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Tim's Amstrad NC Users' Site

Questions & Answers

THIRD-PARTY HARDWARE & SOFTWARE

Where can I get software for the NC?

Look on the 'Software' page of this website and check out the 'Links' page.

Tim Surtell (Tim's Amstrad NC Users Site)

Protext software for the PC and Atari

Protext is a word processing package that can read in files created in the Amstrad NC word processor, which is itself based on Protext.

The Protext website is at http://www.tigerteam.co.uk/protext/ and there are now free versions for PC, Atari and Amiga.

Brian Watson (Protext)

LapCat transfer software

LapCat was a piece of software produced by Arnor that could transfer files to and from the NC using the parallel port.  The software is no longer available since Arnor have gone out of business.  You can use the serial port to transfer files instead.  Please see the Features section for details of how to do this.

Tim Surtell (Tim's Amstrad NC Users Site)

DelTron data logging software

Design IT were manufacturers of 'DelTron', data-logging hardware and software for the NC100, NC200 and BBC Micro. They appear to have gone out of business.

Tim Surtell (Tim's Amstrad NC Users Site)

N-Connect software for Acorn computers

Software for an NC100 to Acorn RISC OS link, including facility to de-tokenise NC BASIC into text and BBC BASIC.

Please visit http://www.i-r-genius.com/2020/nconnect.html for more information.

Tim Surtell (Tim's Amstrad NC Users Site)

Installing and using ZCN - A CP/M OS clone

--- Latest updates at end of section ---

The following are extracts from emails sent to me by Jameel Siddiq, who has installed ZCN on his NC100...

I recently purchased a 1Mb memory card for the NC100 that lay dormant apart from the odd tinker until I decided to use the copy of ZCN I downloaded from your site. I followed the included instructions and was pleasantly surprised at how relatively straightforward and smooth they were (in comparison with many historical public domain suites that you had to fight like the devil with to persuade them to work).

Following the ZCN instructions, I formatted my card to virtual drives A, B, C and D and copied across a skeleton of essential programs that I wanted. I deliberately didn't copy across all the programs or the MAN help files as I wanted as much space as possible for other programs.

I placed core programs in drive a:, reserved drive b: for a working drive, copied Mix C (from http://www.retroarchive.org/cpm ) to drive c: (choosing one of the compilers, c.com and c.ovy ,rather than both, to save space) and have reserved drive d: for dbase II which I have downloaded but not yet installed, and will have to wait and see whether it will work. The site http://www.retroarchive.org/cpm is really worth checking out for CP/M software.

I would highly recommend ZCN because you really can get the best of both worlds. You can run ROM software by switching to NC100 'normal' mode and run BBC Basic without even switching mode. My Mix C installation runs brilliantly which brings back nostalgic memories of my CP/M days.

The editor ZDE I found had to be configured using the terminal codes supplied in the ZCN documentation. The tricky one was cursor addressing which I recall was 'Standard' and with the code 10002020.

There are limitations as some programs will want to access a real physical drive and can't cope with the virtual drives. I couldn't get ASM or LOAD to work but obtained Z80 equivalents of ZMAC and ZLINK that did.

I don't know what the effective TPA area is but I suspect that memory hungry CP/M programs may fail which is why I went for the small model of the Mix C Compiler. Some programs may partially work, Digital Research's STAT would read the size of the files but could not determine disc space left and when I changed the file attributes to read only, I was still able to delete the files (beware!).

There's plenty to enjoy with ZCN but you need to be realistic about the limitations of a CP/M environment on the NC100, but as long as you bear that there limitations (whilst remembering the tremendous contribution of having CP/M for the NC100) and test any installed programs you should find it very enjoyable. The NC100 is a very good machine to start off with but with a CP/M command line, it's a dream.

I have successfully installed dBase II and at first tinkering it seems to be working just fine. The zip suite (a dBaseII utility) is missing though, so in using dBase some of the work may be have to be done by hand-written dBaseII programs rather than designing it all on screen and having the utility write the code for you.

I've also downloaded ZSID which at first inspection seems to work (unlike DDT) which may be worth a look at.

It's ZCN and the installed programs have really transformed the NC100.

---o0o---

Just a note that may be useful for NC100 ZCN users who intend to load and use Turbo Pascal 3.01a from http://www.retroarchive.org/cpm.  The Borland Community site at http://www.borland.com/index.aspx have an MSDOS version of Turbo Pascal 3.02a that will run in a DOS window under Windows 3.x and 9x, and has the same user interface!!!  This means that programs can be written on the NC100 and the PC in exactly the same way, with the same user interface. Of course if a program is written on one of the machines and is felt useful for the other, it is ONLY THE SOURCE CODE THAT SHOULD BE TRANSFERRED and the program MUST BE RECOMPILED ON THE TARGET MACHINE.

