… or failures are your friends :>
The story behind this whole post is a bit lengthy but I’ll try to be brief 🙂
In August of 2019, I’ve received an email from MrTrinsic. Back then, I didn’t yet know what is coming lol.
It turned out that MrTrinsic is a great Amiga enthusiast and he’d asked me to work on his Amiga 1000 … but no on a standard A1000 but with an Amiga 1000 Phoenix motherboard!
Amiga 1000 Phoenix Enhanced mobo is an extremely rare motherboard replacement for Amiga 1000. Some people think there were no more than 200 units manufactured, others say it was no more than 2000. I’ve no idea either but still, it is very rare so a magic smoke is not an option lol.
This motherboard is an awesome hack in itself and that is why MrTrinsic refers to it as DIVA 😀
Let me quote an excerpt from one of emails.
You should mention or point out more clearly that the Phoenix Board is a … DIVA!
It is a hack. Just look at the manual what kind of things you can modify and what kind of headers there are to change stuff.
The price is that it has an extremely bad signal quality. Plus, it lacks the Buster-Chip that the Amiga 2000 has.
The Phoenix is a bad version of the original A2000 from Braunschweig, which in itself was a hacked and beefed-up version of the A1000.
Plus, the Phoenix only has two layers. It’s a nightmare as we have seen.
It simply always has some problems like stability and compatibility issues which I’ve tried to sort out.
Phoenix mobo was developed in 1989/1990 by our fellow friends from Australia and was one of the very first crowd-funding campaigns! You can read/watch more on one of my fav websites -> www.amigalove.com
Hardware specs are available here -> amiga.resource.cx
Initially, MrTrinsic asked me to work on some external floppy replacements by Dell which I will cover in another post. Once I’ve figured out that floppy drive issue he’d decided we should start working on The Phoenix project.
At first, he’d send me a large box with gear that he wanted to have in this Amiga. I was like OMG! Not only Phoenix but the whole large project was about to begin!
The plan was to run lots of modern hardware add-ons with Amiga 1000 Phoenix and later try to squeeze it into a nice looking case, plus make it alive and stable.
The first package arrived and I was really excited by what I’ve seen.
Amiga 1000 Phoenix in an A1000 case with lots of mods and hacks already installed, plus, tons of other hardware mods still in boxes … and that was only for starters …
Obviously, the original plan was to MAKE Amiga 1000 Phoenix GREAT AGAIN!
On top of tons of other minor hardware mods, He’d also sent me two graphic cards – ZZ9000 by MNT and GBAPII++ by KryoFlux.
First things first. Phoenix motherboard is so rare that I first had to learn how it works and how it is all connected etc.
As it gave me a black screen at the very first run, I had to start learning about jumper settings and the board in general
Below, you can see a block diagram of particular parts location to give you an idea of what is where.
Of course, I would not move on quickly without MrTrinsics support. He’d pointed me to several sites and sent over some more info about the board itself. One of the most important documents I’ve received was the jumper settings file along with the original manual.
The above documents gave me the general idea of how things should work. The very first thing that I did was the removal of all added mods. I’ve then tried to run the A1K but still no luck – black screen. MrTrinsic then pointed me to jumper L35 which could cause such behavior if set incorrectly and bingo! It worked!
Since Phoenix has slots for more than one ROM chip, it is possible to install three KickStarts – 1.3. and 3.1 and third as a custom option. That was already done, along with a switch hack.
The problem was that Amiga wasn’t starting every single time. Instead, it booted every couple of times. My next move was to take it out and try running it outside of the case. This is where I’ve started noticing all the awesome texts on the PCB itself. I took PCB out started shooting pics of those texts and greetz for various hackers of that era.
Next, I’ve checked for any obvious problems and when I was happy with this inspection, I’ve put it back to a case to simply avoid any accidental short circuits caused by beer-drinking ;P
I’ve decided that I will try to run it with only Indivision ECS2, and KryoFlux GBAPII++ inserted.
I’ve then located the switch setting for the first ROM and put an awesome DiagROM by John “Chucky” Hertell in a socket. Yeah, I know, it is a quite a large resistor ;P
To my surprise, it worked flawlessly and I was greeted by a known diag info and a menu a bit later.
