Category Archives: in English

Zx Spectrum Graphics (G) Mode Editor: CheqEdit (For Zx Spectrum and ZX81)

CheqEdit
it’s a simple and small program that helps you to draw 64×48 graphics on screen in GRAPHICS MODE. Program can output as text in CHR$ format, control codes format, a special compressed data format or special Basin/Zmakebas format, all in Basic. (Edit: Chris Cowley reminded me that this mode is native resolution for ZX81, and as CheqEdit already supports zmakebas style output, it is somehow compatible with zx81 graphics.)

Program can also import/export image files (bmp, png, jpg etc..).
What is it for?
if you want to create big graphics using G mode, this program can help you.

How to import text into zx spectrum?
This is tricky, you have to find an emulator or a tool to convert plain text into zx basic format. I recommend using basin. For Zx81 there is a program called “zxtext2p”. You can find it’s web address at the bottom of the post.

Here is the screens:

Editing with a mouse (screencap software couldn't capture mouse)

Read more and download:

Continue reading Zx Spectrum Graphics (G) Mode Editor: CheqEdit (For Zx Spectrum and ZX81)

Connecting Ericsson Chatboard to a GP32

What the heck is a GP32?

It’s a first generation “open” handheld console, possibly the first one. Gp32 is designed and sold by a Korean Company called Gamepark (Creators of caanoo, wiz, gp2x etc). It has a big 3.5″ color LCD, 133mhz 32bit ARM processor, 8MB ram. It has no custom cpu or gpu, everything is handled by the CPU. The GP32 was sold between 2002-2005, then superceeded by Gp2X.  In it’s golden years, the console’s community was flourished by counltess homebrew originals, countless software ports and hardware hacks. There are even some original boxed smc cardtridge games. There are no official sales figures, but GP32 is suspected to sold about 15000 units worldwide.

a GP32 handheld console

We will take a look at the keyboard enhancement for GP32: a simple chatboard hack. Read on:

Continue reading Connecting Ericsson Chatboard to a GP32

Zx Spectrum’da SNA to Tap converter

Çevirici

 

 

While I was messing with my zx microdrives, I decided to put some games into one of my old microdrive carts for quick loading. But this proved to be not only difficult task, also it spinned off two different tools out of discussion: zxBoot and SnapToTap.

 

Converting sinclair zx spectrum snapshot (sna) files into standard loading tap files: Not an easy task at all!

There were some tolls to convert snapshots into Tape files, but because of the very nature of snapshot files and the way of starting them once they loaded, it is impossible (read:impossible) to load a snapshot into zx spectrum without corrupting the snapshot itself. To do this properly you need additional hardware.

a Snapshot file is a full memory backup *with* extra CPU register data. Speaking of which, that data resides *inside* CPU. So you need a way to put the data into CPU before resuming snapshot state. Ofcourse this task also need to handled with CPU itself, which needs some code to reside in RAM, which also corrupts snapshot image. But this is not the only issue.

The goal was to put snapshot files into zx microdrive. But you will need a custom loader which loads the data from microdrive. There are none. Or you will need a converter which converts the snapshot into a standard loading code block. You couldn’t find one of thouse either.

Standard loader always tries to return to basic after loading is done. Because it is a basic component. But a snapshot occupies whole memory, so basic will be overwritten while you load snapshot block. And even if you manage to load the all 48k of ram from tape, it will crash your machine because standard rom loader will return to address that’s not there anymore.

The trick is the preserve small portion of basic just to execute the loaded code.

I used bitbuster (originally developed for MSX by team bomba) compressor. It’s very effective windows based packer normally reduces almost every 48k image atleast by %10 which produces about 5k, more than enough for us to fit in basic. Also the z80 decompressor is 79bytes long, plus some bytes as buffer, that it won’t be corrupting that much.

So I managed to create a clever program to decompress, move, merge the snapshot data, load the registers into cpu and finaly jump the the program counter location of snapsot image thus executing image.

The result was VSC, a proof of concept, an experiment over converting snapshots into tap files.

While this program re-invented in WOS forums a while ago, and people complained about the crapness of gui, I prepared a simplistic gui with automatic converting: it is SnapToTap. You drag and drop the file and it will create a tapfile highly compressed thus loaded in seconds, and with standard loader!

