Little Speccy project

r0jaws

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I've been pretty busy over the last couple of months with one thing or another and haven't really had too much time to get into any hackery projects, certainly not as many as I would like anyway.

Yorkie, Zetro and I recently acquired some DivIDE's for our Speccys and once we had a functioning speccy out of the 8 or so between us, managed to find a compatible CF card and get it going.

For those that don't know, a DivIDE is a frankly awesome bit of kit, allowing a 48k speccy onwards all the way upto the +3 to access IDE drives. Be that Hard Drives, CD Roms or CF cards via a suitable adapter! (y)

Frankly, I'm in love with mine. :inlove:

A touch of Zetro magic saw a molex adapter being soldered onto the speccy expansion connector to give our lovely little CF card some juice without having to fire up a seperate ATX power supply, Perfect! (Cheers buddy)

After the awesomeness of watching a 128k +2 thrash itself half to death to entertain us with some choice Demo downloads I got to thinking about the vulnerability of my newly acquired lover. :popcorn:

DivIDE's come naked. It's a circuit board you just wap into the back of your speccy and away you go. Speccys 'tend' to live on the floor in front of your telly. Mine does anyway.
Carpets, small dogs and children have a habit of 'improving' unprotected electronics in a way that I may pop a vein over. :sigh:

I declared to big Z and Yorkie that I would indeed come up with a suitable all round casing that would;

1: protect from such hazards as kids, carpets and small animals,
2: allow full access to the active bits and pieces (buttons, IDE ports and so forth),
3: support the board at the correct height for the expansion slot (it should be raised a few mil)
4: and look damn cool as well (perhaps THE most important bit).

Today I started. My first attempt is to hack an old Joystick base to pieces in order to accommodate my new pride and joy.

Please feel free to laugh and point, this is probably the first bit of 'hackery' I have performed since I was in my teens. I spent a great afternoon mucking about with a dremel and inhaling all sorts of interesting fumes. I must stress that I am so far from being even considered a rank amateur at such things as case mods that there are plankton more proficient than I.

However, it's not about the winning, more about the journey. :D

I hope you enjoy the results as much as I will getting there.
 

Zetr0

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Re: Little Speccy project

r0Jaws said:
.... I must stress that I am so far from being even considered a rank amateur at such things as case mods that there are plankton more proficient than I.

LMAO!!!! :ROTFLOL2: :ROTFLOL2:

for me the hackery is all about DOING it.... the end result is a bonus :D

a Joystick eh? what type ? have you a pic...????
 

TheCorfiot

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Re: Little Speccy project

@rojaws

I am soooo green with envy, the DivIDE is a fantastic hardware addon for the Speccy and from what I have read gives it a whole new different lease of life with enhanced useability, much better than when the Speccy was originally released.

Thanks for telling us all about it, now ahem,,, how about a little bit of hardware pr0n :mrgreen:

Best Regards mate
TC :thanks:
 

r0jaws

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Re: Little Speccy project

Ok, as promised, Pron.

This is the standard DivIDE that we all have, there is a new version out as we speak the 'Plus' which has all sorts of new gubbins on it like an integrated CF slot.

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This is the board in all it's glory. 40 Pin connection on the right, Menu button just beneath that, Expansion port connection on the left.

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This is my CF Adapter fitted and hooked upto the Molex connector Zetro knocked up, with the 256mb Kingston CF card it works an absolute treat.

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This is a nice shot of the Molex hack that Zetro made just in case anyone else wants to have a go. (Cheers buddy) :yourock:

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Couple of shots of it fitted in my +2, beautiful ain't she. :inlove:

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The boot up menu, with my CF card detected and ready to Rock!

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The games menu, sweet! She plays .Z80 .Tap. Sna and a few other formats straight out the box, Double Sweet!

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One of the great Demos that really give the Speccy a good old work out. This and Aeon are 2 of my favorites!
 

r0jaws

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Re: Little Speccy project

Right, onto the hackery.
Basically I had bought a box of old joysticks at a boot fair and a couple are dead, one of which looked kinda promising as a simple case hack.

