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GAME OVER? Amsterdam – Retro Games Store

GAME OVER? has existed for over 14 years, tucked away in a side-street in central Amsterdam. I was very happy to hear this when asking the owner about the history of the shop.

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game-over-map

This shop is bursting at the seams! Wall to wall of amazing retro goodness. You'll find everything here from VIC20/C64/Atari through to XBOX/Gameboy/PlayStation. The window is full of relics and will get anyone interested inside. Don't be fooled into thinking that what's on display is all there is to offer... If you know what you're after, then ask away and have the owner dig bits and pieces out for you.

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I happened to want one of the controllers in the window; turns out they're all damaged and just for display. I was then lead to a draw, on the left as you walk in, and a motherload of C64/Atari items was presented. Pretty ... much ... heaven. The owners are really friendly and let me take pictures inside the store... so do chat with them; their wealth of knowledge was very helpful!

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As you can see from above, I picked up two Atari controllers and my first ever C64 cartridge: Rat Radar Race. Am still to test it, but have been told it is in working order. I couldn't trek half-way across the globe and not purchase a few goodies when they were there in front of me. I actually tried a few of the 'markets' around Amsterdam but found zero retro gaming items.

Check this shop out if you're ever in Amsterdam!

26Jul/160

AmigaDOS to Windows CMD/DOS Reference

Recently acquiring an Amiga has lead me to realise that not all command prompts are equal. *NIX shells aside, I had expected *DOS prompts to act on a standard set of commands... turns out I was gravely mistaken!

One imporant point: When copying from Windows, long filenames will have a '~1' at the end. The 'tilde', to AmigaDOS, is actually a wildcard. So when you're deleting, etc... it'll match ALL THE BLOODY FILES and delete them all on you. Therefore, when copying to Amiga, make sure that all filenames are in the old-school 8.3 format. See more on pattern matching here.

Therefore, I present to you the following reference guide. I've provided the mapping, where possible, between standard Microsoft *DOS commands and their equivalent AmigaDOS commands. Find a full list of available commands here.

Microsoft DOS AmigaDOS Notes
cd .. cd / Slash is not the root folder!
cd dir_name dir_name You can actually just type the directory name. This makes perfect sense, as you cannot have a file the same name, so it just changes to that directory!
copy A.txt B.txt copy A.txt TO b.txt Note the TO
copy A.txt other_dir\B.txt copy A.txt TO otherdir/b.txt Slashes are reversed!
copy ..\A.txt . copy /A.txt TO A.txt Single-slash to get to parent directory
copy x:\zz.txt . copy x:zz.txt TO zz.txt Note that drives are rarely one character on Amiga
copy z:\docs\readme.txt . copy z:docs/readme.txt TO readme.txt No need for a '/' start after the drive colon
dir *.txt dir #?.txt Yes, the wildcard is #?
dir /p list Amiga dir doesn't format any other way. Use list.

Good luck.

25Jul/160

Amiga 1200: ATX Power Supply

Amiga 1200s are ancient now... if you're having phantom issues with hardware or software then a crappy power supply may be to blame! Adding extra hardware, overclocking and otherwise modding these old machines also puts undue strain on their ageing power supplies.

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Due to this, it's best to prevent problems and provide a fresh and powerful source from which the A1200 can drain as many electrons as it wants.

Wiring up an ATX Power Supply

This is very straight-forward. All ATX supplies provide the required wires for the Amiga motherboards. Unfortunately, they also provide 100 other cables of which we don't need.

Ian Stedman's site has all the information you need to get the power supply hooked up. I followed the instructions and had no issues at all.

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If you're installing this in a tower case, then you can easily hide the extra wiring. If you're still using the 'keyboard' case, then you may want to find a way to discard all the extra cables. One method might be to de-solder or cut them right back at the power supply main board. Just be careful if you're opening it.

The wiring for the cable goes as follows.

ATX Power Supply Red Yellow Blue Black not connected
Component +5v +12v -12v Ground Shield
Amiga 1200 Red Brown White Black Yellow

Note: Don't forget to connect green from the ATX supply to ground! This is the soft-power latch that needs to be grounded for the supply to turn on.

