Author Topic: CPC Newbie questions  (Read 2081 times)

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Offline Boom

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CPC Newbie questions
« on: 00:09, 25 July 13 »
Hey all, I'm just starting out with vintage computer collecting and an Amstrad CPC464 came my way, so I decided to get it.
Now originally I was a ZX Spectrum kinda guy and knew nothing about Amstrads until just a few days ago when I started playing around with the emulation and then getting the real thing.


I must admit, I'm actually rather impressed. It's a great machine.  I love how it simply connects to the monitor. Such nice, and tidy wires!  I'm impressed with my haul, the monitor is in pristine condition, sharp bright stable colourful image despite its age. Amazing :) 


OK so I have a couple of questions.


The only fault with the machine is the tape deck. Now it has no problems rewinding and fast forwarding tapes. But playing a tape seems to be a problem. The motors turn but the tape itself doesn't.  I realised that if I didnt click the play button all the way down, and held it 6/8th of the way down it would start to spin the tape, but it does play wonky. Tho amazingly I did actually get it to run a game by holding it down :)  I'm just curious if this is a common fault with an easy fix?  I did the line input mod and have been having fun running games via Tapir on the PC.


For the ZX Spectrum there is a DivIDE interface which plugs into its expansion port where you can then add an flash card to load a wealth of software in instantly.  Is there a similar third party expansion for the CPC?  I have been enjoying running software via disk images on the emulator and it does have a floppy drive port, so has any clever bugger made an expansion that makes the CPC think its got a super huge floppy disk in it which is actually a flash card?


Is there a key combination to reset the CPC? I'm finding myself having to power the unit off and on again at the side frequently (like when you get a load error). I dont like doing that too much.. old chips!!


OK waffled on enough now. Thanks in advance, sorry if a lot of this gets asked a lot.

Offline steve

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Re: CPC Newbie questions
« Reply #1 on: 00:41, 25 July 13 »
There is the HxC 2001 disk emulator, which can be used on many different machines including the CPC.
There are a couple of people developing CF hard drives.

Offline TFM

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Re: CPC Newbie questions
« Reply #2 on: 02:11, 25 July 13 »
Hi & Welcome here. Hope you like the forum.  :)
 
Is there a key combination to reset the CPC?

Yes, hold Control and Shift down, then press ESC. That makes a software reset.
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Offline Bryce

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Re: CPC Newbie questions
« Reply #3 on: 11:39, 25 July 13 »
Hi and Welcome,
            Regarding the tape problems, you should check the belt is ok, and give the mechanism a decent clean, that should solve your problems. The "needing to hold the button 6/8ths" is due to a small leaf switch, which you needs to be cleaned and possibly adjusted.
The HxC is a good option, but the 464 doesn't have a floppy controller built in, so you would need to source a DDI-1 expansion to use it on a 464. Personally, I'd recommend that you add a CPC6128 to your collection. If you have the correct monitor (the one with the 12V output socket), then you can use it with the same monitor.

Bryce.

Offline Boom

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Re: CPC Newbie questions
« Reply #4 on: 12:21, 25 July 13 »
Thanks guys for your warm welcome and suggestions :)


The HXC Floppy controller does look pretty much what I'm looking for, I was just looking and it does look like I need the DDI-1. So I guess it'll end up costing a pretty penny (assuming I can even source one!)  Would be a nice thing to get though.


Thanks for the suggestion regarding the tape drive. I will crack it open again and have a look. I'm not very mechanically minded with this sort of thing, and it looks a bit of a nightmare to remove the entire drive from them. I might see if there are any youtube videos of anyone doing it.

Offline Bryce

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Re: CPC Newbie questions
« Reply #5 on: 14:11, 25 July 13 »
You don't need (and you definitely shouldn't try) to dismantle the mechanical parts. In fact you don't even have to remove the unit from the CPC. Take a look at the pictures Markus posted here in a different thread: cpc464 problem with tape drive

Remove the two PCB screws marked red in the first photo. Now (in the second pictzure) you can see the belt and the two leaf switches I was talking about. Clean the contacts of both switches and check that they make proper contact when they chould (ie: when the play button or the record butto is latched). Remove any dirt / fluff or whatever and add some grease to the cogs that are visible. You'll have to remove the screw from the metal plate to change the belt. The correct belt is available on fleabay.

Bryce.

Offline Cholo

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Re: CPC Newbie questions
« Reply #6 on: 12:43, 27 July 13 »
Id just wanted to support the same suggestions as already mentioned:

Get a 6128 .. for so many reasons. Personally im a big 464 fanboy as i had one growning up, but that also made me aware of the many "hickups" you ran into compared to the 6128 owners.

