Category Archives: Clubs

Commodore Amiga Users meet in Ireland

Only Amigaaaaaaaa! [Pic Trevor Dickinson]
Only Amigaaaaaaaa! [Pic Trevor Dickinson]
Commodore Amiga fans from Ireland and beyond were able to enjoy an amazing get-together a little over a week ago, with a great turnout, fun and fascinating exhibits, and a remarkable range of guests! This report was sent in to RCN by Jarlath Reidy.

The Commodore Amiga Users Ireland Meetup 2017 took place at The Prince of Wales Hotel in Athlone on 21 January 2017, and despite being set in the very heart of Ireland, there was very much an international flavour to the event, with Irish Amigans being only too delighted to meet their friends who had travelled from overseas places such as England, Scotland, Poland, Germany – and even New Zealand! Such is the nature of world-wide Amiga fandom today.

A multi-faceted event

Communing with the Amiga in Ireland [Pic Dermot O'Halloran]
Communing with the Amiga in Ireland [Pic Dermot O’Halloran]
Soldering on! [Pic Dermot O'Halloran].
Soldering on! [Pic Dermot O’Halloran].
All kinds of machines and setup configurations were on display, and some very interesting workshops and talks were available including:

  • SWOS tournament, with a nice trophy going to the winner (congrats Kenny Gaughan).
  • Kick Off 2, Lotus 2 (four player) and Skidmarks (eight player) competitions.
  • Stunt Car Racer (congratulations to the champion, Allan Ullmann who took away a lovely trophy).
  • AROS – Current status with Neil Cafferkey (Core developer and Prism2v2 driver author).
  • Soldering Workship – With Rob Cranley of Amiga Future.
  • Music Creation on Amiga – With Jarlath Reidy and a surprise drop in from Mike Clarke (Psygnosis / Atomicom) who took it to a whole new level!
  • Crash Course in Blitz Basic – With Jarlath Reidy & Rob Cranley
  • Q&A sessions with Trevor Dickenson of A-EON fame and David Pleasance (formerly of Commodore UK) and Hogne Titlestad (FriendUP), Jon Hare (via Skype) as well as Mike Labatt of Cloanto, Mike Clarke (Psygnosis/Atomicom) and more.
  • Amibian machines were there with 3D printed Amiga cases.
  • X1000 and X5000 machines as well as the ALICE laptop were also on display.

Listening attentively [Pic Dermot O'Halloran].jpg
Listening attentively [Pic Dermot O’Halloran].jpg
Trevor Dickinson of A-EON speaks [Pic Dermot O'Halloran].
Trevor Dickinson of A-EON speaks [Pic Dermot O’Halloran].

Goodies to win

Spot prizes at the event included wifi cards (thanks to Sir_Lucas of Amibay for donating these), boxed games  (thanks to Craig Harrisson, Lukasz Mulczynski, Mattie Whittle, Danny Cork and others, Amiga hardware (audio sampler, frame grabber with huge thanks to Mattie Whittle), and Amiga branded notebooks, posters, badges, etc (thanks to Trevor Dickinson).

Sordan (of sordan.ie) set up a shop that day, providing a service for everyone’s hardware and software needs. Rob Cranley performed recaps and repairs on several machines. Dermot O’Halloran took fantastic photos and we had additional video and photos taken by Kenny Gaughan, Ravi Abbott (of the Retro Hour Podcast) who also provided music later on. Sound was provided by Colin Reid.

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Amiga group goes from strength to strength

A busy SWAG Meet #3 gets going at Swindon Makerspace. [Pic Steve Netting]
A busy SWAG Meet #3 gets going at Swindon Makerspace. [Pic Steve Netting]
A popular British retro computing group focusing on the Commodore Amiga is continuing to prove that, more than three decades on from its birth, rumours of this classic computer’s death have been greatly exaggerated. This report of the South West Amiga Group’s latest meeting has been sent in on their behalf by members Brian Hedley and Robert Hazelby.

On Saturday 14 January 2017, the third South West Amiga Group (SWAG) meeting was held at what has now become our regular venue; the Swindon Makerspace.

Prior to each meeting we try and plan a rough theme so that those coming along have some idea as to what to expect. At this SWAG meeting our theme was Amiga vs the 8-bits. The Commodore Amiga was the platform of choice for a great many fantastic games, but on some occasions the same title on an 8-bit was actually better. To this end, at this meeting we had an Amstrad CPC464 running the recently released Pinball Dreams conversion using a DDI3 Floppy Emulator and a recently refurbished and AY sound-fixed Sinclair Spectrum +3, complete with a DivIDE Enjoy interface running various games.

Preparing to test an Acorn Electron. With Derek Fellowes, Dave Rowland, Steve Netting, Scott MacDonald and Zeb Elwood. [Pic Robert Hazelby]
Preparing to test an Acorn Electron. With Derek Fellowes, Dave Rowland, Steve Netting, Scott MacDonald and Zeb Elwood. [Pic Robert Hazelby]
One of our attendees also brought along a ZX UNO FPGA based machine which could be seen running recreations of various eight-bit computer systems including the MGT Sam Coupé, BBC Micro and the Spectrum. We even had an original Acorn Electron up and running once it had received some TLC from a SWAG member.

