I used the following (your hardware and OS may differ, and in most cases that is entirely fine):
- Amiga 1200 running Workbench 3.1 on a HDD (again, the OS version and HDD are not relevant but are what you will see in some images below)
- Windows PC running XP, Service Pack 3
- Null Modem Cable
In my case, and I believe in most cases, you need a 9-pin female port for the PC and 25-pin female port for the Amiga side. In technical terms the cable is called DB9F/DB25F. The cable I purchased on Amazon can be found here. - Note that the pictures on Amazon, if you zoom into the product photo, these cables literally say “null modem” on them. It’s quite important to get the real deal and not some cable that looks like it will fit. Several resources I encountered (including Amiga Forever) made a point of getting “the real thing” or to expect com port communication errors.
They should look like this:￼
- Amiga Explorer (AExplorer) which you can find here
Once installed on the Windows side, Amiga Explorer can self-install to the Amiga over the serial cable without requiring any additional software, but the Amiga must be able to boot first (e.g. with a Workbench disk, at least version 1.2)
First, let’s set up the connection.
With the power off, plug your serial cable into the back of your PC and your Amiga. Be sure you plug the cable into the Serial port on the Amiga, not the Parallel port! They look the same. On my machine, you can see the serial port clearly labelled in the attached photo. Turn on both computers once the connection is solid. (I don’t screw the cables in as once I finish transferring files I unplug, but that’s up to you.) Turn on your Amiga and launch Workbench. Find your Prefs folder and then the Serial program (the icon may look different than in the picture below depending on your version of Workbench). Double-click Serial and copy the following settings: Now boot your PC.
In Windows XP (or a similar version of Windows) right-click on My Computer, select Properties > Hardware (tab) > Device Manager > Ports (Com & LPT) > select Com port
This took me a couple of tries as I I wasn’t sure which com port was which on my PC that I was plugging into. In the end mine tuned out to be Com Port 1. Yours could be different depending on your peripherals. Regardless, your settings on Windows should be set like this: Note how the PC settings are nearly the same. At this stage your Amiga and PC should both be on, connected, and ready for the final step: installing Amiga Explorer (think of AExplorer as a file browser on your PC of your Amiga) on your PC.
Launch the AExplorer installer, if you haven’t before already. It will start the Setup program. If you had tried to launch it in the past in vain, right-click on the icon and select “Setup” from the menu to begin a series of pop-ups like you’ve never seen before! But it’s all good. You’ll then encounter a series of pop-ups about your hardware setup (which you’ve already done) … And your version of Workbench… You’ll see another reminder about the port settings on your Amiga (and PC) that you’ve already done…. And then finally you’ll be asked to reach over to your Amiga to perform a few simple tasks on the Amiga side... After the install is complete, theAExplorer program will be installed for you on your Amiga in your RAM disk. I've since moved my AExplorer to my Workbench partition, which is the most logical place for me for regular use.
If you double-click the AExplorer icon on your Amiga, it will show you a brief screen of the port settings then suddenly vanish. Don’t be fooled - it is still running in the background. But now if your Amiga Explorer program on the PC side is launched, you’ll encounter a wonderful file browser … of your Amiga's file system! You can now easily drag files to your RAM disk (or wherever, if you have a HDD) to do as you please. Note that not all files can simply be transferred and launched (e.g. ADF files of your favorite game) as alas there are more variables involved. But there are many files that you can download on a PC and move to your Amiga, and vice versa. This is the beginning of what will keep your Amiga relevant for years to come.
I've also created a semi-short video of this exact same topic where I walk you this this process and discuss some of the additional benefits of Amiga Explorer - particularly file management and ADF creation and transfers to disk.