My marriage to the AMIGA.




Before going any further a little information about myself.


My name is Barry Walker and a licenced Amatuer Radio Enthusiast  callsign G0LCU.  I am qualified to Degree level in electronics engineering and have more practical than theoretical knowledge of the subject.  I am a self taught coder and do NOT stick to any coding rules that professionals use.

I am 56 next birthday and hit upon a market for the old AMIGA range of computers.  This includes the WinUAE AMIGA emulator also.

I am so attached to this A1200 that it is now a part of me.  It has only a 4MB expansion card inside and runs on a PAL/NTSC analogue monitor.

I had written SW,  for fun,  for a number of home computers of yesteryear and in 1996 my first for the AMIGA was uploaded to AMINET,  the source for ALL free and ????ware software for the AMIGA.

This was a basic PAL TestCard program that generated all the signals required to set up ANY PAL colour TV set of that era.  So powerful was the A500 in its day that it could still do this task 11 years after the A1000 hit the market,  AND,  still do it at the time of writing today.

To me this is a superb,  still,  for a platform that is now 21 years old.

Professional TestCard generators cost between 250 to 1000 UKP.

My software was free and if you owned a standard,  yes standard,  A500 then you had an expensive signal source for the TV workshop for FREE.

OK,  but what really set me off on my quest to make the AMIGA into an integrated test set?.

It was 1998 at the time,  and my daughter was 7 years old.  Her friends brother was 8 and owned an A500 which was,  to put it bluntly,  knackered.  His name is Nathan Shepherd and he is now doing college in business studies and electrical engineering - good luck Nathan.  Well he was always tinkering with electrical gadgets but had NO test gear of his own,  so I asked him if he would like me to develope HW and SW that he could build and use with his A500.  His face was a real picture as his eyes lit up and he said with glee - yes please.

That was what clinched it for me.  Even IF no one acknowledged my projects off of AMINET  I knew ONE person who would gain great practical and basic theoretical knowledge of the art/science.  Judging by his studies and practical work,  my help has seen him into a career of electrical and electronic engineering.  At least ONE person has gained from my experience.

Now his A500 AMIGA had a faulty A520 TV adaptor and had NO manuals nor a mouse, so that meant I had to upload silly things to the ~hard/misc~ drawer of AMINET on how to use the mouse pointer WITHOUT a mouse attached,  and give Nathan a copy also so that he could get used to using it until he could afford a mouse of his own.  I hadn't got a spare mouse so I couldn't give him one to use and the SW was called....... NoMouse.lha and boy oh boy, did I get some stick over that from other uploaders to AMINET,  but that is another story... :(

This set the CRITERIA for ALL of my projects.

BELIEVE ME YOU DO NOT KNOW HOW DIFFICULT IT IS TO MAKE SOMETHING VERY SIMPLE FOR AN 8 YEAR OLD TO UNDERSTAND.  THIS WAS A COMPLETE LEARNING CURVE FOR ME.





The Criteria for the TestGear? Projects.


1)  The projects MUST run on a standard A500 WITH an extra floppy drive.  Some projects may NOT be calibrated for this machine,  however as all the developement work was/is done on an AMIGA A1200.

2)  The projects MUST be Operating System friendly.

3)  A 0.5MB memory expansion for the A500 is optional.

4)  The initial projects MUST NOT require a mouse to work,  this is optional.  The keyboard IS the required minimum.

5)  The OCS graphics modes MUST be the required minimum display modes.

6)  A Television Set MUST be the required minimum display medium.

7)  Workbench 1.3x MUST be the required minimum Operating System.

8)  The projects MUST work on both NTSC and PAL.  This is so that everyone in the world can use the software without modification.

9)  The projects MUST be simple enough for a young child to build in a VERY SHORT period of time,  possibly under supervision.  This is so as to be able to keep the attention span of that young child.

10)  All of the required components MUST be available to the general public from any or a known source.

11)  The projects MUST be VERY cheap to build in relation to their commercial/professional cousins.

12)  All external power supplies required for any of the projects MUST be batteries.  A young child should NOT have access to MAINS voltage facilities or power sockets.

13)  All Calibration Equipment MUST be batteries or cells also.  A young child has NOT got access to Professional Calibration Equipment so therefore he/she has to start from somewhere.

14)  The projects MUST NOT require special printed circuit boards to be made.

15)  The projects MUST NOT require any special tools,  the standard tools should always be sufficient.

(16)  IF a special tool is required then a supplier MUST be available to purchase that tool.

17)  As a multimeter/multitester is virtually impossible on any computer this MUST be a purchased item.

18)  If MAINS IS required to power up a unit to be tested,  then a MAINS ISOLATING transformer WILL be required and MUST be used.  This MUST be under the supervision of an adult.

19)  Any books required SHOULD be available from your local library.

20) NO special knowledge of electronics is needed or required to build any of the projects.

21)  Read the ~Warning~ file for SAFETY reasons.




Well the first projects were just VERY simple cables rqeuired to run the testgear projects now starting to flood into my head.  This was so that Nathan could gain experiance of soldering,  (EVEN at 8 years old he was doing half decent soldered joints),  cutting and stripping cable without damage and making very simple circuits onto Stripboard/Veroboard with incredible dexterity for such a young lad.

Now came the first project:-

A simple Signal Injector.

This may be the another article. :)

LBNL the ~Warning~ file which is inside EVERY project I have made for the A500, A500+, A600, A1200, WinUAE and others.

I am now actively developing for WinUAE with a Data-logger/Transient Recorder HW/SW combination designed to run on classic AMIGAs also, uploaded to AMINET on 18-04-2006.




WARNING.


1)  DISCONNECT any faulty equipment under test from the MAINS supply.
2)  If a DC supply is used do NOT reverse polarity the connections.
3)  Do NOT power up any electronic item until it is safe to do so.
4)  CHECK and RECHECK all of your construction and repair work thoroughly.
5)  Handle ALL tools used with care.
6)  Beware of ALL types of solvents, glues and etching fluids.
7)  NEVER leave a soldering iron switched on unattended.
8)  KEEP everything OUT of the reach of small children.
9)  Switch OFF the AMIGA before connecting any hardware.
10)  And finally read 1) to 9) again.







RIYAN Productions