Monday, April 24, 2017

My Hardware #5 - Amiga600HD

A couple of years ago I've published an advert on Gumtree, saying that I was looking for old computers. One of the replies I got was from a guy who said that he has a boxed Commodore 64 and Amiga 600 for sale. When I asked for the price, he said 120 PLN, which is around 30 euro, so without any hesitation I said Yes :) The guy even brought the hardware by train to the station near my home. So for a insanely low price I got myself two new computers, some disks, joysticks and C64 stuff like datasette, cartridges and tapes.

The Amiga looked very nice, with only slight yellowing. It is an A600HD model, which had an original 30 MB 2,5" with workbench installed. It worked fine, so I started looking for some upgrades, to make it more useable. First thing I changed, was replacing the old HDD with a 4GB CF Card, and getting a 1 MB Chip Ram Expansion from Individual Computers. Later I ordered a 4 MB Fast Ram expansion from Kipper2k, only to replace it a year later with a Ninetails 020/28 accelerator.

Ninetails itself is worth a mention. It's a 020/28 turbo card with 11 MB of Fast Ram, designed and built by polish Amiga user Rafal Chyła a.k.a. "sanjyuubi", who produced a small batch of those cards a couple of years ago. From what I know there were only around 20 built, so I'm lucky to have one !

So just to sum up my config:
Amiga 600HD
2 MB Chip, 11 MB Fast RAM
4GB CF card as HDD, 64Mb CF on PCMCIA for data transfer
4xKickstart switch
Amiga OS 3.1 with Classic WB package

I use the A600HD mostly for watching ECS demos and playing Gunship 2000.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

KEBAB - polish Amiga & C64 magazine 1992-1993, covers gallery

Kebab was a polish Commodore64 & Amiga magazine, originating from an Amiga diskmag (also named Kebab), issued by the first ever polish scene group - Quartet. Creators of the magazine aimed at promoting "serious" use of C= computers, so the magazine consisted mainly of programming courses, and hardware modifications rather than game reviews. It also had a lot of demoscene reports.

Recently I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to buy most of Kebab's issues in mint condition, from the old, leftover stock. Below you'll find scans of the magazine's covers, which in my opinion are quite spectacular.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

My Hardware #4 - Philips VG-8235 MSX2

MSX platform was never a popular computer system in Poland. During communist times we had some SVI's imported, but they never got very popular, mainly because of the lack of software available in my country. But as a retro computer enthusiast I was always interested in this format, mainly because it is so exotic here. My interest peaked in 2016, when I've seen an MSX2 demo Baltak Rampage by Traktor, released at Revision 2016. It amazed me, that this 8-bit machine has such great graphics capabilities, and I started scanning online auction sites for potential hardware. After months of waiting, I found Philips VG-8235 auctioned on It was unchecked, without any warrandy (sold "as is") and probably found on some German scrapyard. Nevertheless, MSX2's are very rare on polish auctions, so I placed a bid, and won the auction with final price of around 250 PLN (around 60 euro).

Here are the computers specifics from MSX.Org:

Brand Philips (Manufacturer: NEC)
Type VG-8235
Year 1986
RAM 128kB
VRAM 128kB
Media MSX cartridges, 1DD floppy disks
Video Yamaha V9938
Audio PSG (custom chip integrated in MSX-Engine S3527)
Chipset Yamaha S3527
Extras 360kB 3,5" floppy disk drive, external disk drive connector, reset button, firmware on disks (MSX-DOS1 - Home Office - Designer)

When I recevied the VG-8235 it was ultimately dirty, the disk drive wasn't working, and some of the keys didn't respond. But it booted into BASIC, so I had hope. On pictures below you can see, that the reason for keyboard problems was dirt, and that floppy drive had the rubber belt torn to pieces.

I replaced the drive belt, cleaned the keyboard parts and diskdrive with vacuum cleaner and alcohol, I also soldered a cable to connect an external floppy drive. A cool feature of VG-8235 is that it has an external FDD port, compatible with standard PC 3,5" floppy drives. So a 1.44MB 3,5" drive from my old PC works fine with it and formats 720kb disks. Which is useful, as VG-8235's internal drive is just single-sided with 360kb capacity.

So, after cleaning and some minor repairs my Philips VG-8235 is fully operational. I also equipped it with SD512 card reader/memory expansion module, which I described on my blog some time ago, so now my MSX has more RAM (768kb), than my vanilla Amiga 1000 (512kb). Below are some pictures from the current state, and a video showing booting from SD512 into SofaRun, and running Space Manbow *.rom image with .

Saturday, March 25, 2017

New ZX Spectrum demos& Intros released @ Forever 2k17

Last weekend, the 18th edition of Forever 8-bit demoparty in Slovakia took place, and as usual for this party there were some quality ZX Spectrum releases. There were 3 cool demos released in the demo compo (the fourth position in the compo was occupied by an ultimately unfunny 2kb Basic demo focusing on making fun of Atari machines :) ), 2 good 1kb intros, and a wild compo entry. Full party results, as well as some photo galleries from the event are available here : .

