ZX Spectrum Next Discussion

For experts to discuss very technical stuff and newbies to ask why the Spectrum they bought off ebay doesn't work.
hikoki
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Re: ZX Spectrum Next Discussion

Post by hikoki » Tue May 14, 2019 9:04 am

1024MAK wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 2:26 pm
The problem has been and always will be that a purely mechanical membrane keyboard system is never good at making two independent switch contacts at the same time. Even during the days of Sinclair. Far too often on my ZX Spectrum+ keyboards, I get the wrong action unless I press the key squarely.
Would there be a mechanical way to detect when a hit is wrong? so that a tad of energy is released to perform the keystroke again. I don't know, a coil spring that only stores an releases energy at a certain angle. Maybe a magnet kind of thing, I don't say they build expensive magnetic keyboards, just something to aid a square press.
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hikoki
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Re: ZX Spectrum Next Discussion

Post by hikoki » Tue May 14, 2019 10:30 am

Hall effect switches seem to be cheaper nowadays
https://drop.com/buy/xmit-hall-effect-m ... d#overview
who knows if the chinese manufacturer would be interested to support the Next batch to advertise this type of switch.
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toot_toot
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Re: ZX Spectrum Next Discussion

Post by toot_toot » Tue May 14, 2019 10:49 am

djnzx48 wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 8:33 am
toot_toot wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 8:20 am
Honestly, with the updates from the past 9 months it feels like I’ve backed a new keyboard than a new Spectrum.
Maybe they should rename it the ZX Spectrum Text.
:lol: very good, sir!

I went through some of the previous updates and highlighted some of the keyboard specific updates. These ones are from two separate updates in October 2018
The most important feedback here is that the key format feels incredible good -- in fact, even the keyboard manufacturer, a specialist in keyboards with years of experience and dozens of models under their belt -- praised how good the Next keys feel to the touch, and how accurate the keyboard becomes with the key shape compared to a typical, modern keyboard.

Enter and Space, now on a sexy angle
They are looking rather nice already.
And this one
We’re happy to announce the membrane was produced as planned, and… It is performing as expected, within the 45gr-55gr of pressure required to result in a responsive and elegant keyboard for the Spectrum Next. What an improvement from the dreaded +200gr imposed by the third layer a few weeks ago!
(I made a mistake in my earlier post, they're going for a two membrane design instead of the three membrane in the original Spectrum)

That membrane update was from July 2018 - nearly 12 months ago and it looks like we're not any further ahead, it's taken 10 months to identify that the membrane design doesn't actually work, on a project that's now 15 months behind schedule.

Looking at the original Kickstarter Campaign page
Rick also took great care to create a keyboard that’s more responsive and features higher bandwidth input than the original, using a butterfly mechanism to power a tactile response to any fingertip touching its keys. No more stuck keys while you type!
That one line from the Kickstarter Campaign appears to have been the biggest part of the delay. Yet other features that were touted at the start have been dropped or quietly forgotten - ULAPlus, 14MHz boost mode, SID chip support, Rex Next, the new Dizzy game, Nodes of Yesod. The team clearly have made a decision to drop some features, yet have stuck doggedly to the keyboard design.

Lets go back to June 2018
With the Battle For The Case pretty much won (famous last words), we move onto the final challenge in production: the three-layered keyboard matrix. In order to keep the keyboard's and Next full compatibility with the original Speccy, the keyboard matrix needs to be composed of three layers like the Spectrum Plus and 128 in order to support composite keys such as BREAK, DELETE and the ARROWS. As a result, the amount of pressure required for registering a keypress is too high -- around 200g instead of the ideal range of 45-55g to get it as responsive as Rick Dickinson envisioned it.
But, why is it we really need a modern "feel" keyboard on the Spectrum Next?I suppose it's great if you're going to be typing a lot, but is the Next really going to be used for that? Even text adventures are going to be limited with the amount of text you're typing in! If you're developing anything for the next, surely you're going to be using a PC to develop? Why is it dreaded to have +200gr which I presume is the same as the Spectrum+ or 128k Toastrack? Yes, the original Spectrum keyboard wasn't ideal, but at least it worked and there's plenty of after market membranes available that would have done the job just fine.

