Category Archives: News

Easyptr

During the German ZX meeting a few months ago, too, a new EasyMenu was created by Marcel Kilgus, fixing a small bug that resulted in long startup time on the Q68. Marcel doesn’t think that the bug has other ill effects, but updating certainly will not do any harm:

Download the full Easyptr package, including the new Easymenu 4.11, from Marcel Kilgus’s website at:

Minerva For Q68

Q68 users can now opt to try out a version of Minerva for their system. This was ported by Jan Bredenbeek who has made it available via Github.

The Minerva operating system was originally designed as a replacement ROM operating system for the Sinclair QL computer, currently licenced under GPLv3. This port is aimed at the Q68, an FPGA-based replacement board for the QL. It is not intended as a serious alternative for the SMSQ/E OS supplied with the Q68, as SMSQ/E is far more extensive and better suited to support the Q68 hardware than the 48K ROM-based Minerva.

We just provide this port to demonstrate the Q68’s ability to run ‘oldskool’ ROM images, give Q68 users the Minerva look and feel, and maybe provide an opportunity to run badly written software that doesn’t run on SMSQ/E (but chances are big that this software won’t run on Minerva either).

The current Minerva build is based on v1.98, with a few modifications to run successfully on the Q68.

While the original Minerva for QL was 48K in length, this version is a 96K ROM image. In addition to the operating system, there is a keyboard driver specific for USA, UK and German keyboard layouts, together with a SDHC card driver. MDV driver is disabled as there is no MDV hardware on the Q68.

By default, the devices win1_ and win2_ will be mapped to container files QLWA.WIN on SDHC drives 1 and 2 respectively. If present, the devices qub1_ and qub2_ will be mapped to Qubide container files QL_BDI.BIN on SDHC drives 1 and 2 respectively. This can be changed by configuring the Q68_ROM.SYS file.

Maximum RAM is limited to 16MB because of the slave block structure, while the Q68 serial and network ports are not supported.

QL Magazine Scans

Thanks to Klaus Frank and Brian Kemmett, we believe we now have the complete set of QL User and QL World magazines from 1984 to the last known issue May 1994 scanned and available to download as PDF files.

Note that many of the scans are very large, up to about 80MB in size, so be aware of this before downloading!

Brian Kemmett has also scanned the four issues of the short-lived SUB (Super User Bureau) magazine and they are also available as PDF files.

Klaus Frank also scanned the QL New User Guide supplements which appeared in QL World magazine over the years. Thanks also to Cristian from QL Forum who was able to process the file to improve the scan quality and reduce the file size somewhat.

These latest scans join the existing scans of QLUB, QL Adventurers Forum and QL Leisure review magazines.

Download them all from http://www.dilwyn.me.uk/mags/index.html

Scanned copies of QL Today magazine are also available to download from http://sinclairql.net/qlt/index_english.htm (English editions) and http://www.sinclairql.net/qlt/index_deutsch.htm (German editions).

The last issue of QL World magazine

An issue of QL SUB magazine

ICEart and MiceArt Programs

Damon Chaplin has kindly given permission for the ArtIce (v1.1) and MiceArt (v1.2) programs to be released as freeware now.

Formerly published by Eidersoft, these programs are intended for use with the ICE (Icon Controlled Environment) system. Artice v1.1 is for the original ICE system, while MiceArt v1.2 is for use with the mouse version of ICE.

Both versions come with PDF manuals.

I don’t have a copy of ICE to ensure these actually work! If anyone is able to check them, we could do with a screen shot if possible to add to the QL Wiki.

Both Artice and MiceArt can be downloaded from the Graphics page on my website:

http://www.dilwyn.me.uk/graphics/index.html

QL World Magazine Scans

Thanks to the hard work of Klaus Frank in Denmark, I’ve been able to add further scanned copies of QL World magazine to the Magazines Page on the QL Home Page.

This means we now have a pretty complete collection of the PDFs up to the end of 1991.

Download the PDF files from:

http://www.dilwyn.me.uk/mags/index.html

It is worth mentioning that scanned copies of QL Today magazines are also available online, from Urs König’s website. The English editions may be downloaded from:

http://sinclairql.net/qlt/index_english.htm

while the German language editions may be downloaded from:

http://www.sinclairql.net/qlt/index_deutsch.htm

Qombi

Qombi is a new game from Per Witte. It runs on modes 16 to 33 GD2 colour systems only and needs just under 1MB of fast disk space and 1MB RAM with a minimum screen resolution of 512 x 384 pixels.

The rules are pretty easy to pick up, but here they are:

There are 81 cards. Each card has four attributes: Shape, Number, Colour, and Fill. Each attribute has three different “states”: The shapes are Ovals, Diamonds, and Rectangles. Numbers are One, Two and Three. Colours are Red, Green, and Blue. The fills are Full, Shaded, and Empty.

Initially, 12 cards are laid out on the table. If you can make up one or

more tricks, you can remove those cards. After one or more tricks have

been removed, You can replenish the table repeatedly, until the deck is

exhausted.

A trick is any three cards that have from zero to three attributes in common, with all the remaining attributes being different.

