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Spruce Up Your Speccy

This is the second post in a short series on modernising the ZX Spectrum (Part One)

Part Two: Refurbishment

Don’t settle for an old, raggedy Speccy. No! Let’s give it a spruce up.

If you’re beloved ZX is looking a bit tired, there’s a lot to be done that can prolong it’s life. It need not be expensive either.

The most common problem with the original models was the keyboards. The thin membrane would often either give way on one key or another or crack at the bend of the ribbon cables. If you find a key or two is playing up, head over to ebay and get yourself a new membrane. They’re pretty easy to fit (especially the + model) and you get to add years to the machine’s life.

If, like I did, you find yourself looking at a case thats frankly knackered, fear not. Ebay is littered with broken kit that has good-condition surroundings. Study the photos well and look for fading on the ‘ZX Spectrum’ white print.

My ZX Spectrum+ had aged yellow keys and marks on the case. I purchased a broken model for £10 on ebay and swapped over the motherboard. Discovering the keyboard membrane had multiple problems, it was a ten-minute job to exchange the membrane from my existing case. The result looks like it has just been released from its polystyrene box on a 1985 Christmas morning. I’ve also got a fresh supply of spares.


iPhone camera completely fails to show how old and tatty the bottom ZX was looking
iPhone camera completely fails to show how old and tatty the bottom ZX was looking

The other major change I made was replacing the power supply. I find it very difficult to trust a PSU from 30 years ago so it wasn’t a big stretch for me to note the details (9V DC, 1.4A) and purchase an equivalent. Maplin do an ideal replacement that comes with a range of connectors that also includes one suitable for the ZX81.

Maplin Replacement PSU

Important note if you’re playing around with the Maplin power supply: Unusually, the ZX Spectrum has the positive current on the outside of the connector. The Maplin replacement allows you to wire to either polarity so be very careful. Line the arrow on the lead and the arrow on the connector on the side that shows + on the outer circle.

So, there you have it, a couple of tips that can breathe some new life into your ZX Spectrum. If you’ve got any other ideas, let me know in the comments.

Published inVintage Tech

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