Video: A closer look at the Amstrad CPC 472

Introduction

In this video I show you the two different versions of Amstrad CPC 472 that were sold in Spain between September and December 1985 and explain which of them is rarest and how you can find one for yourself ! Enjoy.

 

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A closer look at the Amstrad CPC 472 timeline

Introduction

Of all the Amstrad CPC’s, the CPC 472 definitely fascinates me. Amstrad sold the CPC 464 model in Spain as elsewhere in Europe but due to local laws and added tariffs, Amstrad was forced to change how the original CPC 464 was sold in Spain, and therefore their were actually 4 distinct incarnations of the Amstrad CPC 464 sold in Spain, listed below.

  1. CPC 464 with British keyboard and Basic 1.0
  2. CPC 472 with British keyboard and Basic 1.1
  3. CPC 472 with Spanish keyboard and Basic 1.0
  4. CPC 464 with Spanish keyboard and Basic 1.0

So what was the CPC 472 actually ? The CPC 472 versions had an extra 8k RAM which was unused, 64k+8k = 72k. That extra 8k was enough to avoid the 90 Euro tariff (approx 15,000 pesetas).

These CPC’s however were all CPC 464 under the hood in looks, motherboard and more, they did have an additional daughter board soldered on to make it look like the total of 72k was real, but it was fake. This was a 64k computer with different versions of Basic, different boot roms, and different languages on the keyboard.

Below you can see the hack, with the Spanish ROM. This photo is from a late CPC 472 with the ‘ene’ key and Spanish keyboard.

40037   32K ROM; BIOS and BASIC for CPC464 and Late-CPC472-models (Spanish)

Timeline

Based on the info I’ve found so far, I’ve updated an existing Amstrad Wiki timeline with 472 specific information, it’s approximate, so if you have more accurate info let me know.

The gap of possible sales of the CPC 472 would probably have started sometime after August 28th 1985 + 2 weeks if you take into account the amount of time engineers had to create the workaround.

Sales of the CPC 472 would presumably have ended January 1st, 1986 when Spain joined the EEC as therefore the tariff would no longer apply, and therefore no justification for the CPC 472 would exist. So in the timeline below, I am guessing that the CPC 472 was actually offered for Sale some time after August 25th/September 3rd 1985 and up until January 1986.

Note: If anyone has a CPC 472 that was purchased before July 17th 1985 or after December 1985, then please let me know and include a photo of the back plate including the serial number for proof. I will then update this CPC 472 specific timeline.

That said, if there were any unsold stock of 472’s left over after January 1st then we may have seen them sold after this time. This would mean that the timeline for CPC 472 availability would be approximately from August 28th – December 31st 1985.

A closer look

The first 464 sold in Spain had a British keyboard, Basic 1.0 and looked just like a normal CPC 464. Below is a photo of one which I found on the Spanish sales site Wallapop today.

Then on July 17th 1985, a law (or royal decree) was signed into Spanish law declaring that all computers that were imported into Spain had to have an additional tariff (extra customs charge) added. This was probably related to a Spanish company called Eurohard which wanted to sell their 1 million Euro stock of Spanish made Dragon mini computers to the home market.

This tariff added approximately 90 Euros per CPC sold in Spain and would have been the  end of the CPC in that market.

However, August 28th 1985, the law was amended, as companies that imported PC hardware in Spain lobbied the government to add an addendum to make the tariff only applicable for imported computers with less than or equal to 64k of RAM.

This effectively meant that any CPC with more than 64k could be sold without a tariff. This was enough for the Amstrad engineers to come up with a justification for the extra 8k RAM in the CPC 472, even though the actual RAM was unused.

 

Below you can see a CPC 472 with a British keyboard.

Below is a CPC 472 with a Spanish keyboard

And below is a Spanish keyboard CPC 464 (which would have been after the CPC 472 were  produced)

And below is a very late Schneider branded CPC 464 with a Spanish keyboard

The CPC 472 serial number

The serial number on the back of your CPC 472 reveals where and when it was made. Thanks go to the cpcwiki for this info. The serial number used on CPC 472’s should be in the following format:

“123456 Kxx-yy”

  • K is the country of production (K for Korea – South Korea)
  • xx is the plant (31 or 32 are the two codes that typically found).
  • yy is the year and month of leaving the factory. First digit represents the year (4 for 1984, 5 for 1985), second digit represents the month (1 through 9 = January-September, X, Y and Z= October, November and December)
  • Finally, the 6-digit number is the actual serial production sequence number fr that factory and year

Examples:

  • 93132 K32-54 => Korea factory 32 – April 1985 (a 664)
  • 218 167 K32-5X => Korea Factory 31 – October 1985 (a 6128)

Below you can see three CPC 472 genuine serial numbers.

