After 10 years of continuous hard work, this site is become the ultimate source of present ZX Spectrum hardware and software. Also it is the bridge between amateurs, professionals, sellers, buyers etc. In a sentence: gives a great help to keep the Spectrum alive.
If you want this website to survive and alive, and you have some capacity to help me, please contact me at tarjan(a)uw.hu e-mail address. Thanks in advance!
|Didaktik M 48/128 és Kompakt 48/128/Professional|
Didaktik Skalica company was founded in 1971 in Bratislava in the ex-Czechoslovakian Republic. Primary profile of company are school accessories, but they were tasting also into the computer industry.
Their very first computers -Didaktik Alfa and Beta- weren't ZX Spectrum clones. In fact, the same happened as in most Central-Eastern European ex-socialist countries: at the company realised, can be a far better business to copy the ZX Spectrum with its thousand of games (or even it is reached ten thousand?) rather than developing completely new machines. In that way were born the Didaktik Gama 87, 88 and 89. By the way, these machines were quite popular in Poland too.
Gama-series was soon followed by the still sold Didaktik M (released in 1990, a second version in 1991) and Didaktik Kompakt (1991). In 1992, Didaktik Skalica was stepping to PCs, and passed the rights and manufacturing to Kompakt Services (Kompakt Servis) in the Czech Republic, which is a single person enterprise. The two machines are identical genetically, Kompakt only differs with its built-in 3,5" floppy-drive. Most people say, Kompakt looks better. It is not very conspicuous, that floppy drive is "stuck" later. Looks perfectly neat. A bit reminds us to Atari ST, very contemporary look of early 90's. Both machies have two joystick ports, one of them is Kempston, another is Sinclair compatible, but connectors are non-standard ones (anyway, who would buy the Didaktik joysticks?:). As was usual in the ex-Eastern block, tape connectors are DIN types. Thanks to the Russian ICs, they are not perfectly ZX Spectrum compatible, but closer to the Russian Pentagons in compatibility (see soon). TV and monitor connectors both came as standards also with a Scart-port, as well a parallel interface is integrated too.
Kompakt's built-in 3,5 drive in fact is an ordinary PC unit, which using a factory-developed MDOS operating system and 720K MS-DOS compatible disks. Details will come later.
Kompakt has two big bros. Didaktik Kompakt 128K has the 128K RAM upgrade. Didaktik Kompakt Professional also contains the AY-chip as default with a stereo jack. Following the traditions of Czech and Slovakian tuning conventions, it sounds in ACB stereo mode, which I will described later. M also has a 128K version. The distributor made these enhancements, factory-made 128K machines do not exist. RAM size is said to be 320K expandable - just as in the case of original Spectrums.
|Didaktik Gama 192K/256K ME, Nemesis|
At the end of 2003/beginning of 2004 an enthusiast Czech Spectrumist (CSS Electronics)was reanimated the previously mentioned Didaktik Gama.
The mainboard, which is sold for 1500 Kcs has fairly neat quality and the machine (or more exactly the mainboard) -called Didaktik Gama 192K- is said to be 100% compatible with the 128K ZX Spectrum, just as the original Gama series.
No reason to wonder, because its "basic ingredients" are the same: the Z80A processor working at 3,5MHz and the AY-3-8912 soundchip - this one is tuned-up to ACB stereo - as an usual ex-Czechoslovakian habit. In addition, it has a serial RS-232C port as well a parallel socket. RAM size is total 192K - as you probably guess.
Programs can be loaded from conventional tape magnetofon and TV-set can be plugged to the computer - just as in the nice classic times.
Has three subversions: v1a (never went to sale), v1b and v1c.
Manufacturer also offer(ed) a limited edition called Didaktik Gama 256K Millennium Edition, or Didaktik Gama 256K Nemesis. Biggest innovation of this hardware as you tipped, yes, the 256K RAM.
Very first Pentagon machines appeared in 1989 in Moscow (ex-USSR) with 48K RAM, later with integrated Beta-128 disk interface.
Next year, the first version of 128K Pentagons came out (Pentagon 128K v1) without the AM/YM chip. It was because only this chip does not have Russian analogue, so was quite hard and expensive to obtain. But the sound chip can be installed later with an AY-adapter. This card incorporates the AY/YM chips and the Z80 processor, and must be plugged into the socket of Z80 in the mainboard.
They already have the Centronics compatible Lprint MKIII interface integrated onto the mainboard. These machines were not equipped with the original Sinclair edge connector.
Pentagon 128K v2+ was identical with the previous version, but AY/YM chips were installed as standard (v2 does not exist!). This subtype was developed by ATM and micro-ART corporations, which were also developed the soonly mentioned ATM clones. Sadly, it is quite buggy, but said, with some home fixes can be turned compatible with original Spectrums.
Nickname of Pentagon v3(+) is Pentagon Solon or Pentagon 1993, and of course it is also incompatible. It was inheriting its name from Solon's company. In that case, engineers were optimised the screen output quality. But everything has its own price....
From the firm briefly: Solon situated in Moscow and was a real universal computing enterprise: spreading programmes, publishing computer literature, making some hardware developments: all of those were fits in their profile. At present, working as a publishing house with Solon-Press name.
Some sources are speaking about further developments (for example Pentagon v4) but nobody trusted its existence so far. Very probably, this improvement was made in the smaller countries of ex-USSR (for example in Ukraine). At least, in the city of Licichanks in Ukraine saw the light a Pentagon development, which was realised on a 25x40 cm mainboard with more than 100 elements. Due to its size, only can be built into a tower case and was very unstable. Since 2002 no news. Maybe this was the v4 Pentagon, maybe not.
One thing is sure: with increasing the version number, number of ICs on the mainboard became less and less, but still much more than in the original Spectrums. Real Russian design...
Pentagons got their names about the pentagon layout of the conductors ground circuit on the initially introduced 48K mainboard. Following 128K models do not have this layout, but the name remains the same.
They soon became the most widespreaded models in Russia, thanks to the easy building and expanding - and of course for the relatively cheap price. In addition, all documentations were freely spreadable. Between 1991 and 1996 they became the mainstream machines of Russian computing.
Both individuals and companies manufactured Pentagons. So Pentagons may look very different (convenient home computer like, desktop, mini-tower etc.) and the quality can vary in very different ranges.
Another key of popularity of the machines were easy expanding and tuning - even the strangest modifications can be done home made.
The "default config" became the Pentagon 128+AY+Beta combination with a cheap stereo tuning, but some special software uses the extreme Pentagon enhancements. For example, the 512x192 pixel screen, the 128-colour mode, the 256K, 512K 1024K or 4096K RAM, and even the 1,7Mbyte HD disk, real time clock, IDE interface etc. They were mostly end user programs (commanders, word processors, painting programs etc.). These machines were mostly owned by programmers and swappers.
Among ancient time Pentagons, the most powerful was Pentagon 512K Turbo. It has 7MHz Z80B or H processor, two floppy drives and Kempston mouse as standard. From standard Pentagons it is quite hard to tune-up, needs much time of home works.
Instead, the Pentagon 1024K update was chosen by most owners (with one piece SIMM module). By the way, tuning fans can read firstly about Pentagon 1024K enhancement in Born Dead magazine back in 2000.
The successor's name is Pentagon 1024SL v1.x (2004-.). Easy to guess, it has massive 1024K RAM. This is the development of King of Evil, alias Zhabin Alexei again from Moscow.
It goes only on 3,5MHz, although Lord Vader made a circuit, which allows running it at double speed. It was made on the basis of Pentagon v3, and apostrophed as the successor of the soon detailed KAY. This is proven by the fact, that it is using the bus system of KAY, called Nemo-bus, the motherboard has two such slots.
Pentagon 1024SL V2.x (2006.) runs on 7MHz as default, and top of that it offers two new graphics modes: 384x304 (without border) and 256x192 with conventional 15 colours, but with different colour possibility for every pixel. This graphics mode is called to color-per-pixel (or 16C, 4 Bpp) and very similar to the EGA screen. And colour-clash was eliminated. Alongside, 16C games are developed such as Ball Quest, Pang 16C and Season of Sakura 16C. Of course, also begin to appear end user programmes with supporting this mode. Necessary to denote, that 16C games are running on normal, 3,5MHz speed smoothly, and that is respectful both from the hardware developers and programmer's side.
Professionals regard this machine as the real successor of original Pentagons, not the v1.xs. Standard printer and Kempston mouse port, as well IDE-controller also integrated into the mainboard. Contains three Nemo-bus.
In 2006, Zhabin stopped to manufacture ready made v1.4 boards, and in 2007 also stopped finished v2.2 ones. Now only can ordered empty mainboards for 800 rubles. The board is made in Zelenograd factory, with today's standard. The developer is attaching a CD-ROM along with the board, which contains mounting and installation instructions as well some games and utilies. Latest commercial version is v2.3.
SL abbreviation comes later with KAY.
On the Pentagon 1024SL v2.666, which was started its life in 2008, the soonly described Z-Controller is integrated, so contains PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports, and SD card and Ethernet interface. Another new developments: real time clock, VGA monitor socket and USB port. In 2009, KOE released a cutted down version, Pentagon 1024SL v2.666 Light Edition, which has fairly more simple design, for example the Ethernet controller is missing.
