Or was it “Hyper, hyper!“? Scooter, please help a child of the 80s and 90s out here! This episode is about shuffling hardware, and what it takes to make your Amiga really fast!

I was lucky enough to get my hands on a Cyberstorm MK2 card (and I still have all my organs). I almost despaired when I put the card into my Amiga and nothing happened. Turns out, the Amiga wants J100 jumpers to internal despite an oscillator being present on the card. What a shock and what a relief when dummy me was told by the internet to read the manual that came with the card. Who does that anymore these days?

The previous owner parted with this piece of 90s magic with an 68060 revision 1 at the factory frequency of 50MHz.

That’s no fun, thought this silly old lad, and after some journey to the Nightfall Crew and Cosmos’ Blog I felt the best possible thing I could do is to risk destroying another piece of ancient hardware and overclocking a poor 68060 CPU by no less than 100%.

For that I would have to exchange the 68060 rev 1 with the rev 6 from my A3660 (Thank you, Nicolas from Switzerland). But how to get the CPUs out of their sockets without destroying CPUs or boards. With the A3660 I was less nervous. The card is somewhat solid and I had been able to remove the CPU with my Hakko CHP 7-SA tweezers (6.50USD on Amazon, great investment), but the Cyberstorm MK2 just made me a lot more nervous, as it was starting to bend under the pressure. The Cyberstorm is super packed, there is not much room left and right, unlike the 3640/3660 design. So I found these Intel Overdrive chip removers on eBay:

One on each side, and any 68060 will follow your lead easily.

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… and even more obviously, everybody needs a second recap in their quarantined life. After the recap of my A3640 went surprisingly well, and even ripped off pads were replaced and reconnected, I felt confident enough to do a board that’s a little bit bigger and a little bit more involved than that poor little 040 accelerator: My Amiga 4000.

As my Amiga 3640 processor card, the Amiga 4000D board was previously recapped in a job that replaced the SMD capacitors with their through-hole siblings.

I know, I know, another recap story, REALLY? Haven’t we heard enough of that already? Let’s just twist the caps off, the recap trolls on Facebook will tell you. Come on, folks. You are lucky enough to have the chance to operate some 30 plus year old machinery. Think about it for a second. What else that you have today will still be good in thirty years from now? Your iPhone or Android phone? Certainly not. Your MacBook? Your Chromebook? This stuff is going to be in the landfill and long forgotten in much less time. So PLEASE, treat these machines carefully. They are witnesses of a very different time, when reality consisted of the cold war and 1200 baud modems. If you have doubt about what to do, let someone help you. There is a friendly community of folks keeping these machines alive. And if you want to do it yourself, practice with something else first. Something that is ok to break. I heard there are a lot of cheap Ataris out there (just kidding!!)

It’s not visible in the picture, but many of the legs of these caps were not attached to the board anymore

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… When I have been playing my overclocking games, I was sourcing a lot of oscillators from eBay. One thing I noticed was that there are a lot more choices for modern SMD oscillators than for the old DIP14 tin cans. As a matter of fact, I found 50 and 100MHz oscillators in all sizes quite easily, but what if you want to go up gradually, say 105 or 108 MHz? Maybe I looked in the wrong places, but I was out of luck.

A solution had to be found, and that was to put a rock under the clock to make it fit. And of course I was just looking for a project simple enough to try and build something with KiCad.

The rock: oscillator adapter board

Being a hardware developer in 2020 is almost as easy as being a software developer in 1980. You basically need a computer and a lot of patience.  Once my KiCad design was done, the first version was quickly uploaded to OSHPARK. This place is fabulous. Want to try some hardware really quickly? Get three boards of decent build quality and great looks for two bucks in the mail, with no delivery fees. It’s almost paradise.

The order process is simple and small design are not discouraged by 15 dollar delivery fees

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The heat wave has hit Mountain View these last few days and caused a power outage for the better part of the weekend, so between 40C/105F and no electricity to power a soldering iron we enjoyed mango ice instead of working on all the projects.

