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General Category => General Discussion - Introductions => Topic started by: Amstradan on 16:30, 21 December 19

Title: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: Amstradan on 16:30, 21 December 19
Hello


I am new here, so please forgive if this post is in the wrong place!


Recently I was impressed by the wave of "mini" versions of old consoles and systems being re-released either with Raspberry Pi internals or something similar. I have a RetroPi running and enjoy emulation in general (I also have owned several vintage CPC systems and sold them again). I think they're so popular because they're retro content, packaged up in a modern, easy to use "plug n play" interface.


I'm interested in why no one has produced an Amstrad CPC "Mini" version. Lately the C64 Mini (with working keyboard and HDMI output/side-loadable ROMs via USB) was released and I got one, and it's ace.


I saw a thread on here ([size=78%]http://www.cpcwiki.eu/forum/other-retro/amstrad-cpc-mini/ (http://www.cpcwiki.eu/forum/other-retro/amstrad-cpc-mini/)[/size]) but I don't think that user got a decent answer as to what's blocking someone from making one of these machines. I'd really like to have a stab at putting together a plan to do this.


By a lucky fluke, I think I may know and be able to get access to the person who would be able to permit use of the Amstrad brand, and some of the software/games that people would want to see on the thing.


Having taken the C64 mini to bits and put it back together I think I know roughly what would be required to produce such a thing but I'm not deeply technical - I'm a Product Manager by trade, and launching new ventures is my thing.


I think there's clearly a market for such a product, and marketing and distribution channels ready to go to bring it to customers. 


Does anyone know of any roadblocking issues (Technical, Legal, Operational) why producing such a thing would be impossible?


What does the community think?


Cheers!
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: zeropolis79 on 16:47, 21 December 19
Can't see any technical reason why it couldn't happen.

However, the rights holder Sky have been bitten by the Sinclair Vega Plus and withdrew permission for any of the Sinclair properties to be used, so having so many problems with that, they might not want to licence the CPC for such a project.
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: TotO on 17:19, 21 December 19
Sky own the Amstrad name, but not sure they own any right about the CPC.
I have ear that Alan Sugar wanted to recover his brand... May be for that...
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: Gryzor on 17:51, 21 December 19
Name is one thing; you can call it something else if need be, but what about its looks? Can you have something looking like a CPC if you're not Chinese?
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: dragon on 21:29, 21 December 19
Why a company that only make pay tv decoders should want manufacture a computer where they no are in the game market?.


Null interest that's all.
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: asertus on 22:02, 21 December 19
Name is one thing; you can call it something else if need be, but what about its looks? Can you have something looking like a CPC if you're not Chinese?


If people of MSXVR (https://msxvr.blogspot.com/) can do it, with minor tweaking it should be possible, shouldn't it?
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: robcfg on 22:36, 21 December 19
Because MSX is just a specification, or a standard, not a product per se.


You can see that the MSXVR does not mimic a known MSX model.


If Sky holds the rights for the CPC designs, then you’ll have to ask permission to use or mimic them.
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: Gryzor on 23:28, 21 December 19
Oh look! An Oric Atmos with inverted colors! 😄
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: reidrac on 23:43, 21 December 19
I'm not sure I would like anything that "looks" like a CPC but is just a SoC running an emulator. I don't get the C64 mini and I don't get the The C64 (although is a full keyboard; still an emulator with a more or less fancy UI frontend).

If it is a SoC (call it a Raspberry Pi if you want), does it really matter that looks like a CPC?
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: Gryzor on 23:48, 21 December 19
I tend to agree with the logic, and it's certainly sound. But here's the thing (and I can't explain it) - my MiST was one of the best buys I ever did! Something about the FPGA...I really don't know!
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: reidrac on 00:20, 22 December 19
I tend to agree with the logic, and it's certainly sound. But here's the thing (and I can't explain it) - my MiST was one of the best buys I ever did! Something about the FPGA...I really don't know!

But the "mini" concept, as far as I know, is not FPGA.

I've been running VICE bare metal on a Raspberry Pi plugged to my CRT with composite video and it feels different than emulating on my regular PC. I'm not too familiar with the C64, but it feels like that thing when I test one of my CPC games on my 464 first time after months of development using an emulator: it plays better, like more fluid!

I don't have a lot of time to tinker with the real hardware, but then I don't think I would use a mini CPC either. That doesn't mean is not a brilliant idea, just not for me :)


EDIT: may be I lost my point :D What I tried to say with my reference to running VICE bare metal is that the emulation has latency and delay, FPGA improves that and I don't know if can be close to zero (but the emulation can be more accurate). VICE bare metal has ~90ms audio delay compared with ~360ms of the C64 mini, and 0 in a real C64 ;)
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: Amstradan on 15:37, 22 December 19
Can't see any technical reason why it couldn't happen.

However, the rights holder Sky have been bitten by the Sinclair Vega Plus and withdrew permission for any of the Sinclair properties to be used, so having so many problems with that, they might not want to licence the CPC for such a project.


