How to add IDE to your Amiga 500

Judging by searchwords that people use to find my blog it seems many Amiga users are interested in adding IDE interface to their Amiga 500 so they can use cheap harddrives and Compact Flash cards.

Various Amiga 500 IDE options

Amiga 600

Yes, you read right, I did type Amiga 600 up there. Because the A600 is essentially the Amiga 500 motherboard modernized with surface mounted components, shrunk down somewhat with the added benefit over a stock A500 motherboard that it has an 2.5″ IDE header built in capable of two IDE devices or a¬†horizontal 2.5″ CF card adapter.

But the Amiga 600 is not that fun computer if you are into hardware hacking or want to add some speed boost with a faster 68k CPU. And if you really want to add IDE to your A500 it will not solve your problem.

 ICD AdIDE

ICD was a well known manufacturer of quality Amiga peripherals such as harddrives and memory expansions. They were quite famous in the early 90’ies for having the hardware available so you could convert your A500 to a workstation with IDE, turbo and extra memory without going berserk with messy tower conversions.

One of the items they produced that was one piece of the puzzle of the workstation A500 was the ICD AdIDE, it is a small IDE harddrive controller that mounts under the 68000 CPU in the Amiga 500. With a 2.5″ harddrive (that was very expensive in 1992) or an external 3.5″ floppy drive and an internal 3.5″ harddrive in the floppy space you had an Amiga 500 with internal harddrive in 1992, very cool, but critics claimed SCSI was better and the AdIDE lacked memory expansion. Today the ICD AdIDE is a nice collector’s item.

There is also this A500 IDE solution available with a Finish touch!

86-pin edge slot to Zorro 2 converter

There has been many Zorro 2 converters released for the Amiga 500, if you are lucky to find one you can use a harddrive controller for the Amiga 2000 on your A500 (but since the Amiga 500 Zorro 2 slot is not 100% compatible, it may or may not work with the specific IDE harddrive controller card you are looking for). A Zorro 2 card connected to an Amiga 500 is a messy solution and needs a custom case or proper tower conversion as well as it may need separate PSU, it makes no sense in 2010 so leave this option to the Amiga fanatics only or for those rare times when you have more time than sense.

A conventional harddrive controller for the Amiga 500

During the lifespan of the Amiga 500, many harddrive controllers where released for the system. Most of the controllers where for SCSI harddrives but there was also quite a few IDE controllers made to.

The most common IDE A500 controller seems to be the AlfaData, Alfapower 500. I have actually had an Alfapower 500 myself a couple of years ago and I think it is a great IDE controller. It has both a 3.5″ and a 2.5″ connector inside it and as an added bonus the Alfapower can hold up to 8MB fast memory. Keep in mind there are two variants of the Alfapower A500 IDE controller though, one uses common 72-pin memory sticks, the other uses hard to find DRAM ZIPs (both variants are still great though).