Archive for the ‘reviews’ Category

sound card for your ZX Spectrum – ZX AY by bytedelight.com

Thursday, September 21st, 2017

ZX AY is another solution to give your ZX Spectrum stereo AY sound. This is external unit, so both: you donot need to mod anything inside your ZX Spectrum 128k, it will work also with your older rubber ZX Spectrum 48k – to be honest – I had no single problem to use it with ZX Spectrum 48k, ZX Spectrum 128k, ZX Spectrum 128+2 (grey) and ZX Spectrum 128k +3. Not sure if Spanish toastrack (128k) model will be working without timing problems but – it’s anothoer case and something that should be fixed within one particular model. Ben Versteeg declares that ZX AY works with any ZX Spectrum model from 16k to 128k +3 – however – I will try to run it with Spanish Investronica models soon.

Hooking up ZX AY is damn simple – also it’s connection thru so pretty much universal to be included in any chain of interfaces. I was hooking up to ZX AY Lotharek’s DivIDE2k14 and it was working without any problems. One thing you should see on the pics – there is not much place around EAR/MIC inputs as ZX AY goes cross way, but fortunately not pressing much on these connectors in rubber ZX Spectrum 48k. This problem doesnot exists in 128k +2 and so on +3 models.

 

The whole interface is made with GI made AY-3-8912, for the bats – there are differences to the other chip makers, but as I wrote – for the bats.

The unit disables internal AY in 128k +2 and +3 models, so when using it – there is no sound on sound output from internal AY.

Generally you have two options to configure ZX AY and it concerts channel stereo setup.

There are two jumpers that are used two ways – horizontal – they will set up ABC Stereo, or vertical – they will set up then ACB Stereo.

ABC Stereo means left channel will contain A+B+Beeper, the right – B+C+Beeper.

ACB Stereo means left channel will contain A+C+Beeper, the right – B+C+Beeper

When plugging ZX AY to anything thru it’s output please remember – the output is STEREO minijack so you cannot use mono minijack as it put ground with one channel.

Enough talking about sound unit, let’s listen to it. I have three tracks for you – all with the same song “General Instruments Mandess Inc” done by v0yager (speccy.pl member) for latest Riverwash 2017 compo.

All tracks are recorded on my Tascam DR60mk2 thru stereo input (as line signal) with gain set up in the middle.

First track is ABC setup, 2nd one is ACB one (so you can compare what it means to this one specific song) and 3rd track is directly from ZX Spectrum 128k +2 (grey one, issue 1 UK made, no mods, factory default) – so the third one is mono as you can hear as all 128k ZX Spectrum family has AY chip but in mono mode. To have it in stereo you have to add either Bytedelight stereo mod either mode advanced AmpY (which also plays as amplifier for ZX Spectrum).

Coming to final verdict – very nice unit, more expensive then Lotharek’s one, but with possibility to switch two ABC ACB modes. Very good sound level, connection thru, included manual.

you can buy ZX AY directly from bytedelight here.

retrolab.pl skeleton/frame for Gotek inside Amiga 1200 and Amiga 600

Sunday, July 9th, 2017

My belowed Amiga 1200 has been sent for recapping (which I recomend you as obligatory with your old Amiga, as condensators tends with time to brake and spill onto tracks on motherboard and destroy the pcb – there is no rule – it’s more towards the computers stored for years and not used, but generally – if you have old Amiga, recap it as soon as you can) – I have decided after recapping my Amiga 600 that I donot want to spend a few hours with magnifying glass and soldering equipment to recap next Amiga.

In Poland generally there is only one service with great reputation – retrolab.pl – so I’ve sent them my computer.

After week and a half I got my Amiga back, with small surprice inside – skeleton frame for Gotek floppy emulator. I use Gotek HxC for Amiga (even having collection of boxed games and programs) because… it’s faster. Gotek is very flexible in HxC firmware – I have used it for emulating floppy drive for Amstrad CPC6128 clone – JustCPC128 by Piotr Bugaj as well as floppy drive for old PC and ZX Spectrum 128k +3. Gotek is easy to install inside typical 3,5″ hole, but in Amiga floppy drive is deeper inside, there is only slot for disc and eject button. No front panel. It means whole Gotek front panel is not well visible inside. I used to hook and connect inside Amiga long (around 0,5 meter) floppy cable and power cable that were coming outside the Amiga case thru floppy hole. Aestheric -5 but it works.

