Amstrad NC200 is the successor to the NC100(LINK) and came out a year after it. It includes many upgrades but much of the design and software looks much the same.
Even though the form factor has changed from notebook to clamshell many of the design elements looks much the same. Especially the keyboard looks exactly the same. By making the display fold down over the keyboard there is room for the larger screen and it also better protected now. The extra thickness makes room for the added diskette drive and the needed battery upgrade to C cells in order to power the diskette drive and the backlight.
Amstrad continuous with their user friendly design both on the hardware side with colored keys for shortcuts and a bold font on the keys to make them more readable. To me it makes the computer looks a little childish. The software side is also very user friendly with the large graphic and the menus that is easy to navigate through for a computer novice. For the advanced user a secret menu can be found including many “Function + letter” shortcuts.
To me this computer is very interesting because I had the NC100 when I was a teenager. When I searched for information I saw the pictures of the much nicer NC200 with its huge display and more advanced software.
The form factor of the computer reminds me of the small handheld computers and PDAs with their wide displays like HP 95LX(LINK) and Journada 720(LINK). This one is just much bigger and does not look like any other laptop.
|Form factor||Clamshell notebook computer|
|CPU||4 MHz Zilog Z80 Custom|
|Storage||ROM, 720 KB 3.5″ floppy disk, PCMCIA memory slot|
|Display||8.7″ LCD 480×128 pixels, 80 characters x 16 lines|
|OS||OS BBC BASIC|
|Dimensions||295 x 215 x 35 mm|
|I/O ports||RS-232, parallel, PCMCIA memory slot|
|Power||DC 7.5 V plug (center GND!), 5x C batteries|
|Special features||A great successor to the NC100|
Featuring many improvements like better resolution, backlight display, diskette drive and PCMCIA reader and more included software.
|Condition||Okay condition but with some scratches on top of the lid. Working, including backlight. Diskette drive and PCMCIA not tested.|
|Accessories||Unoriginal power adapter|
|To do||Connect it to a modern computer. Try to install software from Tim’s Amstrad NC Users Site|
This computer is not very common in Denmark. The sibling Olivetti M-10 once showed up on DBA but I did not got it because I didn’t find it very interesting at the time. This computer was bought on eBay as untested or not working. The auction was won at the last moment and shipped from England.
Restoration and modification
I started by cleaning the underside of the computer to remove the decolorization. To my surprise it wasn’t that hard to remove and ended up almost impossible to see.
Afterwards I wanted to remove the bottom part by unscrewing the four screws, one is hidden in the battery compartment. Because of the battery acid this screw was completely rusted and when I tried to unscrew it, I damaged the head so I had to drill it out. When I got the computer opened I was very happy to see that the acid had been kept inside the battery compartment and the mainboard showed no sign of acid damage. I cleaned all of the acid but the metal springs that connects to the batteries was hard to get nice again.
The make sure there were no damage at the underside of the mainboard I wanted to inspect it. To do that the four metal screws that holds the diskette drive most be removed including its cable. I removed the rest of the screws holding the mainboard and removed it. Still no sign of acid there. But now came the problems. Under the mainboard is a sheet of metal for EMC protection. In between is a plastic sheet to avoid short circuit with the metal sheet. When I disassembled it I did not pay enough attention to how it was stacked. I had to repeat the assembly process a couple of times before I got it right.
The mainboard itself is not very interesting. Almost everything is packed inside the large Amstrad IC. The CPU, various I/O and memory management is integrated on the same die. But it is a nice way of making the assembly much simpler and cheaper.
I wanted to power up the computer but since the the DC plug is center ground I did not had a power supply at hand. I found a laboratory power supply that I could connect the the battery metal springs. When I pushed the power button the computer came to life and even the backlight worked perfect. Now I realized that I had got the computer for a very reasonable price compared to the normal price level at eBay.
I modified an old 7.5 V power adapter by connecting the right size DC plug so I can use that with the computer.