UK Vintage Radio Repair and Restoration Powered By Google Custom Search Vintage Radio Service Data

Go Back   UK Vintage Radio Repair and Restoration Discussion Forum > Specific Vintage Equipment > Vintage Computers

Notices

Vintage Computers Any vintage computer systems, calculators, video games etc., but with an emphasis on 1980s and earlier equipment.

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old 16th Aug 2019, 6:24 pm   #21
SiriusHardware
Dekatron
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Newcastle, Tyne and Wear, UK.
Posts: 3,044
Default Re: Sinclair Spectrum considerations

You can almost certainly get ZX Spectrum emulators for Android or IOS, but the problem there is how to connect a proper keyboard (maybe via bluetooth?) or a switched joystick, without which some games would just be unplayable.

Probably better to use something which outputs to a decent sized display, I think, especially with most of us now having middle-aged eyesight.

The Raspberry Pi 3 is just about usable as a basic home computer, including for Internet surfing and locating / downloading software to run on your emulator - the Pi 4 ought to be better still for that purpose but it is sufficiently different to the earlier Pis that a few things still need tweaking specifically to run on it, including, at this time, Retropie.

Last edited by SiriusHardware; 16th Aug 2019 at 6:31 pm.
SiriusHardware is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 16th Aug 2019, 6:42 pm   #22
Martin Bush
Octode
 
Martin Bush's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Oxfordshire, UK.
Posts: 1,174
Default Re: Sinclair Spectrum considerations

Thanks. I was wondering what the differences were between the models of Pi.

All I want for now is something that will run games and be a bit of fun.
__________________
Martin

"Clip, clop, cloppity cloppity cloppity cloppity high..."
Martin Bush is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 20th Aug 2019, 11:38 am   #23
Martin Bush
Octode
 
Martin Bush's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Oxfordshire, UK.
Posts: 1,174
Default Re: Sinclair Spectrum considerations

A further question on this topic.

I am actively looking at getting a Raspberry Pi, so that is in hand.

Long-term I think I'd still like an original machine and this got me wondering about what caused programmes to fail to load/ crash at some point during loading and what the prospects are for cassettes.

I know I will be able to get a device to load up files, but playing cassettes as originally intended also appeals to me. Are the old cassettes likely to be OK long-term? Do they suffer from anything like sticky shed or print-through?
__________________
Martin

"Clip, clop, cloppity cloppity cloppity cloppity high..."
Martin Bush is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 20th Aug 2019, 11:50 am   #24
ben
Dekatron
 
ben's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Madrid, Spain / Wirral, UK
Posts: 5,503
Default Re: Sinclair Spectrum considerations

It is pot luck with cassettes. If they have been stored okay, and in boxes, then they will be fine. But with used ones, who knows? The rule is, donīt pay much!

The problems of crashing used to be due to drop outs, either through cheap tape or it having been crinkled by someone touching the tape surface, dust on that spot of the tape (always store rewound so the leader tape protects the programme) or a bad pinch roller. Often, using a higher volume setting would work. Or copying the tape using a slightly higher rec level.
__________________
Regards,
Ben.
ben is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 20th Aug 2019, 4:01 pm   #25
Martin Bush
Octode
 
Martin Bush's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Oxfordshire, UK.
Posts: 1,174
Default Re: Sinclair Spectrum considerations

That's interesting. The crashes that used to come in the closing seconds of loading were a real killer!
__________________
Martin

"Clip, clop, cloppity cloppity cloppity cloppity high..."
Martin Bush is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 20th Aug 2019, 5:46 pm   #26
SiriusHardware
Dekatron
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Newcastle, Tyne and Wear, UK.
Posts: 3,044
Default Re: Sinclair Spectrum considerations

There is an emerging problem which affects microdrive cartridges and (to a lesser extent) cassettes, and that is 'pressure pad syndrome', where the little sprung foam pad which is supposed to press the tape against the head has turned to brown liquid goo.

