After reading some other Blogs and Forums, its looks like a pretty good chance that the Rubber Key Speccy is poorly in either the ULA or RAM departments. All of the chips seem visually OK, with everything seated or soldered in place, so without swapping another ULA and/or going through a long winded diagnostic process ( such as here ) I’m unlikely to get it working any time soon. Maybe its a task for later…
I could swap the ULA out of my Spectrum+. However I’m being a bit cautious, as the Plus is in pretty good condition and I’m not overly enthusiastic about swapping the ULA and running the chance of frying the ULA /destroying the Spectrum/letting out the Magic Smoke. So, the next logical ( obvious ?) step is to use the Plus as the 48K’s ‘understudy’.
So, down to business proper. Plugging in the Spectrum Plus and powering up gives a satisfying “(c) 1982 Sinclair Research Ltd ” response and hitting a key drops to a prompt, of sorts. All as to be expected.
Initially I thought I’d give Tape2Wav ( available, along with a multitude of useful utilities from here) a try, mostly as a benchmark of the slowest method. I went through the conversion process and fed out the WAV from my laptop….. With absolutely no effect. Nothing. The Spectrum flashed an alternating Blue and Red border, but refused to do what you’d expect. After a bit more ‘faffing’ it became obvious the border flashing occurred if I wiggled the audio lead from the laptop to the Speccy… So now I’m getting cheesed off – this should be the easy bit. ‘Why can’t you just work!!???!!’.
I needed to work out if the problem was the audio lead, the Spectrum or my Laptop. I also couldn’t dismiss a fault with Tape2Wav ( although the output ‘sounded’ OK with the audio lead disconnected ) or the .TAP file…
In a desperate act, I dug out my Speccy Tapes (exactly what I was hoping to avoid) and 30+ year old Sanyo DataRecorder. Not expecting a whole lot of anything, after all the tapes were probably wiped clean or the tape desk’s heads/belts wrecked, I hooked it all up like it was 1984. First attempt was to load “Chequered Flag” and low and behold, 10 minute later, it was loaded. I’m *really* surprised.
Surprise aside, this wasn’t what I set out to do. Messing about the ancient tapes and a cassette deck that Indiana Jones is sniffing around, wasn’t part of the plan.
It turns out the audio cable was faulty, but also the audio out on my laptop is possibly broken as swapping the cable and not quite pushing the connector in all the way got some life out of the Speccy when playing a .WAV file. Is Its also possible I’m banging my head against a problem with stereo out on the laptop and mono in on the Speccy? – I need to investigate further.
After all this I did manage to load a game ( the old classic Harrier Attack ) from my laptop using a .WAV file. Tape2Wav works,it does exactly what its supposed to, but its ultimately its not really any better than audio tape as it still takes 5-10 minutes to load.
The search continues…