8, 16 or 32K cache could be obtained for Pentagons, which are works fine with turbo mode too. With this, speed of processor is not 1.4x of the original in turbo mode, but could boast double speed.
Those who had only original Spectrums, the Czech Velesoft is offering some alternatives. The internal Pentagon 512 interface can be built into the ZX Spectrum 128K+2. Later he constructed its cost effective external version for ZX16/48 users with External 128-512K upgrade for ZX16/48K name. The ZX Profi interface also offers Pentagon compatible mode. More informations at the Velesoft section!
The Polish Jarek Adamski also constructed a similar interface, called ZX4MB, which will detailed later too. The Pentevo and Pentevo Light series can be regard as the successors of the original Pentagons.
|Scorpion ZS 256 Turbo+|
Scorpion 256 machines were manufactured in Saint Petersburg by Zonov and Co. Director of the firm is Zonov Sergey and they were producing Scorpions since 1992. The firm was established in the beginning of 1990.
This company already had experience with ZX-cloning by their previous machine called Leningrad. Very similar to Pentagons, did not law protected the machine, it was free to copy the mainboard. Thanks to this situation, different types of Leningrads became one of the first mass clones inline with Pentagons.
But the year 1992 was a significant change in Russia. From that date, different companies take effort not only to reproducing the original ZX Spectrum 128K, but develop more powerful and advanced machines under their brandnames. In that way born the Profi, the ATM-Turbo, as well Scorpion ZS 256 with 256K RAM and initially with 3,5MHz processor and only with 5,25" drives. It uses the simplified version of Beta with only two diskdrives. Generally, only Scorpion was enough successful to get the majority of the market beside Pentagons. Even by the surveys, after the mid 90's, it tooks the leader position from Pentagons.
By passing the time, Scorpions get 7MHz processor as well 3,5" floppy drives. Scorps were not allowed to public copying, but manufacturing, development, sales and service done by only the company. The name of the clone became the name of the company also, which remains the same until nowadays. Just as Pentagons, Scorpions have some different subgenerations ("Normal", Turbo and Turbo+) easily separable from each others by their brown, yellow and green mainboards. Of course, size of the mainboards is also getting smaller, and building quality was improved from generations by generations.
And now, look closer the features of Scorps. First of all, it is perfectly compatible with the original 48K and 128K Speccies, unlike most ex-Soviet clones. The CPU is supporting both 3,5 and 7MHz speeds, switchable from the built-in monitor program or by a hardware switch. Normal/turbo speed is easy to check from a LED. It has 256K RAM, ROM size can vary from 64K to 512K depending on the customer's demands. It has a built-in Service Monitor as standard developed by Andrew Moa (his name in Russian: Andrey Larchenko). Sound is provided by the classic AY-chip. To establish communication, standard Centronics and RS-232C ports as well one or two Nemo-buses are factory fitted. The machine is also available as a ready to use version installed into a mini-tower delivered with keyboard and mouse. Business software and games are also included in the package. Customers can also specify the old fashioned 5,25" floppy drive if they really want. Some tweaked Scorps have 1024K RAM installed on the board.
At present, profile of Scorpion is covering the home and office computing and office accessories since 1997. Unfortunately, Scorpion is not developing the ZX-line anymore, only selling out their remains.
Europeans also do not have to quail, because Velesoft's previously mentioned ZX Profi interface can also upgrade the ZX Spectrum 128K into a Scorpion ZS 256/1024.
KAY 1024, 2006NB, 2010
The clone named KAY 1024 produced by Nemo Company, who wants to be his machine as the rival of Scorpion. In the classic Spectrum age, it was the best design counting compatibility, reliability and price.
The name of Nemo covers Vyachieslav Georgievich Skutin, who nicked often as Captain Nemo. In the ancient times, he was the chief editor of ZX-Format magazine. Above that, he is also well-known by his open letters from Abzac magazine, in which he is questioning the worthness of technological development.
Last version of KAY 1024 was introduced in 2001 after KAY 128 and 256. Since 2004, he is activeness on ZX Spectrum. But now go back to machines!
The hearth of the clone is the KAY-1024/3SL/Turbo mainboard. Yes, it has 1024K RAM and supporting the 7MHz turbo mode. In fact, this is the fastest 7MHz clone. Sadly, the turbo mode is unswitchable, so games and demos are not running perfectly. Abbreviation of "3SL" refers to the 3 expansion slots, which are only 2 in practicality: the FDD interface takes one place (Beta Turbo). Anyway, the bus system is his own development of Nemo, called Nemo-bus.
Nemo offered a special Nemo-bus version of IDE controller, which still can be bought and you could order it with a 40Mb hard disk also. In the similar way, customers could specify XTR-modem and General Sound card with Nemo-bus options.
The AY and Dallas chips were sold separately from the board, but offered also by the manufacturer.
The huge 1024K RAM can be used in two ways. Total 1024K or 256K+RAM disk (drive c:). Peripherals, like PC-keyboard, Kempston mouse as well standard Kempston and Sinclair josticks are easy to connect to the system. Has a Centronics port for parallel printers too. Quite interesting fact, Nemo Company never had homepage. The answer is simple: Nemo is hating Internet, as it belongs also to technical developments. He was accessible only through snail mail, making the communication difficult between him and the customers.
Now some words from Nemo-bus, the successor of Sinclair edge connector. Opposite its ancestor, it does not share the resources equally, when more peripherals are attached. The highest priority is the first slot, the second is medium, and the least priority is for the third slot.
Nowadays, all new clones and peripherals are using Nemo-bus in the territory of ex-Soviet Union as standard. Its alternative name is ZX-Bus, but of course totally different from the ZX-bus constructed by the Swedish Sami Vehmaa.
Shortly about the successors. Pentagon 1024SLv1.x was already introduced and Ant-1024 HD will detailed later.
KAY 2006 NB (KAY 2006 North Brigde) is realised by an Altera EPM7064 MAX programmable logical matrix from heroy. Above the standard resolution, it offers three more extras: Multicolor, GigaScreen and 512x192 pixels with 2 colours.
Sprinter 97, 2000
Sprinter is the product of Peters Plus Ltd, which is situated in Saint Petersburg. It is an original architectured Russian computer with ZX Spectrum and clones compatibility.
This company also had a previous clone series, called Peters. In these times, name of the corporation was also Peters. The machines saw the light in four different forms. Peters MC64 was a ZX Spectrum 48K clone with built-in printer port. Peters WS128 is certainly a 128K machine. Peters 256 is based on Scorpion. At last, Contact CPS-128 is a 128K machine based on its original bus system.
Peters Plus suspended manufacturing Sprinter and passed the rights to Ivan Makarchenko, the original developer.
Back in 2004, NedoPC also wanted to buy these rights, but the 10.000 dollars price a bit shocked them. Despite that, they still popularizing these machines and running an Unofficial Sprinter Support section on their site.
Sprinter 2000 is already the second generation. Its green coloured mainboard as well finishing quality is helps to distinguish from the earlier Sprinter 97 series, which has yellow-brown colour, and the quality is also quite "Russian". It is not a fortune: all single machines were handmade. Sprinter 97 was introduced on Enlight'96 demoparty in Moscow. Sprinter 2000 has more variants depending on what parts were available.
It is compatible with ZX Spectrum 128, Pentagon 128/512 and Scorpion ZS 256, and also has a special Sprinter mode. Just as the modern clones, this one is also equipped with IDE CD-ROM and winchester controller. It is using the FAT-16 system, so partitions size can be maximum 2Gb (4 partitions x 2 Gb= 8Gb for each hard disks). The processor is a Zilog Z84C15 running at both 3,5 and 21MHz. Pressing F12 key is the most convenient way to select the speed. 21 MHz only theoretically exists, as ULA slows down the speed to 16MHz. The mainboard itself is an AT-type one, ATX-version is not available. Other parameters also recall the classic PC age: ISA-bus, 16 bit stereo sound (of course AY/YM and Covox compatible), 4 Mb RAM and 256K videoRAM (each of them is expandable to 64Mb and 512K). Anyway, the AY-emulation is quite bad. The extra memory usable as RAMdisks lettering from e: to t:. Additional functions are available through extended TR-DOS commands. CGA or RGB monitors, as well Scart-ported TV also suitable for the video. Two non-standard serial ports are equipped in the mainboard - one for the keyboard and one for the mouse. Fortunately, the parallel port is a conventional one, so printers can be connected easily. The Sinclair egde connector is missing from the machine.
Peters Plus was releasing some games (for example Doom, Thunder in the Deep) and some end user software also (Flex Navigator, Audio Player, GFX-Viewer, 2D Studio and so on...). All of these software is free of charge for Sprinter owners (in fact, they are freeware for everyone, but no one else could use them:).
Sprinter mainboards were available through postal order. Sprinter never had massive success. Maybe the first factor was the high price (115 dollars for the mainboard and 170 bucks for the complete configuration with keyboard and mouse). And secondly, very probably it was not dedicated to a mass clone, rather to a toy for the Western-European collectors.
