ZX Spectrum Angst.

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Spudgun
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Re: ZX Spectrum Angst.

Post by Spudgun » Fri Oct 09, 2015 8:42 pm

Right. It's a Spectrum rant this time.

I've got a converted Sega Megadrive joypad for my 48K Speccy. In order for all of the buttons to work. I converted a spare joystick interface. The conversion involved adding 3 jumper wires from one joystick port to the other. It works! I now have another converted Sega Megadrive joypad for my 128K Speccy. I believed that it would take another 3 jumper wires to get the remaining buttons to work on that joypad. I added the 3 jumper wires. It didn't work!

It took me a couple of hours and a downloaded schematic of the circuit board to find out why. On the 48K Speccy. The number keys are directly wired to the edge connector at the back of the circuit board. In short: 11 of the tabs are wired in parallel to the top row of the keyboard. Simple. You'd think that the 128K Speccy would be wired in a similar fashion. Nope. Not a bit of it! Those plonkers at Amstrad had multiplexed the lines from the joystick ports. One line would give a 5 or a 0. Another was wired to give a 4 or a 9. It all depended on what socket was being used. All a jumper wire would do was: Duplicate a number on a different button.

Well thank you Alan Sugar. Although I like the 128K Speccy. Your penny pinching efforts may have made the 128K Spectrum an utter nightmare to convert. It can be converted. It will be converted. I'm just glad that you don't pump out cheap and nasty junk with Amstrad written on it any more.
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Spudgun
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Re: ZX Spectrum Angst.

Post by Spudgun » Sat Oct 10, 2015 2:15 pm

Update (Remember those?).

I'm pleased to announce that the final testing has been completed. I have tested my ability to load TZX files from my laptop to the Speccy. The upshot being; Any game that anyone wants (as long as it's a 48K game) can be loaded onto the Speccy from the World of Spectrum website. Of course. These games will be put into the Requests folder whilst at the Con.

With the Con only being 5 weeks away. I can concentrate on something else. Like gaming! Oh, and working on sorting out my 128K Speccy. Expect more asides!
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Spudgun
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Re: ZX Spectrum Angst.

Post by Spudgun » Sat Oct 10, 2015 7:02 pm

Aside time!

I've been working on my ideal Speccy set-up again. In this adventure, I pulled out my ZX Printers. Yup, I've got two of 'em. Well. One is really for my ZX81, but that's not important here. For anyone who doesn't know. The ZX Printer uses metalised paper. The paper is black, but has a thin layer of aluminum on it. An electric current passes through the paper and burns the aluminum coating away, thus revealing the black underneath. It's an odd way to do things, but if you consider that a proper printer cost around £250 back in the early 80's. The £50 price tag for a ZX Printer is quite cheap. Moving swiftly along......

I pulled out the 'manky' printer and gave it a good clean. Ye Gods it was dusty. After a good scrub, I fired it up. It worked perfectly. Then I pulled out the 'nice' printer. After a wipe down with a damp cloth, I fired it up. It made all of the right noises, but didn't print anything. Eventually, I pulled the printer apart. The drive belt had broken.

The drive belt is the bit that drags the electrified styli around. This belt is made of a form of rubber. The belt was broken in two places. Now, I have seen adverts for replacement belts before. Dammed if I could find them now. I did find a guide for repairing the printer though. However, in order to repair the printer, I needed the belt to measure. The belt was filthy, so I dropped it into some warm water so I could clean it. The belt then simply crumbled!

I'm having to try and find that advert again!
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Spudgun
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Re: ZX Spectrum Angst.

Post by Spudgun » Tue Oct 13, 2015 8:03 pm

Time for a spot of lunacy.

At this moment. My 48K 'rubber key'' Speccy has been prepped for the Con, so it has been put to one side. As a result, I'm using my 128K Speccy. I've mentioned before that the website World of Spectrum specializes in TZX file. I also explained that TZX files are perfect copies of the original cassettes. So here's the deal.....

I wanted to try a game out, but it was only available as a TZX file. If I was using my 48K Speccy, I could plug it into my PC, play the TZX file and load the game. Simple. However. Since I was using the 128K Speccy, I couldn't do this. The 128K Speccy has an inbuilt tape deck. There is no provision for an external cassette player. I have to load the game the way that hard core Speccy fans do.

I connected a cassette recorder to my PC. I then played the TZX file and recorded the program onto the cassette. Once done. The cassette was them placed into the tape deck of the 128K Speccy. Jiggered if the game didn't load first time! Amazing!

Game was rubbish though.
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Liz W
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Re: ZX Spectrum Angst.

Post by Liz W » Wed Oct 14, 2015 7:29 am

'Ello

Your comment about the 128k having an inbuilt tape deck, means it must have been one of those I had as a kid :D

Liz
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Spudgun
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Re: ZX Spectrum Angst.

Post by Spudgun » Wed Oct 14, 2015 4:16 pm

Liz. There were three different versions of the 128K Speccy.