Yeh good point. I think RCL tried to bite off more than they could chew with the vega (new handheld form factor) and their supply chain let them down from what I can tell but perhaps you're right Sky may be soured to the whole concept of licensing. They DID state they weren't expecting royalties from the usage rights though, and quality was the issue...


"Sky did not receive royalties for the use of the brand - any royalties due were payable to charity - and allowed its use in good faith. Due to the consistently substandard build quality of the units tested, and the continued failure of RCL to deliver on its promises, we have unfortunately been forced to withdraw the licence."
[/size][/color]
[/size]I wonder if you walked in there with a working prototype, a manufacturing plan and costed BOM, a distributor, and some software license agreements they'd go for it?[/color]
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: Amstradan on 15:42, 22 December 19
Sky own the Amstrad name, but not sure they own any right about the CPC.
I have ear that Alan Sugar wanted to recover his brand... May be for that...


That's interesting, I wonder what Lord Sugar wants from it, other than it's his name!?


I think Sky own the whole of Amstrad's IP but I don't see any patent protection on the design of the system that're in operation now. I'd need a legal view of course... 
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: Amstradan on 15:43, 22 December 19
Name is one thing; you can call it something else if need be, but what about its looks? Can you have something looking like a CPC if you're not Chinese?


Yeh good question - I searched for patents from Amstrad still in operation and didn't find anything. I wonder if any protection still exists?
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: Amstradan on 15:45, 22 December 19
Because MSX is just a specification, or a standard, not a product per se.


You can see that the MSXVR does not mimic a known MSX model.


If Sky holds the rights for the CPC designs, then you’ll have to ask permission to use or mimic them.


I think you're right about Sky's ownership. Kind of the hardest thing here (and I think I have an "in"!) is finding the relevant people and dusty documentation within Sky to unlock the answers to some of this stuff...
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: Amstradan on 15:54, 22 December 19
I'm not sure I would like anything that "looks" like a CPC but is just a SoC running an emulator. I don't get the C64 mini and I don't get the The C64 (although is a full keyboard; still an emulator with a more or less fancy UI frontend).

If it is a SoC (call it a Raspberry Pi if you want), does it really matter that looks like a CPC?


Totally fair point, and I also agree that my RetroPi does a great job of scratching my personal retro gaming itch but here's thing thing: the CPC was a mass market consumer electronics product and its simplicity and "plug n play" nature indicates that folks like us are the minority.


My working hypothesis is that of the approx 2.5M CPC customers worldwide, there's a bunch of folks who would like to revisit their youth but can't be arsed with all the tinkering / are time-poor and want something that "just works".


And as to looking like a CPC I would say that design and the "feel" of something absolutely does matter to a lot of people. Most folks in fact wouldn't know a SOC from a Sock and don't give a monkeys what's on the inside or wouldn't understand or care if you tried to explain it. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck...and quite right too why should they care?


Retro content, but modern simplicity of accessible interface - C64 and SNES Mini prove there's a market for that, I guess the only question is "Why not Amstrad CPCs yet?" :)



Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: zeropolis79 on 08:33, 23 December 19
From what've heard, Amstrad sold up to Sky for in 2007 for£125 million. Apparently, Amstrad were responsible for selling BSkyB 75% of the set-top decoders.
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: GUNHED on 13:41, 23 December 19
Well, what would be a great thing? Easy to explain:

- Something you buy in a case and you switch it on and it works
- Emulates the CPC6128 (and maybe other CPC/Plus models)
- Has at least 512 KB expansion RAM (Dobbertin / dk'tronics / Revaldhino compatible)
- At least 512 KB expansion ROM
- Some kind of mass storage device, usable with the native OS (HxC like thingy maybe)
- Keyboard of course
- Joystick port of course


Such kind of thing would sell like crazy, in addition PDT and me could add SymbOS and FutureOS from the beginning. Also other often used ROMs could be added. Then this option would be great:

- Being able to start in different configurations
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: SkulleateR on 00:28, 24 December 19
@GUNHED (http://www.cpcwiki.eu/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=2029)


On the point ! I also would love to see some kind of simple interface so you can adapt existing hardware extensions or create new ones  8)
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: GUNHED on 00:39, 24 December 19
Thanks! Also it would be nice to have the expansion port, but one can think about a "all in one box" solution. But - really - it would be great to get it cased and not just some kind of PCB which need lot's of work to get it startet.  :)
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: SkulleateR on 13:24, 24 December 19
Yes, it definitely should be "ready-to-use" like :


open box -> connect PSU and HDMI -> turn on TV and "CPC-Mini" -> GO !


