How can you attach a CD-ROM drive to an Amiga 500?
Will any external SCSI drive do?
Are drivers necessary and available?
A stock Amiga 500 doesn't come with any expansion port that would take a standard CD ROM drive (or hard disk) directly. Storage extension is limited to external floppy drives.
The option of the day was to obtain an A570 1, a rather bulky interface that fitted to the A500 expansion port, which contained quite a bit of circuitry (DMA, ROMs containing the new drivers, option for memory expansion, CD audio circuitry and a CDTV compatible expansion bus) to connect to a proprietary Mitsumi CD ROM drive.
The other option was the A590, a similarly bulky piece of kit that contained an XT hard drive, but also an external SCSI interface that could be used to connect a (SCSI, obviously) CD ROM.
None of the original expansions are particularily interesting options today: CD ROMs are mechanical, and tend to fail over time, replacement proprietary Mitsumi drives, SCSI hard drives and SCSI CD ROM drives are increasingly hard to come by, and (matter of taste), the interfaces look tremendously ugly.
Nowadays, I would probably look out for the following Accelerator and memory expansion boards:
- Sordan HC533 provides an IDE interface that should be able to connect to standard, relatively modern, IDE CD ROM drives.
- Another board would be the Wicher 500i with a feature set similar to the above
- A pure hobbyist's project seems to be the IDE68k project - Not sure if that is still obtainable/maintained, however
These boards have the advantage that they basically convert the A500 to an (optionally boosted and memory-expanded) A600 with an IDE interface - the software seems to be compatible. Thus, you can also easily add a relatively cheap IDE hard drive or (via another adapter) a CF card.
1 Even if this was only available after the A500 had already been discontinued, and did only work with the A500, which led to the interesting fact that when the CDROM drive was launched, Commodore did no longer offer a computer to connect it to...