Posted on July 2nd, 2015
OK nothing too dramatic but I’ve had the latest batch done with a blue solder mask, which I think looks quite (crank crank, pun coming..) SMART. Alas, due to unexpected customs shenanigans and component price increases I’ve had to increase the price by a couple of pounds – hopefully it’s still good value for money though (there is a lot of work involved manually putting them together by hand – gibber).
Other SMART Card bits: Brendan Alford has modified his ZX-Diagnostics Spectrum Test ROM to work with the SMART Card. This is now included in the project archive . Also newly added to the “3rd Party ROMs” folder is Geoff Wearmouth’s Gosh Wonderful ROM. Many thanks Geoff to Brendan!
Finally, the SMART Card is featured on the latest instalment of The Spectrum Show – and I’m happy to report they like it :)
Posted on April 20th, 2015
I’ve updated the SMART Card software archive again. Most notably, I’ve added an alternate version of the patched Sinclair ROM by Aitor Pelaez which has an NMI handler allowing pokes to be entered. The diagROM has also been updated to better detect 16K machines and also now allows the main menu items to be selected with a joystick for when the keyboard has failed or is not connected.
Posted on December 4th, 2014
Some particularly vexing Spectrum hardware faults lately have led to improvements to my DiagROM program. It now attempts to detect faults with the 74LS157 multiplexors which can falsely suggest RAM is faulty. There is a also an upper RAM scanner that shows the RAM as a bitmap window, allowing visual inspection of its content – a picture is worth a 1000 words after all! The latest version is in my SMART Card software archive.
Posted on November 16th, 2014
I’ve added .tap file loading to my Spectrum SD Card Interface. This required a patched ROM to intercept the usual Sinclair loading routines and fetch the bytes from files on SD Card instead. Amstrad appear to have a legal caveat that prevents the Sinclair ROM being distributed with new hardware, but it wasn’t a big deal to add an option to read in the user’s own onboard ROM, patch it and write to the SMART Card‘s EEPROM as required. The .tap loader is still in beta at present, I know of some files that don’t work, but this is largely par for the course with the .tap format: Although most have been modified to use the standard Sinclair loading routines in place of their native custom loaders etc, there’s still a lot of weird variations out there.
Posted on October 18th, 2014
A while ago I made a home-brew diagnostic ROM cartridge to help me test faulty Spectrums – it was a very simple circuit based on a FlashROM and a discrete logic chip. Of course, the project slowly morphed into something bigger and I ended up creating my own multi-function Spectrum interface card!
The SMART Card as it’s called (decode the acronym any way you want:) is now based on a CPLD and has 256KB of flash memory, 128KB of RAM, an SD card connector, Kempston joystick interface, reset and NMI buttons. It’s really aimed at retro gamers who just want a simple, low cost way to load and play snapshot game files from a menu, right from power on (but it has some more advanced features too).
I’m currently just gauging interest really but have the parts to build a few of these boards for sale. There’s more info on the SMART Card here.