[ANN]: Spectaculator 5.0 available for download

edited May 2003 in Emulators
Here we go again... *deep breath* ;)

Spectaculator is a Sinclair ZX Spectrum emulator for PCs running Windows
95, 98, ME, NT 4, 2000 and XP.

Spectaculator emulates the 16K/48K/128K/+2/+2A/+3 Spectrums and plenty of
additional hardware.

Spectaculator is being distributed as freeware (although donations are
welcome) and can be obtained from http://www.spectaculator.com/

It should also be on WoS in the next couple of days.

What's new in version 5.0

o Spectrum +3 emulation:

- Full implementation of FDC command set

- Emulates up to 2 disk drives (the maximum the +3 can take)

- Automatically switches the drive emulation between a +3 3" (CF2)
drive and a standard 3?" DSDD drive depending on the type of disk
image inserted.

- Accurate emulation to load all those disks with copy protection
schemes such as Speedlock +3, Alkatraz +3, Three Inch Loader,
Hexagon etc.

- Fast disk access mode. Significantly reduces load and save times.

- Autoboot disks feature. Inserting a bootable disk into drive A:
will cause the Spectrum to automatically reset and start loading
from the disk. Hold down Shift to override or turn the option off,
if required.

- Disk drives palette window for easy management of disk images.
Disk images can be write protected, formatted, ejected and inserted
from here.

- Disk image formatter. Allows formatting of 3?" disk images to their
full capacity (720 KB) which +3DOS cannot do. Also allows 3" (CF2)
disk images to be formatted with the Amstrad CPC SYSTEM and DATA
formats.

- Disk images are automatically saved and restored when using zx-state
(snapshot) files.


o Interface 1 enhancements:

- RS-232 serial port emulation. Spectaculator can use files for serial
I/O or a free serial (COM) port on your computer. Using a suitable
cable, it's possible to connect Spectaculator to a real Spectrum and
transfer data between them quickly and easily.

- Microdrives palette window allows opening cartridges from zip files.
Previously, you needed to use Open from the File menu.

- Added a toolbar to the Microdrives palette window to allow quick
formatting of cartridges.

- Added authentic generation of the Microdrive motor noise (both with
and without a cartridge inserted). Try CAT 1 without a cart in drive
1 ;)

- Fixed a bug when restoring the Microdrive state from a zx-state file
that could possibly cause a crash.


o Cassette Recorder enhancements:

- Improved accuracy of loading noise generation. High frequencies
(especially turbo loaders) sound much nicer - no buzzing or other
aliasing artifacts. Real Spectrums now like them too.

- Added 'boost volume of loading noise' option. With this enabled, it's
possible to use the cassette recorder to play tap/tzx files directly
into a real Spectrum (depending on the output levels of your sound
card).

- Added 'Stop at end of tape' option. This was needed to stop certain
multiload games like Defenders of the Earth from trying to load the
second side of the tape before you could insert the TZX of it. Can be
turned off for demos that use TAPs as a virtual tape loop.


o New 'Enable writes to Multiface ROM' option. Required by certain programs
such as <b>SoftCrack</b>.

o Added a 'Generate NMI' option which triggers an NMI even if the Multiface
is disabled.

o Added context-sensitive help that was previously missing from some dialog
boxes.

o Revised the online help to include the new features in this release.



Please drop me an e-mail if you have any feedback (good or bad), feature
requests, improvements, bug reports etc.

I would like to thank everyone who has helped me get this version out:
Kevin Thacker, Geoff Wearmouth, Mark Woodmass, Bethany Carlton, Andy Barker
and anyone else I've forgotton.

Lastly, I would like to thank everyone that has donated via PayPal over the past
three months. Much appreciated :)

Time for a well-earned break, me thinks ;)

Cheers,

Jon.

---
Jonathan Needle
Spectaculator Creator
http://www.spectaculator.com/
Post edited by Jon Needle on

Comments

  • edited April 2003
    Woohoo :D
    thanks Jon!!!
  • edited April 2003
    Great stuff. I love the microdrive-noise! :)
  • edited April 2003
    Looks like all that downloading has killed spectaculator.com. Crap hosting
    from the "UK's No. 1" apparantly...

    It's also available on WoS
    (http://www.worldofspectrum.org/emulators.html#pcwin) if you can't wait.

    Cheers,

    Jon.
  • edited April 2003
    This is probably the best Spectrum Emulator I have seen so far! Very nice work!

    I smiled at the nice touch of the sound when you try loading a Microdrive without one in the slot!

    Chris.
  • EdEd
    edited April 2003
    Yeah, great stuff, Jon! All those great new features, and the installer package is actually smaller than 4.0! Top job! :)

    [ This Message was edited by: Ed on 2003-04-17 21:08 ]
  • edited April 2003
    Sounds good, but few months ago I dropped this emulator just because it has screwed up all my Spectrum associations (with other programs/emulators). After uninstall, I ended with reinstalling few other programs just o restore what Spectaculator has broken.

