Monthly Archives: February 2017

The Italian Average QL User

A survey of Italian QL users found that:

By analyzing the answers it was found that the “average Italian QL user” has had (and still has) more than 2 QLs and only one-third of the sample had a single QL. As their preferred emulator, QPC and Qemulator are head-to-head, with little more than 10% using Qlay. Other emulators are just unused.

As for the additional devices, no QL user has ever maintained his computer in its basic version. Therefore, the “average configuration” is as follows: QL with Minerva ROM, Qubide, Gold Card and Trump Card.

Also interesting is to note that the QL or its emulator are mainly used almost daily or monthly, and users programmed in Superbasic in the past even if there is more than a third of them who still works on the code today.

Finally Black Phoenix is considered an interesting system, but it’s not used by the most because it does not replace a normal PC. A third of users utilize it as an alternative to PCs for personal data while another third is not interested in the project.

Survey source:

To help any new Italian QL users, Davide Santachiara compiled this little list of online QL facilities in Italy.

There is an Italian mailing list. To subscribe just send an email to

Quantum technology web site:

Ergon Development web site:

QL/E v3.15

Codenamed “Grey heron”, Edition 1611 of QL/E is out now from Urs König.

QL/E is a modern and compact ready to run QL Environment (applications, demos, desktops, games, tools, utilities). QL/E comes loaded and pre-configured with a good selection of programs including a nicely setup desktop built using QPAC, QTop, Qascade and QDT. QL/E includes the the latest versions of the virtual QL machines (aka emulators) QPC2 and SMSQmulator and the operating system SMSQ/E.

The main change is that it comes with brand-new versions of SMSQ/E and SMSQmulator (September/October 2016) from Wolfgang Lenerz plus the very latest IPNet from Martin Head.

Support for the various QL compatible platforms (QPC2, SMSQmulator, QXL, QPC1, QemuLator, uQLx, QL-SD) has been vastly improved.

Plus QL/E can now be fully and easy be configured.

Go and get it here:

Screenshot from QL/E

Black Phoenix 1.3.2

The QL software compilation Black Phoenix version 1.3.2 codename “Adelchi” (after a late Italian QL user, Adelchi Moscardini), was released on November 20 during the thirteenth Italian Sinclair QL meeting by Giorgio Garabello.

Further information about Black Phoenix on

Probably the most prominent change is the new WiQget feature. These are small standalone programs (like “Widgets”, from the name WIndows gaDGET originally) which exist in a bar towards the right of the screen, piling on top of each other without overlapping where possible.

WiQgets are little programs whose job is to stay on the desktop providing different kind of information. Every WiQget has a single job: one can have a WiQget which shows a calendar, another one which gives the current time/date and so on. Many WiQgets might fulfill the same task, simply showing the same results in different ways. It’s up to the user to choose what WiQget to use.

Every WiQget is simply a colored rectangle 250 pixels wide, showing some kind of data. Colors used are taken from the loaded system palette, so they depend on the loaded theme. There are no titlebars or pushbuttons. By hitting DO on any point of their surface, a tiny menu appears on their surface with six icon, each one of them devoted to a specific function.

Sample WiQgets screen dump

Other changes in this version of Black Phoenix are to the button frame – “Active Buttons” – and the new Extended Themes. These build on the colour themes implemented in the Window Manager 2, by adding desktop wallpapers, desktop icons, system fonts and more.

Black Phoenix can be downloaded from

RWAP Software 30th Anniversary

1st November 2016 marked the 30th anniversary of the launch of RWAP Software and as part of the celebrations Rich Mellor released some of his titles as freeware and held a competition to win some QL software.

Software released included the StoQL screen converter, Quick Mandelbrot III, 3D Terrain, Sidewriter sideways spreadsheet printer, RWAP Software versions of QL Payroll and QL Cash Trader, QL Genealogist and the ProForma Epson Esc/P2 colour driver.

These are all available to download from my website – have a look at the List Of Site Updates page to find out which package is available from which pages.

To win the competition you had to name your favourite game and why, and where possible include a link to the game description on QL Wiki.

The winner of the competition was Giorgio Garabello from Italy. However, Giorgio felt unable to do justice to winning the full set of 9 game collections, worth over £200, so he kindly offered to share the prize with six other worthy participants.

Italian QL Meeting

The 13th Italian QL meeting took place on Sunday 20th November 2016 at the DTM Technologies premises in Modena.

Organiser Davide Santachiara reported after the meeting that 9 people attended from all over Italy, with others attending remotely via WebEx conference. Many others apologised that they were unable to attend on the day, showing that there was still a healthy interest in QL meetings in Italy.

An English session was held in the afternoon so that QL users outside Italy could take part. It was a pretty busy day and the start time for the English session was delayed slightly to 3pm. A total of 18 people took part in that.

Davide expressed thanks to Jan Bredenbeek, Marcel Kilgus, and Urs König for their contributions to the discussions. They talked about their story, past projects, QL meetings around Europe,  Fidonet BBS, ZX81, Giro d’Italia, MIST, and also talked about ongoing and future projects like Urs König and Giorgio Garabello’s QL distribution packages, Black Phoenix, The Distribution and QL/E.

