It was time to say hello to my dusty yellowed friend and see if I could open it up and salvage the HDD.
Well, not quite what I expected to find. It's either 60 or 80 megabytes, Conner. Metal cradle looks clamped onto board, but I was able to just pull it out.
An assortment of smaller creatures gathers around to investigate the trunk of the thawed ancient beast. Will it be able to find its place in this strange new tech landscape? Turns out this is an ancestor to the 2.5" laptop drives which we still have today, though we've switched to SATA cables now.
Drive is marked with 5v 450mA, so I gambled that a USB 2.0 adapter (to 44 pin IDE) might work as those can provide the necessary power (they come with an extra plug for power if needed anyways). Bought one and plugged the drive into a linux machine which can mount Amiga drives. However, the poor senile thing could not remember its partition stuff properly and didn't even show up in linux, so it can't be imaged. Data considered lost, as professional data recovery is very costly.
But what's this? Floppies! Maybe I can salvage some of the pre-HDD stuff?
Fortunately I bought a spare drive to play with, and I managed to format and install Workbench on it using the WinUAE emulator (which must be run as Administrator for the drive to be available). There are guides for doing this on the internet. I can move this drive physically between the Amiga an PC, and then mount an ADF or HDF file in WinUAE alongside the harddrive and migrate the files thusly. It's also possible to format PC floppies using CrossDOS/PCO in the Amiga and then read those using a PC floppy drive, but it's cumbersome.
My floppies date back to the late 80's but have kept most of their data (and my older ones more so?). I had problems with a few files but managed to pull them off the disks with a program called FixDisk. Using the AV out (Yellow RCA) with a flat TV works. I can display 640*480+overscan or whatever without flicker, though moving stuff will reveal scan lines as only every other frame are updated each frame.
It would be neat to make a 3D printed enclosure for the HDD. It's a hassle to open up the Amiga to plug in or out the drive, and the pins don't look too happy about that treatment either. Also, the drive gets really hot resting close to the unfanned chips. Perhaps I can use the PCMCIA slot for the IDE ribbon cable, but the RF shielding gets in the way. I'm thinking of using two ribbon cables, one leading into a m/m adapter, and another leading to the housing and drive. This way I can plug and unplug easily and with no risk to MoBo or drive pins.
If I remove the RF shielding I might get better airflow. Supposedly the shielding protects... something against RF stuff but maybe it's not needed when the RF mod isn't connected to an old CRT TV? I'm tempted to mount a mini fan somewhere in the case to get some circulation going. Maybe get some stick-on heat sinks while I'm at it (hard to fit on the chips with RF shielding in place I've read). Some say cooling doesn't matter but I'd do anything (fun) to prolong component life (the system is already quite old).
Just a picture of my WB floppy disks. They have a few useful programs not found in 3.1 (unless you move them over, like I did).
The Amiga 500 manual is a thing of beauty, only really lacking in fun illustrations like the MSX manuals and Basic magazines, plus it could've used ring binding. Mine was in tatters so I transferred it to ring binders. The pros:
This was possible because the hardware was more static and knowable, unlike a modern computer which is highly variable. An OS then had no way to exploit you as a resource either, because it wasn't connected to anything... nor did it have any reason to constantly be apeshit paranoid about root privilege.