How wrong I was. :censored:

Much grinding, cutting, sanding, rejigging, violent swearing, tears, noxious fumes, coffee and head scratching went into this first attempt.
Eventually producing the rough prototype to be built upon and improved later.
I had wanted to find a way to maybe mount the CF card internally but the case turned out to be much too tight for that.
The button, however, lines up beautifully with the DivIDE's menu switch which was a lovely fluke!

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After fitting, fiddling and hacking together the basic shell, I connected her up after a couple of dry runs.
Unfortunately the case mounts the board about 2 mil too high (even after removing as much of the base as conceivably possible. This causes the DivIDE to 'tilt' slightly internally and forces the button to depress the menu switch permanently. No matter how much I hack off the base, this problem is not going to be solved.
Bah! :(
Still it was only a first go, and I got to grips with a few ideas and have ordered some bits and pieces off t'interweb to help out with attempt 2!
I have a couple more ideas though. Another Joystick mod, a Sony walkman, a clear perspex/ clear plastic case (my favorite so far) and anything else that fires off my imagination.
Plus I got to have a good old go with my dremel, something I haven't had cause to muck about with in a while!
Loving it. :wink:
 

TheCorfiot

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Re: Little Speccy project

@r0jaws

Beautiful Pix my friend, what a marvelous piece of kit :drool:
And I have to say excellent Case mod too keeps the whole thing looking really retr0 :bowdown:

Right I AM now officially jealous & staring at my 48K Spectrum in disgust :ROTFLOL2:

Nice one....
TC :thumbsup2:
 

Zetr0

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Re: Little Speccy project

@TC

I have just packaged you DiVIDE up m8y :D
 

Shoonay

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Re: Little Speccy project

r0jaws said:
:inlove: My kind of hackery! :mrgreen:

Never was interested in that machine, but I enjoyed this thread, great stuff there r0jaws! (y)
 

TheCorfiot

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Re: Little Speccy project

Zetr0 said:
@TC

I have just packaged you DiVIDE up m8y :D


OMG OMG OMG :woot:

Thank you ever so much Zeet's :bowdown:
Please do let me know what I owe you by PM.... :nod:

Many thanks again my friend, I can't wait to bring my Speccy back to life....

Cheers and Best Wishes
TC :wink:
 

r0jaws

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Re: Little Speccy project

Ok, I had an hour spare last night, so got my tape measure out and some thin card and started to have another think about mocking up a prototype.

For this go, I thought a 'Keep It Simple Stupid' approach would be best and opted for a plain boxy affair.
This is obviously stage one which allowed me to experiment a bit and see what would work before moving on to different materials later.

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It was very handy to run through a couple of times with the card, gave me a bit of flex to see what worked. The height was just spot on, but the CF access hole and button position were inadvertantly reversed on the first go. :Doh:
Going to get hold of some plasticard or perspex to see if I can't make a more permanent construction. :D
That said, I haven't worked with perspex before. I believe it is a tough and pretty inflexible material. I would prefer to put in some bends rather than just cut and glue all joints has anyone done anything similar before?
At the moment, the easy job has been done, namely, a rough mock up outer case (with access holes), and correct measurements and support for the unit. Now to think up a way to mount a cool button and secure that CF adapter to allow for easy removal and insertion of the CF cards.
 

r0jaws

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Has it been nearly 5 years since I last looked at this? It has? Best I get on with it then! :LOL:

Luckily, that is exactly what I have done. I clearly abandoned a "from scratch" approach, as TBH, it was rubbish, but I did have a flash of inspiration.
Nosing about on t'interwebz, I notice a couple of people had said that an Atari 2600 cartridge makes a good donor for a DivIDE case, fitting snugly and being of the right time period.
Luckily, a spare 2600 cartridge fell into my lap thanks to soeter04 (thanks buddy), and having a hankering for finally casing up one of my favourite pieces of retro kit I decided to get out the rotary tool, and make merry.

First things first, much as I have come to enjoy Warlords, I have a much better version on my c64. I took the cart apart and after examining it and measuring it up, it is infact an excellent fit for my DivIDE. Time to get cutting.

First off, I removed about 3-4mm from the leading edge, and trimmed down some of the internals. I didn't remove them completely, as they will be supporting the board at the correct height.