Serial: 247129 K31 – 5X (October 1985)

Serial: 242265 K3- 5- (1985)

Serial: 283097 K31 – 5Z (December 1985 )

Where can I buy one ?

Try ebay.es or es.wallapop.com, keep in mind you’ll probably need to find a friend in Spain to assist you with the purchase if it’s from the Wallapop site. They range in price from 99 Euros up to many hundreds more, depending on condition and what they come with.

Conclusion

If you compare the timeline (and locations) of where CPC 472’s were actually sold to that of the Amstrad CPC 664, I think this device is actually rarer than the coveted CPC 664, and it should get that recognition. My advice ? Buy one now, while you can. I suspect that they will go up in price.

Related reading

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Video: First looks at the Dandanator Mini Dual

Introduction

I blogged about the newly released Dandanator Mini Dual here, take a look at that to find out how to buy one for yourself. And now I’ve released a video showing you my device in all it’s glory, check it out and if you haven’t already please do me a favor, give it a like and subscribe and comment. Thank you !

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First looks at the CPC Dandanator Mini Dual

Introduction

I’ve previously looked at other DanDanator devices here and this is yet another new version from the cool guys at Rancanuo team.

As you can see it’s very colourful and oozing with charm. The cases are lovingly 3d printed, and very good quality.

I got mine in yellow but they come in bright colours as you can see here.

I’ll upload a video soon so you can see how it works and get up close.

Where can I get one ?

I bought a yellow one from the Spanish version of ebay here and it cost 45 Euros (+ shipping which came to 65 Euros). I must admit the red and blue ones are also cool looking 🙂 and even the green one !

How can I load games on it ?

To load your own compilation of games or to load a pre-compiled ROM please see my post here.

How can I use the diagnostic rom ?

The alternate rom (Red button) comes with a default diagnostics program which is nothing fancy. To use the diagnostics rom simply press and hold down the Red button while powering on your cpc, it’ll launch the diags from that rom.

I’d highly recommend you replace it with Noel’s diagnostics which I show you how to do here.

Technical Specs

New selectable SWITCH button, allows one-handed flash change management
Colored push buttons and high quality stickers. When you look at it at first it looks like there are LED’s beside the switch, but there are none, it’s just clever art work. I actually think it would be cool if there was an LED showing which switch position you are in.

SMD technology which reduces the space occupied by the components and allows the inclusion of An additional flash memory to double the capacity (1M vs. 512K of the original version) Flash selectable by switcH

PCB same size as the original version.

Compatible with all CPC 64k and 128K models.

– SMD technology which reduces the space occupied by the components and allows to include
An additional flash memory to double the capacity (1M vs 512K of the source version
– Flash selectable by jumper
– PCB same size as the original version

• Offers 512k of instant access memory for developing advanced multi-level games offering a “console-like” experience.
• Instantly load selected 128k / 48k / ROM Programs / Games via menu on Amstrad CPC
• Games / programs can be changed from the CPC itself without the need for additional hardware via USB.
• Allows you to compress games to fit more on the cartridge.
• Works without jumpers or configuration on any CPC 464, 664, 6128, 464+ and 6128+ with adapter.
• Supports images in SNA, CDT and DSK format (in proof). It does not support multi-load games.
• Allows you to select pokes from a WinApe compatible library or enter them manually.
• You can “freeze” the splash screens at startup for our enjoyment.
• Offers software for creating, managing and transferring game romsets for Windows, MacOS and Linux.
• Supported in RetroVirtualMachine, Arnold and zesarux emulators
• Test Rom by McLeod Ideafix
• Public domain project

The Dandator project creator can be found here:

www.dandare.es

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Video: The saddest Amstrad CPC 464 – part 1

Introduction

This poor Amstrad CPC 464 has clearly not enjoyed the best life, it’s obviously neglected, missing keys, has burn marks, paint stains, cracks, spills and more. Yet against all the odds, it has survived.

This is part 1 of fixing this poor thing up, I want you to help decide what we’ll do with it *within reason*, please watch the video to see what the options are, or if you have other good ideas, please let me know what you think we should do with it.

