Not bored with the Boards.



  • Yes I noticed that Ben's Interface was nicely cased but a long name . I will forgive him thr long name as the product overall is very good . My sons got it for me for Fathers Day and I felt lucky that they found the cased version as I could see that the uncased version was also available .Thanks for the advice on anti static as well . (( Of course , I have an anti static mat etc but I do not get it out for everyday use but mainly on graphics cards etc which my sons manage to clog up quite effectively. The Unifit vacuum cleaner unit (about £4.50 from CPC) is a great tool for this and for other cleaning/dusting jobs.)) But for case cutting I have a Dremel so I suppose cutting a case would be a "Dremel job" but sourcing the right source of case would be a starting point : it would have to be "too big" and oriented in the right direction. Thanks for the feedback on this
  • Yes great info guys . Thanks for the feedback on this
  • If you have a store nearby that sells electronic parts, see what range of cases they have. This is the best way of getting a suitable box, as you can take the PCB along to compare sizes.

    Unless of course you are the designer, in which case, you can design the PCB for a ready made case...

  • Well I took a punt and bought 3 ABS Boxes with lid ,black 75*50*27 mm for £1.83 each plus VAT each total £5.49 inc free postage from CPC online . So if I am very lucky I will be able to find some uncased Spectrum interfaces that fit into these dimensions!!! Now there was an interface I asked about I wonder if.........
  • Re cheap boxes as per above :I know they are too small and I will probably end up using something else or gluing them together . But hey !! : they are very cheap ! If I bond 2 together with a bit of aluminium and glass fibre I will be "away". But ,in reality I probably have till Christmas to plan which interface to "major" on , so I am in no hurry!
  • Soldering style

    Over the last 15 years or so my soldering skills have gone backwards . So I don't even have a "soldering style" anymore , though I have become much better at cleaning and dusting (the Insides of graphics cards etc).

    So its time to get " "some" style" : in fact any style will do right now ! But the one I have been seriously considering in the "stubby" style (where you leave the original wires in on the ZX Spectrum PCB and just "solder in" at the top .

    The Benefits are:-

    1) Well even I can do this! So "DIYers" like me can tackle work that would otherwise have to be left to a "professional" (does anyone actually know one of these for their ZX Spectrums anymore?)

    2) If I put the components in the the wrong way round then they are easy to switch back!

    3) Famous people do it!! ( I cannot remember their names : But I have seen it online "honestly guv")

    4) A clear distinction between new and old work so easy to see where possible mistakes were made.

    5) Does not damage the PCB so this method helps to preserve the authenticity of the original material

    6) Much quicker to do the work

    7) Suits bigger keyboards where there is loads of room ( and I have some of these)

    Possible downsides:-

    1) Well I suppose that there could be more electrical resistance but does this really matter on a Spectrum?

    2) Well I might need to use my "Swiss PCB gripper" to turn the PCB upside down to avoid "solder splash" on the main board.(so maybe some use of more specialist equipment is needed here possibly)

  • But I would certainly be worried about static damage .

    Handling the board by the edges and avoiding gratuitously touching and fingering exposed pins/connectors will go a long way to preventing any static damage. Especially in a place as moist as the British Isles.
  • But there is also the question of whether "enthusiasts" will run out of enthusiasm. Having a bare board adds to the risk and has no benefits for the average user . Even if the case is ugly to look at ,it will preserve the PCB . Therefore for me ,an "ugly case" would be the minimum standard and I would not be happy with an uncased item

    But of course , a lot of time can be wasted "messing around" like this and the "to do" list ,for stuff like this , can multiply up significantly on small works like this . But where the cost of the interface is significant (say £30 and above) it could be argued that it is time well spent.