Any intending users will have to do a little work first. For ZCN, they will have to run TINST.COM to install and configure Turbo Pascal for their machine (the relevant screen codes are in the original ZCN documentation), and to get Turbo Pascal 3.02a from the Borland Museum they will have to register first to become a member of the Borland Community; it's free and worth the effort. 

---o0o---

After some juggling around and experimentation, I've now finally settled on my suite of software for the NC100, which if you're interested consists of the following programs :-

Drive A:

BASIC Runs the existing BBC Basic
ZDE Text Editor
CALC A CP/M calculator program
PIP CPM2.2 File transfer program
ZMAC and ZLINK to write Assembler programs
QTERM Terminal Emulator Program
SUBMIT CP/M2.2 Batch program
RUNROM Program to switch to the usual NC100
RRXFER To transfer files <-> usual NC100
ZSID Z80 Debugger tool

Drive B:

MuLISP Brilliant LISP program
Turbo Pascal 3.01a The best Pascal for ZCN

Drive C:

C80 Software Tools C Compiler I've got mine disabled for long and float operations but as I would prefer to use Turbo Pascal for such work having this compiler , within the space, suits my needs best.

Drive D:

Kept free for documents and program development.

---o0o---

Just thought I'd let you know that unfortunately the SIG/M (CP/M) library now seems to be inaccessible from the net although the invaluable Commercial CP/M site is still accessible. It's worth of course prospective CP/M hunters trawling the net to see what they can find but I think the watchword is 'time' and while there is an invaluable source of CP/M software like the Commercial CP/M site, it's worth grabbing all the stuff you'll likely to need while it's still there. That's what I've done, downloaded anything I think I 'might' need in the future because when it's gone, it's gone!

My NC100 with ZCN has undergone a few changes and as far as CP/M is concerned is equipped with the essentials on drive A (including ZDE, BBC Basic, Microsoft Basic, qterm), Turbo Pascal on drive B, Microsoft Fortran80 and Microsoft Basic Compiler on Drive C, and Drive D left for files and compiled programs.

On my net trawls I found a demo of MYZ80 which is a CP/M emulator for the PC. Useful because some programs that are difficult to run on the NC100 can run under the emulator and even some programs that run in both environments can  be run faster under the emulator making program development easier. So for example using the emulator, CP/M programs can be developed and compiled faster on the PC and then the compiled executable transferred across to the NC100. For the Mix-C compiler it means I can compile programs for the NC100 that won't compile on the NC100 itself and when I'm not on the move, programs I would normally develop on the NC100 (using Turbo Pascal or Microsoft Fortran), can be developed and compiled (faster) on my desk-bound PC and transferred across.

Currently, a copy of a MYZ80 demo can be downloaded from :-

http://www.gaby.de/edownl.htm

and is listed as :-

MYZ-DEMO.ZIP

The really neat thing about this emulator is that you can import CP/M programs into the 'virtual' CP/M drive and then delete the file(s) from your Windows/DOS directory eliminating completely the chance of accidentally trying to run a CP/M program from Windows/Dos (with unforeseen circumstances).  Prospective users should be aware that there is some stuff un 'USER 1' area on the virtual drive that's worth looking at.  The demo is fully functional apart from a slight delay when firing up the program.

---o0o---

In my attempts to trawl the net for any remaining useful CP/M software, I was trawling through pages and pages of listings last night and found a veritable diamond of a find.  BBC Basic for CP/M which recognises EVAL as well. It's by the same author as the BBC Basic on the NC100, R.T. Russell but unfortunately it was a thorough trawl and I didn't retain the discovered URL

What this find means is that BBC basic programs can be written, edited  (and as long as they don't use any NC100 screen of firmware specific routines) and can even be tested under the MYZ80 CP/M emulator. Any programs would probably need to be transferred between the PC in ASCII format and the zipped file attached contains a converter to convert files to and from ASCII (for use within the CP/M environment, in our case emulated on the PC).

Finally, under MYZ80, I've tested both the HiTech C compiler and the Mix C compiler, and for those interested the HiTech C compiler compiles code faster and results in more compact executables ('.COM' files).

Jameel Siddiq  mj.siddiq@talk21.com 

Read Jameel's feature on ZCN - click here.

 
1997–2017 Tim Surtell

Tim's Amstrad NC Users Site
www.ncus.org.uk

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