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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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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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How Dirty Is Your Spectrum?

Above is the inside of a Sinclair ZX Spectrum +2 that I bought online. This is one of the models that Amstrad produced when Alan Sugar bought the Sinclair computer brand from Clive Sinclair. It is a later issue 4, also known as the +2B.

The ad for the computer did not have photos of the inside! I would describe it as an insect zoo. The other machine from the same supplier was not as bad, but it was still pretty bad.

It is the worst example of a machine that was not looked after by its previous owners. Many others that I get hold of, are in much better condition, and some are in near mint condition. The condition of a Spectrum is a major factor on the price, as well as whether it is fully working or not.

It is testament to the quality of manufacture by Amstrad that this filthy machine, when cleaned up, worked! It did take a lot of work though!

I now use this machine as a test machine, and have fully cleaned it up and fully tested it, with repaired tape drive and fully repaired and cleaned keyboard.

  • How dirty is your Spectrum?
  • What is the worst condition that you have seen one in?
  • Was it worse than the Spectrum above?
  • Did it still work?

Tell me in the comments below or get in touch at the contact details here!

I always try and test the computers that I buy, fix them and in some cases, fully refurbish them. That depends on what my customers want.

I sell them with accurate descriptions, as much as is possible.

If there are still any outstanding issues, I list them, so that my customers know in advance of buying. Many online sellers are not so honest.

If there are then any problems, all I ask is that they contact me to rectify them problems first.

Get in touch at the Contact details here. I will happily sell you parts or whole machines, or anything else Spectrum that you are looking for – games, joysticks, replacement cases, replacement keys, and so on. Just ask and I will check my stock.

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Refurbishment and Upgrade of A 16k Rubber Key Sinclair ZX Spectrum

Above is a Sinclair ZX Spectrum. It is a 16k version, with the rubber keys. This Spectrum has an Issue 2 board that was manufactured in 1983 here in the UK. The board came to me in a bad way, and I have spent considerable time repairing, refurbishing and now upgrading it to the full 48k of memory. In the early days of the Spectrum, there were both 16k and 48k versions produced. You could then get them upgraded.

So for decades, this machine had remained a 16k. So I had a good play with the 16k games like Jetpac and Artic Galaxians after refurbishing it, but I could not play the 48k games until I had done the upgrade.

I took the 16k Sinclair ZX Spectrum to my workbench. The refurbishment has:

  • replaced the old case with one in good condition
  • replaced the keyboard membrane with a brand new one. The original membranes dry out over time with age and heat. It has been nearly forty years since this Spectrum was made, so the original was not working.
  • composite video modification for composite video output instead of old analogue UHF radio wave output on Channel 36
  • “tuning” in of the video output using the trimmers on the board, to give a vibrant picture with bright colours on the composite output
  • new shiny modulator case for cosmetic use mainly now after the composite video mod
  • heatsink and voltage regulator removed and replaced with modern “cool running” regulator
  • all electrolytic capacitors replaced with high-quality Vishay and in similar blue to originals. Over time, with heat and with age, these decay and can damage other components if they go bad,
  • foam to protect the new keyboard membrane,
  • replaced the ULA with the best ULA for an Issue 2 fitted,
  • mandatory modifications made to DC-DC converter circuit. This improves reliability of the notoriously unreliable circuit that produces the voltages for the different components on the board.

Above is the 16k Spectrum after it has been upgraded to 48k. This involves adding the extra RAM chips and some logic chips and adding a link to make sure that the upper RAM is used. I also had to replace one of the IC sockets. I checked the levels on the board with a meter before powering it up. Then I fully tested the machine using a Diagnostic ROM. All tests passed! So I decided to load Mikie, a 48k game, for a quick go!

SUCCESS! And I got further in the game than I had ever done before – level four I think it was! It is a great game, written by the legendary programmer Jonathan (Joffa) Smith. Sadly Joffa is no longer with us, but he produced some superb games, mainly for Ocean and Imagine – Hyper Sports and Green Beret being two of my favourites. How Joffa managed the technical feats of making the humble Spectrum do what he did, was amazing.

So I now have another fully working, refurbished, 48k rubber key Spectrum!

I am regularly selling Spectrums and when this website is fully up and running, you will be able to buy them here!

Get in touch and let me know what you are looking for – I am always happy to put a custom bundle together for you. I have many happy customers who are happy to endorse my work, as shown on this website.

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Manic Miner For Collectors (Part 2) – First Edition, Second Release

Manic Miner – Second Release (“Lantern”)

Manic Miner for the 48k Sinclair ZX Spectrum
“Lantern” Release

One of the classics, if not THE classic game for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48k, written by legendary games programmer Matthew Smith.

