Spectember fall.

I got a nice surprise  from a guy at work yesterday as thanks for introducing  and helping setup his Raspberry Pi and OpenElec. A bag full of ZX Spectrum games  he had in his loft and asked if I had any use for them.

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There’s some early titles from Sinclair and Imagine here as well as a few arcade clones from Mastertronic and Anirog., There’s also some dodgy cover art too!

No Houston, no problem here at all.

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Runs on Spectrum 48k or Commodore 64‘…what kind of  double sized tape wizardry is this?

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So thanks James for my ‘Spectember’ gift!

Speaking of Spectember…sorry, Spectrum’s, at lunchbreak I composite modded my remaining ZX Spectrum + (hard keys). It’s the same principle as before with the 16/48k computer (see previous blog post – https://stiggyblog.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/my-first-zx-spectrum-composite-mod/ and can now enjoy  better image quality and on an alternative keyboard to all that rubber.

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My first ZX Spectrum Composite mod.

So I’m up the ladder this morning, hands full and in the middle of repairing a small area of plaster coving when there’s a knock at the door. Typical isn’t it….I did think about ignoring it but you never know so after untangling myself from everything and trying not to spill my plaster I headed to the door. I’m glad I didn’t ignore it afterall, it was the postman delivering a few parcels too large for the letterbox. New (old) retro games and that replacement ZX Spectrum keyboard membrane I ordered a few days ago (quick service!).

So back in the temporary geek den this afternoon I’m fixing up two ZX Spectrum’s and made a bit of a discovery on another.

The replacement keyboard membrane appears to be much more robust than the original and the two connecting ribbons are a good inch longer and  less prone to snag when you open up the casing.

 

ZX Spectrum replacement keyboard membrane from http://sintech-shop.co.uk/

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It’s an easy install, as this is just a drop in replacement and therefore only took a few minutes. A quick test and all is working good as new.

 

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For the other Spectrum, I thought I have a go at composite modding.  As standard, all ZX Spectrums are fitted with RF modulators thus allowing them to work with the TV’s we had back in the 80’s. RF video is not exactly the best video quality therefore, with a a little modification, one can bypass the modulator and get a better picture via RCA Composite.

I had no idea how easy this was until the mystics of Google enlightened me.

Basically, you have to disconnect the 5v feed to the independent RF modulator circuit by cutting the wire I’ve marked in Blue. Cut it at the board end and not inside the RF box.

You also need to cut the video feed wire and the wire to the resistor near the RF input socket. Make both of these cuts inside the RF box. I’ve marked these in Red.

Take the cut end of the video feed and solder in a piece of wire between here and the little hole in the RF input socket. Marked in Yellow.

 

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..and that’s it.

Connect a standard RCA cable to the RF (now Composite) and see if it works. No more fuzzy display.

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Oh and that other little discover, it appear that one of my ZX Spectrum’s is one of the early 16k models.

 

Retro gaming – Galactic Gunners.

A busy week working on our study and with the last coat of paint added to the walls this morning and little else to do until it dries, I thought I’d treat myself to Friday afternoon off and a spot of retro gaming in my temporary geek den.

With the ZX Spectrum’s still set up from the other day, I’ve been exploring a some titles that I’ve either not played before or in the case of this one, not even heard about before. I found Galactic Gunners by chance whilst looking for another title in the archives at the World of Spectrum http://www.worldofspectrum.org/infoseekid.cgi?id=0001928 – and just can’t put the damn thing down, it’s so frustratingly good.

Galactic Gunners – 1987 – Cybexlab Software, which it such a cool name don’t you think?

 

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It’s a side scrolling shooter that looks very similar to Skramble except there’s no depleting fuel to worry about – Good job really as you’ve got more that enough to keep an eye on instead. Level one is pretty easy but further on you’ll really have to memorise the attack patterns & location of the gun turret so that you’re be ready to strike first. Graphically, it’s pretty good, with crisp sharp colourful sprites and that infamous Speccy colour clash. Sound wise, it’s pretty basic and the tune sometimes drifts into some completely different. I thought it a bit odd at first until I realised, that these changes were activated by collecting various powerups. I’m not sure what all of them do yet, but you definitely want to  pick up the round one that clears the screen of enemies and the square shaped thing that turns your ship invulnerable to fire for a short time. Heck, there’s even a few end of level bosses.