Delicious mango shaved ice and jelly noodle shaved ice from Meet Fresh

None the less, after laborious project cat Katze (カツ)  dropped all static charges to climb into a box and help me unpack my latest Digikey order, I couldn’t just sit around.

Katze survived. Even though we all looked.

A while ago I ordered one of Edu Arana’s A4000DB daughter boards at amigastore.eu. These are an easy way to lower the temperature in the already hot Amiga 4000D case and the power consumption a little bit. Plus, as Guillaume pointed out, I’m an arananet fan boy.

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A few days ago I did some temperature measurements with my zz9000 graphics card from MNT GmbH in Germany, which turned out to be surprisingly hot. It started out as a test of the CPU temperature of my freshly overclocked MC68060RC50 (rev6) running at 100MHz, when I noticed that the graphics card seemed to run hotter than the CPU.

Particularly the FPGA and the two capacitors C154 and C155 were transforming a lot of electricity into hot air.

A cheap IR temperature tool is super useful

One day later, after installing Linux/m68k from scratch over night, the Amiga 4000 didn’t boot anymore. Of course I thought that I killed the CPU. 100% overclocking can’t be good, right?

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What happens to long lived electrical engineers? They diode!

I have had trouble with the Amiga 4000’s serial port since I got the machine. At first I got a few bytes through every now and then, but it was pretty much unusable, even at 9600 bps.

When “learning online” about all the magic of open source in GitHub, I stubbled about Keir Fraser’s Amiga Test Kit, John Hertell’s DiagROM and SukkoPera’s Parallel / Serial port tester for the two.

Of course it’s not worth just ordering a single one of anything in the electronics world, and so I ended up joining the market of dongle builders. If you need one, let me know.

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My keyboard is missing a key. There’s no escape!

Well actually it wasn’t escape that was broken on my nice click-a-dee-clack Amiga 4000 keyboard, but CAPS LOCK! And bit even the key itself, it was the LED that just wouldn’t show the status. No problem, let’s take it apart

So many screws!

At first I thought the LED might have died after my recent diode intermezzo on the Amiga board. But measuring with my multimeter I see that the LED is just not getting any power. Let’s look at the membrane.

It seems I forgot the before picture

There was a piece of the trace missing. It seems it had corroded away. The previous owner probably spilled Coke on it. My first approach was to scratch the green cover of the existing trace so I can connect to it.

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Lots of things happening at work, so it’s good to do a little meditation by soldering in the evening. Guillaume sent me a Greaseweazle kit but the STM32 still looks like the next level of soldering to me. It makes 0805 components look large. I’m missing a 74F257 that was lost in the mail, so the 060 adapter has to wait for a while. But there are other ways to treat an A3640 rev 3.1.

First, a socket for the oscillator will make it easier to test a little overclocking.

The 68040@25MHz worked nicely with a 60MHz oscillator, pushing it up to 30MHz.

Since the A3640 provides the clock for the Amiga mainboard, the chipset and memory will get a tad faster, too. This hack is super easy and will cost you 2 bucks for a socket and an oscillator.

The next and a little more involved one is an upgrade of the v3.1 card to v3.2. Gladly this is a simple GAL update, but unfortunately the GALs are not socketed. This leads to a brief intermezzo with my favorite tool ever, the hot air rework station.

The kapton tape job was a bit sloppy and over eager

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When I got my A4000 late last year, I could not have been a happier kid. I fleas surprised to get it for a fabulous price and it arrived just in time before the holidays.

The A3640 was a good first victim. Notice the through hole caps that ripped off the pads

That joy lasted until I noticed that there was no mouse, a Super Buster r6 (WTH) and a semi-professionally done replacement of all the capacitors on the board. Unfortunately through hole caps were used in the recap process.

You will find enough discussion about this on the internet, and people will suggest all sorts of craziness, like twisting off old caps or putting through hole caps on SMD pads. These are all terrible ideas. Don’t do it. If you have an Amiga (or any 30yr old computer), do it right or pay somebody to do it right. Recap services are not expensive and are definitely worth it.

One of the tricky parts is that the silk screen on the A3640 is incorrectly showing the direction of three capacitors. Make sure to consult the schematics.

Ruined! It is ruined! Or is it?

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