Always inspect and replace if necessary before trying to run the tape or microdrive cartridge for the first time.
SiriusHardware is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 20th Aug 2019, 7:07 pm   #27
Martin Bush
Octode
 
Martin Bush's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Oxfordshire, UK.
Posts: 1,174
Default Re: Sinclair Spectrum considerations

Good call. These are things I can look out for and deal with. Fault finding and repairing circuit boards isn't for me though.

The pressure pad problem was the kind of thing I was thinking about. Anything that could turn an otherwise nice tape into something fit for the bin if used unsuspectingly.

I was wondering if I could use one obsolete technology to feed another, so to speak, and save some games to mini disc and use that.
__________________
Martin

"Clip, clop, cloppity cloppity cloppity cloppity high..."
Martin Bush is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 20th Aug 2019, 7:30 pm   #28
SiriusHardware
Dekatron
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Newcastle, Tyne and Wear, UK.
Posts: 3,044
Default Re: Sinclair Spectrum considerations

I guess, but to be honest there is no shame in using an MP3 player or something which can play MP3s or uncompressed WAV files - phone, computer, etc, to 'play' a program into the machine.

At least then the playback level and speed is identical and repeatable every time, with no troublesome tape crinkles or dropouts to worry about.
SiriusHardware is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 21st Aug 2019, 11:14 am   #29
Martin Bush
Octode
 
Martin Bush's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Oxfordshire, UK.
Posts: 1,174
Default Re: Sinclair Spectrum considerations

It seems that there's plenty of ways to feed the vintage machines, which can only be a good thing. I find it amusingthat you can load programmes onto an old Spectrum from a range of sources yet my super-powerful smartphone is rather fussy
__________________
Martin

"Clip, clop, cloppity cloppity cloppity cloppity high..."
Martin Bush is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 21st Aug 2019, 5:11 pm   #30
SiriusHardware
Dekatron
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Newcastle, Tyne and Wear, UK.
Posts: 3,044
Default Re: Sinclair Spectrum considerations

Just for fun, I tried installing 'Fuse', probably the best known Spectrum Emulator for Linux in the standard 'Raspbian' Pi version of Linux on my Pi 3 last night - certainly runs at flat-out Spectrum speed.

As 'Fuse' isn't specifically written for the Pi it doesn't directly support the connection of a switched joystick to the Pi's GPIO pins, but Adafruit appear to have made available a little utility which allows you to map GPIO 'events' onto specific keypresses - this is especially helpful for Sinclair emulators as Sinclair's own joysticks were mapped onto keyboard keys 1-5 and 6-0 respectively, so it should just be a matter of choosing 'Sinclair' joysticks in any game which needs one.
SiriusHardware is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 21st Aug 2019, 10:38 pm   #31
Richard_FM
Heptode
 
Richard_FM's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Stockport, Cheshire, UK.
Posts: 892
Default Re: Sinclair Spectrum considerations

I remember most Spectrum games giving an option of Sinclair or Kempston (standard pinout) joysticks.

Competition Pro (I think) made a version of their joystick with an extra plug coloured grey with the Sinclair pinout.
__________________
Beware of the trickster on the roof
Richard_FM is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 21st Aug 2019, 10:54 pm   #32
SiriusHardware
Dekatron
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Newcastle, Tyne and Wear, UK.
Posts: 3,044
Default Re: Sinclair Spectrum considerations

As far as I know both Sinclair and Kempston interfaces expected joysticks with the same Atari-compatible wiring to be plugged into their 9-way 'D' connectors. The difference was in the interface hardware and therefore the software method used to read them.

The original 'official' Sinclair twin joystick interface was part of the 'Interface 2' which also included a cartridge slot. The interface hardware made movements and button presses on the joysticks look like key presses on the numeric buttons 1-5 and 6-0 on the keyboard, as mentioned earlier.

The Kempston interface - for one joystick only - translated the joystick / button states into a single byte value which could be read in with an IN (31) ? instruction.
SiriusHardware is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 21st Aug 2019, 11:18 pm   #33
Spec-chum
Triode
 
Join Date: Mar 2019
Location: Grantham, Lincolnshire, UK.
Posts: 11
Default Re: Sinclair Spectrum considerations

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard_FM View Post
I remember most Spectrum games giving an option of Sinclair or Kempston (standard pinout) joysticks.