- compatability: 464 was launched first with no native disc support & Basic/OS 1.0. Then came the 6128 with build in disc support, a upgraded Basic/OS 1.1 and even 64k ram more. Imagine opening a amstrad magaizine as a 464 user and look at the type-in section only to see the same message: This type-in is "6128 only". I guess it makes sense that most commercial games/programs was also all programmed towards the 6128 structure. If i was a developer i would certainly also make sure to program towards the "winning horse" aka the 6128. Sure there probably was people with a "Unicorn" setup of a 464+DDI-1+ram expansion. Problem with this "unicorn" is that it still dont match the 6128 "structure" .. aka 464 still didnt have basic/OS 1.1 or build in ram or disc.

- expandability: most expansions .. homemade or not .. has pretty much all been made to work towards the 6128 too. Like all you need to hook up a HxC to a 6128 is: a £1 standard pc cable. Its that simple.  (and a psu for the HxC of cause).

- price: DDI-1 is kinda rare/hard thing to get your hands on and that reflects on the price. Doubt you can get one from ebay for less than £100. Of cause you dont "need" a ram expansion either but that would cost in the similar region of £100. A trouble free 6128 you can probably get in the region of £40-60 with a bit of luck and they are pretty common too. Of cause i always suggest looking in your local "used items" magazines/sites as quite often you can find old amstrad hardware there at prices much cheaper than ebay.

Anyways, id stongly suggest getting a 6128 as for playing games/running software is all in all the easiest & most compatible. If you want the DDI-1 solution i wont stop you, but do note that its more technical, less compatible & in general feels like "you keep getting a little stone into your shoe" when trying to run software.

Other rantings:

On resetting the machine: The Crtl + shift+Esc does indeed work, but you will find that many commercial games has locked off the option, so youll end up needing to flick the on/off button anyway.

HxC cable: you may have seen quite a few homemade HxC cables on ebay. Do note that you just need a normal edge-to-floppy cable to hook up a HxC to a 6128. (Those cable on ebay is nice, but they are quite technical and tend to confuse people who dont know how or when to use those extra features that those cable has).
« Last Edit: 12:49, 27 July 13 by Cholo »

Offline TFM

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Re: CPC Newbie questions
« Reply #7 on: 20:45, 27 July 13 »
Cholo is right. Get a 6128, they are cheap to get, like here f.e.
 
Schneider cpc 6128 Computer nicht 464 mit Disketten Laufwerk | eBay
 
or with MP2 modulator:
 
AMSTRAD CPC6128 & MP-2 MODULATOR & SPIELE | eBay
AMSTRAD CPC6128 & MP-2 MODULATOR & SPIELE | eBay
 
Ok, the auctions are not over, and sometimes some crazies push the prices to insane. A bit a patience is a virtue here :)
 
And you can run FutureOS on an 6128 ;-)
TFM of FutureSoft
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Offline Gryzor

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Re: CPC Newbie questions
« Reply #8 on: 11:10, 30 July 13 »
Welcome mate!


The 464 is a beautiful machine, but for trouble-free retro use do get a 6128, or you're mostly stuck with tapes. Which is fine, of course, and coming from the Speccy no doubt you appreciate the beautiful loading sequences (and it's so much more reliable on the CPC - your tape deck problem notwithstanding), but it will only take you so far.


Also consider that you can use the HxC with pretty much anything, so it's a wise investment.


Again, welcome. Hope you stick around :)

Offline AMSDOS

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Re: CPC Newbie questions
« Reply #9 on: 11:20, 30 July 13 »
Hey all, I'm just starting out with vintage computer collecting and an Amstrad CPC464 came my way, so I decided to get it.

Good. I reckon a 464 with DD-1 Disc Drive and 64k Memory Expansion would make a nice combination and people seem to have spent more time rewriting BASIC 1.1 programs to work in BASIC 1.0. Not much can be said for the other way around.  :D
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Offline Gryzor

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Re: CPC Newbie questions
« Reply #10 on: 11:22, 30 July 13 »
Yes it's a nice combo; also, quite expensive.

Offline AMSDOS

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Re: CPC Newbie questions
« Reply #11 on: 11:31, 30 July 13 »
Oh yeah, that fault sounds like something we had when we had a 464, where our motor wasn't keeping a constant speed. It wasn't easily fixed cause the repair company had to get a part from the manufacturer (Amstrad?), and was nearly $100 and that was back in the late 80s. :(
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Offline Gryzor

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Re: CPC Newbie questions
« Reply #12 on: 12:33, 30 July 13 »
Must finally open my own 464, the Play button does not 'catch' unless it's pressed till it's actually below the plastic of the case...