Z80 Assembly programming for the Sam Coupe (Sam Coupé)

Download my Sam Coupe Sourcecode and Notes!

As part of my ongoing Z80 tutorials, I've been looking for technically impressive Z80 based computers that I was not familiar with, but demanded more attention than the market gave them... after a tip off from a Youtube viewer, I started looking at the Sam Coupe, and it represents an impressive Z80 based 8 bit system, that I had only barely heard of (In fact I incorrecty thougt it was 16 bit!)

What makes the Sam Coupe Special?
The Sam Coupe came late in the Z80's life - released in 1989, and discontinued in 1992... they were presumably going after the 16 bit market, and targeted their system with specs to really compete!
The machine was povided with a 3.5 inch disk drive by default, and came with a minimum of 256k... what's more, it used a 6mhz Z80... nearly twice what other systems had... and its screen display is capable of 256x192 at 16 colors... the same as the MSX, however as the Sam Coupe screen is part of system memory, it is MUCH faster than the MSX!

according to my testing, Despite having a 24k screen the Sam Coupe beats the Amstrad (16k screen, 3.57mhz) for speed doing fill commands... only the Enterprise is faster (again 16k, but a 4mhz processor)

The Enterprise 128 is an 8 bit Z80 system, it's comparable to the Amstrad CPC,however it has more advanced Memory Mapping which allows more flexible bank switching, and more advanced graphics

So what's not to like? well the only 'problem' with the system is the huge 24k screen seems to have caused some design limitations, unlike the CPC/Spectrum and Enterprise which bank swap in 16k chunks, the Sam Coupe swaps in 32k blocks... which would make porting my ChibiAkumas game pretty time consuming... that said, I hope to release new games for it in the future, build from the ground up to work with this limitation!

Unfortunately, the Sam Coupe only sold 12,000 units, so they're pretty rare now, and I don't own one! fortunately there's a great free emulator called SimCoupe
The sam Coupe
Image taken from Wikipedia

Problems I've come across!

Sam Coupe disks are 3.5 inch, but they don't use standard dos format, this means you need to build disk images with Sam Coupe tools, there's some great ones, such as the "Sam Coupe Advanced Disk Manager" and "Sam Coupe Diskimage Manager", but the one I use most is a modified copy of "Andrew Colliers Simcoupe DSK manager"

I needed a program that could build a disk image from a script, and I found I was struggling to get disk images built with the correct "Start address" (execute address)... Andrews program built disk images from dos, but unfortunately did not put the code address in, My C++ skills are pretty rusty, but I managed to build a modified version that puts in a start address of &8000, and can read the keypresses from a text file, so can be scripted in the way I wanted... I'll include the source, build and other useful stuff in the download linked at the top of this page

I had a lot of trouble getting SamDos to work (mostly my own fault) but was quite frustrated by the fact it seems there is no usable example of how to use it,
As I now have a working sample, I'm uploading it here to try to help others!

Call SAVE and LOADDIRECT with HL pointing to a filename (see the example at the top) and DE pointing to a memory destination... A should point to a Bank!

BC must be bytes to save with the SAVE command!

I will be covering this code in disk ops in detail  in my tutorials very soon!

LoadFileName:         db "-"
LoadFileNameTrack:    db "0000"
             db "."
LoadFileNameCompressed:    db "D"
LoadFileNameDisk:     db "0      "

SETDMA    EQU &1A ;Disk transfer address (Destination/source)
BDOS_INIT        EQU &1B
BDOS_RESET        EQU &00
BDOS_DiskRESET        EQU &0D
BDOS_DefaultDrive     EQU &0E
BDOS_GetDefaultDrive     EQU &19

;defw &0000 DiscDestRelocateCall_Plus2;not implemented yet!

;        Create a new file
    ld (FileErrorSpRestore_Plus2-2),sp

    push af
        push bc
        push de
            ld de,diskerr    ;Error handler
            ld (&5BC0),de    ;This is called EVERY return from a Dos call (if error occured or not!)

            ld de,&4B00
            ld a,19
            ld (de),a
            inc de
            ld bc,14
        pop de
        pop bc

        ld ix,&4B00
;    ld a,d
;    and %110000
    pop af
    ld (ix+31),a    ;31      16K PACE NUMBER START

    ld (ix+32),e    ;32-33  PAGE OFFSET (8000-BFFFH) LSB/MSB
    ld a,d
    and %00111111
    or  %10000000
    ld (ix+33),a

    xor a        ;34      NUMBER OF PAGES IN LENGTH
    ld (ix+34),a

    ld (ix+35),c    ;35-36  MODULO 0 TO 16383 LENGTH ie file length MOD 16384.
    ld (ix+36),b

