ZX Spectrum Angst.

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David A Harvey
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Re: ZX Spectrum Angst.

Post by David A Harvey » Mon Nov 16, 2015 7:12 pm

Spudgun wrote:Thanks to Dave Harvey, I now have some disks. All I need now is a 128K +3. Watch this space.....
and a very big thank you for the, quite unexpected and, utterly enormous drink you bought Ros and I in return.

Spudgun
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Re: ZX Spectrum Angst.

Post by Spudgun » Sun Nov 22, 2015 9:53 am

Update (Crikey. Already?).

Under normal circumstances, the price of stuff goes through the roof at this time of year. It's not until January that prices fall through the floor boards (Everyone has spent January's money over the Xmas period). However. I got lucky. I've managed to blag a Spectrum +3. A Multiface and a disk drive service kit, all for £100. +3 Speccys usually go for around £100 alone!

The +3 has the normal (for a 30 year old machine) knackered disk drive belt (It spins, but won't load anything). The service kit contains everything to get the disk drive fighting fit again. Once done. I might be able to find out (possible blackmail material) what's on the disks that I got from Dave (As Dave pointed out. The Speccy uses the same Disk chip set as the PCW).

The Multiface will allow me to port games on tape to disk. At this time. I don't know if the Multiface has a through port. If it does. I can port games from the DivMMC interface to disk.
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Spudgun
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Re: ZX Spectrum Angst.

Post by Spudgun » Wed Nov 25, 2015 6:52 pm

The Multiface 3 arrived today. It has a through port! Woot. This means that I can port games from my DivMMC onto disk. That'll save a lot of time. THe +3 Speccy hasn't arrived yet, but since my +2B is a cut down +3. I tested the Multiface on it. It works.

So far. So good.
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Spudgun
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Re: ZX Spectrum Angst.

Post by Spudgun » Thu Nov 26, 2015 8:32 pm

Dave. You're safe. The +3 Speccy arrived today. The disk drive was serviced and one of the disks that I got from you was inserted. The drive made all of the right noises, but nothing was loaded. The chipset for the disk drive may be the same, but the file format isn't.

Soz. I was hoping for some blackmail material.
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David A Harvey
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Re: ZX Spectrum Angst.

Post by David A Harvey » Thu Nov 26, 2015 10:20 pm

I may be trusting but not that trusting :twisted: Those are blank discs.
Did your +3 come with a copy of CP/M + for the Spectrum +3?
http://www.worldofspectrum.org/Plus3CPM ... intro.html

Spudgun
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Re: ZX Spectrum Angst.

Post by Spudgun » Fri Nov 27, 2015 6:52 am

The Speccy didn't come with any software. Not even a manual. As I've mentioned before. It was a 'spares-repair' job. That's why it was so cheap. At his time, I'm having to bookmark sections of the World of Spectrum on-line +3 manual. Although the Speccy uses an odd version of DOS to run the disk dive. The syntax is different. The first job will be to Format the disks to run on the Spectrum. Then I'll be able to experiment with porting cassettes to disk using the Multiface.
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David A Harvey
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Re: ZX Spectrum Angst.

Post by David A Harvey » Fri Nov 27, 2015 9:42 am

Sorry, I was being obtuse :oops: If you get the software I mentioned it turns your spectrum into a cpm+ computer which isn't what you want.
Good luck with the project at hand.

Spudgun
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Re: ZX Spectrum Angst.

Post by Spudgun » Sat Nov 28, 2015 8:04 am

Update (Fun isn't it).

I'm putting the +3 Speccy project to one side for the moment. There's something that isn't quite right with the disk drive. I involves the report codes when the drive has finished doing something. They don't match what the manual says they're supposed to be. The drive makes all the right noises and some codes do match, but others don't. If I had to hazard a guess. The Speccy will read from a disk, but not write to it. Since I don't have any disks with data on them, I can't be sure. I'll have to buy a disk with a game on it, before I can move further on. Meanwhile........

