An easter project

Written by dermdaly on April 5th, 2010

I’ve been itching to do this for some time. Work pressures have meant I haven’t been able to prioritise it. But, its easter, and I’ve tried to have some time at home with the family.

I’ve often mentioned where it all started for me; I wrote my first code on a Sinclair ZX Spectrum, in 1984. Back then myself and friends used to code up “adventure” games written in Basic, and saved onto Cassette Tapes. We even toyed with Z80 assembler for a while.

Well, many years back, that machine gave up the ghost, but I knew it was not thrown out. So I asked my parents to have a look around the attic and give me back my beloved speccy.

A few weeks back, may dad arrived with said spectrum in hand. I was delighted to have it back, as I had this project in mind.

You see, I consider it an 80s design classic. From the grey rubber keyboard, designed to keep the price low enough to put computers in every home, to the rainbow across the front to signify the fact that it was a colour computer. (Sinclair’s earlier offerings, the ZX80 and ZX81 where monochrome affairs).

So…Here’s how I’ve turned my first computer into a “piece” which is going to get prominent placement in the tapadoo offices. I want a constant reminder of why I love writing code.

Firstly, I purchased a standard black frame from Ikea. This was not deep enough, but I’m lucky enough to have a brother who is a craft carpenter, running his own shop fitting company. I asked John to see what he could do, and he came back with a new, deeper frame build from the original.

New deeper frame

New deeper frame

From here, I needed a white backing, as the supplied backing was an ugly brown. I got a piece of mounting board from an art shop in Thomas St.; A steal at €2.99. I also needed something to hold the computer in place; The best I could find were “Sticky Dots”; I was unsure if they could work, but worth a try.
I was good to go
All the bits

All the bits

Here’s the steps I carried out

  1. I cut the mounting board down to size, using the original backing as a template
  2. Figuring I’d need a sturdy mounting, I glued the original backing to the white backing using Pritt-Stick and some standard Bostik glue. I placed my toolbox on top of them to add some pressure.
  3. I placed the sticky dots on the original rubber feet on the computer. I considered taking off the rubber feet, so I could use plenty of dots around the base of the computer, but I wanted to leave the computer as intact as I could
  4. Sticky Dots

    Sticky Dots

  5. I meaasured on the mounting board where the computer would be centred.
  6. Marked Out

    Marked Out

  7. I then stuck the computer onto the mounting board
  8. Next, I didn’t feel comfortable with the sticky dots, so I decided to add some support under the computer itself. A couple of screws put through the backing sorted this
  9. I could then put the backing back into the frame, and using some small tacks, hold the back in place

Here, is a grainy, finished product

Finished product

Finished product

The only thing I’d add at this point, is I would like to add some lighting within the frame. I’m open to suggestions; If anyone has ideas, please leave me a comment!

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Comments (8)

Gianni says:

What about some neat & tidy LED strips placed on the inside of the frame so that it lights up the ZX but you can’t see the lights ?

Tommy Weir says:

Nice one. I have a few vintage bits of tech too on the shelves.

The very first computer I lusted after was the Sinclair QL. It was so hot for the time.

But my first purchase ended up being an Amstrad PC1512 (a much duller choice) quickly followed by an Amiga, which I loved.

mm dermdaly says:

Sweet. I have never seen a QL in the flesh, but would love to. I briefly owned A PC1512; it had dual floppies, and booted DOS off one of them (both 5.25 inch floppies). All I remember is that the disks were totally virused, and I only held on to it for a few weeks. I sold it on to a classmate before getting an Epson 8086 PC. I loved this because it supported software power off (Most PCs had a clunky switch at the back at this stage). This was replaced by a Wang 80386sx (VGA Color!) PC, complete with an 80387sx math-co-processor (so my dad could run Autocad on it).

DaveConnolly says:

Blast from the past. Just found your site after linking from Paul F’s bitsixteen site. Nice site.

I believe (very very hazy vague recollections from 25 years ago) that you may not be the original owner of that Sinclair Spectrum you so proudly hang in your office. If memory serves, you owned a 16K Spectrum originally and bought the 48k version from me, many years after I had boxed it up and left it aside for my Amiga. So you could be displaying my first computer on your wall instead of your own 😉

mm dermdaly says:

Hmmm. I think that recollection is indeed hazy. I only ever owned 1 spectrum. It was a 48k and this is it. I’m sure of it. Good to hear from you after all these years mind!

Paul Fegan says:

Dermot, I’m proud to say I was there when you were an astute, aspiring programmer. In fact, yours was the first Spectrum I had ever seen in action and, having experienced the graphics on Ed Kirwan’s ZX-81, I was blown away by the Spectrum’s colours. The first thing I used was Melbourne Draw and I recall the difficulty in drawing diagonal and curved lines (no mouse controller or line-drawing tools in those days). I have many happy memories of those Spectrum-obsessed days in the mid ’80s and it’s quite moving to see your first computer framed and on display like this. Great post.

Stephen Wood says:

Very nice! I’ve always admired the Speccy’s cult design. Even as a Commodore fan. A while ago I framed a Commodore PET chicklet keyboard for my study, then did another for my office at work.

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