Contents | < Browse | Browse >
%% Low Cost Emulation Fun by Calum Tsang %%
%% firstname.lastname@example.org %%
Low Cost Emulation Fun with the Commodore Amiga 2088 XT Bridgeboard
A Long Time Ago
Just thought I'd write in and tell you of my experiences with
emulation on the Amiga. When I was younger and naive to the Amiga world
(still am in a way), I read the literature on the Amiga 2000, and told
myself I'd get a A2000 with the XT Bridgeboard. While crossborder shopping
in Buffalo from my hometown of Toronto, Canada, a dealer gave me some words
"Don't waste your money. Get a hard disk instead."
I ended up buying an Amiga 2000HD without an XT Bridgeboard. Most
of you are laughing at me, since I actually thought a one floppy XT
compatible A2000 would be useful, but I was almost dead set on getting one.
Lucky me that the dealer in Buffalo straightened me out.
Along my bumpy road, I tried everything on my new Amiga, and I bought
a SupraRAM memory expander, an extra hard disk, a genlock, a CDRom, a
a little stuffed animal, a new bicycle...
...and four years later, I had a piece of trash that I called my
Amiga. Everyone else had A3000's, and A4000's, with SCSI hard disks, big
multisync monitors and VideoToasters. It was nearing Christmas, 1993.
I was starting to hate my boring old 68000 Amiga 2000. What possibly
could make my Amiga interesting again?
Reading my local BBS ads, I found a guy trying to sell his
Bridgeboard for $30. I gave the guy a call and offered him $20 for it.
The rendezvous was set and we met on a Friday night at the Royal York
subway station in West Toronto to do the big exchange.
It was like those spy movies. Ooooh. Scary. I had twenty bucks
on me. I needed to make a phone call. The guy showed up. I told him I
needed a quarter. I ended up paying him $19.75. I made my phone call. I
had my Bridgeboard. Now the fun began.
Getting the Darn Thing Home
For $19.75, Canadian dollars, exact change, I got myself one used
A2088D board, a 5 1/4 drive, cables, a serial and memory expansion board
for the PC side and three boxes of disks.
I installed it into my A2000, with 3MB of of RAM, A2300 Genlock and
60MB HD. I was ready to have fun. Lots of fun, when I was informed that
my Janus software wouldn't work with Workbench version 2.1.
Revisions later, I got my cards installed, twisting and turning
cables, and placing drives where drives shouldn't be. Like having a Rodime
40MB HD and a 3.5" floppy on the top two bays, the Bridgecard 5.25" on the
bottom bay, and a Miniscribe 21MB HD wedged between the drive cage and the
power supply, vertically, blocking almost all ventilation. But hell, this
Space: The Final Frontier
Unlike other reviewers, who have megabytes and gigabytes of space
to review their products, I have about zilch HD space. Out went the
Xapshot pictures of my friends, old publishing files, fonts I didn't like,
PD archives which were boring, the free copy of MediaShow I won at World of
Commodore Amiga last year...
...and I had ten MB free! Okay! We're having fun now! Install the
software. Put the virtual drive in. Yes!!!! We have.....boot! Yeah! uh
oh. No boot disk. Honk.
Getting the Boot Disk
I can handle this. I own three PC compatibles, a 386DX, and two
386SX's. This is not beyond me. Just get the disks from the old
boxes...and...shoot...where's the boxes?
Ah. Let's take a short trip. Visit my aunt. Proud owners of a
PS/1. Borrow their DOS boot disks. Return home. Yes!!! We have.....boot!
Yeah! Drat. Wrong size disks.
Steal the Drive
I visit my old friend Andrew Rowat. Borrow his external A1010
drive and hook it into my A2088D's back port. Try booting. It doesn't
recognize the the A1010 as drive A. Back to square one.
Ripped open the Amiga. Detached the 5.25" drive. Swiped a clone
3.5" drive to the bridgeboard as device 0. And it works.
Fun with Manuals: Installing DOS 5.0
IBM DOS Installation software comes up. Format. Prep. Copy.
Wham-bang, floppy-copy. And we have an XT. Yes, fun on a Zorro II card.
Conversation with PC expert friend, around December:
Me: Hey, what's new in the PC world (never use my PCs)
Friend: Uh, OS/2, Doom, AutoDesk 3D Studio...
Me: Great! Where can I get these?
Friend: Your local clone store.
Me: I just got an emulation board! I've having fun.
Friend: What do you have on it?
Me: 8088 at 4.77 MHz, 640K of RAM. Can I run them?
End of Conversation. Friend leaves, laughing.
Digging Out Old Stuff
Finding old software that runs on my A2088 was difficult. An old
copy of Microsoft Works v1.0. My Logitech Kidz Mouse and it's drivers. A
few old CGA shareware games. Microsoft Works runs great. Now I can write
letters with no fonts and nonproportional spacing. Yeah! Fun!
I was beginning to be depressed. Emulation wasn't as fun as it was
all made out to be. Maybe it was because they all had Emplants and Golden
Gate 486's. I didn't touch my Bridgeboard for a long time. I was starting
to regret my $19.75 investment in fun. (cue violins)
I See the Light
Just when things were getting worse, I noticed that my NEC
UltraLite notebook had a copy of LapLink on it. I read the instructions,
and lo and behold, all you needed was a serial cable. I had one of those.
And a copy of LapLink on a PC XT. I have one of those. The fun was
Connected my Bridgeboard to my notebook. Started whipping files
back and forth at 115K. Wow. Printed my notes and reports on my Amiga
after sending them back and forth. The Bridgeboard was beginning to have
some use! But this was only the beginning...
...when a boatload of five inch disks from friends started coming
in. I could collect submissions and articles from them and convert them
for publishing on the Amiga through the Bridgeboard...
...and I found a QWK mail reader for the PC, which I could read
mail with on my PC side while my Amiga downloaded files...
...and a ZIP archiver to let my PC side batchprocess archives while
I used my Amiga at full speed for other stuff, without dedicating any of my
processing time on the 68000...
...and I found out that InterLego AG makes a really niftycool Lego
robot controller only on the PC, and not on the Amiga...
...and that the extra serial port was like having two terms running
The Moral of This Story: Brush Your Teeth Everyday!
I finally found some good uses for the XT Bridgeboard. I was
having fun again with my Amiga. It's like having an extra computer around
to muck with when your Amiga is bogged down with tasks.
So, wholeheartedly, I can recommend, for a parking lot of fun,
getting an old used XT Bridgeboard, for $19.75.