Naturally, as this was a SWAG meet, we had plenty of Amiga machines scattered about the room. Amongst the stash was an A600 with a Vampire V2 (Black Edition) FPGA-based accelerator board, which we’d installed last meeting and which was now running DOOM at a very fluid frame rate.

This Amstrad has been updated to modern storage with a DDI3 floppy emulator, complete with LCD display. [Pic Steve Netting]
This Amstrad has been updated to modern storage with a DDI3 floppy emulator, complete with LCD display. [Pic Steve Netting]
An RGB-modded Amiga CD32 console was being used to show demos and was hooked up to a Commodore 1084S monitor. The demos were those from the recently released Press Play on Pad CD.

A CD32 motherboard being re-capped, with Zeb Elwood (standing) and Scott MacDonald. [Pic Robert Hazelby]
A CD32 motherboard being re-capped, with Zeb Elwood (standing) and Scott MacDonald. [Pic Robert Hazelby]
Speaking of recent releases, we were visited at the meet by the one and only Galahad of the coding group Scoopex, who has been working on various ST ports to Amiga. Following his conversion of Denton Designs’ game Where Time Stood Still he has been chipping away at converting the Bubble Bus classic arcade adventure Starquake. The plan was to release the completed conversion at the meet, and while we were able to get it working on one Gotek floppy emulator equipped Amiga, the floppy disk routines needed some work, and the graphic routines required some slight tweaks on Indivision hi-res graphics board-based A1200s. When the game was running we were all pleased to see how well it ran, and the new music produced specially for this Amiga release was a joy to hear.

Following the meet Galahad contacted the group to say that he had now fixed the issues and Starquake was undergoing what would hopefully be the last round of testing before release. It was exciting for SWAG members to play a small part in the beta testing of this much anticipated conversion.

Elsewhere in the packed  room, we had a modern Amiga One 64-bit PowerPC-based computer running various games and utilities. All who saw it were impressed at just how responsive Amiga OS4.1 was, and just how nippy the applications were to use. Now, if only the cost could come down a bit!

A1200s assemble!

Dual screen Amiga 1200. Indivision output on the left. Standard RGB output from the Amiga monitor port on the right. [Pic Robert Hazelby]
Dual screen Amiga 1200. Indivision output on the left. Standard RGB output from the Amiga monitor port on the right. [Pic Robert Hazelby]
There were also three Amiga A1200s in the room. The computer equipped with a Gotek drive was being used to beta test Starquake. The second was an expanded system incorporating an ACA1233/40MHz/128MB, 4GB CompactFlash HD, Indivision AGA Mk2cr, Gotek, external drive, and an external kipper2k CompactFlash adaptor, PCMCIA-> CF/SD). Just a few things added, then! The third was an A1200 Power Tower, which had been added to gradually over the last 20 or so years. This was equipped with an 80 gigabyte hard drive, internal and external floppy drives, 56x CD ROM, a network card, and Indivision AGA, and a MAS Player. The Amiga was hooked-up to two monitors – a nice Dell LCD for Workbench and point & click game use, and a Commodore 1942 CRT for those arcade titles and demos where smooth 50hz scrolling were needed. The MAS Player was demoed to a number of SWAG members, and considering its price (under 50UKP), produces excellent results.

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Join the club – at The National Museum of Computing!

Margaret Sale (pic: TNMOC)
Margaret Sale (pic: TNMOC)

Anyone with an interest in computing history can join a new club at The National Museum of Computing (TNMOC) at Bletchley Park, to develop their passion and support the ongoing development of one of the great computing museums of the world.

Margaret Sale, with an extraordinary computer heritage background as a TNMOC trustee, founder member of the Save Bletchley Park Campaign of the 1990s, and wife of the late Tony Sale who led the Colossus Rebuild team, has agreed to become the Club’s first president providing a link from the past to the present.

To launch the new club, an inaugural Members’ Open Day and Annual General Meeting was held on Saturday 28 March 2015.

Chairman (elect) of the TNMOC Club, John Linford, said: “The TNMOC Club aims to support the important work of the museum and provide an engaging programme for people of all ages who are interested in computer history. The club will arrange technical and social events for members as well as offering on-line facilities, which are essential as we have members all over the world.

“We are delighted that Margaret Sale has agreed to become our first President. Margaret has been involved with the museum since its inception. Her enthusiasm for and knowledge of the early days of computing are infectious.”

Margaret Sale said: “It’s a great honour to be asked to be the first President of the TNMOC Club. I plan to be very active in its support as I fully understand just how important the role of committed supporters has and will be in helping the Museum to continue to grow.”

Tim Reynolds, Chairman of TNMOC, said: “The Trustees really appreciate this initiative and are happy to support this Club. It’s been a revelation to watch the growing interest in computing heritage while I have been associated with the Museum and I have no doubt that this community initiative will be a very important facet of our fast-developing Museum.”

Member benefits include a season ticket to the Museum, a regular newsletter InSync, a Yahoo Group to contact other members, shop, lecture and room-booking discounts.

All existing TNMOC members will automatically become members of the new club which is a separate entity to the TNMOC Volunteers’ Association.

If you would like to join or find out more about the Club, please go to http://www.tnmoc.org/support/become-member or email membership@tnmoc.org

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