That is what would sell such a beauty, other people who love to fiddle around with technics/PCB/anything already got a Rasp Pi I guess  :P
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: Gryzor on 13:28, 24 December 19
So, with "ROMs" included? Amsoft?😄
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: SkulleateR on 13:39, 24 December 19
So, with "ROMs" included? Amsoft?😄


Should be the goal, yes ! I don't think it would sell very good without them ...
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: Amstradan on 15:56, 24 December 19
Thanks! Also it would be nice to have the expansion port, but one can think about a "all in one box" solution. But - really - it would be great to get it cased and not just some kind of PCB which need lot's of work to get it startet.  :)


Yes that's exactly what I had in mind :)


Kind of similar to Alan Sugar's approach if we're honest!
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: Amstradan on 15:59, 24 December 19

Should be the goal, yes ! I don't think it would sell very good without them ...


@SkulleateR (http://www.cpcwiki.eu/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=3124) Agreed, this should be the goal. I have a hypothesis that you could bundle the Amsoft games (licensing may still be available from Sky) and a selection of others that were possible to get / abandonware-state or made commercial sense to reward via royalties in extreme cases.


I guess I'd start with a list like this one, and work through it one at a time looking for bundling opportunities!


What do you think?


https://www.cpcwiki.eu/index.php/Top_games (https://www.cpcwiki.eu/index.php/Top_games)
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: SkulleateR on 16:04, 24 December 19
Some of the bundled games should match high quality standards to get this going, but I think the overall list of games is a secondary goal.


The first impression of the "CPC Mini" will decide for the customer about to buy or not to buy .... and that's definitely this "ready-to-go" thingy  ;)
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: Amstradan on 16:06, 24 December 19
Yes, it definitely should be "ready-to-use" like :open box -> connect PSU and HDMI -> turn on TV and "CPC-Mini" -> GO !That is what would sell such a beauty, other people who love to fiddle around with technics/PCB/anything already got a Rasp Pi I guess  :P 
Exactly what I would want to play myself if I'm honest! Some sort of launcher or similar system or the Locomotive BASIC UI on boot. The C64 Mini works this way and it's really cool.
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: Amstradan on 16:09, 24 December 19
Some of the bundled games should match high quality standards to get this going, but I think the overall list of games is a secondary goal.


The first impression of the "CPC Mini" will decide for the customer about to buy or not to buy .... and that's definitely this "ready-to-go" thingy  ;)


Yeh totally.


As an update I had my first conversation on this topic today with someone I know at Sky. She seemed interested (her first reaction was actually "OK, so we'd do a revenue share on the license?") and said she would find the right people in the IP/Legal team to answer the questions about the Amstrad brand, the hardware design protection and Amsoft titles in January...


Progress made!
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: Gryzor on 17:52, 24 December 19
Oooh...
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: dragon on 22:02, 24 December 19

Yeh totally.


As an update I had my first conversation on this topic today with someone I know at Sky. She seemed interested (her first reaction was actually "OK, so we'd do a revenue share on the license?") and said she would find the right people in the IP/Legal team to answer the questions about the Amstrad brand, the hardware design protection and Amsoft titles in January...


Progress made!


Mmm, that's a complicate thing. Because every country  probably have her favorite games and probably not by am soft.


I am sure here you need implicated dinamic,opera soft and other older  company's. And find where are the rights. Same from France etc etc..


And you need an emulator adapted to the device.
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: SkulleateR on 23:04, 24 December 19
And you need an emulator adapted to the device.


Not quite, if you do a real "CPC Mini" you will rebuild the chips in a FPGA ;)


And even if you use a already available mini computer like Rasp Pi, the point is not to see anything from the emulator in the first look when you connect and power it on  8)
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: GUNHED on 02:45, 25 December 19
Absolutely! Hardware, not software.  :)
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: Amstradan on 11:25, 26 December 19

Mmm, that's a complicate thing. Because every country  probably have her favorite games and probably not by am soft.



Agreed. I think the Amsoft titles are a good "base load" of software if I can get hold of it, as was their original purpose in 1984.

I guess the question is what software would be compelling in each territory, or globally? Some kind of survey is in my near future I reckon... :)
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: Amstradan on 11:37, 26 December 19

Not quite, if you do a real "CPC Mini" you will rebuild the chips in a FPGA ;)


And even if you use a already available mini computer like Rasp Pi, the point is not to see anything from the emulator in the first look when you connect and power it on  8)


So I suppose the question is what noticeable / meaningful difference is there between rebuilding the original tin in an FPGA over building an Amstrad-like UI on top of a raspPI and booting direct into that on powerup.


I'm assuming the FPGA option takes longer and is more complicated to do / is a less common skillset to hire (I only have limited experience with FPGA/SOC design and build) but will provide a "truer" CPC experience in the OS, but is all that extra effort and cost worth it in performance of the games and software vs a quality and tuned emulator on a raspPI?


What do you think?
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: TotO on 11:57, 26 December 19
Before thinking about a CPC Mini, it will be nice to have some good CRTC implementations to properly run all programs.
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: GUNHED on 17:22, 26 December 19
Absolutely!  :)
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: Amstradan on 19:12, 26 December 19
Before thinking about a CPC Mini, it will be nice to have some good CRTC implementations to properly run all programs.