However for not so much more more that I have paid for these two cables (so around 10 GBP) you can get the skeleton frame for Gotek and replace your floppy drive with Gotek pcb.

Oryginally the Gotek pcb is inside the case that is exactly the same size as floppy drive, unfortunately it’s not the best placement of both display and buttons with USB slot for easy access to them when you use it with Amiga, but any other changes means redesigning the pcb and LCD/buttons/USB placement.

Mounting the Gotek on the skeleton and the whole mount inside Amiga is very simple, it’s taken me 3 minutes max

So for now – retrolab.pl Gotek’s skeleton mount is great to keep your Amiga almost stock, without modding it non reversable way and I definately recommend you to go for it.

You can order Gotek skeleton mount for your Amiga on retrolab.pl’s profiles on Ebay or Allegro or thru their page:

on Eba

on Allegro

retrolab.pl

Bytedelight ZX HD – HDMI output from your ZX Spectrum with ULAplus feature

Wednesday, April 5th, 2017

Looks like this year came with new options for connecting out old ZX Spectrum to modern TV or monitor with HDMI input. I’m really glad that very soon after TKpie I’m able to test another but more feature built unit done by Bytedelight – named ZX HD.

It’s based on similiar solution – external unit listen do ZX Spectrum ports and render using RaspberryPiZero ZX Spectrum screen to HDMI output. It means crispy sharp every pixel. It’s as good as HDMI video from best software emulators on PC or Mac.

So we have two levels of using ZX HD – one is just – video output thru HDMI to modern TV or monitor (so similiar to TKpie), next level is play&fun with ULAplus features.

The whole unit came as DIY kit, I have already soldered RPiZero so it was just a pleasure to put together, kind of LEGO for older geeks.

The enclosure is 3d printed, the only ‘but’ is about back plate – it’s so thin so one side edge is a little bit curved. Otherwise – looks great with all machines I tried with and give great video output.

Minor – as like with TKpie – lack of audio in HDMI connection. If you use separate amplifier for your sound – donot care about this. If you want to put all-in-one cable – you have a little bit trouble.

Of course – there is trick – use HDMI to DVI converter (cheap as 1 USD on ebay), then use converter box (around 25-30 USD) that link together stereo audio L/R and DVI to HDMI output. Sounds complicated, but I did this a few years ago combining DVI signal from my mac and stereo output from firewire800 external sound card. It worked in the past, now is just cheaper.

Also if you use like me Avermedia Gamecapture HDII – there is option in this unit to switch audio from HDMI to analog L/R input – similiar solution can be found in setup of flat LCD/LED TV. Since that moment I’m more then happy 🙂

Basically – using ZX HD is damn simple and it gives great video output.

It starts with ZX HD screen, confirm resolution of the output video, you confirm that by button on the ZX HD and that’s it.

That could be your story – connecting your old speccy to modern flat TV with HDMI input. But let’s complicate it a little bit. Imagine – you can take any HDMI monitor or TV, even small 4″ field monitor and use your speccy on holidays… or at least try to use 🙂

I have taken my SmallHD 4″ video field monitor that I use doing videography and I have connected it to ZX HD hooked ZX Spectrum. No signal. Then I used HDMI splitter and connected two outputs – one to flat TV (Samsung if you asked) and 2nd to SmallHD field monitor. Both had video signal this time. Then I did another test – for gameplay recording I use Avermedia Game Capture HDII – same problem when I connect ZX HD directly only to this unit. Note – I was able to do this with TKpie. I was talking to Ben – probably it’s because ZX HD software “talks” with end hardware to confirm it’s resolution etc. – and here we got the problem if we end unit has loopthru HDMI output… It was just the theory until I tested ZX HD with 9″ portable monitor without loopthru HDMI output feature. Then tried other monitors without loopthru feature… all they worked with ZX HD.

So generally – for recording from ZX HD – you still need regular TV or monitor without feature of loopthru output over HDMI. If you use HDMI splitter (bargain cost like 20-30 USD) you can separate two signals – one to TV, 2nd to recorder or use recorder output for connecting to TV (both ways work).