Using the freely released documents created the Sprinter 2003 by Ewgeny7 and loxic. The machine is fully based on the Sprinter 2000, only the video controller placed a bit differently on the PCB. On the zx.pk.ru forum loxic gives detailed informations about the assembling.
Updated: 2010. February 28.
Some dozen of ATM-clone users decided to revitalise the ATM Turbo 2+ clone, which was definitely the most advanced and powerful clone until the Sprinter arrived. This new clone -hopefully- will be ATM Turbo 3. Development is done by the Sprinter's section mentioned NedoPC group located in Moscow. Main purposes of developing to provide easy installation of modern PC peripherals to existing Turbo 2+ architecture (keyboard, mouse hard disk etc.). The group is also working on the operating system of the machine.
But what is ATM exactly? The clone of firm ATM and micro-ART. We cannot call it a simple ZX-clone, much better to name a computer-hybrid, which is ZX Spectrum and CP/M compatible. The two companies were beginning their joint venture in late 80's. ATM started working with production of Pentagon 48 and 128 machines. More exactly they had commercial success with ATM 128 (a Pentagon 128 v2+ computer), as mentioned at Pentagon's paragraphs. As Pentagons were not very widespread at this time, seemed a good business to introduce a new clone.
ATM Turbo 1 -also called ATM 512K- was announced in autumn of 1991. In fact, it was clearly developed from the existing Pentagon board and it had really advanced features comparing to its rivals. It has 512K onboard RAM, 7MHz processor, Centronics port, integrated modem, Covox and Multicolor screen mode - just to mention the most important things. The mainboard was too complex to give a possibility others to make illegal copies, especially thanks to the numerous development of video controller (CGA and EGA level graphics 320x200x16 and 640x200x2 from 64 colours palette). Although usability of these options is quite questionable, as converted PC/EGA games for the ATM (such as Goblins, Prince of Persia) were run fairly slowly even in turbo mode. Despite this, still becomes the dream machine, being in the first row before the (non-ZX Spectrum compatible) Vector. All programs written for the Pentagon 16C mode, are working on ATMs too in 320x200 resolution. For the computer could be ordered a 2x1 watts stereo amplifier. 40 or 64 buttons keyboard could come along with it. Business applications were also available right from the introduction (word processor, database and spreadsheet etc.).
Despite of these impressive innovations, expected success wasn't realised for some clear reasons. Firstly, the mainboard was missing the joystick port - although ZX Spectrums were mostly used as game machines. Secondly, engineers fairly well designed out the incompatible Pentagon-bugs. But at that time, Pentagons became de facto standard in the ex-USSR. So new software all made for Pentagons, and does not work faithfully on ATMs. For third, its price was quite high, costed 5-10 months of Russian salaries. First generation is numbered from v4.10 to v5.20.
The next generation, ATM Turbo 2 saw the light in 1993. The memory can be expanded up to 1024K. Some another new development which worth to mention: IDE controller for HDD and CD-ROM, XT keyboard controller, as well a simplified version of Covox was used. It gets also a serial RS-232C port. And then ATM left the business, making micro-ART the only owner. This move was the clear sign of decade, as ATM computers have no major developments since then. The second generation was enumerated from v6.10 to v6.40.
In 1994 appeared ATM Turbo 2+(v7.00), which was perfectly compatible with its progenitor, only gets some minor improvements. For example, Turbo 1's integrated modem was disappearing, and replaced with an external Hayes modem. The XT keyboard controller was also changed to an universal XT/AT one. Production stopped in 1995-96. Previously secret documents were freed up.
Owners of ATM computers -and those who only dream about it- regarded it the very best ZX clone. Firstly, it is fully ZX Spectrum 128 compatible (running classic programs) and with Beta-128 interface using the new Russian programs are also not serious problem. In CP/M mode, lots of business software was available too.
Until the Turbo 3 mainboard will arrive, NedoPC can deliver green coloured Turbo 2+ boards (v7.10) which are fully "bugfree" and has superior quality than the original Sinclair products. They made 15 modifications on it. Between 2004 and 2006, they manufactured 50 pieces. From 2007 they took again the old developments.
|ZX Spectrum +3e, +2e|
ZX Spectrum +3e is not a completely new machine, but the "enhanced" version of the last official Spectrum, named +3 (must note, that the black +2A and 2B are also can rebuild to +3e, more exactly to +2e, as they have the same mainboard). This machnine is the inventment of Garry Lanchaster from Spain.
Two new modifications were introduced with this machine.
Firstly, the new +3e ROM, and secondly, the possibility of connecting hard disks and Compact Flash cards.
The original +3 ROM was bugfixed, as well extended with new Basic commands. With this, for example, .SNA .Z80 files downloaded from the Internet are directly usable on original Spectrums. These new ROMs are even offered on sale, for owners who are affraiding of the task of burning EPROMs - others can download the ROM image files from the Internet either in English and Spanish language.
Second phase of tune-up is building the IDE interface. In 2000, was a relatively new idea to connect hard drives to the ZX Spectrum. Only Putnik's 8 and 16 bit interfaces were existing. +3e was using the simpler, 8 bit version. Pera's interfaces also will detailed later.
Going through the years, number of IDE interfaces were quickly increased, and this machine also begins to support them. And it is also works fine with Compact Flash cards, which are more popular nowadays.
The Polish Jarek Adamski also get interested in the +3e tuning, and did not wanted to leave out the owners of older machines. That is why he developed the PL3MEM card, which can tune up the 48K/128K/128K+2 and TC2048/2068 machines. Details will come later, Jarek's developments worth a dedicated section.
Until the support of CF cards was not ready, owners could choose the construction of Jose Leandro Novellon or Aitor from Spain, which will also described later.
At the moment it is compatible with Pera Putnik's 8, 16 bit and CF interfaces, Sami Vehmaa's ZXCF(+), ZXCF+2, ZXMatrix cards, the divIDE(+), MB-02+ and MB-02+IDE interfaces, the ZXMMC and ZXMMC+ expanders as well Jarek's Yamod.IDE8255 controller and certainly with the PL3MEM card, which is contains the previous controller as standard. With these interfaces we will look after.
|ZX Spectrum +3s|
The ZX Spectrum +3s is a real new development, which is created by the Romanian Cristian Secara (nick: Secarica). Letter 's' is pointing to his nickname. The project was begin in 1989, and some part of it did not finished yet.
Purpose of Secarica was to make such machine, which is compatible with all Spectrums and capable of running CP/M.
Well, the machine is 99% +3 compatible, and has various extras: 14MHz speed, 1024K RAM, 64K vRAM. With shadowing, any Spectrum ROMs can be loaded. Sound source is the AY-3-8910 chip, mass storage units are 2x1.44 megabyte floppies. Picture is sent to RGB, PAL and composite video output. Eight new function keys as well the conventional Kempston joystick port also get the place. The IN#FF video bug found in the original +3 was eliminated, so almost all 48/128K classic games are running fine.
The mainboard was made in three different subversions: first was running at 3,5/7MHz, second is around 3,5/7/11MHz, and the latest is the present. In past times, contained an overlocked 10MHz CPU, nowadays it uses a downclocked 20 MHz one. Unfortunately, the current system will not allow higher speed than approximately 15,5 MHz.
Due to lack of space, two smaller circuits (which were originally the part of the original mainboard design) were realised on separate two smaller boards.
The floppy controller was taken from the Romanian Cobra clone, and the author had to made smaller modifications to work properly with 3,5 HD disks, not only with 5,25 and 8" ones.
The PAL encoder card is an own design. Base resolution is the same of the original machines, but it is offers two another: the hi-res mode and the possibility of switching on and off the horizontal and/or the vertical border. In that case, picture is stretched to the whole screen.
The author is still working about the display improvement of the CP/M mode as well on the final version of real time clock.
Also a problem for the developer to find a suitable case for mounting respecting the size of mainboard. He is still working of connecting submodules, for example building the audio circuit.
On his homepage, some +3 fixes also found, which were used during the development of superclone. The buggy AY sound was fixed along with a stereo tuning. Beeper was separated to the TV speaker, the sound of AY-chip is to two RCAs or sent to the RGB peritel port. In that way DIN cables can used. The already mentioned IN#FF video bug fixing is also on the homepage. He was tinkering composite video output for the +3 and +2A/B too. Basically, it is the circuit of the older 128K/128K+2 machines, which are left out from the last, cost efficient Spectrums. Some hints and tips also found about using and mounting internal 3,5" drives. 180, 720 and 800K disks are useable. Sadly, modern floppy drive units are not compatible, so must hunt for old XT or XT/AT types.
|SpeccyBob 2, SpeccyBob Lite|
SpeccyBob name covers two clone prototypes. The normal version (SpeccyBob 2) is an extended clone with extra functions (which are not really extra in the 21. century...). In fact, they are the same as we can found at the modern Spectrums: new video modes, IDE interface, 4 megs of RAM etc. etc.
