Huh? Yet another plipbox release in such a short time, you might ask. While last time it was a software only update this time its a hardware update! I found such a nice new HW platform for the plipbox project that is really worth an immediate release…
While browsing ebay for some interesting hacking hardware last week, I stumbled across an Ethernet shield for the Arduino Nano that uses the ENC28J60 chip I need for the plipbox project in a very compact package… Combined with an off-the-shelve Arduino Nano v3 (clone from ebay that is) you get a very very nice packaging for the plipbox project. I call itÂ the plipbox nano:
The release 0.4 now adds all you need to build your own plipbox nano:
- A new firmware image for the nano (some parallel pins need to be changed due to collision with the Ethernet shield)
- A schematic and board design for the plipbox nano base board. This board combines the parallel port connector and pin headers for the Ethernet shield. With the base board your can connect the plipbox nano directly to your Amiga and it really fits well without hiding the other connectors. See the plipbox gallery page for snapshots of an A1200 with attached plipbox nano. The board is a single layer PCB so you can build one yourself without much hassle. As an alternative you can simply use a small prototype board and solder the connector and pin headers there.
Grab your copy now on the plipbox project page and have fun building your own plipbox nano!
It took quite a while but now a shiny new release of plibbox is available: The new version 0.3 is an AVR firmware and Amiga driver update and works on the same hardware as presented in 0.1 and 0.2.
The major change in this release was motivated by Nitz76, one of my commenters in the blog: plipbox firmware now implements a MAC bridge and no IP NAT gateway anymore (see this technical introduction for details on the differences). In short: While with the old firmware you created a point-to-point IP link from the Amiga to your plipbox and from there the traffic was NATed and routed to your local ethernet, the new approach directly presents an Ethernet card on the Amiga side and passes the Ethernet frames generated from the Amiga TCP/IP stack directly via PLIP to your local Ethernet.
This approach is much more compatible in your local network infrastructure as the NAT is avoided. The change required a larger rewrite of the SANA II driver and therefore I heavily modified the original MagPLIP implementation and renamed the new driver to plipbox.device (the new source code is now also hosted in the plipbox source repository). Please see the updated Amiga Setup guide for installing this driver on the popular TCP/IP stacks including AmiTCP, Genesis, MiamiDX, and Roadshow.
The new MAC bridge made a lot of the TCP/IP code of plipbox obsolete and allowed me to shrink the firmware size considerably. Furthermore, setting up the firmware is zero-conf now, i.e. you don’t have to adjust any parameters for default operation.
This release now hosts all the docs on GitHub right next to the source. It is more convenient there to keep the docs in sync with the implementation and writing markdown is really fun! Another goodie in this release is the plipbox Emulator written in Python that allows to emulate a plipbox setup in FS-UAE. Its esoteric but really helpful for development: see my previous log post for details…
Recently, I had some time to spend and wanted to work on the plipbox project’s Amiga driver. Unfortunately, I only had my MacBook Pro with me and noÂ Amiga or plipbox hardware.
What does a SW developer do if the real hardware is not at hand?
Yes, you write an emulator that represents the missing HW in SW on a machineÂ you have access to…
User kyberias was so kind to port the native part of vamos (the m68k emulation) to Windows and send me his patches for inclusion. The port is now included in my source tree and Windows user can now enjoy using vamos on their platform, too. Have a look at the README.WIN for build instruction.
With Mac OS X and Linux/*nix support available since the beginning, vamos is now available on all major platforms.. Yay!
I added a new tool to amitools, my set of cross platform classic Amiga tools: xdfscan!
What does this tool do?
Its a disk image file scanner that inspects Amiga disk (.adf) or hard disk (.hdf) image files for AmigaOS OFS or FFS file systems. If such a file system is found then the scanner runs a validator that does an in-depth check of the whole file system structure. If anything does not match or does not fulfill the file system specification then error or warning messages are generated. Warnings are usually not critical and the files on the image are all accessible, but error messages may hint to file corruption in the image. In the latter case it is advisable to recover the image by running a xdftool repack command or by issuing a DiskSalv running on an emulator.
This tool either scans a single disk image file or scans through a full directory tree. The latter operation allows you to quickly scan your disk image collection with a single run…
Have fun scanning your disk collections for corrupt or even broken images… (I must admit that the scanner is really picky and it found some issues on images I believed that were running Ok for years on a real machine… So don’t panic if lots of warnings or errors are reported… AmigaOS is quite robust handling these disks without reporting trouble…)
The wait is over: the first firmware release of the plipbox project is available. Simply head over to my plipbox page and fetch your copy…
The first release includes full DHCP support and statically configured Ethernet operation, so it should work on most local networks out there. With ARP and TCP/UDP/IP bridging in place, it has all essential features I envisioned for this project already available… And it really works well: I am already totally used to have my Amiga 500 in the network… (without thinking about starting a SLIP server first 😉
Now I hope that it works for you, too… just drop me a comment if you found bugs or have any remarks!
My plip2slip project was the first attempt to build a cheap but quite powerful network adapter for my unmodified classic Amiga 500 to get it to the net. Its already a lot faster than a Paula based serial link but you need a host Mac/PC speaking SLIP to finally reach the Internet…
The next level is called the plipbox project: Starting from a similar setup with an Arduino board I now added a cheap Ethernet module that allows direct access to your local network. Here is a photo of the resulting device:
The parallel connector is connected to your Amiga and the Ethernet cable is connected to the network module. Now run a TCP Stack on your Amiga with a MagPLIP network device driver and you can reach the Internet from your Amiga via plipbox… (The third cable on the left is the USB Arduion serial port I use to configure the parameters of the device like IP addresses)
Here is my little easter present for you: I finished the first release of rdbtool. “What’s that?” you may ask. It’s a new member of amitools, a family of cross-platform Classic Amiga tools I am developing. rdbtool is a command line utility that allows you to inspect, change or create new disk images or even real disks with Amiga’s RDB partitioning format. Its a companion tool to xdftool that handles Amiga’s file system in disk images or on the RDB partitions.
I had the idea for this tool while changing the CF flash card of my A1200. I removed the old card, had look at the files found there and wanted to retrieve files from there and then set up a new shiny card and build up partitions there. The current way to accomplish this, is to dump the card’s raw data from the block device and use this image as a RDB hard disk image in UAE to retrieve the files from there. Same thing with partitioning the new card: mount the block device or an empty image in UAE, run HDToolBox there, format partitions and copy files around in the virtual Amige environment… This works, but its a roundabout way. I wanted to have a nifty tool the works directly on my Mac’s Terminal… 🙂
Read on to see how this task (and lots more!) can be achieved with rdbtool…
Since my last report on xdftool I have updated a few things:
- added support for RBD/RDSK hdf images
- changed repack command to be more flexible
- added open/create commands for better control of disk image geometry
In the following I give you a short round up of all new features by giving you some examples…