adapters for the Amiga! I ordered a "Lyra 2 4000" and a "Micromys V3" to let me use a keyboard and mouse (respectively) with the Amiga... whenever it returns. I may still need a video solution... but that can wait! (Actually, while moving my 70-pound CRT back and forth AGAIN, I noticed that it has a European-style RGB connector... it may be that I already have a monitor that will work with the Amiga's lower refresh rate. I need to look up the model.) These adapters are coming from Germany, so between that and the repair in New Zealand it's truly an international project.

And notice how clear those photos are? I suffered through the Apple store Genius process to have my phone's backplate replaced. $29 and they do it right there in five minutes.

So on Saturday I put in the new S3 into Karga and... success, a video signal! And after some back and forth with getting the feature connector put in every way but right I had the VFX-1 powering up!

Here's the totally rad old-school install program:


And here's a shot of one of the eyepiece in action!:


It's VERY COOL! It fits on my enormous head (really, it's larger than a normal head) and I can see the right LCD clearly even with my horribly broken single eye. I'm very, very impressed. I'm not sure if I'll do much with it now that it works but... it multiplies the coolness factor of the whole setup. I can't wait to get a picture of everything together.

(Aside: in the process of mucking about to test the different cards, I noticed that the Voodoo 5 has what looks like a VESA feature connector. That surprised me, as the thing doesn't output a truly VESA-compatible signal in the first place. For the sake of history and possibly an open PCI slot I decided to experiment with it... with no luck. Future Googlers: you can not plug a Forte VFX-1 into a Voodoo 5's feature connector. It just doesn't work. Sorry.)

Pix actually has an article on his experience with Wings of Glory in the VFX-1 and it sounds AMAZING. I can't wait until I have a chance to try this: http://www.pixsoriginadventures.co.uk/wings-of-glory-on-the-vfx-1/

And here's a funny promotional video from Forte about how the VFX-1 is the future of computer entertainment:

And for good measure, here's a video of a pretty blonde girl teaching Chinese people internet acronyms:

(Another side: adding the S3 means that I can now play the Wing Commander III demo WITH the video introduction! Woo!)

So I was VERY relieved that that was working! I still need to put all of Karga's external bits and pieces back together, but that will wait for next weekend when the colorful velcro ties arrive from Monoprice (Monday!)

I also added the velcro dots for the components that sit on top of Karga. Voila:


... and now they won't fall off!


I guess I'm getting to the crafting phase of this project. Stop me when I'm painting nose art on the side of the case.

Huh, Karga won't shove back into its position. Is something in the way? Yes:


But don't worry, says Grey, I can just destroy your VR headset instead:


(Actually, she's obessed with the VFX-1's "CyberPuck" controller, which is a small hand-held mouse-like device that's works with some games so you don't need to have a mouse on a flat surface. When I had the box sitting open and the cyberpuck was in a little plastic bag she was continually picking it up and running off with it. I'd better leave it disconnected or she'll pull down the whole setup at some point...)

But what about the AMIGA, you ask? Well, some great news arrived on Sunday... the repairs were completed! Here's what was done:

Tested unit, fault confirmed. Damage to audio stage and other areas of board due to leaking electrolytic capacitors. Replaced U402 which was corroded. Replaced C407, C408, C409, all 22µF and 4.7µF SMD electrolytic capacitors. Repaired open circuit PCB tracks. Replaced RTC battery as existing one was showing signs of corrosion. Recalibrated 32.768kHz real time clock oscillator. Passed flex and soak testing, passed all function testing, OK.

So now the Amiga is in the mail and should get here in one to two weeks!

Dundradal also suggested what I think is the best name for it so far: Lazarus, after the transport from Action Stations. It seems appropriate both for the Amiga's history and... you know, since it's going to rise from the dead. I'm still open to suggestions if anyone has anything better, though!

(I took some nice high res photos of Karga's innards, but I forgot to bring my memory card to work. I'll post them later!)
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Good morning, everyone.

I have the news you've all been waiting for: the Amiga is home from New Zealand! The trip took a hair under three weeks and she traveled about 18,000 miles.


Most amazingly, she made it home in just four days! I guess I won the customs lottery on the return trip.

I can't say enough about the guy who fixed my Amiga. If for some reason you should ever need an Amiga repaired... he's the best game in town. The only game, probably, but he's also really, really good. And the repair cost less than the estimate... when has that EVER happened?

Here's my report card:


Why didn't you fix the broken memory holders? Because my fast RAM is stored on the Warp Engine card... so the SIMMs on the motherboard are useless to me. It didn't seem worth the $100 to replace them for the potential to add 16 megs of RAM (when I'm already at 130, far above what Wing Commander would ever want.)

So my dad and I (mostly my dad, working eyes and so on) put the Amiga back together step by step. We didn't EXACTLY have instructions so there was some fuzzy-memory-guesswork but everything fit together. After a little trouble booting (the CPU card wasn't seated properly) everything started up. And we had...


SOUND! Okay, you can't technically hear that photo but... it's pretty neat. Wing Commander Amiga music through my 5.1 system was pretty darned cool. I can't wait to play through the game on the Amiga.

