The new Checkmate 1500 MIni enables compact and powerful PC, Raspberry Pi and FPGA based desktop Amiga compatible computer builds.
Checkmate A1500 Mini from iMica Ltd
Imagine a brand new, Commodore Amiga 3000 inspired desktop computer case sitting on your desk today, that’s what we want to bring to you again.
Following on from the successful launch of the Checkmate 1500 Plus case Kickstarter in 2019 we wanted to add a smaller and more compact case to the range.
Click for the Original Checkmate 1500 Plus Kickstarter
The last project the Checkmate 1500 Plus allowed you to build a big box Amiga using the parts from an Amiga 500, A1200 and the 600. These are still available but only a couple of hundred are left.
This new case, is for building an Amiga without having any Amiga parts, this is why we have had two FPGA board adapters designed, see lower down, to create perfect recreations of an accelerated AGA based Amiga 1200, as well as a Mini ITX fitting kit for the Raspberry Pi4. Of course, you could just fit a Mini ITX PC instead.
Backing this campaign will enable us to make the high quality matching Black and Oyster White front panels instead of the 3D printed main panels at the moment in the pictures, as nice as they are already.
You will notice this campaign is for a lower amount than the last but that is due to a number of parts being interchangable between the Mini and the Plus cases.This reduces our Mold costs and so we can pass that on by needing less funding and speeding development to you.
With your support we can bring this more compact version to you and we hope you will support us again.
More details once the campaign completes at http://www.checkmate1500plus.com/
Please note that these details evolve over the time the Kickstarter runs with more information and questions answered as we go and extra pictures to help people understand the product better, so keep watching. Also check out the stretch goals lower down.
Preview on RMC-The Cave
This was filmed before the actual prototypes were manufactured as you can see below, but I run through a lot of the thinking behind the case and show what can be done with the inexpensive Rapsberry Pi4.
Case prototype pictures
This design is based on the original Plus model so we can share parts between models and reduce the tooling cost to just a new main front panel. On top of this all of the plastic components from the front can be shared where apropriate.
Remember all drawings will be available as before to help third party support.
As you can see we have changed our prototyping method and the 3D print for these look almost like the finished article except colour is slightly diferent to the DVD panel that is the actual injection molded part. This allows us to really hone the design and utilise previous molds which help reduce the amount we need to raise.
Prototype photos – more lower down page
Mini-ITX based system board options
We have developed in house and with community partners, two Mini ITX based FPGA options, an ITX fitting kit for the Raspberry Pi4 and hopefully Vampire standalone adapter kits to build complete and new Amiga compatible solution including officialy licensed Amiga OS’s.
We will build complete custom systems configured to suit your needs and shipped fully tested. But we will also supply a list of all components so the community can build their own systems which was successfully proven after the Checkmate 1500 Plus Kickstarter campaign.
There are two options at the moment, UnAmiga-ITX and Mist-IX both developed by Edu Arana and available to order after the kickstarter in complete build or as an option or at this link. Arananet Shop
These offer two FPGA options to suit your budget, please watch the video overview for more in depth comparisons. Or see the technical comparison chart lower down.
We hope to offer a Vampire stand alone fitting kit as well and part of the funding money will go to purchasing the Vampire V4.
Developed by Edu Arana as well as Jepalza, Benitoss, Neuro, Rampa069 and many others to support this case project is probably my favourite. It holds a small low cost FPGA unit in the center and offers great value for money. It lacks some features of the DE10 Nano based MiST-IX board like USB, high speed Network and HDMI but feels very much like the essence of an Amiga. It offers over 2X performance of an A3000 (no fpu) but with AGA and OCS/ECS graphics and RTG high resolution modes built in at upto 1024×768 15 bit and 1280×720 15 bit on top of all Amiga AGA modes. It also supports serial based and speed TCP/IP for basic ftp and internet functionality over wifi.
Please note it uses VGA output only and PS2 keyboard and mice.
Firstly I was inspired by this video.
This board, also developed by Edu Arana to support this case project is an adaptor board to take the DE10 Nano FPGA board used in the MiSter project by Alexey Melnikov and a huge number of developers, but as well as feeling very much like an Amiga it can simulate a huge array of retro machines and arcade cabinets. In Amiga mode, using the MiniMig core It offers nearly 3x performance of an A3000 but with AGA graphics and RTG high resolution modes upto 1024×768 24 bit and 1280×720 24 bit on top of all Amiga AGA modes. As well as all of this, it can connect to the Internet allowing file transfer via ftp between this system and your other computers.
Is that what you have like me.
When you can have a MiSTix setup in the Checkmate 1500 Mini.