Hey @TotO (http://www.cpcwiki.eu/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=290)  - please can you educate me about what CRTC implementations means? Just learning as I go here so please assume I know nothing!
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: SkulleateR on 20:54, 26 December 19
Hmmm, maybe we don't have to go far ... isn't there an Amstrad FPGA Core for the ZXUno ???
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: Amstradan on 21:39, 26 December 19
Hmmm, maybe we don't have to go far ... isn't there an Amstrad FPGA Core for the ZXUno ???


@SkulleateR (http://www.cpcwiki.eu/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=3124) is this what you meant? Looks pretty cool...



http://www.cpcwiki.eu/index.php/FPGAmstrad
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: SkulleateR on 21:51, 26 December 19

@SkulleateR (http://www.cpcwiki.eu/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=3124) is this what you meant? Looks pretty cool...



http://www.cpcwiki.eu/index.php/FPGAmstrad (http://www.cpcwiki.eu/index.php/FPGAmstrad)
... and also -> http://www.cpcwiki.eu/forum/amstrad-cpc-hardware/fpgamstrad-on-zx-uno-a-little-2011's-cool-fork/msg153945/#msg153945
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: Gryzor on 10:17, 27 December 19
MiST has its own CPC core too.
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: Lone on 15:00, 27 December 19

Not quite, if you do a real "CPC Mini" you will rebuild the chips in a FPGA ;)


And even if you use a already available mini computer like Rasp Pi, the point is not to see anything from the emulator in the first look when you connect and power it on  8)


You can use an emulation core, with no OS at all : It will look almost like it directly boot from the CPC itself.
I made a sort of Proof of Concept of it, with Sugarbox core build for Raspberry pi 3, without any OS.
A short demo can be shown here

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9sj5ZJMNrLQ

Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: TotO on 16:45, 27 December 19
Funny 60Hz speed-up?!  ;D
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: GUNHED on 18:09, 27 December 19
IMHO it's all about stability... and Windows gives us nightmares. I wouldn't mind a software solution, but my stomach sticks with hardware.

However, it's better not to mix up hardware and software emulation IMHO. On the other hand borders seem to melt.  :)
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: dragon on 19:10, 27 December 19
Agreed. I think the Amsoft titles are a good "base load" of software if I can get hold of it, as was their original purpose in 1984.

I guess the question is what software would be compelling in each territory, or globally? Some kind of survey is in my near future I reckon... :)


The thing is these days in the amstrad era was know here as the spanish software Golden era. So many famous  games here where  the spanish games.They are gifted with the computer.  Also I not known if they sell well outside spain.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_age_of_Spanish_software (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_age_of_Spanish_software)
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: TotO on 21:01, 27 December 19
Hey @TotO (http://www.cpcwiki.eu/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=290)  - please can you educate me about what CRTC implementations means? Just learning as I go here so please assume I know nothing!

Hey @Amstradan - The CRTC (Cathode Ray Tube Controller) is a circuit that, on CPC, combined with the Video GateArray (GA), that handle the Adresses and Data signals to display the data stored into the main RAM. Unlike the GA, the CRTC is a standard component that you can found on any old PC graphic card and manufactured by different brands as Hitachi, Motorola and UMC. On CPC, some models from those manufacturers was used by Amstrad on 464/664 and 6128 range of computers (as some Z80 CPU brands was used like SGS, not only Zilog).

But... When the first games/demo using the CRTC registers to do hardware effects (scrolling I think), it was observed that some CPC not worked properly (more skilled peoples from the demo scene can explain that better than me). So, peoples started to open the CPC to discover that... And CRTC was classified using digits each time the advanced features and compatibility was not the same as expected. Really more informations here: http://www.cpcwiki.eu/index.php/CRTC (http://www.cpcwiki.eu/index.php/CRTC)

To properly emulate all the CRTC used on CPC, it is mainly a timing problem and most of the emulators fail to do that because the Operating System latency. Today, as we know, only ACE does that properly. And we can expect that SugarBox now on Pi can acheive the same and at the best place to be used into a Mini CPC.
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: SkulleateR on 13:50, 28 December 19
So let's assume we really want to make a sellable "CPC Mini" for the public, we should consider a reasonable price for it. No one (or at least the most) would not buy a "CPC Mini" for a price of a real CPC +


So it has to be affordable, let's say a maximum of 80€ perhaps.


If you consider that, the MisT is out of play. The only way to achieve such low price would be a RaspPi, maybe a cheap older model, not the 4 with a REAL good emulation with no need to tickle the OS below (even if it´s a real tiny OS).


