Contents | < Browse | Browse >

%% The Emulation Rambler                                By Jason Compton %%
%%                                                  ( %%

This week:  Part 1 of the Special Rambling Emplant Bonanza!

As I've been talking about for the last couple of months, I
do indeed finally have an Emplant.  It arrived a week ago Thursday
in a longish white box with the Emplant logo in large, friendly
letters on the cover.  This week begins a long (how long? I don't
know yet) series on my intensive reviews on the Emplant, with
notes, tests, and experiences in no particular order.

The Hardware:  Utilities Unlimited's Emplant, Deluxe model,
V3.7 of Mac IIx emulation software.

The Test Machine:  Commodore Amiga 3000, 2 megs chip/8 megs fast,
68030/25 processor, 120 meg Maxtor SCSI hard drive connected through
3000 SCSI controller, 1950 monitor.

Pandora's Box?  Nah...
What did I do when I got home and found the box?  Took it inside and 
opened it, of course!  Inside I found the small, neat Emplant Mac 
emulation binder with the Emplant hardware guide and a disk with the 
Mac software inside.  The manuals look nice, but seem awfully small, 
especially considering that much of the notes in the Mac binder are 
incorrect.  For example, the software version I got was 3.7, the most 
up to date at the time of this writing.  It features, among other things, 
MMU-less operation, but the binder says otherwise.  That's ok, though, 
because the disk comes with emplant.history, a text file tracing all the 
way back to v1.0, "Here's to hoping it works on all systems!"  Under the 
manuals was a sheet of that pink anti-static mattressing stuff, under 
which was an Emplant Deluxe board, under which was another piece of pink 
anti-static mattressing stuff.

Implanting the Emplant
I dragged my 3000 out of my bedroom and plunked it on the kitchen table.
(great work surface, eh?)  After unscrewing it and perusing the slot-
daughterboard, my first impulse was to put it in the bottom Zorro-only 
slot.  I was struggling with that (it wasn't the greatest leverage 
situation), gave up, and wound up putting it in the Zorro/Video slot, 
since I don't see a big future for my video slot any time soon. That 
wasn't too rough, and nothing else needed to be done, so I put it back 
together. Installing the software is very easy, using the standard 
Commodore install program, and the instructions are pretty straight-
forward.  Once that was done, I did a diagnostic on the board and 
everything tested fine.  Getting the ROM image from an SE-30 that was 
quite literally being used as a doorstop onto my computer involved a 
5-minute modem transfer and a simple requester-setting in the Emplant 
software.  Easy.

About that Emplant software...
There's a lot of options on the Emplant Mac setup screen...12, plus
one to start the emulator.  I won't break them down piece by piece,
but I'll comment on ones I found interesting or had problems with...
Task Control:  This is where I had some problems, which I'll get into
later with actually running the System 7.1 software. I had a small
problem with 32 vs. 24 bit, but nothing insurmountable.
Misc I/O Control:  There's an option to set Mouse Emulation to hardware
or software.  I can't tell a difference.

Start Emulator: In general, it would be nice if all of the things in the
other control panels, particularly sound support, could be modified while
the emulation was running...of course, that wouldn't be very genuine
emulation, but it would be a nice feature.

About that System software...
Right now, I'm using a 27 meg partition of my drive that I first set up
when I had the use of an A-Max II for several weeks a while ago.  I was
lazy and never ran out of space, so I didn't reformat and repartition my
drive, so I took it from there.  The drive had System 6.0.5 on it, which
I knew would not run in 32-bit mode on Emplant (the CSAE discussion
made it quite clear that 32-bit mode required 7.1).  So I tried to switch
down to 24 bit.  It said that the MMU wouldn't let me.  I could not find
any manual reference to let me switch down to 24-bit mode, so I just
booted directly off of the System 7.1 install disk in 32-bit mode.  That
worked, it just took a little while.  System 7.1 thinks my 3000 is a IIci,
which is just fine by me.  It reports the 5.5 megs of memory I can
squeeze out of Emplant correctly, which is not a universal situation.
I simply installed System 7.1 for a IIx with a pretty minimal setup (I
only threw the Style- and Imagewriter extensions on the HD, since
I doubt I'll be hooking anything else up any time soon.)

System 7.1 itself runs as flawlessly as I can tell...what can I say? It
looks like a Mac.  The screen refresh is definitely not as good as a
real Mac, but still within acceptable parameters.  In other words, it
probably won't drive anyone crazy.  I have had no problems with
color settings, but recommend that the first thing to do is define a good-
sized overscan screen back in Workbench and set the Emplant to use
the NTSC Overscan driver (which you can do in Control Panels on the Mac.)
The game Glypha II didn't like my screen size under good old NTSC.

Drag your screens up and down, then prance that Mac around the town...


Ok, let's face it, one of the neatest parts of the Amiga screen-handling
system is that you can take a screen and drag it up and down.  Including
myself, I've been present for the first week of Amiga ownership for 6
people, and when they find out about it, they love it.  Of course, pulling
down a Workbench screen into a DirWork or Terminus or Dpaint screen is
nice, but how about pulling down a Workbench screen into a Mac screen?
Go ahead!  The Mac screen of course has no standard title bar, but you can use
whatever you set Screen Drag to in Icontrol (even though the Left-Amiga key
acts as a Mac key, it will pass N and M through, letting you flip screens

This DOES have some side effects, however.  If the screen isn't at the top,
controlling the Mac pointer can get confusing, and I've had problems having
it select title bars.  It's more useful as a "Hey, look what I've got running"
sort of thing.  The Emplant setup screen also gets in the way of all of this,
but that's a minor complaint.

Reservemem?  Reserve THIS!
It's true, Emplant is definitely tweak-ware for the user, and there are all
sorts of ways to try to get Emplant running the best.  Maybe I haven't
done enough of that.  But as it stands now, if I let the program essential 
to Emplant's operation (Reservemem, or in my case Rsrvmemii) run all the 
time, not too many other programs are happy about it.  Usually they are 
things that want to take over the system, such as the game Flashback (or 
indeed most games), but even Terminus and Emplant don't get along: if I 
make a connection, even just using the Amiga's serial port, the system
freezes.  I have not yet had this problem with Ncomm 3.0, but it very 
well may be a choice of present, I use artser.device with 

Well, hopefully that was a sufficient introduction to my Emplant series.  
Next week I'll actually run some Mac software!  Until then, keep the 
emulators warm.