Hiya Stimpy, I'm glad that you're able to spend some of your valuable time
on this interview. Please feel free to answer these questions in as much
depth and detail as you wish.
Hello and thanks, my first interview, so I'll try me best!
Can you give us your real name, date and place of birth, current occupation,
and any other sordid biographical details that you may wish to share with
the Alive! readership?
Okies, my real name is Lyndon Amsdon, I was born close to Christmas in 1984.
I live on top of the Mendips, Somerset in England. I go to college
Can you tell us a bit more about your previous computer owning history. How
did you get into this game in the first place?
The STE was bought in November 1995, our first computer. It was bought for
midi, with Pro 24 but I thought it was a real buggy program. I used to play
games mainly. I've bought Vic-20s, C-64s which I used to play games on, but
for working on the STE was far better with the built in desktop. I only
recently built a tatty 486 for running some Windoze apps, like electronics
development tools and viewing datasheets in PDF format.
And how did you acquire a longing for Atari gear. We see on
hardware.atari.org there is quite a collection there.
Err, yes :) I've just bought things over the years. The SX-64 was bought
cheap from a friend who didn't really know what it did! The Falcon was
bought locally in 2001, and is very nice I must say. I recently bought my
Jaguar, after stupidly getting rid of my last one. I really like the CD
unit too, and I am now collecting many of the games I wanted when I was a
kid, hmm, I still am! ;)
It is interesting that you are a very young age for an Atari enthusiast.
What motivated you, when to most 17 year olds, the concept of 'Atari' would
be a very much a yesterday thing, and not culturally relevant, unlike
something such as Playstation? Is it just a retro thing, or is there more
to it than that?
Well, I used to own Playstation too, but Atari is not really a retro thing
for me. Sometimes I'll play some classic ST games, hear the old Yamaha chip
screaming away. Mostly though, I use my Falcon on internet for email, irc
and so on. The PC is rarely used, I get frustrated with Windoze. It's
boring, nothing original.
And the next interesting fact I discover, is that you are something of a
hardware guru, a very rare species indeed. How did you get your lifetime
membership of the temple of the sacred soldering iron?! Why hardware?
I've been into building electronics stuff since I can remember. These were
usually amplifiers, parts of my hifi and so on. After seeing sites like
Vezzs website, when I went online with my STe in 2000 it seemed like the
next step up. I built a serial port mod upgrade and was hooked! I've
fiddled with 68k assembler on ST and Falcon after reading a great tutorial
(thanks Earx!) but hardware is what I'm best at. If I do write any assembly
code it's only to test hardware, or to probably look into the TOS code.
What makes the Atari 68k family, in particular, interesting for you to work
on. Is there any other computer which has inspired you to open the case, and
get deep and dirty with the motherboard?
Not really. The Atari, and ST in particular has lots of great documentation
on it. The OS is simple to work with, and I (usually!) understand what is
happening. The ST also uses some standard chips, which datasheets can
easily be downloaded, like the CPU, ACIAs and so on. There doesn't seem to
be any point modifying PCs, just buy the next CPU :)
Could you tell us a bit more about your current projects? The one that seems
to be most interesting, is the soon-forthcoming Ethernet adaptor for Atari.
Yes! It's my first time I've made any of my projects in batch, so I hope
everything goes smoothly. It allows an ISA network card to be used on the
ROM port of the Atari ST up to Falcon. Well, more details on my website if
you're interestted :)
How much interest has there been in the Ethernet adaptor? I'd imagine for
things like broadband internet access, it is very close to being a 'must
Quite a bit, what I'd liked to see is more Ataris being used on internet.
There are great operating systems available and many clients, email, irc,
ftp etc. Some need very little resources, so could be used straight from
And what of this 'ultimate STFM'?
Hmm, work still gets done. I'm currently venturing into CPLDs and FPGAs,
same ones as Mario Becroft uses. I can program these to do whatever I want,
so I have started making a board with IDE, 68882, FPU, and ISA controller.
I might be adding some FastRAM too. Already the ST has 256kbytes of NVRAM
so I can "upload" TOS to it. I flick a switch and it'll boot into the new
TOS. Useful for testing modifications to TOS code. I plan to change a few
things in TOS, and make a custom boot logo, nice! The 68HC000 CPU had to be
shipped in from the USA as it's a faster variant. I've had the ST running
at 64MHz, I think the fastest speed ever - crazy!
After you've completed the projects described on the website, is there
anything else to come after that?
Nothing really gets completed, that's one problem I have. There is always
some way to sqeeze more speed or improve on something. I'll have to see
what I can do with these CPLDs. It was suggested to make a PCI card for the
new Atlantos with Yamaha chip on, which I could also implement a SID and
maybe some extras. I do want to start vapourware so you'll have to wait and
How far do you think you could ultimately modify or expand an ST/Falcon etc?