Now the project is hinged on the keyboard manufacturer testing out 3 membrane designs, the team are not even doing the testing now to save time, which might reduce risk in hitting the promised delivery date of Q2, but significantly increases risk to reliability and functionality. If none of those 3 designs work, then looking back at the update in June 2018:
In order to solve this problem, the keyboard experts are trying a myriad of solutions:

Increasing the hole size in the middle layer
Adding extra material on the activation point on the membrane
Using thinner PET layer
Changing the rubber dome to another type
Increasing the rubber dome size
And lastly, abandoning the middle layer and breaking each activation point from a circle to 2 semi circles, forming two contact points
Does that mean that no other option worked apart from the two membrane option... which now doesn't work. But, why has it taken nearly 12 months to identify that it doesn't work? The project was already delayed by 6 months when that decision was made.

Someone pointed out on Kickstarter that since the board only option was launched, there seemed to be a real lack of drive in getting the cased Next out on time. Unfortunately I have to agree with that.
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beanz
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Re: ZX Spectrum Next Discussion

Post by beanz » Tue May 14, 2019 2:38 pm

toot_toot wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 10:49 am
14MHz boost mode, Rex Next, the new Dizzy game, Nodes of Yesod.
Those haven't been dropped. The 14mhz is fully functional and has been, you can choose 3.5 / 7 / 14. I think you mean 28mhz was dropped.

The others are stretch goals and from what I understand are still in development. There have been updates on Rex Next progress. The other two I don't think I've seen updates on but that doesn't mean they've been dropped.

The games are also being developed by 3rd party contributors, not the next team so progress on those..or lack thereof doesn't have any effect on the progress of the Next itself.
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Re: ZX Spectrum Next Discussion

Post by Alcoholics Anonymous » Tue May 14, 2019 2:54 pm

toot_toot wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 10:49 am
That one line from the Kickstarter Campaign appears to have been the biggest part of the delay. Yet other features that were touted at the start have been dropped or quietly forgotten - ULAPlus, 14MHz boost mode, SID chip support, Rex Next, the new Dizzy game, Nodes of Yesod. The team clearly have made a decision to drop some features, yet have stuck doggedly to the keyboard design.
????

ULAplus was replaced with ULANext because of disagreements that I am not privy to. ULANext fits better with how the palette is handled in the rest of the Next's display layers. I would not choose to use ULAplus except for compatibility.

14MHz is there - where did you hear it isn't? 14MHz was never in the original kickstarter - only 7MHz was. This was a bonus that came later.

SID was never promised. It was experimented with and a demo shown. People cried it was C64, a prominent AY musician gave up his pledge over its possible inclusion, the prospect of not being allowed to call it a SID was raised. Par for the course in the Spectrum scene.

Rex Next, the new dizzy game, the nodes of yesod are still being developed. In the meantime there are at least 30 other games being made.
But, why is it we really need a modern "feel" keyboard on the Spectrum Next?I suppose it's great if you're going to be typing a lot, but is the Next really going to be used for that? Even text adventures are going to be limited with the amount of text you're typing in! If you're developing anything for the next, surely you're going to be using a PC to develop?
This is 2019. People use keyboards in their daily lives and have expectations for them, especially since they are the primary interface to the machine. The quality of the keyboard can impact on the perceived quality of the whole.

Will the keyboard be used for development? Maybe since there is an optional pi attached that can allow cross dev tools to be used on the machine. I know there are those who want to try it.

The keyboard itself seems to have turned out well. It is the last step - the electrical contact on composite keys that needs to be made satisfactory.
Someone pointed out on Kickstarter that since the board only option was launched, there seemed to be a real lack of drive in getting the cased Next out on time. Unfortunately I have to agree with that.
Come on now.
Last edited by Alcoholics Anonymous on Tue May 14, 2019 3:23 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Pegaz
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Re: ZX Spectrum Next Discussion

Post by Pegaz » Tue May 14, 2019 3:17 pm

Alcoholics Anonymous wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 2:54 pm
SID was never promised. It was experimented with and a demo shown. People cried it was C64, a prominent AY musician gave up his pledge over its possible inclusion, the prospect of not being allowed to call it a SID was raised.
You are kidding?
Full SID support, can only be a great bonus feature and cant hurt anyone. :?
Prominent immaturity and stupidity, I would say...
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Re: ZX Spectrum Next Discussion

Post by Alcoholics Anonymous » Tue May 14, 2019 3:29 pm

Pegaz wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 3:17 pm
You are kidding?
Full SID support, can only be a great bonus feature and cant hurt anyone. :?
Prominent immaturity and stupidity, I would say...
Nostalgia and passion is a weird & personal thing.
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beanz
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Re: ZX Spectrum Next Discussion

