Friday, 4 September 2015

Starting the Sinclair ZX81 Keyboard Adventure

After stumbling on Elite Systems Recreated Spectrum recently, I got to thinking why not do something similar for the ZX81. Not the making of some sort of commercial product part, rather the quasi recreation component of the equation.

ZX81 Arduino Keyboard, based on Dave Curran's design
Now there isn't a exactly a lack of decidedly brilliant modern ZX81 interpretations, clones and lookalikes out there in the wild, many a capable electronic / computer boffin has seen to that. That's not really the point, I'm simply working on a personal project recreating the wheel or in this case a ZX81ish type thing.

So some early clarifications, the project isn't about re-engineering a ZX81 from the ground up, it's not even going to be about re-creating the exact look of the original, it's simply about creating something with passing physical appearance resemblance and finding a (non)practical use for ZX81 like computer in a case.

All of which leads nicely to why it's a ZX81 based on a Adrduino and a Raspberry Pi 2. So yes, in large part this is just another shove a PI into case and relive the glory days of
microcomputers with the use of an emulator kinda project.

As we've established we're not breaking entirely new ground here, and frankly I was pretty happy to find some precedents. The first place I came across was Dave Curran's excellent site, where he's been documenting and constructing similar devices to what I'd partially envisaged for the ZX81 and other micros for a number of years.

Now having found a starting point, some rather useful code and diagrams on Dave's site, I went about constructing the first part of the project, a test bed or the prototype of the things to come, as seen pictured and working in this very post.

It should be easy from now yes? Well actually no, there is a lot more to do..............