Such news excites Amiga fans. “The price of used Amigas has skyrocketed over the last five years and it’s not an easy task to preserve an old computer,” explains Billy Nesteroulis, aka DJ Nest. “If you own an old Amiga, it will eventually break: their electrolytic capacitors tend to leak. You’ll need a new power supply, and some kind of memory expansion is ideal.”
With a Raspberry Pi computer, however, such costs can be significantly lowered. As Billy has shown, it’s possible to build an Amiga 600 from scratch with a Raspberry Pi 4 as the main unit. “Raspberry Pi can emulate an Amiga with AmigaOS and you can use it to play games and software made for the machine,” he continues.
On the case
Certainly, Raspberry Pi has proven to be the perfect platform for Amiga emulation. “Dimitris Panokostas has done a remarkable job creating the Amiberry emulator and because Raspberry Pi hardware is small, it can fit easily almost everywhere,” Billy says.
In this instance, the single-board computer has been fitted inside a full-size, 3D-printed replica of an Amiga 600 case, allowing use of its USB ports and WiFi. A specially designed keyboard that was originally designed as a replacement for ageing Amiga machines is connected and modern adapters will allow use of the nine-pin joysticks of old for added authenticity.
“The Cherry MX keyboard is illuminated and it was designed to fit the case that I 3D-printed,” Billy explains. “The joystick adapter is plug-and-play with no drivers needed and you can also use Amiga CD32 joypads with their eight buttons.” Other parts include a micro HDMI extender, SD card extender, power supply unit, USB extenders, a power switch, and LAN extender.
A modern touch
To ensure everything runs smoothly, Billy uses the Amibian distro (“the most complete experience of the classic Amiga environment”). He also likes that – in exchange for a small donation – he can use the Amibian 1.5 Extended Edition made by Gunnar Kristjánsson.
“The Extended Edition includes Raspbian Buster V10 OS with the look and feel of the Amiga OS 4,” Billy says. “It has a modern browser, the VLC media player, and the Qmmp audio player. You can even use LibreOffice Writer.”
Amibian also allows users to update software and Amiga emulators through its configuration tool. All of which has meant Billy’s set up expands the potential of the machine, beyond matching the real A600. “It’s allowed me to bond classic computing with modern computing,” he says.
Indeed, the Pi 600 gives the same feeling and experience of the actual A600, but with the modern touch of the Raspberry Pi hardware. “It has the required juice to run specific software such the classic pixel-art package Deluxe Paint, games play without issues, and you can build your own system and adapt it to your needs,” Billy says. “For many people, it’s the best Amiga solution in 2021.”