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An Amstrad PCW core for Mister FGPA by Steddyman

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Steddyman did develop an Amstrad PCW core for the Mister FGPA project.

Version two of this core is out since today, it features :

  • Turbo support to 32Mhz
  • Expanded memory support to a maximum of 2MB
  • 3" and 3.5" disk support
  • Dual disk drives
  • PCW 8xxx and PCW9xxx model support
  • All hardware Joysticks and Mice supported
  • 4 colour mode support

You can see a youtube video of this core running an adventure game in 4 colours.



FlashGordon cards by PulkoMandy are available (rom board)

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FlashGordon by PulkoMandy is a Flash/ROM board and mostly a clone of Bryce's MegaFlash design, with a different flash chip and integrated mods for a reset button and "disable all ROMs" switch. It can be slotted on a Mother-X4, or plugged to the CPC with the appropriate cable (centronics or HE902 to HE10 female, 50 pins). It can store up to 32 ROMs, including optional replacement for ROM7 (need hardware mod on CPC6128/664 to disable the internal one, no changes needed on Plus and 464) and ROM0 (for use of the Hacker or straight-to-CPM boot or other foreground ROMs). Software is available to manage it (either ROMAN from PNG or TFM's RomManager) and will come pre-installed on the boards.

So there is a new batch of FlashGordon available if you are interested.



Mod Master XT beta 22 for your PC XT, listen to musical modules files

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A new version of Mod Master XT beta 22 by FreddyV is available on Vogons. It lets you hear a lot of music modules formats on any PC under msdos even a PC XT (CGA), for example an Amstrad PC 1512/1640 or a PPC 512/640...

New features are :

  • Fixed one bug for the Tandy Port config
  • Added OPL3LPT Support
  • Changed in the way the mixing buffers are managed
  • Added the support for the Tandy DAC output (DMA)
  • WARNING: Don't use Pause, it does not work.



    Two interesting videos on Mr Lurch's Things about the Amstrad PC 1640 et CPC 464

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    Two interesting videos on the Youtube channel of Mr Lurch's Things, the first one about the Amstrad PC 1640. This video did let me know that the PC-CD (Standard Color Display) monitor can of course display CGA but also low-res EGA (320x200 and 640x200 in 16 colors). The PC-ECD (Extended Color Display) monitor of course can display high-res EGA (additionnal 16 or 64 colors in 640x350). There also is a PC-MD monitor (monochrome).

    The second video is about the réparation of an Amstrad CPC 464 tape drive (but honestly I didnt see this one).



    Using an Iomega 100 Mb ZIP drive on any PC XT like an Amstrad PC 1512/1640 or a PPC

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    You are the happy owner of an Amstrad PC 1512, 1640 or a portable PPC 512/640 (or another Amstrad XT model) but are lacking a hard disk, so you are limited to slow floppy drives, either a 360 Kb 5,25 or 720 Kb 3,5 inch floppy drives. Of course for older PC it's easy to use an 100 Mb Iomega ZIP drive (parallel, SCSI or IDE) but the official driver is using an instruction only available on an Intel 80186 (seldom seen) or a Nec V20/V30 processor (stated on wikipedia). The PPC 512/640 has a V30 but the official driver uses a lot of memory and needs msdos v4.0+ instead of msdos 3.3 on the PPC or v3.2 on PC 1512 (also 1640 ?).

    Well, there is another solution for using a parallel ZIP drive (not the Plus version which also features SCSI), it's using PalmZIP by Klaus PEICHL which works with msdos 2.0+, even with a 8086, uses much less memory. The only limitation is using three 32 Mb partition (C:, D: and E:) if you are using msdos 2 or 3, with msdos 4 you can use the full 100 Mb with only one partition (but disks accesses will be a little bit slower). It's a shareware, you can test it for 7 minutes for free to check that it is working for you. If it is the case you will have to pay only 8 euros. I did it two days ago, five hours later I received a zip file by email with the registered version ! Yesterday I bought a ZIP drive and I was able to test it during the night. Happily I still had some ZIP disks I was using years ago and that I kept through several house moves.

    Using the driver is simple, just add in your config.sys the following line :

    device=palmzip.sys /c

    /c is for loading the driver only if it is connected, though the driver is only 3 Kb. They are other options so I recommend to read the included documentation (english and german). You can use the /f option to treat the zip as a fixed disk for faster operation but then the zip disk must not be removed unless using the zipman utility.