This was the 13th Italian QL meeting, first one being in Gardone Riviera (1989).

Davide says that pictures and videos taken at the meeting will be made available in the coming weeks – keep an eye on the web page


Peter Graf issued the following list of features of his proposed FPGA-based Q68 QL compatible board, via QL Forum. Peter says that a version of SMSQ/E is being ported to it, and work is well advanced save for the lack of a mouse driver and ethernet driver at the time of writing. Peter has in the past worked on porting a QLwIP driver for the ethernet system, but it only ever existed for QDOS systems.

Preliminary specs:

  • Plain 68000 core, running approximately at QXL speed
  • 32 MB SDRAM
  • PS/2 keyboard and mouse
  • Two fullsize SDHC card interfaces
  • SER
  • Ethernet
  • Battery buffered realtime clock (battery separate from clock device)
  • Stereo sampled sound output
  • 1024×768 VESA VGA signal, QL modes in hardware, Q60 highcolor modes
  • 8×10 cm board size, fits existing case
  • Extension bus, 8 bit data width
  • Single 5V power supply



  • Maybe Ethernet will exist, but not become a specified feature
  • Will run SMSQ/E with high colour drivers
  • QDOS Classic and Minerva exist, but may not be released+maintained for lack of time
  • Sound quality may be reduced during SDHC card access
  • Further video modes better suitable for Full HD Monitors in consideration for later upgrade
  • Cache and 68020 support in consideration for later upgrade
  • Maybe Q68 will only be possible as tinkerer/community project without official support
  • Q68 is far slower than a Q60! Highres+highcolor screen modes can significantly reduce system speed


There is no news yet as to when the board is likely to make an appearance (a prototype was shown at the QL meeting in Edinburgh a while back), nor who might be building and selling the boards. Peter did caution that although work on porting SMSQ/E was ongoing, all this is subject to his time and health permitting.

Prototype redesigned Q68 board

Q68 board (left), unconnected inside a QL case

SMSQmulator 2.20

Version 2.20 of SMSQmulator, the Java based emulator of an SMSQ/E based system, has been released by Wolfgang Lenerz. Download it from

Wolfgang says: “This contains several bugfixes (stipples in mode 32, Beep, CMP instructions, file open on xFA devices), configuration of SSSS sample frequency and the possibility to copy the original QL screen to the extended display.

Christmas Toy

It must be Christmas when a software author sends you some new software and doesn’t know what to call it. Per Witte says it could be a screen saver, a toy, or just a gimmick. Inspired by the Matrix movies, he came up with this little program which can be used as a screen saver module under CueDark screen saver, for example, or simply as a stand alone relaxing toy of a program. It has a relaxing, calming, even hypnotic effect while running. Per calls it MatriQx and it can be downloaded from the Screen Savers section on my website at (CueDark screen saver is also available from the same page).

PCBdesign v7.47

Malcolm Lear continues to update this PCB design software. At the time of writing, version 7.47 has been released. Here’s a list of revisions in recent versions:

7.45 Changes  made  to  correctly  export  and  render  finger  pads composed of multiple polygons. NC  drill  correctly  determines  finger  pads  on single layer boards.

7.46 Revised order of editing control bits in the assembler code. Replacement bombsight symbol created to replace the pad version due  to  its  imminent  deprication  (bombsight is not really a pad).

Edit  mode  order  revised  when dealing with finger pads, now: corner > whole > pad > corner. When finger pads are edited such that they become tracks, editing mode change is: pad > corner.

Polygon  control  directives in the Reference/ID field such as: ‘ko’,’bg’,’pwr’,  and ‘gnd’ now automatically switch visibility off. Drill  hole  sizes correctly selecting on finger pads (via size was not masked out).

Finger  pad  edit  mode  always deselected by finger pad detect routine. Finger  pad holes and slots only appear on correctly identified finger pads. Finger  pad  hole  slot  size and shape can only be modified on correctly identifed finger pads.

7.47 Automatic Gerber export element and drill file logic for 4 or 6 layer  boards  was  a  mess, with many issues including missing intermediate  through  hole pads and incorrect drill files. All these  issues  and  many  more have been addressed with a major rewrite of the export routines. After this rewrite a crosscheck of  export  behavior was performed against the previous release using a complex 2 layer board to ensure correct operation. Input  checks  are now perfomed to ensure only legal layers for vias and elements can be entered.

Solder  resist,  solder  paste  and  plating  masks  can now be created  by  polygons  (zero width tracks) and can be edited as finger pads. Auto  resist  layer  for older designs is now 5 mil larger than the pad. Thermal pads are not drilled.

Download Lear PCB Design from the Graphics programs page on my website at

IPnet Update

Martin Head has released version 1.02 of IPnet, a device driver to re-enable the QL networking facilities of QPC2 using the built in IP device driver. It supports most of the features of the standard QL network including FSERVE and the NFS_USE device. Version 1.02, Martin says, has fixed “a problem with the IP_ADDR/NET command failing on IP addresses with octets greater than 100” and also “allows FSERVE on network stations with station numbers greater than 8”. User manual now included in Word/RTF/PDF formats. Download IPnet from