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
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
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.
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.