    Zipman must be used if you are using msdos 2 or 3 to format three partitions of 32 Mb each (FAT12 or FAT16), or an usual 96 Mb partition if you are using msdos 4 or above. Zipcopy is another utility for copying complete partitions within a disk. The partition assigned to the destination drive will be overwritten. The last utility is lpr_test which is designed to check if your parallel port(s) supports the bidirectional data transfer mode. The PalmZIP device driver runs a similar test to determine the correct mode of operation.

    You can see a youtube video by Retro Erik using the PalmZIP driver on an Amstrad PPC 512. You should check his youtube channel as he has several videos about Amstrad PC computers.



    Mod Master XT beta 21 for your PC XT, listen to musical modules files

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    A new version of Mod Master XT beta 21 by FreddyV is available on Vogons. It lets you hear a lot of music modules formats on any PC under msdos even a PC XT (CGA), for example an Amstrad PC 1512/1640 or a PPC 512/640...




    A Notepad NC200, a PCMCIA card type 1 ... or type 2 now

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    A Notepad NC200 lets you put under the disk drive one type 1 PCMCIA card which is a RAM or SRAM card with a button battery to save the ram when outside of the Notepad. The problem is that the NC200 can only hold type 1 PCMCIA cards as type 2 are thicker, too big for the slot. Also these 1 or 2 Mb RAM cards are not much better than the capacity of 1,5 or 2,5 720 Kb disks.

    But David Given who is the author of CP/Mish (CP/M for Notepad NC200) has been able to use a type PCMCIA adaptator in which you put a Compact Flash card (16 Mb). CP/Mish is of course able to use such mass storage. However it needs to open the NC200 case to change the PCMCIA slot guide with a new 3D printed part !

    You can see his video on Youtube in which you can see the case being opened, so why not also changing the disk drive with an USB Gotek ?





    Retro Computer inspired USB PC Keyboards and mices by Simulant

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    Simulant is selling articles for Amstrad CPC, including the WIFI232 which you connect on any computer with a serial port to emulate a Hayes modem where in fact you are using wifi, for connecting to a BBS for example.

    But today where is interesting us is their Kickstarter project about Retro Computer inspired USB PC Keyboards and mice including the Amstrad CPC. For the moment, Simulant has the official permission by Acorn, for the Amstrad CPC it is WIP, see their kickstarter page for more informations.



    Playing a MIDI file on an Amstrad PPC640 computer

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    An Amstrad PPC640 computer with only a beeper is not good at all for sound, except if you use a parrallel adaptator such as the Covox4 or the OPL3LPT. I will test it later when Mod Master XT par FreddyV will support it.

    But there is still a possibility to have the best sound possible for a msdos computer by using the DB25 serial port (with a DB9 adaptator) and a DB9 to Mini-DIN 8 pins cable (DBK-103 by Hosa Technology) connected to a SC-55st Roland expandert presented by LGR on Youtube.

    In this video the sound only starts at 35 seconds so click on this link to avoid the start of the video which only shows me launching the msdos gsplay utility.




    Mod Master XT beta 19 for your PC XT, listen to musical modules files

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    A new version of Mod Master XT beta 19 by FreddyV is available on Vogons. It lets you hear a lot of music modules formats on any PC under msdos even a PC XT (CGA). This last version adds the support for adlib sound music files, and for a next version the support of the OPLxLPT (OPL2 and 3).



    No music for an Amstrad PPC 640, are you sure ?

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    A portable computer like the Amstrad PPC 640, released in 1988 has no ISA expansion ports, he has only a feeble speaker. So you may think it isnt possible to get some nice sound except of simple beeps ?

    On the Amstrad CPC it was possible to have a better sound using a Digiblaster sound card connected to the parallel port. It was a simple electronic device with several resistors, not difficult to make in fact.

    Well, there is the same thing on PC since ages : the Covox Speech Thing.. It is possible to buy a Covox 4 on Serdashop which is an upgraded version of the Covox Speech Thing (higher precision resistors : 0.1% and low pass filter). For more informations about the Covox, I recommand reading the related articles on Nerdly Pleasures.

    I also bought the MCE2VGA on Serdashop which lets you use a VGA external screen instead of only using the internal screen which is quite lacking.

    The software used here is Mod Master XT beta 18 by FreddyV which you can download on Vogons.



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