Today I’m reviewing the new RapidRoad USB which is the new USB Module for Classic Amiga’s by Individual Computers.
These are available now for €129 for Clockport Amiga’s and just €99 if you plan to use it with the X-Surf100 Network Adapter, this reduced cost version comes without the cables and plastic cover and simply activates the two USB ports that are already present on the rear of your X-Surf100.
I bought the Clockport version even though I intend to use it in my A4000 I like having the flexibility to use it with other Amiga’s although already I’m considering just buying another one, yes it’s that good!
So what do you get in the box?
The clockport version is supplied with:
- The USB Module of course
- Insulated perpex cover (pre-fitted)
- Earth cable (pre connected)
- Screw and washer (for connecting the earth)
- Pass through Power Cable
- Clockport data cable
- Short Manual (bilingual)
- USB Cables-Backplate
Note to use the Clockport version with an X-Surf100 you must remove the perspex cover, it’s simply just a case of removing the small plastic nuts and bolts.
As stated the cut price version is just the module it’s self and you get a short manual which is akin to a quick setup guide, however I recommend reading the Icomp Wiki as it has lots of extra info and besides you need to go there anyway to download the drivers as there is no media included.
The USB stack comes in two forms a cut-down version on ADF you can transfer to Floppy Disk or an archive which contains some extra’s such as Icons that you can transfer to your Amiga another way.
Why would I want USB on an Amiga anyway?
There are a few good reasons for USB on an Amiga, the most relevant is easy file transfers. Of course on an A600/A1200 you already have the PCMCIA port but the A4000 you need to burn CD’s or find some other form of removable storage making USB very useful.
The Poseidon USB stack which is Licensed for use with the RapidRoad is a very versatile piece of software, it recognises most USB devices automatically such as USB Pen Drives, External HDD’s, Mice, Keyboards, Network Adapters(wired), CDROM’s, Sound Cards, etc and where these are storage devices it (usually) mounts an Icon right on your Workbench assuming you have the correct CD or FAT file system installed.
I’ve tested my Rapid Road in both my A1200 via Clockport and A4000D connected to an X-Surf100 and it operated flawlessly on both machines.
Here are photographs of the RapidRoad installed on an A1200 Clockport:
When connecting your RapidRoad USB please double and triple check that all connections match the pictures on the individual Wiki and as described in the manual, you can damage your hardware if connected incorrectly.
The LED should illuminate within 1 second, if it does not switch off your Amiga immediately!
Software installation requires that you have a method to transfer the ADF or archive to your Amiga, in my case I used a PCMCIA transfer kit. If you have no other way speak to your reseller and see if they can supply the ADF on floppy for you.
The software has a standard installer which will guide you through the installation options. As mentioned the archive contains extra’s such as updated Icons that you can use:
I found that the throughput in my A1200 which is powered by a Blizzard 1230MkIV @50mhz to be about 700k/sec which is quite reasonable for transferring small files or USB device like Mice/Keyboards and even CDROM’s. There might not be enough throughput for Sound Cards, I don’t have one to test sadly. Networking is possible via USB however you might get better results on PCMCIA if you use with an A1200. You also have the option to use WiFi Cards with PCMCIA.
You can also install the RapidRoad on other devices with a clockport, there’s further information an examples of how to connect them on the Individual Computers Wiki:
The RapidRoad comes into full force when connected to the ZorroIII bus on an A3000/A4000, but of course is also compatible with Zorro II such as A2000. Sadly I don’t have an A2000 or any third party bus boards here to test this combo on, but I welcome other people reports on this and will include them in my review.
Here is the X-Surf100 with RapidRoad USB installed in my A4000: (As stated before if you have the Clockport version then you need to remove the perspex cover)
Installation was straight forward, the RapiRoad just is inserted into the socket on the X-Surf100, you can only fit it one way round due to the Zorro slots. I recommend fitting this on a flat surface before inserting the X-Surf into your A4000 as the board can flex quite a bit, however if you’re careful and support the bottom if the X-Surf100 I’m sure you will be fine.
The Manual recommends installing the hardware first then the software, in my case I already had Poseidon installed from my previous Deneb USB, I used the installer to upgrade my 4.4 version to 4.5 which is the version supplied by Individual Computers and contains the device driver for the RapidRoad.
After running Trident, the front end for Poseidon I was able to add the hardware and activate the USB.
I’m in LOVE too <3
Transfer speeds are much quicker with Zorro III, as you can see below some 6mb+/sec:
As I have a front mounted USB card reader with USB port I have used the the internal header (*Note if you use the internal header you cannot use the external ports on the XS100*)
Both USB port and card reader worked right away. This reader has the 9pin connector (like motherboard USB header) which is the one you need so check if you’re buying a reader for this setup.
Although this isn’t a review for the X-Surf100, it was my first time using the card. This was also very easy to install, just a case of copying the device driver to Devs/Networks and using a TCP/IP stack (in my case MiamiDX) to go online:
And reassembled my A4000 🙂
Having used other USB solutions in the past I knew what to expect with USB, it’s a luxury for Amiga that you don’t need but it does bring your Amiga into the 21st century by adding compatibility with modern USB devices and storage.
It’s particularly useful in an A4000 which has no PCMCIA port so no simple way to transfer files quickly. Many users are forced to mount CF cards at the rear of their machines or burn CD’s to transfer data.
With the prices if Deneb’s and Subway’s having gone up over the recent months it’s certainly a welcome addition to the Amiga market as an affordable USB solution.
How does the RapidRoad compare to the other USB options?
I have previously owned Subway’s, Deneb’s and also a Highway USB so I’m in a reasonable position to give an opinion here.
For the A4000 I am very impressed with the speed of the RapidRoad, the Deneb is slightly faster then in DMA mode but it’s pretty close, the Deneb however has 4mb of Kickflash which is very useful for adding rommable modules for your own custom boot Rom. For example it’s very easy to start with bootable USB devices on the Deneb.
A benefit of the RR over the Deneb is that with Networking you only use one Zorro slot, very useful when you only have 4 Zorro slots. It’s worth noting though that you can use USB sound and network adapters should you not have any free slots.
I would highly recommend the RR over the Subway as I always found my Subway’s a little unreliable with data transfers and devices drop[ping out. No such trouble with the RR yet, the only benefit I can see for the Subway is that is has 4 instead of 2 internal headers.
Whilst I don’t have a recent benchmark to share from a Subway I believe the RapidRoad is much faster on the clockport.
I hope that you found my review useful, of course I welcome your comments so that I can develop my review further.
Thanks for reading