Here's a cool hipster Instagram'd photo of the case:


What's next? Lazarus needs to be integrated into the 'stack' -- so we need to figure out how to plug in the PS/2 mouse and keyboard as well as the monitor.

The keyboard and mouse are no problem... in fact, adapters are already on the way from Germany! So many dollars and miles going into this one...!

The monitor /may/ be more trouble. The Amiga outputs at 15hz rather than 30, as it was designed to work with television monitors rather than VGA. You can add a piece of hardware called a scan doubler to fix that. I haven't bought one yet, as I *think* my monitor may display 15hz signals (it has RGB TV inputs in the back indicating that it does.) I'll test that first!

Also, everything else is an enormous mess. We're talking the Vietnam War of cables. Karga is all disconnected and I keep shoveling more and more cables into the area. I have one more Monoprice order pending (it's always one more) and then I'm going to try and clean it all up. Clear out the excess hardware... and attach some of these rainbow cable organizers:


So, yeah, it's going to be fancy.


Last but not least, I awoke th eother morning to find this colorful fish jammed in my throttle. I have no idea how this happened.
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Wonderful stuff!

Two items to note:

- With your setup Wing commander standard version will most likely be a super challenge as it's cranked up to full speed. I know, I played a lot in my time when I had my A4000, and had to use the 030 CPU board instead of the 040.

- You can install the Wing Commander CD version, but like I said before you require the WCPatch, or else it will not load or show graphics corrupted (as the A1200/A4000 do not have the AKIKO chip found on the CD32). Besides the WCPatch also improves the frame rate and delivers the best possible speed, and that is the best WC experience you can expect to encounter - much better than the CD32.

However I suspect, because of previous posting, that you may not have the CD-ROM drivers installed (if you put a CD on the CD-ROM tray it would automatically recognize it). Also the CD drive normally lists under CDx: (x being the number attributed to the drive chain - normally CD0) :)
It could be that the CD0 driver is on the Sys:storage/dosdrivers (Sys being your main OS hard drive - probably HD0), just move the file into Sys:devs/dosdrivers to get it working on boot startup (don't worry it's all available in the drawers (directories on the Amiga Workbench), don't need to use shell for this.

IF you haven't got the drivers, just search aminet for AmiCDROM (1997) or CDVFS (2008). There's also ASIMCDFS and other packages... It's just a matter of installing and in most cases it will be automatic the all CD-ROM recognition process.

And don't worry if it reports a SCSII CD-ROM while you have a IDE one, it's how it's handled internally at HW level.
One piece of bad news...

Your Master Pilot won't be able to eject, because the Keyboard shortcut on the Amiga is different (the only keyboard difference AFAIK from the PC version), instead of Ctrl-E (or Ctrl+Esc) in Amiga is Shift+F10, or something like that... I remember having lost the manual, and using a PC version on PDF and finding out about that).

So unless the master pilot lets you redefine keys, that action won't be supported!...

If you're aiming for the Golden Sun medal you'll require that or play a mission with a keyboard...

Edit: By the way, what other gimmicks you're planning to attach the Amiga?
One other thing... (I'm getting irritating I know!)...

My advice is to keep a 15khz monitor, as the 30 khz one will probably make the image more pixelated (except for some older filtered models) and you'll might appreciate even less the GFX on the amiga standard version - The low resolution works better and takes a better job of blurring the images dithered palette.
Even the AGA one will feel much like you're playing on a PC. You're trying to get something different right? So that's my advice...
Other than that I'm all in favour to experiment as much as you can!
Just hope to hear from your gameplay impressions from both versions soon enough...

On a side note: 30Khz modes are possible on the Amiga 1200/4000 natively without the use double-scaner (still require VGA adapter), just put the VGAOnly on devs/monitors and DBLNTSC monitor driver as well (You're on USA after all), and set screen promotion on Icontrol Prefs (or use a similar tool).
Of course, Wing Commander (and most games) cannot have it's screenmodes "promoted" - Eye of the Beholder can be promoted though.

Wing Commander Amiga music through my 5.1 system was pretty darned cool. I can't wait to play through the game on the Amiga
"Darned cool" is a weak word for the overall audio experience that you'll feel on Amiga WC.
But it's great that you'll finally will experience Amiga Wing Commander as it should be - Awesome!
It sounds like you really know Amigas! That should be a great help going forward. Thanks for posting!

My hope tonight is to push the Wing Commander I demo over through a null modem cable. If I can manage that I'll send the Wing Commander patch, too! I woke up at 2 AM this morning and thought about doing it then when I realized none of my modern computers had serial ports. I'm going to steal my ancient work laptop for this job (... or just use Karga.)

I'm going to try this software for sending the files: http://www.amigaforever.com/ae/

I think I do have the CD drives. I've tried some Amiga-specific CDs which start up immediately (a CD32 encyclopedia package)... it's just my modern burned CDs that don't read. Could be the brand of CD or the way I'm burning them.

