I recently bought myself some ZX Spectrum games and decided I should try them out today.

So I got out my Spectrum 128k +2 and plugged it all in and spent 20 minutes trying to get it tuned in before I realised I had plugged in the wrong aerial lead from the TV. Once the right lead was plugged in things looked a lot better, and I was ready to load a game. I put “Πr2” in the tape drive and started the loading process. I heard the Spectrum tape noises but the screen wasn’t going red and blue striped like it should and no game loaded. I tried some of the others, nothing. Then I tried some of my old games, still nothing. Adjusting the little screw for the tape head also did nothing to help.

Eventually after much tapping of the sides of the Speccy, I got a loading screen (a note for those who weren’t born early enough to know this, it was well known that misbehaving appliances would work if you banged the side of them particularly TV sets) and Kat Trap’s loading screen was displayed as the lines continued flickering for another few minutes

And then the sound continued but the striped lines disappeared, indicating that the loading had failed. I tried a few more resets, and tapes but got nothing in return.

I decided it was time to dig out an old cassette player and the trusty 48K ZX Spectrum

After the usual TV tuning trials, and messing with a dodgy power lead, I found that this piece of retro computing history was also in need of some investigation (banging the side didn’t help again, I must have lost my touch) to find out why it wouldn’t go beyond the copyright screen. So I gave up on the Speccys and decided instead to look into why my recently purchased Atari XE only displays a red screen.

With that in mind I removed the screws and separated the two halves of the Atari 8 bit computer leaving this on show inside the lower half.

I removed the metal shelled circuit board from the lower half and found it was held together by twisted tags around the edges which had to be straightened

Once the two halves are separated the circuit board comes out in one go looking like this

A careful inspection of the board and the traces showed nothing obviously wrong, no capacitors bulging, no components melted and no broken or corroded tracks which I was half hoping would be the case as they are easier to spot and remedy than component diagnostics and replacement. I did spot that the terminals in the power supply connector were very open, and may not have been connecting properly to give both required voltages. On closing them and testing there was no change in the functionality of the Atari, so I think it’s dead Jim.

I’ve put it back together and am contemplating using it to make a case for a Mini ITX or Raspberry Pi powered device which could look funky in this case with it’s multi coloured buttons. Comment below if you have any other ideas how I could use the case, and please keep it retro 🙂

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