For a full set of releases from Forever 2017, including GFX and music, visit DEMOZOO .

#2 in ZX 1kb Compo - Tochi / Busysoft

Tochi is a seriusly cool 1kb intro, including nice AY music, and some smooth and colorful effects. I was surprised by the ammount of content that can be squeezed into 1kb file. The intro is also pretty long and looped, so you can play it a couple of times an it doesn't get boring :)


#1 in ZX 1kb Compo - 2x2 / 3SC

The first place in the 1kb ZX intro compo was taken by an intro called 2x2. It features some pretty complicated physics effects, nicely synchronised with decent music. You gotta watch this!


# 1 in Wild Compo - Bad Apple 2 / Noby & Factor6

Wild Compo's only entry is a ZX Spectrum version of a famous anime-style animation, which features in many scene productions, including versions for Sega Megadrive and Commodore 64. The .tap file with the production is almost 2,5 MB big, the animation is very smooth and impressive, but the highlight of this demo is a great AY tune. Definitely worth a look.


#3 In ZX Demo compo - Compofiller - Invaders Must Die / noby & factor6

The authors themselves called this demo a Compofiller, but in fact this is a pretty good (and long) production, giving tribute to rave and techno bands trom the 1990's. What makes this production interesting is great music and synchronisation. Visuals are not the strongest part of this demo as they mostly consist of some basic monochrome drawings, nevertheless there are some cool fonts there, and a nice picture of a dog (?) riding a motorcycle.


#2 In ZX Demo compo - Bigh Things / is a polish ZX demogroup lead by coder Tygrys, who cooperates with some well known polish demosceners like Slayer, Darklight, at0m, V0yager and CatMan. Big Things is a demo aimed for ZX48k with AY sound interface, and it's quiet a trip with many interesting effects, great music and graphics. My personal highlights from this demo are: great skulls picture by Darklight, effect with balls and electric currents jumping between them, and the chessboard in the beginning. Overall did a great job, and their demo is my favorite prod from the party.


#1 In ZX Demo compo - Ultraviolet / HOOY-PROGRAM

The democompo's winner was Gasman with his ZX 128k demo Ultraviolet. Gasman not only coded the demo, but also did MSX and GFX, which is quite an achievment. Ultraviolet features great effects , synchronised with equally good soundtrack, and presentation of a new 176x192 interlaced graphics mode in the endpart. Great stuff to see & here in this one !


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Wicher for Amiga 500, further updates...

Since my initial post about a new turbo card for Amiga 500 - Wicher by Spidi, a lot has changed. The card is now an internal device, and is called Wicher 500i. Since it is mounted onto the CPU socket it should also be compatible with other Amigas with similar CPU sockets (A1000, A2000, maybe CDTV). The design is ready, and Spidi already has more than 50 people declaring interest on polish amiga forum on .

The latest specs are:

CPU: MC68000/68010
Max 50MHz
IDE, SPI controllers

Benchmarks for 000@50MHz (SysInfo 4.0, AIBB 6.5)
Mips: 4.40
Dhrystones: 4222
transfer IDE: ~3.1MB/s
transfer RAM: ~6.94MB/s

As to availability, the price and distribution is still unknown, but Spidi revealed, that all that should be known in april.

Below is a video with latest version of the device :

UPDATE ! Wicher running Frontier !

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Datastorm is back - Part 2 - the Amiga compos

Staying on topic of the recent Datastorm party I want to share my opinions about the Amiga releases presented in Gothenburg. First of all there was plenty of them with most being high quality demos, and almost no compo-fillers. Only one thing that I didn’t like was AGA compo with only one release. Come on guys, wouldn’t it be better to throw this single AGA demo into the Wild compo ? Alright, enough braggin’, let’s get into AAAMIIIIGAAAAAHHH demos !

Amiga 40k Intro Compo:
1 - Copperstorm/Insane - 40k intro made entirely of horizontal copperbars and one logo, with very good music and synchro. Nice little enjoyable prod.

2 – Valejjo Amplifier / The Electronic Knights & Rabenauge - A three picture intro with one effect, and a decent chiptune. As the title clearly states the pixels are based on Boris Valejjo’s graphics.

AGA Demo Compo:
Storm Rider/Focus Design - Good AGA demo, with great streaming soundtrack involving rapped vocals with lyrics about demo creators H0ffman, Booster and Malmix. GFX effects are maybe nothing groundbreaking on the AGA scene, but are very well executed. Demo could be a bit longer though, and would benefit from some more pixelled graphics. A thumb up, but too bad there wasn’t any competition.

Bootblock intro:
1-Fluid Fire/Loonies and Unstable Label - An Impressive 1kb AGA bootblock intro based on a caleidoscope effect coded by Blueberry, and a pleasant chiptune by H0ffman. How did they manage to squeeze all that in 1 kb ?

