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Following the last story about the Amstrad CPC 464 without its defective tape drive by Olivier Bruneau, here are the photos of the original CPC which inspired him by 6502man on System.CFG. What follows is a cut and paste of the System.CFG message, with the permission of 6502man.
I propose a unique model of AMSTRAD CPC. Yes, it is an unique model, never seen before.
For a long time, I had the idea to have an Amstrad CPC 464 without its infamous internal tape drive, whose design isnt nice (my own opinion). But at the same time, I asked myself a question : what would have been the first Amstrad CPC if it had been sold without the internal drive ? So from the question to action !
So after all these questions, and a lot of ideas dancing in my head, here is prototype without its tape drive, I present to yourself the Amstrad CPC 464 slim !
And it works.
How did I come to this result ? First, here is the original computer :
We start cutting the tape drive, without forgetting to keep the right side of the CPC box to close it later and to keep the ON/OFF and volume settings.
After sanding (big grain) then and using Water-based paper, we paste the cutted parts with fiberglass and filling with mastic, we also keep the cutted parts just in case we break a part of the CPC box.
We sand again with Water-based paper to smooth the mastic, then we apply a layer of white primer.
We put black paint, we replace the motherboard, the keyboard and we get a nice Amstrad CPC 464 without a tape drive.
For the electronic part, the ON/OFF button is connected on a card screwed to the tape drive, and without it you can't start the CPC.
I unwound the wires of the switch on the board, and then wound it to two 3,5 inch molex connectors to connect it instead of the original switch for switching on the computer with the original button (thanks to Irios for the correct wiring). The two molex connectors with only 3 wires are on the motherboard at the point marked with red on the photos below.
I also took advantage to put a ON/OFF LED also connecter on the smal card, connecteed to the electrical ground of the alimentation (hope translation is fine ???) and on the ON of the ON/OFF button, like this the LED keeps its function. But for the volume button, I keeped it with another use, like this no hole in the CPC box.
Here it goes, now some double face scotch for the metal plate, and the project is finished and functionnal.
AFTER (it's nice)
I reassure you, I did not sacrifice an Amstrad CPC 464 to do this tinkering, but in fact I recovered an empty shell of CPC 464. The rest had to go to the dumpster, and so I was able to realize my idea, otherwise I would have waited for a broken Amstrad CPC 464.
Olivier Bruneau has an Amstrad CPC 464 with a defective drive tape which he tried to repair, but without success. This tape drive could even make the 464 bug ! While he was doing research on internet, he found a forum where someone had the same problem and the radical solution he used. So he did the same thing : amputation of the defective tape drive. Well see below, happily even without the tape drive it's still possible to use the 464 with an incoming DDI3 USB Floppy Emulator by Zaxon.
Thanks to Olivier for letting me put his photo on the web site.
To load an Amstrad CPC tape (or a ZX Spectrum one), you can use the old method : using a tape player. Or you can do it like a geek and use Android phone with tapDancer Virtual Datasette, but it's still a bit low tech. So for the geeks used to the HxC floppy emulator or the Gothek USB, you can use the TZX Duino.
New version of the Amstrad CPC core for MiST by Renaud Helias is available. : robustness (quality of code).
And now he is working on an enhanced abbey of the crime version for Amstrad PCW.
This Next-Generation Speech Synthesizer for the Amstrad CPC 464 by Michael Wessel started with a breadboard and now a PCB. For the moment, they are 4 videos of the interface card on Youtube :
- Amstrad / Schneider CPC 464 Breadboard Connector
- CPC 464 Breadboard Adapter Demo - 7-Segment Display for CPC :-)
- A Next Generation Speech Synthesizer for the Amstrad / Schneider CPC 464
- Next-Generation Speech Synthesizer for the Amstrad / Schneider CPC 464 - First PCB Version
It uses an Emic 2, the other components in the design are : Atmega 328 for implementing a parallel (CPC) to serial interface, to bride from the CPC to the Emic 2; a 74LS373 flip flop, 2 G16v8 PLD's for address decoding and generation of the chip select signal, and some other gates. The hardware extension is at address &F9E1. The speech synthesizer requires almost no driver, since the microcontroller and the Emic 2 are implementing an intelligent interface. The Basic program shown in the videos is implementing a simple protocol, but basically, to talk to the speech synthesizer, one only needs to write bytes to port address &F9E1 (e.g., using OUT in BASIC). Interestingly, the interface from the CPC's parallel data bus to the Atmel was tricky to implement.
