Which is better? Spectrum or other....

General Chit Chat about Sinclair Computers and their Clones
tdg8934
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Which is better? Spectrum or other....

Post by tdg8934 » Wed Jul 03, 2019 8:40 pm

I have had a few Timex Sinclair 1000s modified for video still have a couple with various accessories such as ZXPand+ so for extra memory and not having to deal with a cassette tape machine using an SD card. They are wonderful devices and have lots of memories with all the ZX81 stuff.

However, being that I never got to experience a Spectrum or USA variation machine of it as a kid (or now), I really know nothing about them other than they display color games and similar games to the ZX81 / TS1000 with more memory. I'm going to a vintage computer show as I have done so the last 2-3 years now in September and thinking about looking into a Spectrum machine (or other USA variant). It would need to be "modernized" [or be capable] (like the ZXpand+ does for the ZX81/TS1000) and have available video output or VGA/HDMI, etc. not SCART or other video format not found in the US. I don't know what adapters are available for this or where to start other than Google. I just want to be sure I have something I can use in the USA and not limited (i.e. you should have gotten the Spectrum 128 scenario). OR any I should stay clear of. I suppose this might be based on how available they are in the USA. I just read a little about a TS2068 if it is still available - or stay clear of this?

Thoughts?

Thanks - Tim

tdg8934
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Re: Which is better? Spectrum or other....

Post by tdg8934 » Wed Jul 03, 2019 8:56 pm

I just realized I have an FPGA MIST that provides hardware reproduction of old computer systems. I looked and there is a Spectrum 128K FPGA core available:

ZX Spectrum 128K for MIST Board

Some verilog models from Till Harbaum Spectrum core were used in this project.

Features:
•Fully functional ZX Spectrum 48K, 128K, +3 and Pentagon 128 with correct CPU and Video timings.
•Pentagon 1024K and Profi 1024K memory interfaces.
•Turbo 7MHz, 14MHz, 28MHz, 56MHz.
•ULA+ v1.1 programmable palettes with extended Timex control.
•Timex HiColor, HiRes modes.
•Original Tape loading through OSD (CSW files).
•TR-DOS (Beta Disk Interface) and native TRD images.
•G+DOS (MGT +D Disk Interface) and IMG, MGT images (only in none +2A/3 memory modes).
•+3 Disk drive usable with +3DOS.
•Multiface 128 and Multiface 3 (in +3 mode) add-on.
•Memory snapshot save/load in +D and Multiface.
•Native TAP with turbo loading. Fast loading for TAP, CSW and TZX.
•Kempston Mouse and Joystick.
•Sinclair Joystick I
•Turbo-Sound interface (dual YM2149 sound chips)
•Audio in from real tape device


https://github.com/sorgelig/ZX_Spectrum-128K_MIST

https://github.com/mist-devel/mist-bina ... ster/cores

Thoughts? - I would like to have an original keyboard but the MIST allows for a USB keyboard/mouse and commodore/Atari style joysticks.

Tim

Lardo Boffin
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Re: Which is better? Spectrum or other....

Post by Lardo Boffin » Wed Jul 03, 2019 9:21 pm

If you go the route of a ‘real’ Spectrum you can get HDMI with this plug in

https://www.sellmyretro.com/offer/detai ... trum-27558

Not used one myself. I have a SpectraSCART (which does a superb SCART output).

You can also get SD card readers. There are loads of choices but here are some:-

https://www.sellmyretro.com/offer/detai ... trum-22790

I have one of these:-

https://www.sellmyretro.com/offer/detai ... trum-32798

In terms of which Spectrum is best? Tough question!

The rubber key 48K Spectrum started it all and will run the vast majority of games. There were not that many that were 128K only as the software houses didn’t want to miss out on the huge software market.

My favourite is the +3. The coolest to own and perhaps the most compatible (with games) of the 128K models is the ‘toastrack’ (Spectrum + 128K with the cooling fins on the side) but they very expensive at the moment.