Galactic Gunners is most definitely one of those games that’ll have you swearing at the screen every time you faceplant the landscape, yet you’ll return to for one more go…and another…and another. Fantastic stuff indeed.

 

 

Temporary geek den.

Last week my parents where having a loft clear out and my dad called me to see if I wanted an old 14″ CRT  TV before he took it to the recycle centre. Now usually, I wouldn’t bother with old TV’s when using my retro computers and consoles as I prefer the extra desk space you get when using a slim LCD TV. However, just lately, and especially at Retro Revival where I spent an awful long time in front of glass screens, I’m really digging the bright, slightly curved, glowing pixel look you don’t seem to get on a modern LCD screen.

So ‘yes please’ said I picked and it up last Friday.

I’ve got this week off work to start decorating our study and with everything packed away I’ve temporary set up a bit of a geek den in the garage. My desk, an off cut of wood that was left over from when I made my monitor bezel for the Mame cabinet, sits resting on one of my larger tool boxes. I’ve also found that one of my camping chairs is just the right height for it too.

The whole thing looks ridiculous and homebrew and I love it! I just need a bigger desk, get my solder station setup, maybe a tesla coil and an assistant probably called Igor……yup, that’ll be those paint fumes for earlier.

Last night I thought I’d use my dad’s TV to test out a couple of ZX Spectrum’s I’d picked up from eBay a few month back. Both were sold as untested and I managed to win them both for just £3.

The first seemed to be working o.k although the picture quality through RF was a little ropey (made much better after adjusting the Potts) and the keyboard bezel was a little scratched. The second has a better picture but many of the keys don’t seem to work. A quick look under the hood shows that part of the keyboard membrane is damaged and way to short to fit into the two slots. I suspect someone has been here before.

So swapping some of the bits around  I’ve got one looking clean and working perfectly and another, fitted with a better looking bezel from my spares box and working with dodgy (but now clean 🙂 ) keys. I’ve ordered a new keyboard membrane so hopefully this will bring it back to working condition again.

I wonder if Igor fancies a game of Manic a Miner?

Speccy Tetris!

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More Flappy Bird retro clones – ZX81 and Vectrex.

If you’ve done swearing at your Atari after the release of Flappo Bird on the 2600 a few weeks ago (http://tacsgames.itch.io/flappo-bird), how about taking it out on your Sinclair ZX81 or MB Vectrex next? Both of these vintage systems have just seen the release of their own clones of the infuriating addictive Flappy Bird. Actually, the ZX81 and mighty Vec both deserve plenty of TLC and love so maybe it’ll be best to try these games out on emulation instead?…in fact, go hug your Vectrex right now 😉

Quack, for the ZX81 is by Bob, of Bob’s Stuff – maker of incredibly fun and playable  games for the ZX81 (and ZX Spectrum). and has a knack for squeezing every ounce of fun juice out of the tiny 81.

Yup, the ZX81 keyboard might be a bit pants but in this game but you’ll only need one. Mash away!

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Tap to fly and avoid everything el…..dammit, faceplanted again! Can you beat my whopping high score of (fanfare) four points?

 

 

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Over on the Vectrex we have VeccyBird and you’ll have to do a little more tapping to keep ‘flappy’ or whatever it’s name is, aloft and out of trouble.

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Yup, I suck at this too…I think I’ve only made it past the third tube but like the original you just can’t put it down.

 

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So there you go, two more fantastic clones of a game the world loves and hates….and hates…and then loves a bit more 🙂

Here’s the links –

Quack – http://www.bobs-stuff.co.uk/extras/quack.zip

VeccyBird – https://www.dropbox.com/s/svu19ed2o0c7233/Veccy_Bird_V1.zip