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%% Emulation Fun!                                       by Calum Tsang %%
%%                                                       tsangC@io.org %%
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More Low Cost Emulation Fun with the Bridgeboard Adding a VGA Card!

For those of you who read my article on the great $19.75 used
A2088 Bridgeboard, this article is a bit of a followup.  
I hope you all enjoy it.  

Test Platform: 

Commodore Amiga 2000HD
A2300 NTSC Genlock
A2090A HD Controller
SupraRAM 2000/2
A2088XT Bridgeboard
Tecmar XT Expansion 
44MB Rodime HD /21 MB Miniscribe HD

A Bad Day... 

I was having a bad day.  Not just any old bad day, but some
lowlife went and snipped all the DRAM off of the used accelerator I wanted
to buy.  That classified as a Big Day for This Amiga User.  It was to my 
surprise that my good friend and PC fan, Tim, showed up with a a small box
that said "Add On Cards" with a garish multicoloured rainbow pattern on 
the outside.  Inside was a VGA card, a leftover from his 486, now decked 
out with SVGA and million-colour palette. 

The card was an Oak Technologies 256K VGA card, which according to
Tim, will show 640x400x256 colours.  My bad day was starting to turn good. 

The Game Plan
The game plan was to install the VGA card into my Amiga's "secondary bus 
system" or the PC slots left of the Bridgecard.  Then, I'd get full VGA 
capabilities on my XT side, allowing me to show all those great pictures 
of Anna Clarke someone sent me. 

What's wrong with the Amiga side?  For you folks who read my previous 
article in AmigaReport, I have an A2000.  No AGA, no 24 bit board, just 
good old ECS.  And the nice 256 colour GIFs turn out kind of bland and 
dithered converted out to HAM or NTSC:HiResLaced.  Plus, I was getting 
sick of a little hesitation caused by the translation of PC CGA emulation
to Amiga side graphics.  Screwdriver and VGA card in hand, I was ready to
begin.  

The User's Manual

I think I once told someone I hated Commodore's Amiga manuals.  Well, I 
hate PC clone manuals more.  Let me quote to you a typical page of this 
VGA card's 30 page instruction book: 

	"While you want to get into ET (Chinese Program), please
	 insert utility diskette into drive A... 

	 ...if screen dimension didn't adjust well please type... 

	 ...Drive Diskette Can Support: The Windows 3.0" 

I must admit the rest of the manual is in better English, but this
reinforces the inferiority-stereotype of PC clone quality.

Installation

The usual five screws came out of the 2000's case, and I removed one of 
those little metal plates.  (What use are they once they leave the Amiga?)
Next the VGA card was taken from it's antistatic protection bag and 
inserted into the second slot from the left, an 8 bit.  (The Oak card 
supported 16 bit, however, I have only an XT bridgeboard which uses only 
8 bit slots) From the back panel, I selected my monitor, PS/2 type and 
replaced all the screws. 

The monitor I used was a Scott SVGA Monitor, 14" with a nice tilt and 
swivel base, and I connected it to the DB15HD port on the back.  
Additionally, the card will also support a Digital type 9 pin connection
for 16 colour operation with digital EGA and CGA type monitors. 

Everything booted fine, and shortly after, the OAK VGA BIOS message came 
up, followed by the usual Commodore Bridgeboard BIOS notices. Wow! No 
keyboard action.  Up went the usual Janus PCWindow and I could type again.
It felt exactly like a clone.  Cool crisp VGA screen. Flickering 
underscore PC cursor.  Lack of windows.  

Great, what's it useful for? 

The main advantage for most Bridgeboard users will be the functionality of
having VGA level graphics on the PC side.  Most PC programs now demand 
either VGA graphics or Windows, which needs VGA as a base graphic adapter.
For my system, it is less useful because of my 8088 XT processor, but most
will find it will allow many more applications, operating systems 
(like OS/2) and games to run on the Bridgeboard. 

CSHOW-I can now show all those pictures under CSHOW.  Full 256 colours!  
Even if I can't get 640x400x256, I can still get 320x200x256 and 
368x400x256, plus a half decent 640x400 emulation.  I can even use the 
second monitor to show pictures while I'm working on my primary 1084S 
display.  

Windows NT-Oh yes, Windows NT is running very nicely.  Yup.  Just great, 
in fact, I think I saw a login prompt yesterday. :) 

FRACTINT-Yes, it's slow, but my 4.77 MHz XT Bridgeboard can run FRACTINT, 
one of the best fractal processors availible.  (The Waite Group's Fractal
Creations book is an excellent value, along with a copy of FRACTINT) And
since the PC side uses no Amiga processing time (especially now that it 
has it's own monitor) I can leave the fractals chugging along at a merry 
pace, serving as a wallpaper.  Of course this took an expensive SVGA 
monitor to get...  

FrameWork III-My copy of Ashton Tate's wonderful FrameWork III can now 
run in 80x50 lines.  Perfect for typing great amounts of text in and 
reading large manual files.

Conclusion

Take any VGA card you get! It's a useful and handy tool to add to your 
Bridgeboard, no matter what model-XT, AT, 386.  They've become very cheap 
lately, and you'll add yet more functionality to what I believe is the 
most interesting peripheral availible on the Amiga 2000-the Bridgeboard.
Comments, questions and pictures of Anna Clarke are always welcome via 
my Internet address.