Dragon 32 or Amstrad CPC 464

Talk about non-Acorn classic computers/hardware/software here (including retro consoles)
Post Reply
User avatar
adrm
Posts: 160
Joined: Sun Sep 10, 2017 12:07 pm
Location: Norway
Contact:

Dragon 32 or Amstrad CPC 464

Post by adrm » Wed Nov 07, 2018 1:21 pm

I have no previous experience with either computer.

Would you guys purchase either at (apx.) GBP 90,- each?
Both seem to be in good condition, but no noteworthy extras, like FDCs, are included.

If you had to choose, which one is the preferred choice (for a collector)?
-------
Tore

User avatar
vanpeebles
Posts: 484
Joined: Wed Nov 28, 2012 10:01 am
Location: UK
Contact:

Re: Dragon 32 or Amstrad CPC 464

Post by vanpeebles » Wed Nov 07, 2018 1:23 pm

The amstrad (spit spit) Way more and better games :)

But how about a QL?
Last edited by vanpeebles on Wed Nov 07, 2018 1:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
adrm
Posts: 160
Joined: Sun Sep 10, 2017 12:07 pm
Location: Norway
Contact:

Re: Dragon 32 or Amstrad CPC 464

Post by adrm » Wed Nov 07, 2018 1:33 pm

vanpeebles wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 1:23 pm
The amstrad (spit spit) Way more and better games :)

But how about a QL?
A QL would be nice too, but these two are being offered for sale here :)

Advice re. Amstrad CPC 464:
Is this model worth buying, or is it better to wait and hope that one of the later models becomes available?
THE 464 looks rather clunky and the lack of a FDC seems quite limiting in that I'd have to invest in some sort of interface solution for a Gotek or the FDI3 (sp?)
-------
Tore

Kazzie
Posts: 275
Joined: Sun Oct 15, 2017 7:10 pm
Location: North Wales
Contact:

Re: Dragon 32 or Amstrad CPC 464

Post by Kazzie » Wed Nov 07, 2018 2:22 pm

I have a passing familiarity with both (wife had a dragon32 and recently reacquired one, best friend still has his childhood CPC464).

Both are primarily cassette-based machines. The Dragon has an expansion port which supports ROM cartridges and a FDC controller, but there aren't many cartridges available as Dragon Data went to the wall in 1984. There is a fanbase of Dragon users that have designed their own floppy controllers and SD interfaces for the Dragon, but they're a bit pricier than BBC equivalents. I don't know of any such expansions for the 464, but I've never actually looked.

Because Amstrad and the CPC line continued for many years you'll find more commercial software for the 464 than the Dragon.

If you're interested in programming them, the Dragon uses a 6809 CPU, whereas the 464 has a Z80.

And note also that the CPC464's power supply is built into the monitor, as opposed to a separate brick like the Dragon and Electron. There may be complications if you need to repair the power supply in the future, or if you decide you'd prefer to use a different monitor with it.

(Edit: typo repairs)
Last edited by Kazzie on Wed Nov 07, 2018 2:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
BBC Model B 32k issue 7, Sidewise ROM board with 16K RAM
Archimedes 420/1 upgraded to 4MB RAM (mid- restoration)
Acorn System 1 home-made replica

User avatar
1024MAK
Posts: 7988
Joined: Mon Apr 18, 2011 4:46 pm
Location: Looking forward to summer in Somerset, UK...
Contact:

Re: Dragon 32 or Amstrad CPC 464

Post by 1024MAK » Wed Nov 07, 2018 2:31 pm

Ultimately which is best depends on what you want.

Of the two, the Amstrad CPC 464 is the more capable, as it was released later than the Dragon 32. Thanks to the marketing, keen pricing and industrial clout of Amstrad, the CPC range became the third most popular 8 bit computers in the U.K.

The best CPC machine that is commonly available is the CPC 6128 with internal 3” FDD. As the 3” disks are hard to find, a number of users have either shoehorned a 3½” drive in, added one as an external drive, or have a Gotek USB floppy emulator.

In the U.K. CPC 6128 machines on eBay often are sold as faulty, because the rubber drive belt in the 3” drive breaks. So the price for them is often not too high.

Both the 464 and the 6128 don’t have internal PSUs, as they were sold with special Amstrad monitors that also supplied power to the computers. But both will happily run from modern regulated 5V power units (the 6128 also needs a +12V for the internal drive as well as a +5V supply). Both can connect to a colour TV, the TV SCART needs to have RGB capable inputs. Or they can connect to a composite video input but only in monochrome/“gray scale”.

In any event, do have a look on eBay using the “completed” search selection to see what current prices are/have been.