(It's actually a SCSI CD-ROM drive. I noticed that while I was putting everything back together. I couldn't figure out where to plug in my third IDE device and then I realized it wasn't one.)

I actually hadn't thought about attaching the MasterPilots to the Amiga! I suppose they're just strangely shaped keyboards so it should be possible... right now they're between the PC and the KVM switch. I'll give it a shot! (I do have a MasterPilot programmer, too--I could do a separate profile for Wing Commander Amiga.)

On a side note: 30Khz modes are possible on the Amiga 1200/4000 natively without the use double-scaner (still require VGA adapter), just put the VGAOnly on devs/monitors and DBLNTSC monitor driver as well (You're on USA after all), and set screen promotion on Icontrol Prefs (or use a similar tool).

This sounds very promising, but I may need some help from someone with an Amiga-to-English dictionary. :)

(I won't throw out the 15Khz monitor, for sure... it's too cool looking! But it may be something I put into storage and only pull out for special occasions. Just not enough desk space...)

Other things for the Amiga... I'm not sure yet! I need to pick out a joystick, for sure... beyond that, I'm not sure what else might help with Wing Commander. It doesn't have MIDI support, so I don't have to worry about any of that here... I guess I'll just go right out and ask: what's cool?

"Darned cool" is a weak word for the overall audio experience that you'll feel on Amiga WC.

I left it running in the Tiger's Claw's lounge while I worked on things for a few hours last night!
All right... Let's go by parts.

As for CD-ROM and file transfer

If your CD-ROM drive is running, I believe that you have the old CD-ROM drives (1993 maybe)...
So they may lack Multi-session/Rockridge/Joliet and HFS support, and that may be the reason why some new CD won't work.
With that in mind you can instead of transferring files trough SERIAL you can burn them to CD-ROM.
There's just two options here:
- You burn the CD Disc in standard ISO 9660 mode (with no multiple session - finalizing the CD), load into the Amiga and presto.
- Or you can substitute the drivers by more recent ones (like the ones I suggested), and burn the CD in whatever form you wish.

I advise the first one, as you sound more PC-driven.

With the Amiga Files on RAM drive just transfer them to a floppy.
That's What I used to do back in 1994 and later... Serial transfer is such PITA!
(All of the above assuming that that there's not a fault in the CD-ROM drive itself).

If you're planning to attach the to a 30Khz monitor and forget about boring stuff, then the Scandoubler is your best option
As for running WC, it's really the only option as the Amiga version totally kicks the OS out the door and bangs on the display hw directly - So it's not software promotable.
But if you plan on using the Amiga with a better desktop and more productivity stuff, you'll have to add the other monitors (productivity /DBLNTSC...) for better screen resolution on 30khz modes. ScanDoubler will ignore these modes and they'll be shown as intended on 30khz.

Right now you have something like this (640x200 screen with 4 colours):

You can easily change to this (640x480 with 8 colurs)

Or this (custom 16 colour wb)


Or better... Like it was pointed before. On 15khz modes High Resolution Screenmodes (>640x200 NTSC) will flicked and will not be very pleasant to eye (these are presented as interlaced modes).

Of course if the ScanDoubler has built-in flicker fixer then you can forget all the boring stuff I just wrote.

As for the WC Gadgets
If you're planning to add your PC keyboard to the Amiga, and indeed have the HW for that task, then the Master-pilot should be doable.
That and a good, comfortable joystick should make an interesting setup (Photos and movies please).
Besides, make us all jealous! The only guy to have ever played Amiga WC AGA version with a Master-Pilot.

Also I believe there was a way to use mouse on the Amiga WC (don't remember if it was patch or whatever), that might a be a possibility for an analogue joystick with a digital output - they existed for Amiga (but weren't very common and definitely had very little support).
I'm sorry to say I don't have much to report. This has been a crazy week, but I'm hoping to catch up this weekend.

I did get a package of adapters from Germany the other day, which included a "Micromys V3" and a "Lyra 2" for allowing me to use a PS/2 mouse and keyboard (respectively.)



(It turns out you can still buy male-to-male PS/2 cables in real life! I picked up a couple at Microcenter the other day.)

I'm hoping to be able to sit down and rearrange all the computers this weekend... then maybe spend some get-to-know-you time with Workbench. Your information above is much appreciated and has me excited... I'll admit, Workbench as I'm staring at it right now is not an attractive operating system. (Actually, it immediately reminded me of "GEM," if anyone remembers that.)

Also, just wanted to say again that I appreciate all the help! I'm behind on everything but I'm jazzed about learning more about the Amiga as soon as possible.

For a Scan Doubler/Flicker Fixer I was looking at this (if needed): http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Amiga-Fli...pt=UK_VintageComputing_RL&hash=item2ebc16da44

I'll test my CRT this weekend, too.
As for the CD-ROM transfer: were those tips helpful?

Don't forget to post a video about your experience on WC gameplay...

Oh by the way one thing I confirmed yesterday - the CD32 version has more sound than the Amiga Version.

Did you play the Amiga version?
Have you managed to get the WC CD32 version working?