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I entirely recommend you confirm the wiring from your Amiga power cable is wired as above! Also make sure that you test the cable prior to plugging it in to your Amiga!

After a quick test, I plugged it in and the A1200 purred away. Unfortunately my PCMCIA Ethernet issues still continued!

25Jul/160

Spain, Majorca – Port De Sóller, July 2016

I've recently been in Amsterdam for my Brother's wedding. Whilst over there, the plan was also to celebrate the buck's party in Barcelona. Although a beautiful city, I've previously checked out the freight and wanted to go somewhere different. After a little searching, I came across the island of Majorca and saw it had quite a few railway lines. One of them specifically caught my interest: there was a heritage train from Palma to Port De Soller and I was determined to check it out.

Getting to Palma

Palma has its own international airport. It actually feels a little like Las Vegas when you arrive. The airport is new, and quite large. Out the front you'll find 20-odd coaches ready to take tour groups to their resorts.

You get the feeling pretty quickly that the island is used as a dirty weekend away. There were around 25 drunk (they started on the beer at Schiphol Airport) dutch students on my plane as we left at 6am. I didn't bother to see where they went after we disembarked.

You'll find flights from all major european airports direct to Palma. It took 2.5 hours to get there from Amsterdam.

From the airport, take Bus Number 1. This will drop you off straight out the front of the Estació Intermodal which happens to be across the road from the Estació Tren de Sóller.

Palma - Estació tren de Sóller

The Tren de Sóller runs from Palma through to Port de Soller. The Palma station is located just next to the main station in the center of Palma city.

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This station is at the end of the Palma yard and has multiple platforms. There is a main single platform from the station building, but this is only for arrivals. Every train I saw leave departed from the loop platform. This involves walking into the yard, across the first track. It seems that the staff are more than happy for you to wander around and take photos.

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Here you get to meet the train. It's a single electric locomotive hauling a fleet of around 5 carriages. All wooden construction is seriously endearing. The interior is simple and all windows can be opened. It seems that the Swiss helped build or electrify the railway. Don't expect air-conditioning either; it was 10am and the temperature was already over 30 degrees, so make sure you dress lightly!

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Expect to see some shunting in the yard too, and listen to the guards... chances are they're telling you politely to get out of the way. This is a heavily-utilised tourist train; so expect the odd foamer as well.

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The first service of the day from Port de Sóller arrived as we were about to leave.

Palma to San Sardina

This first leg of the trip starts with a run down a street in north-east Palma. Traffic is held at certain points and lights are coordinated. The train doesn't muck around either, full speed being met whenever possible through the city.

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10 minutes later the city fades away and you're in the country-side. There's a horse racing stadium on the north side, just after the city and some interesting stables. After this it's farmland and orchards.

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The first stop is then San Sardina. A lovely sandstone building that connects the Ferrocarril de Port de Sóller to the main metro train network. After this stop, the countryside really starts to get impressive.

San Sardina to Bunyola

There are other stops in-between; but the train hardly stops at them. Most people are destined to the very end station, so the intermediates aren't overly populated. Either way, the countryside doesn't disappoint. The backdrop is the mountain range that separates the plains from the ocean. On the other side is Port de Sóller.

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About 10 minutes before Bunyola you'll pass the maintenance yard. There's a rusting old hi-rail, that seems to have been made out of an old flatbed truck. There's also a triangle for turning vehicles... I don't know if it's still in use.

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From there, it's more olive groves. You'll then start entering a valley just before Bunyola Station. At the station keep an eye out for an older-style hi-rail and other construction vehicles.

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Bunyola to Sóller

The track now dives through quite a few tunnels before breaching the other side of the mountain range. Once on the other side, a large horse-shoe curve is navigated which provides a fantastic view of the town of Sóller. Note that we are still inland; the Port is still a distance away and alternative transport is provided!

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There's quite a few loops along the way. Expect to stop and wait for passes; unless the opposing services is already waiting for you.

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Before you know it, the train has navigated the descent and has arrived at Sóller Station.

