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Crispy

Posted Mon Dec 07, 2020 4:14 pm

This is my latest "find". It's an Amiga networking solution that uses the external floppy port, and it's actually very good.

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I call this a find because I literally had to find all of the pieces that were scattered around the house. I originally bought it in 1995, but never really did anything with it, and had completely forgotten about it.

It all started a few days ago when I was looking for a DB-23 connector in my spare parts box. Instead of finding the connector that I was looking for, I came across one of these Amiga-Link connectors. This caused me to immediately abandon the project that I was working on, and go on the hunt for the rest of the pieces. I managed to find everything, and was happy to see that not only did it still work, but that it's 1.3 friendly and works on an A1000.

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Amiga-Link is a peer to peer networking solution designed primarily for Amiga file sharing. The network driver, however, is SANA-II, which means that it can be used with a TCP stack such as AmiTCP, Genesis, or Miami. In fact it came with a fully licensed copy of Envoy. Unfortunately all of these network stacks only run under 2.04 or greater. There is no TCP stack that runs under 1.3, so for these older systems Amiga-Link is limited to file sharing only.

Hardware installation is a breeze. Just plug the connectors into the external floppy ports, and connect the computers together with the included RG58 BNC cable. When the product was being sold you were able to buy extra connectors that would allow adding more computers to the network. The manual states that Amiga-Link supports up to twenty computers on the network and a maximum cable length of 300 feet. I'm actually using a 50 foot cable to connect between my A4000 and A1000 which is in another part of the house.

Software installation is fairly straightforward. It uses the standard Amiga installer for both 2.04+ and 1.3. Under 2.04+ all configuration is done through a nice graphical interface, but under 1.3 everything is command line driven. In either case, it's very easy to use; just export the drive on one computer, and then mount it on the remote computer. The drive on the remote computer looks and acts just like any other local drive.

While not as fast as other simple networking solutions such as those that use the parallel port, Amiga-Link does have a couple of significant advantages over these other solutions. It allows for cable lengths of up to 300 feet, whereas parallel port networking is limited to at most a couple of feet. And, it uses disk DMA for data transfers, so CPU usage is very light. Surprisingly it's actually faster than floppy disks. The following table shows a comparison between Amiga-Link and floppy disk when copying a large file to the ram disk. Size is in bytes, and time is in seconds.

Code: Select all

SIZE      RUN 1    RUN 2     AVG TIME    ACTION
---------------------------------------------------------------------
839600    31.11    31.020    31.065      C:Copy NET:data RAM:
839600    80.059   79.918    79.986      C:Copy DF0:data RAM:
901120    33.001   33.006    33.0035     C:Copy NET:test.adf RAM:
901120    59.433   59.271    59.352      TrackTool READ RAM:test.adf DF0:
The nice thing about this "find" is that I now have storage for my A1000. I created an 80 MB hard drive partition on my A4000 that I export to my A1000. Using a KickWork type disk, I can boot my A1000 from this network drive. It's not nearly as fast as a hard drive, but it will do until I can find a StarDrive SCSI module for my StarBoard.

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User avatar
fxgogo
Website

Posted Mon Dec 07, 2020 5:02 pm

That looks amazing. It has been decades since I last saw coax network cables. Clever trick using the floppy port.





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