Sunday, November 19, 2006

XeO3: Spectrum Wars....

I've been trying to fix a +3 spectrum for Russell today. I have 3 of them, but only 1 working one - and even that one isn't perfect as the load/save cable has been butchered to make a SAVE-ONLY cable. This probably happened when the socket broke. However, I've ripped them appart, took the working drive and put it inside one of the other machines (that has a proper tape connector) and all is well. So at least I have 1 fully working +3.

As for the others, well I discovered that on both disk drives, the belt has degraded too much and is now more or less just a blob of rubber. Fortunately I have 2 spare belts (no idea where I got them...but you can get them from ebay these days), and I've repaired both. But only one of them is actually fully functional. The other kinda works, but doesn't read anything. I suspect it might be the heads needing cleaned, but theres always the chance its just plain dead.

It was touch and go for a little on the working drive as when I opened it up, a tiny pin dropped out and I had NO idea where it came from - and the drive didn't work without it. But, after searching for a while on the NET, turns out its the write pin or something and I was able to plop it back into place.

The last +3 is pretty dead though; well....kind of. It boots, and you get the Copyright message at the start, but the menu doesn't appear. It just stays on the copyright message. I swapped the ROMS with one of the working +3's, and it was the same, so the ROM's are fine. I suspect its waiting on something, but I've no idea what. I have a multiface +3 and it can break in and works fine, so the Z80 is working okay as well. Oh, and if I reset and hold down BREAK, I get the test picture and the machine beeps away. Very odd. Still, I might butcher it so I can get a working tape connector on the other machine which now is working thanks to the 3rd drive having its belt replaced.

I've also discovered a really cool TZX 2 WAV program which converts TZX files into WAV files, which can then be played out the PC's audio and loaded in on a REAL spectrum! Very cool indeed. I've been busy taking snapshots of them and saving them to disk - its great seeing all my old fav's on the real machine again. And it's also shown that Cobra DOES indeed run in a frame.... After seeing Russell's scrolling code - I wonder how he managed that!

So, the next thing to probably try is chopping the end of a +3 lightgun and using that AUX port to download programs directly. I'm not convinced this will be terribly quick, but I guess at least Russell will be able to view his work on a real machine.

Edit: Oh....I did try Xeo3 on the +3, but it didn't work since Russ uses that 48k ULA hack. This means I'll have to hook up a real 48k spectrum to see it....Perhaps later :)

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