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The town of Sóller

Above the ocean, surrounded in a valley, Sóller is the junction between the tram and the train. Spend some time here and check out the architecture and tapas menus!

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If you happen to wander behind the station, you'll find a few level crossings for the railway... many of which provide great vantage points. First you'll be able to see the rear of the station yard and then, following the track, all sorts of architecture that has been built to fit the railway in. One house actually consists of two plots, either side of the line, and has a private overpass!

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I got to one crossing late afternoon. You'll have to guess when the train comes through, but you can do that pretty easily with the timetable here.

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At one point, I walked down from Soller to the Port. This took a lot longer than I expected; but was totally worth it.

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Taking the Tram from Sóller to Port de Sóller

If you bought the combined ticket, then jump on the tram here. It's a long way to walk to the port! Unlike Melbourne, the trams from the city to the port consisted of multiple vehicles. The route is primarily single-track and there are loops at most stations. The consists are usually one driving car with two trailers, but the odd service has a driving car at both ends. Where required, the conductors will switch the driving car to the other end of the consist at the end of the line.

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The tram digs through suburbia and then descends, parallel to the highway, down to the port. At the bottom of the decent, you arrive through the mountain range into the port. At the bottom it's beach and marina; very different to everything you've just travelled through to get there.

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The tram makes its way along the shoreline. There's 2 stops before the end station which has a loop to swap the motor car around when needed. The trams then tirelessly work their way back up to Soller.

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Every so often there'll be consists trailing each other, especially after the train has arrived. There's a lot of juggling in the sidings all the way along the tracks!

Exploring the rest of Palma

After you've spent enough time at the beach, you'll find the tram/train service convenient enough to get you either back to your hotel (I stayed in Port de Soller overnight, totally worth it!) or all the way back to Palma. I ventured onto the Metro in Palma the next day to check out the area. There's a nice outlet mall called Festival Park accessible from Es Caullis Station.

On the way you'll pass Marraxti and, if you're looking out the north side of the train, you'll spot a miniature railway just before a highway overpass. Here's a map of the area. I didn't have time to check it out... but it looked to be in operating condition.

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The metro itself has a good mix of new and old stock and can take you all the way out to Inca and further. You can get to San Sardina and see the Sóller train pass. Otherwise, I had an early evening flight and heavy bags, so didn't venture far.

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Take note of the information signs on the network. They're very good at time estimation, to the point where they tell you if the service has left the start-point or not. Very handy!

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And that was that. Amazing island. Highly recommended. Spend a few days out at the remote areas and enjoy the transport in between.

22Jul/162

Amiga 1200: ACA1220 + PCMCIA Network Cards

This has been a battle. I'd purchased the A1200 and was playing games... but realised I needed more RAM. So I found an Apollo 1220 online and purchased that. Little did I realise this was an actual Apollo.. I had initially (mis)thought that it was an ACA1220. Not wanting to admit defeat, I ran with it anyway. My machine now had 4mb of RAM, instead of 2mb, and I was able to do more things.

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From there, it was time to connect to the local network to ease file transferring and also enter the world wide interwebs. This was to be easy; find an appropriate PCMCIA card and configure the software. And it worked fine, I purchased a compatible card and got the Amiga online. Unfortunately, with only 4mb of RAM, I found that I only had around 100kb free once connected... no good.

Hunting for an accelerator... I wrangled a swap of my Apollo 1220 + cash for an actual ACA1220. Hurrah! It arrived.. but then I had to head overseas for 3 weeks... so I've only just gotten back to it.

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Installing it, I booted into my KS3.X + OS3.9 WB and attempted to connect to my access point. This was the same CF HD, same configuration, same everything that had got me online before. Unfortunately, this time, whilst running WirelessManager (the tool that comes with Prism2v2) my Amiga 1200 locked up (froze) as soon as it attempted to talk to the real world.

Diagnosis time. The only thing that had changed since I was previously online was the accelerator. The ACA1220 is very much targeted at people that don't want to configure things and comes stock with a very compatible configuration. It even boasts "PCMCIA Compatible." I've got a few more cards on the way also... just to determine if my setup works with non-wireless cards. There a forum post here where the author has successfully used PCMCIA-CF adapters, but not wireless cards.