2-It's a sin/Planet Jazz - Another bootblock intro, with one boring effect, and a really annoying repetitive sound. Not much to see or hear here :)

Amiga 500 Demo Compo:
1-Makt/Spaceballs – Yet another demo by one of the greatest Amiga legends, kept alive by Slummy and Lug00ber, who deliver top quality stuff every time they get to code and compose. Makt is something I would call a next part of their previous prods like Straff, Emperor of The North Pole, and Vold, but this time involving forms created from dots, rather than for example shaded polygons. Of course the everpresent dynamic soundtrack is there, perfectly synchronised with the glitchy, dark visuals. Over a past couple of years the duo behind this demo has developed a distinctive, recognizable style of their own, which suits me very much. But hey – they are Spaceballs, you are not :) Great demo!

2-Monomateria/Pacific – A well deserved second place, a very polished oldschool style prod, in the mood of the early nineties demos. What really stands out are high quality pixeled graphics by Malmix from Nature , which really made this release a serious demo. Music by Wasp is equally cool, with a surprise guitar riff from Lenny Kravitz. Synchro and effect are also strong, with yellow glitching and exploding vector cube being my highlight. I think that Monomateria might be the most mature production by the guys from Pacific, who released their first prod only in 2013 and are getting better with each demo and intro.

3-Dandelion/The Electronic Knights – A four minute nuschool trip into effects usually seen only in AGA productions. A surprisingly well paced and polished production by a group coming back to Amiga after an 18 year long break. The effects are nothing new on the Amiga scene, but they are very well executed, things like plasmas and blue tunnel with purple “neons” are a joy to watch. On the other hand the effect with vector power lines against a copper sky should be done with a better framerate. Dandelion also features some nice pixeled graphics, especially the picture near the end. Unfortunately the soundtrack is a bit too repetitive for me, and the demo would benefit from a bit more synchro. Overall a very good production, with more smoothness maybe would it have been 2nd.

4 – Ideograph/Five Finger Punch and Insane – A demo for Amigas with only 512 kb memory, featuring a kick-ass soundtrack and some nice effects like a rotozoom, and a vector net interacting with a balloon. Nice little production, that will probably be a highlight of my next Amiga 1000 demo pack ;)

5 – Coco/Unique – This is a demo that I would personally like to see at least one place higher in the compo. I enjoyed Unique’s two previous prods, Interparalactic and Subside very much, and Coco is just more of the same good nu-style stuff. The effects are very smooth and fresh, but I especially liked the soundtrack, which kinda reminded me of a summer beach party with a little touch of drugs ;)

6 – Revision Invitation/Insane – A kind of a two screen invitro by the very productive Insane, with some decent effects and the usual invitation motivating stuff. Maybe nothing groundbreaking, but enjoyable nevertheless.

7 – RetrokompLoaderror Invitation/Wanted Team & Resistance – Well , the last place at the compo was taken by an invitation to a party that I’m kinda coorganizing ;) Sachy was finishing it at the party, and some of the gfx were provided last-minute by Slayer of Ghostown, and Jok of Dreamweb. The Invitro features quite a few effects, and a cool soundtrack by Mccnex and Nainain. Definitely not a compo filler !


You can get the prods here :


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Datastorm is back - Part 1 - the Commodore 64 demo compo

This weekend, after a 3 year long hiatus, the Datastorm 2017 party was held in Gothenburg, Sweden. It was the first party of 2017 to feature both c64 and Amiga demo compos, and bringing the people from under the C= sign a great bunch of releases.

I just saw all 7 C64 Demo releases, and apart from some usual compofillers, there are two demos that clearly stand out from the rest. The winners of the compo were the scene legends from TRIAD, with their Neon demo, and the 2nd place was taken by Shape with a prod called The Shores of Reflection. The latter of the two is my personal favorite.

Neon by TRIAD is a demo based on a concept of returning to the 80’s aesthetics, highlighted by neon lights, shiny logos and Knightrider like cars. The pixels in this demo are great, with C64’s palette perfectly fitting the 1987-style, and the music is almost perfect. Of course the effects are also there, but don’t expect anything jaw-dropping, as the main strength of this demo is it’s atmosphere. Neon is certainly a good demo, but my personal opinion is that in that particular compo it was more of a second placer. Well a vote is a vote...

The Shores Of Reflection combines great oniric visuals , with equally good music, and some cool effects with the scene of flying over cubes filled landsape being the demos highlight. After watching it three times I'm still amazed by the design, and wondering how the hell Shape didn't end up winning the compo... Anyway, I always look forward to seeing a next demo from Shape, as their previous big production, Disco Apocalypso is probably one of my top 3 C64 demos.

After seeing these two big productions, I’ve watched the rest of the stuff. The 3rd place was taken by Atlantis, with their short, but sweet Carrie Fisher tribute demo, called The Last Hope. The effects were nothing new, but it’s always nice to see pixeled Leia in her bikini from The Return Of The Jedi, with some good old Star Wars the music.

The last prod that I think is worth mentioning is the compos 6th place, a n intro by Elysium, called Surdataströmming 95%. It is only a one-logo and one-effect prod, but it’s nice to see a comeback, or maybe a prelude to a comeback by a group that released their last big demo back in 2002. Ah, and the music is great :)

The rest of the prods and results can be found at the usual places like Pouet or CSDB.

Oh and keep watching this space, because I will cover the Amiga releases soon :)