I've pulled out my 48K Speccy. A week ago. I bought a job lot of Microdrive cartridges. About 30 in all. These did have data on them (Blackmail material ahoy!). Not all of the carts worked (The sponge that keeps the tape on the reading head had perished and will need replacing), but most did. It seems that the previous user, used his Speccy as a business machine. The carts were chock full of word processing (Tasword) files. There was also a financial program with assorted records. I've only done a brief look at the contents of each cartridge. Some carts have a running program. While others have a data file for that program. I'll have to do more more digging to see if I can find some juicy gossip.
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Spudgun
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Re: ZX Spectrum Angst.

Post by Spudgun » Wed Jan 06, 2016 9:39 pm

You know. I've not updated this thread for over a month! It's not that I've been doing anything. I've been as busy as hell working on my Speccy projects. I'll bring everyone up to speed on that another day. For now. I'll tell you about my ZX81 project.

During the early 80's. I had a ZX81 in a full sized Fuller keycase. There was only ever one snag. The ram pack was stuck to the back of the case as I didn't have the internal motherboard. I promised myself that I would do a proper job at a later time.

Time passed and I progressed onto the Spectrum. All thoughts of the ZX81 were forgotten until about 15 years ago. I managed to get another ZX81 (complete and boxed) for £5 at a car boot sale. Then I managed to aquire another Fuller keycase. For the past 15 years, I tried to get a motherboard (So the 16K Ram and the PSU could be internally mounted), but I had no luck. It wasn't until last years Con did things change.

Thanks to Dave, I obtained a 'new' add-on ZX81 keyboard (I say 'new' as it was still in its packet. I don't think it was ever used, but that's not important here). Now. Instead of going the full sized keycase route. I decided to go the Data 2000 briefcase route.

Data 2000 was a company that made briefcases for the ZX81 and the Spectrum. When I had my first Spectrum. It was mounted in a Data 2000 briefcase. You could buy these (at the time) in the likes of WH Smiths. The case would contain the standard Speccy. The power supply. The ZX printer. A few cassettes and the assorted leads. The same goes for the ZX81 version. The Data 2000 briefcase is rare, but a LOT more common than the Fuller motherboard (I've never seen one). Moving swiftly along.......

Xmas is that wonderful time of year when most people blow January's pay cheque. The upshot being: You can buy things filthy cheap on Ebay as everyone is broke. Well. Not quite. I actually save a bit of money for this time of year. Anyway. As luck would have it. Up popped a Data 2000 briefcase for a ZX81. Not only was there the briefcase in the Lot. There was some books. A couple of cassettes. A mega rare Print and Plotter pad and a dead ZX81. I wasn't worried about the ZX81 as I already had a working one (I've also got a dead spare one as well). I managed to blag the whole lot for £32 Posted. Bargain! It arrived today.

Everything was as described. The Print & Plotter pad was unused. What luck! That's my money back right there! As with all things. I just had to look at the dead ZX81. I plugged it in and tuned in my TV. It kinda worked. The screen was a very dark grey, but I could see the K (Cursor) in the corner. I pressed a few keys on the keyboard and some of them worked (Knackered keyboard membranes are normal). So something worked. I just had to open up the case and have a look.

Now. I'm not going to bore everyone with a detailed history of the ZX81 circuit board. Suffice to say. Some are more rare than others. My Issue 3 ZX81 is actually quite common. The Issue 1 is reasonably rare, but early Issue 1 boards are VERY rare. The Issue 1 board had a problematic ULA (Uncommitted Logic Array). It lacked a 'back porch'. The upshot being: The picture was very dark, unless used on a dedicated black & white TV. It wasn't unreasonable to expect an Issue 1 board. The other fault with the early Issue 1 boards was the ROM (Read Only memory). They had a Square Root fault. The first ones were sent out with the 'bug' in place. Shortly after. A Daughterboard was soldered onto the ROM. Then the ROM was replaced for a bug fixed one.

Holy foook. I've got the Issue 1 board with the dodgy ULA and the buggy ROM with the soldered on daughterboard! JACKPOT! I've got myself an early (but not 'very early') ZX81. OK. I could remove the daughterboard and pass it off as a very early ZX81, but that would be wrong. What to do?

