Archives of Genesis8 Amstrad Page from 1999 to 2020 about hardware, page 2 / 18





CPCDiskAdapter by LambdaMikel

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CPCDiskAdapter by Michael Wessel is an universal Floppy Disk Drive Adapter for the Amstrad CPC. It's a PCB which lets you connecting disk drives other than the standard Amstrad DD1 / FD1 drives to the CPC via the disk controller, which usually requires some floppy cable mods. Moreover, these mods usually fix the drive to either being CPC A or B drive.

With this adapter board, one can flexibly use the DIP switches to select 2 out of 3 possible disk drives, and flexibly determine which one is A or B. Moreover, no more (destructive) cable mods are required with this board.

The following drives can be used:

  • the standard Amstrad DD1 / FD1 3" floppy
  • standard PC 3.5" floppy (with READY signal if possible)
  • 5.25" floppy (with READY signal if possible)
  • Gotek floppy drive

If the drive does no emit the READY signal, then it can be "faked" by grounding the READY line with the corresponding READY DIP switch (this is a standard CPC floppy cable hack)

CPCDiskAdapter's PCB

disk drive cable

Amstrad CPC's disk drive tower

Amstrad CPC and disk drive tower




The MIDI converter (in python) by LambdaMikel is available

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The python converter of MIDI music files written by Michael Wessel in python is availabe. It let you play MIDI files on an Amstrad CPC with two hardware expansions :

Source of the MIDI player in Z80 assembly is available.




Upgrade your Amstrad CPC disk drive with the ACME cover

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You are so used to it, but the cover of your Amstrad CPC disk drive has some informations. Why not getting an upgrade of these informations by getting the one made by Frédéric Bellec (ACME web site) ? It's available in azerty and qwerty, and in english.



Replacing the Megadrive ASIC of a MegaPC by Keropi

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If you still didnt buy the MegaCard to upgrade your MegaPC, there is another useful upgrade. Replacing the Megadrive ASIC on the ISA card as it's an early version with a bug. Beware, you need to be careful when removing the bugged ASIC and putting a new one coming from a Megadrive donor. It will let you use flash cartridges with more success like the MegaEverdrive PRO (other source here).





Replacing the Amstrad CPC Gate Array ?

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The first project for remplacing the Gate Array did start in 2016. It is finished by Gerald, the author of the C4CPC used on CPC+. The difficulty is getting the components to build it...

The second fonctionnal project but still being worked is the one by Bread80, go see his videos on his Twitter account.

Third project more recent, the one by SerErris as a CPLD who was inspired by the thread of the first project.

The Gate Array has also being remade for emulations solutions using FGPA.

A new Gate Array would also mean to be able to add new features !



First looks at the Ultimate CPC MIDI Sound and MIDI Interface Card by Amstrad Noob

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I am not alone to be interested by using MIDI on Amstrad CPC : blog Amstrad Noob did write about it some days ago : First looks at the Ultimate CPC MIDI Sound and MIDI Interface Card.

A video is now available.




UniDOS v1.37 by Offset, the lord of the DOS to rule them all

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Something I should have written about much sooner.

These last years several expansions allows you to use mass storage (USB or sd...) on Amstrad CPC, each needing a ROM to use it correctly.

And if you use two of these expansions, you will need to load two ROMs, so less RAM for your Amstrad CPC.

So Offset did write UniDOS and drivers to be able to use another expansion, needing only one ROM with features being the same whatever the expansion. Unidos can manage actually :

Offset also wrote UniDOS Cartridge Creator (v1.4) which is an utility to create Amstrad Plus cartridges equipped with a patched firmware which allows to add UniDOS and its DOS nodes. You can furthermore configure up to 30 additional tool ROMs (such as Utopia, Maxam, Protext..) in the cartridges (compatible with ParaDOS and Burnin' Rubber) without requiring a real ROM board. The tool also let you automatically download the latest UniDOS ROMs from the official web site.



Play MIDI music on Amstrad CPC with a Python converter and a player by LambdaMikel

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Michael Wessel (LambdaMikel) has written a python converter of MIDI music files which can then be read on an Amstrad CPC with a player with at least 2 hardware expansions (with 512 Kb support and soon 4 Mb support) :

MIDI was the ultimate sound during the msdos era before windows 95 and the coming of audio card with samples like the Gravis Ultra Sound, it is time that MIDI arrives on Amstrad CPC.




Connecting a Raspberry PI on Amstrad CPC from CPC-Cplink to Soyuz (by Abalore)

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There are actually two fonctionnal ways to connect a Raspberry PI to your Amstrad CPC :

There is also another WIP project by Zhulien : the CPC / Raspberry Pi Bridge Card, but for more recent informations you must read the thread Raspberry PI on CPC.