For all people having access to TV unit with possibility to switch audio source from HDMI to analog – same for any grabber with that function:

ULAplus feature of ZX HD.

This is something new, above other hardware on the market. With ZX HD you have possibility to enjoy more colours on the screen coming initially from your ZX Spectrum. What is the history of ULAplus? The idea comes from developers of ZX Spectrum SE, Andrew Owen and Jarek Adamski, unfortunately apart to the prototype it hasnot been produced. Generally ULAplus extends the total palette to 260 colours. According to ULAplus website:

A static screen using no CPU time can have 64 colours on screen at once. Changing the palette while the screen is drawing enables you to have 256 colours on screen at once. Switching between the 64-colour mode and the standard mode gives you an additional four colours (BRIGHT 0/FLASH 0 INKs 1, 3, 5, and 7) which are not present in the standard palette for a total of 260 colours on screen.

Unfortunately haven’t found too much stuff with that feature. There are Cronosoft games extended to ULAplus feature (as Jonathan Cauldron’s AGD system allow to use ULAplus palette), some nice demos, Palette Editor and some example palettes dedicated for games and… that’s it. Maybe situation will change a little with ZX HD unit – as it gives possibility to enjoy ULAplus additional colours on any speccy with ZX HD.

Some examples of ULAplus features below. I will cover more on these features including Palette Editor soon.

Bytedelight ZX HD software page

webshop ZX HD page

ULAplus website

 

 

Bytedelight DivMMC Enjoy Black and DivMMC Enjoy Mini

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

Ben Versteeg from Bytedelight has sent me his new line of DivMMC products. Oryginal DivMMC was done by Mario Prato back in 2013, since then Ben made several versions of his DivMMC including these two newest: DivMMC Enjoy Black 2017 and DivMMC Enjoy Mini. Both units work under ESXDOS 0.8.5 – for full features see here. Maybe I will go for article about how to use more from the DivMMC and ESXDOS then just enter to load game form SD card.

Top of actual line product is dual slot DivMMC Enjoy Black 2017.2 which one has also switchable joystick interface able to work as Sinclar or more popular Kempston (so allowing to use any Atari Commodore, Amiga joystick) standards. For some of you that prefer SD over microSD – this one has regular size SD slot, so you can easy put the card into laptop SD reader port without any adapter that you have to remember about (but adapter is always included with microSD card so it’s just matter of having that around you).

I got Enjoy Black version in nice 3d printed case. It looks good with all ZX Spectrums, but best of all – works great with them. On the side we have set of dip switches allowing us to choose Spectrum model, switch off joystick port, or turn the DivMMC into flash mode (if we need to reprogram it). For so much options it could be mess to remember so Ben put a nice sticker with all dipswitch options described.

During last few days I have tried this unit with grey 128k +2, 128k +3, toastrack 128k, old rubber 16k issue 2, 48k issue 6a, so let’s say most of models that make difference when using with this kind of unit. None of my computers has problem with M1 line in Z80, so DivMMC Enjoy was working flawlessly. Switchable joystick port is nice addition, aspecially for computers without any joystick interface so, every before grey 128k +2. As mentioned in manual included with the unit – it won’t work with Investronica ZX Spectrum 128k.

Working with DivMMC Enjoy is really easy and painless: setup dipswitch up to your model, plugin this into nonworking computer (!!!) – so basically for 16k/48k and 128k +2 grey have switches 3-5 are off/top, toastrack has 4th switch on (down), +2a/3 models has 3rd switch on (down).

Two colour leds show unit status – lower one shows cards – red for card2, blue for card1, top one shows power on.

Basically using the unit looks like: after hooking it to your speccy, you gonna turn speccy on, the ESXDOS boots, recognizing the card(s) and you see copyright screen. This is user0 mode. 128k programs and games works, but it’s not working in 128k BASIC.