Further into the internet and I came across this post describing how RESET is called during initialisation and that the author created a home-made reset switch for the PCMCIA socket and managed to baby the card into operation. The computer would still freeze at initialisation but, from what I can tell, he got it up and running. This makes me think that a proper hardware RESET fix is required. There's two mentioned below.

TL;DR: It doesn't work. Don't try and use a PCMCIA network card with an A1200 that has an ACA1220 in it! I have successfully used a PCMCIA-CF Card adapter and transferred files... but any network card I try locks up the system! (Update: The ACA1221 works fine!)

Here's a list of fixes I've applied to try and get this thing working:

Power Supply

I had a hunch that the Amiga was struggling since I'd added the PCMCIA, an Indivision AGA-MK2CR and the ACA1220. There was possibly not enough current available to handle them all. After purchasing and wiring up an new and way-overpowered ATX power supply, I still had the same issues. Either way, here's the article if you want to learn how to wire up a new power supply.

Motherboard Capacitors

Further to inconsistent power supplies, capacitors can cause phantom issues in electronic systems. I've just watched a great video series on the repairing of a Sony-Nintendo Super Nintendo CD Prototype. You'll find the videos here: Part 1 and Part 2. Ben Heck managed to get the CD Drive component working again by replacing faulty capacitors.

This is a known issue with the Amiga 1200 and AmigaKit has everything you'll need to replace them. If you don't want to replace them yourself, then they also provide a capacitor replacement service.

I've ordered the pack for the A1200 and I'll update again once I've done the swap.

Motherboard Timing issues

There's articles everywhere (including my own one here) on this... but the Commodore manufacturing employees seem to have gotten confused on the assembly line and installed some components where they shouldn't be. Ian Stedman has a great article on how to fix this. It doesn't directly mention the ACA1220, but I applied the 'ACA' fixes anyway... to no avail!

Kickstart ROMs

Thinking that my Cloanto 3.X ROMs could be the cause, I tried to swap them out for the original KS3.0. I couldn't boot my main HD, so I used the NetworkBootDisk here. No luck... event the SetPrism2Defaults app locked up the machine when trying to configure the card.

Amiga OS Version

I had OS3.9 on the CF Card and thought any number of supporting libraries might have been causing conflicts... Unfortunately they weren't. Cold boots with the boot disk mentioned above didn't help at all.

IDE to CF Card Adapter

There was a forum post here that mentioned the IDE to CF Card adapter and/or brand of CF card was the issue. I removed my altogether, but the machine still locked up.

CardPatch & CardReset

No combination of either of these, before or after SetPatch, did anything. There's also the resetpcmcia flag on acatune, but that didn't help either. Every now and then the PCMCIA card would stop the Amiga from booting, but this didn't worry me at all... you just need to pop it out and in again quickly to get it to continue.

Hardware PCMCIA Reset Fix

Just to quell a few advisors, I applied this fix as well... it did prevent the reset issue when the machine wouldn't boot... but had no effect on the card initialisation freeze. For those playing at home, connect a 10uf electrolytic capacitor from R715A to pin 5 on the Gayle chip. Further instructions are here.

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'Gayle Reset Fix'

There's another reset fix for the IC that controls the PCMCIA Port, of which I soldered the capacitor to in the attempt directly before this. The IC is known as the Gayle chipset and Retro Kit came up with a nifty solution for the issue. Just like the Indivision aga-mk2cr, this fix involves a socket for the IC that slips on backwards. It inverts the reset signal so that PCMCIA cards will function correctly.

Here's the same fix from Amiga World in German. This time we get the component list. I'm going to purchase the components tomorrow and give this a go. If it works, then I'll buy the real thing from AmigaKit.

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The parts cost less than AUD$1.00. The installation was very easy... the outcome was: waste of time. The freezing still occurs.

ACA1220 timig issue?