Huge thanks go to Christopher Dragon (check out his youtube channel here – https://youtu.be/ideOrvUd3nc?t=316 ) for very kindly donating this CPC 464 to me, I’ll make sure it get’s repaired and that we are all happy with the end result, thanks again Christopher !

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Video: Getting custom cartridges on your Amstrad 464 or 6128 Plus

Introduction

In the video below I show you the unboxing of 8 games I got made in Cartridge format and explain where I got them, to read about it check my blog post here.

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Getting custom 3rd party cartridges for your Amstrad plus computer

Introduction

I’ve spent quite a bit of time doing up my Amstrad 464 Plus lately, and I must admit, I am really taking a liking to this hardware. It looks good, feels good and it’s fast to load “Burnin Rubber” using the slide-in cartridge ability.

I have a grand total of 1 cartridge and it is the Burnin’ Rubber that came with my 464 plus. The game announces itself with a great logo and awesome music, but the actual game behind the loading screen is awful.

“Burnin’ Rubber is so dull.

The music however is awesome !”

I mean it, I love the Burnin’ Rubber music, I had my 464 Plus connected to some external speakers and my lcd and I was pumping up the volume, and dare I say it, dancing to it all by myself.

Now I know I can connect my Dandanator Elite + to this and play games but I really wanted to experience some fun using the ‘built in method’ that this computer was sold with, and I don’t mean the tape deck.

The temptation

I was intrigued when I saw a post on facebook about custom cartridges (shown below) being offered for sale, so I decided to investigate.

I contacted the poster Anakintf and asked him if these were for sale, he responded that these particular cartridges were out of stock but he would come back to me with prices for my own ones if I was interested.

The order

I was interested, so he pointed me to the following Spanish website and asked me to pick some games that were listed as GTX 4000 or Plus compatible. I came up with a list of 8 games that I wanted in cartridge format including a recently released game, 77 attempts.

Here is my list.

1. 77 attempts
2. barbarian II
3. Bomb Jack
4. commando
5. donkey kong
6. ikari warriors
7. operation wolf
8. prince of persia

Anakintf took my list and said he would go ahead and create the cartridges, but also asked me if I wanted custom boxes for them too. Remember, these were the games that I wanted including a community released game. I said sure thing !

Naturally it costs more with the boxes but I wanted the ‘full experience’.

One small thing had to be done first and that was to pay in advance, all the games including boxes, stickers, postage from Spain > Sweden cost 123 Euros, not bad at all if you ask me.

I have to say this seller communicated with me in a very professional way, at all times he kept me informed about the progress, included photos of what they looked like and tested each game and then included a video of that process for me to review, 10/10 for this seller, outstanding communication and interaction. After I paid, he sent me the tracking number of the delivery and thanked me for my trust.

“Outstanding communication and interaction”

The photos below, are all from the seller, that is insane and really shows the ‘love’ he has for what he does.

Please encourage him by buying his stuff.

Pre-delivery

Here are some snapshots of the games sent to me. Look at that quality !

And below are all my 8 games in a row ! how cool is that !!

Tomorrow, i’ll post a video showing the unboxing experience, stay tuned !

cheers

niall

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Video: Connecting a 464 Plus to an external LCD

Introduction

In this video I show you what cable you need to connect up your 464 Plus (or 6128 Plus) to an external LCD, the advantage of this is to take up much less space on your desk and also to be able to easily flick between different plus models.

I previously bought another Retro shack cable for the CPC 464, 664, 6128 models which I’ve already blogged about it here, however that cable does NOT work with the 464 or 6128 PLUS models.

The cable in this video was specially made for the PLUS models.

Please note that this cable requires a 5v 2.4a 2.5×5.5 mm power supply (DC), which is not included, you have to source that yourself.

Here’s the PLUS cable I ordered from ebay:

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/251970455548

and here’s the 600MA DC power supply from Amazon:

https://www.amazon.se/dp/B002E4YQGY?ref_=pe_24982401_513610551_E_301_dt_1

If you’d prefer, you can purchase a similar one with a higher AMPERAGE rating, however in my testing, this one works just fine.

The speakers used in the video are Edifier brand which comes with its own RCA inputs and cables:

https://www.amazon.se/dp/B01NCTGH9M

 

Here is the video

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Video: Cleaning up a dirty Amstrad 464 plus

Introduction

I got this 464 plus (my first ever plus model) back in May 2021 and while it looked OK in reality it needed a good clean, that became very apparent as soon as I took it apart, loads of dirt, hair, spiders and dirt fell out. I spent the better half of a day taking it apart carefully, and of course videoing the entire process so that you could be part of it and learn how to do it yourself. It was definetly worth doing, not 100% perfect but totally better than it was.

