If you have a rubber key Sinclair ZX Spectrum like in the photo above but have never had one before, here is a quick guide on how to set it up. PopeyMon can sell you a custom bundle like in the photo, by clicking here. The guide below also applies to a Sinclair ZX Spectrum + with the hard keys (photo below).
What Is a ZX Spectrum?
It is an 8-bit computer originally released by Clive Sinclair’s company Sinclair Research in April 1982. It has a rubber keyboard, 16k or 48k of memory, on-board Sinclair BASIC for programming and loading games, colour graphics and a 1-bit beeper for sound.
What Display Does the ZX Spectrum use?
When originally built, home computers were called microcomputers. This was shortened to micros back in the early 1980s.
Micros used domestic TVs for display. A big difference from 1982 to now is that TVs used analogue radio frequency (RF) waves for receiving the display signal. Today, they use digital signals.
If you want to use the RF format, then it is best to get a tested safe, old CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) TV. You should be sure that it has been checked for safety, as these use high voltages and can blow without warning!
You can also tune modern TVs to RF. Sorry but you will have to work this out for yourself, because there are so many different menu options and thousands of models of TV. PopeyMon cannot cater for all of them.
The lead that you need for using the RF signal is a phono connector to aerial connector.
Refurbished and modernised ZX Spectrum models sold by PopeyMon will have the composite video modification, so that you can use it on a modern TV. Please check that it has composite input (red, yellow and white phono connectors). You will need the Spectrum to have been modified by PopeyMon for this.
If you have a composite video Spectrum, then you will need a phono to phono lead, instead of the phono to aerial lead. Connect it to the back of the Spectrum and to the video (yellow) connector on your TV.
What Power Supply (PSU) Does the ZX Spectrum Need?
The rubber key Spectrum and Spectrum + need the Sinclair UK1400 power supply unit (PSU).
You should be sure that the PSU has been tested and checked for electrical safety, that it has the right voltage, right maximum current rating, right polarity, right plug and fuse. PopeyMon can check this for you or supply you with a PSU.
For your convenience, I have written a series of articles on all ZX Spectrum power supplies that came with all models of Spectrum. Later types of power supply are compatible with earlier models of Spectrum. Please see the articles for more information.
I do not recommend unofficial power supplies. Why?
Because there are many that are sold that are not suitable and may even damage you, your property or your Spectrum. I have been sold PSUs that were “untested” that were actually dangerous, others that had the wrong polarity (despite assurances by the sellers) and others that simply would never work (e.g. an “untested” one with the transformer not connected to anything inside).
How Do I Know My ZX Spectrum Is Working?
Make sure the mains socket switch is off. Then connect the UK1400 PSU power connector to the back of the ZX Spectrum.
Check that you have the display lead connected (see above) at both ends, to the Spectrum and TV.
Switch the TV on, having tuned it in to UHF RF Channel 36, or if using composite video, select the composite video display on your TV. Turn the TV sound volume off, because the Spectrum makes the sound using its own internal speaker.
Then switch the Spectrum power on at the mains socket switch. And you should have a display like the below, with white screen and white border with the Sinclair prompt displayed in black.
And when you press a key, you should hear a quiet click coming from the on-board Spectrum speaker. The sound does not come out of the TV sound.
And away you go!
Using the keyboard, you can type the following program:
10 PRINT “PopeyMon Games and Fun”
20 GOTO 10
Then type RUN.
But wait, you say, when I try to type P-R-I-N-T it comes up with PRINT automatically!
That’s because the Spectrum has multiple uses for each key, accessed according to modes selected by the computer. You use the SYMBOL SHIFT key, colour-coded, to get some, depending on the mode of input. SYMBOL-SHIFT P gives you “. Other functions are accessed using EXTENDED mode which is accessed by pressing CAPS SHIFT and SYMBOL SHIFT at the same time. Still more are accessed using EXTENDED mode and holding SYMBOL SHIFT when pressing the other key.
Press ENTER at the end of each line of the above program.
How Do I Load and Save Programs?
Thank you for coming to PopeyMon Games and Fun.