The Falcon has some way to go. Most of the accelerators use the ST/Falcon
simply as an I/O device. I feel though that the Atari range would have been
much better if Atari had made some sort of expansion connector, and stuck to
it throughout the Atari range! I believe the Zorro slots on the Amiga are
quite useful, at least, there seems to be quite a few boards around using
What has been your easiest and most difficult hardware mod to fit? What
parts of the job, in general, do you most and least enjoy?
The boring parts are mainly cutting cases, and enclosures. Easiest was the
serial port mod, just one chip. Most difficult, so far, would be my ISA
controller I'm building. I doubt I'll ever make or sell them as I can't
think of a way of using across the ST range, with no common expansion slot.
I was intending to make it work on a Falcon, but realised the memory map is
too cramped if you have 14MB of STRAM.
Is there anything that you might think is "impossible" to do to a
motherboard? Or 'aint we seen nothin' yet?!
I had to cut 1 cm off the width of my STFM to fit into a rack case, if that
What suggestions would you have for any aspiring hardware fixers and
bodgers. I'm sure we all could suggest ' a steady hand', but what should
ideally follow that?
Read, read, read! Get the abacus books, especially ST Internals. Look
around various hack websites, and try and work out *how* they work. I never
accept something that works, I always wonder why! The 68000 datasheet has a
lot to say also. Amazingly, I've been doing all my work without an
oscilloscope. I only recently bought one, and I have to say they are
incredible. Things are getting done a lot quicker. Oh, and reverse
engineer too :)
What do you think of other people's hardware mods in the past. In a long
history, are there any which have been brilliant, or alternatively, an utter
disaster? Feel free to rate winners (losers?) and runner-ups at this point.
I don't really put peoples efforts down. We need as many active hardware
modders as possible, and it seems they're leaving the platform :(
How do you rate some of the present and future products coming around? I'm
thinking of things like the CT60, Tempest , and Eclipse graphics card
The CT60 seems very good, I think I'm going to get one. I just wonder where
we're going to go from the 68060. The Tempest, I don't know. It's been
hanging around too long, but I wish it would happen. I'm not sure how
compatible the PPC assembly is to 68K, I looked at assembly on the PPC, but
really need to have looked at machine code with the opcodes and so on.
Either way, a 68K emulator would be needed. I'm also looking forward to the
Atlantos machine, especially with the Deesee card. I consider buying that,
the Hades was great, I hope Atlantos is a bit cheaper though.
Which individual or company on the Atari hardware scene do you most respect?
So many! I guess people like Rodolphe Czuba, Fredi, Mario Becroft and some
individuals on comp.sys.atari.st.tech! I like open hardware too, like open
source software. Quite a few of the mods on my website were done by me, and
these are open for people to make. If people want to develop further on my
ideas, feel free to ask me.
How do you rate current Wintel PeeCee's for bodging and fixing? The modular
nature of their design has motivated a lot of people (some of whom perhaps
should know better?) to delve inside the casing. You could do a lot with a
PeeCee's innards, so why come back to Atari?
They bore me! You can buy a new CPU every week if you want more clock
speed. It seems no matter what you do to the hardware, Windows will still
screw it all up!
Turning away from these specific questions, what else do you do with your
Atari gear, when you're not chatting on IRC, or not glowering evilly at a
naked and exposed motherboard ?!
Design things, reply to the endless numbers of emails!
Do you have any software favourites, games, and utilities?
Scooter PCB software, I run that on my Falcon. Games, I like Formula One
Grand Prix, Geoff Craymond on the ST. I've had very little time to set up
my software recently to how I want it. Busy time of year, exams and all :(
Do you have any interest in the demo scene end of things? On the face of it,
with the likes of CT60, they are suddenly becoming more interested in
hardware issues than before !
Yes! I like watching demos, although, I sometimes don't fully appreciate
which ones took most time, or had most technical features. I've liked
things like Whip!, impressive.
What do you do with the rest of your spare time, if there is any left after
all of that?
I don't have much time, college is taking a lot of time currently. I don't
know what people want actually, tell me if you want some hardware built!
Where do you see Atari computers, and Atari users, in the next few years?
Still in active daily use, or in a glass case in a museum?
I don't think too much will change. The CT60 and Atlantos are getting
Emulators on the PeeCee, will these ultimately replace original hardware?
And should they?
I hope not! Part of the fun, for me, is using the hardware I built. But I
have bought a laptop, to run emulator on, only because the ST Book or Stacy
are too rare, and battery hungry. Nothing beats using the real thing
Here's a bit of free space to advertise your products, services or point of
view for free, go for it!
Ataris can be hooked to a LAN with ethernet, visit hardware.atari.org Thank
you! If you have any dead, dying, not wanted hardware add-ons, please email
me at email@example.com
Phew, what a lot of questions! We're all tired, but before we go, are there
any final thoughts?
Thanks for interviewing me, and all people who have helped me out, in the
scene and out of the scene. Atari rules!
Thanks Lyndon, and good night!
For Alive! Mag, 2002.