Tuesday, September 13, 2011

My first official production for iPhone - SpeccyTape

    A few weeks ago I've meet an old friend who is collecting vintage computers. He have a lot of them. ZX Spectrums, Atari 8/13/32 bit, Jaguar, Amigas...basically you name it he have it. I've got a chance to get one of his babys the ZX Spectrum +2B. I started to play with but figured out that there is something wrong with the computer. After a while I figured out that there was a faulty clock generator circuit to the CPU.
    But the harm has been done I took a bait and started to play with my old stuff I wrote 2 decades ago. Then I started to think how to load all the nice stuff from WorldOfSpectrum.org. A partial solution was to buy a DivIDE+ which is a simple ZX interface to the PATA/CF. So I did. But still I wanted to download the TZX files with beatiful sound of the original experience. A quick search showed that I can use Windoze or the command line on my Mac to do so. I've started to convert the TZX and TAP files to MP3s but the process was boring, messy, long ...and simple not an "Apple way"....so I've created this little utility called the Speccy Tape.

    With it you can download programs directly from thew WOS site and unzip them directly on the device. You can also open a mail attachment or put the files via the iTunes.

    The downside is the fact that some (?) of the iPhones/iPods have a reduced output signal levels so feeding the signal directly from the device to ZX Spectrum won't work. So I've made a simple amplifier based on the op-amp (LM358) to address this issue (schematic coming soon). From the other hand my iPad1 has enough output level to feed the ZX Spectrum +128K (didn't tested on other versions, counting on the feedback). I personally use the ZX Spectrum +2(grey) and use the simple car cassette adapter (works like a charm).

    There is not much to describe here how the program works as the screens and video seems to be self-explanatory.

Search through a huge WorldOfSpectrum.org archives directly within the app. You can also open e-mail attachments or use iTunes to upload your favorite games and demos.
Choose from a selection of available TZX or TAP files. You don't have to do anything just press the "Get it!" button. The zip file will be fetched automatically. You can unzip the file directly in the app by unpacking it into main directory or create a new dir entry.

The simple log window will list all the section currently being processed/played. If you miss the section you can always press the PREV (<<) button.
No much to set here. You can chose your machine type, discard annoying popups or...yes you can increase playback speed. It should work till x4 speed but on some productions x8 will also work (especially on those without the protection/non standard speed scheme).


  1. If you have any questions just ask here .....

  2. Hi! I've just downloaded your app. Very impressive work you've done.

    You mention that some devices produce a quieter sound than others. I've got an iPhone 4, and I can notice that some sounds effects you use play much louder than the loading sound itself.

    Which kind of wave rendering are you using? square or sine wave? Do you generate a full scale wave or a low volume one?

    Also, there's something that might help: playing the loading sound in stereo, one channel being the opposite of the other one, will effectively double the voltage the Spectrum sees (look at a post I wrote about it in the WOS forum - mcleod_ideafix - ). This works with all models up to the 128K heatsink.

    Thanks for your time!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Ahhhh! So you did it the way I thought! Cool! I have to test it with a real machine :)

  5. (edited previous comment)
    The sound generated in Left and Right channels is already done that way. That means that the differential signal is higher than on each channel. You can test it with i.e. the scope. The reason for *not so loud* signal from the speaker is because you have an mono output in iPhone. And the signals are combined ( -A + A = 0) so I simply attenuated one channel a little ( A - 0.95A = 0.05A ;) ) to hear at leas something. When you connect the headphones you will notice a LOUD signal.

  6. BTW: is there a way to delete the files I'm not using? For example, if I download a ZIP from WOS, the app asks me if I want to unzip it and store the file inside the ZIP, but then I see two files in the file selector: the ZIP I downloaded and the TAP/TZX file inside it. To remove the unwanted ZIP file I'm using iFile (jailbreaked device, of course) but it would be nice if there is some sort of Edit button in the File selector screen, then a "-" sign at the left of each file so if I want to delete one, I can simply tap the "-" sign, which converts into "|" and then tap OK to delete all the selected files.

  7. Simply swipe tne finger right to left on the item you want to delete. The DELETE button willl be shown. Press the button and you are done.

  8. Hi,

    I love your App !..

    I think it will be great if you open it to other computers (Oric, Thomson MO5...).

    Thank you very much.

  9. Any Plans for an Android version? :)

  10. Thanks for this superb app! It's so cool to be able to load games up and play them like the old days. Bought back good memories :)
    Unfortunately it does not seem to connect to the World of Spectrum database now. Have they changed their server settings maybe? I just get blank screen when I search for games now using Speccy Tape. Hope it's a simple fix.
    Best wishes,

    1. Yeah, same issue here. I've thought it's related to the WOS database issues, but it's back online. Perhaps they have changed something. Any chance to get it fixed, please?

  11. Help! program does not work, where the author?

  12. Same here, but I've found out that if you go directly onto WOS through Safari and click a TZX file, you can choose to open it in Speccy Tape, and then it gets added to your Speccy Tape database ready for use :-)