So there are two versions. Here is the downloads:

1. Latest version 2.4: Snaptotap 2.4 download)

2. First release: Visual Snapshot Converter – 250kb advanced controls, optional uncompressed converter, you can decide where to put executer code thus preserving screen or any other data–do not try to use this, I really messed up while creating a gui. 🙂

Snaptotap r2

A little bit warning about the tools:

No error checking, so it may crash time to time, it’s normal. Resart the app and try again.

Those are dotnet framework binaries, you will need .net framework 2.0+ to run them. Windows Only!

If snaptotap didn’t work for you, try asm’s zxboot for command line support, but it’s still windows only.

ZX Spectrum: Elite Collection (iPhone)

25 yıllık yazılım firması “Elite”, yeni iTunes uygulamalarını duyurdu:

Bugünden itibaren iPhone kullanıcıları, sadece 56 Pence’e (1$’dan az) zx spectrum emülasyonu yapabilecekler. Elite Kolleksionundaki oyunlar şöyle imiş:

– Turbo Esprit #3 on top 100 best games, voted for by visitors to World of Spectrum
– Saboteur #10 on top 100 best games
– Chuckie Egg the classic, developed by Nigel Alderton
– Harrier Attack inspired by the conflict in the South Atlantic
– Frank Bruno’s Boxing the UK #1 Best-Seller
– Buggy Boy the arcade original driving game

http://www.elite-systems.co.uk/elite/htdocs/user_home.php?show=26

Doğrusu, Chuckie Egg’i düşününce, touch screen kullanarak nasıl oynanacağını bilemiyorum. Kaldı ki, diğer oyunların aksine, bence o oyun sadece ve sadece orjinal 48K’nın kauçuk tuşlarıyla mükemmel oynanabilir.

cULA64 V5 is out.

in order to satisfy feature hungry spectrum users, I’ve updated the ConvertUla64 (cULA64) utiliy. This version includes latest patches from scrPlus0.12 and gui based batch conversion mode.


I tried to tidy up the UI, but it still looks ugly.

Warning, I updated sources during lunch break at work, so there may be plenty of bugs. Please feel free to report bugs here.

Download here: CULA64_v5.zip 40kb


Kullanıcılardan gelen istekler doğrultusunda CULA64’ün son sürümüne toplu iş yapabilme seçeneği ekendi. Artık bir klasördeki tüm dosyaları tek seferde dönüştürebileceksiniz. Ayrıca çevirici kodu 0.12’ye yamalandı.

Bu metni yazdığım sırada farkettiğim birşey, kasördeki dosya isimlerini sadece küçük harf olduklarında toplu işe verebiliyorsunuz. Bunu yakında düzeltirim. Programı iş yerinde yemek arasında güncellediğim için pek test etme fırsatım olmadı.

Buyrun çekin: CULA64_v5.zip 40kb

Creating 256 colour games with EmuZwin

it’s easy to convert regular zx spectrum games to 256 colour ones. EmuZwin is an another emulator supports virtual 256Colour mode. You can convert your fav game to a 256 colour game.

Here is how:
Start by downloading emuZwin. I found V2.5 is most stable version with 256 colours:
http://kolmck.net/apps/EmuZWin25.zip (700kb)

You can try other versions to test if they are working on your system:
http://kolmck.net/apps/EmuZWin_Eng.htm

-setup:
1.open a game, and pause.
2.select 256 color mode from “effects” menu
3.a window will open. do not touch any settings, click ok. monochrome data will be copied to the extended gfx memory. (this window is also kind of hard to understand behaviour, it will only shown once, so don’t make mistakes)
4.open gfx editor now.
5. Click yellow pacman face to turn it off. Only regular speccy data will be shown.

-Try to find the sprites on memory:
7. At the bottom left corner of the gfx editor, there is a textbox, you can type the width of the sprite (in characters) if the sprite you want to edit is 3 characters in width just type 3 there. Then you will scroll and find your sprites.
8. Use triangle shaped arrows to shift bytes left or right
9. Use red grid button to show grid, don’T forget to select “anchor grid to byte 0”.
10. You may see couple of same sprites around memory. One is screen, and generally games uses a buffer to create image, so dont be fooled by them. Try and find real sprite data.
10.When you find your sprites you are ready to draw new sprites over them. Click pacman again to show 256color pixels.