Competition Pro (I think) made a version of their joystick with an extra plug coloured grey with the Sinclair pinout.
The extra grey plug was for use with the +2/3 model spectrum's. Amstrad messed around with the pinouts of the joystick ports on the +2/3's to force consumers to use there own range of SJS joysticks with these models. Soon adapter leads came along, and third party joystick manufacturers added the extra grey plug.
Spec-chum is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 22nd Aug 2019, 1:16 pm   #34
Richard_FM
Heptode
 
Richard_FM's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Stockport, Cheshire, UK.
Posts: 892
Default Re: Sinclair Spectrum considerations

OK the friend I remember having a joystick like this had a +/2.
__________________
Beware of the trickster on the roof
Richard_FM is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 18th Sep 2019, 2:15 pm   #35
Gulliver
Hexode
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Luton, Bedfordshire, UK.
Posts: 396
Default Re: Sinclair Spectrum considerations

Rather than a microdrive, I would look at one of the modern SD card interfaces. I have one which takes a micro SD card and has a Kempston compatible joystick interface...the thing cost just Ģ30 I think. You can then download as much software as you like from World of Spectrum, dump it to a (micro) SD card and get instant loading without modifying your Speccy.

I still mourn the day I gave away my 128K "Toast Rack" machine...lent it to a friend when I upgraded to an Atari ST and never saw it again. I do still have an issue 2 "rubber devil" and I don't mind the keyboard but the 128K was better.

As for games being more playable...I would generally agree. I still have a Spectrum and a Commodore 64 and to be honest the Speccy gets far more use. There's also a much more active current user base with new software and hardware still being churned out for the Spectrum.
Gulliver is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 18th Sep 2019, 2:27 pm   #36
Gulliver
Hexode
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Luton, Bedfordshire, UK.
Posts: 396
Default Re: Sinclair Spectrum considerations

Quote:
Originally Posted by SiriusHardware View Post
I guess, but to be honest there is no shame in using an MP3 player or something which can play MP3s or uncompressed WAV files - phone, computer, etc, to 'play' a program into the machine.

At least then the playback level and speed is identical and repeatable every time, with no troublesome tape crinkles or dropouts to worry about.

I've never had luck feeding 8-bit computers with MP3 files from dedicated players or smart phones.

It seems they like good old fashioned cassettes (TDK D have fared well) or the modern SD card interfaces for the Sinclair computers.

Magnetic tape is a better archive medium than many would have you think. I can still load ZX81 cassettes I made in 1981, that's 38 years ago now!
Gulliver is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 18th Sep 2019, 3:57 pm   #37
electronicskip
Octode
 
electronicskip's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Gloucester, Glos. UK.
Posts: 1,097
Default Re: Sinclair Spectrum considerations

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gulliver View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by SiriusHardware View Post
I guess, but to be honest there is no shame in using an MP3 player or something which can play MP3s or uncompressed WAV files - phone, computer, etc, to 'play' a program into the machine.

At least then the playback level and speed is identical and repeatable every time, with no troublesome tape crinkles or dropouts to worry about.

I've never had luck feeding 8-bit computers with MP3 files from dedicated players or smart phones.

It seems they like good old fashioned cassettes (TDK D have fared well) or the modern SD card interfaces for the Sinclair computers.

Magnetic tape is a better archive medium than many would have you think. I can still load ZX81 cassettes I made in 1981, that's 38 years ago now!
Me too, i still use my trusty Waltham tape deck to load Spectrum tapes made back in the day with very little problems, both prerecorded and homebrew stuff.
electronicskip is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools



All times are GMT +1. The time now is 1:36 am.


All information and advice on this forum is subject to the WARNING AND DISCLAIMER located at https://www.vintage-radio.net/rules.html.
Failure to heed this warning may result in death or serious injury to yourself and/or others.


Powered by vBulletin®
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Copyright ©2002 - 2019, Paul Stenning.