As many of you know, I have a substantial Amiga collection. Some could say it’s an addiction but I just can’t help myself. Despite the countless Amiga 500s (that one day it’ll get around to repairing and selling and more Amiga 1200s than anyone should have) the Amiga 4000 has always been like a unicorn to me.
With eye-watering prices and limited availability, I tried to fill the gap with a tasty Amiga 2000 and a fully loaded 1500 but none of these filled that big box gap that only an A4000 could fill. That all changed with a chance listing on eBay. Described as…
Amiga 4000 In Very Good Condition.
This machine has:
- 68030 CPU
- 2MB fast RAM plus 16MB
- 8GB CF card conveniently located at the back of the machine.
It also comes with working CD-ROM and floppy disk drive. Comes with mouse and mouse pad and the keyboard. Fully recapped (By Ian from Mutantcaterpliar) and very clean machine.
After some negotiation with the seller, we arrived at a price we could both agree on and it was hand-delivered to my office the very next day. As with any large purchase, the condition of sale was that the machine would be “tested” before any money changed hands. I promptly loaded up the van with a 1084S CRT which would serve as my display for my testing. Despite various Amiga test kit tests, I dropped a massive bollock and just didn’t think to test the audio or even pop the machine open. The sheer delight of finally finding a “clean” 4000 blinded me and money exchanged hands. Nugget.
My glory was short-lived when I discovered that the 4000 was mute. My heart dropped and I thought the worst. I’d been done. After popping the case apart it was apparent what the issue was. It was missing two audio caps and sporting some interesting replacement capacitors. From the face of it, it was clear that I had been done. The seller had sold me a known dud and who knew what further issues it was hiding?
After a strong drink, I popped on the iron in readiness to install the missing caps. Seriously, don’t drink and operate hot equipment! Note for anyone new to recapping a 4000, the audio caps are fitted opposite to the screen printing on the board. Luckily I did a little digging before popping on the caps, other had also had issues after fitting caps incorrectly.
After some shakey soldering and booting up Amiga Test Kit, my prayers were answered. That iconic ATK music filled my ears. Many expletives were said. After the jubilation subsided I thought about who the feck would not only install tants but also leave off the audio caps? Someone had clearly taken the time to do a nice job of removing the caps – the pads were perfect. It was just very odd. Further testing revealed that everything worked as it should but the IDE cabling was a bloody mess with some questionable repairs on the IDE cabling.
Shortly after the tants were replaced and after another round of testing the board was stamped with the Retro32 seal of approval. With the drama over it was time to get the machine into a state I was happy with. The FDD was removed for safekeeping and replaced with a GOTEK, the faulty IDE splitter was removed and the rat’s nest of cabling tied up. In went a pair of 3.2.2 flash roms and it was time to get Workbench loaded. Despite my best efforts WHDLoad just did not want to play nicely. My fellow Amigaians on Twitter suggested a ram issue despite exhaustive testing of the 2MB chip and 16MB on board.
With way too much time put into the software issues, I went back to the old faithful… 3.1 and all was working as expected. Thank FECK! With Workbench 3.1 running like a dream the 4000 was treated to a Plipbox (currently waiting for all the components so I can build an A-NIC network card secured from tindie). With Roashow installed my childhood dreams had come true. A working Amiga 4000 with internet access. With a smug look on my face, I spent way too much time downloading from Aminet and browsing the Retro32 BBS. Come on!!
With everything seemingly sorted I installed the IDE97 drivers in an attempt to turn the 4000 into a CD jukebox for my extensive late 90s metal and dance music collection… My childhood copy of Ride the Lightning and Music for a Jilted Generation on my own 4000. Feck yes!! I remembered spotting the mess of a 3-pin header on the board when I was recapping it, those nasty prongs were the CD audio headers allowing the machine to inject the analogue CD audio. After some delicate work, the pins were aligned and cleaned. I also made a custom CD audio cable. To my delight – it worked.
With the 4000 working perfectly it seems only right to treat it to some tasty upgrades. I’m currently trying to source an RTG card and I’ll be looking to invest in a TF4060 when the legend that is Mr TerribleFire manages to work out the kinks. He really is doing gods work and I look forward to the 4000 joining my 1200 with some TerribleFire 060 power.
As many of you big box lovers know, after some 30 years of service the PSU fans can get a little loud. It was swapped for a silent unit. The only noise from the machine now is the hum of a CD in the tray and the rhythmic click from the external drive waiting for a floppy. Nice. Link to fan on Amazon here – https://amzn.to/3KlRXe6
A lesson learned.
Whilst I’m over the moon with my 4000, it could have burnt my fingers. My haste to secure the machine and lack of proper testing could have resulted in tears. I was lucky. Very. Fecking. Lucky.
I was also very lucky to have some legends of the Amiga hardware scene on hand to help guide me. A MASSIVE thanks to Linux Jedi, Pete Mulholland and Paul from PMD. We really are blessed in the Amiga community that so many people are willing to help others out with their wealth of knowledge and expertise. Had it not been for these wizards I wouldn’t have been able to tackle this and my other projects. I thank you all.
The Amiga 4000 now sits proudly in my office. It’s the jewel of my collection. With all the heartache, sleepless nights and stress, this machine has cemented itself into my heart. She’s a keeper. My CDTV can now be retired. I have a new CD player in my office 😀