My first Amiga was a sickly A600 with a dead floppy drive. I had no PSU so had to build one using an old PC unit and some ‘creative’ wiring. When I finally got it working I investigated upgrading it a bit. That was where I hit a dead end. Upgrades are few and far between for the 600. Those that existed at the time (early 2004) were rare and old, and in the case of the Apollo 630 CPU upgrade, also not very stable inside the A600 case because of the cramped form factor. That seemed to be that, I put the 600 in a corner and forgot about it and set about buying and upgrading a 1200 instead, which had a lot more going for it.
Last year however and idea suddenly hit me. As a long time Mac enthusiast (yes yes, ok I know) I had a lot of old Macs knocking about. I began looking at them thinking if I could fit any Amiga boards into one. In settled on the combination of an A600 board (because it was small and used conventional IDE and PCMCIA) and the case from a Power Macintosh 6100 (one of the least useful PowerPC MAcs ever made, but the case is nice!).
I set about modifying the PowerMac casing to take the 600 board, it was a long process of trial and error, and eventually it fitted. I then ran into another issue. I had no power (I had to take the PSU out to fit the 600 board). I tried a number of ideas but eventually came up dry. That was until I looked into the pin-out of ATX power supplies. This held possibilities. However I still couldn’t find one small enough to fit the gap at the end of the case. Much searching lead me to a small board that would easily fit designed to be used for low-power MicroATX or MiniITX applications. It took one input of 12V DC at 5A and pushed out more than enough power on all the lines required for the A600 and the drives I planned to fit.
Once the power was sorted out I mounted an IDE hard drive and floppy. A little mod allowed the floppy eject button to poke out of the front of the case (Apple don’t do eject buttons…). The project was coming together nicely and with the addition of an Elbox keyboard adapter, and 2 A4000 tower-style 9-pin mouse/joystic extension leads, it all went together really well.
I wasn’t happy to stop there though, I wanted more (as any true Amigan does). I got my hands on a laptop DVD drive and proceeded to fit that in the middle bay, cutting the front faceplate to accommodate it. This required me to fit a 4-way IDE adapter. A EIDE99 provided the best solution as it was vertical standing and didn’t take up too much room.
By now it was looking like a really tidy project but still I wasn’t happy. I wanted to be able to use this for going online and chatting on IRC at meetings. In could not easily do this in it’s current configuration as it had no Fast RAM and only 1MB of Chip RAM. The chip RAM issue was solved by a generous donation of a 1MB expansion for the trapdoor slot (now very much internal burt still usable on my project). This still left one last piece…
The A600 accelerator has always been an item of some debate. Some see it as a waste of time. Others don’t. I say if it can be done why not do it. Well it was done back in the day. Only 2 accelerators ever made it to the market, under various names. These were the DCE Viper 630 (also sold by MTEC as the E-Matrix 630 and T-630) and the ACT (later bought up by Elbox) Apollo 620 (020 version) and 630 (also sold as the Winner 630). Tese are rare and sought after items however and getting one has thus far proven to be almost impossible for any reasonable amount of money. There was also promise from Individual Computers of a new A600 accelerator, using a revised design offering better stability, and overcoming the drawback with previous units that the clip-on CPU interface (basically an upside-down PLCC socket) has a nasty habit of working loose and the whole accelerator disconnecting. If this happens while operating nit can permanently damage the accelerator and the 600’s CPU. Alas however, the new A600 accelerator has been shelved ‘indefintely’ by Individual Computers, although they are working on other very exciting hardware.
However, thanks to the generosity of a member of the club I have now been able to complete the project. I have been given a Apollo 630 accelerator which I have now fitted along with a fan to keep it cool, in my A600 project.
Thus the Ultra600 project has been completed.