October 3 2018 Meetup #5 Notes

Had a superb club meeting this Wednesday with a bit of Fall crispness in the air.

Matt brought some remarkable hardware with him. First, he brought his (simply awesome) Amiga 600 MiSTer machine. One really can’t appreciate how special this box is until seen in-person. We flipped from a C64, to a black-and-white Mac, to Amiga, to a Sega Genesis playing Sonic! And each core looked (and sounded) really damned good.

Next, he slid his brand spanking new Ultimate 64, which he put inside an original C64 bread bin onto the table. Both the MiSTer and the U64 were hooked into the same HDMI monitor. Then he fired up a game on the MiSTer. After a few moments, we flipped to the U64 and fired up the exact same game to compare.

At first, there was stunned silence in the room.

The U64’s audio crackled and popped. Matt had warned me this was the case, but I still couldn’t believe how bad it was. We test another game and experienced the same thing. To be clear, Matt’s U64 is outfitted with a REAL SID chip, too (unlike the MiSTer, which sounded excellent even via emulation).

I could see the tension on Matt’s face. I could feel it.

However, he happened to pull down a fresh from the oven firmware update that afternoon, and he flashed the U64 right then and there.

After a few minutes he fired everything back up again and… the audio was MUCH improved! Everyone was smiling at that stage. You could still here little pops and ticks during certain operations, but the overall audio experience was vastly improved. Well done, Gideon!

Next – and this nearly brought a tear to my eyes – Matt brought in his fully refurbished Vectrex. To my surprise, some of the club members in attendance had never heard of it. Someone did rightly notice that it’s form factor (released in 1982) looked almost exactly like the eventual 1984 Mac. Coincidence?!

In any case, I bought one back in the day with Christmas money I’d received from my grandfather. Back then, incredibly, they retailed for only $50. On Ebay, good luck finding one for less that 10X that amount these days. Some day…

I used to play that machine with my brother into the wee hours. And the games were not easy – but they were gorgeous and fun, unmatched by many of their pixel-based competitors. And some of the home-brew games that are still being made for it? Folks, they are VERY high-quality. Everyone was extremely impressed.

Thanks for bringing that old Vectrex in, Matt.  That really made my day. And the Ultimate64! I was highly encouraged after the firmware update. That MiSTer build of yours really is remarkable.

And the day kept on getting better and better! Club member Christian asked me to bring my Rejuvenator’d A1000 in again. He’d acquired some more modern RAM and soldered it to some adapter boards. We then proceeded to add it to my 1000, and in a few moments swapped out my 1mb Agnus with an 2mb version from an A3000.

Flicked on the switch.

And suddenly, we were all looking at (most likely) one of the only Amiga 1000’s anywhere around for hundreds if not thousands of miles fully equipped with 2mb of chip RAM and running an ECS Fat Agnus! Simply amazing! I may have embarrassed Christian by thanking him more than a few times. (Thanks, Christian!) 🙂

It was a really, really good night.

Christian also took a close look at new member Ron’s sick A1200. Some surgery was performed but it sounds like she may need more.

Now many of us are looking forward to going to PRGE in a couple weeks. We’re so lucky – the whole retro community is so lucky. These are great times indeed.

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