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Re: ZX Spectrum Angst.

Posted: Wed Oct 21, 2015 9:03 pm
by Spudgun

I've made contact with someone who repairs Spectrum PCB's. His advert claims that he has a 2 week turnaround time (Dependant on the fault found). Considering that there's just over 3 weeks to go before the Con. It's going to be touch and go if I can get a Speccy into the Charity Auction.

Re: ZX Spectrum Angst.

Posted: Thu Oct 22, 2015 6:46 am
by Liz W
The thought of a snobby Barry makes me smile! :lol:


Re: ZX Spectrum Angst.

Posted: Thu Oct 22, 2015 4:02 pm
by Spudgun
I don't really regard myself as a snob. I'm more of a preservationist really. Well. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Re: ZX Spectrum Angst.

Posted: Sat Oct 24, 2015 2:58 pm
by Spudgun
Update (Not had one of these for a while).

Speccy World is a funny old place. As mentioned previously. I'm restoring a formally dead Speccy, so I can put one into the Charity Auction. At this time. The dead Issue 2 circuit board is off for repair. I had ordered a new keyboard membrane and facia plate and was awaiting its arrival. This morning, I got an E-mail.

The E-mail was from the place where I had bought the keyboard membrane and facia. The guy told me that he had gotten two packages mixed up and that I was going to receive a package that should've gone to Essex. Now. I wasn't all that bothered. The Essex package just so happened to contain a keyboard membrane and a facia plate. So I was happy enough. I don't think that the Essex guy will be quite as chuffed though. He ordered two membranes. Two facia plates and a facia for a Microdrive.

Well. The package turned up. Yes. I had the Essex package. The case of the 'dead Speccy' has now been restored to its fully functional glory. I wonder how the guy in Essex feels? THe Vendor is going to send the guy in Essex some replacement parts and I'm returning the surplus parts to the vendor later in the week.

Hey ho.

Re: ZX Spectrum Angst.

Posted: Mon Oct 26, 2015 5:12 pm
by Spudgun

I've just had an E-Mail from the place that I had sent the Issue 2 circuit board for repair. It's fixed! There's more though.

He asked if he could change the ULA (Uncommitted Logic Array) chip. He explained that the one on the Issue 2 board was only fitted for a period of 4 weeks before Sinclair changed it for a better one. Since I'm not a snob, I said yes. I've probably upset a lot of Speccy collectors now.

Re: ZX Spectrum Angst.

Posted: Thu Oct 29, 2015 9:54 pm
by Spudgun
Slight correction to my last Post. I've re-read the E-Mail I was sent from the repair bloke. It said that it was an easy fix. Not that he had fixed it. My bad. The fault was a duff RAM chip. Since RAM chips are widely available. It's an easy fix. The PCB isn't due back for another week. Even so. I still have to do the Composite mod and then ensure that the Speccy is compatible with my Interface 1 and Microdrives (Some early Speccys weren't). After that. I'll have to do a 'soak' test (Hmmm. Playing games on it for hours) to make sure it doesn't pack up (Some Speccys die after a bit of time, due to dodgy solder joints). Anyway. Here's something a bit different.

Cash in the Attic?

For many. Gaming on a Spectrum is a thing of the past. Many a machine gets put into a box and shoved into the loft. Interest in Speccy gaming has increased recently, due to the advent of the ZX Vega and the Bluetooth Spectrum keyboard. Although there has always been a strong Spectrum gaming scene. So what's in demand and fetching the money in Speccyland? I'm not going to give prices, as this thread will age and values will change. However, the desirability for certain items won't change.

1: The 128K 'Toastrack' Spectrum.
This is the only 128K machine produced by Clive Sinclair. It looks like a Spectrum+, but with a heatsink on the side. Boxed examples go for 2 to 3 times the original purchase price.

2: The 128K Spectrum+3.
Alan Sugars final Speccy incarnation. He removed the tape deck and replaced it with the obsolete 3" disk drive. It was a sales flop (Although it did better than his E-Mailer with a built in Speccy). Boxed examples often fetch over the original purchase price.

3: The 48K 'Rubberkey' Spectrum with Issue 1 board.
This is the first Spectrum to be released back in 1982. It had light grey keys, instead of the blue/grey keys of the later issues (It's an Issue 1 that's on the box of the 'Rubberkey' Spectrum). Some say that only 16000 were made. Others say it's 60000. Either way, it's the rarest. I've no idea of its value. I've never seen one. These could possibly fetch more than the 'Toastrack'.

4: The 16K 'Rubberkey' Spectrum.
A bit of a wildcard this one. They vary from valuable to worthless. A 16K machine is one that only had a few RAM chips fitted. A 48K machine had all of the RAM chips fitted. So a 16K machine should have slots free for extra RAM chips. Problem is: Sinclair fitted machines with duff chips. In short: Sinclair test each machine as it came off the production line. If the test resulted in 48K. The machine went out as a 48K Speccy. If there was less than 48K, but more than 16K. It went out as a 16K machine. The reducto being: If you've got a 16K machine that has a full compliment of RAM chips. It's worthless. If your Speccy has the correct RAM chip count for a 16K machine. It's valuable.

5: The 48K 'Rubberkey' Spectrum.
These machines should have an Issue 2 or Issue 3 board. Good boxed examples can fetch up to the original purchase price.

6: The 48K Spectrum+
As 48K Speccys go. These are the cheapest. They do tend to be scrapped for their boards. Some were given Issue 3 boards. Others were Issue 4 onwards. Because of this. You should check the board of any 'Rubberkey' purchase to ensure it didn't come out of a scrapped Spectrum+. The Spectrum+ fetches around half of the original purchase price.