There are several variants of the game, which was sold in cassette format. Cassettes were the usual format for games in the 1980s, until disks became the preferred format towards the latter stages of the decade.

An Introduction to these articles and links to the other articles, are here. It also includes information about the debates about these variants, releases and editions. There has been much debate over the years, in the absence of definitive statements by Bug Byte or elsewhere.

Part 1 of these articles talked about variants of the First Edition, First Release (“Whistler”), released on Bug Byte.

This Part 2 talks about the Second Release (“Lantern” or “Lamp”), also released on Bug Byte. It is the Second Release of Manic Miner of the First Edition.

Like other parts in this series, this article does not discuss the program/game itself. For that, please see here.

Manic Miner Expert Adrian Grubb, writes about more variants for collectors…

(images used with permission of Adrian Grubb – taken from 26th July 2018 post)

The complete package – box with sticker, inlay and tape

Some time ago I discussed in-depth my findings on the first-release of Manic Miner, more commonly known, for some reason, as the ‘Whistler’ edition… he’s NOT whistling, it’s his philtrum, or cleft chin! That article concerned the differences in loading TO THE EYE, hacking isn’t my scene at all.

This article concentrates on inlay and cassette variants, the results of the study of fourteen copies.

It is perhaps foolhardy of me to state facts as regards the various releases of Manic Miner, as most have their own memories and convictions where the timeline is concerned. All I can do is try my best.

Cover Variants

The Lantern dark choc and milk choc cassette covers plus a labelled and boxed cassette

The cover of this second-release is simply known as Lantern, or Lamp. There are actually two versions of Lantern, known as dark choc and milk choc.

  1. Lantern Cover Variant 1 – Milk Choc. The milk choc is so called due to its glossy brown background, and has sharp images and colours throughout.
  2. Lantern Cover Variant 2 – Dark Choc. The dark choc has a dull brown background, and the images and colours are less distinct or faded. This has led a few to consider the dark choc inlays to be fakes.

Sticker Variant

For a limited period, the cases of the very earliest releases had a round, black sticker attached, usually to the spine, sporting the code BBS 00105 in white.

It would seem the reason these were added was due to the inlay change. The code was printed on the spine of the SO-CALLED Whistler (First Release). On the Lantern spine it was omitted, most probably by error. So the sticker was added.

Inlay Variants

  • Lantern Inlay Variant 1 – No Flap. The original Lantern came with a standard J-card inlay with the backstory and instructions on the panel.
  • Lantern Inlay Variant 2 – Extra Flap. A later version, with an extra flap, was produced in much larger numbers.

One side of the Extra Flap showed the cover art of four other Bug Byte games, the reverse carried the backstory and instructions.

On the inlay panel were various details. They included Bug-Byte game stockists and the address to send a program to them for a free, no obligation appraisal of its worth.

The first of the inlays with extra flaps had the code, BBS 105, printed at the bottom of the details panel. On later versions, the code was dropped.

  • Lantern Inlay Variant 3 – Extra Flap, With Code
  • Lantern Inlay Variant 4 – Extra Flap, No Code

Spelling Error

Without the Spelling Error on one line
WITH the error on the next line

The original backstory and instructions contained an obvious spelling error, “Undergraound”.

The error went unnoticed, still present when the inlay with extra flap was introduced. The entire sentence containing the error was removed from the backstory with the Software Projects Manic Miner (Second Edition) release, that with the mutant telephone cover.

Cassette Variants

The earliest Lantern release came on a grey cassette, “Made in England” in black print on both sides.

Grey, or light grey (some call white) cassettes with single, blue-printed white labels followed.

A small number of black cassettes received white labels with black print to both sides, these most probably the last labelled to be released.

Grey cassettes with black printed details on both sides, including the code BBS 00105, were the swan song for the Lantern. These were made in Holland, not England, and had a yellow leader as opposed to the usual red or pale blue.

Game Loader and Loading Screen Variants

In Part 1 of this series of articles, which was on the “Whistler” release, variants of the Game Loader were described. In the “Lantern” release, there is an intriguing variation in the loading screens that are displayed while the main game is loading.

  • Loading Screen Variant 1. This is the “normal” flashing attribute “MANIC MINER” loading screen, loaded to a black background.
  • Loading Screen Variant 2. Instead of the loading screen loading to the flashing attribute “MANIC MINER”, a white background is loaded which exposes the loading information. Is this genuine, or a sign of piracy? After a great deal of research and asking around, this has been confirmed as a genuine variant by Adrian Grubb. Below is my copy of Lantern Inlay Variant 2 with Loading Screen Variant 2. Please get in touch if you have more information.

This ends Part 2 of the series of PopeyMon articles on Manic Miner For Collectors.

