Thursday, 31 December 2009

Happy New Year!

Well, the New Year is now almost upon us. Have a good and prosperous one!!

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Adventures with an Amstrad PC1512 - Keyboards

You can only use a PC1512 keyboard on a PC1512 or PC1640 and modern keyboards cannot be used with either machine (non-stadard connections).

Adventures with an Amstrad PC1512 - Floppy drives

Note that the jumper on an Amstrad 5.25 inch floppy drive is set to D0 (drive zero) and will need to be set to D1 before it can be used as an A drive on a modern PC.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Adventures with an Amstrad PC1512 - Windows 3.0 with a Zip Drive

Now with a Zip drive, it is possible to install Windows 3.0 onto the Zip drive on a PPC512/640 or PC1512/1640 as if it was a hard drive. Alternatively, install onto the Zip on another PC. Run setup from DOS and set to CGA before running. The Zip can also be used to contain the DOS directory if your PC1512 doesn't have a hard drive. Note that DOS 6.x will only install from a 1.44Mb drive not a 720k. You also need to create a 5.25 inch boot floppy as you can't boot from a parallel Zip drive.

Adventures with an Amstrad PC1512 - Iomega Zip Drives

I have been using Zip Drives on an Amstrad PPC640 for quite a while so was keen to get it working with the PC1512. However, it doesn't work much to my annoyance. The driver either hangs or crashes trying to detect the drive. Now, the PC1512 and the PPC are not that different. My suspision was that Amstrad had updated the parallel port. Howver, it seems that the only difference between the two machines is that the PPC uses an NEC V20/30 processor which is slightly faster than the 8086 on the pC1512. Running MSD confirmed this. However, all is not lost as there is a driver called palmzip available here which costs only 8 euros and can be paid for using Paypal which works very well and even allows the Zip drive to be used with Amstrads own version of MSDOS 3.2 (the Iomega driver requires DOS 5.0 or above). The addition of a Zip drive makes transferring files from a PC attached to the Internet much easier.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Adventures with an Amstrad PC1512 - Windows 3.0

Yes it will run but it takes up quite a lot of Hard disk space and is a little slow. It is also restricted to CGA Mono display which isn't very pretty and won't work with the Amstrad mouse (see previous) and is restricted to the real mode memory model. Note that this is Windows 3.0 and NOT 3.1 which won't run in real mode. If you don't have a 3.5 720k drive attached then getting it to work is a little difficult (more on that later). However, with a 3.5 inch drive it will install and run in the usual way. However, despite the fact that it loads and runs, it is a little difficult (ok impossible) to find software that will run in both CGA and real modes. For example, Visual Basic programs won't run as they require standard mode. You have File Manager and notepad and all the other programs available but not much else. Probably not worth bothering with.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Adventures with an Amstrad PC1512 - BIOS

The PC1512 does not have a BIOS screen. It will detect devices attached and will leave the seperate controllers to do the work. Setup is sometimes effected using dip switches (as with the Amstrad PPC512/640 family of portables).

Adventures with an Amstrad PC1512 - Floppy Drives

It is possible to plug a 3.5 inch 720k (NOT 1.44Mb) floppy drive into the machine with the relevent connectors. However, the system won't recognise the drive as being 720k unless you add to the config.sys:-


My machine has an external 3.5 inch drive which connects to the B drive and has a switch at the back which cleverly allows either the 5.25 drive or 3.5 drive to be used (but not together).

Monday, 5 October 2009

Adventures with an Amstrad PC1512 - The Hard Disk

Hard drives are very rare because, as this is an XT machine, modern drives won't work on it. The HD MUST be supplied with its own controller (usually on a card) that will only work with that particular drive (you can't use another drive with the controller ven it is by the sam manufacturer) which is a bit of a pain. The best type is a Hard Card which is a card that plugs into an 8 bit slot that contains both controller and drive which has the advantage of allowing both 5.25" floppy drives to be retained.

