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Tim's Amstrad NC Users' Site

Serial Transfers: NC100s and PCs
Connecting an Amstrad NC Notepad to an Windows PC

By Jeremy Smith

I decided to write this guide summing up the topic of Amstrad NC100s after my experiences, as there appears to be nothing like this on the web that I can find, at least nothing as complete.

First, you'll need a cable! Contrary to the information on one website, you don't need to make your own and solder pins 7-8 together on the NC end. That's simply not true. All you need is a female-to-female 9-9 pin (or 9-25 pin for older PCs) null modem cable! You can buy one from Maplin in the UK for around 5 plus postage. They also sell on eBay for much less, but make sure it's a cable and not a little adapter (a blob with 2 sockets on each end).

Haven't got a serial port on your PC?  Click here to find out about using the USB port instead with a USB-to-serial converter.

Once you have the cable, setup your terminal program to COM1 (or 2, or whatever), 9600 baud, 8 data bits, 1 stop bit, no parity. Mine has flow control set to Hardware, but I don't think it matters. For this example, I'll be using Hyperterminal which comes with most versions of Windows.

NC100 to PC

On the NC100, press...

Yellow + Red
Select a file
Secret Menu

On the PC, go to Transfer... Receive FileUse receiving protocol should be XModem.  Now click Receive on the PC. Press...

X(modem send)

...on the NC100. After 3 failed attempts, Hyperterminal will switch to XModem Checksum and will transfer across.

Notice how the PC is started first, then the NC100.

PC to NC100

On the NC100, press...

Yellow + Red
Secret Menu
M(odem receive)
Type in the filename

On the PC, go to Transfer... Send File. Find the file (Hyperterminal remembers the last folder used) and the Protocol should be XModem. Hit Enter on the NC, then click Send on the PC, and after a few seconds the PC should switch to the 'Checksum' protocol, which is what the NC uses, and the file should whizz across.

In this case, the NC is started first, then the PC.

Transfer Speed and Problems

If plugged into the mains a speed of around 1kb/sec can be achieved - I'm getting half that with a few days' use of rechargeable batteries.

I've had problems transferring while playing MP3s on the PC (the NC100 says 'transfer failed'), or it could have been interference from my stereo. I think the load of playing MP3s can affect Hyperterminal's performance.

Protext is Your Friend

The nice thing about receiving the documents this way is, Protext doesn't format text like this (I think Z88 Pipedream would look like this):

The big dog strolled[cr]
over the stupid fence[cr]
and said my goodness[cr]
this formatting is terrible.[cr]
More text![cr]

When you load the text file into Microsoft Word, it looks like this:

The big dog strolled over the stupid fence and said my goodness this formatting is terrible.[cr]
More text![cr]

Notice how it keeps paragraphs? Some word processors treat text as lines, which is very bad when it comes to formatting the text to fit a paper size, or screen size, or using different sized fonts. I had this problem after using an Amiga text editor to write a novel (imagine having to manually delete 4000 linefeeds) and I don't expect it from any word processor!

The transfer type is 'Serial/ASCII', which isn't exactly Protext, but still preserves paragraphs.

1997 – 2024 Tim Surtell

Tim's Amstrad NC Users' Site

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