A lot has been going on lately so I thought I’d update the blog with some of it. Starting with a small announcement. I secured the domain www.ProjectSPECCY.com It currently re-directs here. I am unsure as yet whether I will have a separate site or combine ProjectAVR and ProjectSPECCY here. Stay tuned.
On to the Multiface 128 recreation project. I have been attempting to find a source for an AT&Y SPEC-MATE which is a lesser known snapshot interface for the earlier Sinclair Spectrums. I used to use one back in the Spectrum’s heyday for hacking. Try as I might, I can’t find one for sale. I do know somone who has kindly sent me images of the device, including some good internal shots. This has proved difficult to copy however.
Whilst I continue my quest to find a SPEC-MATE of my own, I thought I’d investigate other snapshot interfaces. I have prototyped the Spanish Phoenix III (Phoenix IV) and added 8K of RAM to it in it’s second iteration, making it a Phoenix V for me. Both these devices appear to run the original Phoenix ROM and also the SPEC-MATE ROM but neither will return to the program called when the NMI button was pressed. I’m still investigating. The problem may be that I am working from someone elses tracing of the Phoenix III circuit. I can’t be sure it’s accurate.
Still wishing to investigate these interfaces, I chose to work with the Romantic Robot Multiface 128. The Multifaces were probably the highest profile snapshot devices around for the Spectrum (and Amstrad & Atari ST). At the time, they were always a bit too expensive for me. Now as an adult, I have managed to collect three different models, one each of Multiface 1, 128 and 3. I also purchased a MultiPrint which is a similar interface but based around printing rather than snapshots.
Tracing the Multiface 128 circuit was quite a long drawn out procedure. First physically following each connection and matching them to a circuit I drew in KiCad and then designing a PCB. However, I did so and the results are a working recreation of the device. Details and Gerber files are available on the Non-AVR Projects page. Anyone can download the gerbers and use their favorite fabricator to manufacture a PCB and build their own. I am not distributing the ROM image since it’s copyright status is unknown, however a quick search for ‘Multiface 128 ROM version 87.12’ should turn up a useful image. This will need to be programmed into a 2764 EPROM for use on the interface.
I am pleased to say that with the UK school term well and truly re-started, I have again been asked to help teach some of the students at St. Richards Catholic College I help a fellow Radio Amateur, Phil G3MGQ, teach radio at the Foundation level. The college was one of the few chosen to contact Tim Peake when he was aboard the International Space Station and some of the students at the college have been inspired to obtain their radio licences as a direct result.
I was extremely lucky in bagging one of the new vDriveZXs (review) from the first batch sold. I have a ZX Interface One and two Microdrives but the drives are faulty. I was looking into repairing the drives but now, one of them at least, will become a vDrive. I will retain the internals though, for study and spares. The vDrive is a module that fits inside an original Microdrive case and emulates the original using an SD Card. This enables up to eight virtual drives to be seen by the Interface One and, of course, since the SD Card has a much higher capacity, you can have multiple sets of virtual drives available. I am looking forward to receiving my unit and fitting it in one of my old drive cases. QDos to Charles Ingley, the creator.
Just to whet your appitite, I have a few other things up and coming in the Spectrum arena but at this time, I can’t say anything. Full details will be published here in due course.