Points are given for each trick removed: one for each difference, two for each similarity. The points double for each extra trick removed without replenishing. Replenishing costs three points, unless you remove all the cards from the table in one turn.

If you get stuck and cannot remove any tricks from a full table, you can

select one or more cards and have them replaced. Each card replaced costs three points.

You can choose to play a timed game, it which case you start off with 20 extra points. However, each minute used, costs one point.

No news yet on a release date at the time of writing, sadly.

SuQcess and Q-CoCo Updates

Not many new features but lots of internal improvements. The Sort Key can be set from the DATA menu. A bug in locating the edited and sorted record from View is fixed. Better detection of Read-Only media. Updated ReadMe and Help files.

QCoCo is now version 1.63.

Supports the new binary _thb files next to the ascii _thm theme files. APPLY needs a Confirm or Undo action. RESET can reset the current theme or to the startup theme. A new Theme Viewer (by PJW) is included showing the colours and hex  numbers. Incomplete themes should not crash the program and are automatically  completed through the SYNCHRO option. Invalid, referenced and 3D items are marked when Viewing the colours. Can be started with a theme as CMD$ which overrides the config item. Updated ReadMe file.

Download them from Bob’s site at http://members.upc.nl/b.spelten/ql/

Wallpaper Program

Recent versions of SMSQ/E from about version 3.00 feature high colour and high resolution screens along with the new Window Manager. This makes them very suitable for displaying colourful and attractive background images behind your program windows.

These images are called wallpaper. SBASIC provides a convenient to use command called BGIMAGE which lets you display saved screens as background wallpaper. With the wealth and variety of free images available on the internet as JPEG, GIF and PNG files, for example, I decided to write a program which converts these images to the type of QL screens which the BGIMAGE command can use.

My Wallpaper program uses David Westbury’s PHGTK toolkit which shoulders the burden of the work in converting these files and resizing images to fit your system or emulator’s screen. It can convert the graphics to mode 16 (Aurora and QPC2), mode 32 (QPC2, SMSQmulator and QXL), or mode 33 (Q40, Q60, Q68 and possibly even a registered QemuLator with its own customised mode 33 version of SMSQ/E).

Simply select a JPEG, PNG or GIF file using the pointer driven file selection menu, then select whether it needs to be rotated, and how to resize the image (e.g. preserve aspect ratio, stretch, crop) and wait a few seconds for the conversion to take place. Small previews help you view the screens. Once the conversion is done, you can see a preview in full-screen mode, apply it as a BGIMAGE wallpaper, save as a screen in the current screen mode for future use and even get help editing your boot program to add or amend a BGIMAGE command so that the wallpaper is loaded at startup.

The program can even select a background colour to use in place of wallpaper if you wish (e.g. apply a dark background colour late at night to save your eyes from a bright screen).

The downside of using wallpaper on a high-colour system is the amount of memory it takes. On a 16-bit colour system such as QPC2 each pixel needs two bytes of memory, so a 1024×768 pixel display in mode 32 or 33 could need up to 1,572,864 bytes just to hold the uncompressed wallpaper – at the time of writing SMSQ/E does not support compressed wallpaper screen images. Couple this with the copious amounts of memory needed during conversion, and you can see that you will need to set your emulator to have quite a generous amount of memory! So, the Wallpaper program lets you choose whether the graphics are converted more quickly in RAM, or as files on your hard disk if you keep running out of memory.

The Wallpaper program uses the system palette so will follow whatever colour theme you’ve applied to your system (colour themes can be designed using the Q-CoCo program from Wolfgang Uhlig and Bob Spelten Jr.)

A Quill _doc file is included which explains a lot about wallpaper on SMSQ/E systems,the file formats used, the BGIMAGE command, use of programs such as Photon and so on.

Download the Wallpaper software and a few example graphic files from

http://www.dilwyn.me.uk/graphics/index.html

MDI/FDI Device Driver Updates

Martin Head has issued an update to his MDI and FDI (microdrive and floppy disk image) software. The version numbers for this update are:

MDI version 1.08
FDI 1 version 1.06
FDI 2 version 2.04

Martin reports:

“All three have had the same updates.

There are not any changes to the actual device driver, Just some tidying up of the SuperBASIC extension commands parameter checking and error handling.

Function versions of the MOUNT, UNMOUNT, and the MAKE commands have been added.

And the UNMOUNT command now tries to tidy up after itself, by closing any open files on the selected drive, and removing the physical definition block of the drive before closing the image file.”

Download these updates from:

http://www.dilwyn.me.uk/utils/index.html

New Super Gold Cards

Tetroid in Russia reports that havinbg secured a supply of some EP1810 chips, he is now able to offer a limited number of Super Gold Card clones via his SellMyRetro.com store.

The unit has a switch-mode power supply which imposes less power drain on the system. The battery backed clock now uses a small standard battery which is easier to find and replace. A single floppy drive connector allows up to three disk drives to be connected, which may be DD (720KB), HD (1.4MB), or ED (3.2MB) types.

It has 4MB RAM and a 24MHz 68020 processor on board.

The Super Gold Card clone costs $199.99 (US dollar) plus shipping costs.