Here’s the video !

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Introducing the ‘Just CPC 2’ for Amstrad CPC 464

Introduction

I ordered the Just CPC 2 from SellMyRetro some time ago and it turned up relatively quickly considering it was built by hand. It was nicely packaged, and more importantly it was very nicely wrapped with loads of protective bubble wrap, in addition there was a copy of the invoice in Polish and a scart/svideo cable included, so far so good.

What was not included was any sort of manual or explanation of what the board was or it’s intended use. I had to google and ask Piotr Bugaj, the maker of the hardware to confirm some things. I hope this post covers most points to save you guys the hassle.

To the right of the photo above you can see pins 1 & 3 are jumpered, this will power on the Just CPC 2 when 5V is connected. You can pull out this cable and connect up your standard cable coming from the CPC donor (to allow the red LED to work and the on/off switch on the side of the CPC).

But what is the Just CPC 2, and what can you do with it ? What I do know is as follows:

It is a clone of the CPC 464 motherboard that fits in a CPC 464 case (long board) and it’s designed and hand built by Piotr Bugaj (otherwise known as Zaxon). Let’s take a quick look at the board.

Below you can see it sitting on top of the anti-static bag that it shipped in. In addition, I’ve connected my 5V power connector and I’ve also plugged in the scart adapter which was supplied with the unit.

Included on the Just CPC 2 motherboard are a few extra features.

  • -Floppy drive interface
  • -total 576 kb RAM
  • -512 kb flash rom
  • -digiblaster
  • -reset button

The printer port is replaced by a disk drive port to allow you to easily Zaxon’s USB floppy emulator (the red DDI3 in the pic below, at least, I think it’s a DDI3).

What do you need ?

You need an original case from an Amstrad CPC 464 (long board version), 5v power and an external monitor (or LCD), you’ll also need a working keyboard with that case otherwise you can’t type anything.

It would be awesome if this version had a USB keyboard option, I know that there is an ATX version which offers PS/2 keyboard support but it would be great to get USB added to a later revision of Just CPC 2 so you could get this working without even having to have a real CPC.

Base unit modifications required

You’ll also need a drill (or something pointy and hot) to poke some holes in your CPC base in order for the reset button and two additional switches to see the light of day.

I’ll be honest, I don’t like modifying original hardware unless it’s really worth it or unless it’s practically invisible, but this was a design choice that Piotr made and we are stuck with it.  In addition to the holes, you’ll have to remove one plastic support on the base.

Connecting it to a CPC 464

Ok, so now we know a little bit about the board let’s connect it up. I opened up three CPC 464’s and the first keyboard didn’t work, so I tried the next, only some keys worked when plugged into the Just CPC 2.

I located another CPC 464 and this one finally worked, however some keys wouldn’t work at first, for example shift @ to get the | symbol. Maybe I did something wrong, I dunno.

Once powered on you can see that it’s advertising itself as a 6128 basically (Amstrad 128k v.3) and includes BASIC 1.1 and a ROM manager from Spring.

Type |ROMAN to see the ROM manager from Spring.

This allows you to add or remove multiple ROMS using the manager. The M4 board from Duke offers something similar.

Next I plugged in my Dandanator Elite +

and fired up some games, all looked good to me.

The benefit

I guess the benefit of this board is that it gives you the ability to give life back to a dead CPC 464 (assuming you have one with a dead motherboard. It also allows you to add 32 ROMS and use 576k of RAM, to run things like SYMBOS on your CPC 464. It also offers a built in Digiblaster and that’s something very cool indeed.

The cost

The board cost me 150GBP plus shipping, so it was not cheap, it’s very well built, and I think the white motherboard looks lovely especially when you compare it to the usual green motherboards in CPC computers.

I think the motherboard is so cool looking that I’d love to see a see-through CPC showing off this mobo on the inside, maybe someone who is good with plastics can help me with that ?

The scandal

While researching this board I came across the following forums post. Long story short, some people accused Zaxon of salvaging old Amstrad CPC 464’s to pull out the custom Gate Array chips made by Amstrad. There are 5 pages of replies from different folks including Piotr so if you want to take a look go ahead.

Conclusion

Great hardware let down by poor documentation, but hey, that gives people like me something to do 🙂

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