For playing around you will use two buttons on the unit: reset and NMI. Reset is what you are missing on your rubber 48k, NMI button invokes EXSDOS menu. I have switched to my card as I have more demos and software on the card over the card included with the unit. ESXDOS emulates tape and provides additional commands to use under BASIC, but one feature is really worth mentioning: snapshots of speccy’s memory. Imagine playing game and possibility to make save anytime, then continue from that point. In the past – Multiface interface have to be involted and these snapshots required to have multiface plugged. ESXDOS with DivMMC create .sna files that can be run on most of Speccy’s emulators like ZX Spin, Spectaculator or Fuse.

Still – has no idea of use of two slot cards, but it’s matter of time 🙂

2nd unit is small version of DivMMC Enjoy – called Mini, without any additional features from its big brother. No joystick, no case, no 2nd card slot. Simple small unit. Work as well as big brother, so when you will need this one against top model?

  • if you own 128k +2 or later model you already have joystick ports (Sinclair ones), so matter of converter Sinclar>Kempston, which is bargain cost like 5-9 EUR.
  • if you donot need two slots and bigger unit on back of your unit and you want to spend less for that kind of equipment for your retro ZX Spectrum
  • I have found that due to it’s size this one can be really nice to put inside the cut down mod of 128k +2 and have all-in-one.

When I have connected it to my black +2a unit first thought was: it will be pain to remove – that was my experience with other short vertical mount interfaces, but – surprisingly not. The connector is not working too hard when dismounting unit.

What can be problematic is the SD card is sticking out…

So I have picked up my Macbookpro SD adapter… and that’s it – if it’s problem – find cutdown SD card adapter like this one:

Summing up: unless M1 problem in your Z80 processor both models will play nice with your ZX Spectrum.

Actually played with both units during Warsaw Retro Meetup last saturday and had no single problem with them.

Both units has 128KB RAM inside, by per request Ben mentioned it can be raised to 512KB.

Bytedelight.com

DivMMC Enjoy Black 2017.2 in webshop

DivMMC Enjoy Mini in webshop

TKPie HDMI interface by Piotr ‘zaxon Bugaj

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

Since annoucment fro Victor Trucco of TKPie (also known as ZXPie) in 20.Oct 2016 and fast declaration from Piotr ‘zaxon Bugaj to bring it to his offer I was keeping my thumbs to get it fast. Just before Christmas 2016 I got it, “soldered” my spare RaspberryPi Zero, put baremetal OS on microSD card… and have enjoyed the working unit for 5 minutes. After that it went really hot so I have turned my old rubber 48k off. After cooling turned it again… but it went to black screen. It’s interesting, as RaspberryPi Zero worked flawlessly alone running Retropi.

Piotr was so kind to inspect the unit, he has resoldered my Raspberrypi Zero’s connector and it works now, so assume my soldering skills was the reason of the problem 🙂

In between – it cames in real tests that initial version of baremetal OS won’t work correctly on 128k shadow screen switching, but on 10. January Victor Trucco updated the support of that in CPLD insert. It means – every unit of TKpie can be updated but of the level of CPLD (so you need to have a 3-4 USD “USB Blaster Programmer Cable For FPGA CPLD JTAG Development Board”.

So initial experience was a bit complicated as for the user, however with Piotr’s help it went all into working one.

This also may be a bit complicated for many others, also it’s not possible to stock Raspberrypi Zero as sales are limited to one unit per order – but actually if you are not skilled to make prober soldering of RaspberryPi Zero and female connector (more about it below) it may be a bit frustrating issue for you.

One thing I think is a bit “minor” is that Piotr decided to use male connector (pins) on TKpie. It’s logical from point of TKpie maker (where TKpie logially is main unit towards RaspberryPi Zero) but not towards RPizero typical distribution and connectors. Let me clear this: I’m user of RaspberryPi since first version. Raspberrypi Zero is first unit that has not soldered extension connector, so maybe that makes mess, but all extensions towards RPi works like: male pins are on Raspberrypi board, extension is with female connector. This makes mess when you order Raspberrypi with presoldered connector… and you will get it default with male connector (pins)… and try to connect it now to TKpie 🙂

When finally we have correctly soldered TKpie with Raspberrypi Zero, with new baremetal OS on microSD card we will hit another wall: there is no sound over HDMI, just video. Basically… the unit needs even simple analog-to-digital converter for sound and smart insert for this into RPizero. Or multicore Raspberrypi that will do this (as I read this is about processing limit on the RPizero). So if you use flat TV or monitor that allows you to insert separate audio signal to the video – that’s ok. If you use amplifier with speakers to run sound – that’s also ok.

