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DistantStar001

Just got Two Timex Sinclair 1000s, and I have questions

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So I just got Two Timex Sinclair 1000s.  One works fine, but the other needs a new keyboard.  I opened it up, and surprise, surprise, the keyboard ribbons were cracked and brittle.  I tried trimming them down, but now I can't get the ribbons back in the slots.  I tried backing them with tape, but it made no difference.  I'm presently powering the working one off of an Atari 2600 PSU, but I know that I'll need something beefier if and when I get a 16k pack.

 

In the interim, I was curious as to what other accessories might make this thing more useful?  Does anyone knew of any software archives that have been converted to .wav files?  I downloaded the archive from Archive.org, but everything is in .p or .tzx format, and none of the files are marked for memory requirements (1k, 2k, 16k).  Also, since I have to replace a keyboard anyway, are there any upgrades (extra internal RAM, AV mods, etc.) that I should look into to get the most out of this machine?  Normally, I like to keep my machines original, but since I already have a working one in original condition, and one in need of repairs, I figure I could trick it out and see what this thing is really capable of.

 

As always any advice and help will be appreciated 🙂

 

Almost forgot to ask.  As I don't have a RAM pack at the moment, what are the best games for 2k?

Edited by DistantStar001
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Do the internal 16K or 32K SRAM mod. Much better than the wobbly RAM pack, and can run high res software without any other mods. I modded my ZX81 in the day with 2 piggybacked 8K SRAMs but today you can use 1 32K chip.

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1 hour ago, ClausB said:

Do the internal 16K or 32K SRAM mod. Much better than the wobbly RAM pack, and can run high res software without any other mods. I modded my ZX81 in the day with 2 piggybacked 8K SRAMs but today you can use 1 32K chip.

I'll probably still get a RAM pack for the one I'm keeping original, but you have me intrigued by this for the other one.  But I still have some questions before I take a soldering iron to a working board.

 

First: I found a tutorial on the ZX81, can I assume that the procedure will be the same on the Sinclair 1000?  I know that they're basically the same machine, but I think that the US version had some revisions.  If so, will that complicate the mod?

 

Second: Is there any advantage to the 32k mod over the 16k?  I thought that the original maxed out at 16k, so you have me wondering if there's any software that takes advantage of the full 32k?

 

Lastly: Should I go forward with this, what is the part number that I should be looking for on the SRAM chip?

 

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I haven't looked at specific instructions in a while but I think it applies equally to ZX81 and TS1000. In the TS you replace the 2K RAM chip with a socket, cut a few traces, and add a few wires. Any 32K by 8 bit static RAM should work. Their part numbers end in 256 (number of Kbits). I have a bunch of them which were cache RAMs on '486 motherboards but they have narrow packages and won't quite fit the wider socket.

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4 hours ago, ClausB said:

I haven't looked at specific instructions in a while but I think it applies equally to ZX81 and TS1000. In the TS you replace the 2K RAM chip with a socket, cut a few traces, and add a few wires. Any 32K by 8 bit static RAM should work. Their part numbers end in 256 (number of Kbits). I have a bunch of them which were cache RAMs on '486 motherboards but they have narrow packages and won't quite fit the wider socket.

Thanks!

4 hours ago, monzamess said:

Recommend you visit https://sinclairzxworld.com/ for a dedicated community with answers to all these questions and more...

 

Just signed up!  But I have to wait for administrator approval before I can post or ask a question.

 

Update: I did manage to get the keyboard to work on my 2nd (to be tricked out) unit.  Two of the pins weren't making contact with the wider ribbon, so I shoved a thin piece of copper between the faulty pins and the ribbon.  That seems to have restored functionality to the keyboard, but I still intend to replace it eventually.  It's just nice to have it working for the moment.  This has me wondering though, is there a better connector for the ribbon?  Maybe something with a clamping mechanism that wouldn't require me to shove the ribbon in?

 

Also, since I'm going to replace it anyway, does anyone have a recommendation on a better keyboard?

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You can get replacement keyboards and all kinds of cool stuff here: https://www.sellmyretro.com/category/retro-computers/sinclair/sinclair-zx81

 

I got a replacement for one of my units. For the other, I soldered a ribbon cable to the motherboard and connected with the membrane. It was a hack job just to get minimal functionality and life back into that unit. 

 

 

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1 hour ago, monzamess said:

You can get replacement keyboards and all kinds of cool stuff here: https://www.sellmyretro.com/category/retro-computers/sinclair/sinclair-zx81

I checked them out and they look great, but all the prices are in GBP (£).  Do you know if they ship to the US?

 

So I looked through it a little more, and I see some listings in USD ($), but the parts I need are from either British or European sellers.  So I'm still not sure about international sellers?

Edited by DistantStar001
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Interesting to see how you like it. I want to get one for myself eventually.

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1 hour ago, SSG said:

Interesting to see how you like it. I want to get one for myself eventually.

I'm assuming you mean the computer and not a face palm emoji. 🙂

 

Over all, I like it.  Honestly, I only have a handful of issues.  But in a way, it's the issues that makes these kind of endearing.  

 

First, the keyboard takes some getting used to.  It's small, and a membrane after all, with a lot of strange choices on what characters they chose to include and omit.  For instance, Shift-W gives a double quotation mark ("") and I have no idea what it's used for.  At first I thought that it was for loading tapes (the command is LOAD "" after all), but it turns out that the proper command is LOAD "" (J Shift-P Shift-P).  X doubles for CLEAR, and V doubles for CLS.  Which in BASIC, both do the exact same thing.  Also, Shift-B = *, while Shift-H = **.  However, so far as I can tell, there's no exclamation point !?!

