Here's a silly, but functional way of getting your oldskool Amiga online for £25, or should I say, the cost of a Raspberry Pi. I have one, and the other day I realized that I never really used it - it's just sitting there, collecting dust. In the spirit of my recent "get shit done" marathon, I'll put it to use, today.
Also, one of the problems with the Amiga is the lack of modern equipment, such as network adapters. Obtaining one for "unexpandable" Amigas (like the A500, and to some extent the A600 and A1200 if you exclude the PCMCIA port) will cost you an arm and a leg - or two.
Since the Raspberry Pi was just sitting there, and the Amiga lacked (*) a network adapter - why not just connect the dots and get something up and running? I did, and it worked. Here's a quick writeup on what I did - if anyone's interested I can write a more detailed post with all the information I have.
The goal was to use some of the software I had laying around, such as AmiTCP 4.0 demo (freely available on Aminet) and PPP.device (also on Aminet). I would also use an off-the-shelf nullmodem cable, in addition to a custom DB9 serial port on the Raspberry.
Installing AmiTCP and PPP.device on the Amiga is trivial, just run the installers. Configure AmiTCP:bin/startnet to include
online devs:networks/ppp.device 0
before starting AmiTCP, and also make sure ifconfig uses the ppp interface with the client's IP. That's all there is to do on the Amiga.
The Raspberry's serial port was made by hand to save time. Finished modules can be bought on eBay for next to nothing (for reference, like this guy did) if you can afford to wait a few days for the snail mail to arrive.
I verified that the daughter board worked by connecting it to my desktop with a terminal program. By default, the Raspberry Pi will have a login console running on this port at 115 200 bps. This was disabled in /etc/inittab and /boot/cmdline.txt.
I configured and started the PPP daemon on the Raspberry at 19 200 bps, and started AmiTCP:bin/startnet on the Amiga. To my surprise, everything worked on the first try. PPP connected, the IP address was set, whois, ftp, telnet and ping responded as expected!
All right, so it's not the best speed, and it may not be the most convenient or prettiest solution, but it has a couple of advantages to it:
- Allows you to connect to encrypted WiFi networks not supported by the Amiga
- Reduces the Amiga's CPU load, with a potentially smaller memory footprint
- It can switch between WiFi and cabled ethernet
- Provides firewall, VPN/PPTP, etc
- It's small, bring it to the next copy party!
- Multi-platform: also works on other PPP enabled systems
If this sounds good, why not throw the Raspberry in a case, add a USB WiFi dongle, power it using the Amiga's external floppy port, and wham - you have yourself a portable solution!
*) Not entirely true, but for the sake of the story, let's say it did.