PiStorm set up

Firstly I should apologise for the lack of blog posts for some time. To be honest some of the projects I had planned to undertake didn’t quite pan out as expected and I haven’t really felt anything was worthy of a post. I have instead been concentrating on my daily Instagram posts. Please do follow me at https://www.instagram.com/amigaformortals/

Those of you who already follow me on Instagram will know that I was lucky enough to get my hands on a PiStorm recently. Now, I am assuming that you are reading this blog because you know what a PiStorm is, but just for the avoidance of doubt, the PiStorm is a low-cost accelerator for the Amiga that uses a Raspberry Pi to replace the Amiga’s original CPU.

I heard about the PiStorm on Facebook in one of the many Amiga groups and decided that it would be a good way to get into Amiga accelerators without laying out a lot of money. I saw that there were group buys on the Discord server and so I put my name on the list and was lucky to get in early before the demand exploded!

So, the reason for this post. I wanted to explain the process I had run through to get my PiStorm up and running with WHDLoad and PiDisk to allow me to easily transfer files to and from the Amiga. I should say at the outset that I have done this all by following existing readme files, tutorials and advice from other people in the community. I am not really clued up enough about all this to answer questions, so if you have issues with anything, my suggestions would be to head over to the PiStorm Discord server and ask all the incredibly smart and helpful people there.

To start with I followed the ‘Simple quickstart’ in the Readme on the project’s Github page here https://github.com/captain-amygdala/pistorm.

Following some discussion and suggestions from various people online I did however make a couple of changes and additions. When I got to the ‘git clone' line it was suggested that I use a fork of the main project, which I understand is even more experimental and has some newer features. To use this fork I had to replace the line ‘git clone https://github.com/captain-amygdala/pistorm.git’ with:

git clone -b wip-crap https://github.com/beeanyew/pistorm.git 

Other than that I followed the quickstart through to the end.

I personally found it easier to move the Raspberry Pi into the Amiga as soon as I had enabled SSH and connect to it remotely using PuTTY.

When I had finished running through the main quickstart, I gave the PiStorm a quick test using ‘sudo ./emulator’ and found that it booted straight up into the kickstart screen using my standard physical kickstart. After confirming things were working, I used ‘Ctrl-C’ to exit the emulator.

The next step was to move my Kickstart 3.1 file over to the Pi. I already had a full set of Kickstarts from Amiga Forever and I would highly recommend buying them yourself. I used WinSCP in order to copy the kickstart file into the ‘/home/pi/pistorm’ folder.

It was at this point I started to make the changes to the main configuration file. To do this just type:

nano default.cfg

Once the file is open I initially made the following changes:

  • Set the processor to a 68030.

  • Changed the kickstart to the same filename as the kickstart 3.1 that I moved into the pistorm folder.

To exit the file, press ‘Ctrl and X’ followed by ‘y’ and then ‘enter’ to confirm that you wish to save the changes to the existing file. Once I had made these changes, I gave the Amiga another test and was greeted with the 3.1 kickstart screen. This confirmed that my changes to ‘default.cfg’ had been successful.

Now that I was happy things were working I wanted to get it set up to boot the PiStorm emulator as soon as the Amiga was switched on. To do this I was pointed towards https://github.com/beeanyew/pistorm/tree/wip-crap/boot_scripts. To start with I struggled to follow the guide on there and found that I was actually downloading an HTML version of the ‘pistorm.service’ file. In order to download the correct file and get it running, just run the following commands in PuTTY whilst SSH’d into your Amiga:

wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/beeanyew/pistorm/wip-crap/boot_scripts/pistorm.service
sudo cp pistorm.service /etc/systemd/system
sudo systemctl enable pistorm

Once this was working, I followed through the steps under the ‘Faster boot’ section to speed things up a little. Nothing much to add on that, the instructions were really easy to follow.

It is worth noting that once you have the PiStorm booting on startup, if you would like to remotely stop the emulator from PuTTY you have to run the following command:

sudo systemctl stop pistorm

I’ve used this a few times where I have gone into ‘default.cfg’ and made changes to the settings and want to restart the emulator to check that they have worked without powering down the Amiga completely.

