You Make Robots Blog

Keeping Retro Computers Alive!

Retro Computer

Considering buying an SD tape emulator for your retro computer? Well here is a nice checklist to help you choose:

  1. Make sure the device has an AMP circuit to boost the volume. Time and time again low powered devices have proven to fail while loading games. You might get away with loading some games but essentially you need an AMP.
  2. In one scenario an AMP by itself might not be enough if you have a deaf computer. Deaf computers need more than volume on the characteristics of the audio. The Deaf computer issue is not limited to ZX Spectrum. You could experience this with other computers. Make sure the device can accommodate this issue.
  3. If you are planning to use a device as a wave player running Arduitape or Digiwavuino make sure the audio circuit contains a low-pass filter.
  4. If you need the device for MSX, Dragon, Acorn/BBC, or Oric make sure the sd device has a remote socket. Without it, it is useless. A lot of games on these computers like to control how the games are loaded by pausing the tape from the game automatically.
  5. If you need a device for multiple computers at the same time be careful on buying a device based on an Arduino Nano. The Arduino Nano is limited on memory. This is ok when you have a few retro computers. Check out the Maxduino Ultimate which is based on the Atmega 4808 chip and has double the memory and can support 2-3 times computers in one device.
  6. Check to see if the vendor offers an easy way to update the device. Most of these devices are programmed using the Arduino IDE. If you don’t know what you are doing it can be a bit daunting. That is why we developed an easy flash tool called TZX_Tools which runs on Windows that allows you to flash TZXduino, CASduino, Arduitape, Digiwavuino, and Maxduino without knowing how to code.
  7. Some TZX player apps claim to be multi-load compatible. Multi-load is where the game loads in stages and if you were loading it from cassette you’d be expected to manually pause the tape. Now the only software that truly supports Multiload TZX files is Maxduino. Maxduino monitors for a “stop tape” block and automatically stops the game load. Nothing on the market can do this in the same way.

I hope you found these tips useful..

We’ve been busy bees and developed an alternative solution for those wanting to keep Retro Computers alive by playing games and apps digitally through the audio ports originally designed for a tape deck.

DigiWavuino is an Arduino wav player designed for playing back Retro Computers games and app files that come in wav file format. It differs from other similar projects like ArduiTape or CASDuino in that it was developed with Arduino boards that have a DAC port like Arduino DUE or Arduino Zero. This is a must for those Retro Computers that are sensitive about audio quality. The previous projects played audio through a PWM port instead of a DAC. Retro Computers like the Sharp MZ700 will not load games that have been played through a PWM port.. So enter DigiWavuino.

Here is the parts list for the DUE version: this one doesn’t have the IC2 jacket but best get one with