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.
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beanz
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Re: ZX Spectrum Next Discussion

Post by beanz » Wed May 15, 2019 3:47 pm

Yes I was wondering myself about the Open Source situation now they have pretty much announced another run of not only the cased next but the board only option too.

I can see it being a bit of "shoot yourself in the foot" to release the docs and then try to sell more of them. Still, I doubt anyone has the resources and/or inclination to create the case...the board only though should be pretty much something anyone could easily replicate.
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Re: ZX Spectrum Next Discussion

Post by Alcoholics Anonymous » Wed May 15, 2019 5:00 pm

toot_toot wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 11:16 am
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.
I think you have a misunderstanding of what ULAnext is - it serves the exact same purpose as ULAPlus. Both change the palette of the existing spectrum colours but do nothing to the colour resolution. You can colour existing games using ULAnext just like you can with ULAplus.

There are two things you can do in the next.

One is you can use the spectrum like normal and you can change the palette entries for ink, bright ink, paper, bright paper to different colours (each colour is 9-bit). So you could change ink 2 (red) to something else, eg, brown. Then all red ink pixels will be brown. Bright red ink is different - you could change that independently to orange, eg. This is straight up colour substitution.

ULAnext is a step further. It changes the meaning of an attribute byte by letting you specify how many of the rightmost bits in the attribute byte will be considered the ink colour. The rest are taken as the paper colour. ULAplus does the same thing but the rightmost 3 bits are always ink and the next 3 bits are always paper. This would be equivalent to a ULAnext format byte of 0x07. Where they depart is ULAplus uses the bright and flash bits to select different palette sets whereas ULAnext only uses the flash and paper bits to extend the paper colour selection (or ink selection if the format byte has more bits set).
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).
It crashes the machine. It's not really useful if it's going to do that :(

Everyone is committed to providing the best machine possible but there's also an eye on what was promised in the kickstarter as that is what people pledged money for. In the kickstarter, 7MHz is what was promised so getting 14MHz is icing.
FM sound was definitely listed in the Campaign (in fact it's still there), but that too seems to have been quietly dropped.
Yes FM has been dropped because it takes up too much space. You'd have to choose other things to remove to make space for it. The SID was being considered as the FM option as was this:



Another option being considered is enhancing the AY. But what can be done depends on priorities and available fpga space. The core is not done yet - it's still being developed.
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)
The oliver twins were taking the new dizzy game design + screenshots on tour to many retro events last year. The game will be for both the 128k and the Next with the Next seeing some enhancements (but not too many from what I have seen - multiple AY and clashless sprites are what I noticed. Perhaps they would change the palette too as that's something easy to do). I think the dev is fairly far along.

Rex Next and Nodes are being done by the original programmers. I haven't seen much from them but it is still going. This is dependent on their spare time.

There's a wip video for the 128k version of wonderful dizzy on the specnext games site:
https://www.spectrumnextgames.uk/#Games
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.
I don't think very much has been dropped.
Processor: Z80 3.5Mhz and 7Mhz modes
Memory: 512Kb RAM (expandable to 1.5Mb internally and 2.5Mb externally)
Video: Hardware sprites, 256 colours mode, Timex 8x1 mode etc.
Video Output: RGB, VGA, HDMI
Storage: SD Card slot, with DivMMC-compatible protocol
Audio: 3x AY-3-8912 audio chips with stereo output + FM sound
Joystick: DB9 compatible with Cursor, Kempston and Interface 2 protocols (selectable)
PS/2 port: Mouse with Kempston mode emulation and an external keyboard
Special: Multiface functionality for memory access, savegames, cheats etc.
Tape support: Mic and Ear ports for tape loading and saving
Expansion: Original external bus expansion port and accelerator expansion port
Accelerator board (optional): GPU / 1Ghz CPU / 512Mb RAM
Network (optional): Wi Fi module
Extras: Real Time Clock (optional), internal speaker (optional)
Everything in this list is in except the FM sound.
The expansion bus and accelerator are still seeing some work.

Stretch goals:

(done) there must be two
(done) box of memories
(active) nodes of yesod
(active) internet toolbox
(active) we play more
(done) holy manual
(done) never forget
(active) make me dizzy
(active) rex next
(done) expand me easy
(done) stronger zx next

Let's not forget that there have been additions way beyond these lists in both the software and hardware. As just one example, neither Sinclair nor Amstrad ever contributed as much to the operating system as what is in NextZXOS.
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Re: ZX Spectrum Next Discussion

Post by Firefox » Thu May 16, 2019 2:24 pm

Alcoholics Anonymous wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 5:00 pm
...
Memory: 512Kb RAM (expandable to 1.5Mb internally and 2.5Mb externally)
...
Did they really mean 512 kilobits of RAM, or did they perhaps mean 512 kilobytes?
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Re: ZX Spectrum Next Discussion

Post by Seven.FFF » Thu May 16, 2019 2:54 pm

Kilobytes lol.

