Here is an interview with Artur Gadawski, the founder of Retro 7-bit, an Amiga hardware maker from Poland, known is particular for the Rys USB adapter.
Hello Artur. Can you introduce yourself?
I come from Poland and live in the city of Wroclaw. I am a software developer and an electronics engineer who runs a small company, which devotes some small part of its activities to the Amiga. My hobbies include the already mentioned Amiga, history and some other stuff for which I can never find enough time.
When and how did you discover the Amiga?
I started my Amiga adventure in the early 1990s, when my brother and I got the Amiga 500.
What are your Amiga configurations and what do you do with them?
Currently, I have Amiga 500, 600, 2000, 1200 and CD32. All of them play their respective roles in the development of new hardware and software solutions.
What was your main Amiga projects before you created Retro 7-bit?
Before Retro 7-bit came to life, I had been a pretty regular Amiga user. The only exception to that rule might be a short period of time in the early 2000, when I designed two Amiga adapters called PARalizer and SpeedCOM. In order to manufacture and sell them, I had established a company called S-Bit.
Can you introduce Retro7bit?
To be precise, Retro 7-Bit is a brand. It was created on the spur of the moment. One day, as I was going to use my A1200, its original mouse died. Since I did not have any other Amiga mouse on hand, the need to connect a regular USB one emerged. This is how I came up with the Rys USB adapter.
Rys USB Adapter
I design the hardware all by myself, but during subsequent stages of the typical project, I get some help from other people. The core of my little team includes my brother, Jacek, and Milosz Staszewski (k7).
Did you need some help with your company and did you plan to recruit additional staff?
On the Amiga side of things, I do not hire anyone. There are, however, several volunteers helping me out with the beta testing process.
Can you summarize your main hardware products? (just a list with name of the product and a little description)
Wicher 500i Ex
When the work on Wicher 500i started, considering its size and complexity, it was my most significant project to that date. But it all had started earlier, with a very simple turbo card Wicherek14. Wicherek14 allowed installation of 14 MHz CPUs in A500/A500+/A2000, but did not provide any additional RAM. The next evolutionary step brought memory controller and hard drive support. It materialized into Amiga 500 Expansion port-attached Wicher 500. As the time went on, the project transformed into Wicher 500i.
Why did you not supply the 68000/68010 processor with the Wicher 500i?
There are two reasons for that: firstly, it is a simple matter of cost reduction, and secondly, these CPUs are not RoHS certified.
What are the differences between the Wicher 500i and the Wicher 500i rev.2c?
The main difference between these two cards is in the support for 16-128 MB SIMM modules, which translates into the fact that AmigaOS can access 12.5 MB of Fast RAM. Wicher 500i rev.2c provides also the MAPROM function and allows IDE hard drive controller to use PIO 0-3 modes.
Did you plan to make an accelerator also for Amiga 600?
I haven't thought about that, but who knows? ;)
Did you plan to make accelerators with faster processors like 68060 or the Apollo Core?
I am a proponent of both FPGAs and MC680x0 CPUs. Most probably my future projects will try to embrace both.
You also annonced the Wicher CD32, an accelerator for the CD32. What are its specifications? Do you have an idea of its availability and its price?
Wicher CD32 should be available any moment now. Its main features include 11.5 MB Fast RAM support, MAPROM function, IDE controller and ClockPort connector.
Some of your products have firmware (Rys USB, Rys MKII, Sum 600, Sum 1200...). Since it's designed for the Amiga, did you plan to make the updating of the firmware possible directly on Amiga? (it's only possible on Windows for now)
In order to do that, there should be a USB stack available. Unfortunately, this cannot be taken for granted in the Amiga world. Therefore, using Windows compatible software seems to be the most reasonable solution.
Did you plan to market (or remarket) your old parallel and serial adapters PARalizer and SpeedCOM?
To be honest, I did not. I am not really sure, if there would be any demand for these old products.
Which of your products sell the best?
Definitely the most popular one is Rys MKII.
On your website, we can see an Atari button. Which Atari projects did you plan?
At the moment, I am working on an Atari 520/1040ST expansion card that will provide fast memory and an IDE controller.
Which tools and software did you use for designing/making your products?
The tools that I am using for designing my products are all Windows-based.
What are your next projects for the Amiga?
I will take the liberty of not giving away my plans. ;)
It seems to have lots of good Amiga hardware makers in Poland (Elbox, RastPort, Archi-Tech, CS-Lab, yourself, etc.). Did you think the Amiga Classic market is now big enough for such strong competition?
Certainly, at the moment there is a high demand for new expansion cards and other classic Amiga-oriented products. However, building one's business specifically around the Amiga market sounds like a really risky decision. Most of the companies you mentioned seem to perceive Amiga market as an addition to their respective regular activities. Because the founders of these companies are Amiga fans, they try to respond to the most obvious Amiga hardware market needs.
Which of the hardware projects/products of the Amiga community impress you the most?
I find Apollo Accelerators (Vampire) the most impressive one.
What is your opinion about AmigaOS 4, MorphOS and AROS?
I have not used any of them.
What is your opinion about AmigaOS 3.1.4 and the legal battle about its release?
It is great that AmigaOS 3.1.4 has come into existence. Unfortunately, this continuing legal turmoil does not bode well for the future of this AmigaOS line. I really, really hope that one day all the AmigaOS IP rights will find a single owner and further development will be possible.
Is there a question I didn't asked you, and that you want to answer to?
I don't think so. ;)
A last message for the Amiga community?
I really want to thank all those of you, who buy my products and by doing this back the future projects. You make it happen!