It isnt compatible at the momeent with the other Amstrad CPC synthesizers : Dktronics and SSA-1. Emic 2 requires Start- (S) and End-Token (CR) - whereas Dktronics and SSA-1 simply send the allophones. Emic 2 works buffered, asynchronously, Dk'tronics and SSA-1 work synchronously. To make it compatible with SSA-1 and Dk'tronics, it would a) need to translate between allophone bytes and Emic 2 "equivalents", and b) figure out start- and end-token and shuffle them into the data stream (maybe based on a speech pause timing criterion). Not so obvious. Speech won't be synchronous, but maybe doable.?
New version of the Amstrad CPC core for MiST by Renaud Helias is available. : TV mode with border and screen well centered.
After the reparation of an Amstrad Notepad NC200 by C-E, it's the turn of the reparation and modding of an Amstrad CPC 6128 (copy and paste of a CPCWiki message with the permission of C-E, thanks to him).
Last time I went to Spain I was digging in my old bedroom, that is basically a time capsule that takes you back to the 80s/90s, and I found my original CPC 6128 hidden in a closet along with the color monitor that came with it. There was also an old PC PSU I was using to power the computer, a 3.5" drive, a few home made cables... It seems that I put everything there when I was given a bunch of Pluses for free in 1997. After that, I was mainly using a 6128 Plus. The poor guy was pretty battered: very yellow keyboard that is probably not original (those keys look like coming from a Plus); a crappy ABBA switch hanging from a pair of cables; lots of scratches here and there...
However, despite its condition, this Amstrad is still very important for me. I spent my childhood with the machine, me and my friends played countless games on it, I used it to program a lot of crappy stuff and a few "games"... in summary, lots of great memories. So, when I came back to UK I brought the guy with me to restore and mod it :)
This is what I am planning to do:
- New caps
- Dual OS
- Centronics ports
- ABBA switch (a decent one)
- Reset switch
- Floppy drive restoration
and, if possible, internal RAM expansion.
Externally nothing will change besides the little hole for the reset switch and the case modification required to fit the Centronics ports. It will look like a Schneider 6128.
So... I finally had time to do something with my old 6128. It is still a work in progress but I thought that I could give you an update and show some pics :) . The first thing I did was just to remove the board from the case and clean it a bit. Here is how it looked before cleaning. It is a 6128 board version 2.
Then, I removed all the electrolytic caps, the 40015 and the solder that was filling the holes for the centronic ports. To remove the 40015 I simply cut the pins and then they were removed one by one. I was using the old good braid all the time. Here is the stripped board.
Before going on, I think that it is worth saying that it is NOT necessary to remove all the electrolytic caps in a CPC 6128. The only one that can be problematic if you install the 5VCPC is the cap near the power socket. Bryce found that if it is not OK the computer will likely reset. I just decided to replace them with high grade new ones because I felt like doing it, nothing else :) . In any case, if you decide to change the electrolytics, pay attention to one that is near the AY, it is a 50V 1uF NON POLAR cap.
The next step was to prepare the socket for the dual OS. I followed this tutorial from Bryce that describes all the necessary steps in great detail. This is my modded socket :
After this I recapped the board and soldered the socket in place :
Finally I installed the new ports. I attached them to the board first using screws and nuts and then I soldered the leads. There are quite a few, but it is still a reasonably fast process.
And it seems that it works... :)
There are still three clones left of the mouse interface sold for 27,50 € (France) or 31,50 € (worldwide). They are made by Talkrek, it's a clone of the Dk'tronics mouse interface created by Bryce.
The problem with a disk drive emulator HxC or Gotek for an Amstrad CPC 464 is that you still need a DDI-1 interface which is a disk drive controler. It's not anymore a problem with the DDI3 USB Floppy Emulator for Amstrad CPC464 by Zaxon which integrates the DDI and the USB management.
For more informations about the DDI3 USB Floppy Emulator go on Indie Retro News.
The video is done by Novabug.
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