Saturday, 22 December 2007

Amstrad PCW16 Mouse

I recently got hold of an Amstrad PCW16 which is the later version of the PCW that had a graphical user interface but didn't have either Locoscript or CP/M. Nice machine but it lacked a mouse and I've had difficulty finding a replacement. Having tried a whole lot of serial mice I finally found one that works. It is stamped Naksha and has three buttons and a switch underneath marked MS and PC (set to PC for the PCW16) and works fine. Have a good Christmas. See you in 2008.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Packard Bell Hard Disk Replacement

I recently obtained an old Packard Bell machine which I wanted to use as a Windows 98 games PC. It has quite a nice looking case and came with the original manuals and CDs. It wasn't obvious from the case what model it was or how old it was although it had the Windows 98 logo on the front. I got it home and was disappointed to discover that it was fairly lowly Pentium II 300 Celeron. However, it had a Yamaha soundcard and a Rage Pro graphics adapter on board but it just wasn't fast enough to run games (particularly the original Sims). I am loath to throw any computer equipment out unless I really have to and I was on the brink of taking it to the local tip when I suddenly remembered I had an old board and processor that fitted in a PII slot. After much searching, I finally came up with a ZIF socket Celeron 500 fitted into a adapter board. Out came the old PII 300 and seconds later I had a Celeron 500 machine. I also found some memory (256Mb PC100) and a 40Gb hard disk. The memory went in fine. Swapped the hard drives (the old one was a 6Gb) and tried to boot the
Packard Bell Master CD to install the OS. Unforunately, it came up with an error. It seems that Packard Bell installs a special file onto their hard disks based on the configuration of the motherboard and without this it won't install. After much Googling I managed to find the answer. There is a program on the floppy boot disk that comes with the system called TATTOO which does the trick. It can be invoked as follows:-

Tattoo /createhsfromdmi

once the floppy has booted. This copies the file to the HD (must be formatted) and off it goes. I was amazed the PC didn't need a BIOS upgrade to see the new drive and the OS installed perfectly. I installed a 32Mb NVidia display adapter courtesy of another box (NEVER throw anything away) and it runs The Sims a treat and the wife is a happy bunny (until she discovers Sims 2 - ssshhh don't say a word).

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Amstrad PPC512/PPC640

These fine machines are both solid and reliable if a little on the bulky side. They are hampered by a lack of disk space limited to two (or one depending on the model) 720Kb floppy drives which cannot be upgraded. It is apparently possible fit hard drives but almost impossible to find the right drives. However, I have recently discovered that these machines can run Iomega Zip Drives from the parallel printer port (NOT USB) giving the PPC access to a whopping 100Mb of disk space albeit rather on the slow side. You can read more about it on my main website here


Hi and welcome to my blog. Everyone seems to be doing these so I thought it was about time I was dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century. This blog will contain thoughts on any and every subject that interests me but will largely be based around Retro Computers, Computer Programming and Science Fiction although there will also be some other stuff so I hope plenty to interest passers by.

OK not an inspired start but I'm new to this!