Vectrex Repair

 My Retro  Comments Off on Vectrex Repair
Mar 062016

I bought a Vectrex system made in 1982 on an Facebook retro group a couple of weeks ago fairly cheap, that had a strange fault where the game would loop on the internal minestorm game. Here is a video of the fault.

My guess was that it was an issue with the rams (which are 2114 rams) or an issue with the rom.

Yesterday I took it apart, which is not an easy task, and removed the rams and fitted sockets. Both rams tested ok. I then removed the rom which was a D2763-4. I managed to read it as a 2764 eprom on my programmer, and checked it against the bios “exec rom intl 284001-1” from Mame, which showed it had one “bit” of bad data! I went a step further and used the rom data on Mame to see what it did. Unsurprisly it crashed at the same point as the Vectrex, which confirmed the rom was at fault. I re-burnt a new bios file to a 2764 eprom, put the Vectrex back together, and I now have a working system 🙂

ZX Spectrum 48k

 My Retro  Comments Off on ZX Spectrum 48k
Oct 302015

I’ve been looking to get hold of a ZX Spectrum 48k for some time now, and finally came across someone selling an untested one local to me the other week with some original games and joystick interface. I spent most of the early 80’s playing on my Spectrum with its rubber keys, and was looking forward to seeing the original hardware in action yet again.

I had a couple of issues. No power supply, tape deck, audio cable or joystick.

However I managed to find a reconditioned PSU on eBay that was perfect and this allowed me to power up the unit to see if it actually worked or not. I managed to find an RF cable that was suitable, but no amount of tweaking allowed me to get a picture on either an LCD or CRT TV. One good thing was that I was getting noise from the Spectrum when the keys were pressed!

I started looking at what I could do to rectify the picture issue, and came across an article about converting the ZX Spectrum to composite. The website can be found here:

I carried out the mod, which was very simple, and it gave me a perfect picture on an LCD screen of the operating system 🙂 I also managed to find a mono audio lead in my box of spares, so I was getting to a position where I could start to think about loading tapes.

As I did not have access to an original tape player, I looked at options of playing tapes as MP3 files from my phone. I tried various pieces of software but the best one seemed to be an application called WinTZX which can be found here:

A very cool piece of software that can convert .TAP ot .TZX files (essentially tape files) to MP3 files that can be played from a phone or MP3 player

So I downloaded a couple of games from the World of Spectrum archives and converted the games to MP3. The software seems to ramp the output volume of the files to make them have a better chance of loading unlike other software that I used. So I stuck the MP3 on my phone, connected it via the mono lead, and turned the volume up to max. The tape started to load, and I sat back and waited for 5-10 minutes like I did back in the 80’s praying that an “R Tape loading error” message would not appear. Luckily all went well and I was soon remembering the game I used to play called “Back to Skool”. The only thing I need to do now is test out a joystick and the joystick interface. I have a joystick with a C64 which I’m fairly sure will work on the Spectrum aswell.

Grandstand Firefox F-7 Fixed!

 My Retro  Comments Off on Grandstand Firefox F-7 Fixed!
Dec 222014

Not only do I play around and repair arcade machines, but I’m also keen on tinkering with electronic handheld games from the 80’s. I picked this up on a local buy/sell page on Facebook, for a fairly small amount, but sadly it did not work.

I thought I would open it up and see if I could fix it as I had nothing to lose. It’s a fairly simple board as you can see below:

Firefox Internals

I noticed straight away that the two chips on the PCB were getting no power at all, and thought the problem would likely be one of the transistors. I removed the large D882 transistor and it was shorted. I replaced it with one I found on Ebay and this was the result:


Atari 2600

 My Retro  Comments Off on Atari 2600
Dec 212013

I first played on an Atari 2600 at a friends house when I was about 6. This was around 1982, when the “video computer system” was 5 years old. The game I remember playing was “Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back”. I thought it was amazing! 31 years on and courtesy of the Lass O’ Gowrie pub, I have now managed to purchase a boxed woodgrain Atari 2600, with a few games! Unfortunately Empire Strikes Back was not one of the games 🙁

Atari 2600