Or : you will find a really cheap FPGA Board which can be adapted with the FPGAmstrad Core .... but then the chip rebuild inside the FPGA should be perfect
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: Gryzor on 13:54, 28 December 19
Yes, the MiST is expensive, but then again it's built in small numbers and with a big enough FPGA to accommodate bigger systems...
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: Amstradan on 15:56, 28 December 19
Hey @Amstradan - The CRTC (Cathode Ray Tube Controller) is a circuit that, on CPC, combined with the Video GateArray (GA), that handle the Adresses and Data signals to display the data stored into the main RAM. Unlike the GA, the CRTC is a standard component that you can found on any old PC graphic card and manufactured by different brands as Hitachi, Motorola and UMC. On CPC, some models from those manufacturers was used by Amstrad on 464/664 and 6128 range of computers (as some Z80 CPU brands was used like SGS, not only Zilog).

But... When the first games/demo using the CRTC registers to do hardware effects (scrolling I think), it was observed that some CPC not worked properly (more skilled peoples from the demo scene can explain that better than me). So, peoples started to open the CPC to discover that... And CRTC was classified using digits each time the advanced features and compatibility was not the same as expected. Really more informations here: http://www.cpcwiki.eu/index.php/CRTC (http://www.cpcwiki.eu/index.php/CRTC)

To properly emulate all the CRTC used on CPC, it is mainly a timing problem and most of the emulators fail to do that because the Operating System latency. Today, as we know, only ACE does that properly. And we can expect that SugarBox now on Pi can acheive the same and at the best place to be used into a Mini CPC.


Thanks so much for taking the time to explain that to me @TotO (http://www.cpcwiki.eu/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=290) - that is a great education!


So your vote would be (if we're going the software emulation route, rather than the FPGA route) for using the SugarPi as @Lone (http://www.cpcwiki.eu/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=886) showed in their YouTube clip?
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: TotO on 19:03, 28 December 19

So your vote would be (if we're going the software emulation route, rather than the FPGA route) for using the SugarPi as @Lone (http://www.cpcwiki.eu/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=886) showed in their YouTube clip?
As all the Mini MAchine are emulator based (Nintendo, Sega, NEC, SNK, Sony, Commodore, ...) I will said yes.
Now, the accuraty will be always on the electronic side, so a day the FPGA solutions will probably do best.
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: Duke on 21:59, 28 December 19
But... When the first games/demo using the CRTC registers to do hardware effects (scrolling I think), it was observed that some CPC not worked properly (more skilled peoples from the demo scene can explain that better than me). So, peoples started to open the CPC to discover that... And CRTC was classified using digits each time the advanced features and compatibility was not the same as expected. Really more informations here: http://www.cpcwiki.eu/index.php/CRTC (http://www.cpcwiki.eu/index.php/CRTC)
Initially the problems were discovered with demos using fullscreen. Adjusting the screen to the left (>50 on reg.2) would crash on a CPC with CRTC type 2. I remember solving many early demos by just sending out &bc00,3:out &bd00,5 before running them as they would go fullscreen (yeah I always had CRTC type 2 regardless of what CPC I bought back then, sucked !:P)
Later many other differences were discovered.
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: chinnyhill10 on 00:36, 29 December 19
Oh dear, and there was me hoping the CPC would be spared the pox of 'mini' consoles.


They are all horrible, and run on the lowest hardware spec possible.


I'm not worried though. It will never happen. The C64 only happened because C64 users were dumb enough to crowdfund it. That lot would pay for a dog turd with a C= logo on it (and some may say that's exactly what's happened).
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: SkulleateR on 02:43, 29 December 19
I'm not worried though. It will never happen. The C64 only happened because C64 users were dumb enough to crowdfund it.
Not quite true ! First of all, this is an idea of the community, not a company that wants to make a lot of money ! Also you cannot put all the C64 "Mini" consoles in one bucket ... there was the C64DTV (which was great) and the C64 Mini and the C64 Max ....


I´m hoping this will come true to give people that want to get into the Amstrad "Scene" what they deserve : an easily accessible way to play those classic CPC games and "maybe" start producing software for it
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: TotO on 14:25, 29 December 19
Initially the problems were discovered with demos using fullscreen. Adjusting the screen to the left (>50 on reg.2) would crash on a CPC with CRTC type 2. I remember solving many early demos by just sending out &bc00,3:out &bd00,5 before running them as they would go fullscreen (yeah I always had CRTC type 2 regardless of what CPC I bought back then, sucked !:P)
Later many other differences were discovered.
I was enough lucky to never meet CPC with CRTC type 2 in 80's.  ;D
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: SkulleateR on 15:27, 30 December 19
Ok, just a small list to have an overview :So that´s 54€ overall ....
That is WITHOUT a case, because it has to be something special, something that should look (almost a bit) like an Amstrad CPC. We don´t have the emulator yet and we also have to decide if it should be an internal keyboard (which I would prefer, but that would be expensive I think) or external. We also have to be aware of the copyright thing.
Is anyone into the FPGA "Scene" ? Are there any cheap boards that could run FPGAmstrad, or is there another FPGA rebuild we could use (of course we have to ask if we are allowed to use it) ?
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: TotO on 16:11, 30 December 19
Properly emulating the CPC probably do not require the Pi4 power.
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: SkulleateR on 16:15, 30 December 19
Properly emulating the CPC probably do not require the Pi4 power.
No it doesn´t ... but the older models are not cheaper, or I just haven´t found them  :o :-\
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: Gryzor on 16:17, 30 December 19
A Zero would probably be enough, though no reason to use it other than space?
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: SkulleateR on 16:24, 30 December 19
Yes, forgot about the Zero, that woud be 19,90€ ... but I dunno if Sugarbox (or another emu) would run on it ... but yes again, cost reduction is doable  8)
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: Amstradan on 16:41, 30 December 19
Yes, forgot about the Zero, that woud be 19,90€ ... but I dunno if Sugarbox (or another emu) would run on it ... but yes again, cost reduction is doable  8)


