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Original Internal Shot - minimal upgrades

How do you go about a project like this? Well follow along and I'll try and take you though it. I started out by buying a base (un-upgraded) Amiga 600 from ebay. I recently sold an upgraded A1200 so I had the money to spend on this idea. Although other people have done this, mine is a little different to what I have seen out there so far.

First of all, I added a 1MB RAM card with battery backed up clock, giving the machine a total of 2MB chip memory. This is a simple upgrade, as the card just pushes into the trapdoor slot, intended for this kind of upgrade. Then came a small 344MB hard disk, which has since been replaced by a whopping 2.1GB (large in classic Amiga circles). Then, I added a 3.1 ROM chip so I could run Workbench 3.1. Replaced the old, yellowed keyboard and there it sat for about 6 months...

Then I realised there was nothing too special about my Amiga and I should take it further to make the machine a useful tool. Obviously the graphics limitations make it rather poor for general web browsing, but for IRC/FTP applications, good graphics capabilities are not a requirement. So, what would I need? More memory, faster processor, CD ROM for installing the latest Amiga operating system and a network card to utilise my broadband Internet connection.

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Apollo 630 Card with heatsinks

After putting a wanted ad on many Amiga related classifieds, I managed to get hold of an Apollo 630 board running at 33MHz, fully loaded with 32MB RAM and FPU. There was one or two disasters with attaching this but I am not going to dwell on them as Christian Krenner explains about the Apollo's shortcomings on his site. Just as a point of interest, once installed, I did not experience the same insatiability issues he did so I did not modify the board electronically at all, however he is running the 40MHz version so perhaps the faster they go, the more there is need to alter the board. I did add the heatsinks, even though it didn't appear to get too hot, I wanted the reassurance it would remain cool when on for many hours and under high CPU load.

I managed to find a nice size Heatsink for the Motorola MC68030 processor but I had to cut down a standard PC CPU heatsink for the FPU and the MACH chips. Oh and I attached them all with super glue as I read on some over clocking sites this is quite good and does not suffer under considerable heat. After pushing the base of the pins on the surface mounted 68000 processor on the Amiga 600 with a blunt screwdriver to make a grove for this board to sit on, yes, you heard correct, this pushes on top of the existing CPU!

To make the Apollo as secure as possible, I also bent the pins of the Apollo's socket inwards and attached it with Araldite, which is very strong stuff, I also put a blob of super glue on each corner of the socket to ensure the board would definitely stay put. Lastly I supported the board by using silicone sealant on the corners in big quantities so it can hold it's own weight (the socket has enough work to do without holding the weight of the board as well).

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IDE cables in place, note I cut a lip in the case to allow the cables to exit above the PCMCIA slot

To use a CD ROM drive you need a 4 way IDE adaptor as the A600 only has one IDE header. In engineering terms, this was my hardest challenge. I simply could not fit this in the A600 without getting rid of the PCMCIA socket! Not an option as I need that for my network card. So, I get some 50cm IDE cables and left the IDE interface external. It is not too big and I have covered all the the exposed components in silicone. You can hardly tell that is there, as the IDE cables mask it well.

I also had to stick the hard disk on the side of the case as the apollo takes up the space where the standard A600 HDD caddy goes. Christian Krenner managed to screw his to the case, I tried that and ended up messing up the case, and having to buy a new one, which was good in some ways as the new case came with the A600HD badge! This time I stuck the hard drive in with marine spec silicone. It allowed me to maneuver it a little whilst placing the cables.

Because we have added all this extra stuff, the power supply that came with the A600 is no longer ample to run the modified machine. You will need to get a nice big Goliath type power supply (~250w) from an Amiga dealer or check out ebay and the Amiga classifieds, such as Amibench.

Last of all, using Christian's most useful amiga600.de site, I added a fan to the case, powered by cutting into the +/- 5V cables on the floppy drive's power lead. I sealed off the grill on the top, except where the fan is to make a wind tunnel for the cool air to be pulled though the grills on the bottom of the case and heat though the top.

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Installing Amiga OS 3.9 after completing hardware build

I have installed OS 3.9 and am now running an Amiga at a specification an A1200 user would be proud of. Only thing lacking is the AGA chipset and a number pad, but if it had them, it would be an A1200! Oh some people might be wondering why I did not put USB in my machine. The answer is, I could not see the need, for moving large files I would use Samba/FTP and not a memory pen, and the Amiga mouse is fine when you are in 640x256 mode! I was offered the prototype clockport card for the Amiga 600, which would allow me to add a Subway USB controller, but I decided not to add anything I didn't think useful.

What makes my A600 slightly different to a lot of the upgraded ones out there is the CD ROM drive, most people don't like the idea of leaving things flapping about on the side of their Amiga, but unless you take it out of it's original case and into a nasty PC tower, you have no choice. A CD ROM connected to your Amiga gives you lots more access to game and demoscene compilations, as well as making it easier to install the OS without using another Amiga.

Last bit of advice: Get a dust cover! Vesalia and AmigaDeals do them, and if you have replaced the keyboard and case, this is the best way to keep them nice and white.

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Inside my expanded Amiga
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The finished Project

The machine is now of the following specification:

A600HD 68030 @ 33MHz with FPU & MMU
34MB RAM w/clock (2MB CHIP, 32MB FASTMEM)
2.1GB Hard DisK Drive
52x CD ROM Drive
2 Floppy Drives
250w Amiga PSU
802.11b PCMCIA WLAN Adaptor NEW!
Kickstart 3.1 - Amiga OS 3.9 Boing Bag II
Philips CM8833 MKII Monitor

For some commentary as the system was being built, please visit the following Amigaworld threads:


That's all there is to it. If you need any assistance or would like to comment on any Amiga 600 issue, please get in touch, I will try to help!