Acorn Archimedes / A*

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Midar
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Acorn Archimedes / A*

Post by Midar » Fri Oct 26, 2018 3:01 pm

Hi!

I grew up in Germany with an Amiga. The Acorn Archimedes line unfortunately never seems to have made it into Germany, so until I learned about it recently, I was totally unaware of its existence. It seems like an entirely different world that I missed out on.

Now that I know about it, I have played around with it in arcem and rpcemu (without sound and with some emulator crashing 😐) and on a Raspberry Pi, I noticed that somehow I really like RISC OS 3 and would really like to get ahold of some hardware with it.

I already tried eBay, but after paying for it, eBay removed the article and the seller refused to ship. Luckily, I could at least get my money back via PayPal, but I’m still out of an Archimedes. 😕

After some research, it seems what I should get is, in this order:
* A5000
* A3010 without ARM250 but with separate chips, so that I can upgrade it to an ARM3
* A3000
* A4000
* A3020
* A3010 (ARM250)

Does that sound about right? I’m open for anything running RISC OS 3. Even though I am aware that I probably want a newer RISC OS for anything but games, considering GCC compiled binaries won’t run on RISC OS 3 anymore.

Anything is appreciated, even if just advise where else to look for a machine. Thanks in advance!
Last edited by Midar on Fri Oct 26, 2018 3:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

RobC
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Re: Acorn Archimedes / A*

Post by RobC » Fri Oct 26, 2018 3:43 pm

The A5000 would be my choice out of those machines but don't rule out an A410/1 or A440/1. They can be upgraded to an ARM3 CPU, take regular size podules and have the advantage that their internal batteries are mounted away from the PCB. (Later Arcs have their batteries mounted on the PCB and, as they can leak corrosive gunk, often require repairs to damaged tracks.) If you can find one with RISC OS 3 and 4MB of RAM, you'll be well on the way to getting a very nice system.

Also, if you can find one, an A540 is an excellent machine. However, they were very expensive when first released and aren't as common as the other models.
Last edited by RobC on Fri Oct 26, 2018 3:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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flaxcottage
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Re: Acorn Archimedes / A*

Post by flaxcottage » Fri Oct 26, 2018 3:56 pm

If you are after playing games then the A3000 would be my choice. However, you would need a monitor that works with it. It has a 9-pin VGA socket not the more common 15-pin one. I have an AKF30 monitor for the old school CRT experience. You would also need a HDD podule fitted.

But if you just want a good RISCOS 3 system the A5000 is hard to beat, especially if it is the 33MHz one. You will need to replace the noisy fan in the PSU with a 'silent' type and replace the very noisy HDD with a CF adapter and card. I have a dual adapter and that gives me 1Gb of storage - more than enough.

From your list I'd go for an A3020 next because it can easily be upgraded to 4Mb and can have a HDD fitted leaving its podule bay available for something else.

Next I'd look at the A4000. It is really a cut down A5000. It can have an IDE-CF adapter fitted easily to give a HDD and is quite quick.
- John
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Midar
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Re: Acorn Archimedes / A*

Post by Midar » Fri Oct 26, 2018 4:12 pm

I’m basically happy with any machine, so if someone has a spare machine they want to sell, that would make me very happy. So yeah, I guess A5000 as the preferred machine with the A3020 following, followed by any machine at all 🙂

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Re: Acorn Archimedes / A*

Post by Kazzie » Sat Oct 27, 2018 12:24 pm

RobC wrote:
Fri Oct 26, 2018 3:43 pm
The A5000 would be my choice out of those machines but don't rule out an A410/1 or A440/1. They can be upgraded to an ARM3 CPU, take regular size podules and have the advantage that their internal batteries are mounted away from the PCB. (Later Arcs have their batteries mounted on the PCB and, as they can leak corrosive gunk, often require repairs to damaged tracks.) If you can find one with RISC OS 3 and 4MB of RAM, you'll be well on the way to getting a very nice system.
The A410/1 and A420/1 can both be upgraded to the 4MB of the A440/1. I did so by buing some NOS chips through eBay from the USA.
BBC Model B 32k issue 7, Sidewise ROM board with 16K RAM
Archimedes 420/1 upgraded to 4MB RAM (mid- restoration)
Acorn System 1 home-made replica

steve3000
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Re: Acorn Archimedes / A*

Post by steve3000 » Sat Oct 27, 2018 7:21 pm

Midar wrote:
Fri Oct 26, 2018 3:01 pm
The Acorn Archimedes line unfortunately never seems to have made it into Germany
Welcome!

The Archimedes did make it to Germany - I recall there was a German version of the A3000 and possibly A3020? The German version of the operating system, RISC OS 3.19, was also sold as an upgrade for all Archimedes, and came with a full set of user manuals in German (I ran this on my computer while learning German!). In fact, I think this was the only language Acorn translated RISC OS to...

As for which Archimedes to get, although I personally prefer the earlier A310/A4x0 computers, for a first time user I would recommend any of the later computers on your list (A3010, A3020, A4000, A5000 - these all have HD floppy drives and RISC OS 3), but make sure to get at least 2mb RAM if going for A3010. Then get hold of the German OS ROMs. :)

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Re: Acorn Archimedes / A*

Post by Midar » Sat Oct 27, 2018 8:06 pm

Oh, interesting. I never saw a single Archimedes in Germany, or even heard about it. The German ROM sure sounds interesting. Do you still have yours and would be willing to sell them? :) That is, are ROMs even swappable between different machine, or is each ROM for a specific machine?

But I first would need an Archimedes :). Anybody willing to sell one?

