Monthly Archives: May 2017

Fast Serial Board

Thanks to Derek Stewart, I’ve been able to add the schematics for Terry Harman’s fast serial board for QL, allowing communication speeds up to 115,200 baud.

Plotter files included for printed circuit board, GAL 20v8 prog logic etc.

Three files available to download in all – go to the hardware documents page on my website, scroll down to the ‘Fast Serial Board’ section:

http://www.dilwyn.me.uk/docs/hardware/index.html

New Toolkit 2

For the first time in nearly two decades, a new version of Toolkit 2 has been released.

A Toolkit 2 original EPROM cartridge from Care Electronics

Working from SMSQ/E sources, Marcel set out to re-create something resembling Toolkit 2 from them again. Although it proved to be more work than he’d anticipated (not that this ever deterred our Marcel!) Toolkit 2 version 2.30 was born.

Many SMSQ/E features were left intact if feasible, such as LOAD appending a “_bas” extension to filenames of SuperBASIC programs. Some of the new and useful SBASIC extensions were also included. Some features got dropped such as the ALARM and CLOCK and the network fileserver FSERVE (since the networkis critically timed, it may run at different speeds from RAM, rendering it unusable).

The extended MDV driver sources are long since missing and not present in SMSQ/E so Marcel re-engineered that from an existing ROM binary.

Since most people now use the Extended Environment, Marcel decided to drop most of the ALTKEY code since that is better replaced by the Hotkey extensions, but the Alt-Enter last line recall was kept.

Most of the stuff dropped was done to save space in the ROM, as it has to be kept to no bigger than 16K bytes.

Version 2.30 was quickly replaced by v2.31 to fit an old bug in the CDEC$ extension.

It is now available to download in ROM image and RAM-based RESPR version (the RAM-based version includes full ALTKEY code because space doesn’t matter so much here). The source files are also available.

Download from Marcel’s site at https://www.kilgus.net/2017/03/19/toolkit-ii-the-sequel/

Gold QL

Darren Branagh came across a YouTube video of a Thames TV programme called ‘4 Computer Buffs’ from 1985 which features a 9-carat Gold QL (literally!) from Aspreys Jewellers in the opening headlines, the price back then a cool £3,500! Several people asked what happened to this QL – any of our members know?

The programme interviews Sir Clive Sinclair about the relaunch of the QL in 1985, where Jane Ashton and Sir Clive discuss matters perceived to be hindering the success of the QL at the time, such as microdrives and lack of software. They also discuss the future launch of a Sinclair portable which was to have been Z80/Spectrum based, later becoming the Pandora and Z88. They also discuss the Wafer-Scale Integration.

Sir Clive also describes the micro of the future as one you can talk to to ask questions about your health and so on. This sounds remarkably like the Alexa and other modern systems, proving that he was quite a visionary even back then!

You can also see a system whereby software was transmitted via the video display as a flashing dot in a black circle on screen ready for a photo-receptor to decode as a software download.

See the 15 minute excerpt at

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXFGwfbfBK0&app=desktop

QPTR

QPTR is Tony Tebby’s pointer environment programming package, a programming toolkit for assembler and BASIC. This is version 1.4 from Wolfgang Lenerz.

Source files, ready to be compiled with QMac are available. If you want to recompile this, please read the readme_txt file in the zip file for the binary file, and note that you will need certain key files from the SMSQ/E sources.

Download QPTR from http://www.dilwyn.me.uk/program/index.html

The manual is available at http://www.dilwyn.me.uk/docs/manuals/index.html#techguides

QL Forum Adventure

An amusing little text adventure created with Adventure Shell, all centred on the QL Forum. Raid the QL Forum dungeons to steal Rob Heaton and vanpeebles’s beloved QL interfaces, try to find the XorA’s password book to open the exit door and beware of assorted monsters such as The Dilwyn and his pet fire-breathing red dragon, Swenson and RWAP – collect weapons like a patio chair to fight with. Full of in-jokes about QL Forum.

A nice example game written in BASIC showing what can be achieved with Adventure Shell (does not need the Adventure Shell itself to run). Written by David Denham (“dden” on QL Forum).

Game state can be saved if you wish to suspend play at some point and come back to the game later.

Download it from http://www.dilwyn.me.uk/games/adventures/index.html

QL Forum Adventure

Adventure Shell

David Denham’s port of the late Tim Hartnell’s Adventure Shell is now available to download from the Adventure Games section of my website.

Written in BASIC, this is a simple package to help create new adventure games, simply by altering names and descriptions in an easy to edit and well documented BASIC program. Adventure itself consist of one BASIC program and a Quill _doc file, that’s all. Free to use and without restriction other than naming the author, this package provides a simple way to author new adventure games without having to learn any new game creation software.

As supplied, it’s already a very simple playable no-frills game.

The finished game is a SuperBASIC program – compile it with Turbo or Q-Liberator if you wish.

Hopefully, users of this package will send in example games created to make available on the page.

Download Adventure Shell from http://www.dilwyn.me.uk/games/adventures/index.html

QL Adventure Shell

QXLdump

Not a graveyard for old QXL cards (I’m sure we’d all be off to salvage QXLs and parts if it was!), but rather something Norman Dunbar has been up to, but don’t worry, it’s relatively benign. He writes:

I’m playing with QXL.WIN files, again! As part of something I’m working on, I needed a simple way to examine the internals of a qxl.win file in an easy manner. To this end, QXLDump was born.

At the moment I have a download for 64 bit Linux and 32/64 bit Windows only.

You can see a sample of my current win3 drive – which is a full set of the Sqlite 3 sources from some time back, at

http://qdosmsq.dunbar-it.co.uk/downloads/QXLDump/win3.html

The file was created with a random selection of options!

There is a verbose mode, not demonstrated, which hexdumps each and every block making up the directories, files etc – best avoided unless you are debugging a foible, or something similar!

The Read-me file is at:

http://qdosmsq.dunbar-it.co.uk/downloads/QXLDump/README.html

The Linux 64 bit download is at:

http://qdosmsq.dunbar-it.co.uk/downloads/QXLDump/QXLDump

The Windows download is at:

http://qdosmsq.dunbar-it.co.uk/downloads/QXLDump/QXLDump.exe

No additional libraries etc are required, everything is in plain vanilla C++ with the odd bit of the STL thrown in for good measure – thats the Standard Template Library.

As ever, source code is available at my GitHub location, and will be cloned into the SinclairQL repository as soon as I’m happy with it. I have a couple of minor changes to make, but nothing spectacular. The source is at:

https://github.com/NormanDunbar/QXLDump

which you can freely clone if you already use git, or, download as a zip file from this location:

https://github.com/NormanDunbar/QXLDump/archive/master.zip

The utility allows you to dump out the following:

The header
The map
The root directory
The free space list
Any datafile
Any directory
Any single block

And most of the above can be accompanied by a hexdump – if you are brave.

Output is only to HTML at the moment and I have no plans to make it text only, at the moment – but if you have that particular itch, feel free to scratch it and add the required code to do exactly that.