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Next, I had to do a bit of minor surgery on the DivIDE itself. Zetr0 had kindly welded on a power connector for me to the underside, but realising that I needed a little extra length and flexibility, I decided to relocate that to the topside. I just cleaned off a little of the PCB laquer to get at the Ground to solder directly there, just for convenience sake. Once completed, I secured the welds with some hot glue.

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As you can see from this picture, the DivIDE is indeed "snug", it is an almost perfect fit. I was careful to leave some of the structure at the leading edge which will retain the board securely when I remove it from the Speccy.

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Next, I removed the internals from the lid and had a test fit. Seems good. :)

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The next part was my favourite, getting cutting. I spent quite some time making sure I did this as accurately as possible. As the old adage says, measure twice, cut once. I think I measured about 5 or 6 times, at least!

I was quite please with how it turned out. A slot for the IDE, 3 holes for the LEDs and one for the all important NMI button.

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This all looks very good so far, but one problem is that the board sits about 3mm to high for the edge connector. This meant that I would have to drop the lips of the internal sides by 3mm in order to line it up correctly. This was pretty straightforward, and didn't take as long as I anticipated. It's not pretty to look at, but as it will be forever enclosed, I wasn't worried.

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The proof was in the fitting. Once I had adjusted the internal seating, the board lined up perfectly, and was even more secure and stable than before. Result. (y)

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One downside of casing up the DivIDE is losing access to the jumpers. I wasn't prepared to cut a hole in the top that wasn't absolutely necessary, and also would have had to havebeen fairly large, in order to provide proper access.
The jumper to the left is left closed, to write protect the firmware. I have no plans on flashing my DivIDE, so no problem there. However the jumper on the right allows you to use the DivIDE with the original sinclair models (when open), and the newer Amstrad versions (when closed). I would like to keep that functionality, so the obvious answer was to install a switch. Cheating a little, I just welded my switch directly to the jumper prongs. At least it's simple. :D

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At this stage I was quite pleased with this fairly simple mod, and decided to turn my attention to designing a suitably snazzy label. I found a Sinclair font online, and installed it and then played around a bit with some designs I liked. Finally settling on the one pictured below. I mocked up a draft print out, and when I was happy that it worked, printed it out on some thin card.

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In case you're wondering what all that gubbins is on the cartridge end, I will enlighten you. I had found that, rather annoyingly, one of my all time favourite games, JetPac, would crash on load using the DivIDE. This is due to the way in which the game and the memory of the "newer" speccys do not get on with each other. In order to get it to work, we must enable "true 48k mode". Loading the TAP file, then entering; OUT 32765,48 the LOAD "" sorts that problem out. Because the grey speccy +2 has no keyboard hint as to how to get OUT, I included my quick reference guide on the end.
Now, in about 20 years, after I have forgotten pretty much every other detail of my life, I will still be able to get JetPac to load! :D

Anyway, these last few pics are the whole project completed. Irritatingly, I had run out of Photographic paper, so had to make do with some high quality heavyweight matte paper. It's not bad, but I will replace it with some good quality stuff when I get around to picking some up. It is only secured with double sided sticky tape, so should be a doddle to replace.

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Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the update, it's been a long time coming. I have no idea what happened to that joystick base casing. Shame that, I rather liked it. :D
 
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Allen1

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That's a brilliant job there r0jaws (y)

I'm tempted to get a DivIDE now that I have seen your hackery in action. Just need to save a bit though as there have been a lot of birthdays the last 2 months and I'm all spent out at the moment :LOL:
 

NovaCoder

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Has it been nearly 5 years since I last looked at this? It has? Best I get on with it then! :LOL:

Looks very smart, nice work (y)

You might be able to remove the whole CF and adapter board and replace it with something neat like this IDE SSD

Not sure if it would actually be compatible though.
 

rkauer

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@Nova: if a device can use a real HD, it will able to use a DOM (Disk On Module).

@Phil: thanks for the information about 2600 carts! I have a perfect case donor for my own DivIDE!
 
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AndyLandy

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OK, that's pretty shiny! I even have a random 2600 cart lying about the place. Shame I don't have a DivIDE... Or a suitable Speccy for that matter! :LOL:

Reckon it can be made to work with my ZX-81? :p
 

roy_bates

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people could just buy a big enough project box and put the whole lot inside that.
 
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