Is there a chance that the speed of the ACA1220 is impacting the function of the PCMCIA chipset? There's an option to overclock the card... a solderable SMD resistor. It's actually a 0hm jumper... so it just needs to be bridged rather than another resister put in its place. I could attempt to over/underclock the accelerator card. This would possibly limit the speed of my machine, but would still give me the RAM. Of course, it'd void my warranty.

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I clocked the card from 25mhz to 30mhz and the freeze still occurs. I should probably try slowing it down...

Interrupts

IRQs are a part of every computer. You'll find that most hardware has a direct line to the CPU to indicate that it desperately needs to do something. These are known as Interrupt Requests. They do exactly that; interrupt the CPU and then run the specific code that the programmer has attached to handle the interrupt. If there's no code there, then there's a problem... as the interrupt will therefore lock the CPU. Currently... this seems like the most probable cause. The WIFI card or PCMCIA chipset is causing an interrupt of which is not handled.

Looks like I can redirect debug output... might help with diagnosis. Further information here. Seems to all be for OS4 though.

I'll keep digging and update this as I find out ways to catch these unhandled IRQs.

Give up and use a USB to Ethernet adapter

This is a valid answer... but you'll need to buy a USB card first. I've now purchased a Rapid Road interface to go along with the ACA1221 that I mention next. Once they arrive I'll experiment with USB to Ethernet devices. I just happened across one at Trash and Treasure this morning. Got a 2-button joystick and a Netgear FA120 for AUD$10!

Give up and try the ACA1221

The ACA1221 has half the RAM. It actually comes crippled, and you then purchase licences to unlock features... a very interesting model. I ended up purchasing this model accelerator and the wireless PCMCIA card works fine!

Other Sufferers

Amiga 1200 freezing/crashing issue
Trying to get my a1200 online using my NetGear MA401 WiFi card
WLAN Problem
Вот, купил себе Амигу... :(
PCMCIA nie działa (albo coś koło tego)
A1200 freezes when using PCMCIA Network card

19Jul/160

Amiga 1200: Timing Fixes

I've recently been trying to get a PCMCIA wireless card going in the Amiga 1200 and have had no luck. Every time I try to initialise the card, the entire machine locks up. You can't even move the mouse pointer.

Initially, I thought it was drawing too much current from the ageing power supply. To remedy this, I purchased an ATX power supply and wired it in (I'll post an article on this shortly.) Unfortunately, this wasn't the solution.

After a lot more googling, it seems that my A1200 might have the dreaded 'timing issues' that are mentioned across the web. It seems that, during construction of these machines many decades ago, some were fitted with capacitors and resistors that weren't meant to be in the final design. The motherboards actually have the spaces for all of these components, so I can imagine it would be easy for an employee on the construction line to accidentally insert components that were part of a draft design and not meant for the final.

Note that a system without acceleration will (most often) not realise any of these timing issues. The symptoms really only appear once you start pushing the hardware.

Timing Issue Symptoms

There's a really good forum post here that details a lot of motherboard/accelerator combinations and the successes/failures that people experienced. In the end, the result is a total crap-shoot! It seems total luck-of-the-draw as to whether your accelerator will work with your motherboard.

Timing Issue Solution

Fortuantely, you shouldn't despair just yet. There are known solutions for all revisions of the Amiga 1200 motherboards and I'll list (and attempt) two of them below.

Your solution will depend entirely on what accelerator you have and what motherboard revision it's plugged in to. There are two basic groups of accelerators (ACA and Apollo) and instructions for both methods involve removing/adding SMD components. These tiny little resistors and capacitors are an absolute nightmare to deal with and will require a good soldering iron and a VERY steady hand.

Searching around the web, it seems that everyone has their own theory as to what solution is best for what accelerator. It was actually quite hard to draw a concise picture as to what was required for my ACA1220.

For both Apollo and ACA, Ian Stedman has a great wealth of knowledge here which includes the required fixes for both.

ACA themselves also have instructions on timing issue fixes. They only seem to mention the removal of items though. Reading other forum posts, it seems that this is only 'half the job' for a proper timing fix.

There's also a summary of the ACA fix in this thread. I'll quote the information here to make sure it doesn't go missing:

FOL 16:54 01 January 2013
To help others, this is the full fix that should be applied.