My primary concern was the dark picture. I decided to rip out the ULA from my dead Issue 3 and slot it into the Issue 1 board (The components just plug in. They're not soldered). Once done. I fired up the ZX81. Result. A perfect picture. I didn't even need the Composite output mod.

I've drawn up a spares list. It ain't much as I've a fair bit of stuff in my spares box. Things are going well.
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Spudgun
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Re: ZX Spectrum Angst.

Post by Spudgun » Sat Feb 20, 2016 8:41 pm

It's still dark and horrible, so I still can't take any pictures of my Sinclair set-ups (I prefer to take pictures in natural light). I've still been busy though.

Now that I've got my set-ups finalised. I can prepare the surplus for sale. For the past couple of weeks. I've been working on a surplus Interface 1 and Microdrive. For anyone who doesn't know. The ZX Microdrive is a fast tape system. Think of the old 8-track cartridge here, but a LOT smaller. The one that I had was unreliable, as it was forever coming back with a "Microdrive not present" fault. After some research, I found that the Version 1 ROM in the interface had a habit of doing this. As a result. I bought an Interface 1 with a Version 2 ROM. Anyway, I digress.

It turned out that the lead that connects the interface to the microdrive was faulty. No wonder it came back with the "Microdrive not present" fault! Trust me folks. It took a couple of months to find this fault! Thankfully. We use a lot of ribbon cable at work, so the connector lead was easy to fix. The net result being: 1 spare (and reliable) interface and microdrive.

Now. When you're selling on Ebay. You have to make sure that what you're selling is better than other sellers stuff. I check through the listings to see what's what. I've noticed that there's a fair number of microdrives and interfaces that are being sold by the same seller separately. I've also noticed that many items are being sold as 'untested'. To those 'in the know', "untested" means knackered. Sorry, but I don't work like that. To that end, I've been putting together two microdrive cartridges with games on them. It's not been an easy job.

Not only are the microdrives 30 years old. The cartridges are 30 years old as well. Somehow. I don't even think that Sir Clive thought that the cartridges were designed to last 10 years, let alone 30. Magnetic tape does degrade over time! On the plus side. Microdrive carts used video tape and not cassette tape. Video tape is a lot better. On the down side. The sponge that holds the tape against the microdrive head was useless. It had turned to dust on every cart that I had.

Again (through research), I found that other Spectrum users were using felt as a sponge replacement. Most popular was the felt that you can get from the likes of B&Q for putting under the legs of tables, etc. I bought a packet of felt pads and replaced the sponge (or what was left of it) on each of my microdrive carts.

The microdrive wasn't the most reliable of gadgets, even when new. So it should come as no surprise that I lost a few carts during the refurbishment. The tape snapped on a couple. The tape had completely degraded on a couple of others. Others suffered Sector Failures. In other words; I couldn't get the 80K+ capacity that a microdrive cart should have. Since Sector Failure carts were going to be unreliable. They went into the bin. I reckon I lost a dozen carts to the dustbin. At least I still have about 20 left.

The next stage was to put some games onto a pair of carts. The idea being; Saying that something works is one thing. Proving it is way better. By providing a pair of carts (and the attendant photo's on the Auction Lot of the games loaded) improves the chances of a better price. Getting the games was the easy bit. They all came from the World of Spectrum website. Due to the length of time that I had been 'out of the loop' programming wise. I downloaded games that were written in BASIC, as these were easier to get onto a microdrive cart. The hard part was coming up with an auto loading menu.

With some slick number crunching. I could get 8 simple games onto each cart. I wanted a menu system, where a list of the 8 games would come up and if you pressed the games number, that game would load and run. Sadly. The World of Spectrum didn't have a menu generator program. Thankfully. The microdrive was first sold in a kit called the Expansion Pack. This pack came with 4 carts. 1 was an introductory cart. Another was a games cart. Both that menus. I adapted the menu from the games cart to do what I wanted. Success! Mind you. I did make a few extra copies. Just in case.

Nothing is up for sale yet. I want to work on my surplus ZX81.
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