    ld (ix+37),a    ;37      EXECUTE PAGE NUMBER if applicable

    ld (ix+38),a    ;38-39  EXECUTE OFFSET (8000-BFFFH) LSB/MSB if applicable
    ld (ix+39),a

    xor a        ;Before using this hook poke &5BB9  with 0 to overite existing file.
    ld (&5BB9),a   

    ld ix,&4B00
    rst 1
    db 132    ;HSAVE - Save file using IX pointed UIFA


    push hl
        ld hl,null                    ;Disable the relocate
        ld (DiscDestRelocateCall_Plus2-2),hl
    pop hl

    ld (FileErrorSpRestore_Plus2-2),sp

    push de
        ld de,diskerr    ;Error handler
        ld (&5BC0),de    ;This is called EVERY return from a Dos call (if error occured or not!)
                ;note - we're not setting this on WRITE command, we're assuming one read command will happen first!

        ld de,&4B00    ;This points to the UIFA in ram bank 00 - SAMDOS doesn't seem to work right if it's anywhere else!
        ld a,19        ;This means CODE FILE
        ld (de),a
        inc de
        ld bc,14    ;copy the 14 char file name from HL - must be padded with spaces!
         ld ix,&4B00
        rst 1
        db 129         ; HGTHD - Get the file header (loads to IX+80

        ld bc,(&4B00+80+35)    ;Get the file size

        ld a,%00111111        ;For some reason the file sizes seems to be too high, it should be a less than 16384
        and b            ;It may be my mistake!
        ld b,a
    pop hl

    ;This is used when the file is compressed.
;    ex hl,de   
    call null:DiscDestRelocateCall_Plus2
;    ex hl,de
    push hl
    push bc

        ld bc,251    ;HMPR - High Memory Page Register (251 dec)
        in a,(c)
        ld (DiskRestoreBank_Plus1-1),a
        push bc
            ld de,&4F00
            ld hl,DoActualLoad
            ld bc,DoActualLoad_BlockEnd-DoActualLoad
            ld de,diskerrSpec-DoActualLoad+&4F00    ;Error handler
            ld (&5BC0),de    ;This is called EVERY return from a Dos call (if error occured or not!)
        pop bc
    pop de
    pop hl
    jp &4F00
    and %11100000
    or 0:DiskLoadBank_Plus1
    out (c),a
    ld c,0
    ld ix,&4B00
    rst 1               
    db 130                ;HLOAD - Load the file
        scf        ; OK! set carry flag
        push af
            ld bc,251    ;HMPR - High Memory Page Register (251 dec)
            ld a,0    :DiskRestoreBank_Plus1
            out (c),a
        pop af
        or a    ;Clear the carry frlag
        ret z     ; no error
        ld sp,&0000:FileErrorSpRestore_Plus2
        jr LoadDone2

;db 19
;db "music.bin                        "
;ds 80+48
;ds 48

;UIFA and DIFA have the same format,
;UIFA is provided by user at IX, DIFA is returned by the disk at IX+80

;1-14      FILENAME. 14 characters are allocated to allow for device
;    identification, for example D1;filenamexx. SAMDOS will strip
;    off the device identifier, so the maximum length of a filename
;    is still ten characters.
;15      FLAGS
;16-26  If the file type is 17 or 18 then these bytes contain the
;    type/length byte and the name.
;16      If the file type is 20 then this byte contains the screen
;    mode.
;16-18  If the file type is 16 then these bytes contain the program
;    length excluding variables.
;19-21  If the file type is 16 then these bytes contain the program
;    length plus the numeric variables.
;22-24  If the file type is 16 then these bytes contain the program
;    length plus the numeric variables and the gap length before
;    the character variables.
;27-30  SPARE 4 BYTES (Reserved)
;35-36  MODULO 0 TO 16383 LENGTH ie file length MOD 16384.
;37      EXECUTE PAGE NUMBER if applicable
;38-39  EXECUTE OFFSET (8000-BFFFH) LSB/MSB if applicable
;40-47  SPARE 8 BYTES (Comment Field

SimCoupe - Great Sam Coupe Emulator!
Sam.Speccy.cz - Great site with tons of technical info
User Manual - Basic usage guide
Technical Manual - You'll want this for programming

Sam Coupe Programming Tutorials:
P2 - More Text Functions, Improvements... and the Sam Coupe!
P4 - Bitmap graphics on the ZX Spectrum and Sam Coupe
P6 - Keyreading on the Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum and Sam Coupe

General Z80 Assembly Tutorials:
B. Beginner series - Learn the basics
A. Advanced series - In more detail
M. Multiplatform series - programming methods that work on all systems

Visit www.ChibiAkumas.com to get my games and their source code! | Support me on patreon

** Yes I've called it "Sam Coupe" not "Sam Coupé" - If I don't know how to type the é symbol no-one searching for it will either!