The original 128K looked like the 48K+, but had a finned heatsink on the side. It's known as the 'Toastrack'. The second version was the +2. That one had an in-built tape deck. The +3 have a disc drive.
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Liz W
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Re: ZX Spectrum Angst.

Post by Liz W » Thu Oct 15, 2015 12:26 pm

It must have been the +2 I had then!

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Spudgun
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Re: ZX Spectrum Angst.

Post by Spudgun » Fri Oct 16, 2015 7:37 pm

In this outing. I've be delving into 'Poking' a Spectrum.

Back in the 80's, games were given a new lease of life with Pokes. Some games were harder than others, so 'Poking' gave you extra lives, etc. At least you were now able to finish a game. So. What is a Poke?

Each area of the memory has an address. The address is a 5 digit number. The number is then followed by a value. Being an 8-bit machine. The value was a number between 0 and 255. So a memory address could look like 23878,0. So 23878 is the memory address and 0 is its value. When a game is loaded, the value of this memory address will change. It could change to 23878,5. Let's say (for example) that memory address 23878,5 is being used for the number of lives in a game. Let's say that I want more lives. By directly addressing that memory address by using the Poke command, I can change the value. So I'd type in Poke 23878,10, I can give myself 5 extra lives. OK so far?

Doing things direct from the keyboard was a bit long winded. However, it wasn't long before Spectrum related magazines (Crash ZX Spectrum, Sinclair User, etc) started to add covertapes to their magazines. These tapes (Besides having demos of games on them) had Pokes on tape. You loaded the program. Selected the game you wanted to 'Poke' and then loaded the game in question. Simple. Well, it would be if I hadn't thrown out all of those 'Pokes on tape' cassettes.

With the purchase of the DivMMC interface and the instant loading of games, I chucked out all of magazine covertapes. After all. I wasn't going to use cassettes anymore, so why keep them? Just how was I going to 'Poke' a game now? Sadly. I was back to doing it the long way.

I'm currently playing Avalon. It's a graphic adventure. The biggest problem is that until you get into the game, you're defenseless against Goblins, etc. You can only dodge them, or try and shut them into a room. This makes gameplay a bit frustrating as opening and closing doors is a real pain. I needed an infinite energy Poke.

At this time. I have a Snapshot file of the game on an SD card. Sadly, there's nothing you can do to alter the memory. You can't stop the game, enter the Pokes and start the game again (Something you can do with a Multiface, which I don't have). I ended up having to download a TZX file from World of Spectrum. I then had to play the file direct into my 48K Speccy for the initial file. Stop the TZX file. Enter the Pokes via the keyboard and then play the rest of the TZX file. It worked, but what a faff! Oh. I did do a snapshot of the 'Poked' game, so anyone can play it with infinite energy.

I really need to get a Multiface!
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Spudgun
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Re: ZX Spectrum Angst.

Post by Spudgun » Sun Oct 18, 2015 11:36 am

Just a quick one.

After 30 years. I've actually finished Avalon!. I'm trying to think of a way to celebrate.
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Spudgun
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Re: ZX Spectrum Angst.

Post by Spudgun » Wed Oct 21, 2015 7:15 pm

Well. I thought of a way to celebrate finishing Avalon. I decided to buy in some bits and bobs for my Speccy set-up. I bought a dead, but boxed 48K 'rubber key' Spectrum.

Now. I should explain that I had no interest in the dead Speccy. It was the other stuff I was interested in. If anything, I was going to buy in a cheap, but working replacement PCB and put the unwanted Speccy into the Charity Auction. However, things took an interesting turn......

There is snobbery with the world of Speccy ownership. Well. I suppose there's snobbery within every subject going where ownership of an object is concerned. One version of an item is held in higher regard than another version. To me. I don't really care. As long as it works. That's fine with me. Well. It was until yesterday.

The boxed, but dead Speccy arrived yesterday. I opened the box and took out the contents. To be honest. I was gobsmacked at the condition of what I had bought. It was almost in pristine condition! The dead Speccy was in miles better condition than mine. If I had to take a guess. I'd say that the Speccy was bought new. Played with for a month or so until it broke. It was then put back into its box and then shoved into the loft. It then sat there for 30 years. I'll now expand on the snobbery aspect.

I opened the the case of the dead Speccy. Inside was a pristine condition Issue 2 PCB. The date on the Modulator was Week 19 1983 (I should point that this date means that the Modulator was made in 1983 at Week 19). I also checked the Serial No on the bottom of the case. The number was a fairly low one.

The snobbery involves the Issue of the PCB. The date on the Modulator and the Serial number of the Speccy. It's ye old question. Who has the oldest, but the most original Spectrum? Also: The older the Spectrum. The more it's worth. Combine this with the bits in the box that I wanted (Including the box). I had something that was almost in time warp condition (Mint condition Speccys can fetch up to £300). So what to do?

I suppose that this cheap, but dead Speccy has brought out the snob in me. The broken keyboard I can fix myself (I did it with my 1984, Issue 3 Speccy). I've found someone who can repair the dead Issue 2 PCB. Let's see what happens......
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