You Make Robots Blog

Keeping Retro Computers Alive!

After taking onboard some feedback from the retro community I have redesigned the ZX-Frankenstein so the joystick port is on the top of the device instead of trailing across the keyboard. For me it wasn’t a biggy as most Kempston Joystick adapters were configured in this way. I thought it was an easy fix but delayed the real sales push of the device. If you look at the advert for it you’ll notice there is another version sat next to the main unit… I’ll tell you all about that one next time 🙂 .. for now head over to the store to check it out click HERE

The Mattel Aquarius seems to have a very small community of users and I was trying to work out whether a Maxduino type device would sell in that community. I asked Rafael Molina Chasserot the developer of Maxduino to add the caq file format to maxduino. I helped by retrieving the caq2wav source code. As an interim solution between me and Rafael, we have developed CAQ2WAV2TZX a tool allowing you to convert caq files in bulk to either wav format compatible with Arduino wav players like ArduiTape and DigiWavuino or convert to tzx format making it compatible with any TZX type player like Maxduino. I don’t see a mass market for such a specific device but here you can buy a Maxduino especially for the Aquarius machine. Click >HERE<

This is a nice video of TJ demonstrating the ZX-Frankenstein . Early mode and still work in progress because in the next iteration I’m moving the joystick port to the top. For those who just cannot wait to get one I now include an angle adapter so the joystick cable is pointing upwards and doesn’t trail across the keyboard. Nice video nonetheless.

Nice unboxes video by TJ Ferreira with lots of goodies from You Make Robots. We like to support retro channels. Below are a few of the other Retro Channels we have supports:

  • Phil Kruman
  • Retro Robbins
  • Chris’s Retro Corner
  • The Retro Shack

But back to TJ… Thomas makes me laugh and he is a true Speccy fan so here goes:

TJ also recorded a 2nd video using the Maxduino Ultimate to load up a game on a Timex 1000 machine:

A nice but honest review from the Retro Shack of the 48K+ ZXuitape which is an SD solution for a ZX Spectrum. If you need a solution that lets you load games into your ZX Spectrum 48K+ from an SD card this is the one. It screws into the speccy case to make it look like part of the speccy. ZXuitape comes in different models. This is the model for the ZX Spectrum 48K+. You can use it to load up games in tzx, p, o, or tap file format.

When I first started developing my own TZXduino PCB boards I was struggling to get it working with my Sharp MZ700 computer. Sometimes it worked and others not. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but then I put a scope on the output of the TZXduino device I purchased from the original guy who made them. I noticed a difference while playing around. I thought about this for a while and had read that LM386 needs to operate at 5v-18v and but really needs to operate higher than 6v to minimize drain. Most of the TZXDuino that were in the wild were driving the LM386 ( or AMP module) from the 5v pin on the Arduino thus allowing it to operate from the Arduino USB power. I noticed that with the drain of other components that only 3-4v was coming out of that pin and it occurred to me maybe that is the issue. So I factored that into the design of the PCB. Sometime later I found myself in a similar situation with certain ZX Spectrums. After digging about I found out some older models of the ULA chip can go a little deaf. In my own systems, I was fixing this issue by replacing the ULA. Fast forward and I decided to architect in the fix I had included for my Sharp MZ700 into my main PCB I use for all the other Retro Computers.. I’m calling it the Deaf Computer option. Now I cannot guarantee it will fix all your problems but Wayne over at Retro Robbins offered to test this theory out for me since he had a deaf Spectrum 128K+. Watch the first part of the video and decide for yourself.

Deaf Computer Test.

Someone gave me an idea to document the firmware feature differences that the TZX_Tools firmware tool supports. TBH It is a good idea so we can dispel the myths and views on the different firmware as they all do something a little different. From this table, you can see why I prefer MaxDuino. Even more than my own firmware Digiwavuino. I’m sure over time I’ll have to update it and I’m sure there will be 1 or 2 incorrect entries but this is my view on the features.

FYI TZX_Tools is a tool that allows for simple updating of devices running the below firmware.

FeatureMaxDuinoTZXduinoCASDuinoArduiTapeDigiwavuino
OLEDYYYYY
LCDYYYYY
8544 SCREENYYYYY
RGB LCDNYYYN
ROTATE OLEDYNNNN
DYNAMIC SCREEN DETECTIONNNNNY
DYNAMIC SD DETECTIONYNNNY
CHANGE SD CARD WITHOUT RESETNNNNY
TAP FILEYYNNN
O FILEYYNNN
P FILEYYNNN
TZX FILEYYNNN
TSX FILEYNNNN
CDT FILEYYNNN
UEF FILEYYNNN
CAS FILEYNYNN
WAV FILENNNYY
REMOTE JACK FOR MULTILOADYYYYY
MUTLILOAD GAME SUPPORT FOR ZX SPECTRUMYNNNN
ARDUINO NANOYYYYY
ARDUINO UNOYYYYY
ARDUINO MEGAYNNNN
ARDUINO NANO EVERYYNNNN
THINARY EVERYYNNNN
STM32YNNNN
STORE LOGO IN EEPROMYNNNN
ENCHANCED SDFAT SUPPORTYNNNN