SpeccyBob Lite is a simple ZX-clone built from contemporary electronics parts. It is only a 48K Spectrum clone, but compatibility at least is 99%. This is not even achieved by Amstrad in the old days...
Of course, the second one is much closer to realisation, you could see photos from the working machine.
SpeccyBob consists of three mainboards – so looking quite different from the original Spectrum.
The homepage is not accessible for a long time.
Chrome is the "Italian clone", which was developed in 2004 on the basis of SpeccyBob Lite.
Opposite of its forefather, not only compatible with standard 48K Spectrum, but as well with its 128K brother. It offers various extras, such as the 7MHz turbo mode realized with Z80C processor, and the further introduced +D floppy interface.
By the author's opinion, compatibility reached 99,9%, although some demos do not work perfectly. Size of RAM is 160K, and sound is produced by the usual AY chip in stereo. It has Kempston compatible joystick port and a Centronics interface too. Beside the floppy disk, conventional tape cassettes can used as storage devices. Picture leaded out through a Scart connector. Additionally, a real time clock is also placed on the mainboard.
The machine is consists of 12 chips, and looks very professionally. The developer put it into a self-made black aluminium case.
From Alessandro Poppi's ZX Badaloc clone is only one (properly working) prototype exist. Badaloc means "surprisingly fast" by modena slang, referring to the 21MHz high speed of the machine.
The clone is a true all-in-one type. The integrated ZXMMC+ interface is running as a standalone project also, but it will be written later.
The mainboard is compatible with both 48K and 128K Spectrums. Clock frequency is 3.5, 7, 14 and 21 MHz selectable in more steps. Supporting two different video modes: standard Spectrum (256x192) and 320x256x16 hi-res without attributes. Picture can lead out only by a VGA output. Above its built-in 40 button keyboard, also PS/2 keyboard can attached to it. The similarly PS/2 connectored mouse is Kempston Mouse compatible. The joystick port is supporting the Kempston standards. Its Sinclair edge connector is nearly to 100% compatible engineered, at least ZX Printer is working perfectly with it. Size of memory could vary between 128K or 512K, and its content can be hold by the real time clock's battery. (Flash)ROM memory can be vary from 64K to 512K, so beside 48K and 128K ROMs, another 12 clones' ROM available to store. Sound of AY-3-8912 chip has stereo jack output.
The ZX-Badaloc FGPA aimed at synthesising the ZX-Badaloc into a Xilinx Spartan-3E evaluation board. It is fully compatible, and has some advanced features. The board can be purchased as it, only necessary to make a small VGA tuning and constructs a small card to get a 42,5MHz superclone with 16/48/128/+2A/+2B/+3 compatibility. All necessary software can be downloaded from Alessandro's website.
Because Spartan-3E only displays 8 colours on the VGA output, have to change some resistors in order to displaying the 16 ZX Spectrum colours.
The small connecting board holds the tape interface, the SD card reader, as well the Kempston joystick compatible interface.
Its operating system is a custom version of ResiDOS. Above the speeds of ordinary Baladoc, can run at 28 or 42,5MHz, and with paging technique, all 64 megabytes are accessible from the DDR RAM module.
|ZX Spectrum 2009 Remake|
The ZX Spectrum 2009 Remake Remake is the clone of Gennaro Montedoro from the (very) first day of 2009.
Its main features the low power consumption (360mA), the 100% Spectrum compatibility, and the easy building, which is partly due to the design, which counts 15 ICs less, than the original.
This because the reduction of the number of memory and their controller chips.
It is usable with the original Sinclair power supply. It contains a 'small' tuning facility. As is reality the two 16K DRAMs are 64K ones, so possible to transform to a 128K clone.
Frissítve: 2012. március 17.
ZX Spectrum SE
The purpose of ZX Spectrum SE project was to create a new, second generation Spectrum, which is compatible with the Spectrum 128 and Timex TS2068 machines. The prototype was developed by Jarek Adamski and the British Andrew Owen on the basis of Timex TC2048.
It got 272K RAM, from which 2x64K used in Timex mode, and 128K is used as a Spectrum 128. The production model will contain only 256K RAM.
From the 64K ROM only 2x16K used yet: first is the original Spectrum ROM, and the second is a modified 128 Editor. Later models will equipped with a non-Amstrad owned ROM, but beside that, original Spectrum ROM could be loaded for backward compatibility.
The prototype is emulating TR-DOS and also (semi) Pentagon compatible. The processor is a Z80 at 3.5 MHz, and the AY-3-8912 chip producing ABC/ACB stereo sound in Timex and Sp128 modes. The Kempston mouse port is also present, and supporting an extra fire button, and compatible with Kempston Mouse too.
Above the standard Spectrum screen, supports hi-res and hi-color modes, and also the mixture of this two extra modes.
It is software level compatible with Apple I, Galaksija, Jupiter Ace, ZX80/81 and Videopac/Odyssey computers and consoles.
TC 2048, TS/TC2048 and UK2086 models similarly can tuned up to ZX Spectrum SE.
ZX 128 is a Lithuanian development, which was built on the basis of Leningrad 1 clone. The computer consists of three main elements: the mainboard itself, the video controller and the General Sound card is also could connected to it.
Speed of processor is 3,5MHz, and the size of memory -as the name suggests- 128K. Above that, will contain 32K SRAM, which is responsible for holding different operating systems. In the 64K ROM placed the ZX128 Commander utility too.
The developer was not spared with various outputs. So picture can lead out either by Super VHS or RCA ports. Stereo music made by the Yamaha 2147F chip is ported to two RCAs and a stereo jack. The mainboard also equipped with Kempston, Sinclair 1 and 2 compatible joystick ports.
The real innovation is presenting of USB port. With this, we can use Flash cards as storage devices. This one is under development so far.
ZXGate project was started on the basis of Bodo Wenzels' ZX97 machine, which is a ZX81 clone. But in this case, the whole ZX81 is integrated into a single FGPA chip. Beside this, it contains three another classic computers as Jupiter Ace, TRS-80 as well ZX Spectrum.
The ZX Spectrum ROM did not get place in the machine, must be loaded separately into the 32K SRAM. All of 48K functions are integrated into the machine. Of course, the author cannot promise 100% compatibility, because impossible to test it with all programmes. The machine has output for monochrome and colour monitors as well has a Super VHS port.
Speccy 2007 originally launched as a 48K clone, which was built around the Altera EPM7128SLC84-15 programmable logical circuit and the ATMega16 controller. With these, the costs of the complete mainboard was under 50 dollars. Unfortunately -as usual- the compatibility of machine is far from perfect.
In the Kiev living Peter Kitsun (alias Syd) who is the designer of the machine, do not necessary to build a new ZX-powerplant, for example the Pentagon 1024SL must be enough for that. Simply wanted to create an original Spectrum from the nowadays available parts.
We can connect PS/2 keyboard to the machine. Picture drived thorough monitor socket, sound through a Scart port.
The first version of machine (Speccy 2007 v1.00) was released in 2007 December. With this, the .TAP, .TZX and .SNA files downloaded from Internet can be loaded from SD cards with up to 4x speed.
Thanks for the pressure of zx.pk.ru forum, Syd developed further the machine with the members of online community. Speccy 2007 v1.04 was came out in March of 2008, this one is supported TR-DOS.
Next level was the development of molodcov_alex, who earlier announced and began the development of Speccy 2007 v2.00 (or by his words: Speccy 2009). This is a Pentagon 128 compatible machine ready for early April of 2009.
Some days later on the basis of machine, appared on the forum the joint machine of Syd and molodcov_alex, the Speccy 2007 v1.00+128K+AY.
The Speccy 2007 v1.00+128K patch offered for the original machine went to public in end of April 2009. This machine got the Speccy 2008 nickname opposite of its release date (maybe the name points to the evolution stairs).
In 2009 July released Speccy 2007 v1.06. The controller was replaced to ATMega32, because the resources of original were fully used, so was not able to control the AY-chip and emulate the 128K mode. So, this version is a 128K+AY+TR-DOS configuration. The AY-chip got place in a separate sub-card, in a similar way as on first generation Pentagons. Beside that, now SD cards supported up to 2GB.
On 2010 March 26 appeared Speccy 2010, which is succeed the Speccy 2007. The size of the mainboard is the same, but it offers various innovations. For example theoretically not only Spectrum compatible, but through the USB port the FGPA is reprogrammable, so emulating different platforms is very possible.
It supports all functions of Speccy 2007 v1.06 (128K and Pentagon compatible, Beta-disk and AY-emulation, .tap, .tzx and .sna file support).
Innovations in short: S-Video and composite output, Turbo mode (7, 14 and 28 MHZ) as well support of all multicolor modes. With reprogramming the FGPA, it is also possible to use scalable VGA output, Kempston mouse and Gluk RTC support as well emulating various clones with extended memory sizes.
The centre of the board is the EP2C8Q208C8N FGPA. The size of memory can be either 16 or 32 megabytes. An RTC was also built in. SD/MMC cards are supported as mass storage devices.
A lot of connectors integrated into the board: 2 pieces of PS/2 ports (for keyboard and mouse) and the same amount of of joystick and USB ports (although the last one can be option). Video output can be TV-RGB, composite, S-Video or VGA. Sound is 8 bit stereo.