    Another question is whether the PCB "can" be cased . If some interfaces are so tight (space wise) then there will be no room for casing . I think sellers should make it clear whether "casing" is possible or make "caseable" versions for people who specifically want to do it.An idea anyway.
  • Er, the benefit to the user is that it's cheap...
    My rubbish website including the redrawn Amstrad schematics and the new home of the Sinclair FAQ wiki.
  • Eh yes , but not cheap in the long run if it breaks or is perceived as unsatisfactory by the end user . And I should have thanked Winston for his comments about the British weather being a relevant factor and which , of course , I agree with . I myself . have never bought any full priced uncased ZX interfaces before as I could always get cased ones. (but I suppose we were in a "different country" back then in the 1980s and 1990s!! ) The standardized cases themselves however are still available and really cheaply however. And, even for specialist stuff like the "Enjoys" (where "specialist" cases have to be used) for instance , the difference in price between cased and uncased "Enjoys" was (a few months ago) virtually nothing . I saw both versions being offered in different places for pretty similar prices and I was thinking about which version I was going to receive.

    "Cui bono" (Who benefits) from the "uncased" orientation?!! (and I am not talking about the design orientation of the cases themselves). I would argue that the principle beneficiary is the seller as he saves on postage , production costs , etc . So an ongoing "enthusiasts orientation" ensure that the market remains small (just for enthusiasts) and does not develop in a way that lowers costs . Furthermore the average user (the "Average Joe") is shut out because he would not dream of buying what he would feel his peer group (his "mates") would perceive as "unfinished junk" (not to be "seen dead" with): so I am also arguing that "cases are cool"!! Also some standardization (eg meets WOS ideal standards re design etc) of interface design , would allow these cheap cases to be used by "Average Joe" who would then not be caught out by buying a potentially "uncaseable" unit .
    The relevant question ,for me, is whether , these ZX interfaces are even "potentially caseable" by a competent DIYer (who wants only cased stuff) . The alleged benefit of a "small footprint" (and I have seen this in some adds) could just be an attempt to further reduce postage costs. I myself ,might be able to "get away" with casing (these otherwise "uncasables") as I have Spectrums with "gold plated" edge connectors but for "Average Joe" casing them up would cause a big "headache". For me , to meet anything like "normal" retail safety standards they would have to be cased: a large retail outlet ,for instance, would be unlikely to accept "uncaseability" as a standard , . For me also , this "uncased orientation" is just not an acceptable design standard . I would , as a minimum , want a "caseable" variant to be available as an option and preferably some guidance on the size of case required and some "how to do it" instructions .

    As one online ZX site shows ,there have been hundreds of different ZX interfaces produced over the years (for the Spectrum) and there are probably "more than a few" of these now still being produced today . Why should we "kill off" all this innovation off by accepting low production standards especially now when so much is happening ? And for me , it was easily possible for my sons to source a cased "Enjoy" ( so I did not receive an uncased version from them after all!) . I am of course pleased with this "Enjoy".But it could have easily been a different story!!
  • edited October 2015
    "Cui bono" (Who benefits) from the "uncased" orientation?!! (and I am not talking about the design orientation of the cases themselves). I would argue that the principle beneficiary is the seller as he saves on postage , production costs , etc . So an ongoing "enthusiasts orientation" ensure that the market remains small (just for enthusiasts) and does not develop in a way that lowers costs . Furthermore the average user (the "Average Joe") is shut out because he would not dream of buying what he would feel his peer group (his "mates") would perceive as "unfinished junk" (not to be "seen dead" with): so I am also arguing that "cases are cool"!!

    But the typical Speccy user is not the "average joe" - they already look "uncool" to their mates by mucking around with Spectrums.

    The principal beneficiary in such a niche hobby like ours isn't the seller. If I were to sell cased Spectranets, I would just pass on the entire cost of the case and the work needed to make it to the buyer. Sellers already add post-and-packing costs and would just increase them if it caused an increase in shipping cost. I made room for screw holes in the board and enough clearance around the edge connector so someone can put it in a box, and the PCB design is open source so people have precise measurements for these things just by firing up gEDA PCB and measuring between the hole centres (and 100mm x 60mm internal dimension boxes are common enough). But even a standard box takes a long time and tooling to make because now you have to cut neat rectangles in it for the connectors. The time taken would become so great I simply wouldn't have bothered making the Spectranet if everyone really demanded a pre-made case. So the end user benefits by having the board available at all.

