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AuthorTopic: PCMCIA 2Mb RAM card broken  (Read 1029 times)

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Offline AmigaBruno

PCMCIA 2Mb RAM card broken
« on: January 13, 2019, 04:41:08 PM »
Due to problems at home, I haven't got much space at the moment. I've got an Amiga A1200 which I fitted with a 2Mb PCMCIA card, with the brand name "MELCARD". I've used this for some time, but due to a lack of space recently, my Amiga was in a far less than ideal position, in a large carrier bag on the floor, with the PCMCIA card inserted and sticking out. I accidentally kicked the PCMCIA card, then the casing came open at the opposite end to the end that sticks into the Amiga A1200. I've now tried to use this card again with my Amiga A1200, but surprise surprise it doesn't work! All I get is an Software Error message after the Workbench Screen appears, but before all the icons appear. I'm using it with a MATSUI LCD HD TV which is several years old and works quite well for most uses, but I can't make out exactly what this Software Error number is. It consists of nearly all zeros, but I can't tell if the number on in the first column is 8 or B. I also tried taping the card casing back together in case it made any difference by bringing any components back into contact with each other, but it didn't! I'm now considering my options to restore my A1200 to at least 4Mb total. Unfortunately, I haven't got all that much money at the moment, as well as having various expenses coming up. I've seen some PCMCIA cards on eBay at the moment for about £45 and £55. Of course, it would be better to get some kind of accelerator card including at least 2Mb RAM, but that would be more expensive. To cap it all, I've also fitted a Gotek floppy emulator drive plugged into the df0: socket (in 2015), but it now seems unable to read the USB stick I copied lots of ADF files onto, probably in 2015 and 2016, although I can read these files when I plug it into my laptop. I've also tried copying some ADF files onto a USB stick I bought last year, but it doesn't work with that at all. I'll have to post about that in another topic, though. Any advice would be appreciated. I just want to sort this out ASAP and as cheaply as possible. 
 

Offline paul1981

Re: PCMCIA 2Mb RAM card broken
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2019, 11:39:28 AM »
PCMCIA RAM in an A1200 actually slows down the machine as it is 16-bit RAM, so in all honesty those cards are more suitable to an A600 and will actually speed up an A600 slightly.
Have you tried loading the PrepCard program (on the Extras Disk I think) and preparing as System RAM? It will also recognise the card if it is working correctly. If you can't get to that stage I think there's a switch on that card and a battery? Fiddle around with it and see if anything changes.
Also, being as though the card slot has taken impact it is well worth removing the card, getting a powerful torch and having a good look for bent pins inside the slot.
Another thing, remember the Amiga Early Startup Control (hold down both mouse buttons before booting) and see if anything shows up in there regarding the card (CC0 is the card slot boot device when 'prepared as disk' mode instead of RAM). It's been a while since used these things.

My advice would be to get anything other than another PCMCIA card. Standalone trapdoor RAM cards for A1200's are a rip-off on the 2nd hand market, in which case you'd be smart to buy the ACA1221ec which is a accelerated 020 card with plenty of RAM for traditional software and WHDLoad (if you're into that sort of thing).  :)
 

Offline AmigaBruno

Re: PCMCIA 2Mb RAM card broken
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2019, 02:30:10 PM »
OK, I've just had a look at the card slot with my HD video Android mobile phone using the Magnifier app with the light turned on, but I'm not sure what I'm looking for, so I can't tell if any of the pins are damaged.

I can't see any kind of switch on the PCMCIA card either.

The A1200 won't boot up with the card inserted. AFAIK I'm not allowed to insert the card with the A1200 turned on, so how could I use Prepcard? 

I can't check what the Early Startup menu says at the moment, because I haven't got my A1200 set up.

I've already said that price is a big factor in getting this sorted out. I want to run some WHDload software. I care that the PCMCIA card worked, not about any speed factor, which I didn't actually notice. The cheapest accelerator card I can find on eBay at the moment costs about £103, which is a lot more than £45 or £55.

I think I may just have to buy a new Raspberry Pi, which would enable me to emulate Amigas without seeing Linux or Windows in the background instead, although I think it's nice to have genuine Amiga hardware.
 

Offline nbache

Re: PCMCIA 2Mb RAM card broken
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2019, 08:42:51 PM »
Before giving up, you may want to try finding out whether it is actually your card that is damaged, or your socket/mainboard.

Can you find another user in the vicinity who also has a PCMCIA memory card? If so, try swapping cards.

If yours work in his machine, it's your mainboard.

If his works in your machine, it's your card.

If both work - hey, you're done, you just needed to wear off some crap from the contacts ;-). Try swapping back and see if it works now.

Best regards,

Niels
 

Offline AmigaBruno

Re: PCMCIA 2Mb RAM card broken
« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2019, 12:05:50 AM »
Thanks! Unfortunately, I'm not in touch with any Amiga users in London where I live. Are there any Amiga A1200 or A600 users in London who use a PCMCIA card who are willing to help me?
 