That's so exciting! I think we need WiFi for many reasons so if its a zero it must be the Zero W.


@Lone (http://www.cpcwiki.eu/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=886) - what do you think? You have SugarPi on a Pi3 I think?


I reckon the production of cases with integrated USB keyboard will be expensive at low volumes (even more so if it requires some provider to tool up) but the CPC design so critical to what we're trying to achieve!


A mid-fidelity design prototype (does anyone know of a 3D print model for a CPC464?!) for demonstration purposes is probably a good investment to showcase the vision and help get those license holders interested.


The question is: how should it look? To lower the plastic use, I had envisaged pretty much copying the CPC464 design of white text, black keys with the correct coloured ones in place, the arrow keys and keypad to the right, but then "chopping off" the tape drive and stopping the unit there. What does everyone think? What would you want the CPC Mini to physically look like?
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: SkulleateR on 16:46, 30 December 19
I think to make it as cheap "as possible" it should be a case without keyboard, so everone can use what he prefers.
How about a kind of little version of the CTM640/644, little bit painted with blue on the front, USB Ports should be heading where the Monitor and PSU cables came out on the original to plug in the keyboard ? Just my 2cent  ;D
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: Gryzor on 16:50, 30 December 19
That's probably the wisest choice, for people who would be interested in one. The tape drive area could be used as storage (SD cards, what have you) but it'd add quite a bit. Still it'd be weird without it...
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: Amstradan on 16:55, 30 December 19
I think to make it as cheap "as possible" it should be a case without keyboard, so everone can use what he prefers.
How about a kind of little version of the CTM640/644, little bit painted with blue on the front, USB Ports should be heading where the Monitor and PSU cables came out on the original to plug in the keyboard ? Just my 2cent  ;D


Ha! So the reverse of the CPC, the computer is in the "screen" instead of the keyboard? That has a certain ironic logic to it!


One of the main complaints of the C64 Mini was the lack of keyboard, but they did start without one for a reason, probably cost!


If we are going the "no integrated keyboard" route we could look at a custom Pi case that looks like a CPC, which would be relatively cheap and perhaps be spiritually closer to the original?
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: Amstradan on 17:07, 30 December 19
That's probably the wisest choice, for people who would be interested in one. The tape drive area could be used as storage (SD cards, what have you) but it'd add quite a bit. Still it'd be weird without it...


Yes I know what you mean. The tape drive is about 1/4 of the width of the computer so it'd be quite a different "feel" to the thing. I like the idea of using it for ports though, perhaps more like the CPC6128 with a flat non-functional "top" and the USB ports where the 3" disks would have gone in?
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: Gryzor on 17:26, 30 December 19
Good idea, though I think the 464 is more iconic? Or is it just my idea?
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: GUNHED on 18:29, 30 December 19
We should got for a CPC74160. The 7 marks the improvement compared to the 6. And the 4160 marks the 4160 KB instead of 128 KB RAM. The 7 series provides more ROM (= Flash! At least 1024 KB). And some integrated expansions (f.e. PlayCity, MultiPlay, X-MASS, LS3 etc.).  :)
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: Lone on 23:03, 30 December 19
I first aimed to produce something that can be as simple as a "mini Gx4000". Mainly because it's simple to have something complete and usable : A single pad is easy to use, and can also be bundled on a complete "mini something" if needed.
Also, any modern pad can be used.


More than that, all games can be on cartridge (CPR) format. It's simple to run (insert & reboot), no need to keep somewhere a "run" command.

The emulation run on a Raspberry pi 3 (no os). I think with maybe a little work, it should also run on a PI2 (I don't have any pi2 to test at the moment).
On the contrary, I'm not optimist to run it on a pi zero board (I can run at about 150-200% of the real speed on a pi3).

Unfortunately, running it on a pi2, pi3 or pi4 doesn't change the cost (almost same cost for all of these boards). The true cost change should be running it on a pi zero, which should be quite challenging (Sugarbox is aimed to be very precise : each z80 M and T cycles are emulated, for example).