Building the World's Newest Amstrad CPC 464 by Noel Llopis

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Noel Llopis has made another very interesting video : the making of a totally new Amstrad CPC 464 from a new PCB made by Bob's Bits Replica Boards.

For this first try, he didnt try to add more RAMs, ROMs or existing expansions, for the future maybe ?

Other videos with the hastag #janstrad will be released by other creators with the same idea to create some new old hardware




An Amstrad CPC DDI-1 (for 464) modded with a memory expansion by Zaxxon

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Tjjq44 on System.cfg has modded an original Amstrad CPC DDI-1 disk controller for 464 with a memory expansion by Zaxxon, see the photos below and a video on youtube of the Amstrad CPC 464 loading programs from the DDI-1.

It's necessary to unsolder the 50 pins connector in order to slide in the 512 Kb memory expansion by Zaxxon.

A micro switch let you activate or not the memory expansion.

A wire is used to bridge the +5v of the Amstrad CPC and +5v of the interface so you don't rely on FD-1's power supply anymore. Initially, there's a capacitor between those two pins, you can remove or leave it, it doesn't matter. (Amstrad had done this at the time so that when the user turned off his floppy drive the CPC behaved as if the extension was not present, it avoided having to disconnect the interface or type |TAPE as soon as he wanted to use a tape).

The pins 2,4,6 and 14 have been removed inside each 34 pin connector so that the +5v does not end up on the drive pins. (be careful when opening the connectors, the plastic can break easily).

The 2 small keyed lugs on each 34-pin connector have been filed down to allow connection of any type of drive: FD-1, 3.5 inches classic, gotek...

A switch makes swapping possible between drives, A becomes B and vice versa, practical if you have a gotek and a 3 inch connected simultaneously. For the drives to be recognized, it'll be necessary to ensure that the drive at the end of the ribbon cable has its "drive select" jumper set to 0 and the one in the middle to 1 (no need to do this on a FD-1 , it will respond in any case, its location on the ribbon cable determines whether it is A or B).

The original amsdos ROM has been replaced by a 32 kB amsdos/parados ROM (soldered without stand due to insufficient room). The choice is made by setting pin 27 to 0v (amsdos) or 5v (parados). Currently it is hardwired to 0v because I no longer have micro switch on hand. (However it's not very serious, parados was very useful in order to have 720k of storage per physical diskette, with gotek storage is almost unlimited so we don't care much).

front of the modded Amstrad CPC DDI-1

back of the modded Amstrad CPC DDI-1

side of the modded Amstrad CPC DDI-1




SymbOS v3.1 by Prodatron is available for Amstrad CPC, PCW, MSX and EP

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SymbOS v3.1 by Prodatron, the multitasking operating system for Amstrad CPC and PCW, MSX and Elan Enterprise can be downloaded now.

There is an updated documentation in english of Symbos 3.1.

boot image of SymbOS v3 by Prodatron for Amstrad CPC

Release notes for 3.1 [30.12.2021]

Extensive hardware support

- Graphics9000 for CPC and EP: The V9990 based graphic card with its MSX origin, probably the most powerful one for 8bit systems, can be used on both the Amstrad CPC and the Enterprise 64/128 now, too. Resolutions of up to 1024x212 with 16 colours and fast graphic output is possible now on nearly all supported SymbOS platforms. This makes it possible to run about 50 different applications on three different platforms with this graphic card.
- SYMBiFACE 3 for CPC and EP: USB-mouse, realtime clock and USB memory stick with up to 2TB is supported directly in the operating system on both the Amstrad CPC and the Enterprise 64/128. Additional features of this extensive all-in-one hardware by TMT Logic can be used in specialized applications.
- PCW with uIDE and HxC direct access support: The Amstrad PCW is now able to access huge mass storage devices as well with sizes of up to 2TB. The uIDE8 interface by Jon B is supported for fast CF card access, which makes even video playback possible on the PCW. HxC direct SD card access is available as well.
- Graphics9000 with hardware mouse pointer: All G9K versions of SymbOS do now use the hardware cursor in bitmap mode, which makes a fast and flicker free mouse pointer possible.
- M4Board network RTC support: The NTP based Realtime clock of the M4Board is supported in SymbOS CPC.