I have not tried the +2s so can’t comment on those.
ZX80
ZX81 iss 1 (bugged ROM, kludge fix, normal, rebuilt)
Iss 3 ZXVid
TS 1000 iss 3, ZXPand AY, ZX8-CCB, ZX-KDLX & ChromaSCART
TS 1500
TS 2000
Spectrum 16k (iss 1 s/n 1499)
Various Spectrum 48ks plus a DIVMMC future and SPECTRA

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RetroTechie
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Re: Which is better? Spectrum or other....

Post by RetroTechie » Thu Jul 04, 2019 1:38 am

Yes if you're going for an original Spectrum, then the 128K "toastrack" is probably the model that can run the greatest selection of software. The Amstrad models have much 'cleaner' internals and come with much better keyboards though.

There's subtle differences between the toastrack & +2/+3 models that may cause some 128K software to work on one, but not some other model(s) among those. For which in many cases software fixes exist. And all the 128K models tend to be expensive. So between the 128K models, it's mostly a matter of taste & what you happen to come across. And as USA user I'd check video output options for any model you're considering before making a purchase.

That said: a basic 48K ZX Spectrum can run a vast selection of software. Still quite affordable & easy to find.

But imho using any of these old machines in 2019 requires at least some willingness to do repairs or modifications. Power supply fixes, modding RF output -> composite video, a replacement keyboard membrane, etc. If that doesn't put you off, have at it! :mrgreen: Even then you're still stuck eg. with tape loading. SD or CF options, joystick interfaces etc cost additional $$.

In your case, the MIST board would be a VEEEERRRYY convenient, and capable option. If you can do without the authentic feel of mashing rubber keys, ;) I'd go for that. Provided...
tdg8934 wrote:
Wed Jul 03, 2019 8:56 pm
•Audio in from real tape device
Don't skip out on that! At least for some sessions. Loading stuff from tape (and at normal speed) is an ESSENTIAL part of the ZX Spectrum experience imho. 8-)

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1024MAK
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Re: Which is better? Spectrum or other....

Post by 1024MAK » Thu Jul 04, 2019 1:55 am

Lardo Boffin wrote:
Wed Jul 03, 2019 9:21 pm
The rubber key 48K Spectrum started it all and will run the vast majority of games. There were not that many that were 128K only as the software houses didn’t want to miss out on the huge software market.

My favourite is the +3. The coolest to own and perhaps the most compatible (with games) of the 128K models is the ‘toastrack’ (Spectrum + 128K with the cooling fins on the side) but they very expensive at the moment.

I have not tried the +2s so can’t comment on those.
The original Sinclair ZX Spectrum range was:
  • ZX Spectrum 16K (rubber key)
  • ZX Spectrum 48K (rubber key)
  • ZX Spectrum+ (those sold by Sinclair were all 48K, but it is possible for the "Keyboard upgrade kit" to be fitted to a 16K board)
All of these are based on the same PCB.

Sinclair then added the ZX Spectrum 128K, known as the toastrack.
Amstrad then bought Sinclair, and produced the ZX Spectrum +2 (with 128K bytes of RAM and a built in cassette deck). These are known as the "grey" because the case is dark grey rather than black. They are based on the same chips as a ZX Spectrum 128K and hence compatibility is good.

Next, Amstrad produced the ZX Spectrum +3 with 3" disk drive. This was effectively a new hardware design, so there are some differences.
Then they produced a new design of ZX Spectrum +2 based on the +3, these are called the ZX Spectrum +2A, but most actually have a ZX Spectrum +2B board inside (the menu still says +2A). The +2A, +2B and +3 all come in black cases.

Most games released after the introduction of the +3 are compatible with all the 128K range. Most 16K and 48K games will also work. And the community are still "fixing" any that are discovered to have problems.