Mark

User avatar
Lardo Boffin
Posts: 1308
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2015 6:47 am
Contact:

Re: Dragon 32 or Amstrad CPC 464

Post by Lardo Boffin » Wed Nov 07, 2018 2:36 pm

The CPC does have some impressive games for it - Sorcery was pretty good as was Prince of Persia. A lot were just awful Spectrum ports though.

I believe you can get an aftermarket PSU these days along with a TV adaptor but no idea how much such things cost. Edit - Mark just said that while I was typing.

I have nearly bought one on several occasions but don’t have space.
Last edited by Lardo Boffin on Wed Nov 07, 2018 2:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
BBC model B 32k issue 4, 16k sideways RAM, Watford 12 ROM board, Viglen twin 40/80 5.25" discs, Acorn 6502 coproc
BBC model B 32k issue 7, turboMMC, Opus Challenger 3 512k, Pi 3 coproc
BBC Master, Datacentre + HDD, pi co-proc

Kazzie
Posts: 275
Joined: Sun Oct 15, 2017 7:10 pm
Location: North Wales
Contact:

Re: Dragon 32 or Amstrad CPC 464

Post by Kazzie » Wed Nov 07, 2018 2:59 pm

Another few points: The Dragon32 doesn't make any noise on startup (unlike our Beebs), so a lot of eBay sellers have brought down their old Dragon down from the attic, found they can't get a picture on their modern HD TV (or maybe can't even plug it in) and list them as faulty or untested. There's a good chance that most of them still work fine.

When my wife bought a Dragon again two years ago, this is the type of listing we looked for, and we got an untested (but fully functional) Dragon32 for around ₤40-₤50.

The Dragon32 uses a dual voltage power supply, so bear in mind that if you buy one without a PSU you probably won't be able to get an off-the-shelf replacement.

And drifting back to the topic of games, the Dragon32 has an analogue joystick interface, and joysticks for it are rare and pricy (₤20+ each). I opted to build a converter to use digital Atari joysticks or Mega Drive gamepads with it instead.
BBC Model B 32k issue 7, Sidewise ROM board with 16K RAM
Archimedes 420/1 upgraded to 4MB RAM (mid- restoration)
Acorn System 1 home-made replica

User avatar
jonb
Posts: 2279
Joined: Sat May 21, 2011 12:42 pm
Location: South Coast of England
Contact:

Re: Dragon 32 or Amstrad CPC 464

Post by jonb » Wed Nov 07, 2018 3:17 pm

The Dragon 32 used a Motorola 6809 processor (IIRC) and a very old video chip (old for the time, same as in the Atom I believe). As a result, it looks very primitive on screen. Software is hard to find. There wasn't that much for it in the first place (I remember this as I used to sell them), and what there was was pretty crappy. It had two things going for it: Very robust case (which is mostly empty) and a solid keyboard.

I've not used a 464 but I do have a couple of 6128s here. They are Z80 based, have disk drives and way more software. Also, AY sound chips and lots of nice graphics modes / colours, plus can run CP/M Plus. I'd hold out for one of those if I were you.

I think £90 is a bit expensive for either machine. Mark's advice about looking at sold listings on eBay is good. I'd be quite happy to offer you my spare 6128 but it's currently broken..

User avatar
jonb
Posts: 2279
Joined: Sat May 21, 2011 12:42 pm
Location: South Coast of England
Contact:

Re: Dragon 32 or Amstrad CPC 464

Post by jonb » Wed Nov 07, 2018 3:33 pm

Try this: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/253964720770

If you're near Bury St Edmunds as it is collection only, but it has joysticks, games and a monitor (which has the built in power supply) and you can see it working.

Also, see here for some useful advice: http://www.cpcwiki.eu/index.php/Amstrad ... yers_Guide
Last edited by jonb on Wed Nov 07, 2018 3:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
adrm
Posts: 160
Joined: Sun Sep 10, 2017 12:07 pm
Location: Norway
Contact:

Re: Dragon 32 or Amstrad CPC 464

Post by adrm » Wed Nov 07, 2018 4:08 pm

Thanks all.

The Dragon seems to be a "collector item" only then, so £90 might be too much.

I'll give the CPC 464 a bit of thought, because if I have to import from the UK, there will be Postage + VAT + VAT clearing charge in addition. I'm guessing the extras will add another £50 or more to the cost :evil:
-------
Tore

User avatar
trixster
Posts: 638
Joined: Wed May 06, 2015 11:45 am
Location: York
Contact:

Re: Dragon 32 or Amstrad CPC 464

Post by trixster » Wed Nov 07, 2018 5:36 pm

Regarding powering a 6128 - Bryce on cpcwiki used to make a handy device that allowed you to power the 6128 from just a 5v supply. I’ve been using one for the past two years and it works great, it means you don’t have to use two psu’s or use the monitor for 12v

http://www.cpcwiki.eu/forum/amstrad-cpc-hardware/5vcpc/
A3020 | A3000 | A420/1 | BBC B + 128K RAM/ROM + 20K Shadow + Pi0 + VideoNuLA
Master Turbo + DC + BeebSID | Atom | A4000 060 | A3000 060 | A1200 060 | A500
Atari Falcon 060 | Saturn | PS1 | SNES | CPC6128 | C64 | 3DO | MD | Jaguar

