Author Topic: Tips for CPC newbie - please! :)  (Read 2103 times)

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Offline abraXXIous

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Tips for CPC newbie - please! :)
« on: 03:01, 11 April 13 »
Hi guys,
I am new to the forum but am an old dog with regards retro - I have retro systems from the original sixer woody 2600, CBM Pet, Apple II, C64, Atari 800 etc, right up to modern remakes such as the Minimig, Evo ZX, Amiga One etc.
For some reason I have neglected the Amstrad CPC... until now! I want to purchase an Amstrad CPC, upgrade it and run Symbos, classic games and homebrew. I am an old hand with a soldering iron and am experienced with rom upgrades (jiffydos etc in C64s) and modern storage systems (UltraSatan, SIO2SD, MMC64, IDE64 etc etc), so this should not pose a problem.
What I would like is some tips on the best path to take. For instance, I was looking at purchasing an Amstrad CPC 6128+, however I am now leaning towards the standard 6128 as the plus is apparently hard to come by and is more difficult to upgrade.
Is this the right path to take? I was going to get a CPC 6128, external 3.5" floppy adapter cable, psu and drive. A scart monitor cable so it can plug into a nice lcd tv and some rom upgrades.
From the little research I have done I see Parados or Romdos are the way to go... which should I choose? Pros? Cons? Also, it seems you can have more than one rom. How? Is there some form of rom board like on the Amiga where you can have 3 sets of roms on a rom switch board?
Is there some form of SD device available for the CPC 6128, like the Satandisk/UltraSatan/Sio2SD/Sd2Iec etc?
Any help tips would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks guys.

Offline steve

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Re: Tips for CPC newbie - please! :)
« Reply #1 on: 05:16, 11 April 13 »
For instance, I was looking at purchasing an Amstrad CPC 6128+, however I am now leaning towards the standard 6128 as the plus is apparently hard to come by and is more difficult to upgrade.
Is this the right path to take? I was going to get a CPC 6128, external 3.5" floppy adapter cable, psu and drive. A scart monitor cable so it can plug into a nice lcd tv and some rom upgrades.
From the little research I have done I see Parados or Romdos are the way to go... which should I choose? Pros? Cons? Also, it seems you can have more than one rom. How? Is there some form of rom board like on the Amiga where you can have 3 sets of roms on a rom switch board?
Is there some form of SD device available for the CPC 6128, like the Satandisk/UltraSatan/Sio2SD/Sd2Iec etc?
Any help tips would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks guys.

The CPC6128 is much easier to get in Britain, if you can, get a colour monitor as well, as the lcd may produce slightly different colours, Parados is probably the better choice, you can get romboxes which typically hold 8 roms but they are RARE! and expensive, so you may be able to get a "megaflash" from Bryce, this device is 512KB of flashrom which can be loaded with up to 32 rom "images", and is much easier than trying to find original 16KB roms.
There is the Hxc floppy emulator which uses an SD card, the advantage with this device is it can probably be used with all your old floppy disk based machines.
« Last Edit: 05:19, 11 April 13 by steve »

Offline Bryce

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Re: Tips for CPC newbie - please! :)
« Reply #2 on: 11:06, 11 April 13 »
Hi AbraXXIous,
      I wouldn't fully agree that the classic 6128 is easier to upgrade, but it's definitely easier to fix when it goes wrong. The Plus has a few feature advantages over the classic, but not enough to warrant the search, the classic has lots of space and many mods available.
As far as multiple ROMs are concerned, I assume you are talking about OS and Firmware ROMs (as you mentioned Amigas Kickstart solutions). With the CPC it looks like this:
Classic 6128: 2x internal ROMs, one holds the firmware and BASIC, the other holds the DOS. You can have multiple versions of both internally, by using the same trick you've probably used on your C64 to add JiffyDOS (Bigger EPROM with switch to toggle the MSB). I have also made a LowerROM expansion, that allows you to replace the Firmware/BASIC ROM without messing abouzt inside the CPC.
CPC+: These two ROMs are in a single EPROM in the cartridge, the computer has no internal ROMs.

The other ROMs (as mentioned by steve) are sideways ROMs, comparable with the cartridges on a C64. These can contain utilities, games or whatever and are usually installed on an old ROMBoard or a modern solution such as my MegaFlash.

Also as steve mentioned, there's the HxC. Unlike the Commodore / Atari which communicate with the drive through a serial connection, the CPC, is pretty much Shuggart standard, so the HxC (which you may already have for your Amigas) works fine on any disk based CPC.

The CPC monitor port offers RGB,Sync and LUM, so there are SCART cables available to connect to a modern TV, or alternatively, I have made an S-Video adapter, which I prefer due to it being a more managable cable. 