I have found Tkpie to work a bit different on 48k ZX Spectrum and 128k ZX Spectrum (no matter if it’s 128k Toastrack or grey 128k +2).

For below examples and test I was using HDMI converted hooked into Avermedia Gamecapture HDII then whole thing was for my eyes on Eizo gaming FS2331 monitor. I wanted to be able to capture difference in quality of video and as screenshots – but that comes limits – cannot run the HDMI converter in other then 1080p/720p and be able to record video capture 🙁 so 1024x768px mode is not possible for that).

However I was able to hookup dual connection – so mirroring video output from speccy – (RGB Scart lead to Scart Input  or cheap HAMA composite to Scart converter inserted into Scart input in HDMI video conterter) and HDMI out directly from TKpie/RPizero, so please dig in details of the pictures and video capture.

What is important: TKPie and RPizero is powered from your ZX Spectrum, no need to power it other way. 

Starting up on 128k models is… longer, comes with kind of garbage on screen – as I know from Piotr – it’s memory test of Raspberrypi Zero, however it’s visible only on 128k models. After soft reset it becomes correct and clean – donot know why. On rubber 48k (6a issue board with composite mode) it’s instant and clean.

My conclusion is very simple: it’s great extension and solution for any 16k/48k models as composite won’t be that clear and crispy. This review brought me also thinking again (after a few years in digital connection) how proper cable and isolation is important for analog connection. I have used cinch-cinch cable that was around me – but this one was intended oryginally for stereo connection, not video, even the plug are correct, it gets a lot of garbage from PSU cable etc. So donot forget about it when connecting.

For 128k models – if you have proper RGB Scart cable – the scalling from RPizero won’t be that good as that simple 30USD unit like my HDMI converted does.

Why to have TKpie and HDMI output for your retro Spectrum?

  • if you need to test units that have no composite mod done, either you donot want to do this by making (even simple) changes inside your Spectrum and keep it original (however – when you do recapping I think it’s not issue to make composite mod also). Imagine you want to test 10 rubber units from car sale – with simple hook up to pocket HDMI monitor you can test them even outdoor at sale location.
  • if you want to hook up your Spectrum to any kind of modern HDMI monitor or LCD TV without Scart/composite input or there is a lot of noisy PSU or other sources that make your analog singal dirty and noisy.

So finally – I will pass over it for 128k Spectrums as my RGB Scart cable gives me better video… and audio together on HDMI connection thru additional but already owned HDMI converter.

Edit: above is strikethrought as I have found one thing that TKPie does: it works with every HDMI hardware I have: SmallHD 4″ monitor, HDMI converted, Avermedia Gamecapture HDII. I donot need to use flat TV or large monitor – so it can work for me as mobile solution to check or play with my speccy (just power speccy from powerbank and that’s it). 

But I will be using this for fast connect/test-pass routines as it’s very fast and reliable. The only minor with TKpie is… I cannot use it with my Retroleum Smartcard as not of these two are connection-thru unit. So I can use only one of them. Imagine you have to test rubber, you cannot open it, keyboard is not working. For Smartcard – it’s not a problem as you can run all test thru autorun ROM or use joystick thru Kemston port to go thru menu. So combining there two into one working connection is my dream. It’s possible then to test board alone, without hooking the keyboard…