E121R and E122R need to be changed to 60ohm Ferrite Beads.
E121C and E122C need to be added (22pf), if not already.

Only E125C should be removed (insome cases you need to leave it). E125R, E125C E123C and E123R should be present.

Some rare cases, you need to leave E125C on and remove E123C.

Note that the ferrite beads mentioned above are 100ohm? But the ones on Ian's page are 60ohm?
Also, note that on the second-last line, I've changed it to what I believe is the correct component reference. It initially indicated that 125C should be removed, but then says that it might be needed... then that it should be present. I believe that the final three items listed should be E125R, E123C and E123R. Not 125. (Actually, if you read the entire forum post, you'll see that FOL corrects the error as I have above.)

It's minor differences like this that can be REALLY confusing.

Following ACA's Recommendations

The rules are meant to be simple: remove four capacitors. Well, turns out these are tiny SMD components and the removal wasn't as trivial as I had hoped. Make sure you have the time and space to focus.

Removing SMD capacitors requires you to heat up the entire item and lift it in one go. Do not try to heat one side and then the other. I used a pair of tweezers, grabbed the capacitor in the middle and then placed the soldering iron through the tweezer grip. The goal was to make sure that the soldering iron would touch both sides that needed to be melted; adding a little bit of solder to the tip of the soldering iron helped as well. Once hot enough, you can then lift the entire lot and the capacitor should be freed.

I actually had the whole SMD component lift with the soldering iron and stick to the tip most times. This probably damages them entirely, but I had a new set of components to put in place, so there was no harm.

After removing all four capacitors... I tested the PCMCIA card and it still locked up! Boo hoo... What to do next? FOL's next advice is as follows:

FOL 15:27 01 July 2013

Originally Posted by marcel21674:
ok, opened up my 1200 this morning. Just to prepare, for some upgrades the next couple of days.
After removing the RF-shield, i thought of removing the E123C and E125C capacitors, but surprise surprise, the already have been removed....
So my rev.2B motherboard does have some timing fixes, but it didn't fix the issues with the aca1232...

Pretend it doesn't.

Add All four components, then do fixes as if your doing it for the first time.

Change E121R and E122R to 60ohm Ferrite Beads,
Add E121C and E122C 22pf caps.
Remove E125C, test A1200. If its all fine, leave it.
If E125C doesn't help, then readd E125C and remove E123C and test again.

I your still having trouble, then try removing both E123C and E125C, then test again.

The forum thread ends with the original poster indicating that they'll try the fixes. Of course... no resolution is mentioned... I might sign up and ask how it all panned out. I'll also try the fixes myself.

The best part about the fixes is that, despite a few minor capacitor values (22pf vs 27pf), the instructions map directly to Ian Stedman's directions.

Following Ian Stedman's Directions

Ian's page indicates that the following changes are required for all Amiga 1200 motherboard versions when using accelerators manufactured by ACA. I've added links to the relevant components at Element 14.

E123C E125C E123R E125R E121R E122R E121C E122C R118
Try fitting 22pF SMD Capacitor if it does not work Fit 22pF SMD Capacitor Fit 27ohm SMD Resistor Fit 27ohm SMD Resistor Change to 0.1ohm Ferrite Bead Change to 0.1ohm Ferrite Bead Add 27pF SMD Capacitor Add 27pF SMD Capacitor Leave alone

Once your care package has arrived, you can prepare your motherboard for surgery. Do be careful extracting the motherboard from the casing. Make sure you unplug every component and unfasten every screw. Excessive force is NOT required.

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The components are absolutely tiny and come in ribbons. The plastic sheet can be peeled back, allowing the components to pop out.

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Fitting all the components is a nightmare... but I managed to do it with my crappy soldering station.

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That's the ferrite cores... installing them was just as hard. I found that soldering one side, then the other and finally returning to the initial side worked ok. The issue would be that it was easy to solder them in at a bad angle and then re-touching meant throwing the components completely out of alignment.

All changes were made... but the PCMCIA card still played up. Turns out the timing issues aren't my main concern.