User avatar
adrm
Posts: 160
Joined: Sun Sep 10, 2017 12:07 pm
Location: Norway
Contact:

Re: Dragon 32 or Amstrad CPC 464

Post by adrm » Thu Nov 08, 2018 8:17 am

Speaking of power supplies ...
I'm eagerly awaiting this unit being designed by Lotharek in Poland: https://lotharek.pl/productdetail.php?id=144

I believe it will be something like this: https://lotharek.pl/productdetail.php?id=217
but have much more flexibility.
The way I understand it, he plans to sell power cables, suitable for most popular retro machines, for use with this item.

Right now he's looking into the possibility of making a cable for my NewBrains. I'm not holding my breath as this machine needs some unusual voltages AND uses a non-standard plug, but you never know.
newbrain_psu_06.jpg
newbrain_psu_06.jpg (13.43 KiB) Viewed 215 times
-------
Tore

User avatar
vanpeebles
Posts: 484
Joined: Wed Nov 28, 2012 10:01 am
Location: UK
Contact:

Re: Dragon 32 or Amstrad CPC 464

Post by vanpeebles » Thu Nov 08, 2018 8:22 am

adrm wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 4:08 pm
Thanks all.

The Dragon seems to be a "collector item" only then, so £90 might be too much.

I'll give the CPC 464 a bit of thought, because if I have to import from the UK, there will be Postage + VAT + VAT clearing charge in addition. I'm guessing the extras will add another £50 or more to the cost :evil:
£90 is way too much for a Dragon, I had 2 or 3 at one point, not sure where they went!

User avatar
vanpeebles
Posts: 484
Joined: Wed Nov 28, 2012 10:01 am
Location: UK
Contact:

Re: Dragon 32 or Amstrad CPC 464

Post by vanpeebles » Thu Nov 08, 2018 8:51 am

Do you have a kind of gumtree or ebay varient there? I remember a Finnish friend showing me a kind of ebay they had, which I was looking at Lada Nivas on :lol:

I reckon for £90 you could get something way more interesting.

User avatar
1024MAK
Posts: 7988
Joined: Mon Apr 18, 2011 4:46 pm
Location: Looking forward to summer in Somerset, UK...
Contact:

Re: Dragon 32 or Amstrad CPC 464

Post by 1024MAK » Thu Nov 08, 2018 8:53 am

A “universal” power supply unsurprisingly has been discussed on other eight bit computer forums before.

I wish Lotharek good luck with this. But in reality, the various eight bit computer manufacturers did such a good job of having as many variations as possible, that there can never truly be a universal power supply.

For a start, some computers require one or more low voltage AC inputs (Memotech MTX range for example), or a DC and an AC input (Commodore C64 for example), while others require multiple DC inputs like the Newbrain example that you give...

Mark


User avatar
adrm
Posts: 160
Joined: Sun Sep 10, 2017 12:07 pm
Location: Norway
Contact:

Re: Dragon 32 or Amstrad CPC 464

Post by adrm » Thu Nov 08, 2018 1:12 pm

Yes, finn.no is the site I use for local purchases. However, prices for retro computers have gone bananas over the last 6-9 months.
You wouldn't believe the prices asked for items in poor condition now.

12 months ago I could easily find an Amiga 500 in excellent condition for NOK 1000 (GBP 90). These days people are trying to sell them for 2.5 times that. Or more.
C64s sell for a lot, even when the seller states they don't know if it works and the items is being sold "as is", i.e. no refunds.

Only if lucky, and very quick, can you get a decent deal, but the sellers are often asking for "best offers", and bidding rounds drive prices sky high.
-------
Tore

User avatar
vanpeebles
Posts: 484
Joined: Wed Nov 28, 2012 10:01 am
Location: UK
Contact:

Re: Dragon 32 or Amstrad CPC 464

Post by vanpeebles » Thu Nov 08, 2018 1:14 pm

Ah :( That is a lot!

User avatar
adrm
Posts: 160
Joined: Sun Sep 10, 2017 12:07 pm
Location: Norway
Contact:

Re: Dragon 32 or Amstrad CPC 464

Post by adrm » Thu Nov 08, 2018 1:24 pm

vanpeebles wrote:
Thu Nov 08, 2018 1:14 pm
Ah :( That is a lot!
Indeed.
Asking GBP 230,- for the Spectrum QL in that ad is way over what I'm willing to pay. Considering that he states "Item condition is as shown in the (rather small) pictures".