 

The biggest issue is that they're kinda finicky if you jostle them in operation.  Even a slight jolt to the power connection can crash or reset the computer.  Which is a bit of a pain if you're in the middle of typing a program, or playing a game that took a while to load (I imagine, as I still haven't figured out how to load one yet).  And the RF ports seem to have a similar issue (although one is better than the other).  Still, it's a fun little machine, if somewhat limited in what it can do (compared to its contemporary competitors like the VIC-20).  But for me, that's part of its charm.  And it makes much of the software for it all the more impressive, given those limitations. 

 

Other than that, the BASIC and UI is pretty intuitive once you get used to the keyboard.  And you can select and edit lines in a program with the Arrow keys (Shift-6,7,8,9 and Shift-1 [EDIT]).  Which makes altering, correcting or editing BASIC programs much easier than editing them on a Coco or Apple II.  

 

I still plan to mod one of them (Composite, 32k RAM, new keyboard, open to suggestions on anything else), but the other will stay as original as I can keep it.  To sum up, I honestly didn't think I'd like them as much as I do!  Thumbs up!  (in an emoji if I knew how)

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The TS1000 was my first computer and it really provided the spark that led me to a career as a Software Engineer. I highly recommend you check out the "EightyOne" Sinclair emulator at SourceForge. If you are writing BASIC programs, you can try them out in emulation (with a regular keyboard), and then take a screenshot to type into the real thing.

 

List.thumb.png.352452f0b0fb4fb6496be0cd6f73a912.png

 

ProgComplete.thumb.png.a6e29ffc3c940491ed1eb4b9bf977394.png

 

There's also an online emulator that lets you use a regular keyboard, or mouse-clicks on the virtual keyboard so you can learn where the keywords are faster. There's a whole lot of software there, so you can try before you buy (or download).

 

Online.thumb.png.0e085caab4faba3103e148a06b2b0b71.png

 

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OK, I would recommend that you get rid of the RF and go composite. (I see you mentioned that)

It is really simple to do in a way that works on most older monitors/TVs.

That said, you will probably want to buy a composite adapter on SellMyRetro and use that.

I bought one, but I haven't installed it yet.  To be honest, I can't find it.  I know it is in my computer room somewhere.. ;-)

I also bought a new keyboard, but haven't installed it.  They are UK, but come with (or did I order it separately??) an overlay for the US layout. (I think there are just 2 keys differently named)

I am also planning on the internal 32k expansion.  Just need my DIP sockets to show up (and some soldering courage... worried about lifting traces desoldering..).

 

Also, when I did my basic composite mod, I removed the modulator.

That left the channel 2/3 switch in there.

One thing you can do is cut and solder just a bit and make that an NTSC/PAL switch, which I did.

Or to be more accurate, a 50hz/60hz switch.  Since technically NTSC/PAL is for colors and this guy has none. ;-)

I am also considering swapping the voltage regulator with a newer device that does the same thing, but with much less heat.

 

I am also probably going to make a TZXDuino for loading tape files via SD...  Mostly because I have a lot of arduino stuff.. ;-)

I have a TS1000 and a US ZX81.  I am modding my TS1000, but leaving the ZX81 alone.

 

Enjoy!!!

(And yes, go to sinclairzxworld.com ..)

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On 3/3/2020 at 12:24 PM, almightytodd said:

The TS1000 was my first computer and it really provided the spark that led me to a career as a Software Engineer. I highly recommend you check out the "EightyOne" Sinclair emulator at SourceForge.

Already loaded this on my Surface.  Supposedly I can use it to covert or at least play .p files into my TS-1000, but so far I haven't figured it out yet.  I'd really like to convert them into .wav files though.  

 

On 3/3/2020 at 2:12 PM, desiv said:

OK, I would recommend that you get rid of the RF and go composite. (I see you mentioned that)

It is really simple to do in a way that works on most older monitors/TVs.

That said, you will probably want to buy a composite adapter on SellMyRetro and use that.

Interesting.  I was going to go with a simpler mod, but now you have me wondering if the adapter really gives that much of an improvement?  

On 3/3/2020 at 2:12 PM, desiv said:

One thing you can do is cut and solder just a bit and make that an NTSC/PAL switch, which I did.

Curious if a lot of software takes advantage of the PAL/50hz over the NTSC/60hz.  Are there a lot of programs out there for the ZX81 that won't work on the TS-1000?  And would this mod fix that?

On 3/3/2020 at 2:12 PM, desiv said:

I also bought a new keyboard, but haven't installed it.  They are UK, but come with (or did I order it separately??) an overlay for the US layout. (I think there are just 2 keys differently named)

I haven't gotten one yet, as I'm still piecing all the parts I'm going to need.  So far I've gotten the 32k RAM, and the socket.

On 3/3/2020 at 2:12 PM, desiv said:

I am also probably going to make a TZXDuino for loading tape files via SD... 

Never heard of that before, but looked into it, and it sound awesome!  Going to investigate further, but would love to know if I have to convert files, or does it play the .p/.tzx files straight?

 

Update: 

 

I've made some progress with these.  I managed to load a few programs on them that have already been converted to .wav.  Blocky has proven strangely addictive.  I also found a 1k version of Tetris (unkatris) which does load, but the second I touch anything on the keyboard the system crashes.  I'm not sure why?

In order to load these I did have to make a special cable though.  Basically, it's a mono jack on one end with the stereo jack on the other, and the left and right lines joined together on the jack.  

I also found that when playing the .wav, it helped to adjust the port settings on my MacBook all the way to the left channel, and reducing the volume to about 70% for the best results.  But I haven't gotten this to work on my Surface yet.

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