A short, if belated update to how the maker community is helping tackle to Coronavirus. Again these are just some links that I spotted during normal web browsing.
It’s not very often that I comment on current events but the Coronavirus or COVID-19 or SARS-Cor-19 is too big a world event not to have some views about. As a maker and also a professional (cough) engineer I’ve been intrigued by the maker community’s response to these events. We’ve seen makers use their faculties to make face masks and face shields using 3D printers, sewing machines etc. not for themselves but for their wider local community and their local health professionals to help protect others against the spread of the virus.
There are many makers and maker companies that have been very proactive in this, just naming a few, companies like Adafruit have lead the way and their blog has many posts. Other useful sites I found are:
Maker communities such as Hackaday and Instructables also have many useful posts. As well as the blog entries themselves, the various comment section are full of very interesting points made by reverent professionals, as well as interesting details and suggestions by other interested parties. Below is a short list of some of the other links found:
In addition, many universities and other groups have also proposed alternative equipment designs and builds:
Scientic and Medical Journals and Articlas:
Standards and Regulation
And finally, its also the call to arms by many governments to their countries biggest or best industrial companies to help eleaviate their medical equipment shortages. The mainstream media have been quick to jump on these stories of Formula 1 teams, big defence and big consumer companies banding together to rapidily design and manufacture the much needed medical equipments. Others have asked why their countries are not doing the same or enacting war time or emergency powers to allow manufactures to quickly add their manufacturing might to the effort.
Now I’m back on my retro computers I’ve put together this quick guide for those looking to diagnose and repair ZX Spectrum computers.
Schematics and Service Manuals:
Having a set of schematics or even better a full service manual is the good thing to have before starting any repair. Fortunately for us, full schematics and service manuals for the all ZX Spectrum models are available on the web. I have my Speccy schematics printed out on the biggest paper size I’ve got access to, namely A3. The service manuals are a great place to start when looking to diagnose a fault.
Schematics and Service manuals can be found at:
IC Data sheets
Diagnostic Software Tools:
Happily the ZX Spectrum has quite a few diagnostic software tools to help the would be fixer in his fault diagnostics. Most of these are based on external ROM device which avoids the need to have a fully working Speccy or the problem of loading diagnostic software from tape.
Here’s a few ROM based diagnostic tools
Brendan Alford on github has “ZX Diagnostic”
Paul Farrow of fruitcake has the following ROM tools: 128K RAM Tester & ROM Tester
he also has the official Sinclair Test ROM as well
Phil Ruston of Retroleum has the following “ZX Spectrum Diagnostic ROM”
Screw Drivers: Philips and flat blade
IC extraction tool
Power Supply (Adjustable/current limited)
Diagnostic software tools (see above)
TV Monitor/Screen (or car reversing monitor for composite video)
Anti static wrist or foot strap
IPA Wipes (no not the beer) – Isopropyl alcohol to clean edge connectors and contacts
Good web sites:
If the your own best efforts have not yet found the problem then there several good web sites that share their repair achievements where you can search. I like the following sites:
Dave Currah of Tynemouth Software
If you’re still no wiser, then try asking on one of the various Retro Computing Forums or general electronic forums in their repair section if they have one.
Remember to share as much information about the Speccy model, what it is not doing and what you have tried so far. Avoid simple statements like “Speccy not working please help”. It goes without saying that following the forums etiquette for posting will usually get you a more productive and polite response.
World of Spectrum forums
These are more general forums:
Wow, it is 10-years to the day, on this day back on 26th March 2009 that I first wrote not only my first blog entry but also started my first blog here.
This blog started as way to share some of the projects I was working on and also some of the techie things that interested me.
Much has changed in these last 10-years. We’ve seen the rise of the maker community. The establishment of the maker ecosystem. The adoption of cheap development platforms such as the Raspberry Pi, Arduino, Beaglebone Black and many others as not only great educational devices but also serious tools.
So what have been the highlights?
Helping start Makerspace Northeast in Newcastle
Attending and meeting numerous makers at the various Maker Faires and maker events I visited and participated at.
Making many new friends through the maker communities.