Beside that, I have a single Amstrad emulation core, that is used for various project (Sugarbox, some tools for disk or tape conversion, this SugarPi project, a new Sugarbox version designed to be cross platform, and a libretro core). That means that I will be able to switch from this Gx4000 to a complete Amstrad 6128+ emulation (or other) easily later. Also, a fix in the core (or a better handling of any CRTC, to be more specific) should be dispatched on this project quite easily.

Problems I have, are currently realted to synchronisation : I can ask the display to be 50hz and sync with it, but I still have some glitches (due to sound not being fed correctly, as the CPC can be a little different than this 50hz I have on my TV). I also tried to sync with sound, but I still have problems with it by now and it's not really good.

To be complete with the project, it's designed to be open source : The main core is available on github, and so is the libretro core (although it's quite experimental, and it's not running really well for some reasons (not related to emulation) ). I'll plan to release the SugarPi repository as soon as it will be more stable, and as soon as I'll have made some continus integration with crosscompilation (the build is pretty painfull to set up by now).



Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: scruss on 05:30, 31 December 19
Hi - was invited here from Amstradan's reddit thread.
I rather like TheC64 Mini as a consumer product, as it appeals to the 99% of C64 users who:I'd suggest that adding all the extra RAM and cartridge options would add too much to the cost and appeal to only a few hundred potential users.

The C64 Mini's apparently based on a customized open-source OLinuXino board - https://www.olimex.com/Products/OLinuXino/open-source-hardware
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: TotO on 09:41, 31 December 19
Something like "Mini" (17x17 cm), but more for native CPC developers.  ;)
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: Arnaud on 10:14, 31 December 19
Something like "Mini" (17x17 cm), but more for native CPC developers.  ;)

What is this ? A new CPC motherboard ?
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: TotO on 10:16, 31 December 19
A mini-ITX form factor of my X-CPC, yes. (can be extended to Mini-DTX to provide eight expansion slots)
Here, intended to fit into a little PC case and provide multi-CRTC switch for demomakers or other developers.
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: robcfg on 10:46, 31 December 19
Are those ISA or PCI sockets?
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: TotO on 10:52, 31 December 19
Are those ISA or PCI sockets?
Standard CPC edge slots. On DTX-CPC there is some extra pins to output tape/parallel/RGB signals to the backplate if required.
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: Audronic on 00:22, 01 January 20
@TotO (http://www.cpcwiki.eu/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=290)


X-CPC ?


Ray
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: scruss on 16:16, 01 January 20
Something like "Mini" (17x17 cm), but more for native CPC developers.  ;)
Nice — extremely nice, in fact — but too expensive for a mass-market device. Single-core ARM SBCs wholesale for about the same price as a through-hole Z80.
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: TotO on 17:44, 01 January 20
Nice — extremely nice, in fact — but too expensive for a mass-market device. Single-core ARM SBCs wholesale for about the same price as a through-hole Z80.
Sure, but it is not intended to be for a mass-market. Here, the parts cost is around 60€.
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: SkulleateR on 20:52, 02 January 20
Sure, but it is not intended to be for a mass-market. Here, the parts cost is around 60€.
Not included the production of the PCB I guess ? Is this X-CPC 100% CPC compatible ? How much would be the price for a populated board (just estimate) ?


This looks reeeeeeeealy nice  :o 8)
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: TotO on 21:38, 02 January 20
Not included the production of the PCB I guess ? Is this X-CPC 100% CPC compatible ? How much would be the price for a populated board (just estimate) ?
This looks reeeeeeeealy nice  :o 8)

- Including the PCB
- 100% compatible
- 60€ is populated (99€ expected with the case)

I don't intend to ask to pay for my assembling time as peoples don't ask to pay for programming demo and games.
I hope this will be a good tool for OrgAms and other native developers usualy going to events with their CPC.
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: radu14m on 08:40, 03 January 20
Amazing News and Work ToTo !!!!
can't wait to see and buy it  ;D
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: GUNHED on 17:54, 05 January 20
The X-CPC ist the perfect new CPC and also the perfect start for a local area network of CPCs.  ;)
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: reidrac on 18:18, 05 January 20
- Including the PCB
- 100% compatible
- 60€ is populated (99€ expected with the case)

I don't intend to ask to pay for my assembling time as peoples don't ask to pay for programming demo and games.
I hope this will be a good tool for OrgAms and other native developers usualy going to events with their CPC.

Would it be too much pressure if you open pre-orders now?  ;D
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: CraigsBar on 18:32, 06 January 20

You can use an emulation core, with no OS at all : It will look almost like it directly boot from the CPC itself.
I made a sort of Proof of Concept of it, with Sugarbox core build for Raspberry pi 3, without any OS.
A short demo can be shown here

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9sj5ZJMNrLQ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9sj5ZJMNrLQ)


Looks great, Would you consider sharing your SD card image by chance?
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: Lone on 00:03, 07 January 20

Looks great, Would you consider sharing your SD card image by chance?