More articles on Manic Miner will be published here on PopeyMon Games and Fun soon… Part 3 is now here.

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Manic Miner For Collectors (Part 1) – First Edition, First Release

Manic Miner – First Release (Whistler) – 1983

An awesome collection of Manic Miner and its sequel Jet Set Willy
(image courtesy of Adrian Grubb)

There are collectors of classic games. They love the games, and the variants of those games. The variants are many, especially of games that sold a lot, and which were released several times including by different software houses.

Manic Miner is one of the classic, if not THE classic game for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48k, written by legendary games programmer Matthew Smith.

Manic Miner Expert Adrian Grubb, passionate collector and one of the Admins of the Facebook Group Central Cavern, has written and researched a great deal on the topic.

This is Part 1 of a series of articles on PopeyMon Games and Fun, about Manic Miner. The series looks only at the Spectrum editions, versions and variants. It is aimed at collectors. Collectors love variants and as is shown in the articles, and the photo above, there are lots of variants of Manic Miner. For a summary of the differences between the program/game itself, see here.

An Introduction to the articles and links to Part 2 and Part 3, are here.

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.

The articles are edited versions of the results of Adrian’s research on the variants of Manic Miner for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum.

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.

Adrian writes…

In response to much debate concerning first and second-release Manic Miners, here are my First Release findings, obtained using nine copies of Manic Miner.

Three different types of tape for the WHISTLER release…
Showing 3 Cassette Variants of the tape. Collectors LOVE variants.
(image used with permission of Adrian Grubb)

The inlay above shows the Whistler release by Bug Byte. This is the First Release of Manic Miner and the First Edition.


TO THE EYE there are three different headers used to load the game. The header is the first part of the loading of the game, before the game itself is loaded. But there are variations in them in the Whistler version of Manic Miner.

  1. Game Loader Variant 1. Screen turns black with thick white bar at foot of screen. Bar covered over with black when alternating (flashing using the Spectrum’s flash attribute) Manic Miner appears.
  2. Game Loader Variant 2. Screen turns black. When alternating Manic Miner appears, a thick white bar appears at foot of screen also and stays during load. (This would suggest alternative code in the loading program).
  3. Game Loader Variant 3. Whole screen turns black and stays that way until alternating MM appears. (Again, suggesting different code).

In other versions of Manic Miner, there are other versions of the Game Loader. These will be documented in future articles.

Four copies of the nine copies in this test were identical in every way – see the photo above for the versions of the tape described below:

  1. Cassette Variant 1 (top of photo). A black cassette with red lead-in, label to one side only. Game Loader Variant 1 used on both sides. Two more copies of the black cassette had identical contents to Cassette Variant 1 but:
    – Variant 1a? One with a label applied to the opposite side. Should this be classed as another variant (1a)?
    – Variant 1b? Black cassette with red lead-in, label to one side only. Loader Variant 3 used on Side A, Loader Variant 1 on Side B. Should this be classed as another variant (1b)?
  2. Cassette Variant 2 (middle of photo). A grey cassette with red lead-in, label to one side only. Game Loader Variant 1 used on Side A, Loader Variant 3 on Side B.
  3. Cassette Variant 3 (bottom of photo). No labels, printed onto a lighter grey. The cassette has small tulip in centre of pattern on top edge of cassette on both sides, yellow lead-in. Cover logo printed on both sides of cassette.All three printed light grey cassettes had an identical loader, Game Loader Variant 2.


ALL cassettes of all three variants are marked Made in England either on label or printed.

In conclusion, there’s three types of the first-release of Manic Miner (Whistler).

Printed cassettes come in light grey, labelled cassettes come in a darker shade of grey or, more commonly, black.

There are even more variants of Manic Miner, including releases on the Software Projects label.

More articles on Manic Miner will be published here on PopeyMon Games and Fun soon… Part 2 is now here.

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Welcome to PopeyMon Games and Fun!

PopeyMon Games and Fun blogs about games, toys, entertainment and fun. We also hope to sell you some stuff too, so that you can experience the games, toys, entertainment and fun for yourself, your friends and family!

Here is an example of what we write about, and what we sell.

Manic Miner is seen as one of the classic games for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48k. Indeed, it’s one of the classic games of all time. Almost forty years after it was released, there are huge fans and enthusiasts of Manic Miner and its sequel, Jet Set Willy.

The game is still played by people on their original hardware, and on emulators. You can even play the game directly on the web.

One of the game’s greatest enthusiasts, and a regular poster on the Facebook group – Adrian Grubb has done a huge amount of research on the game.

On this website, Adrian explores the game in great detail.

There are a whole host of other games and fun explored here too. Please have a look around and feel free to get in touch!

Andrew Pope

PopeyMon Games and Fun