Important to note, these are the first prototype and the final version will have 7 USB ports. 4 external, 2 internal and one used to run an external Atari joystick port.
Also, HDMI and Ethernet will be mounted on a back plate.
First unboxing video of FPGA boards
Sadly they took nearly two weeks to arrive so I am running a little behind with them. Any way here is a video of me unpacking and talking about the two FPGA boards from Edu Arana.
Raspberry Pi4 Mini-ITX setup
Developed in house, this option enables the creation of a super fast Amiga emulation system sitting on the Linux operating system and giving an enormous speed boost and high definition graphics unheard of on a 68k based Amiga system without running through X86 emulation. This enables you to build a low cost and high quality Amiga experience using the official Amiga OS license that will be provided in the package.
System comparison chart
Hopefully this will help you decide what suits your needs best. I know you will want to know the costing but I cannot give them out yet, however, the cheapest will be the Pi4 setup, followed by the UnAmiga ITX then the MiSTix.
Comparison between UnAmiga ITX and MiSTix
Ami-Hybrid Operating System for Pi4
This has been developed in house and with great support from the community especially from Dimitris Panokostas who is the lead developer behind the AmiBerry project.
It is designed to give a great hybrid experience combing the best in emulation technology (Advanced Virtual Machine) and integration with the host Linux operating system. Please watch the video to see more.
You can also build a superb and whisper quiet machine using Mini-ITX motherboards coupled with a water cooled Intel or AMD CPU. All systems are to be powered by SFX power supplies (not included).
Please note that only one half height expansion card can be fitted so it is designed to best fit CPU’s with on board graphics.
The case is designed to have one 120mm fan output in the base of the tray as well as 3x50mm fans at the rear, now this is not ideal because as we all know heat rises, and add to this not having the optional risers of the plus mean you need the tall spacer feet (optional) to give an air gap.
If the big spacing feet are fixed the base then the input from the front grills can supply good air flow pulled by the three optional 50mm fans and pumped out the base as well.
However, It is important to note, this is NOT an over clockers case and the idea is to keep your CPU cool under normal use and more importantly whisper quiet.
No discrete GPU’s
This version of the case is designed for graphics cores on the CPU package or APU. The reason is space, it is our belief that at the moment, for example, the Ryzen 3400G gives mostly acceptable 1080p 3D graphics performance, especialy with high speed ram and water cooling and newer generations will build on this. Therefore no support has been built in for discrete graphics, that is not to say it is not possible but this is a very small case and the Checkmate 1500 Plus does this admirably.
If there is a demand for this, we will look into it further but due to space and ventilation this will be complex as the design of the external look of the case, dictates what can be done internally.
Ultimately, if you want a GPU buy the existing Plus case 🙂
Amiga Forever, AmiKit and Workbench
All systems can be supplied with the latest Amiga Workbench, and if running the PC version with Linux or Windows then this can be run front and centre disguising the host operating system until you need it giving you the best of both worlds through an amazingly stylish Amiga emulation layer called Ami-Hybrid.
Basic and Deluxe package options
After successfully delivering the last Kickstarter backers cases we learned a lot and wanted to cater to those who just want the case without all the extras and fancy packaging.
The basic case package includes the Tray with attached rear panel, the drive tray, the front injection molded front panel with LED board, a blank panel insert, power button switch and lead, LED cables, screw pack, plain brown packaging and PDF electronic copy of the manual available online. You will be able to add the parts you may be missing but not the colour packaging or manual.
The deluxe version includes the same as standard but adds the 3.5″ standard drive and DVD panel inserts, the DVD tray for LG GS40N slot loading drive (not shown), the PSU support bracket, colour packaging with external protective brown box and a printed deluxe manual.
Deluxe case packaging
The deluxe packaging is designed to not only compliment the great design of the product, enhance the unboxing experience but also hold some of the optional extra parts you may order like the custom key caps, manual and extras.
After the Kickstarter you will be able to configure a complete system with one of the Amiga boards above and with an Official Amiga OS license and further options to be announced.
We have sourced custom keycaps that will fit Cherry MX switches, either original or cloned. At first these will only be in ANSI format and US key layout. Over time we hope to increase the range to support other countries. However, we will point you to suppliers of other solutions but you will find ours more budget friendly.
This will allow you to build a more Amiga like system with these key caps.
The target price for these Key cap sets if ordered with case is £29, you will still need a suitable keyboard to go with them.
USB Mechanical Keyboard (Optional)
We have an optional keyboard that we have chosen to go with these cases should you not wish to go through the process we had to find one that is suitable. They will not be to everyones taste as it is a very personal thing, but they are a good balance between quality and price we believe. These will use the custom keycaps above and have clone Cherry MX compatible Red switches.