Once it worked, I’ve figured that it might be as simple as a flaky ROM socket problem. I’ve put a 2.0 ROM in the place of DiagROM and Viola! It works!
When I’ve figured that part out, I could move on and start working on the alternative power supply which was …
HDPLEX + Uber nice Amiga adapter
MrTrinsic sent me this HQ HDPLEX Pico PSU but he’d also sent me a very cool DIY KIT – ATX2.0d-Amiga adapter which has super cool features like over-voltage/current protection outputs all needed voltages, and has additional floppy power outputs. Moreover, it generates a TICK signal which is good to have for testing.
However, it was a DIY KIT so I had to solder it all up first.
Combined together, it created an awesome and stable power source for this Amiga project.
All I needed to do next was to prepare all the wiring. That was a trivial job after taking some measurements. I’ve used wires from my Nissan Patrol spare wiring kit as these are thick (copper) and nice, hence the color mismatch ;P
It worked like a charm so now I had two working power supplies – original and superior to it HDPLEX with a kickass adapter.
The next step was about adding 68030 CPU to the system. I had two options as MrTrinsic sent me two different solutions.
These two make a great solution but for AMIGA 500. There are not many folks out there who played it with it in an A1000 and especially with a Phoenix mobo!
The first run was promising …
Then I’ve added ACA1233n on an EXTREMELY WANTED DURING PANDEMIC stand 😀 😀 😀
To my surprise, it worked!
Below, a demo running on this setup
The second setup was a bit different. It is made of four devices.
- Open 68000 relocator card
- 68030 accelerator card
- SDRam + IDE interface
- IDE2CF interface
This setup also appeared to be working nicely after some tests, however as MrTrinsic pointed out, it has some stability issues and will not allow running some software so it was a backup card in case ACA failed. I don’t have a video of it running though.
Other mods and add-ons
Once accel-cards were tested, I’ve started installing OS and testing other mods. To name the few:
- X-surf 500 Ethernet card
- RapidRoad USB
- Indivision ECS v2
- KryoFlux GBAPII++
Indivision ECS v2 and SCSI2SD worked flawlessly so I started playing with other gear.
After installing all the needed software I’ve finally managed to get an IP addr from my local DHCP server
Obviously, I wouldn’t be myself if I didn’t destroy something. I’ve accidentally connected the RapidRoad USB module to a clock port the other way around. The magic smoke appeared and…
Of course, I had to fix it. After a while, it turned out that only 3R3 resistor was fried.
I’ve quickly replaced it and started testing USB functionality.
Once all other major mods were working more or less correctly, I could start testing GFX cards high-res modes.
This is where it all started to go wrong …
I had two cards to test with this setup – GBAPII++ by Kryoflux and ZZ9000 by MNT.
GBAPII++ worked nicely only with green 030 cards, but in such config, there would be no Ethernet card.
Then I’ve tried running ZZ9000 along with green 030 and ACA cards but I’ve encountered autoconfig problems.
Finally, I’ve focused on ACA500plus with ACA1233n and I just couldn’t make it work.
When ACA was inserted then GBAPII++ was completely invisible to the system.
After updating tons of libraries, firmware and reinstalling OS a few times without any luck, we’ve figured out that it might be a power issue. MrTrinsic ordered an adapter for A500 which would allow pumping in more power.
I’ve first tested it with a stock A500.
Same story, GBAPII++ was invisible but I’ve checked it with A1K and power injector adapter just to be sure … unfortunately no luck again.
I’ve invested weeks of time into this GFX problem research but finally, I had to give up on this project for now. It is still in an unfinished state until we will find a solution to all problems. The project is partially done but it requires more work and I hope to cover it someday in one of the future posts making Amiga 1000 Phoenix great again!
But worry not, this gave birth to a new project which is even more awesome.
Currently, it is a work-in-progress but that is a story for another blog post 🙂
If any of my readers know any solution, hints, or knows where I did mistakes, then please leave a comment here or on FB and Twitter pages.
If you want to get retro gear or hardware modules, please visit our shop -> https://retrohax.net/shop/
If you want to donate a dead computer then drop me an email. Extreme cases are welcome 🙂