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User Report: The PiStorm32-lite, part 1
I never really planned to get a PiStorm for my Amiga 1200. Firstly, the project - the PiStorm32 - didn't seem to be finished in the near future and then, of course, there was the question of its sense and usefulness.

Since the 90s, a Blizzard 1230 has been working reliably and seemingly for eternity in my Amiga 1200. In the 2000s, I had given it 128 MB Fast RAM and an SD hard disk so that I could also "play around" with resource-hungry software such as the browser Netsurf (see the corresponding browser test). I never had any problems with the speed, since it is 30 years old hardware. But there was one thing I had always wished for, which was denied me in the desktop version of the 1200: a graphics card. For example, I ran the mail programme YAM under AGA for many, many years, but it was really no feast for the eyes.

When, relatively spontaneously and surprisingly, the PiStorm32-lite project was not only announced at the beginning of October last year, but also completed at the end of last year, and this made it possible to run my Workbench with graphics card resolution, my thoughts also became more concrete. Especially as it is obviously possible to deactivate the card and then run the old games via diskette. I am attached to my Blizzard, but it was decided: a PiStorm32-lite should be purchased.

We published a news item the other day about the current availability of the adapter (with and without the required Raspberry Pi), although Amiga Kit now also offers the PiStorm32-lite at a fair price. I ordered the adapter and the Raspberry Pi 3 Model A separately, which arrived as follows:

Having never held a Raspberry Pi in my hands before, I was amazed at how small this single-board computer is. Especially when you had just looked into the tower of the X5000 ;) I have to admit, I'm not a born hobbyist and haven't messed around with the 1200 for ages, but assembling the adapter with the Pi and then installing it in the 1200 is doable.
First, the thermal pad is put onto the square surface provided for it:

Then place the three spacers on the holes:

Now put on the Raspberry Pi and also fix the insulation rail with the three screws:

The assembled card must now be installed in the trapdoor expansion slot on the underside of the housing. In my case, the Blizzard 1230 turbo card was in there together with the memory bar, which first has to be removed:

At the top left you can still see the SCSI cable, which I had also removed. Possibly it is meant to be inserted this way now, but with my two clumsy hands it did not work well. Since I had to open the case in such and such a way to remove the cable, I didn't try for long and was able to install the card well this way:

Incidentally, the HDMI connection can be seen in the top centre, and the USB connection in the centre right. In contrast to the Raspberry Pi 4, the 3 version has a normal HDMI connection and not a micro HDMI connection. As you can see from my standard HDMI cable: that's going to be tight!

At first I could only connect it by disconnecting the floppy drive completely:

And even then, the plug pushed the whole card up a bit by resting on the metal sheet. Anyway. I wanted to at least start a test run to see if it basically worked. Switched on and I saw:

a black screen!

As the attentive reader may have noticed, the microSD card was missing from the designated slot ;)

It was still in my discarded Nokia Lumia mobile phone. Why is that? Because my card reader doesn't have a microSD slot. I had fished out an adapter from my stock, into which the microSD card could be inserted and then read as an SD card, but unfortunately that didn't work. But I had to prepare the card somehow and so I came up with the temporary solution with the mobile phone.

The preparation of the map needs to be dealt with more intensively, but basically there are two good places to go to get information and read up: As far as I have noticed, most users use an AmigaOS 3.x installed on the card to take full advantage of the speed benefits when accessing the card. I primarily want to use and test my software installed on the Amiga 1200 first and therefore accept the slower IDE interface. For this, one only has to install two things on the card: The unpacked Emu68 archive looks like this:

In addition to the "bcm2710-rpi-3-b-plus.dtb" file, the archive also contains other versions for the Pi 4 etc.. However, it is sufficient to keep only the version that suits you and delete the others. The exact name of the Amiga1200 kickstart ROM file must now be entered into the "config.txt" in the last line. So "initramfs kick.rom" becomes "initramfs a1200_kick_32.rom" for me.

Okay, card is now in, second try. Ahhhhh....

After all! :) However, my eyes then discover this error message in the upper left corner of the screen when I take a closer look:

The "BUPtest" is a tool that tests the communication Pi <-> PiStorm <-> Amiga Chip RAM.
After consulting Claude and Michal - thank you very much - it is possible that the card pushed up by the HDMI connector is not seated correctly. In order to exclude or confirm this, the first part ends here and will be continued with a second one as soon as the hopefully better fitting cable (UltraThin HDMI cable) has arrived at my place. (dr)

[News message: 10. Feb. 2023, 06:21] [Comments: 0]
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