Classic 8 Bit question.

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r0jaws

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As Zetro, Yorkie, and the guys who went to Byte Back with us all know, I have a soft spot for my Speccys. Like Z I have been keeping my eyes open for a +2 for a while, but am on a real slow time bimble in getting one.
This interest in all things Spectrum has got me thinking about the Amstrad lineage of the +2 and +3 which lead me to have an interested browse around the CPC's set up at Byte Back and I liked what I saw.
I have spotted an CPC 6128 on eBay just up the coast from me and am quite interested but obviously don't know much about them. It has the famous Ami 3 " 'Floppy' drive but no cables.
I believe that the Amstrads required a large brick like adapter to output to a conventional TV, but also have an RGB output that can be converted to SCART.
Does anyone have any direct experience with these machines, and can answer a couple of questions.

1. Can the RGB output be converted to a SCART adapter?
2. Does the CPC have a 'line in' to load conventional tape based software, or are you reliant on the 3" drive?
3. Will Spectrum +3 software run on a CPC or are they completely incompatible?
4. Anything you can tell me from personal experience would be appreciated.
 

imnogeek

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Re: Classic 8 Bit question.

some reading for you :)

1. Can the RGB output be converted to a SCART adapter?
The machine lacked an RF TV or composite video output and instead shipped with a proprietary 6-pin DIN connector intended for use solely with the supplied Amstrad monitor.[7] An official external adapter for RF TV was available to buy separately. The 6-pin DIN connector is capable of driving a SCART television with a correctly wired lead. The video signals are PAL frequency 1v p-p analogue RGB with composite sync.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amstrad_CPC
http://www.cpcwiki.com/index.php/CPC_old_generation
http://usuarios.lycos.es/putusoft/emucp ... htm#cintas
http://www.pcwking1.netfirms.com/help.html

hope they help
 

TheCorfiot

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Re: Classic 8 Bit question.

@r0jaws

The RGB output on CPC's was as per the BBC Micro as it used the same 6845 CRTC controller
The output is TTL Logic ie +5V is colour on 0V= colour off accross the R-G-B
This is why BBC's were always supplied with Microvitec TTL Monitors.

Now don't be put off as I run my TTL output BBC's into a modern scart input by using a resistor divider network & they all work perfectly.

Needless to say I would be happy to make a cable for you to drive a scart input when you are ready.

Big problem with the CPC's my friend is that awfull 3" drive, floppys are rare expensive & well not that good, software transfer is near impossible because of this too.

Can I suggest as an alternative you have a look at a good old BBC Micro instead, the software base is massive & the performance much better than the CPC is so many ways.
I have many Beeb's and know them inside out technically, I would be happy to help you get a system together, you can run 5 1/4" or 3.5" drives as it's a std interface and writing real floppies with a PC Floppy is a doddle.
Again I would be happy to share my full & comprehensive software collection with you which may I add is all freely downloadable & not under any copyright restrictions.

Of course you can also run the REAL classic Elite.

Let me know how I can help

TC :mrgreen:


edit Try this linky (you need Java installed), Press Eject Disk, then Load Disk & select whichever game you like from the popup box, Click on the screen then hold shift down whilst pressing & releasing F12 :wink:

http://www.drobe.co.uk/micro/
 

imnogeek

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Re: Classic 8 Bit question.

I must admit, I was always a BBC fan (as you probably noticed at byte back) and would agree with TC that there is much more you can do with a beeb than the Amstrad.
Byte back had a network of a dozen or so BBC's running from a single CF card by the end of he weekend :shock:

and dont forget the Doomsday project on a "hacked" SCSI BBC Master with laser disc :eek: (I am puuting together some piccys of this to post)
 

r0jaws

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Re: Classic 8 Bit question.

Cheers for the info and link guys, very helpful. :)

Just had a blast on Repton on online BBC Micro emulator, awesome TC, Thanks for that!

I knew I'd regret not bidding on that BBC Micro IDE adapter at BB :roll:

That Network was pretty impressive, I remember that and the Domesday project Micro, what a piece of kit!

I can feel an interest budding. :mrgreen:
 

TheCorfiot

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Re: Classic 8 Bit question.

@r0jaws / Imnogeek

As you may have read from other threads, my first Computer was a home built Acorn Atom (at 13 yrs old). and to be truthful The Acorn 8 bit BBC Micro family are very dear to my heart.
Everything I know about computers / IT & electronics for that matter all stems from the good old Beeb. I used to have a regular queue of people for Repairs, Board Mod's, Disc Interface & ROM installs & that was just in my lunch hour.

I know quite a few of the people who set up the Econet ring at BB, The Beeb still has a huge online prescence & fanbase.
So many hobby projects exist, CF to IDE to 1MHz BUS adapters for example, I have the circuit & the firmware (open source).

If it gives you any comfort or confidence to know that I am available for you any time to help you on your Beebquests then I'm very happy.
Don't hesitate to ask whatever you like or need.

@Imnogeek - Spotted you in a piccy with a Memotech MTX512, another favourite of mine too. :wink: , can't wait for your extra piccys too, thx


TC :mrgreen:
 

Harrison

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Re: Classic 8 Bit question.

The CPC 464 was my first computer, so I have a soft spot for it compared to other 8-bit systems. Personally I still think that when coded correctly the Amstrad could beat any of the other 8-bit systems graphically. Just look at Gryzor for a great example of what the system could do. But for audio it was on a par with the BBC Micro and ZX Spectrum as it shared similar audio chips.

And compared to the BBC Micro, the Amstrad CPC had a much larger software base, espcially for games. So it depends on what you are looking for.

Something interesting. Did you know that a fully multitasking WIMP based OS now exists for the CPC? Developed by fans of the system recently, and it is meant to be quite good.