Post by beanz » Tue May 14, 2019 3:34 pm

Remember this is supposed to be open source when everythings done and dusted...meaning people can write their own cores. If you want sid and other features I'm sure at some point cores will be released for it.
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Re: ZX Spectrum Next Discussion

Post by toot_toot » Wed May 15, 2019 11:16 am

Alcoholics Anonymous wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 2:54 pm
toot_toot wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 10:49 am
That one line from the Kickstarter Campaign appears to have been the biggest part of the delay. Yet other features that were touted at the start have been dropped or quietly forgotten - ULAPlus, 14MHz boost mode, SID chip support, Rex Next, the new Dizzy game, Nodes of Yesod. The team clearly have made a decision to drop some features, yet have stuck doggedly to the keyboard design.
????

ULAplus was replaced with ULANext because of disagreements that I am not privy to. ULANext fits better with how the palette is handled in the rest of the Next's display layers. I would not choose to use ULAplus except for compatibility.


14MHz is there - where did you hear it isn't? 14MHz was never in the original kickstarter - only 7MHz was. This was a bonus that came later.

SID was never promised. It was experimented with and a demo shown. People cried it was C64, a prominent AY musician gave up his pledge over its possible inclusion, the prospect of not being allowed to call it a SID was raised. Par for the course in the Spectrum scene.

Rex Next, the new dizzy game, the nodes of yesod are still being developed. In the meantime there are at least 30 other games being made.

This is 2019. People use keyboards in their daily lives and have expectations for them, especially since they are the primary interface to the machine. The quality of the keyboard can impact on the perceived quality of the whole.

Personally, I think ULANext is not the same as ULAPlus as it's just essentially a completely new Video Mode for the Next making Next only games look better, more unique and ultimately less like a Spectrum. While I understand ULAPlus isn't to everyone's tastes, at least the games still look like Spectrum games, albeit slightly more enhanced graphically.



Personally again, I would have preferred the ULAPlus, but if it's been dropped then that's fine.

Yes, 14MHz is still in there - sorry I forgot it was 28 MHz that was dropped. However 28MHz boost was announced as an official update in June 2017 here: https://www.specnext.com/new-turbo-modes-14-and-28mhz/

(with a retracted update from January 2018 saying 28MHz wouldn't be available).

SID might have been one of those features that was hinted at, but the FM sound was definitely listed in the Campaign (in fact it's still there), but that too seems to have been quietly dropped.

There have been no updates on the status of Rex Next, Dizzy or Nodes of Yesod in months - all three of those games were promised as part of Stretch goals (which were met)

Image

But my point is that many features were promised but have been dropped. I'm OK with that as they've made the decision that it would either take up too much time or resources to implement them.

But what they haven't dropped is the Modern Feel Keyboard and while that's is nice to have, let's be honest it's caused significant headaches and delays. They've doggedly stuck with the keyboard design, as with my original post making the recent Next updates feel like I've backed a keyboard, not a new Spectrum.

Has the old 35+ year old keyboard design of the original Spectrum stopped people playing them? No! I still play my original Spectrum - in fact you could say the keyboard feel adds a bit of genuine experience!
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Re: ZX Spectrum Next Discussion

Post by toot_toot » Wed May 15, 2019 11:29 am

beanz wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 3:34 pm
Remember this is supposed to be open source when everythings done and dusted...meaning people can write their own cores. If you want sid and other features I'm sure at some point cores will be released for it.
Sorry to be "moaning" again, but yes you're right. This was an Open Source project, the Campaign stated
Most importantly, once launched, the Spectrum Next will be fully open source, including its firmware and schematics, meaning the community will be able to take it further into the future by improving both its software and hardware!
At the time people were excited at the thought of the same board design being used for other projects, like a Commodore 64 Next, MSX Next etc, after all the FPGA is reportedly capable of handling most 8-bit computers (I believe 16-bit computers were a bit too demanding).

The board only version of the Next was released in November 2017, but reportedly the team haven't released the source code or schematics in fear of clones being made before the cased Next is released. That's fine, but now that they're running 18 months behind schedule, that's 18 months lost for other teams using the same, open source, design for other machines or even improvements by the community to the Next itself.

But what worries me is that the team are now talking about a second Kickstarter campaign once the cased Nexts are released, does that mean Open Source will also be quietly dropped as any clones could impact the success of the second Kickstarter campaign?
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