These will be available to add to your order after Kickstarter is complete. They will be budget friendly, around £90 with the custom keycaps (US ANSI to start). If possible we will expand the layouts to cover international sets but not initially.
The last Kickstarter reached £91,806 and so I hope we can do as well this time and maybe a little better. So to encourage that and the fact that we are starting with a lower target I have a stretch goal and maybe more later.
£75,000 target reached
If we reach this target I will upgrade all basic case orders to include the two extra plastic front insert panels to go along with the blank panel included, saving £6 for each as an optional extra.
Colours of Case and Dimensions
The Oyster white actual colour was chosen by public poll.
All cases are in two colour option and both are powder coated. Silk black and by popular vote Oyster white RAL 1013.
As you can see these prototypes are at an advanced state of development but changes will be made to finish the design off after testing is complete with all boards.
The dimensions are 34cm x 33cm x 11cm WxDxH.
This is not just about me, others are supporting me and offering me great advice, however, these are the people most involved in this project to bring you the best Amiga case.
Due to the unknown final weight and extras that may be added later we cannot include the shipping costs with the campaign. However, at the end of the campaign and on our support site you will be able to view the shipping estimator to get a closer estimate of the final shipping cost at https://www.Checkmate1500plus.com, if you register an account and add your address details. This will be payable before we can ship your order, however the case will be stored safely until that time.
Please use this chart as a rough guide to the shipping costs from the UK, if your country is not on the list then use the site name at the bottom of image. Note the actual price may be slightly higher or lower depending on the extras, but once campaign is over and your final order is confirmed you will get that price before paying.
Why Crowd Funding
Whilst the designs are complete, the metal work and electronics are ready and tested we need your help. The 3D printed prototype parts you can see need high quality injection moulding in the colours we plan to use which are black and Oyster white to match the metal work that is ready.
These moulding tools are too expensive for us to bring to the market alone and we need your help and support.
We hope you will help us bring this dream to life by backing this Project and bring back the memories of when computers were fun and user friendly. We hope you will join this growing community that is supporting the Amiga and let us remind the world about Jay Miner, and all those who worked on, and still love the Amiga from the past and into the future.
As I have done this before I believe these timings to be accurate if a little longer than we need but better to allow for any problems.
A Little History
Original Checkmate 1500 Plus Development History Playlist
This shows my video blogs throughout this journey from around October 2018 when I started working on the original Checkmate 1500 plus case.
The Amiga 1000
In 1985 the results of a hugely creative team headed up by legendary computer chip designer Jay Miner, launched a computer to a world that was not ready for the insane computing power that was available in the Amiga. Amiga had the awesome Motorola 68000 with three high performance custom chips that gave up to 4096 on screen colours and full screen animation. Add to this an incredible multi channel 8 bit sampled audio system, all controlled by a powerful, Unix inspired, True, multi tasking operating system called Workbench. The Amiga was truly, the first real Multi Media computer and was years ahead of PC’s and Macintosh.
This is a video I created to show just how amazing the original Amiga (1000) is and can be made to perform like a new machine with the vampire or other accelerators.
Jay Miner: Father of the Amiga 1932–1994
A revealing video about what people think about Jay Miner and a talk he gave about the Amiga’s development. Note, he also developed the chip set in the Atari VCS 2600 which sold millions of units. He was lead designer and chip designer for the Atari 400 and 800 computers which to be honest are still better than the Commodore 64 that came out 3 years later. He also developed one of the first heart pace makers that could be controlled from outside of the body.
Over the following years the Amiga evolved into a range of high powered personal graphics and audio computer systems but the next major upgrade was the Amiga 3000 launched in April 1990. This took the Amiga to Work Station performance and was considered by many to also be the best looking Amiga, even to this day.
Amiga 3000 first commercial VR system
The following year the Amiga 3000 went on to power the first commercial Virtual Reality arcade system called Virtuality. Using custom 3D display hardware, much like today’s GPU chips the A3000 was the only viable computer, at that time, to process the huge amount of data required for this very early, commercial virtual reality system.
This is Ravi from the Retro Hour podcast trying out the Virtuality system from 1991/3 which was powered by the amazing Amiga 3000 which this case is designed as an homage too.
The original Checkmate A1500
Manufactured by my company Checkmate Digital in late 80’s with my partner James Campbell.
A great video explaining my history with the original Checkmate A1500 and my run in with Commodore.
A great Q&A session going into more details after the Checkmate A1500 video from Neil aka RetroManCave.
This story is in the book by David Pleasance. https://downtimepublishing.com/products/commodore-the-inside-story
A message from David Pleasance himself from first kickstarter
Graphics Kindly Supplied by