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I would like to add a CD-ROM drive to an Amiga.

I have not tried this for several years and I remember things failing to work without giving any useful errors, multiple choices of device and filesystem drivers, nagware popping up requesters on every boot, and general frustration, and inability to read a CD.

So let's say I want to attach an off-the-shelf IDE CD-ROM/DVD-ROM to an Amiga 1200, but bonus points for answers that provide information that is applicable to other interface types and other Amiga models.

  • Can such a drive be attached directly to the onboard IDE port or is other hardware required?
  • Is the built-in scsi.device suitable for talking to an IDE CD-ROM or is extra device driver software required?
  • What are the options for a filesystem driver that supports at least common ISO9660 CD-ROM filesystems, and ideally the UDF filesystem used on DVD-ROMs?
  • What Mountlist should be used?

More bonus points if this can be done using freely-available software, but I'm also happy to pay a reasonable amount for software, if it's still being sold and supported.

Even more bonus points if there's a way to boot from CD-ROM like the CDTV/CD32 can!

  • Thanks to all answerers. My A1200 is off being recapped at the moment but I will be trying out your suggestions, and accepting an answer, as soon as I can. Cheers! – Richard Downer Aug 8 '16 at 13:46
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Hardware-wise, you can get HiSoft's Surf Squirrel PCMCIA-to-SCSI adapter and attach an external SCSI CD-ROM drive. For this, you don't need to open up the A1200, but then you can't use the PCMCIA for a network card at the same time. Note the following caveat: The surf squirrel does not support auto-booting from a cold boot (power cycle) however drivers can be made resident by booting from another HD, resetting and then the HD attached to the surf squirrel can be booted.

Or you can get a trapdoor SCSI controller (or accelerator with a SCSI interface) and connect the pigtail to the unused port on the back of the Amiga. Into that you would plug the external SCSI CD-ROM drive. Some or all such controllers support auto-booting from a cold boot.

For the above two solutions, you can get a SCSI-to-IDE adapter and use an IDE CD-ROM drive in place of the SCSI one.

Or you can get a short 3.5" to 2.5" IDE adapter to connect an IDE CD-ROM drive to the IDE connector on the A1200 motherboard. But the IDE controller in the Amiga 1200 is unbuffered and can be picky about what you connect to it and how long the cable can be. Also, you have to figure out how to route the cable out of the Amiga 1200 case.

Or you can add a buffered IDE controller like the Elbox FastATA or 4xEIDE'99 and plug in probably any IDE CD-ROM drive, with longer cables if desired.

Also there's this slimline CD-ROM drive with 2.5" cable designed for the Amiga 1200, but I don't know how well it works.

I believe the IDE-only solutions above have the same auto-boot caveat as the Surf Squirrel.

Then there's the Rapid Road USB controller for the Amiga 1200. Maybe it will support a USB CD-ROM drive, but it has no autoboot support. For that, you would need a Deneb USB interface plugged into something like a Mikronik Zorro-2 board, but I don't know if it will boot a CD-ROM drive directly or if it needs a custom Kickstart with CDFS support.

Or you can convert an Amiga CD32 to an Amiga 1200 with the DCE SX32 or SX32 Pro, but the CD32 and especially the SX32 are hard to find. Similarly, you can use a Eureka Communicator to attach the CD32 as a CD-ROM drive to the serial port of an Amiga 1200, but the A1200's built-in serial port is only reliable up to 76,800 baud (about 7.7 KiB/s) whereas a 1x CD-ROM drive is 150 KiB/s.

Or you can copy the contents of the CD-ROM to a CompactFlash drive and use an IDE adapter to attach it to the IDE port inside the A1200, or use a PCMCIA adapter and EasyADF software. Or you can use WINUAE to install the software from CD-ROM onto your hard drive image. (This is how I installed ClassicWB.)

The best options for booting from CD are probably the trapdoor controller or the converted CD32. Otherwise you may need to first boot from an emergency boot disk, do the warm boot workaround described above, or build your own Kickstart ROM as described above.

As you can see, there isn't any one perfect solution, but I've listed all the hardware options I can think of.

1

This is only a partial answer.

You can get SCSI<>IDE adapters on eBay.

The Amiga 4000 and 1200 have IDE controllers built in. Earlier Amigas have SCSI.

You will also need CD drivers.

  • 1
    Amiga 600's have IDE too...IIRC. – cbmeeks Aug 24 '17 at 14:09
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I was successfully using a generic IDE CD-ROM with Amiga for many years.

You connect it to the same IDE ribbon you use for a hard disk from the motherboard - the only fancy hardware is the 2.5" to 3.5" connector you need for the harddisk anyway - and some power for your CD-ROM, e.g. an external PSU. You still use scsi.device with that setup (regardless of it being IDE).

Of course the logistics may be tricky - making a gap in the cover to pass the ribbon or such.

unfortunately I can't help you much with software... it's been too many years.

0

Using new kit, you can try MsMadLemon's solution - you can buy a new IDE99 from AmigaKit.com and that provides a buffered 4-way interface, allowing a longer cable for standard 3.5-inch drives. If you do not want to run a 44-way IDE cable external to the Amiga, it's possible to put a laptop DVD drive in if you do not mind carving up the A1200 wedge case. The floppy connector can supply the 5 and 12v power, but in this case the power was too weak and a lead had to be run from the main power connector.

Here is a link to the video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8U_LkdYIcig&t=927s

The included software should enable you to read CDs but I'm unsure which formats - definitely ISO. Personally my 1200 is towered so I have adequate power and space for the drive. The drivers were provided with OS 3.9 which I believe is just a bundled copy of Allegro CDFS. It doesn't seem to read DVD discs but I have done nothing to the original mountfile.

  • OS 3.9 comes with CacheCDFS rather than Allegro, BTW. Also, an A1200 cannot boot directly from CD, but my 4-way IDE interface came with a CD32 emulator and I think although you technically boot from HDD, you can go straight into a CD32 title. I'd played the CD32 version of Chaos Engine this way for many years, also using the CD32 joypads in the Joystick and mouse ports! (I still have them but prefer joysticks TBH). – Wonko Aug 24 '17 at 19:28

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