Offline paul1981

Re: PCMCIA 2Mb RAM card broken
« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2019, 12:37:49 PM »
OK, I've just had a look at the card slot with my HD video Android mobile phone using the Magnifier app with the light turned on, but I'm not sure what I'm looking for, so I can't tell if any of the pins are damaged.

I can't see any kind of switch on the PCMCIA card either.

The A1200 won't boot up with the card inserted. AFAIK I'm not allowed to insert the card with the A1200 turned on, so how could I use Prepcard? 

I can't check what the Early Startup menu says at the moment, because I haven't got my A1200 set up.

I've already said that price is a big factor in getting this sorted out. I want to run some WHDload software. I care that the PCMCIA card worked, not about any speed factor, which I didn't actually notice. The cheapest accelerator card I can find on eBay at the moment costs about £103, which is a lot more than £45 or £55.

I think I may just have to buy a new Raspberry Pi, which would enable me to emulate Amigas without seeing Linux or Windows in the background instead, although I think it's nice to have genuine Amiga hardware.

I seem to remember my PCMCIA card having a battery and a write protect switch - it was very small and on the end. You can insert the card with the power on and see if PrepCard recognises it. Even though my card wasn't damaged, I remember having to Prep as RAM again after replacing the battery or something or it didn't work...I can't remember. But yes, you can insert and remove cards with the power on just like you can in a laptop computer.

As for the pins in the A1200, just see if any look out of position (bent), although from what you say it does sound like your card has fallen apart and is the likely culprit.

The ACA1221ec isn't expensive, and is vastly worth the extra £60. Besides, those reclaimed PCMCIA cards should only be fetching around £5 IMHO.
 

Offline AmigaBruno

Re: PCMCIA 2Mb RAM card broken
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2019, 12:23:23 PM »

I've already said that price is a big factor in getting this sorted out. I want to run some WHDload software. I care that the PCMCIA card worked, not about any speed factor, which I didn't actually notice. The cheapest accelerator card I can find on eBay at the moment costs about £103, which is a lot more than £45 or £55.

I think I may just have to buy a new Raspberry Pi, which would enable me to emulate Amigas without seeing Linux or Windows in the background instead, although I think it's nice to have genuine Amiga hardware.

I seem to remember my PCMCIA card having a battery and a write protect switch - it was very small and on the end. You can insert the card with the power on and see if PrepCard recognises it. Even though my card wasn't damaged, I remember having to Prep as RAM again after replacing the battery or something or it didn't work...I can't remember. But yes, you can insert and remove cards with the power on just like you can in a laptop computer.

As for the pins in the A1200, just see if any look out of position (bent), although from what you say it does sound like your card has fallen apart and is the likely culprit.

The ACA1221ec isn't expensive, and is vastly worth the extra £60. Besides, those reclaimed PCMCIA cards should only be fetching around £5 IMHO.

I'm afraid that all of these problems are connected with money and the lack of it. I've got some savings, but these are earmarked for Brexit related expenses, meaning getting out of here.

The ACA1221 costs £115.69 on https://www.vesalia.de/e_aca1221ec.htm and is out of stock on other sites.

Since starting this thread I've bought a new Raspberry Pi 3 B+ for about £40, so this will enable me to have an Amiga type experience using AROS and/or Aeros. I broke the card reader slot on my old Raspberry Pi due to a lot of changing cards and haven't had a working one since then.

As for my real Amiga A1200, I haven't got all that many WHDload games installed and I kept going back to playing "Colonization", which doesn't require WHDload to run from a CF card/hard drive anyway. There's a non WHDload version of the game "Civilization" installed on my CF card which specifically says AGA, but it won't start up after opening a text window asking me to press 1 to play with keyboard and mouse or 2 for keyboard only. I hope to find a version I can play on my A1200, ideally which I can install onto my CF card without WHDload. I've recently seen some videos about installing and playing another game called "Amberstar", which looks interesting and doesn't require WHDload either, so in that case it doesn't look as urgent as I thought it was to replace my PCMCIA card.

Of course, these PCMCIA cards aren't all that common, so the sellers demand at least £45 and there's nothing I can do about that. If I knew more about how they worked, then I might be able to repair mine by replacing the battery and one of the chips. I doubt that I or any individuals could make a new one from scratch, though.

   
 

Offline paul1981

Re: PCMCIA 2Mb RAM card broken
« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2019, 06:02:59 PM »
http://hol.abime.net/hol_search.php?&N_hd=yes&af=0-9&tri=S_gamename&order=ASC&limitstart=&af=

Have a look at those games, they should be HD installable without WHDLoad. As for Colonization, I can't help you with your particular problem. I wonder if anyone here knows?