The ZX Spectrum 48K Today

My ZX.

Composite video mod.

The manual for the Spectrum, rather charmingly, suggests you tune your television to BBC2 once you’ve plugged in your specky (or 603.25 to 607.75MHz according to this website). Back in the day, modulators were used to convert the signal from the computer into the same sort of signal analogue TVs would pick up. We need to bypass this and get the raw digital signal out, over a composite cable.

  • Get hold of a 100uF capacitor.
  • Remove the modulator unit with a soldering iron and solder sucker.
  • Open up the modulator box.
  • Remove the PCB and all the circuitry, leaving the socket intact.
  • Attach the negative end of the capacitor to the motherboard by passing it through the opening on the side of the modulator box and solder in place.
  • Solder the positive leg of the capacitor to the inner prong of the composite socket.
  • Put everything back together.

No tape loading here!

Memory troubles.

PRINT PEEK 23732 + PEEK 23733 * 256

Finally! Some games!

I’m really interested in what folks are making for the ZX Spectrum today. Apparently, quite a lot! My interested was first piqued by Castlevania, the spectral interlude, which looks amazing! However this doesn’t run on the 48K sadly. However, there are many modern games that do. In the video, I have a look at Bruce Lee RX and Last Train to Tranz Central. Both of these can be found for modest price on itch.io and they are great!

What’s next?

I fancy trying my hand at some Spectrum programming, having never done Z80 assembly or Sinclair Basic before. Some folks might wonder what the point of such a project is. Ultimately, learning any sort of assembly gives one an appreciation of the hardware and low-level design. Secondly, having certain constraints forces creative solutions. Thirdly, learning a new language and style helps to break up the monotony of too much Python (at least in my case). Finally, NOVA demoparty is coming up and I think I might like to enter.

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Benjamin Blundell

Benjamin Blundell

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Freelance Research Software Engineer and Bioinformatics Student.