General Category > Amstrad CPC hardware

CPC Laptop.

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Hi all,
     I decided to start my "Winter project" and as discussed in an earlier thread, I thought I'd take a go at making a decent CPC Laptop. So here's the plan...

The Laptop I've chosen is a Compaq LTE Lite/25E:

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Craigsbar kindly sorted out two 6128+ PCBs, both of which are supposedly fried, but I'm hoping to get at least one of them back to life. If I get one working, here's plan-of-attack:

1 - Get one of the plus PCBs working.
2 - Swap LCD and build a controller interface (it currently has a mono 10in which I need to swap to colour).
3 - Find some way of using the laptop keyboard with a CPC.
4 - Build an 18V to 5V / 12V switch-mode PSU so that I can use the original Laptop PSU.
5 - Beat the PCB and new bits into the laptop case.
6 - Build an interface to allow that cool trackball in the lid to work as an AMX mouse.
7 - Add the expansions: X-mem and HxC - Possibly a CPC booster with bluetooth module too.

Other than that my goals are: All original CPC ports available at the back. No external parts. Laptop must be closeable as designed.
Use original power button, use the original LED points for the HxC, power and AMX LEDs, ie: it should look like original on the outside, except for an Amstrad badge :). I've dropped the idea of using the laptop batteries because the originals are both dead. I also don't think I can get the floppy to fit inside, so the HxC will replace it. I will hardwire a cartridge inside with AmsDOS/ParaDOS.

This will be a looooong project, but I'll document it here as I progress.


Dr Tiger Ninestein:
Nice one Bryce, can't wait to see the finished product.

Just started the investigation... Unfortunately the previous owner or person who attempted to repair it didn't own a Torx screwdriver, so it took a while to get the damaged screws out, but here's what's inside:

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At the top you can see the computer module, below from left to right is the battery (12V 2.2AHr - now 0AHr), in the middle is a dinky Seagate ST9144A (120MB 44pin IDE, haven't checked whether there's anything on it yet) and on the right a Citizen VIDA-15B (26pin, but with ready signal and seems to work fine). Just incase there's any Compaq fans out there, cursing my children because I'm destroying a perfectly good laptop, I'm not - It's fried. The LCD inverter is dead, the flat cable to the lid is torn and the power PCB is fried. Here's the space I have inside. It's 270mm wide, 200mm deep and 25mm height, so a plus PCB will fit inside if I remove the cartridge riser and cut off the "finger" with the external floppy connector. There's some internal walls that I'll have to remove and I might need to add some other support then for the keyboard. Luckily the keyboard mounting point are on the case and not on the PCB like newer laptops.

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10in my arse! The viewable screen area is 8.4in diagnal. The lid is 20mm deep though, so any modern LCD will fit inside. On the right you can see the inverter which will be scraped and below it is the trackball - Seperate PCB: Win! Alps controller, probably RS232 or PS/2: Second win!

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The keyboard is rather flat with a membrane that obviously won't match the CPC matrix, so I'm thinking of making a PCB with microswitches to lay under it, hopefully there's enough space for that.


Just in case anyones interested, here's the actual PC that was inside that module:

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That black box is a 7.2V battery, there's also a CR2430 for the RTC and BIOS. There's three PCBs sandwiched on top of each other. On the second picture you can see the socket for a co-pro which wasn't fitted. Right underneath it is the 386SL with zero cooling :D What were they thinking! (Starting to sound like Dave in one of his EEVBlog teardowns, must resist using words like Fair-dinkum, Hum-dinger and Bobby-dazzler :D - Greetings Dave). You can see the regulator under that plastic strip too. It's made to be easily replaceable through a door on the side, so they obviously weren't convinced about its reliability, and rightly so, this one is fried too.

But enough waffling about 386s, time to check out the two 6128+ PCBs that arrived this morning :)


Quick update: After the disappointment of the first donor PCB having a dodgy ASIC, I took a look at the second one and hoped it wouldn't be the same. It had some strange mod which involved several cut tracks, jumper wires to the back of the floppy port and a chip (74LS32) piggy-backed onto IC7 (74HC14 which also had a pin cut). Not sure what this mod did, but because of all the messing about on the PCB and the fact that the CPU, AY and NR02 had all been removed from the board, I though this would be in a worse state than the first one. However, it booted to a blue border with yellow window - A classic sign of dead RAM in the lower 64K. One quick swap later and re-installing an AY and CPU (I also replaced the cut 74HC14 just for good measure) and we have a fully working plus PCB!! Yaaaa the laptop mod can continue! The floppy hardware works, but it seems the upper 64K is dead too, so I need to swap that later when I have time.

Next step after that is to remove the right section of the PCB (the bit with the floppy port and filter with red wires). Without removing that it wouldn't fit in the case. Luckily this can be removed as it only contains the wires to the port (no longer needed) and a single power track which I can bridge.



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