    Has this impoved ?
    I mean the program should not steal any associations. If required, the user should be able to set the desired associations after the program is installed.
    Alternatively, the user should be able to decide that at install time.

    Because of the *?#%?$! and the speed I uninstalled it, I don't know how good the program was as Spectrum emulator.

    Cristi

    [ This Message was edited by: secarica on 2003-04-21 04:17 ]
  • edited April 2003
    Well, it's a known fact that Spectaculator is one of the best emulators for the Speccy. make no mistake! However, I suppose Jon will have to look into the association bug... and since he is such a great feedback implementor, I'm sure he will! :)
  • edited April 2003
    Hi Cristi,

    Yes, you just need to choose "Custom Install" during installation.

    You can choose whether to associate snapshots, tape files, disk images etc.

    Once installed, if you run it again and choose "modify" from the installer dialog box, you can change the associations as required.

    If another program steals(!) them at some point, re-run the installer and choose "Repair".

    Hope that helps.

    Regards,

    Jon.
  • edited April 2003
    Well, yes, it worked well this time.
    Thanks for your reply.

    There is, however, something neither SPIN nor Spectaculator is able to do properly: emulation of the " key from the PC keyboard.
    Only WinZ80 and X128 can do that (from the ones I am using frequently; perhaps others too, I can not recall now).
    I am using a standard US English keyboard, nothing special here.

    The left-right split of the Shift keys is also strange, but there is perhaps an option that I should look for to change that.

    On the other hand, I find remarkably that the emulator configuration is stored on a per-user basis (on NT/2000/XP).

    Best wishes,
    Cristi

    [ This Message was edited by: secarica on 2003-04-21 13:16 ]
  • edited April 2003
    Yes this is a marvellous emulator - much appreciated.

    Can I ask for loading sound on the Fast Loading option, like X128 or Spin?
  • EdEd
    edited April 2003
    On 2003-04-21 13:10, secarica wrote:

    There is, however, something neither SPIN nor Spectaculator is able to do properly: emulation of the " key from the PC keyboard.
    Only WinZ80 and X128 can do that (from the ones I am using frequently; perhaps others too, I can not recall now).
    I am using a standard US English keyboard, nothing special here.

    Yeah, I see that using my UK keyboard, too. Most of the Spectrum punctuation characters that have PC equivalents can be typed using the same PC keys, but Shift 2 displays as "@" rather than quotes, almost like I've got "US keyboard" selected (although "@" also displays as "@"). Also, the "?" sign displays as "#".

    I only noticed this when I tried it just now, but in any case I'm so used to using SS + "P" for double quotes that it's not a problem for me. And, I can't even remember the last time I needed the "?" key when using a Spectrum emulator. So, I guess I'm all right, Jack! ;)
    On 2003-04-21 13:10, secarica wrote:

    On the other hand, I find remarkably that the emulator configuration is stored on a per-user basis (on NT/2000/XP).

    Hmmm. That behaviour seems sensible enough to me. Pretty standard I'd have thought.

    One very minor issue I have noticed with Spectaculator is that it can make the edges of certain programs go wobbly if the main screen area of Spectaculator is behind them. For example, if Spectaculator is near the bottom left of the screen and you press the "Start" key, the edges of the menus can flicker a little. At least, on my WinXP system, they do. Hardly worth bothering with though, Jon, if it's a lot of work.
  • edited April 2003
    On 2003-04-21 13:10, secarica wrote:
    There is, however, something neither SPIN nor Spectaculator is able to do properly: emulation of the " key from the PC keyboard.
    Only WinZ80 and X128 can do that (from the ones I am using frequently; perhaps others too, I can not recall now).
    I am using a standard US English keyboard, nothing special here.

    Spectaculator (and presumably spin) use the UK keyboard layout. There isn't a separate key with " on it. I presume there is on the US? I'll see what I can do.
    The left-right split of the Shift keys is also strange, but there is perhaps an option that I should look for to change that.

    Ah yes. Spectaculator was originally going to be rubber 48k only which roughly has caps shift where the left shift key is and symbol shift where the right shift key is... the rest is history ;)
    On the other hand, I find remarkably that the emulator configuration is stored on a per-user basis (on NT/2000/XP).

    And on 95/98/ME as well. Don't want your missus changing your config ;)

    Cheers,

    Jon.

    [ This Message was edited by: needlej on 2003-04-22 00:14 ]
  • edited April 2003
    Can I ask for loading sound on the Fast Loading option, like X128 or Spin?

    Unfortunately not - the design doesn't allow for this.

    Jon.
  • edited April 2003
    Yeah, I see that using my UK keyboard, too. Most of the Spectrum punctuation characters that have PC equivalents can be typed using the same PC keys, but Shift 2 displays as "@" rather than quotes, almost like I've got "US keyboard" selected (although "@" also displays as "@"). Also, the "?" sign displays as "#".