Here is the current build. Be aware of the following things :

* Limitations :
- It's probably highly instable. It's not really tested, and there is lot's of research going on.
- It require a joystick plugged into USB port to start. Only one I own is a XBox controller, don't know if it's working with others
- I didn't tested any keyboard, but it's not implemented at all. So, don't expect it to work.
- It try to get a 50hz display. I don't know how it is working if none is found (my old Samsung 931BW is able to do it, so I didn't try any more tests)
- There could be sound craking quite often. I believe it's due to my sync with VBL, that could possibly provoke sometime empty buffers for sound. It needs to be reworked.
- There is a menu implemented. Unfortunatelly, due to frame refresh, it's not always displayed. If you experience any freeze because of menu call, just skip it ("use A button to validate and return to emulation) and retry.
- I find a character font somewhere on the web (a free one). Unfortunatelly, it does not contains "space" character, so there is no space in it..

* Usage 
- Uncompress the zip to your SD card. Populate the 'CART' folder with any CPR you want to test. I just put 3 demos and the default Amstrad Plus cartridge, but all other CPR I get were running correctly.
- Put in your pi3 (didn't test on any other), plug your favorite controller, and power on the pi.
- It should boot and display the CRTC3 demo in the following few seconds.
- There is a menu, sometime displayed.
   - Call it with "Select" button.
   - Use the arrow up/down to select what you want to do and press A. In fact, only "Reset" and "InsertCartridge" are implemented.
   - For cartridge selection, it open a list with all CPR present in CART folder. make your selection and press A. It will reset the emulation with your CPR plugged.

That's all (and far from what could be called an "alpha" release).

Expect more news when Travis will be setup for automatic build. I think I will, then, post updates from time to time.


Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: Animalgril987 on 22:29, 09 October 20
Is there still interest in CPC Mini? If so, I'd like to chip in my twopence worth:
  Laptop sized keyboard
  Built-in Li-Ion batteries and charging circuit
  Built-in fill-up screen.
Ie a "laptop" CPC.
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: GUNHED on 14:55, 11 October 20
Sure! I have _very_ much interest in such great projects.
In case there is interest I can provide a special version of FutureOS for such a great new CPC.
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: Lone on 21:19, 13 October 20
Sure! I have _very_ much interest in such great projects.
In case there is interest I can provide a special version of FutureOS for such a great new CPC.


Actually, as the main core is "Sugarbox" one, it should support FutureOS without any trouble (it support at least the older version I have !)
About this project : I didn't work too much on it recently, but I just reinstall the while toolchaine yesterday, to make it better.
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: Skunkfish on 13:27, 14 October 20
I've not got much interest in a CPC 'mini', but something more akin to the 'Spectrum NEXT' I could get on board with.
FPGA based, CPC-inspired case with keyboard and the ability to connect original peripherals if required...
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: TotO on 13:40, 14 October 20
A CPC "Next" like a Spectrum Next will be probably able to run 80% of the existing programs properly.
While the GA/ASIC, FDC and all the CRTC will be not properly reproduced into a FPGA.
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: Skunkfish on 14:26, 14 October 20
I've not tried any FPGA implementations of the CPC, is the Amstrad CPC core for MiSTer that incompatible?
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: arkive on 17:09, 14 October 20
I've not tried any FPGA implementations of the CPC, is the Amstrad CPC core for MiSTer that incompatible?

I doubt it very much, but I'm always up for testing, if you guys can tell me what with.

EDIT: from MiSTer's wiki:

Quote
Features
  • Precise CPU timings including proper contention model.
  • Precise CRTC model supporting many tricks of Types 1 and 0.
  • 2 disk drives
  • Disk write support.
  • Close to real disk drive emulation with support of some protections.
  • Selectable CPC 6128/664 mode with separate ROM sets.
  • Multiface 2.
  • Several monochrome modes and 2 types of palette (GA/ASIC).
  • Selectable expansion ROM loading.
  • Joystick support with up to 3 buttons (2 on MiST)
  • Kempston, SYMBiFACE II and Multiplay mice.
  • HQ2x and Scanlines FX for scandoubler.
  • Tape input through UART header (MiST) / ADC board (MiSTer)
  • Support *.CDT tape files.
  • Tape output through speaker.
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: scruss on 19:51, 18 October 20
Built-in Li-Ion batteries and charging circuit
Ooh, that little ask makes any device a logistical nightmare to ship. Anything with lithium batteries triggers a whole new set of shipping rules. Some countries only allow them to go by ground freight.

The Pinebook Pro (https://www.pine64.org/pinebook-pro/) is about as cheap as you can go with all that hardware.
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: capilam on 16:05, 20 January 21

If people of MSXVR (https://msxvr.blogspot.com/) can do it, with minor tweaking it should be possible, shouldn't it?


The MSXvr project got permission to use the MSX name and logo from Kazuhiko Nishi himself, as he owns the rights to the MSX branding.
Title: Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
Post by: Gryzor on 16:55, 20 January 21
Damn that MSXVR looks nice... Basically, they've stayed very true to the MSX spirit.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxa2aAZnMR8&feature=emb_title