I'd love to own as many different retro computers as I can get my hands on, but there is a threshold beyond which I think - "Good luck with that, and fire up an emulation on a RetroPie or a FPGA board
-------
Tore

User avatar
vanpeebles
Posts: 484
Joined: Wed Nov 28, 2012 10:01 am
Location: UK
Contact:

Re: Dragon 32 or Amstrad CPC 464

Post by vanpeebles » Thu Nov 08, 2018 3:23 pm

Ah that's not a QL, just a normal speccy :)

We do have users on the QL Forum from Norway, you might be better off joining a few forums, and putting up wanted adverts etc :)

User avatar
adrm
Posts: 160
Joined: Sun Sep 10, 2017 12:07 pm
Location: Norway
Contact:

Re: Dragon 32 or Amstrad CPC 464

Post by adrm » Thu Nov 08, 2018 3:36 pm

vanpeebles wrote:
Thu Nov 08, 2018 3:23 pm
Ah that's not a QL, just a normal speccy :)

We do have users on the QL Forum from Norway, you might be better off joining a few forums, and putting up wanted adverts etc :)
Ahhh, right! Spectrum noob --> Me :oops:

I'll head over to that forum for a look.
*cough* Which one is it? *cough*
-------
Tore

User avatar
1024MAK
Posts: 7988
Joined: Mon Apr 18, 2011 4:46 pm
Location: Looking forward to summer in Somerset, UK...
Contact:

Re: Dragon 32 or Amstrad CPC 464

Post by 1024MAK » Thu Nov 08, 2018 6:01 pm

Have a read through of this thread, lots of links in it to other forums and web sites for other machines and their groups :wink:

Mark

User avatar
adrm
Posts: 160
Joined: Sun Sep 10, 2017 12:07 pm
Location: Norway
Contact:

Re: Dragon 32 or Amstrad CPC 464

Post by adrm » Thu Nov 08, 2018 6:18 pm

1024MAK wrote:
Thu Nov 08, 2018 6:01 pm
Have a read through of this thread, lots of links in it to other forums and web sites for other machines and their groups :wink:

Mark
Excellent. I hadn't seen that one.
Thanks.
-------
Tore

User avatar
guddler
Posts: 515
Joined: Sat Apr 04, 2009 9:43 am
Location: W.Somerset
Contact:

Re: Dragon 32 or Amstrad CPC 464

Post by guddler » Fri Nov 09, 2018 2:17 am

Just seen this thread so catching up.

I actually have a soft spot for both of these machines since they were ones that I owned back when they were out. My progression was ZX81 -> Dragon32 -> CPC464. I couldn't afford the Dragon 64 (or struggled to beg my parents for the 32 so the 64 was out of the question more like it)

Sadly I wouldn't recommend either these days. I loved the Dragon back in the day because IMO it had some really great arcade conversions (IIRC Donkey Kong was particularly good) but let's face it, the colour palette restrictions were particularly crap. I remember you'd buy a game and on one side of the tape was a version in the 4 (or 8?) colours that were on a green background and flip the tape over and you had the even more god-awful choices of something like white, cyan, orange (brown?) and something else. Really? What were they thinking? And these were fixed, although I do see to recall some company managed to do some wizardry to change these colours). Obviously back then it being tape based was fine and the "proper" keyboard was one of the things that attracted me.

The 464 was a great machine and I even saved up and bought a disc drive (actually I think funded by the payout when someone nearly killed me on my motorbike). Pretty sure it was this machine that I first started to properly tinker with programming and I'm sure I remember something about CP/M somewhere along the line. BUT, sadly, it's the disc drive thing that means while I would clearly say the 464 is the better machine, I'd also not go for it. You want the 6128. I have two of these and one of them I only got because someone that was about a 2hr drive away couldn't seem to give it away so I just drove up and got it one day (£40 IIRC, in the end).

If you're going to go Amstrad then wait it out and find a 6128 somewhere, replace the drive belt and off you go (you can also add an external 3.5" floppy)

User avatar
adrm
Posts: 160
Joined: Sun Sep 10, 2017 12:07 pm
Location: Norway
Contact:

Re: Dragon 32 or Amstrad CPC 464

Post by adrm » Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:40 am

guddler wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 2:17 am
Just seen this thread so catching up.

I actually have a soft spot for both of these machines since they were ones that I owned back when they were out. My progression was ZX81 -> Dragon32 -> CPC464. I couldn't afford the Dragon 64 (or struggled to beg my parents for the 32 so the 64 was out of the question more like it)

Sadly I wouldn't recommend either these days.
...

If you're going to go Amstrad then wait it out and find a 6128 somewhere, replace the drive belt and off you go (you can also add an external 3.5" floppy)
Thanks for your input.
That's where I landed as well, so I let those two units go to someone else.
-------
Tore

Post Reply