16 February 2018

Easy add-on Projects for Spectrum ZX81 & ACE (Redux): Forward

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There was a time when plugging a home fabricated electronics project into, onto or out the back of a Computer was an actively encouraged pursuit. Hardware project books for many a micro computer filled bookstore shelves which intern were filled with many a hardware DIY add-on. Easy add-on Projects for the Spectrum ZX81 and Ace, was one such tome of 80s knowledge, and it's been taking filling space on book self for a couple of years.

Easy add-on Projects for the Spectrum, a good read with some fun possibilities 

In order to undertake the builds presented within Easy add-on Projects for the Spectrum ZX81 and Ace, an initially requirement is the construction of an Address Decoder board, itself obviously already an project. In the true maker spirit of the times this involves producing your own PCB. There was at one point an order-able companion board, leasoning the difficulties any period 80's enthusiast lacking in manufacturing resources would face, though notably you still had to populate the PCB with components yourself.

The (non-Address Board Creation) projects themselves are quite an interesting selection, ranging from a primitive scanner, a light pen, a lap counter and to the major project a weather station. Not surprisingly they all have a very 'you could do this with an Arduino or Raspberry Pi' feel to them. In considering this vibe, it could also be a fun aside to implement the same on either of those modern devices, or the other way around by bringing some Arduino projects to the ZX81.

Lets not get to ahead of ourselves, the first order of business is to get down to that Decoder. There are 2 versions of the board presented in the book, one for the Jupiter Ace and one that's compatible with both the ZX81 and Spectrum, it's this board I'll be constructing. There is not a great deal to it, just a few 74 series ICs and other easy-ish to source parts. This is one of the wonderful thing about retro stuff I guess, it's all still relatively easy to source and understand. I'm not going to use the board quite as designed, I'm intending to use SMD components for example to modernise construction, in general however there should be no functional changes.

So, over the course of the coming weeks I'll get down redesigning the Decoder Board and form there onto the actual projects. If you playing along at home the book ' Easy add-on Projects for the Spectrum ZX81 and Ace' is available from the Jupiter Ace Resource Archive. A site well worth an explore given the Ace's close links to the ZX81 and ZX Spectrum.

See more entries for this project: ForwardPart 1Part 2Part 3


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