Next up was the really exciting part for me. Getting WHDLoad up and running. I decided I wanted to keep things as simple as possible, therefore I downloaded a ‘ready to go’ hard drive image that is all set up with WHDLoad and all the games I could want. To get this, head over to the ‘Commodore Amiga’ Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/CommodoreAmiga) and in the files section download the latest WHDLoad torrent that has been put together by Zeb Elwood.

Zeb’s image comes with some documentation, make sure you read it as it explains how to copy all your other Kickstart ROMs onto WHDLoad. What I didn’t think was made clear in the instructions was the need to make sure that all of the Kickstarts were named exactly as per the following link otherwise WHDLoad can’t find them and throws up an error message when trying to start up certain games. http://www.whdload.de/docs/en/need.html?fbclid=IwAR1evwD9bo7zGM65cf8wZ6-zcVCWh4FheyXmyl_bMUwqqg5I9ZSNfIujTVk

With the Kickstarts added I used WinSCP to copy the .img file over onto the Pi. I created a new folder called ‘amiga-files’ within the /home/pi directory to place this file, just to keep things separate from all the other PiStorm files. It takes a while to copy this file as it is quite big.

Once the file has been transferred, still using WinSCP I changed the file type from .img to .hdf as that I what I understood that the piscsi was looking for. It may well work with the .img file, but I haven’t tried it personally.

Then I went back into ‘default.cfg’ to enable the hard drives. To do this you just have to uncomment (delete the # at the start of the line) the line that says ‘setvar piscsi’ then uncomment the line that says ‘setvar piscsi0 …..hdf’, here you also need to change the name of the .hdf file to match where you have saved your WHDLoad image, so for me, this line now reads ‘setvar piscsi0 /home/pi/amiga-files/A1200_WHDLoad_OS31.hdf’.

Booting the Amiga back up, I loaded directly into Workbench!!

However, I was now faced with an error message that said, ‘Please insert volume WHD in any drive’. In order to get around this, I had to take to Facebook and Discord to get some advice. It turns out that the issue is to do with ‘Assigns’, which, from what I can gather, are essentially a type of shortcut used by the Amiga OS to direct Workbench to a particular drive or folder path.

In order to address this particular ‘Assign’ issue, I had to first open the built-in text editor (Ed) by right-clicking in WB and going to the execute command, here I typed in ‘Ed a’ and hit enter. Once open I found the file that I needed to edit, in this case, it was ‘s:startup-sequence’. I had to scroll down to the line below the ‘DefIcons’ line and add a ‘;’ at the start of the line before the word ‘Assign’.

So, at this point, I was pretty happy with what I had achieved. The PiStorm was in and working, it booted straight up when I switched on the Amiga, so apart from a small lag you didn’t really notice the Pi and there was a hard drive installed with WHDLoad and all the games I could want!! However, I wanted to post the obligatory Sysinfo screenshot but had no idea how best to transfer the .lha file onto my Amiga to get it installed.

Fortunately, the very kind guy that led the group buy that I was in (ChaosPif on Discord) has a really clear and simple to follow set of instructions to set up the A314 ‘PiDisk’. His instructions were so easy to follow, I don’t think I need to add anything at all. Just head over to https://github.com/beeanyew/pistorm/tree/wip-crap/a314. Once this is set up it allows you to transfer files to the Pi using WinSCP and they just magically appear in the PiDisk drive on WB.

As I said at the start, I have pulled information together from several different sources here. So below are a bunch of links that I suggest you check out before you start working through your own set-up and a few particular people that have answered some of my stupid questions who I would like to thank. I hope that this is helpful.


Particular thanks go to:

  • Paul Duarte

  • Paulee Alex Bow

  • Andrew Hutchings

  • _Bnu

  • Alistair (ABrugsch)

  • Zeb Elwood

Finally, if I have missed anything or made any errors. Please do drop me a line to let me know and I will amend the post.