Finally about the scores. From max (10) points on features I thought about three minors: no sound over HDMI, 128k screen quality is better over RGB to Scart connection then thru TKpie, no additional features (ULAplus support, different upscaling modes). For the money paid – even including RPi zero price with shipping, additional connectors, HDMI cable, paying someone to do job – it’s still bargain cost to have it as solution for old 16k/48k HDMI output. Compare to Spectra interface. 2,5x cheaper in total or even more. With price I had no wonders – it’s maximum value per money. I have divided points for quality for 48k and 128k models. For easy of use I had real dilemma. Typical use of this product for user with no soldering skills is painful at start. It will be hard to get solution as limits of buying RPizero make hard to create stock for Piotr. However I have to mention it and include in total score. It’s not for beginner until RPizero is soldered. Lack of manual makes things more for advanced one that will ask/search/get knowledge. Support/manual – also divided I would be max for support – Piotr is really helpful person, but lack of manual with TKpie, not much over internet makes for me average at 6 points in this category. But – this is easy to change – creating dedicated subpage, simple step-by-step manual with pictures. I highly suggest to reverse fale/female connectors of TKpie (to have female on TKpie and male on RPizero) as it’s more standard since all versions of RaspberryPi and some shops sell RPizero with option of presoldered connector (but as male on RPizero). In my opinion RPizero have to be lifted/supported from below as HDMI cables are hard/heavy enough to press on connector and whole unit so against computer extension connector. The 2nd unit I have received form Piotr was premade towards more durable – the pins from RPizero has been soldered directly to TKpie board.

When soldered – really nice combo with new DivMMC AY, aspecially for my old rubbers 16k/48k. For whole family of 128k prefer to use good quality of RGB2Scart leads.

 

Piotr ‘zaxon’ Bugaj on sellmyretro.com

Screenshots:

The screenshot was taken from demo “Big things” done by speccy.pl team honoured 2nd place on Forever XVIII (March 2017). You can check/compare your video output by loading the demo here or just grabbing scr screenshot here.

I can Switch

Saturday, March 4th, 2017

part one: first impression after first day.

Day has ended, and it’s Nintendo Switch day, definately.

Started with thinking when I will get it in my hands, ended thinking how good work has been done with whole The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

What was between? Got it, plugged it to charge. I’ve created user, logged into eShop to see… 18 games total. WTF? Really? 18 games? Where are indie games? Where is something that I thought will be on the start – access to Virtual Console and old games from NES and later???

A few new party games, NEOGEO ports, and three titles I really wanted but need to wait as they are unavailable at Switch lauch: Mariokart, Splatoon, Skyrim and my son will want to see Minecraft on Switch. So for the lauch line-up of games – I’m dissapointed, even I love new Zelda.

Size of the Switch. I thought it will be smaller. With joycons, it’s almost the same size as WiiU. A kind big handheld to be honest. A kind of that big, that won’t fit pants’ pockets.

Screen. B-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l. Cannot even compare to WiiU screen – my son just said ‘woooow’ seeing Zelda on it.

Zonk one: trying to connect to my wifi network. I went to the router, press Push’n’Connect button and… Switch still wanted me to input password. Why Nintendo? It was so simple with 3DS.

Zonk two: 3 hrs of Zelda and that’s it. Need to load Switch, of course, can put it in dock station and continue on my flat TV, but it’s not freedom of play. I know, big screen, quality of screen, power consumption – I know that all. But in this area Switch is half way from WiiU to 3DS. And maybe it’s great to have it right there – somewhere between. Love the fact I can simply record gameplay thru HDMI to my Gamecapture HDII as on WiiU. Still – to do this on 3DS is too expensive (need to mod the console which is more expensive then console itself).

Apart to these two zonks – great experience. I really enjoyed new Zelda. I’m happy to get this on preorder today, pity there is no Limited edition or Ambassador version like with 3DS/new 3DS.

Switch and play. So I just dit it.

tbc

Just Speccy 128k

Monday, February 13th, 2017

The very first thing I want with in review series is Just Speccy 128k.

Just Speccy is ZX Spectrum 128k clone done by Piotr Bugaj known as zaxon. Piotr is well know maker of many interfaces for ZX Spectrum, Amstrad and many more computers also making own clone of ZX Spectrum 128k and Amstrad CPC6128. I have both of his clones – but today I will dig only into Just Speccy 128k.

My edition is yellow board issue 3 as I know Piotr had plan to make just 10 units but it has ended in over 200 units until now.

Actual design consists as for me as complete and almost perfect solution for Speccy fan that needs modern make work horse.

JustSpeccy 128k

  • clone of ZX Spectrum 128k
  • RGB output
  • stereo AY sound
  • build in DivMMC interface working with ESXDOS
  • build Kempston joystick port
  • NMI (to be connected as button – on my board I have used reset button from ZX Spectrum + case and two wires) to bring ESXDOS menu, save snapshot etc.
  • price: 119 GBP for full assembled board.