Empty PCB costs 10 USD and ready assembled board is 100 USD.
Updated: 2010. Juny 19.
ReSpecT 48K, ReSpecT-2 (128K).
ReSpecT clone will made on the basis of SpeccyBob project. As its forebear, it has got two variants: ReSpecT 48K and ReSpecT-2 (128K). These clones are the prototypes of Z.A.N. from Russia.
First version simulates a basic 48K Spectrum with again a help of Altera EPM7128SLC84-15 circuit.
Second one offers numerous innovations such as new graphics modes: 256x224, 256x256 and 320x200 with 16 colours. Upcoming novelty in Spectrum terms the 4096 colours palette. From that, we can display 16 colours at the same time on the screen. So it is possible to realise more natural pictures. Beside this, the already mentioned Pentagon 1024SL v2.x's colour -per-pixel mode will also supported. In addition, author is planning to produce the 21 MHz high-speed version.
ILoveSpeccy's project is the Neo, which is based on a Xilinx Spartan XC3S400 programmable logical circuit and an ATMega 644 microcontroller. Equipped also with 3 pieces of 512K SRAM module and a SD-card slot.
Its most interesting special feature, that all units of mainboard can be reprogrammed without opening the housing via the USB port. This ensuring limitless possibilities for developing of different configurations.
The following peripherals are supported: VGA output with color-per-pixel ad 4096 colour mode, PS2 mouse and keyboard ports, stereo jack, tape, RS-232C and joystick ports.
The PCB is one-sided, prepared at home by the author, therefore the computer can be easily repeated.
Alex Freed's FPGA Speccy project was released after the author's Apple II and Elektronika BK0010 (a Russian clone) machines. After successfully making two relatively rare retro replica clone around the Xilinx Spartan3 circuit, the time has come to create a new ZX Spectrum.
The machine is still under development, and not only able to run at 3,5MHz, but has a turbo mode also with 28MHz at the moment, but by the testing programs it will run at 56MHz. So welcome a new speed champion among the ZX clones!
Video output of the newcomer is VGA, because it has much more nice screen comparing to an ordinary TV set. Next stair of development is an IDE interface, in order to read the programs from CF cards. At the moment, .TAP files are loaded from sound card, which is good, but damn slooow.
A 256K EEPROM contains the ROM routines of the 128K Spectrum, which loads into the internal memory (BRAM) of the FPGA at the booting process.
The under development Ant-1024HD clone based on KAY 1024 as it was denoted before. Like another Russian clones, it also uses the Altera EPM7128SLC84-15 circuit.
The clone contains Kempston joystick, keyboard, monitor printer and magnetofon ports. From the HD name seems, that hard disk can also connected to the machine, so on mainboard you can find an IDE controller. This can control the CD-ROM as well.
The VHS cassette sized mainboard will be compatible with DMA Utra Sound Card. Certainly has 1024K RAM and supports the 7 MHz turbo mode.
|Pentagon Evolution (Pentevo)|
The Pentevo (=Pentagon Evolution) clone was created in 2009 by the NedoPC group in 2009. The name of its authors: Vadim Akimov (LVD), Chunin Roman (CHRV) and Dmitry Dmitruiev (DDp). The motherboard was introduced on Chaos Constructions 2009. Beside the ZX Evo name, also known as ZX Evolution.
Ewgeny 7 was made a new ROM, with which the machine will be Scorpion ZS256 Turbo+ compatible.
It has three subversions as: Revision A, B and C.
The machine was built around the Altera EP1K50 FGPA controller and peripherals controlled by the ATMEGA 128. The Z80 processor can be run on 3,5 or 7 MHz speeds. The machine contains 4 megabytes of RAM and 512K ROM and equipped with two ZX Buses.
The keyboard and mouse attached through PS/2 ports. It contains a Beta-128 controller, a single channel IDE, SD-card reader as well tape socket. The picture output either can be RGB or VGA. The usual real time clock is also present as well the support of original keyboard and joystick.
The Revision B contains some corrections, and the size of mainboard became smaller and its quality was improved.
With Revision C, the mainboard changed from ATX to ITX standard, and only the VGA remains as picture output. It also got an USB output. Zilog processor also disparaged, now it is hardware emulated.
The creator of ZXM-Phoenix series, Mick in 2011 July made the Pentevo Light motherboard. His main purpose was to studying the FGPA programming in VHDL and Verilog languages. Some cosmetic changes were also made on the revision 01 mainboard. The RGB out was again removed, leaving the VGA the only screen plug.
Frissítve: 2012. november 14.
The ZXM-777 is connected to Mick (Mikhail Tarasov) The machine was built in the spirit of ZX-777 and KAY-256, of which machines centre was the ATF16V8PAL circuit. Its innovation was the usage of SRAM modules, so can be born the first own-developed machine of Mick (revision 01). The turbo mode f machine is 7 MHZ, but not only the CPU, but the memory is also accelerated (by the way, it is the 'fast' cache memory of 386/486 era). The mainboard is AT standard. Between 2006 and 2008 two boards were made from revision 01. This was followed by the revision 02 with some minor modifications. The project was cancelled, as Mick gained the necessary practice for further developments.
Added: 2010. december 12.
|ZXM-Phoenix, ZXM-Phoenix 2|
The ZXM-Phoenix clone is the development of Mick (Mikhail Tarasov). The idea of realization was appeared in the end of 2008 on the zx.pk.ru forum.
The inspiration was based on, that members desired to wanted to remind to their youth. On the another hand, Mick liked to trying out himself in a whole project development.
The first revision (01) was appeared in May 2009. and made 65 pieces of them. It was targeted to realize without FGPA to bring the look and feel of 90's. The board which contains 71 chips, is controlled by the ATMega 8515 microcontroller. Also integrated on the board Caro's ZX Multi Card controller.
In 2010, due to the request of members, Andrew Charles (CodeMaster) was produced a new series of 15 boards in China, with blue PCB in that case (revision 02).
In the next year, from the 03 revision mainboard again produced 31 pieces and again in China. The development was co-ordinated by Anatoly Gajvoronsky (Zorel). The new mainboard was integrated the SD-Card controller, the new development of Vitaly Rudegenko (Keeper). Number of chips were raised to 72. Manufacturing was arranged by Dmitry Demyanekenko (ZEK). This board is red colour.
As most fans also wanted a turbo mode, Mick fulfilled their desire. It was created on the base of the turbo mode of ZXM-777. In that way, was born the black coloured 04 revision number mainboard with 74 chips. Location of manufacturing again China, and the number of plates is 16.
In 2012 was constructed the final edition, the revision number 05. In it was realized the 128K lock-up mode, which prevented the problem, when using some 128K only software. With the ATiny 13 micro-controller the power management also solved (the 12, 15 and 45 types also can be used). The number of chips again reduced to 72. The 15 pieces of mainboard set was again made in China.
The ZXM-Phoenix 2 clone was born from the modernization of its predecessor from 2010. It was crammed into CPLDs the most important functions (EPM7032 and EPM7064) Memory expanded to 4096KB with SIMM72 modules.
This machine is not only KAY and Scorpion compatible, but also has Pentagon mode.
Some new graphics modes also were introduced. For example the 15 or 16 colours already well-known modes and GigaScreen. The most important is the 15 or 16 colours from 128 colours palette and the 15 or 16 colours Border modes.
The 7MHZ turbo mode is standard (memory runs constantly in turbo mode) just like the VGA output.
In the development, more great Spectrum enthusiast took part also.
Kamil Karimov (Caro)was helped to integrate the previously mentioned controller card. Tkachuk Valeria (Black Cat) was give help to create the audio mixer. Eugene Ivanov (Ewgeny7) take advices how to handle the extended memory. Rudenkomu Vitaly (Keeper) was provided a modificated floppy controller design and a lot of firmwares. Gerasimchuk Sergei (Zloy) took part in the implementation of the Scart interface. Stanislav Yudin (CityAceE) collected the old and new Spectrum fans on the forum. Andrew Shapovalov (Xobbiman) hosted the webspace for the project, until Mick does not made his own webpage. Dmitry Demyanenko (ZEK) designed the circuit of SD card controller.
Updated: 2012. November 12.
Harlequin clone is the development of the ex-ZX Spectrum programmer Chris Smith. So far, this one is the only clone, which has full screen timing compatibility with original Spectrums. Only 48K compatible at the moment, but planned to expand 128K/SE and very hopefully to Pentagon compatible also. The machine has such electronic parts, which are easy to find in every electronic store.
The new clone will have a VGA connector beside the convetional TV output.
The author was started a blog, which is not only good for tracking the full phases of development, but we can study the tricky and difficult operations of the original Spectrum at the same time.
ZX Spectrum Issue 7.
On Rodney Knaap's Sinclair Hardware Projects page can be found the idea of realizing the ZX Spectrum Issue 7 clone.
The purpose of mainboard (from which only the empty PCB is ready since years) to fit inside an original Spectrum, mainly for for those, who wants to revitalize a dead Spectrum.