As far as alternative DOSs are concerned, I use ParaDOS because it does what it says and seems to be the preferred choice, but I've never tried ROMDOS, so I can't advise on which is better.

Bryce.

Offline arnoldemu

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Re: Tips for CPC newbie - please! :)
« Reply #3 on: 11:28, 11 April 13 »
From the little research I have done I see Parados or Romdos are the way to go... which should I choose? Pros? Cons? Also, it seems you can have more than one rom. How? Is there some form of rom board like on the Amiga where you can have 3 sets of roms on a rom switch board?
parados supports all the formats that romdos does and Parados is better. I would go with that.

Yes you can have up to 16 roms without a patched OS. The hardware supports up to 256 roms, but if each allocates a small amount of work ram, then you'll have less ram space available. Most roms are utilities, but more and more we're seeing game roms appearing.

I would use a megaflash and install the roms you use most into that.

ROMS are available from basic and they can install their own commands which are accessed by putting a | symbol before them.

It's a similar system to how the BBC micro does it.




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Offline abraXXIous

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Re: Tips for CPC newbie - please! :)
« Reply #4 on: 11:29, 11 April 13 »
Hey guys,


firstly, thanks for the help - I really appreciate your taking the time to "get me in the know" with regards the CPC.


Bryce, do you sell a complete multi rom/bios solution? If so, can you please PM me some details and price? :) Anything else you built for the CPC might be of interest to me too - I looooove modding/upgrading retro systems and I have a feeling I am going to really enjoy playing with the CPC.


Oh, is there such a thing as a dual/stereo AY for the CPC? Like Dual Sid or Dual Pokey?


Have you guys had much to do with Symbos? If so, is it usable in 128 kb?


Lastly, are there any available ram upgrade kits for the CPC 6128?

Offline steve

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Re: Tips for CPC newbie - please! :)
« Reply #5 on: 15:40, 11 April 13 »
There is the DK'Tronics 256KB memory expansion, but it would be difficult to find on ebay (SUPER-ULTRA-RARE!!!) :laugh: , if you want to warm up your soldering iron there are a couple of DIY upgrades - up to 4MB.

See here Peripherals - CPCWiki

Offline arnoldemu

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Re: Tips for CPC newbie - please! :)
« Reply #6 on: 15:56, 11 April 13 »

Bryce, do you sell a complete multi rom/bios solution? If so, can you please PM me some details and price? :) Anything else you built for the CPC might be of interest to me too - I looooove modding/upgrading retro systems and I have a feeling I am going to really enjoy playing with the CPC.
Bryce has done a megaflash to allow you to have 16 additional roms (expansion roms such as wordprocessors, utility roms, other DOS roms, and some games).

He has also done a lowerrom board so you can replace the OS. (so you can install the fw 3.1)


Oh, is there such a thing as a dual/stereo AY for the CPC? Like Dual Sid or Dual Pokey?
It has been talked about, but nothing has happened yet. It would be a cool thing to have.

Lastly, are there any available ram upgrade kits for the CPC 6128?
Yes, various. Up to 4mb is possible.

Reality is that most software will only use up to 128k ram, there are very few at the moment that use more.

There are other devices. Hard drive interface (rpalmer has done one) is one example.
SDCard interface for reading files from sdcard is in progress.

The digiblaster can be connected to the printer connector to give 8-bit sampled sound output.

there are other more simple ones like drive switches, side switch, reset switch, enabling 2 joysticks.

Hopefully plenty to get started with :)

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Offline Bryce

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Re: Tips for CPC newbie - please! :)
« Reply #7 on: 16:02, 11 April 13 »
Bryce has done a megaflash to allow you to have 16 additional roms (expansion roms such as wordprocessors, utility roms, other DOS roms, and some games).

It actually allows you to have 32 additional ROMs, not 16 :)

Bryce.

Offline rpalmer

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Re: Tips for CPC newbie - please! :)
« Reply #8 on: 22:53, 11 April 13 »
And I still have a few left to sell. If anyone has a need for one.

I am also now looking at making a SD card interface to work with a new version of the ethernet interface as the main chip (CS8900) is now difficult to get and the alternative chip ENC28J60 uses less communication lines and so frees up the available ones for a SD interface.

rpalmer

Offline Badstarr

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Re: Tips for CPC newbie - please! :)
« Reply #9 on: 23:34, 11 April 13 »
@ Rpalmer Hard disk interface? Hell Yeah I will have one! How much what OS is it compatible with etc etc..,? ? ?:-)
Proud owner of 464 GTM64 6128 GTM65, GX4128 and a 464/6128 Plus Hybrid a 20 year long ambition realised! :-)