• Please review our updated Terms and Rules here
  • Exhibitor application for VCF West 2022 is now open! If you are interested in exhibiting, please fill out the form here.
  • Here are the results of the VCF East 2022 Post Event Survey: Survey Results

Amstrad PC5286HD - Restoration & Usage


New Member
May 13, 2020
So I should hopefully soon be reunited with my childhood Amstrad 286 PC! I remember it had a lovely slimline desktop case, the downside being that only gave space to two ISA slots.

My plan is to restore and preserve it as much as possible, battery, capacitors if necessary, cleaning etc. But then I also really wishing to make this PC useful and used, so I was thinking of the following upgrades and modifications. Would love to hear your comments, experiences and things I may have missed:

Besides the no-brainers:
  • Max out the RAM
  • Math co-processor

Would love a GoTek floppy, but do those fit behind cases that have drives behind the bezel?

... I am also researching and considering the following:
  • 256MB industrial DOM to replace the hard drive. (low capacity to avoid issues with OS, BIOS etc as much as possible).
  • Swapping out the adlib compatible with an SB16 or something like that, with wavetable, perhaps a DreamBlaster Synth S2 General MIDI Daughterboard too?

But what I am also now thinking is what to do with that spare ISA. Maybe a SCSI perhaps? Those seem to still have a wide variety of devices still available at reasonable prices. Maybe a bluetooth transmitter on the audio out to hook it up to my amplifier too.

The file transferring thing is my biggest concern though. I don't particularly want to go down the floppy route, nor use up an ISA backplate with a CF card. I've seen a few serial port bluetooth adaptors on the market, and am wondering if those could be used as a null modem set up with one of my more modern machines...

Cheers guys!


Veteran Member
Aug 12, 2009
Oslo, Norway
Would love a GoTek floppy, but do those fit behind cases that have drives behind the bezel?
The Gotek is basically a "Blue Pill" compatible board in a case, with SD card slot, a display, buttons and LEDs attached. So you can make something that fits and is compatible with FlashFloppy firmware.


Experienced Member
May 18, 2020
Kermit (on nullmodem serial) is a good option for file transfer.

But as you have an ISA slot, why not throw in an ISA NIC and use etherdfs?

If the NIC has a boot rom slot, you could also take care of the HDD size problem, with xtide universal bios.


Experienced Member
Feb 1, 2018
Bristol, UK
Pleased to see another Amstrad PC survive - very underrated and well built machines (yellow-prone plastic cases aside).

First thing I would do is check on the battery - it's a nasty barrel type that is prone to leaking. Get that thing out straight away, even if you don't plan to start your refurb at that time.

On the floppy drive - IIRC they use a non standard drive where power and drive signals are on a single cable. Underneath it may be a standard Shugart interface and standard power so you could build an adaptor for your Gotek or it may not. But I would consider that you may not be able to fit a Gotek (although that's not necessarily a deal breaker - plenty of USB floppy drives and blank disks still available to move things over and other options to move data are available).

The hard drive is AFAIK standard IDE but it was common at this time for BIOS limitations on size based around what could be ordered with the computer. I don't think you could get the 5286 with capacities greater than 120MB so it is very likely that may be the maximum size and your 256MB DOM may not work with the onboard controller (or will work but will be treated as a smaller drive). No reason you couldn't stick another controller that bypasses the BIOS in a slot though.

An 80287 copro does not deliver an automatic performance upgrade; software needs to be designed to use it. Unless you plan to run something which says it will benefit from a copro, there's no point.

Upgrading the Adlib may also not offer you too much in real terms - games that could use a wavetable card (or even an SB16) but will run on a 286 are pretty thin on the ground. Again, unless you have something which says it will support this configuration, I probably wouldn't worry (that and it may be cooler to have an Adlib card - real Adlibs rather than sound cards which happen to have Adlib support are pretty rare now). Personally I think it would be far cooler to have a PC with a real Adlib in it


Nov 6, 2018
I'd put in an ISA NIC and set up mbbrutman's excellent mTCP stack. I have it installed on all of my DOS computers, making file transfer a breeze. With the Telnet client you can login to Telnet BBSes and the ftp client allows you to browse some of the still-existing legendary .fi file archives of the old days - nic.funet.fi, uwasa mirrors etc.

If you decide to do this, I'm located in .fi and have about a dozen spare ISA NICs - SMC, 3Com and generic NE2k.