Getting one of the very first Raspberry Pi’s back in April 2012 and then being persuaded to give one of the very first public talks about what a cool thing its was.
Spreading the maker idea and gospel via our own local eDay events.
I wonder where will the next 10-years take us?
It was with great sadness that I read that Maker Faire UK will not be coming back next year.
The venue Centre for Life in Newcastle has hosted the maker event since 2009 and was the very first venue to host a Maker Faire outside of the United States.
I’ve been a regular visitor and exhibitor since 2010 and enjoyed every moment of my time at it.
Fortunately, there are still plenty of other Mini Maker Faire’s in the UK and I’ll hopefully be visiting some of them next year instead.
So a final thank you to Maker Faire UK, to the people who organised it, to the exhibitors who showed off many great projects and to the many visitors who came to see what it was all about.
Here’s the message from Maker Faire UK web site:
In 2009, Life Science Centre brought Maker Faire to the UK and has hosted the country’s flagship event ever since. Over that time, the popularity of making activities in the UK has sky-rocketed.
Life is proud to have been pioneers in this growing Maker movement, but we feel the time is right to make a change and to bid a fond farewell to Maker Faire UK. Lovers of all things making needn’t fear, as we’re opening a new space in Life Science Centre dedicated to crafting, tinkering and creativity in the spring of 2019.
When design and building my recent RC2014 boards one of the things I’ve found most useful and fun to re-read them after so many years has been my collection of great old tech books and data books. You’ll probably recognise a few of them. Here’s a brief list in no particular order:
Following our earlier announcement we’re added the following Raspberry Pi Zero add-on boards to our Tindie store.
Available on Tindie here:
Available on Tindie here:
For PropBerry, I was thinking using a Parallax Propeller* (or just Prop) as a super i/o co-processor for the RPi where the Prop would be used to offload the real-time I/O and let the RPi handle the higher program features. After talking about this combo on the Parallax forums, the Props VGA video capabilities were mentioned which got me thinking about using the PropBerry as a VGA serial terminal console and shelve the i/o co-processor idea for now.
The Parallax community is great and they’ve released a lot of good stuff. One of the things I remember (from about 2009) was Vincent Briel’s PockeTerm terminal software for the Prop. Using this on a Propeller Demo Board gives us a VGA video output and PS/2 keyboard for user input. A serial interface connects the Propeller demo board to the Raspberry Pi.
* The Parallax P8X32A Propeller chip (or just Prop) is a cool chip. It is a multi-core architecture parallel microcontroller with eight 32-bit RISC CPU cores (cogs) which share a common hub of 32K-RAM
The Maker Faire UK was back at Newcastle on the weekend 12th and 13th March 2011.
This year Abs and Sid were actually looking forward to going to the Faire, no arguments or huffy pants, in the back of the car they jumped and off we went.
This years Maker Faire as definitely bigger and better than last years. More floor space, more stands and more visitors.
In the makerspace, Abs decided to build a Maker Faire UK 2011 LED Badge, a RGB light thingy and a Drawdio noise making pencil. While Sid built the same LED badge and RGB light thingy but chose to build a LED light cube instead of the Drawdio.
It was great to meet some old friends and makers:
Aaron from Oomlout was there with their Arduino boards.
Jim and Kat from Sonodrome with their 555 step sequencer and their newest project an AUV (looking forward to seeing it fly Jim 🙂 )
Brian from Lab in a Box showing off his chemistry skills with his college showing off an early version of the OpenPCR.
Oli was there again with his interactive light table
John brought his UK101’s again and a new or should I say “old” Roland plotter churnning out coloured drawings.
and some new makers
Mark founder of Minty Geek was showing off their neat electronics kits.
Malcolm from Weird Motors with an array of homebuilt electric vehicles
Dave from BodgeitQuick with an impressive homebuilt RepRap
Martin showing off his mini ROV’s.
The legend poster that is Mike Cook (aka Grump Mike) from the Arduino forums showing off his Electric Harp and Hexome Arduino sequencer.
The world renouned hardware hacker Mitch Altman was there again working the maker area, helping the young and old to get making. The old guy from the Gadget Show was doing the rounds with a camera crew.