Michael Wessel's CPC Portable Is the World's First Self-Contained Amstrad CPC 464 Conversion

Taking a staple of the 1980s British computing industry and giving it a makeover, this build creates a truly portable micro.

Gareth Halfacree
3 months agoRetro Tech / HW101

Vintage computing enthusiast Michael Wessel has put together what he claims is the "world's first" truly portable Amstrad CPC 464 — complete with built-in screen and the ability to operate under battery power.

"The Amstrad CPC has always been a very compact and portable 'all-in-one' machine," Wessel explains. "When I got my hands on a cost-reduced CPC 464 which has plenty of empty space and a defunct and irreparable datacorder, I couldn't resist - I needed to make a fully self-contained, portable and extended CPC 464, including a color TFT display, 512 KB RAM expansion, Flash-ROM, disk controller with Mini HxC, and stereo amplifier that would still allow for extension cards."

This is claimed to be the world's first Amstrad CPC 464 capable of running entirely stand-alone. (📹: Michael Wessel)

The CPC 464 — a "colour personal computer" with a 4MHz Z80 processor and 64kB of RAM, hence its name — was Amstrad's entry into the home computing market. While the bulk of the hardware was built into the keyboard, including a microcassette recorder for loading and saving data, the CPC 464 couldn't be used on its own: where rivals like the Sinclair Spectrum or Commodore 64 could be plugged into any home TV set, the CPC 464 required a custom monitor, which served as both a display device and a power supply.

Not so Wessel's conversion: after a claimed 40 hours of work, the custom CPC no longer requires its dedicated monitor and instead can use a color panel housed where the microcassette recorder would once have lived. Even the power supply can be ditched, at least for a while: internal batteries make Wessel's build entirely self-contained, while an integrated disk controller allows for data to be saved and loaded from USB storage to compensate for the missing cassette deck.

"Is the CPC Portable really portable? Of course it is," Wessel claims. "My MSI desktop substitute gaming laptop weighs almost a full [pound] more; note that the speakers can be removed easily as well, as they are only attached with Velcro. The CPC also still has it internal little mono speaker. Note that the original CPC 464 with datacorder actually still weighs more than the Portable - the tape drive is 'heavy metal!'"

More details are available on Wessel's Hackaday.io project page.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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