I had been meaning to do this for a while now, show what I have been doing to restore the Grey Spectrum +2 I received around 3 months ago.
First off I had to retro brite the machine, as most will know the whitish machines tend to go a yellowish brown, grey machines tend to go a dull moss green color.
Retro Brite is a handy thing to know, everyone has their own technique and results can differ. However, I am going to do another blog within the next week dedicated to Retro Brite.
So first off you need to clean the machine, I use the Cif Oxy Action kitchen spray cleaner to clean the old machines, I do both inside and out to make sure there is no lingering dust or old crud. This stuff is great, it removes old smells also, my black +2A stunk of cigarette smoke when I got it and cleaning with the Cif stuff after a few days the smell was gone.
Machine issues when I first received it :
Tape mechanism not spooling consistently Keyboard not working at all Missing feet (Cosmetic I know) TV not tuning correct to RF signal Having to hold power connector in place to keep power on Hit & miss boot menu
So a few issues there that needed sorting alongside the retro brite.
Thankfully here in the UK we have a great store for replacement Spectrum parts, as you can see in the pic I bought 4 rubber feet, a 9v power connector and a new drive belt from Dataserve Retro, all for a few pounds delivered. I ordered a silver Sharpie to redo the lettering and will eventually get some satin silver model paint to make sure it is permanent, looks nice though doesn't it.
First up with this project and good practice in general is replacing drive belts if something has been stood for a while. What you tend to find is the rubber becomes less springy and you get a kink in the belt where it has been sitting round the capstan connected to the motor.
In this first picture you see the old belt removed and the new one sitting where it is going to be put. On this second image the new belt is fitted and you can see the old belt on the left hand side, see the v shape at the bottom, that is where the belt has sat in position for numerous years round that small white spindle. Next up was tackling the TV Out picture issue and the hit & miss issue of getting no boot menu. On this next picture the large Amstrad chip was smothered in thermal paste, it was touching the legs joining them together and just everywhere, there was also an aftermarket heatsink added that wrapped around the chip one end to the other, this was stopping the legs sitting in the mount as deep as they should. So I lifted the chip from the socket and removed the heatsink then using surgical spirits removed all the thermal paste and refitted the chip back to factory standard.
Little life hack here, if you have ran out of surgical spirits you can use anything that has alcohol in it. So in certain cases cheap aftershave, you know the stuff you tend to get for Christmas that either smells really bad or you use it as a daily aftershave. Alcohol content is 60% or higher with this stuff so can be used as a quick fix to clean heads and remove stuff like thermal paste.
So now the chip has been remounted correctly time to investigate the snowy barely visible picture.
That little silver colored box top left side is the RF (Radio Frequency - aka Co Axial) out. I opened the top of the box and after close inspection noticed a dry broken solder joint. Where the cable end sits in the fitting there is a resistor soldered to the board and onto the metal, this keeps the output signal clean. The solder had dried and cracked where it connected to the fitting. So a quick resolder onto where it was supposed to be and the picture issue sorted.
Finally I had to work out why I had to add pressure to power connector. After doing a bit of research I found out that this was a common fault. Removing and putting back in damages the connector over time, hence why there is a reset switch on the left hand side of the machine. There is no need to hard reset by pulling the power out.
So time to fire up the soldering iron again. After removing the old connector I tidied up the board connector on both front and rear. There was way to much flux on there and huge blobs of old dried out solder. So after tidying everything up I was ready to attach the new 9v connector. A few minutes of careful soldering and job done. Upon removing the keyboard membrane I noticed thick dust bunnies between the 2 layers of the film and under the keys. A membrane on Both Spectrum & Amiga computers is a clear plastic film usually a green color that has a circuit board on it with either copper or graphite connectors, this then connect to the motherboard. So a full clean with the Cif Oxy Action again and reconnecting thankfully solved the problem and no new membrane needed this time around.
Just goes to show, when doing a project like this always start with the cleaning, it can sort a multitude of issues. Dust is not good with old machines, it causes static electricity and in turn static can damage components, components that are becoming increasingly hard to find.
So now that the internals were all done time to attach the rubber feet and sort out power.
Now this machine literally came as is, no leads at all so I needed to find a male to male RF lead (Not an issue I already have loads dotted about the place) but the power was a different matter.
So I looked around on eBay and Amazon and came across the multi voltage wall adapters where you can change voltage and also select the different ends. So I ordered 2 of those power adapters from Amazon, handy for stuff like Game Gear, Atari Lynx and various other household items. I forgot to include the additional connectors in the picture.
Now after all this work the Grey Spectrum +2 should be good for many more years to come.
Only 2 things that I cannot do with it now is the clear plastic on the tape deck, it has had a postcode scratched onto it and I can't buff it out, maybe look into a wet / dry sanding to sort that and above tape deck name and address is scratched onto case, barely noticeable but still there. Mind you those marks add character to the machine and show age. This blog entry is also on Colexions but decided to put it here on Atari Age for a wider audience