Dynamic driver system for CPC and EP

- Hardware autodetection: During the booting process SymbOS CPC and EP is autodetecting all available and supported HID, RTC and mass storage hardware.
- Hardware autoselection: Available hardware will be autoselected with prioritisation of newer devices.
- CPC 1MB support: Memory expansions with 1MB or more are supported again. SymbOS will automatically switch to 1MB support during booting, if more than 576KB Ram are detected, so there is no need for a seperate version anymore.
- Minimal config for 128K systems: If SymbOS detects a system with only 128K, all additional features (extended desktop, screen saver, desktop background picture) will be deactivated automatically during booting. You will always have 31K or more free on your system.

SymAmp with advanced audio hardware support

- New driver system: A new driver-like system for including and managing hardware and sound module support has been added to SymAmp. All detected hardware is listed in a new dialogue window where you can select your prefered sound device.
- Enterprise 64/128 Dave AY emulation: The AY emulation by IstvanV and Geco is now official part of SymAmp and can play Soundtrakker 128, Starkos and PT3 modules with the Dave soundchip of the Enterprise 64/128.
- MP3 for nearly all platforms: MP3MSX and compatible sound cards (SE-ONE, SYMBiFACE 3) are now supported on the Amstrad CPC and Enterprise 64/128 as well.
- CPC PlayCity 6 channel Dual PSG: Finally we have PlayCity support integrated in the official release version of SymAmp.
- MSX Darky 6 channel Dual PSG: 6channel PT3s can be played on the MSX with the Darky catridge.
- PCW Dk'tronics AY board: SymAmp is now able to play Soundtrakker 128, Starkos and PT3 modules on the Amstrad PCW as well, if a Dk'tronics AY hardware expansion is connected.

Kernel improvements


- Memory management: The memory management has been optimized again. The system now searches for free transfer area space starting at the very end of the memory, when loading an application. This reduces memory fragmentation again.
- Relocation table handling: During loading an application the temporary relocation table is loaded to any free memory location, which can be in any 64K ram bank. This makes it possible to load applications which are using the full available 63K of one bank.

Graphics9000 fullscreen game mode


- P1 patternmode support: The Quigs IDE is now supporting screen mode P1, which provides two pattern layers, 127 sprites and up to 61 colours with a resolution of 256x212. Flappy Bird is the first game, which is using this and running on all supported platforms (Amstrad CPC, MSX, Enterprise 64/128)
- Graphics9000 interrupt handling: The kernel supports the handling of V9990 line interrupts. This can be used for enabling splitscreens in fullscreen games and will be supported by the Quigs IDE soon.

Desktop Manager

- Context menus: This new features allows an application to open a context menu at any place on the screen.
- Frame resizing and movement: The user can resize and move a dotted frame on the screen. This makes screen area selections possible.
- Modal window unclick events: The GUI sends an event, if the user is clicking outside of a modal window. This can be used for creating own complex dropdown menus.
- Transparent bitmaps: a new graphic control allows bitmaps with a transparent colour (0).
- CPC mode 1 textoutput speed: The speed of the textoutput routines has been increased on the Amstrad CPC in mode 1.

New applications since 3.0


- SymbOS E-Mail: The full functional E-Mail client is now available for SymbOS 3.1 (by EdoZ, using Quigs).
- Flappy Bird: This is the first game which is using the new Quigs IDE feature for creating fullscreen games on the Graphics9000 graphic card (by EdoZ & Trebmint, using Quigs).
- Sokoban: A very advanced implementation of the classic Sokoban game.
- ChessSym: The first chess application with a strong AI for SymbOS (by Trebmint, using Quigs).
- Doom: Play Doom in SymbOS - even multiple times! This 3D egoshooter has been ported from a TI-calculator to SymbOS (by zDoom team, NYYRIKKI, Prodatron)
- 2048: Another well-known game is now available for SymbOS as well (by Trebmint, using Quigs)
- DiskDumper: This dumps a complete floppy disc to a DSK file, used by Amstrad CPC emulators.
- VDP screen adjustment tool: Adjust the screen position and screen frequency of your MSX VDP or Graphics9000.
- Hexe: Simple Hex monitor and editor.

Miscellaneous

- Bug fixing: Bugs have been removed as usual, including the boot logo on the Amstrad CPC and PCW and the joystick handling on the Enterprise 64/128.



Amstrad CPC CRTC Compendium v1.1 by Longhsot, and a new version of Amazing Demo

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Longshot has released a new version of Amazing Demo and the Amstrad CPC CRTC Compendium which is a documentation about the CRTC 6845 (and some others circuits). Note that the CRTC is a generic component used in several computers including the IBM PC.

He made this demo compatible with all CRTC. The choice of Amazing Demo isnt harmless. A benchmark program : SHAKER (V1.8) comes with the compendium and shows several things stated in the document. Dont hesitate if you have a idea to add something in this document. A english version is being translated at the moment.

NoRecess wrote about this (in english)



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