// Edit: Oh, also, what about the A7000? It seems to be the "transitional" machine that is somewhere between the Archimedes and RISC PC? I'm guessing that means mostly trouble, as in not fully compatible with either?
Last edited by Midar on Sat Oct 27, 2018 8:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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paulv
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Re: Acorn Archimedes / A*

Post by paulv » Sat Oct 27, 2018 9:00 pm

The A7000 is basically a cut down RISC PC with poor expandability options. It's fully compatible with the RISC PC but you can't have a CD drive if you want a back plane....

Paul

Midar
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Re: Acorn Archimedes / A*

Post by Midar » Mon Nov 05, 2018 11:25 pm

The more I think about it, I want an A5000. There are some podules that sound like fun to play around with, e.g. the 486 podule.

What would be a reasonable price for an A5000?

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Re: Acorn Archimedes / A*

Post by flaxcottage » Tue Nov 06, 2018 9:06 am

Midar wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 11:25 pm
The more I think about it, I want an A5000. There are some podules that sound like fun to play around with, e.g. the 486 podule.

What would be a reasonable price for an A5000?
That is the $64,000 question! On eBay sub £200 will get you a basic machine with battery damage; how much else works will be pot luck. Above £200 should get you a clean, working machine with minimal, if any, battery damage. Prices also vary depending on how many bidders want the machine and how badly and what upgrades it has.

Sometimes at shows one can pick up a bargain A5000 quite cheaply. That is very hit and miss, however.

A 33MHz A5000 will be very expensive if the vendor knows what it is.
- John
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BigEd
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Re: Acorn Archimedes / A*

Post by BigEd » Tue Nov 06, 2018 11:03 am

Is it the case that 33MHZ (plus floating point accelerator) is the fastest an Archimedes can go? That, for example, StrongARM only appears in the RiscPC series?

(Is there any modern-day go-faster ARM upgrade for Archimedes? Maybe FPGA based?)

Hope this noobish sidetrack question isn't a derail.

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danielj
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Re: Acorn Archimedes / A*

Post by danielj » Tue Nov 06, 2018 11:21 am

It's the fastest "Archimedes" out of the box, although I think the A540/A260 etc could be run with a 33MHz ARM3? RiscPC ran the ARM610 at 33MHz, and the 710 at 40MHz, then the StrongARM was 160MHz+

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Re: Acorn Archimedes / A*

Post by tricky » Tue Nov 06, 2018 12:44 pm

Welcome, I've sent you a pm about someone in continental Europe who might have an Archie to sell (you probably can't reply yet).

Midar
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Re: Acorn Archimedes / A*

Post by Midar » Tue Nov 06, 2018 2:31 pm

As it so happens, I just found an A5000 on eBay. It was listed at 500 GBP. I looked at previous eBay articles and a few shops that sell refurbished A5000 and even 500 seemed ok, but I proposed 400 (worth a try!). The seller responded back with 420 and I said yes. It’s the 33 MHz with 8 MB RAM + keyboard but no mouse. It’s refurbished and had a previously leaked battery that was cleaned up and repaired and even comes with warranty. For an extra 39, the seller included a mouse adaptor so that any USB mouse can be used.

I would guess it’s not the best deal, but an ok price? After searching one for months and the previous trouble on eBay, I just valued my time more than saving a few more bucks.

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danielj
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Re: Acorn Archimedes / A*

Post by danielj » Tue Nov 06, 2018 2:49 pm

I'd say if you're happy to pay that then that's OK! If you want it now, the only other option is more expensive :)

d.

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Re: Acorn Archimedes / A*

Post by flaxcottage » Tue Nov 06, 2018 5:42 pm

A few days ago a 25MHz, 4Mb RAM A5000 with no battery damage went for £220 on eBay so, for a 33MHz, 8Mb machine with no battery damage and a guarantee, the price you paid does not seem too excessive. If you look after it it should not depreciate too much and it will be a super machine to use. :D
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Re: Acorn Archimedes / A*

Post by TynHau » Tue Nov 06, 2018 6:44 pm

Congratulations, your A5000 is a fine machine and sounds like a good deal. The ROM is worth its weight in gold! My own RO3 machine is an A4000 and 4MB ROM can get pretty tight thanks to the „new“ BOOT structure. Whereabouts in Germany do you come from? I’m in Berlin most of the time in case you need need something (like borrow a book etc). There’s also forum.acorn.de (not a lot of traffic though). A useful add-on would be a network card btw, transferring software can be a real pain without USB and no easy way of reading floppies on non-Acorn machines (DOS formatted ones are fine however).

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Re: Acorn Archimedes / A*

Post by Midar » Tue Nov 06, 2018 10:37 pm

Ah, thanks for the pointer to acorn.de. I actually am from Germany, but live in Switzerland these days.

As for network card, is there a way to interface with Econet from commodity hardware? I saw the same seller is also offering an Econet module for around 30 GBP, so do I want to ping the seller that I want that as well to save on shipping?

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Re: Acorn Archimedes / A*

Post by TynHau » Wed Nov 07, 2018 3:06 am

Well, Linux used to come with inbuild Econet support but it's been depreciated for security reasons. So you probably could get something working with a bit of digging.
Even on a vintage machine like your A5000 having an ethernet card would give access to: email, rss, FTP, telnet, IRC and (rudimentary) webbrowsing. Personally, when having to chose between econet or ethernet I'd always prefer the latter. Unfortunately 10bT podules are quite a bit dearer nowadays (give CJE Micros a shout, see what they have in stock).

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