    Un-boxed Spectrum peripherals don't tend to break, I think I've had my DivIDE since about 2008 or so and it gets quite a lot of abuse. Same with the Spectranet. I still have one of my original hand-soldered boards that has travelled all over the world to shows and things. The only returns I tend to get are nothing to do with cased or uncased (the biggest single issue has been polarising keys falling out, people not noticing, then plugging them in now mis-oriented because the key is no longer there to ensure the connector is properly oriented, fortunately for the last batch I had obtained a box of new-old-stock Interface 1 edge connectors with a metal polarising key put in there at manufacture).
    Post edited by Winston on
  • I designed a case for the spectranet made from sheet pastic glued together, and if I had access to a desktop cnc or even a bandsaw I might have produced a few for my friends, or at least kits. Alas I don't so I made one for myself by hand with a craft knife, hacksaw, and great deal of hassle. Then I had to sand and paint the plastic cause I'd made such a mess of cutting straight lines :(
    My rubbish website including the redrawn Amstrad schematics and the new home of the Sinclair FAQ wiki.
  • Thanks for the replies from both . There is some good stuff in both answers and info about ZX interfaces . The case in the pic looks very good to me . This is an aspect I need to look at again . Thanks
  • It's just made from sheets of HDPE here's how it looked before I painted it, so you can see how it was assembled:
    As I say I had to sand it after removing the protective film to sort out some defects based on not having the right tools. Otherwise it would be that shiny fingerprint-attracting-black surface that's all the rage these days ;)

    The base is secured by little magnets so that the case is held together securely but comes apart easily if needed and there are no visible screws :)
    My rubbish website including the redrawn Amstrad schematics and the new home of the Sinclair FAQ wiki.
  • Nice job . The advantage of your method is its flexibility . This plastic is new to me but looks Ok to work with which is important where cutting etc. I wonder if it can be used as an "add on" to a pre-existing box. . I may experiment with some on a "non working" interface just to get the hang of it
  • Having looked at the reviews what ZX interfaces are available TZXing wise for the ZX Spectrum I feel that it would be best for me to wait to see what new developments come along over the next year or so before buying one . If some of the TAP interface offerings are "top notch" now then I think there is a good possibility that the TZX offerings will improve as well over time as well.

    I think that I may well have to case it up myself when I do get one however. For now ,my ZX interface classification "case" wise looks like this 1) "fully cased" with switches (eg Multiface ) Fully cased without switches 3) Uncased with potential for DIY casing (see Spectranet above) 4) Uncaseable with switches 5) Uncaseable without switches
  • My rarest Interface? The Doubler?

    I have been trying out some old ZX Spectrum Interfaces . I had kept the ones that were meant to work separately from the known non working ones. So these presumed "working" ones were the ones I was testing now on the back of a 48K ZX Spectrum . Things were going well , my 2 Multiface 128ks were OK and one of these was a Disciple version .And my Multiprint was also OK : all these interfaces displayed the usual Multiface options when the Red Button was pressed . But then I came to another "Mutlface" like interface that was unidentified : it looked a bit melted around the seam where the two parts of the case joined as though it had "been through the wars" a bit. I connected it up and pressed the red button : nothing happened . I decided to open it up and the cause of the malfunction was clear :one of the leads to the Red button had broken.Well that should be easy to fix at least.

    But what was it? There was nothing to identify it on the outside of the case.Once opened however I could see some writing on the PCB that said "Draysoft" and this brand , I found from WOS information , belonged to Evesham Micros who produced both the "Interface 111" and The "Doubler" .As the "Doubler" was a lot cheaper to buy at the time than Interface 111 I reckon that is what it is . I will have to find "The Doubler" software which the information says it needs , which I must have somewhere ! Then I will repair the cable and "give it a whirl"

  • The Draysoft Enigma :- Is it a Mark 1 or Mark 11 Doubler?Spectrum%20Boards%20Dec%202015%20009_zpsbhdh0njg.jpg
  • I will just have to find the instructions for it. That should tell me the answerSpectrum%20Boards%20Dec%202015%20002_zpslhiakhce.jpg
  • Re above "The Doubler" pic.