So arguably the original goal of 512 Kilobits and the stretch goal of 1 Megabits have been vastly exceeded! Even more so if you consider Kb and Mb to denote 1,000 and 1,000,000 respectively, like nobody sane did ever unless they were referring to a drive storage context.
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Re: ZX Spectrum Next Discussion

Post by Sokurah » Thu May 16, 2019 4:15 pm

Firefox wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 2:24 pm
Alcoholics Anonymous wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 5:00 pm
...
Memory: 512Kb RAM (expandable to 1.5Mb internally and 2.5Mb externally)
...
Did they really mean 512 kilobits of RAM, or did they perhaps mean 512 kilobytes?
Please tell me that wasn't a serious question?
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My games for the Spectrum: Dingo, The Speccies, The Speccies 2, Vallation & Sqij.
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Re: ZX Spectrum Next Discussion

Post by Firefox » Thu May 16, 2019 4:27 pm

Sokurah wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 4:15 pm
Please tell me that wasn't a serious question?
Yes...?

Oh well, I'm off to drink 500Ml of beer! ;)
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Re: ZX Spectrum Next Discussion

Post by toot_toot » Fri May 17, 2019 2:37 pm

Alcoholics Anonymous wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 5:00 pm

I don't think very much has been dropped.
Processor: Z80 3.5Mhz and 7Mhz modes
Memory: 512Kb RAM (expandable to 1.5Mb internally and 2.5Mb externally)
Video: Hardware sprites, 256 colours mode, Timex 8x1 mode etc.
Video Output: RGB, VGA, HDMI
Storage: SD Card slot, with DivMMC-compatible protocol
Audio: 3x AY-3-8912 audio chips with stereo output + FM sound
Joystick: DB9 compatible with Cursor, Kempston and Interface 2 protocols (selectable)
PS/2 port: Mouse with Kempston mode emulation and an external keyboard
Special: Multiface functionality for memory access, savegames, cheats etc.
Tape support: Mic and Ear ports for tape loading and saving
Expansion: Original external bus expansion port and accelerator expansion port
Accelerator board (optional): GPU / 1Ghz CPU / 512Mb RAM
Network (optional): Wi Fi module
Extras: Real Time Clock (optional), internal speaker (optional)
Everything in this list is in except the FM sound.
The expansion bus and accelerator are still seeing some work.

Stretch goals:

(done) there must be two
(done) box of memories
(active) nodes of yesod
(active) internet toolbox
(active) we play more
(done) holy manual
(done) never forget
(active) make me dizzy
(active) rex next
(done) expand me easy
(done) stronger zx next
Well, you could say that technically none of those have been delivered to cased Next backers.... and until they get the keyboard working, there's no sign of when they will be delivered to cased Next backers.
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Re: ZX Spectrum Next Discussion

Post by Seven.FFF » Fri May 17, 2019 2:46 pm

You could say that, but it was said in reponse to
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.
not as a statement that everyone has received their machines. Those people who have received their machines so far can attest that those features haven't been dropped.

What you're saying is analogous to "Ford has removed the engine from the 2020 Focus. I know this because the 2020 Focus hasn't been delivered to dealerships yet, so nobody has received an engine until everyone who has preordered receives their car."
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Re: ZX Spectrum Next Discussion

Post by Alcoholics Anonymous » Fri May 17, 2019 5:03 pm

Firefox wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 4:27 pm
Yes...?

Oh well, I'm off to drink 500Ml of beer! ;)
lol. I'm with you - I know the importance of using proper units. Having a mega- anything even something that looks as small as an "l", probably means we won't see you until next week.
toot_toot wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 11:29 am
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, ............ 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.
Actually several people who were interested in helping out were given access to the core source. Only two outside the team have contributed anything (myself and Garry Lancaster).

Someone familiar with the uno was given the ucf file which they used to generate a core for the next.

People interested in doing things could have been doing them; the reality is only a few will get around to doing anything. But for sure the core source will not be opened until the kickstarter pledges are completed.

The schematics have been available for a while. I think what surprised everyone is that someone managed to make a portable spectrum next without any help at all:

https://www.dorchester3d.com/printing/b ... t-handheld

Where there's a will there's a way.

The same goes for the software end. There's actually a fairly strong set of development tools available now and emulators that can emulate important aspects of the machine. Information about the hardware and operating system is available.
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?
I can see it being a bit of "shoot yourself in the foot" to release the docs and then try to sell more of them. Still, I doubt anyone has the resources and/or inclination to create the case...the board only though should be pretty much something anyone could easily replicate.
It will be opened after the first kickstarter. No one will be able to replicate the zx next exactly because of the case as you say. Existing fpga computers will be able to do most things but will probably miss one or more of the wifi, rtc, pi, joysticks, no-delay keyboard.. and I am hopeful there will be some good reasons to have a pi even for non-linux or pi tinkerers. Nothing will stop people from making their own pcbs. Maybe with a board only offer, there won't be much difference in pricing between a 3rd party pcb and an official one, especially if the official one can benefit from volume discounting.
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Re: ZX Spectrum Next Discussion

Post by Pegaz » Fri Jun 14, 2019 8:26 pm

Another month passed...
I cant access spectrum next forum, at the moment.
Always gives me some certificate error??
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