Commodore Amiga 600 Build with Furia Card

In its heyday the Commodore Amiga 600 was quite a maligned home computing product. As the more expensive successor to the A500 computer it fell flat with consumers due to a lack of expandability and enhanced processing power. In modern times the A600 has found popularity amongst retro computer enthusiasts thanks to accelerator card projects such as the Vampire. I’ve always liked the small size of the A600 (narrower than a tenkeyless PC keyboard) so recently decided the time had come to obtain my first Amiga A600 computer. Below I present some of the modifications I made for my A600 retro gaming build.

I managed to find a local seller who had a pristine A600 with its warrantee seal still intact and all the original packaging in decent condition. It was a little pricey compared to the average yellowed A600 sans box on eBay but I was very pleased with its 10/10 condition:

Top down view of the Amiga 600 enclosure.

It’s essential with computers of this age to replace the electrolytic capacitors with new ones to avoid glitches and problems. Long life organic polymer capacitors were used as replacements on the motherboard and the analogue TV RF module was removed as it will not be required:

Recapped Amiga A600 motherboard with RF module removed.

The first upgrade I made was to use the expansion trapdoor slot to fit an Individual Computers A604n chip RAM expansion. I also fitted the optional battery-backed system clock module.

This expansion card also supports connection of the Indivision ECS card which will allow a modern VGA graphics connector to be fitted in the gap where the RF module was. I’m waiting for the Indivision ECS Mk2 board to be released later this year rather than trying to get hold of an expensive second hand Mk1 model.

Individual Computers A604n expansion card.

The A604n card is secured (and grounded) by using one of the retaining screws for the 3.5” floppy disk drive:

Securing the A604n card via the floppy drive retaining screw.

Amiga computers include some essential operating system files on a ROM chip (or two). This Amiga A600 shipped from the factory with ROM version 2.05 but needs to be upgraded to a more recent version to support the newer OS I will be using. A Cloanto ‘3.X’ ROM chip was installed on the motherboard:

Replacing the A600 motherboard's 2.05 ROM with Cloanto's 3.X updated ROM.

For some years now, it has been common to connect a Compact Flash card to the Amiga’s IDE port for use as the hard disk drive, like I did with my Amiga 1200 build. I will be using the Furia m68020 turbo card with this Amiga, and that is said to work better with SD cards rather than CF cards. So with that in mind, I fitted an SD-to-IDE adapter to the motherboard with an IDE 90 degree riser card. For this Amiga I am using a SanDisk Ultra 16GB SD card.

SanDisk SD card used for Amiga hard drive with SD/IDE adapter and 90-degree riser.

Although there was virtually no yellowing on this A600 the small white rubber feet on the base of the enclosure had degraded with age. Some identical new rubber feet were fitted in their place:

Replacing the A600 case's rubber feet.

As alluded to above, the Amiga A600 does not use any of the modern video connectors used today like VGA, DVI or HDMI. The system has a low quality analogue composite output and an RGB signal output via a proprietary ‘video’ port. For now I am using the SCART/HDMI upscaler box shown below with an Amiga to SCART cable. This seems to work fairly well but ultimately, I will use an Indivision ECS graphics adapter.

Amiga RGB Video port to HDMI via SCART upscaler box.

The Furia EC020 is an accelerator card for the Amiga 600 which ‘replaces’ the original Motorola 68000 CPU by clipping on to the back of it. It runs at 33MHz and includes an outboard 40MHz FPU and 9.5MB of additional RAM. In synthetic benchmarks it makes the A600 more than 10 times faster than a stock machine.

I chose to fit a Furia to my A600 over the popular (and massively faster) Vampire2 accelerator for several reasons. First and foremost, the Vampire does not (yet) have complete graphics support which means constantly switching between monitors or screen input selections when the Amiga changes display mode. Second, the Vampire is much more expensive. Third, the Vampire is so fast and radical there seems to be no shortage of people having software complications as a result of using one. I thought I’d keep things simple and keep costs down with the Furia.

The Furia EC020 is shipped in a small unmarked box with no instructions:

Unboxing the Furia 680EC20 33MHz accelerator card.

The card included four nylon standoffs to prop up the card when clipped on to the original CPU. Disappointingly there were no nylon nuts included with the standoffs and these had to be separately obtained. Luckily, I had some matching nuts in my radio-controlled aircraft parts box. The Furia is firmly pushed on to the original CPU package until it’s socket snaps in place:

Furia turbo card installed on the A600 motherboard.

I also picked up an Amiga themed Amiga A600 dust cover to keep the case in top condition:

Black Amiga 600 dust cover.

Right now, I’m experimenting with operating system setups with the A600. The CPU is too slow for Workbench 3.9, so will be sticking with Workbench 3.1. I had been tinkering around with ClassicWB Full but am starting to think I will create a ‘from scratch’ system using the BetterWB 4.3 update pack. At some point in the future I’ll write something about how to set up a custom Workbench environment like that.

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