The USA version from Timex (the TS2068) is a bit different, as for some daft reason, they dropped full compatibility. A lot of 16K and 48K games will run if a cartridge with Sinclair BASIC is fitted. Best go and have a Google of this, or browse World of Spectrum forums.

Video output can be a problem these days. The U.K. 16K, 48K and plus can all be modified to output composite video, but this will be system I 50Hz PAL.
Some (but not all) of the 128K models also have composite video outputs.

There are some NTSC 60Hz Spectrums about around the world, but they are a bit rare...

I can give more details if you want. Just ask.

Mark

Lardo Boffin
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Re: Which is better? Spectrum or other....

Post by Lardo Boffin » Thu Jul 04, 2019 8:02 am

You can get an NTSC conversion kit for the rubber key Spectrum from Mutant Caterpillar Games.

http://www.mutant-caterpillar.co.uk/sho ... ts_id=4393
ZX80
ZX81 iss 1 (bugged ROM, kludge fix, normal, rebuilt)
Iss 3 ZXVid
TS 1000 iss 3, ZXPand AY, ZX8-CCB, ZX-KDLX & ChromaSCART
TS 1500
TS 2000
Spectrum 16k (iss 1 s/n 1499)
Various Spectrum 48ks plus a DIVMMC future and SPECTRA

tdg8934
Posts: 276
Joined: Mon Sep 23, 2013 6:10 pm

Re: Which is better? Spectrum or other....

Post by tdg8934 » Thu Jul 04, 2019 12:11 pm

Thanks guys for all the information. I hooked up the MIST this morning and it still works. Can anyone tell me what I can do to test it with the Spectrum core loaded in? Is there a manual I can download to look at? Or just a quick check as I have not worked with it before. I’ll have to get the spectrum rom somewhere online I think also.

Tim

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1024MAK
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Re: Which is better? Spectrum or other....

Post by 1024MAK » Thu Jul 04, 2019 2:54 pm

Do you mean the documentation for MIST or a ZX Spectrum manual?
There is an online manual for the original ZX Spectrum here. It also covers all but couple of BASIC commands for the later models. The +3 manual is here.

The official ROMs are available from this site.

Mark

tdg8934
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Re: Which is better? Spectrum or other....

Post by tdg8934 » Thu Jul 04, 2019 3:19 pm

Perfect - Thanks Mark!

tdg8934
Posts: 276
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Re: Which is better? Spectrum or other....

Post by tdg8934 » Thu Jul 04, 2019 4:57 pm

I was able to load and start the Spectrum MIST hardware device. It first displays a menu of:

128
Tape Loader
128 BASIC
Calculator
48 BASIC
TR-DOS

If I select Tape loader it says (to cancel - Press BREAK twice) - so hitting keyboard keys doesn't appear to do anything unless I hit escape twice

If I select 128 BASIC it has a flashing blue / white cursor so that works if I type in 10 PRINT "hello" run list

If I select Calculator it has a flashing blue / white cursor that I can type in a number - can sort of figure this out

If I select 48 BASIC its like the ZX81 computer (flashing K/L)

If I select TR-DOS it shows A> flashing K (like the zx81 K) - not sure about what to do here.



If I bring the menu back up on the MIST with the Spectrum core it displays:

LOAD Disk *.TRD, IMG, DSK, MGT
LOAD Tape *.TAP, CSW
Fast tape load: On (Off)
Video timings: ULA-48 (ULA-128)
Scandoubler Fx: None (HQ2x, CRT 25%, CRT 50%)
Memory: Standard 128K (Pentagon 1024K, Profi 1024K, Standard 48K, +2A/+3)
Features: ULA & Timex (ULA+, Timex, None)

I had a hard time finding a Spectrum game but found one GALACTIANS.TZX but the TZX wasnt recognized by the Spectrum MIST

What formats should I look for Disk or Tape? and anyone have a good site to look at to download them?

Thanks,

Tim

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