7: The 128K +2 (Includes the +2A and +2B)
This is bargain basement gaming. There were thousands of these machines made. Even a good boxed example goes for less than half of the original purchase price.

8: Spectrum Game ROMs.
Only 10 different ones were produced. They plugged into the Interface 2. The game loaded instantly. However. Each ROM had a 16K game on it, as the ROM could only hold 16K. They also cost three times as much as the same game on tape. A bit pointless really. ROMs can fetch 4 times as much as their original purchase price now.

9: The ZX Microdrive.
This was a fast tape system. It was a good idea, but badly executed. The tapes were somewhat unreliable. Also, no programmes for the Speccy were released on them (With the exception of the Expansion Pack bundle), unlike for the Sinclair QL. It wasn't until the arrival of the Romantic Robot Multiface did the Microdrive become relevant. Microdrives fetch rougly half of their original purchase price, unless boxed. Then it's about the same.

18: The Romantic Robot Multiface.
This is the only item on this list that wasn't made by Sinclair. The Multiface was made by a Company called Romantic Robot. It plugged into the back of the Spectrum and it could stop a loaded game in its tracks. You could then play around with the program and then save it again. You could save it to tape. Or even a Microdrive. Multifaces can fetch up to twice the original purchase price.

So there you have it. Have you got 'Cash in the Attic'?

Re: ZX Spectrum Angst.

Posted: Sat Oct 31, 2015 6:34 pm
by Spudgun

With the Con being less than two weeks away. Updates are going to be a bit thin on the ground.

The repaired circuit board isn't due back for another week. The other 48K 'rubberkey' Speccy is all packed up and ready to go. Now. I ought to point out that the Speccy I want to put into the Auction has a Issue 3 board. Yeah, it's the one I've been playing since September, so everyone knows it works and it's reliable. The board that's being repaired is an issue 2. I want to keep this one as it's a 'minter'. I don't think that anyone would expect me to put something that's over 30 years old and in mint condition into the Auction. However. I'm in a generous mood. I've bought an SD card and made a copy of the one that'll be in the Speccy that you can play on over the weekend. I've even added some more games to it as well. Mind you. You'll have to buy your own DivMMC interface.

One thing I have noticed between the 48K 'rubberkey' and the 128K +2B I've been using. The +2b gives a better picture though the RGB socket than the 48K does though the modified Composite. This is down to better power regulation to different parts of the board. It was noticed years ago, that the 48K doesn't like providing sound and picture at the same time. The sound tends to slow the picture down (Frame rate). I hadn't really noticed before now, but the picture degrades a little as well. It's no biggy. You'd only notice when one machine is used directly after the other.

All I can do now is to sit back and wait for the Issue 2 circuit board to return.

Re: ZX Spectrum Angst.

Posted: Sun Nov 01, 2015 8:32 pm
by Spudgun
Time for some edutainment, and it's all about crap games.

Back in 1988, as an April Fools joke. The magazine Your Sinclair had a review for a game called Advanced Lawnmower Simulator. The title was a spoof of the Codemasters 'Simulator' series. The review gave this 'game' an exceptionally good review and an accompanying high score. However, it was an April Fools joke (Just to remind everyone). The game itself did exist and it was released on a Sinclair User covertape a couple of months later. The game itself was absolute pants! It consisted of a few lines of BASIC (Can't be bothered to explain what that is) and just consisted of the player pushing a button to 'mow the lawn'. Then a comment would appear like: Nice Job, or Missed a bit. That's it. Truly a crap game. However. The crap game concept caught on.

With the advent of the internet. Subscribers to the old Usenet service (That's Newsgroups to the Noobs) Comp.sys.sinclair have been holding a crap game competition. Each year. People are able to write and then enter the most banal game they can think of. The resultant garbage is then judged and a winner selected. The earliest games that I've managed to find are from 1996. Some of them are horrendous!

At this time. The Sinclair Spectrum is the only machine that has a competition of this nature (Although the ZX81 has a smaller unofficial competition). So. If you want to play 'Advanced Anne Frank Simulator' or Advanced Stephen Hawking Flight Simulator (Yup. There's a heap of equally tasteless titles). Then you're going to need a Speccy.

Re: ZX Spectrum Angst.

Posted: Mon Nov 02, 2015 5:43 pm
by Spudgun
Hey look. It's an update!

I've just had an E-mail from the guy who's working on my Issue 2 board. Yes. It's actually fixed this time. He even send a photo of the board working (Connected to a TV). However. It's not finished. Although the board is working. He's going to change the capacitors. The board doesn't really need it (I don't bother on my Issue 3 board), but the capacitors really only last for 20 years before they start to degrade. I've asked him to do the Composite mod while he's at it (Something I was going to do myself). Things are moving forward.

Re: ZX Spectrum Angst.

Posted: Mon Nov 02, 2015 9:27 pm
by Spudgun
Cor blimey Guv. Two updates in a day. Whatever next?

The capacitors have now been changed and the board is now at the testing stage. He's decided against doing the composite mod, as he uses a different method to myself.

There are three different methods to the composite mod. He uses the direct method. He simply bypasses the RF modulator using a piece of wire. I use the transistor method. By adding a transistor, the composite signal is amplified, thus avoiding the need to touch the TV to brighten the picture. The transistor also acts as a signal buffer. However. The transistor method doesn't work on all LCD TV sets. The third method uses a capacitor in line with the composite signal. Not quite sure what it does to help, but it does darken the picture a bit. The capacitor method does work on all TV's though (As does the direct method).