For the design, used only DIP chips, without any super-integrated circuits. So an average hobbyist also can reproduce his own Issue 7 Spectrum.
Video output is standard VGA, so the original TV output must have be widened. Who are afraid to do that, of course can use a separate cable.
The pinouts of edge connector also do not the same as the original as it follows directly the pinout of Z80 CPU. In that way was more easier the construction of the PCB and also saved some money this method.
Anyway, the pinout is the same, as on the Micro-ZX81 clone. Rodney choose this because of some kind of 'standardization'. So using conventional Sinclair peripherals must be attached a converting PCB or use the rewiring method.
The connecting ports of keyboard also in different position comparing to original, again because of more simple finalization of PCB.
Unfortunately no news since 2006. September 25.
There are also advices on the homepage for repairing the connecting points of the Spectrum's folie membrane.
And introduced the idea of ZX Keybus Interface too. The basic idea of this to replacing the original processor of the PC keyboard to a simple scanning circuit. The signals of that is converted by the Matrix EPROM, which is connected to the Spectrum. Then the Z80 CPU interprets the signals, as they would come from an original Spectrum.
Added: 2010. May 15.
Sparky eZX project is attached to the American Richard Kelson, who became dependant with a Timex-Sinclair 2068.
The machine was built around the 50MHz eZ80 processor, which is a steroid pumped Z80 mostly embedded into webservers.
The author is making the operating system also by himself.
Keyboard will connected via a serial port. Modem and SVGA ports will also integrated. The CPU can address 16 megabytes directly without any tricks.
The constructor not only intended to be the most powerful ZX Spectrum clone, but also the strongest 8 bit micro. In memory, ZX Badaloc FGPA surely overdrives it, and soon Alex Freed's machine will be also faster... so time to hurry!
ZX Spectrum on Altera DE1
The idea of the FGPA-based ZX Spectrum on Altera DE1 clone was first announced on the DesignSpark electrical developing community by Mike Stirling .
The project contained two main aims. First of all, to create a working clone, second, to document and publish the results.
Some years ago Mike already made a similar project. He was implemented the functions of the ULA into the Altera MAX7000 CPLD. There were no resources left to realize the functions of keyboard. So, the project was "useless', but at least the machine was booted.
On early 2010 decided to realize a similar thing on the Altera DE1 developing kit. The result is the full implement of ULA, Z80 commands, ROM as well the 8x5 keyboard matrix into the card. Outputs are VGA, TV-RGB, PS/2 as well standard Spectrum Ear jack. Programs can be loaded through that, support of SD cards under development.
The system simulates the 48K PAL Spectrum, but 128K version also can be expected.
Added: 2010. november 27.
ZX Spectrum on FGPA with 17 inch LCD screen
The clone of Michal Demin, the ZX Spectrum on FGPA with 17 inch LCD screen was born by a perky idea, Michal found an old ZX Spectrum in the basement, and nostalgic waves came into his mind.
He was searched for the topics, and the ZXGate project caught his attention. Meanwhile arrived a 17 col 1024x768 pixels resolution old notebook screen. The idea was born: a XZ Spectrum with LCD screen.
The basis became the Sparkfun Spartan 3 Breakout FGPA card. It got 2x32K SRAM.
The I/O card is based on the ZXGate's I*/O borad, but Michal added the speaker and the NMI button.
The 'last' card is the LVDS transmitter. This is sending the data to the screen. The 256x192 resolution screen is magnified to 4x with eliminating the border.
The Speccy ROM is placed into the FGPA's internal memory.
Added: 2011. February 12.
|Leningrad-3, Leningrad-2010, Leningrad-2012|
The story of Leningrad 48K (alias Leningrad -1, Lenin), goes back to 1987. The mainboard, which is designed by Sergey Zonov, was the most easibily manufacturable clone. Thanks to that, it became the base of numerous 'home-brew' and 'brand' machines, despite the fact, that it only contained a Kempston Joystick port as a development. It had 64K RAM, from which the system used only 48K. Some examples for the clones utilizing this mainboard: Spectrum 48 , Ural-48K , IR-30 West , Audio CD-005 , Kontact , CICH-48 , Sunkar.
In 1988, the Composite company developed further the mainboard with Leningrad+ name, which was used in the similarly named Composite clone.
Later, Zonov developed a more easily mass-producable model named to Leningrad-2, which already contained the expansion slot and the connector of contemporary peripherals.
In the Internet-era, more people was reanimated this machine.
Ivan, one of the active member of zx.pk.ru forum, was begin to re-develop his mainboard in the spring of 2007 based on Leningrad-2. After 2 bugfixes and integrating a Scart-socket and ZX-Bus, the creature was christened to Leningrad-3 and finished to green colour in 2007. December 12. The 48K base model is expandable to 128K or 512K with a separate board.
Zst (Sabirzhanov Vadim Mirzhanovich) was made with Leningrad-2010 name his own clone, which got the ZXKit-18 name among his own things. This is mainly repeating the old mainboard with some bugfixes. During the re-design, he was take attention for the more easy future mass-production also. The most important novelty of the blue mainboard is the Flash-chip instead of ROM, and the SCART socket. Release date: 2011. July 17.
In the same year, in November 19. he came out with an improved model, called Leningrad-2012 (ZXKit-020). It has separate Spectrum and Pentagon mode, so handles better the old games. With the Flash-ROM it is ready to support OpenSE Basic and ULAPlus, as well ZX-Bus is standard. This also has the already standard Scart-socket, as well got separate TV and audio out and a printer port.
The aim of the developer was to create a clone close to the original Spectrum. The 1 megabyte RAM FGPA-monsters did not care him too much.
Frissítve: 2012. január 07.
Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum clones in the same machine? Yes, this was regarded as a fairy tale for a long time, but nowadays became truth. Even not only the two machines above, but also VIC-20, CPC, turbo-CPC, Amiga can be found in the C-One mainboard.
The C-One (or C1) is the development of the American Jeri Ellsworth and the German Jens Schoenfeld (Individual Computers) from 2002
This is an FGPA-based C-64 clone, which is similarly to the Sprinter, capable of simulating more machines. For emulating these platforms, so called 'cores' must be loaded into the FGPA, from which two fitted onto the mainboard.
The so-called FGPA extender card contains a new Altera Cyclone 3 FGPA , which is necessary for emulating the new machines (Amiga, Spectrum).
The specification of the mainboard are quite standart nowadays. PS/2 mouse and keyboard, SVGA monitor, IDE and PCI ports, only the audio output is not placed at its standard place. The processor is 65c816 with approximately 20MHz speed. This one is 6502 compatible with 24 but memory addressing. Above this, any 8 bit CPUs can fitted onto the mainboard. Mains specs: 1GB SDRAM maximum, from which maximum 128MB for multimedia of course with DMA access.
The system loads the cores from so-called boot-ROM from either CF-card or winchester. So PC data change is possible and easy. Above the IDE DMA port, there is a floppy interface too, and serial and parallel socket also.
The PAL 48K ZX Spectrum core (v1.0) was made by Alessandro Dorigatti on 2011 May 24. It also supports the ULA+ 64 colours mode beside the standart Speccy gfx mode. At present, .TAP files are supported, .TZXs are not.
The Z80 processor is emulated by the T80 software core. The ULA emulation is based on Chris Smith's ULA book (see later). Although among Dorigatti's work this emulating the less precisely the original Spectrum, all test programs ran without any errors (of course, excepted the routines, which are indentifiyng the CPU). As the C-One mainboard does not contains SD-card socket, only two IDE-ports, the author does not planning its further development.
Frissítve: 2012. június 08.
|Turbo Chameleon 64|
This multi purpose C64 expansion card is the product of the already known Jens Schoenfeld (Individual Computers) and the similarly German Peter Wendrich (Syntiac.com).
The development began in early 2006, the project was originally titled VGA-64. It was constructed to double the picture of C64 and lead it out to VGA monitor.
As the FGPA left too much opportunity opened, it was further developed to a multi purpose C64 expansion unit. Even it works as a complete configuration without the C64.
Developers now are concentrating more to this device rather than to the C-One board.
Again let's skip the C64 specific parts, let see what contains the v2.0 core by Alessandro Dorigatti.
The core can be downloaded from the website, and can be 'flashed' with the USB cable, just like with the another configurations.
This emulates at 'medium level' the original Spectrums, fits between the C-One and V60Z80P. This already emulates both 48K (PAL/NTSC) and 128K (PAL) Spectrums, along with AY-support. Also ULA+ 64 colour compatible.
The mass storage is the FGPA adaptation of the Italian ZXMMC+ interface. The main operating system is Garry Lanchaster's ResiDOS with TaskMan and TapeIO preinstalled.
The Kempston joystick is emulated on the PS/2 keyboard's numeric pad, or on the CDTV remote control unit.
Frissítve: 2012. június 23.
The V6Z80P+ is an unique standalone FGPA-based 8 bit microcomputer architecture from Phil Rush
A Xilinx Spartan 2XC2S180 and a Z80 running on 20MHz is the hearth of it. The memory is 512K used by both Xilinx and Z80. It has further 512+128K separate RAM, solely used by the FGPA.