    So there was no Eprom to worry about with this one as it uses special Double software .

    Re Eproms:- Flash light photography and Eproms do not always go together well . But it is course possible to take the EPROM out and then do the flash photography . Maybe that is a game for later when I am more proficient with EPROMS.

    One thing I have noticed about old interfaces that have just been "dug out" : it is often the cable/solder points that give out first. This one broke on first opening by the red button and will need a repair
  • It should not happen to a Spectrum especially an Issue 2!Spectrum%20Boards%20Dec%202015%20007_zpswrr1avyx.jpg
  • But this is how they used to repair ZX Spectrums:- by using the bits off one board to fix anotherSpectrum%20Boards%20Dec%202015%20006_zpsrcji7kke.jpg
  • Re the pic above of a pillaged Issue 2 ZX Spectrum 48k

    Definitely not worth considering for repair at the moment I would say . As mentioned above this board has had its valuable parts pillaged a long time ago , say at least 25 years ago , I reckon . I got it with a job lot of stuff "I can't remember when" and just stored it . I am not a Spectrum "Christmas Compo philanthropist" but if I was I would set up a competition to guess the cost of repair to its former working glory : then I would get a proper estimate from a reputable repairer . As I am not this " philanthropic Christmas compo person" I will not have to bother but my own estimate for repair would be £230! The actual cost of buying a half decent Issue 2 ZX Spectrum I would estimate to be a maximum of £70 today So , because of this disparity , I think it will be some time before this gets fixed! Will it ever happen ? Well , I think , the Issue 2 ULAs , I believe , are pretty non existent or at least very difficult to source But parts tend to be found when the money is right so it is not entirely beyond the realms of possibility (in my opinion) that ,at some time in the future , it may be a worthwhile repair job (so I will hang onto it for now!).
  • That's an intact Fox memory upgrade in that above board - it was the only way of using non-TI RAM in an Issue 2 machine.

    The Spectrum Resuscitation Thread - bringing dead Spectrums back to life
    zx-diagnostics - Fixing ZX Spectrums in the 21st Century (wiki)
    Sinclair FAQ Wiki
  • Hi balford

    Thanks for that; useful info

  • "Never mind networking . You need the right connections":- gold plated ones!

    I have given myself s wide remit for this thread:-As long as I am "not bored" with it and it is vaguely related to ZX boards then it falls within its broad ambit (and remit of course!). So edge connectors are fine (phew that's a relief!) But what about gold plated ones? Well they were very expensive about £10 each and they were a Radio Shack part. They were discontinued about 2000ish and some time after I had packed away my Spectrum bits , so I was surprised when I found out that they were no longer available.

    The gold plated connectors themselves are removable and replaceable in their blue holding/extender bar . Also the whole block had to be sawn down to size so I have loads of off cuts which I now hope I can make up by getting new bars and "dremeling" them to fit to make up new ones This of course presupposes that the available bars (I know they have to be cut to size) have removable contacts . I know this is a specialist area but has anyone had a go at something like this?

  • Showing the gold plated sawn off off-cuts . Could they be re-inserted into a new cut to size connector block?ZX%20Spectrum%20add%20ons%20008_zpsdhnj0d1r.jpg
  • surely a new one would already have pins in it...
    My rubbish website including the redrawn Amstrad schematics and the new home of the Sinclair FAQ wiki.
  • Hi Guesser

    Yes but the ones on these are removable . So the idea is to remove the non gold plated connectors from the new bar and substitute these removable ones .(I know all that effort just to get a new gold plated connector but they are not made anymore . And once you have them you get to like them!! .) It depends on the new bar with extractable connectors , being able to accept these RS gold plated connectors . Probably difficult but maybe worth a pint?
Sign In or Register to comment.