    Yep, since a Spectrum also has @ on 2 and # on 3 :)

    You can only really do some mapping with the extra keys on a PC keyboard that the Spectrum doesn't have (unless you start patching the ROMs).

    e.g. on a UK keyboard there's the (|\) key on the left of Z that spectaculator maps to caps shift - some games have caps shift to move left and Z for right.

    The keys to the right of P, L and M are also mapped to the respective Spectrum keyboard combinations although these will probably only match up if you have a UK keyboard.

    Cheers,

    Jon.

    Cheers,

    Jon.
  • edited April 2003
    On 2003-04-22 00:13, needlej wrote:
    And on 95/98/ME as well. Don't want your missus changing your config ;)
    ?
    I thought it isn't possible to use the pseudo logoff-logon mechanism on Win9x to preserve more than one user settings.

    Cristi
  • edited April 2003
    Well, all config information is stored under HKEY_CURRENT_USER in the registry so it should work just fine.

    Windows Installer adds some extra special folders so you can just use the same API to access them accross all Windows Oses.

    Jon.
  • edited April 2003
    Hi Ed,
    One very minor issue I have noticed with Spectaculator is that it can make the edges of certain programs go wobbly if the main screen area of Spectaculator is behind them.

    Yep, this is a side-effect of using DirectDraw - it interferes with Windows special effects causing the drop shadows to flicker.

    If your video card also does hardware bi-linear filtering and any of Spectaculator's window is partially visible, this will produce the wobbly effect.

    (It's to do with Windows having to draw the Spectrum screen in chunks (because of the clipping) which don't quite line up because of the bi-linear filtering... if you see what I mean ;)

    Cheers,

    Jon.
  • edited April 2003
    On 2003-04-22 00:23, needlej wrote:
    You can only really do some mapping with the extra keys on a PC keyboard that the Spectrum doesn't have (unless you start patching the ROMs).

    Yep - SPIN only traps certain keys (and some of *those* are only enabled in 48k/128k input or editor modes due to needing Extend mode).

    For ROM Traps you can do worse than have a look at BASin - it uses all sorts of trickery to get your PC keyboard working with the 48k rom perfectly. Be warned - you'll not play a game of Starquake or Sabre Wulf. BASin is not a gamesplaying emulator like SPIN or Spectaculator, it's for interpreting BASIC on a PC, and the amount of ROM modification needed to do that removes almost any chance you have of playing games.

    D.
  • edited April 2003
    I have to add that having a distributive, I could not install the Spectacular on a PC which have no Internet access available. Just because instmsia.exe is requested from the web ONLY and copying such file and running it on the target machine has no effect.

    In result, I solved a problem first installing Spectaculator on the machine with Internet access, and then copying files manually.
  • edited May 2003
    A full version (3.x MB) is available on spectaculator.com.

    Hardly anyone ever downloads it but it's there if you need it.

    Just copying the files over is a bad idea - on older systems Spectaculator relies on the updates installed with Windows Installer.

    Cheers,

    Jon.
    (been on hol and hence the late reply)
  • edited May 2003
    Hi Jon,
    I've been messing around with the multiface3 option for saving a loaded game(tzx) to a dsk file using multiface3.
    Basically I load a game into the spect+3 version:
    -activate the multiface
    -press save
    -give it a name
    -save to disk
    -It seems like it works but no activity on the pc's a: drive or any added .dsk files in c: drive.
    I was wondering if this is at all possible or am I missing something.
    The +3 drive option(which works with the pc's a: drive) in the view menu seems only for loading?

    One more question :)
    Is it possible to dump TZX files from original cassettes to spectaculator?
    I'm able to load a game(cassette)using external audio source into spectaculator. I noticed under the 'new' option there is a selection for audio cassette file TZX(which you can specify a name) and the record button in the virtual cassette recorder but no blocks load up when loading a game.

    thanks

    t



    [ This Message was edited by: thomas3120 on 2003-05-07 07:36 ]
  • edited May 2003
    On 2003-05-07 00:51, thomas3120 wrote:
    Hi Jon,
    I've been messing around with the multiface3 option for saving a loaded game(tzx) to a dsk file using multiface3.
    Basically I load a game into the spect+3

    I was wondering if this is at all possible or am I missing something.

    Make sure you create a new disk image and insert it into drive A: (see the online help - Working with +3 disk images->Create a new (blank) disk image) ;)
    One more question :)
    Is it possible to dump TZX files from original cassettes to spectaculator?
    I'm able to load a game(cassette)using external audio source into spectaculator. I noticed under the 'new' option there is a selection for audio cassette file TZX(which you can specify a name) and the record button in the virtual cassette recorder but no blocks load up when loading a game.

    Nope. You can only save a snapshot when the game's loaded. I think you're better off using a dedicated program like MakeTZX to do this.

    Hope that helps :)

    Cheers,

    Jon.
  • edited May 2003
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