On Phil's default OSCA config (Old Skool Computer Architetkture) runs the FLOS (Freezer Like Operating System) operating system.
The v2.0 core of Alessandro Dorigatti here also supports 48K(PAL/NTSC) and 128K (PAL) Spectrum emulation with AY support (ABC stereo).
The speed of CPU can be either normal or turbo (3,5/7MHz). Picture is lead out by VGA or RGB Scart.
Frissítve: 2012. június 26.
Dual-CPU/MCU development board
The main idea of constructing of Dual-CPU/MCU development board was drafted by the pandora.cz newsgroup. To summarise: create a new platform, which is ZX Spectrum compatible. The board is married the good old Z80 and Z8Encore! processors.
Hearth of board is the Z8Encore!, controlling all another peripherals, even the Z80, beside the serial port, LCD screen as well the memory.
The prototype worked fine, but the developer is trying to make further innovations of the original ZX Spectrum design. MMC card interface, 512K RAM support, keyboard-port (original ZX Spectrum layout and PS/2 standard) will hopefully integrated. In addition, the Z80 will also support the peripherals, which are only used by the big brother momently (UART, IrDA, I2C).
The actual Nokia mobilphone screen will also be replaced with an original ZX Spectrum resolution one by the plans of the designer.
Sadly, last update was in 2004.
aSPECT development board
The aSPECT development board is a development device for enthusiast Spectrumists from aniSKY. The card saw the light in 2010 in the Belarusian Minsk city.
Consists of four circuits: the ALTERA EP1C6T144 (or alternatively the EP1C6T144) FGPA, the configuration ROM, 128K SRAM, as well 256K Flash EEPROM.
Supports the basic Speccy functions as keyboard, kempston joystick and video controller.
Another I/O functions of FGPA is reserved for controlling and testing the modern devices (SD card, IDE, USB ports etc.).
Added: 2010. February 26.
|Aspect 128 AVR ZX Spectrum|
Aspect 128 AVR ZX SpectrumThe Aspect 128 AVR ZX Spectrum board is the work of Vasil Lisitsin radio-amateur from 2012. This development is compatible with 48K/128K/+2/+3 machines as well with Pentagon. Further more, it is virtually capable of emulating all clones up to 512K.
All documented and undocumented Z80 commands are emulated within the ATMega-16AU circuit. Here are the I/O commands also. The PS/2 keyboard is controlled by the ATTiny 2313A-SU. The card is also handling the shadow screen.
The whole project is detailed and documented on one of the most significant radio amateur website.
Added: 2013. March 29.
→Aspect 128 AVR ZX Spectrum: http://radio-hobby.org/modules/news/article.php?storyid=1247/
→Aspect 128 AVR ZX Spectrum
In the ex-USSR the Beta-128 floppy disk interface became the most dominant mass storage unit along with TR-DOS operating system.
Lot of people think, that Beta-128 is a Russian development and it is something new - although not. It was developed by the English Technology Research in the gold Speccy days as the successor of Beta and Beta Plus interfaces. This version supporting 128K Spectrums beside the 48K models.
Was imported in 1987 into the Soviet Union and engineers rebuilt it from Russian parts. Russian version was firstly released by firm Option in Saint Petersburg in 1989. Soon Russians cracked the original TR-DOS 5.xx and followed with their more advanced 6.xx versions. Details later...
The Beta-128 became de facto standard so much, that it was widespread not as a separated interface, but most clones integrated it into the mainboard (Pentagon, Scorpion).
Very first TR-DOS programmes were disks conversions of old tape classics. The five-minute loading time decreased to some seconds. Because capacity of disks are 640K (with compressing even more, approximately 800K with games), it was usual to made thematic compilations. You could select the games from a menu (for example arcade, sport compilation disks).
Next step was the relatively huge capacity PC-DOS, Amiga games' conversion to Speccy (Prince of Persia, UFO, and Civilization). Some games occupy two disks and Season of Sakura (16C) takes three floppies. Very big step upward in quality of ZX Spectrum games. Such games appeared, which were previously said by the press, it is impossible to make the Speccy version.
Up to 4 drives can be attached to Beta-128, 3", 3.5" and 5.25" types (a:, b:, c: and d: drives).
Capacity is 640K with DD system and 1.7M with the new HD version - although this one is not widespreaded at all. Some simplified versions supporting only two drives, like Scorpion's.
Some companies developed special Beta-128 interfaces for their machines. The Nemo-bus version was mentioned at KAY. The manufacturer of Peters clones also released a special interface for the Contact, but it was also denoted earlier.
An useful function of the interface is Magic Button. It makes snapshot files directly from memory to disk.
Some words are spoken about cracking. Crackers optimised the code of TR-DOS for faster speed, also expanded it with new features. For example, the previously mentioned HD-disk support, the auto-boot function, fast formatting and turbo loading - just to mention the most importants. Latest versions are 6.10E (Mr. Gluk), 6.12 (Power of Sound) and vTR-DOS (developed specially for ATM clones).
HR-DOS is a cracked version of TR-DOS. Interesting, while the functions were expanded with a printer utility, size of the code decreased to half of original. Russian coders must know something!
Beta-128 was cloned also in the territory of ex-Czechoslovakian Republic, although never gained such popularity as D40/D80 systems.
Beside TR-DOS, IS-DOS, DNA OS and a special versions of CP/M can be the operating system of the interface.
CDOS (Communication Data Operating System) is the second, not so widespread operating system in the ex-Soviet Union.
It name comes from CDOS interface, which is a modem+disc combo released in 1989. Beside the Spectrums, it is compatible with the American Timex 2048 clone too.
First version of CDOS operating system was a product of the firm Allegro in Moscow. Continuing the good-old Russian conventions, cracked and improved versions are rapidly appeared in Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Minsk (for example by KSA, Fantomassoft and MPR).
This interface is a multifunctional one. Beside the modem, it uses 5,25" or 3,5" 800K disks, even some versions contain 256K RAMdisk as well real time clock. If no built-in RAM found, it can use the own memory of the computer. Some versions equipped with Centronics port too.
Get bored loading your favourite utilies? Do not panic, CDOS also has 128K ROMdisk, to make these accesses really fast.
On the picture G. Shell. seen. Russians are not only copying the hardware, but the same can be said about software...
Most users only used the modem part of the interface, which was replaced to Hayes modems in most networks.
The very last CDOS network was SpbZXNet in Saint Petersburg, which was died in the end of 2002. Moscow and Minsk centres were died earlier.
D40 and D80 disk systems originally developed for the Didaktik machines. D40 uses 360K 5,25" disks, D80 is supporting 720K 3,5" ones. If really wanted, disks can be formatted up to 420 or 840K.
Quite clear, that the company is adopted the MS-DOS system, even the name of operating system is very similar: MDOS. After all, not surprising, floppy drives are standard IBM PC units. Drives can be connected directly to any 48K Spectrum with a ribbon cable, which contains a snapshot button.
Kompakt already has a built-in 3.5" D80 drive, one more D40B or D80B connectable for the machine (the name refers to the b: drive, they are without power supply types).
Only one drive must have external power supply, another can be a B-type. The manufacturer was tested them not only with original Spectrums and Didaktiks, but also with the ex-Jugoslavian Deltas.
The history of interface is roots back to the early 90's. At that time decided MDV (Robert Letko - Robo) and Busy (Slavomir Labsky) that it is high time to develop a floppy interface for the ZX Spectrum to retire the good old tape. First, only imagined a DD unit, but later raised the idea of a HD system as well (because such interface did not existed at that time for the microcomputers).
To realize this, was not enough the Spectrum's own CPU, so a special Z80-DMA circuit must be designed, which was later also used like a kind of graphical co-processor ('the poor man's Blitter'). Finally, the MB-01 was created in 1992 with 2x64K battery backed SRAM. There is no information the total production number of MB-01. The name consists of the initial letters of MDV and Busy and the version number (01).
The Palenicek-brothers (JSH - Oldrick, and Omega - Jan) were also interested in the interface. They were so impressed, that immediately wanted one. Busy sent them to MDV, who gave them an enhanced version, the MB-02 (without 'plus').
The interface was consisting of two smaller PCBs, and placed into a hand-made black box with 128K SRAM powered with two AA batteries. The board was also contained a memory extender slot, a Kempston, and printer port as well an NMI button. Anyway, the completely hand-made interface was fully compatible with the later serial product.
JSH was promoted the interface on various events in the Czech Republic and in Germany (for example on Samcon94/95, Zlicon96), then took it to 8 Bit Company (in the further promotion JSH was also actively involved).
Here a bit enhanced and professionalized the interface. Was realized on a large, single PCB, and now button-battery powered was the memory and now the optional real-time clock also. Thus was born the king of ZX Spectrum peripherals (and so also the 8 bit micro's), the MB-02+. Until 2001. December 16. a total of 70 pieces were sold due to the fairly high costs. They were made in professional quality, but totally hand-made.
The Z80-DMA circuit later also separately implemented as Data Gear, as the device of the previously mentioned graphical accelerator. Currently Velesoft manufactures again this circuit with Data Gear 2007 name.