Adventures with an Amstrad PC1512 - The GUI

The PC1512 is one of the few PC's of the era that shipped with a Graphical User Interface (GEM) - most were shipped only with DOS. There are various versions of GEM available on the Internet as it has been released as GPL as have all the software which includes Paint and Word Processor programs.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Adventures with an Amstrad PC1512 - The Display adapter

The display adapter is CGA but has access to a pallette of 16 colours but software has to be written to access it. The only software I have found that will work with it is GEM although not the version shipped with the PC1512. The driver can be found here on John Elliots site.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Adventures with an Amstrad PC1512 - The Monitor

The monitor is CGA only although it can display the extra 16 colours provided by the display adapter (more on that another time). It has non-standard connectors (good old Amstrad) and will only work with a PC1512 and it is impossible to connect any other type of monitor to it so you're stuck with it (the PC1640 is upgradeable - sort of).

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Adventures with an Amstrad PC1512 - The Mouse

It seems that the mouse on the PC1512 is non-standard. The port it is connected to is NOT a serial port (despite looking like one) and only the Amstrad mouse can be used. It seems compatible with most programs except DOSSHELL and Windows 3.0 (yes, you can run Windows 3.0 but more on that later) both by MS. However, all is not lost as a serial mouse can be plugged into the serial port at the back (with a 25 pin to 9 pin converter) and run with an MS driver. However, the only mouse I have found that will work (PS/2 mice with 9 pin converters DON'T work) has a switch underneath marked MS/PC and works fine in MS mode (this is the same mouse I use with an Amstrad PCW16 strangely) with both DOSSHELL and Windows 3.0 (watch this space).

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Adventures with an Amstrad PC1512

I've just got hold of an Amstrad PC1512 (been after one for ages) and I'll be playing with it over the coming weeks so watch out for more info on this blog soon...

Problems Reading MSDOS disks on an Amiga A1200

I was having difficulty reading DOS disks on an Amiga A1200. I could get it to mount the disk but not read it. After much head scratching I discovered the following file was missing in the L directory:-


It seems that version 3.1 of AmigaOS doesn't have this file. However, all is not lost as version 3.0 does. Transferring from the Workbench disk of version 3.0 (show All files first) to my HD cured the problem. I have no idea if this is just my (genuine) copy of 3.1 has this problem. Moral of the story is hold on to your version 3.0 disks, they may come in handy...

Thursday, 5 March 2009

AOL on PCLinuxOS

Still having problems with the eciadsl driver for the Voyager 105 modem I use to access AOL broadband. It generally hangs first time Linux is booted with the message:-

[EciAdsl 4/5] Connecting to provider...

If CTRL-C is pressed and the driver restarted then it starts fine. The problems seems to be that ppp (or pppd) cannot use channel zero and subsequent restarts uses another channel number usually greater than zero. There have been several fixes published on the web but none of them seem to help. I have thus come up with a fix of my own although it isn't very pretty it does seem to work. So login as root and find the following file:-


and add the line:-


and save it. Log back in as your normal user name then open your home folder and show all hidden files. Go into the .kde/autostart folder and create a shell script as follows:-


konsole -e /usr/bin/eciadsl-stop
konsole -e /usr/bin/eciadsl-start

and save it. Give it permission to execute. Reboot Linux.

This has the effect of attempting to start the eciadsl driver once Linux has booted which will fail. When KDE loads the script will auto start, close the driver and restart it. This should have the effect of starting the driver with a channel number greater than zero. It isn't a perfect solution but it does seem to work. Hopefully an upgrade to ppp or pppd in the not too distant future will make this unnecessary.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Website/s now gone

Just a quick note to say that links on this blog to my websites will now no longer work as the companies I use have both decided to stop providing web space services. Great! I am thinking of using other ways of getting content onto the web such as blogs (like this one), social networking sites or possibly Youtube. Oh well...such is life.