-editing
11.Start drawing
12.unpause the emulator to see the results and pause again before editing.

-saving
13. to be on the safe side save your gfx work seperately. Click “save” in GFX editor window. Make backups.
14. Save your game in emuzwin (ezx) format from emulator window, File > save as…
15. Close the emulator

-returning to work
15. when you decide to return to drawing again, fire up emuzwin and generally emulator will automatically start last workspace. if not, load your ezx file, open gfx editor and load your GFX file.

Have fun!

I’m using V2.5 because later versions are far more buggy, and won’t work/crash with 256col games ocassionaly.

about Samsung st550 blur problem

Last month, despite being a pricey model, I decided to buy Samsung’s ST550 because it has a front lcd panel and very good reviews on the net. But now, I’m a little disappointed from it’s results. While the camera is very fast and responsive, it suffers from blurry images. I could never be able to took a clear picture, even though I selected iso100, shorter exposure rate, superfine quality and recommended resolution. Images are always slightly blurry. I don’t really know what to expect from such small sized camera, but even my old canon ixus 70 produces better and clearer results. Samsung uses Schneider lens, so I think the problem is not lie in the lens refraction, instead ccd or cmos chip OR badly coded compression algorithym is responsible from blurry images. Even under bright daylight camera produces blurry pictures. Maybe it’s a focus problem, but you cant control focus, so maybe it needs some fine tunning in firmware. If you zoom in the image, you can see the pixels are blended together, like a smaller image made bigger by interpolating. And there is a faint halo effect, preventing yo to take a clear shot. Eg. if you take a picture of a black dot on white paper, there will be a faint gray area around the dot, like picture is off-focus but it’s not.

ST550’s menus, touchscreen panel, heptic vibration, clever motion and face detection, finger gestures, motion sensor and front lcd etc. are all good and functional. But what I really expect from a camera is taking good pictures.

Those are the most clear picture I got from this camera, which I took them in macro mode (macro generally produces nicer pictures in st550):


(note that,in those pictures, because of the heavy depth-of-field effect, focus limited to a very small area, at the tip of the die-cast model. I’m not talking about d-o-f blurrines, I’m talking about the blurrines of focused area)

the camera acts better in lowlight conditions. When every other camera sucks at night, ST550 excels. Note that, when taking night pictures, blur is often disregarded. The lowlight blur generally comes from longer exposure, but what you expect from a 1-second exposure or 1/45s exposure is much worse than ST550’s nice, relatively sharp output. Camera somehow stabilize the motion and try to eliminate blurring in lowlight by using motion sensors, optical stabilization and software processing.

This picture uses iso100 + 1second exposure, no flash and taken under a regular streetlight. And st550 has a quick timer function, the camera detects motion and wait for everyone to stop moving then it decides to take the picture. Nice and very useful feature.

Also there is no firmware update out yet, to fix some minor bugs in the on-screen user interface.

I guess it’s wise to get the model with smaller screen (ST500). Because st550’s screen so big you can’t help but touching the screen when you try to take a photo of yourself using front lcd, that brings up a menu and stops you from taking the picture. Mostly, you need to strive to exit acidental menus because of the big screen leaves no space for holding camera properly. Also smaller screen makes the camera live longer, as battery generally dies after a photo session. ST550 lasts about a day if you don’t use flash too much. Batterymeter shows half full in 5 shots, and red empty alert at 15 shoots with flash (but it will go on to take 20 more before it dies).

Smart mode is generally useless as it always chooses to turn off flash and macro mode if there is no faces around. So you need to learn the device, and use it on Program mode. I must add, “beauty shot” mode really creates amazing shots (but with a little blur). And children mode plays some animation (and you can download more at samsung.com) on front screen and creates funny photos even if you use the feature on grownups.

Samsung ST550 is a good video recorder, it works nice even if you record HD video at 1280x720x30fps.

If I get used to ST550 blur someday, I’ll be very happy. Because other than damned blur, the camera is very nice. But I should warn you, stay away from ST550.