Now the detailed technical parameters. Disk capacity is 1.8 megabytes in case of HD disks, and 840K for DD floppies. Transfer speed is between 40-50K/sec or 25K/sec for the previous disks. 2K EPROM is in the interface, and a three channel, bi-directional parallel port (i8255). Kempston and Amiga mouse compatible port also soldered. Two floppy drives can be attached, but with a special hub, it can be up to four. The default 128K SRAM can be used as RAMdisk, as drive 9 (direct access is not possible).
The biggest advantage of interface, that it is fully compatible with the tape system. So does not necessary to write new loaders, just have to copy the files. Of course, as a Czech product, also compatible with the D80 system. This is achieved by the ed80 software emulator.
The operating system is BS-DOS (named after Busy) in which 256 directories and 65.279 files supported. I think, after all does not necessary to explain the origin of names BS-ROM and BS-BIOS, which are built into the interface. By the way, version number of DOS is 3.08, the 4.00 was never released. On the box, a reset and NMI button was also placed.
The manufacturer beside the original Spectrums also tested on the ex-Yugoslavian Delta and on the Didaktik Machines.
Sintech in Germany also sold this product.
During the history of MB-02+, a number of hardware and software patches were born from the developers and of course from the fans as well.
One of the most important is the 'single chip 512K SRAM tuning' by Poke Studio (Petr Petyovsky). We can control a half-megabyte superfast RAM-disk in that way (introduced: 2006. January 05.).
The next hardware innovations, MB-HDD(1), MB-HDD2 and MB-HDD3 IDE controller add-ons made my Last Monster (Jan Kucera - LMN/8BC). These based on the internal interface developed by PVL and Tritolsoft. With increasing the version number, the size of PCB was reduced and compatibility was improved. The dates of each version: 2002. November 11., 2005. December 12. and 2008. May 18. The size of board was designed to fit comfortable into the house of MB-02+. However, can be used without the MB-02+, with a standalone Spectrum.
Flash Utility (I) and Flash Utility II also Last Monster's innovations from 2000 and 2008. First is expands the default 2K EPROM to 32K, the second one can extend it to 64K or 128K (also divided into 32K banks).
Unfortunately, for booting the HDD, needed a boot floppy, which installs the winchester first. To solve this, developed the MB-Maniax team the FlashBOOT update (v1: 2007. November 20.). In order to do this upgrade, first the Flash Utility I or II expansions must be performed, since the original 2K is simply too small.
In January of 2002, first news came out from the successor, the MB-03(+) on the comp.sys.sinclair newsgroup. This news was announced by Jan Werner, one of the owners of Speccy.cz portal. Among the planned specifications were 512-2048K SRAM, 32K FlashROM, PS2 keyboard and mouse, IDE interface and an SD-card reader.
So basically the same as a tuned-up MB-02+. Most costs of development generated by integrating the whole card into a small integrated circuit. Because of that, planned price was 300 Euros (in case of 50 pre-orders). Rumors also mentioned integrated General Sound soundcard Since, no news from the MB-03(+)
But most development of MB-02+ was realized in the MB-02+IDE interface created by the German Ingo Truppel. The parameters of interface are mostly similar to the planned MB-03(+). Of course, the interface is compatible with the original, as based on its circuit diagram. But has a notably smaller size, because Ingo realized it on a four-layer PCB.
Kempston and Centronics ports are also built in, just as a real time clock. Contains 512K RAM as standard. The most important feature of course is the IDE interface, which also supports CF cards (Ingo constructed his own CF-IDE adapter). Got also a reset and NMI button and 2 LEDs, indicating power and IDE operations. All MB-02+IDE will arrive with these features in the future.
From The Netherlands also came news from the further development of the board. Ben Versteeg was working with full power the realisation of MB-04. 512K RAM, Z80 DMA, IDE interface, CF-IDE adapter, mouse and keyboard ports were planned. The prototype with some exceptions worked fine both with 128K+2 and +2A machines. Ben wanted to split into two the fairly big sized board: into the first would integrate the Z80 DMA, mouse and keyboard controller. Another components would fit into the second board, which connected with a ribbon cable to the first one. Since Ingo Truppel released his own board, development was terminated.
One of the manufacturer and trader of DivIDE, Noby (Noby Noblnoch) wanted to re-produce the MB-02+. But as assembling time would twice as long as for DivIDE, Noby stopped the reincarnation project of MB-02+. By the way, its planned price between 120-150 Euros.
→8 Bit Company: http://www.8bc.com/sinclair/
→Poke Studio: http://portal.vakoveverky.net/modules/myalbum/viewcat.php?cid=41
→Jan Werner: http://www.speccy.cz/
→Ingo Truppel: http://www.truppel-online.de/1_2009_12_31/
→Ben Versteeg: http://www.benophetinternet.nl/hobby/
→Noby (ci5): http://ci5.speccy.cz/
→512K SRAM patch
+D (or alternatively PlusD) floppy interface is not a new development like the Beta-128. But opposite that, it had a nice carrier in the classic Spectrum times, along with its more complex achestor, the DISCiPLE.
The interface was originally engineered by Miles Gordon Technology, and its further development was built into the SAM computers. The system uses 3,5" DD disks with 780K capacity. Loads a 48K programme in 3,5 seconds.
Also offers two more extras as a Centronics port and an NMI button. After MGT was bankrupted, Datel continued distributing this system.
After the Spectrum-era, documents became public domain, so the interface is available both in DIY-kits or as ready made circuit. It is compatible with 16/48/128/+2 machines, but unfortunately not with the latest Amstrad designed +2A/B and +3.
The interface can be obtained for example from Spectrum Profi Club in Cologne in Germany. The English RWAP Software is also offering this interface. With limited numbers, they can also offer single or double floppy disks with internal power supply. The Spanish Droy also developed an another version. For the easier expanding possibilities he divided into two the original circuit. At the same time, cutted down the manufacturing costs eliminating the pricy PCB work. The interface, the floppy drive and the power supply is sitting inside the same box, on which he mounted the NMI and reset buttons.
Külsõ +3 floppy interfész a +2A/B gépekhez
Philip Mulrane in 2002 created his external +3 floppy interface for +2A/B, with which can turned the Frankenstein like +2A/B cassette machines compatible with the +3.
The idea is based on Peter Simandl's interface, who mounted this card inside the machine. It was released in the ancient times, but Peter very smartly published it on his website.
Opposite of the original, Philip redesigned the circuit as an external card.
It handles two drives, and even compatible with the 3,5" ones. At one stage, the author was also planned to integrate the +3e's hard disk controller, but finally it was abandoned.
Certainly, all documentations are accessible from the website, and we can also get tips of buying the ingredients.
Scorpion's solution for combining the ZX Spectrum with hard disks was the SMUC (Scorpion and Moa Universal Controller) IDE-controller. In its name it is refers to Andrew Moa, who was the co-developer of this card inline with Scorpion.
Two HDDs can be attached to the card, just like to as its PC-ancestors. You have to copy the original TR-DOS disks track-by-track onto the hard disks. It works with up to 4 "virtual" Beta-128 drives - a:, b:, c: and d: disks (in a very similar way, as you use a software ZX Spectrum emulator).
SMUC is compatible with TR-DOS, IS-DOS and a special version of CP/M operating system.
2K NVRAM is fitted as standard on the board for storing the tuning-settings as well the datas of HDDs. Real time clock is also easy to install for the SMUC. Just plug the Dallas DS1287 chip into the prepared slot and it will work. Many other PC-compatible peripherals also connectable for the SMUC, for example Hayes-modem.
As Scorpions stocks were sold out, members of zx.pk.ru decided to create a similar universal controller with backward compatibility to the original (SMUC v1.3). It got new name, which has the same abbreviation: Spectrum Multi Unit Controller v2.0 rev A.
With the card, not only winchesters, but also CDs/DVDs, CF-cards (with adapter) can be connected to the computer.
Compatible with the followings: KAY-1024, Scorpion, Pentagon 1024, ZXM-Phoenix.
Can be ordered from Witchcract Creative Group.
Updated: 2010. January 16.
For attaching hard disks and CD-ROMs, Nemo company also developed their own interface in 1998. Of course, originally built for the KAY clones, but thanks for the simplicity of circuit, became popular on Pentagon, Scorpion, Profi etc. clones also.
The initially quite buggy card was further developed by anothers and NedoPC also introduced their own version, which remained in production till 2006.
Can be ordered through Perspective Group too, which is a bugfixed 2005 version.
Witchcract Creative Group also produced his own version, they are offering it for KAY, Scorpion as well for Pentagon 1024 SL and ZXM-Phoenix 1024.
This product is not made in huge quantities, but available for pre-order only. On the photos seems, has different subversions. The card is not only available as a ready-made product, but you can also obtain as a printed circuit board.
Its operating system is iS-DOS. Above that, Mr. Gluk made a cracked version of TR-DOS 5.30, which supports the IDE devices in conjunction with the DNA OS.
Updated: 2010. February 13.
|divIDE, diwIDE, divIDE 512, MultiIDE|