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Amstrad CPC6128

A friend had one of these a very long time ago and I couldn't resist the urge to snap one up online when an auction came up! I'm really impressed with the size and design of this unit. It's quite heavy and solidly built. The keys have a nice tactile feel to them also.

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The CPC6128 produces video through a 6-pin RGB DIN video port, so we'll need to convert that to something more usable. Thank fully I have a SCART to HDMI converter from the MSX. It also has a standard 3.5mm stereo output jack, so that can be fed into the SCART port also.

The internal floppy drive is non-standard. It requires 3" disks, as compared to a PC that uses 3.5". They're also slightly longer than usual disks. Fortunately Amstrad put an edge-connector on the rear for 'Drive B' which is pin-identical to old 5.25" PC disk drive plugs and I happen to have a ribbon cable that'll work.

Anyway.. let's get this thing powered up and running!

Power

The CPC6128 needs 5v @ 2A and 12v @ 0.5A. You'll also need power for an internal PC floppy drive.. so I've used an internal hard disk power supply splitter for my source. This was chosen as I have an external USB-IDE power supply which has the right power requirements for the whole setup.

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I found a DC plug and quickly hooked up the 5v line (red wire!) to see if the Amstrad would power up.

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Yosh! We have activity (red light illuminated in test above)! The 12v line is actually for the internal floppy drive, of which I don't have disks for, so I'm not too concerned with it. I proceeded and soldered on a floppy power plug, 5v DC plug and 12v DC socket.

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After the final changes, the red power light was still illuminating, so it was now time to convert the video output.

Amstrad RGB to SCART

This looked similar to my MSX machine, but there's only 6 pins instead of 8. I followed the instructions here at CPC Wiki and created a cable with a 6-pin DIN on one end and a SCART plug on the other.

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Initially, I used the first wiring diagram at CPC Wiki, but this didn't work! I got a quick view of the CPC, but the image wouldn't last. I then tried the Alternative RGB Wiring with LUM to SYNC and SYNC to 16 and we got a picture! I must admit that my SCART to HDMI convertor is noisy!

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Note that the picture would blink and the OSD for my TV kept appearing telling me that HDMI 4 was connected. It turns out (as per the instructions on CPC Wiki) that you need to install a 10uf Capacitor across pins 16 and 18 to rectify this.

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This was installed and fitted nicely in the plug-housing. Audio was then run through to a 3.5mm jack for the side connector.

Using a PC floppy drive

You'll find all the information you need here to connect a PC 3.5" drive to the CPC. Finding a ribbon cable will be the hardest part... but luckily I've had a few old machines pass through my pile'o'junk lately and there were enough older-style cables spare. I actually swapped a few cables out from older machines for standard newer floppy cables that don't have the edge-connector as the other machines won't ever need them.

We've already got the power plug from above, so all we need to do now is correctly plug the data cable through. It's as simple as pushing the edge connector socket onto the port at the back and then pluging the IDC header plug into the floppy drive. Make sure to get the cable on the right way... if your machine fails to boot at this point, then swap it around.

Final step... add a jumper wire between pins 33 and 34.

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I must note that, when idle, the floppy drive's reading light was always illuminated. It also then illuminated the internal drive's busy light also!

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I tried a standard 3.5" HD Disk.. but it hated it..

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Floppy Disk Images

This was a little trickier. You'll find CPCDiskXP. The latter is a very power piece of disk writing software specifically for the CPC.

I tried initially to get CPCDiskXP to write a DSK file straight to my USB floppy drive, but it failed. It wanted to install a 3rd party 'direct access' driver and this then told me it wouldn't work with USB floppy drives. Fortunately, you can get around this by converting all images to 'usb floppy compatible' images.

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Open CPCDiskXP and click the bottom-middle DSK Editor button. From here, choose 'New'.

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You'll now be provided with a selection of floppy image formats. Select the USB Compatible radio and then choose a format from the drop-down that'll fit the contents of the disk in question.

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Once done, hit Add Files From Another Dsk. Open the relevant disk image and select everything.

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You should now see your new image populated with the files from the source disk.

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Hit the Write USB Floppy button up top and make sure USB Floppy Drive is selected.

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Make sure you have your drive connected and a valid disk inserted. (I didn't, so the next shot is dark and full of errors.)

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And now... test!

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Winner.

Other games: Prince of Persia, Stunt Car Racer, TMNT, Chase HQ, Spy vs Spy, Locomotion

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About stevenh

Trains... trains... trains... + Electronics + Japan.
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