Honestly what more you may wish? HDMI output? Well, TK Pie and ZX HD is solution for that. I would vote for solution to bring Microdrive, floppy drive and DivMMC to one platform allowing to backup from older storage systems and tape level compatibility.

Let’s see how it works.

After fire up the JS128 we see for a moment startup screen when we see the unit starting, recognizing the SD card, showing ZX Spectrum copyright screen, pressing NMI button and loading ESXDOS and then startup screen as for real ZX Spectrum.

Actually after 16 seconds we are in the game. How. Try it on modern console like Playstation 4 Pro 😛

If we want to connect it to modern TV – or old Samsung Syncmaster 710MP in my case – we just need Scart/Euro input which that’s to backward compatibility most of modern TVs still have.

On the JS128 side we need to connect both RGB output plug and audio output that is MIC socket (yes, I know it was always misleading for me – but MIC is output from Spectrum and EAR is input port to load ie from the tape) and that cable lead is included with assembled version of JS128.

For FullHD recording I use HD Video Converter and then Avermedia Game Capture HD II – within this setup JustSpeccy128k works flawlessly and shows both great sound and video output.

comparing JS128 and real/oryginal Spectum computers

16k/48k/plus version

  • RF output, can be easy modded to have composite output but can be as external additional interface as TK Pie or ZX HD
  • no AY sound (can be as external additional interface) just beeper
  • no storage interface but can be added (external DivMMC).
  • no Kempston joystick port but can be added (from 10 GBP for used old interface towards 20 GBP)
  • zaxon is offering DivMMC with AY stereo sound, two slots with microSD cards, Kempston Joystick port for 50 GBP.
  • no way to upgrade 16k/48k model to 128k model without buing that 128k unit.

Adding that all to old rubber or plus ZX Spectrum we are coming close to sell price of JS128. Still it’s 128k clone so let’s compare it with 128k and 128k +2/3 units.

128k toastrack

  • no storage
  • ULA128
  • RGB output, RGB switching on modern TVs is possible with more complicated cable lead (with powering SCART/EURO)
  • no stereo sound without modding or external unit
  • no joystick port but can be added as external unit
  • has MIDI/RS232C ports

as above – DivMMC with stereo AY, joystick port and microSD card slots gives it modern breath, however to use is everyday I would suggest doing some mods that will secure overheat inside aspecially ULA chip and of course recap (replacing several capacitors).

128k +2/+2a/+3

let’s divide it a little bit. Grey +2 with built casette deck is last fully ULA128 compatible unit.Black +2A/B/+3 are remade by Amstrad and modified so causing some incompatibilities (most of them were corrected as software/game updates but – these unit are not using ULA128 known from ZX Spectrum 128k).

  • All these units has storage – either casette deck either 3″ disk drive. It’s not modern solution but – still – most of published games are oryginally on tapes.
  • All these units has RGB output. Composite signal can be aquired from them but after some work (ie grey ZX Spectrum 128k +2 needs correction of two transistors as they are placed reversed in factory).
  • All these unit has joystick port but it’s less popular Sinclair standard. It can be modded by simple converter switching pins on DB9 joystick port or you as above buy external interface to have Kempston (Atari, Amiga) compatible joystick.
  • All these units has AY sound, but not stereo. It can be modded to stereo mod internally and as above externally.

 

JustSpeccy128k and dilema of case for it

Just after getting my own JS128k I felt into dilema of choice of case for it. Cute, small rubber case, maybe paited white and paired with white membrane? Or level up of and more keys after fitting into ZX Spectrum + case? actually tried both. My ZX Spectrum + case is temporary one until I will decide, while that I paired it with PokeMon’s SMD tactile (low force) switches keyboard membrane.

So, what is in package with assembled board version
– TV Scart/Euro lead
– SD card with ZX Spectrum demos and ESXDOS system

So you need case for it (but assume that when someone is placing order for assembled board without case he already has case for it) and PSU (can be grey 128k +2 PSU as it’s 9V 2A).

Zaxon on sellmyretro
Zaxon’s homepage: eightbitclone.com

ESXDOS website

You can take a look and listen how JS128 is within part one of AY battle:

 

and how Mescaline demo looks on my Just Speccy 128k: