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Sinclair ZX Spectrum Power Supplies – What Types Are There (Part 4)? – Black +2

The Sinclair ZX Spectrum +2 (Black)
a.k.a. +2A/+2B – SPANISH VERSION SHOWN

There are several types of Sinclair ZX Spectrum. So it follows that there are several different types of power supplies for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum.

This ranges from the rubber key 16k and 48k models, then Plus and 128 models during the Sinclair ownership of the Spectrum brand, through the Amstrad ownership of the Spectrum brand (after Alan Sugar’s Amstrad bought the rights to the Sinclair Computer brand), to the present with the new Spectrum Next.

Part 1 of the PopeyMon articles on the types of Spectrum PSU talked about the rubber key models and the Spectrum Plus. Part 2 dealt with just the Spectrum 128 (“Toastrack”). Part 3 dealt with just the Grey +2.

This article talks about the second Spectrum of the Amstrad era – the Black Sinclair ZX Spectrum +2. Two models exist of the Black +2 – the +2A and the +2B. Both models use the same power supply.

The Black +2 is not to be confused with the Grey +2 as it can look like it is (dark) grey, and vice versa, depending on the light and the photos.

Although they look quite similar on the outside, they are quite different machines “under the hood”, with the Black +2 PCBs being very different to the Grey +2 PCB, which is closer to the Toastrack PCB and therefore the Sinclair-era models of Spectrum.

Like the Grey +2, the Black +2 includes a “proper” full-sized hard keyboard, a much larger case than the Sinclair-era machines, and a tape player (“Datacorder”) built-in. Also like the Grey, it includes two joystick ports, plus more ports on the back that include an RGB display output as well as the normal RF output. This latter similarity is like the Toastrack and Grey.

Again, like the Grey +2 – although the case is like the Amstrad CPC, the power still comes from an external power supply. On the original design of the CPC, there was only one plug, for the monitor and computer. The power came from a lead that went from the monitor to the CPC. And unlike a lot of Amstrad’s products that only needed one plug (including the CPC), the Grey +2 needs more than one plug, because it needs a plug for the external display as well as the computer unit.

Power Supply for Rubber Key and Plus Types of Sinclair ZX Spectrum

The power supply (PSU) shown in the photo above is a UK1400 model, which is OK for use on 16k and 48k rubber key models. The one below is the Spectrum Plus version of the UK1400.

Spectrum Plus version of the UK1400 Power Supply

None of the UK1400 power supplies above are suitable for any other model of Spectrum – not the 128 “Toastrack” and not the (Amstrad-era) Spectrum +2 Grey. And definitely not the Black +2 or +3.

Why? Firstly, the connector is totally different – the Black +2 uses a DIN connector and not a barrel connector.

Secondly, the PSU and main board of the Black +2 are very different to the Sinclair-era Spectrum models. The DC-DC conversion circuit that caused so many problems on the Sinclair-era machines (and still does!), has been removed. And the work is now done in the PSU itself. However, there are quite a few problems with the Black +2 PSU, that you need to be aware of. If you are not sure, do not do the work yourself. Get in touch with PopeyMon.

The Black +2 PSU could be referred to as a “power brick”, like the Xbox 360 PSU. It is very heavy. It generates the voltages on different lines to the DIN connector.

It is much larger than the earlier Spectrum PSUs. The voltages and current rating are shown in the photos above.

It generates:

  • +5V at 2A
  • +12V at 200mA
  • -12V at 50mA

These are connected to the pins on the DIN connector. Different voltages are needed for different functions of the Black +2.

As will be seen in the final article of the series, Part 5, the +3 disk model of the Spectrum, has a similar power supply. But the +3 needs more current, so the +3 power supply can be used on a Black +2. BUT NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND. The Black +2 PSU should NOT be used on a +3.

This article will be updated with some photos of the internals, in the near future.

If you are looking to buy any Sinclair power supply or want one checked, please get in touch. I will happily sell you one – fully tested and working – for the Spectrum 16/48k/Plus, for the grey +2 or the black +2 or +3. I also have a lot of other Spectrum parts, working computers and games for sale. I will happily put together a custom bundle for you.

I will be writing more about the Spectrum power supplies in the near future. This series will conclude with the Amstrad-era models of the Spectrum, the Black +2 (Part 4) and the +3 (Part 5). When I finally get my Spectrum Next (that I’ve already paid for via the Kickstarter 2), I might even do an article on that, too! Watch this space!

P.S. According to one Speccy fan, it appears that the rare Issue 1 Spectrum used an earlier version of the power supply, not the UK1400. And according to the great JoulesPerCoulomb on Youtube, even a UK700 was used. But as I’ve said elsewhere, you cannot trust either the original manufacturer, or other people who may have fiddled around with the PSU before you got it. So you need to check in all cases, no matter what the label on the PSU claims!

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Manic Miner For Collectors (Part 3) – Second Edition

Manic Miner Second Edition showing variants
(image used with permission of Adrian Grubb – from post on 16th August 2015)

Part 1 of the Manic Miner For Collectors series was about the First Edition, First Release on Bug Byte – the so-called “Whistler” version. Part 2 was on the First Edition, Second Release that was also from Bug Byte.

The Introduction (Part 0) here includes an important Footnote about how these articles hope to lead to a definitive statement of all the variants of the Spectrum releases of Manic Miner, and the spirit in which Adrian Grubb originally wrote the Facebook versions of the articles, and the spirit of the Spectrum community which will be maintained here.

When Matthew Smith and others left Bug Byte (see the interview in Popular Computing Weekly April 1984), another version of Manic Miner was released on the Software Projects label.

This article is about that release and its variants.

This release is named as the Second Edition by Adrian Grubb, seen by many as the authority on Manic Miner versions and passionate collector of all things Manic Miner.

Like Part 1 and Part 2 in this series, this article does not look at the game itself, just the versions. For information on the differences to the game/program itself, please see here.

The Second Edition is also the Third Release a.k.a. the ‘(Mutant) Telephone’ cover.

  1. Cassette Variant 1. The top cassette has no sleeve and a label to both sides.
  2. Cassette Variant 2. The middle has one label and no ‘software evaluation’ offer in sleeve.
  3. Cassette Variant 3. The bottom has one label and comes with or without ‘software evaluation’ offer in sleeve.

This series has dealt only with the Sinclair ZX Spectrum releases of Manic Miner. The game was released on many other platforms, including the MSX (er… pun intended for this platform game!).

I have had a request to do a series for the Horace games. Look out for that soon! 🙂

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Sinclair ZX Spectrum Power Supplies – What Types Are There (Part 3)? – Grey +2

The Sinclair ZX Spectrum +2 (Grey)

There are several types of Sinclair ZX Spectrum. So it follows that there are several different types of power supplies for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum.

This ranges from the rubber key 16k and 48k models, then Plus and 128 models during the Sinclair ownership of the Spectrum brand, through the Amstrad ownership of the Spectrum brand (after Alan Sugar’s Amstrad bought the rights to the Sinclair Computer brand), to the present with the new Spectrum Next.

Part 1 of the PopeyMon articles on the types of Spectrum PSU talked about the rubber key models and the Spectrum Plus. Part 2 dealt with just the Spectrum 128 (“Toastrack”).

This article talks about the first Spectrum of the Amstrad era – the Grey Sinclair ZX Spectrum +2. The Grey +2 is not to be confused with the “Black” +2 which can look like it is grey, and vice versa, depending on the light and the photos.

They are quite different machines, with the Grey PCB being closer to the Toastrack PCB than the later +2 and +3 (Black) models.

For this reason and possibly some others, some people might consider the Grey +2 to be more of a Sinclair-era Spectrum than an Amstrad-era Spectrum. But there are significant other differences.

The Grey +2 includes a “proper” keyboard, a much larger case, and a tape player (“Datacorder”) built-in. It also includes two joystick ports, plus more ports on the back that include an RGB display output as well as the normal RF output. This latter similarity is like the Toastrack.

However, it is more like the Amstrad CPC 464 in its external design. Unlike the earlier Spectrum models, its case was not designed by Rick Dickinson.

Although the case is like the CPC, the power still comes from an external power supply. On the original design of the CPC, there was only one plug, for the monitor and computer. The power came from a lead that went from the monitor to the CPC. And unlike a lot of Amstrad’s products that only needed one plug (including the CPC), the Grey +2 needs more than one plug, because it needs an external display.

Power Supply for Rubber Key and Plus Types of Sinclair ZX Spectrum

The power supply (PSU) shown in the photo above is a UK1400 model, which is OK for use on 16k and 48k rubber key models. The one below is the Spectrum Plus version of the UK1400.

Spectrum Plus version of the UK1400 Power Supply

None of the UK1400 power supplies above are suitable for any other model of Spectrum – not the 128 “Toastrack” and not the (Amstrad-era) Spectrum +2 Grey.

Why? Because the power requirements of the Toastrack and Grey are higher than the 16/48 and Plus. They require more current than the UK1400 can deliver.

The UK1400 model is called the UK1400 because it delivers a maximum of 1,400 mA (milli-Amps). Or put another way, 1.4A (1.4 Amps).

The +2 Grey needs more than 1.4A. It also needs more than 1.85A, so the Toastrack PSU is not suitable for the Grey +2.

The Grey +2 power supply can deliver more current. It can give 2.1A. Here is a photo:

Spectrum 128 “Toastrack” Power Supply

You can see in the photo above that the case is grey and has the textured right-hand-side, which is different to the Spectrum Plus UK1400 PSU. It is very similar to the Toastrack PSU, but grey instead and with a different label.

Underside of the Grey +2 PSU

On the underside of the PSU, you can see in the photo above that there is no model number and the maximum current is 2.1A. The label is quite different to Sinclair-era PSUs.

Compatibilities and Incompatibilities Between Spectrum Power Supplies

The Grey +2 power supply can deliver a maximum of 2.1A. Its barrel connector is similar, although it is slightly different. It has the same polarity as the Spectrum 128 Toastrack, the Spectrum Plus and the rubber key 16k and 48k Spectrum. So it can be used on these models.

However, the reverse is not true. The PSUs for the rubber key, Plus, Toastrack Spectrums cannot be used on the Grey +2. It needs too much current, so they may fail, especially when the +2 is using the tape player and/or using peripherals.

The Toastrack PSU is compatible with the rubber key Spectrums and the Plus, because it can deliver more current than they use, even with peripherals. But to say again – not on the Grey +2.

The Grey +2 PSU cannot be used on the Black +2 or +3. For a start they have a DIN connector, and internally to their power supplies, as well as inside the computer, they are very different.

In the photos above, you can see that the Grey +2 PSU is very similar to the earlier versions of the Spectrum PSU. But not the same. It is a full wave bridge rectifier.

The manufacture is superior to many of the UK1400’s that I’ve opened up. It is safer, due to the mains wires being insulated well, plus there is a clamp and the terminals are soldered to the wires at the bottom of the case. Not all UK1400 designs have a clamp, although some do. On the UK1400, the mains wire connects on the top of the transformer. The PCB soldering on the Grey +2 PSU is also superior. But these are just two examples of a superior PSU. And so it should be, it is years after the first Spectrum.

Apart from the colour of the case, and minor other design differences inside, the Grey +2 is very similar to the UK1850 (for the Toastrack). BUT THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR IS THE MAXIMUM CURRENT RATING – it is lower on the Toastrack PSU than on the Grey +2 PSU.

Again – please carefully check the compatibilities stated above, to avoid ruining your PSU and/or your Spectrum!

If you are looking to buy any Sinclair power supply or want one checked, please get in touch. I will happily sell you one – fully tested and working – for the Spectrum 16/48k/Plus, for the grey +2 or the black +2 or +3. I also have a lot of other Spectrum parts, working computers and games for sale. I will happily put together a custom bundle for you.

I will be writing more about the Spectrum power supplies in the near future. This series will conclude with the Amstrad-era models of the Spectrum, the Black +2 (Part 4) and the +3 (Part 5). When I finally get my Spectrum Next (that I’ve already paid for via the Kickstarter 2), I might even do an article on that, too! Watch this space!

P.S. According to one Speccy fan, it appears that the rare Issue 1 Spectrum used an earlier version of the power supply, not the UK1400. And according to the great JoulesPerCoulomb on Youtube, even a UK700 was used. But as I’ve said elsewhere, you cannot trust either the original manufacturer, or other people who may have fiddled around with the PSU before you got it. So you need to check in all cases, no matter what the label on the PSU claims!

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The Original Sony Playstation and a Common Fault

The Original Sony Playstation
with test logs for a dodgy CD player

So the Playstation is now at number 5. I remember when I got my first Playstation, around 2001. It had been out for a few years. As a fan of the Spectrum and other 80s computers and the Atari VCS (2600) I was reluctant to try another console.

But once I had tried Wipeout, I loved the Playstation. What a game. I still love it. And Colin McRae Rally. I still love that too. And then I got the Namco compilations including my favourite ever arcade game, Galaga (the sequel to Galaxian, another favourite).

I hated the thumb controls on the controller. I still do.

I hankered for a proper joystick and had a rather embarrassing experience when I went into a Game and showed my age by asking for a “proper joystick without all those thumbs” for the Playstation.

In the end, I got a joystick with a base and multiple buttons, so that my Galaga exploits could reach the heights that I reached in the arcades. And I was STILL RUBBISH at Defender.

So all these years later, what are the prospects for the original Playstation?

Sony released a new version with games included. This may have contributed to keeping prices low for the original console.

How has it held up technically?

What are the common faults?

One of them is the blasted CD player. Some models have a well-known fault with the CD player, and some have suffered damage over the years. Some just need some good old TLC and then work fine.

The one pictured has a good CD player that is reliable and is the one I use to play games.

It is pictured with logs of tests that I conducted before selling a faulty one to a customer on my eBay shop.

I was fully upfront with the customer about the faults. They were happy with this, and the price reflected the fault.

I am up-front about faults, unlike some disreputable sellers. But I prefer to fix things before I sell them.

What faults have you experienced with your Sony Playstation?

Have they been easy to fix?

What are your favourite Playstation games?

And do you think it is so much better to have the original hardware?

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Sinclair ZX Spectrum Power Supplies – What Types Are There (Part 2)? – The Toastrack

The much sought-after Sinclair ZX Spectrum 128 “Toastrack”

There are several types of Sinclair ZX Spectrum. So it follows that there are several different types of power supplies for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum.

This ranges from the rubber key 16k and 48k models, then Plus and 128 models during the Sinclair ownership of the Spectrum brand, through the Amstrad ownership of the Spectrum brand (after Alan Sugar’s Amstrad bought the rights to the Sinclair Computer brand), to the present with the new Spectrum Next.

Part 1 of the PopeyMon articles on the types of Spectrum PSU talked about the rubber key models and the Spectrum Plus.

This article (Part 2) talks about the only 128k Spectrum of the Sinclair era – the Sinclair ZX Spectrum 128 (a.k.a. “Toastrack”).

The Toastrack computer looks very similar to the Spectrum Plus, but has a huge black heat sink on the right-hand-side of the case. Hence the name, the “Toastie” or “Toastrack”. Inside, it is quite different, as well as the obvious extra RAM.

The left and right hand sides of the Spectrum 128 Toastrack
Power Supply for Rubber Key and Plus Types of Sinclair ZX Spectrum

The power supply (PSU) shown in the photo above is a UK1400 model, which is OK for use on 16k and 48k rubber key models. The one below is the Spectrum Plus version of the UK1400.

Like the computer itself, there is a similar look of the Plus PSU and Toastrack PSU.

Spectrum Plus version of the UK1400 Power Supply

None of the UK1400 power supplies are suitable for any other model of Spectrum – not the 128 “Toastrack” and not the (Amstrad-era) Spectrum +2 Grey.

This is despite the fact that the DC (computer side) barrel connector will fit on these later models of Spectrum. And despite the fact that the Spectrum Plus UK1400 looks very similar to the Toastrack PSU.

Why? Because the power requirements of the Toastrack and Grey (subject of a future article) are higher than the 16/48 and Plus. They require more current than the UK1400 can deliver.

The UK1400 model is called the UK1400 because it delivers a maximum of 1,400 mA (milli-Amps). Or put another way, 1.4A (1.4 Amps).

The Toastrack needs more than 1.4A.

The Toastrack power supply can deliver more current. It can give 1.85A. This is why it is called the UK1850. Here is a photo:

Spectrum 128 “Toastrack” Power Supply

You can see in the photo above that the case has the textured right-hand-side, which is different to the Spectrum Plus UK1400 PSU.

Underside of the Toastrack PSU

On the underside of the PSU, you can see in the photo above that the model number is UK1850 and the maximum current is 1.85A. The quality of work inside seems to be higher than in some of the UK1400 models.

The official Toastrack power supply is becoming hard to find now, especially in a decent condition. This is the only one that I have, at the time of writing. So I have not been able to do a comparison of the internals, like I did in Part 1 with the UK1400 model.

This Toastrack PSU needs some work to clean it up and to replace the mains cable, but it has been tested including an electrical safety (PAT) test and it is working. The PAT test failed due to a nick in the mains cable insulation, so it would not be for sale in the PopeyMon eBay shop until that was fixed. But it’s the only I have, at the time of writing!

If you are looking to buy any Sinclair power supply or want one checked, please get in touch.

I will happily sell you one – fully tested and working – for the Spectrum 16/48k/Plus, for the grey +2 or the black +2 or +3. I also have a lot of other Spectrum parts, working computers and games for sale. I will happily put together a custom bundle for you.

I will be writing more about more Spectrum power supplies in the near future. Watch this space! Part 3 is now here.

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Sinclair ZX Spectrum Power Supplies – What Types Are There (Part 1)?

A Sinclair ZX Spectrum Issue 3B with DC-DC Circuit Modification
Refurbished by PopeyMon Games and Fun

Above is the inside of a Sinclair ZX Spectrum, the Spectrum Plus. It has a refurbished Issue 3B PCB. This Printed Circuit Board (PCB) was repaired, refurbished and enhanced by PopeyMon Games and Fun, including the DC-DC Mod that makes the power supply circuit more reliable.

It is also installed with new, quality Vishay electrolytic capacitors and a modern switched voltage regulator. The heat sink has been removed, because the original 7805 regulator and Sinclair power circuit and supply design was the source of most of the excess heat.

PopeyMon has refurbished and sold many Spectrums of all types. Another example of a 16k Spectrum is shown in this article here. These machines are sold directly if you use the Contact details here or via the PopeyMon eBay shop. I have games, joysticks, interfaces and more and will happily put a bundle together for you.

There are several types of Sinclair ZX Spectrum. The Spectrum Plus is simply a new case for the same PCB as the 16k and 48k rubber key Spectrum.

So it follows that there are several different types of power supplies for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum. The Sinclair UK1400 PSUs for the 16k, 48k and Spectrum Plus are interchangeable.

Power Supply for Rubber Key and Plus Types of Sinclair ZX Spectrum

The Spectrum ranges from the rubber key 16k and 48k models during the Sinclair ownership of the Spectrum brand, as shown in the photo above, through the Amstrad ownership of the Spectrum brand (after Alan Sugar’s Amstrad bought the rights to the Sinclair Computer brand), to the present with the new Spectrum Next.

This article talks about the first Spectrums of the Sinclair era. This includes:

  • the rubber key Sinclair ZX Spectrum with 16k of RAM
  • the rubber key Sinclair ZX Spectrum with 48k of RAM
  • the hard key Sinclair ZX Spectrum + (Plus) with 48k of RAM and black case
  • the Sinclair ZX Spectrum 128 (a.k.a. “Toastrack”), although only briefly, in relation to the earlier PSUs. A separate article is forthcoming soon.

The power supply (PSU) shown in the photo above is a UK1400 model. They may also have found their way to be used on a Spectrum Plus, although the official Spectrum Plus PSU comes in a different case that matches Rick Dickinson‘s superb design of the Plus machine itself.

Spectrum Plus version of the UK1400 Power Supply

The rubber key PSUs and the Spectrum Plus PSU are interchangeable, because the Spectrum Plus is the same machine inside, with a new case, keyboard and reset button. They all have the same polarity, voltage and current delivery.

Model name: UK1400

Input: 240V AC

Output: -12.5V DC approx., unloaded (unregulated), maximum current rating 1.4A (1,400mA and hence the name UK1400)

Polarity: Centre Negative (not positive) Outer Positive (not negative as on most barrel connectors)

As noted elsewhere, the polarity of these PSUs is unusual – centre negative, outer positive. It is essential that this is correct, and many so-called “replacement” PSUs available have centre positive. Getting this wrong could seriously damage your Spectrum!

Years ago, I bought one from a bad seller on eBay who claimed it was compatible. When I challenged him after receiving it, he said it was suitable. BUT IT WASN’T. Don’t worry, I did not put my beloved Spectrum in danger. I got a refund. He changed his mind when I challenged him with the technical facts.

The UK1400 power supplies are not suitable for any other model of Spectrum – not the 128 “Toastrack” and not the (Amstrad-era) Spectrum +2 Grey. This is despite the fact that the DC (computer side) barrel connector will fit on these later models of Spectrum.

Why? Because the power requirements of the Toastrack and Grey are higher than the 16/48 and Plus. They require more current than the UK1400 can deliver.

This model is called the UK1400 because it delivers a maximum of 1,400 mA (milli-Amps). Or put another way, 1.4A (1.4 Amps).

There was a potentially very serious fault with the design of the UK1400 (see Safety article at the link), and there are several different designs of the UK1400. Below is a comparison of two PSUs that show one design of the case and of the internals:

Both of these examples are an implementation of a full wave bridge rectifier with single smoothing capacitor. You can see that even within the same design, there are variations:

  1. Ignoring the rubbing off of the red paint on “ZX POWER SUPPLY”, the labels are different between the two PSUs. To give just two differences, although there are more, one has one style of the Class 2 symbol (the square inside a square), but the other a different style. One has the model number UK1400 underlined, but the other does not. While these may be superficial differences, they show variations even before you get inside the PSU. It is believed that different contractors came up with different designs to deliver the specification given by Sinclair in their contracts – something evidenced by the fact that there was a recall (see the Safety article).
  2. Inside the PSU, there are variations even within the same design. The design in these two examples has the PCB mounted at right angles to the transformer, whereas other designs has the transformer mounted top-down on top of the PCB. The internals of the case are different between designs, so the designs are not necessarily interchangeable internally, because the mounts and orientations are different.
  3. The side-mounted PCB on the left-hand-side (LHS) is different to the PCB on the right-hand-side (RHS). One has the components on side one side, and the other has them installed differently. The capacitor is mounted differently too.
  4. The transformer blocks are of different manufacture. One has foam on top (believed to avoid hum when operating), the other does not.
  5. The RHS PSU shows the notorious problem of the strain relief breaking. The previous owner has just “tied a knot” on the inside of the case. This is not good. It can be repaired using a clever design with heat-shrink tubing, or a replacement DC cable could be installed by someone who takes care. I have done this.
  6. Both of these PSUs are faulty and have failed the PopeyMon functional and/or PAT (electrical safety) tests, so are not for sale. Only when they have been fully repaired and tested would they be put for sale. I have sold many of these.

So you can see that:

  • There are a variety of designs of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum over the years.
  • There are a variety of power supplies for those designs of Spectrum.
  • And even within those types of power supply, there are variations.

Collectors love variations. They show the history of the Spectrum, its quirks and foibles, and people absolutely love the Spectrum. I am only showing just one implementation for one design of PSU for the 16/48 Spectrums, which I already have said, is also suitable for the Plus. There are other designs, which I have not shown here.

Once again, please see my other article on the Safety of these models. There are many of these power supplies still lying in people’s lofts, or kept nice and dry in an original box, or at the bottom of a wet shed.

Before use, in any of these cases, they need to be checked for safety, as well as functionality and that they are delivering the right voltage levels, current and polarity. So please note that they must be checked before use, and check the Safety article.

If you are looking to buy one or want one checked, please get in touch. I will happily sell you one – fully tested and working – for the Spectrum 16/48k/Plus, for the grey +2 or the black +2 or +3. I also have a lot of other Spectrum parts, working computers and games for sale. I will happily put together a custom bundle for you.

I will be writing more about the Spectrum power supplies in the near future. Watch this space! Part 2 is now here.

I would like to credit and highly recommend the excellent videos by “JoulesPerCoulomb” on Youtube. “Greetings and good time of day…” to whoever this mysterious but extremely helpful man, is. His video on power supplies was a brilliant starter a few years ago to the many hours of research that I have conducted on Spectrum power supplies, and which I present in this series of articles.

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Updated (30/12/20): The Sinclair ZX Spectrum +2 – It Has One or Two Models of Datacorder?

Lets’ Play – SPOT THE DIFFERENCE!

UPDATED (30/12/20) to add the PCB Layout Diagram for the +2B, taken from the Spectrum +2B/+3B Amendment Service Manual. I am checking this against actual PCBs, so please bear with me. As stated in the article below, there are (at least) two versions of the PCB used in the +2 black Amstrad-era Spectrums.

I like all models of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum. They all have their pros and cons.

The original rubber key 16/48k Sinclair ZX Spectrum and its Sinclair-era Spectrum successors – the Spectrum Plus and the Spectrum 128 – all relied on an external tape player to load games from cassette, using tape leads between tape player and Spectrum.

When Clive Sinclair sold the Sinclair computer brand to Alan Sugar, Sugar transferred some of the design ideas that were also used on the Amstrad CPC range of personal computers.

The Amstrad CPC was released after the Spectrum, so Amstrad could learn from the shortcomings of the earlier Sinclair machine. But the CPC had a lot of catching up to do, especially when it came to games.

The CPC still used a tape player to load games but it was built into the same case as the keyboard. This followed Sugar’s repeated philosophy, as he had earlier used on his audio equipment, of everything in one box – although the CPC monitor was physically separate, there was only one plug for everything.

So the Sinclair ZX Spectrum +2, the first Amstrad-era Spectrum, built on the success of the Spectrum and as I’ve already said, used some of the design ideas from the CPC:

  • an all-in-one case, very similar to the CPC case, with RF display output (old analogue) and higher-quality RGB display output. The monitor had a separate plug and power supply, and was not included with the computer. This was different to the original Amstrad CPC, which only had one plug.
  • a built-in tape player, called a “Datacorder” and with this name emblazoned across the tape player window. No more tape leads to fiddle around with.
  • a proper keyboard – no more of the rubber keys and what some people call its “dead flesh” feel. A proper hard keyboard that is very similar to what we use on our Windows PCs, Linux machines and Apple computers today.
  • 128k of RAM, which when released seemed like a lot of memory when you were used to just 48k
  • a new three-channel sound chip that was added to the TV sound – no more beeper

The first Amstrad Spectrum was the grey +2, which used a lot of the design of the Spectrum 128 “Toastrack”.

Next came the black (I think of it more of a dark grey) +2A, +2B which were tape players and the disk version +3 which had another Amstrad “innovation”/”annoyance” – 3″ disks – not 3.5″, not 5.25″ but 3″. Yes, really!

The black +2 models also had a separate power supply. The notoriously unreliable DC-DC converter circuit was removed from the design between the grey +2 and black +2 models. A separate power “brick” (it is about as heavy as a brick!) dealt with supplying the different voltages on separate pins of a DIN plug. This improved reliability of the Spectrum, and looked after the power for the Datacorder.

Here, I am looking at the tape players/Datacorders. Elsewhere on the World Wide Web, it is stated that there is only one version of the tape player in the +2A and +2B.

But this is not the case.

If you look very carefully, you will see some differences. They may well be minor, but there are nevertheless some differences.

If you are the first to contact me with all of the differences between the two models of tape drive, you will receive a free prize (UK only sorry!) as well as the satisfaction that you have a keen attention to detail! Sadly, NOBODY WON THE COMPETITION, AS NOBODY GOT THE ANSWERS RIGHT!

I should mention that I service and sell these Datacorders, for the black +2 and grey +2 models, as well as fully-working computers including refurbished and modernised ones.

I also sell external tape players for the Sinclair-era Spectrums.

So get in touch and I will put together a bundle of stuff for now at a good price with superb service.

Thanks for stopping by at PopeyMon Games and Fun.

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Sinclair ZX Spectrum Power Supplies – Safety Warning

The above Product Recall warning is from Personal Computer News in March 1983. It is a recall of power supplies for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum – the rubber key 16k and 48k models, as shown in the photo below.

They may also have found their way to be used on a Spectrum Plus (hard key, black model), although the Spectrum Plus power supply comes in a different case that matches Rick Dickinson’s superb design of the Plus machine itself.

These will work on the 16k/48k rubber key and the hard key Plus machines, if they are still serviceable. These power supplies are not suitable for any other model of Spectrum. But they need to be checked for safety, as well as functionality and that they are delivering the right voltage levels and polarity.

There was a potentially very serious fault with the design.

Sadly, quality control could be an afterthought at Sinclair. But cheap prices and time constraints often meant quality suffered. This was the case with the rest of the Spectrum design, especially the notoriously unreliable power circuit on the Spectrum board itself. But let’s face it – this trade-off between price/quality/time is how so many people’s lives were transformed by the Sinclair ZX Spectrum.

So why the Recall? Some units were produced where the mains 240V could potentially become live on the outer metal positively charged part of the barrel connector – despite this supposedly being the low voltage DC connector. Details of the units with the fault are shown on the recall notice. This is why I have made the image large, so that you can read it – if you can’t read it, please get in touch.

The Spectrum power supply was unusual in that the DC barrel connector that brought power to the computer was designed to be centre negative, but outer positive. Most power supplies of the time have centre positively-charged and outer negatively-charged. Like many things, Sinclair did this differently.

So if a user slipped on the smooth barrel connector plastic when plugging it in, and the fault with the mains 240V has occurred, they could have been injured or killed if they slipped off the barrel connector onto the metal! Or it could kill or injure your Spectrum too.

I am showing this here as a service to Spectrum users because some of these power supplies could still be out there in the wild and still emerging from storage or other places. Some of them have a sticker on the bottom if they have been checked after the recall. Only unethical sellers would remove these stickers – they should be kept on to show they have been checked.

And I am also showing you this as a safety warning, especially as some online sellers seem unaware of these faults and others I have seen have actually hid faults with power supplies that are being sold on eBay. This puts Spectrum users at unnecessary risk.

Other power supplies could have suffered damage during and since the 1980s. So it is wise to have them checked over properly, before you use one on your valued Spectrum.

I have sold many of these power supplies for the Spectrum. But unlike some online sellers, I am certified trained as an electrical safety (PAT – Portable Appliance Test) tester. All power supplies are fully PAT tested and will not be sold by PopeyMon Games and Fun if they fail the test.

I log all test results, as required by law. And I don’t sell them with illegal plugs on them – again, unlike some other sellers. Some sellers have power supplies with live and neutral pins that are unshielded on the plugs. This is illegal. I have even received some with cracked plugs! This is the mains 240V, not low voltage, so is very serious.

I replace illegal, outdated or unsafe plugs with new ones and with the right rating of fuse. This is part of the quality service that I provide. You cannot trust other sellers who don’t do this – ask them!

And if you are looking to buy one or want one checked, please get in touch. I will happily sell you one – fully tested and working – for the Spectrum 16/48k/Plus, for the grey +2 or the black +2 or +3. I also have a lot of other Spectrum parts, working computers and games for sale. I will happily put together a custom bundle for you.

I will be writing more about the Spectrum power supplies in the near future. Watch this space!

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The Atari 2600 Video Computer System – “Woody”

Above is the Atari 2600 or Atari VCS console system. It is the “Woody” and “Six-Switcher” type. This is a late 1970s design and it was revolutionary in home entertainment.

The games shown are Centipede and Circus. Centipede is a port of the arcade game. It uses the Atari joystick. Circus uses the paddle controller.

This design is iconic. The case is far too big for the board but this shows how important the look of the console was!

There are some great games on the VCS. If you are looking for Atari stuff, get in touch at the contact details here!