Now to the questions:

1. Can the RGB output be converted to a SCART adapter?

As mentioned already, yes with a special cable. However you also have to consider that the CPC took its power from the monitor. The system connected via a single power cable in the monitor and then had two cables which connected to the actual CPC computer. One to power it and the other for the video. So if you used a cable to output the video you would also need to power the system.

2. Does the CPC have a 'line in' to load conventional tape based software, or are you reliant on the 3" drive?

Yes it does, and all older 464 based tape software should work fine with the 6128.

3. Will Spectrum +3 software run on a CPC or are they completely incompatible?

No. The Spectrum and CPC are completely different systems so are not compatible. However they do share a lot of similarities in their basic language, and many basic programs will work fine. I often used to use ZX Spectrum code listings from books and magazines on the CPC and got them to work.

The 3" disk drive is the same as that used by the later Amstrad Spectrum's but that is as far as direct compatibility goes.

4. Anything you can tell me from personal experience would be appreciated.

As already mentioned, I just to really enjoy using the CPC. It had most of the same software releases as the Spectrum and C64. It did however suffer from badly ported games. Many developers were quite lazy and ported over ZX Spectrum games without improving them. This was due to the similarities in the 2 system's basic language so porting was quite easy. But often the games ended up looking just like the Spectrum originals (except without the colour clash). But when games were actually coded directly for the CPC they looked very good for their time.

The CPC could also be tricked into using a dual display mode system in some games. I forget the actual games that used it, but some managed to split the screen and make one part output in the CPC's high resolution 4 colour mode, and the other part in its lower 16 colour mode.

Umm.. what else. The CPC uses standard Atari 9pin style joysticks, so will work with any from the C64, Atari, Amiga etc...

It uses none standard edge connectors for its printer and serial ports, so you have to either use Amstrad's own, or adaptors.

There is a large CPC community, with some great sites available, and full ROM archives for games and other software. Emulators also exist that work perfectly. It is also possible to copy software to and from the CPC and ROM images using special software. I don't have any experience doing this myself, but I'm sure the information can be found on some of the CPC sites.
 

Zetr0

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Re: Classic 8 Bit question.

@r0jaws


get dribbling m8

divIDEcz_logo.png


27 euros for some serious specy love :)
 

TheCorfiot

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Re: Classic 8 Bit question.

@Zeets

Nice Linky,, I want one too :wink:


@H

Uhm,,, you don't know the Beeb's hardware that well, the Beeb & Spectrum did NOT share the same sound chip the BBC used a Texas Instruments SN76489 dedicated Sound processor which was quite powerful until SID came along the Spectrum uses an I/O port on it's ULA to oscillate & produce a "tone"

As for split screen modes well, Elite says it all & that was 1982, after all both CPC & the BBC had the 6845 CRTC. The BBC also had a video-coprocessor which allowed the colour pallette to be changed on the fly which enabled impressive animation effects just from using the Basic interpreter, and dont get me started on the OS & Basic Interpreter which was the fastest & most structured in it's day and rewrote the Book regarding Basic Interpreters, oh yes and the inbuilt 6502 assembler. Guess which system locomotive software used as the inspiration for it's Amstrad Basic.

Spectrum games were easily ported to the CPC NOT because of the similarity of the Basic's, there wasn't any apart from the std commands that Basic interpreters all had. They were easily ported due to the fact they shared the Z80 processor.

If you think the BBC software base was not as large as the CPC then check out "The Stairway to Hell", I just checked my HD and I have about 2000 disc images and there are still more out there.

I appreciate everyone has a soft spot for their first machine, but The Beeb was British designed & built (manufactured up the road from me), It led the way for copyists such as Alan Sugar to produce Home micros overseas in China and at a cost using inferior components.

How easy can you find spare "New" 3" discs and how do you write disc images to them ?

TC :mrgreen:
 

r0jaws

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Re: Classic 8 Bit question.

@H & TC, Guys, awesome help and many handy points for both systems. Thanks Muchly.
@Z I was dribbling over that on Friday round yours, its a lovely bit of kit. :D :D

Does it make me a whore if I want them all? :twisted:
 

Harrison

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Re: Classic 8 Bit question.

I know the BBC Micro was a powerful machine, and I always wanted one at the time, but they were just so expansive for just the main computer, and for half that price my parents could buy the CPC464 with colour monitor, which was the main reason I got one. But at the time I had still wished we could of afforded one because they offered far more real computing power than any other 8-bit system. Other systems were on the whole better for gaming. Yes the BBC had a few brilliant games that were the best of their time, but it was a small number compared to the 3 main systems that became the most popular home computers with gamers. But where the BBC was far superior was none gaming software. The word processors, spreadsheets and other productivity software was far ahead of anything the other systems had to offer, and some available as rom chips for instant loading too. I always loved that feature.

The BBC Micro had huge expansion capabilities, and with it a huge range of third party devices. It also had access to certain industry standard (at the time) hardware that other 8-bit systems could only dream of. 5.25" floppy drives for example, years before the C64 and others got them.

Were some CPC's made in China? Mine was made in Germany.

As for sound hardware, I never said they shared the same hardware, just shared similar chips, which I meant as meaning similar capabilities, not similar in terms of the actual audio hardware. We all know the spectrum was dire in hardware terms compared to most other 8-bit systems, but the CPC's audio was pretty much on a par with the BBC's.

I also know the BBC had the most advanced OS and basic. However in real world terms this was hardly every shown off in gaming terms. Had the BBC been a more mainstream system, selling as well as the Spectrum then we would have really seen what the hardware could do in games. But as it was mainly stuck in education and business it didn't. For this reason I preferred the CPC for gaming, and the BBC for everything else.
 
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