I don’t normally post my vinyl hauls but this one is very special. Just beautiful.
Not being able to resist a browse of the Sinclair goodness at Cambridge’s own Centre for Computing History, I popped along for their first Sinclair Weekend where all the rare stuff came out to play. Lots to see and do (it’s on tomorrow as well) but it was a treat to bump into these folks:
Yes, that’s CHRIS CURRY and SIR CLIVE SINCLAIR. Starstruck doesn’t cover it.
This? Oh that’s little old me many years ago. One of my articles for Crash that I haven’t seen in a long, long time.
Well done to Jason and his team for a brilliant exhibition. It’s fantastic when a museum operates a ‘PLEASE TOUCH’ policy.
I’ve often wondered when my first ‘real life’ 3D printing experience would come. I’ve been lucky enough to see a few printers in action, indeed there’s one at The National Museum of Computing, but these have all worked as demonstrations of the technology, printing out head scans, chess pieces and the like. When would 3D printing actually have an impact on my life?
The answer came sooner than expected.
I’ve had a dead tooth to the right of my front teeth for a few years now. On the last inspection the Dentist declared it hazardous as an infection had taken root in the, err, root. It had to go. Normally that would be that but as it would leave me with a rather gappy smile, he recommended a bridge, a false tooth the connects to a metal post in the vacated socket and also surrounds the adjacent tooth, using it as an anchor. This means no plate is required and it can be treated as the real thing. Normal procedure? Extract the tooth, take a mould, send it off the a lab where a replica is cast and set before being sent back and fitted. The process takes about two weeks.
However, just a few weeks ago, my dentist took delivery of a CEREC ceramic 3D printer and scanning software. Using a light probe he was able to scan inside my mouth before and after extraction to create a 3D on-screen model in which he created a new tooth based o the scan of the now extracted offender. After some design flourishes (he actually improved the shape!) the bridge was ready to print.
The printer itself was sat next to me in the room and I was allowed to set it up and switch it on. Over the course of about 30 minutes, two water-cooled burrs beavered away at a ceramic block, carving my bridge. Once complete, the dentist snapped off the bridge and set about modifying it to an exact fit. After about 20 minutes of fine-tuning it was glued into place and my smile was preserved.
I was naturally feeling a little apprehensive about the first look in the mirror but not to worry. I couldn’t visually tell the difference between the old one and this new upstart. It even feels identical to the tongue. Bridges have to be replaced after the first six months as the socket changes shape as it heals. This is great news, I get to see it made all over again!
If you want to visit the dentist of the future ask if they have a CEREC machine or visit my guys; The Hub Dental Practice in Milton Keynes.
Well, my post on the ultimate pimped-out ZX81 drew a lot of attention; mostly centred around the mystery expansion board that was included in the myriad of components of which this behemoth was comprised. A closer picture shows it to be some kind of EPROM from ’Orme Electronics’.
But what does it do? Well, the best clues can be found from the wonderful ZX81 Stuff resource. Sadly, I can’t find any photographs to confirm but it looks to me to be the first item in their Orme list. It can’t be an EPROM programmer as the chip is soldered in and there would be no practical way of removing it if it wasn’t. Without instructions I’m still a bit lost but I’m going with an EPROM programmed with Breakout, Life and a Toolkit of some description.
I’ve been systematically going through The National Museum of Computing‘s collection of Sinclair equipment. It’s taken a good few months and finally I’m at the point of going through those items that, at the time, where placed in the WTF? pile. The latest candidate to come under scrutiny I have affectionally called Bluto.
Pretty, huh? Yes, it’s an extremely pimped-out ZX81. I don’t have a record of the donor and have so far failed to identify the kit used to expand this humble little ‘pooter into the 80s microcomputer equivalent of an Apache gunship. Let’s have a look inside:
Wow. So, we have:
Having established that nothing was going to explode upon power-up (being as sure as you can ever be with these things), I plugged it in and fiddled with the power switches. One slight annoyance with testing ZX81s is their complete silence. It’s always going to involve some mucking about to establish whether they are getting power or not (tip: multimeters help). Anyway, I tuned my old CRT tele in and got this:
So, is the ZX81 itself borked or, as is often the case, some other peripheral interfering with things? Having removed the motherboard (which turned out to be a very simple job despite the hundreds of screws holding this thing together), I quickly established it was indeed in a state of borkdom. Luckily, I had a replacement board ready and waiting and so swapped them over.
After a lot of cleaning, especially of the peripheral connectors, and a little gentle pushing and pulling, Bluto sprang to life once more.
A real surprise was the ZX Printer, which happily sparked away onto its thermal paper.
But seriously, who used such a thing? Yes you could drop it off a cliff without consequence but it looks like someone had a serious purpose for it and can’t image using Bluto for anything more than a few minutes. The fan is unbearably loud (although thankfully optional via its own switch) and the key-response time slower than an underachieving sloth. Still, maybe it go on display one day as it’s got a better chance against the regular museum key-bashing than an original membrane keyboard.
The only thing that bugs me is that expansion card. What does it do? Any ideas?
Hi all, I’ve been contacted by a friend whose sister is a nurse at Great Ormand Street Children’s Hospital. Their ward has a DS and a 3DS with a grand total of three carts, one for the DS and two for the 3DS.
Except the DS game has been lost, leaving just two to play with.
My friend was wondering if anyone out there had any old games they didn’t want anyone (or collectors with duplicates) who may like to donate them to some kids who may well to be spending Christmas in hospital this year. Maybe a round or two of Mario Cart will take their mind off their problems for a bit.
To ensure any donations are handled correctly, I’ve been ask to post a link to the official page for donations (attached below). The ward in question is ‘Dinosaur Ward’.
So, I’m off to have a dig through some old games. If you could do the same I’m sure you’ll be bringing a smile to somebody’s face.
If you could take the time to share this with anyone you think may be able to help, that would be brilliant.
All the best,
Image from nerdlikeyou.com