ZX Spectrum Bare Metal

I recently came across this post and thought I would give this a try on one of my spare Raspberry Pi Zeros. A Sinclair ZX Spectrum bare metal emulator that opens almost instantly.

First I went to zxbaremulator and downloaded the images for different raspberry pi models.


To get this to work, the instruction suggesting copying the all files zip download onto a new formatted fat32 micro sd card or using an image supposed to work on pi 2 & 3’s.

I downloaded etcher.io and copied the relevant pi 2/3 image onto the micro sd card.

I signed up to a website called the oldcomputer.com where you can download back up


copies of any ROMS you own. You can download various tap and tzx files used by spectrums. As the instruction’s suggested, I copied these onto the root of the sd card and raspberry pi image. I then inserted into the pi and turned on. The pi booted straight into the spectrum emulator. I pressed F1 to select any game rom files but none were shown on the screen. I tried the raspberry pi 2,3  image and copied this onto the micro sd card and tried again but the pi zero would not boot. One final attempt, I tried downloading a Raspbian image. Then renamed the kernel7.img file to kernel7.img.old and copied the all files zip onto the micro sd card. Again no boot.

I suspected the image did not like my pi zero so I tried a new raspberry pi 3 b+. installed Raspbian onto the micro sd card, kernel7.img file to kernel7.img.old and copied the all files zip onto the micro sd card. Copied some tap and tzx files across and this work first time.

It took me a while to work out keyboard controls on a standard UK PC keyboard but this worked for me:

F1 to load the game selection screen. Choose your game and press select then Escape. This takes you back to the home screen. Then press J to type the LOAD command and then Control+P twice to insert the speech marks “”.

The game takes a short while to load and looks like its loading from a tape cassette. I tried chuckie egg for a test. Because i’m using a PC keyboard I tried to remap the maps in the game to the arrow buttons on my keyboard but this didn’t work. In the end I found that using QA,N,M and space worked well for me.


Gakken World Eye & Raspberry Pi

Gakken WorldEye connected to a Raspberry Pi running a program to display a huge blinking eye.
Adafruit provide a nice tutorial on connecting the Gakken to a raspberry pi running their eyes script.
I took a brand new Raspberry Pi 3 and went here  to download the latest copy of Raspbian Stretch Lite operating system.
I then flashed the image onto a new 64GB Micro SD card
 using etcher.io.
This version of Raspbian is command line only so once the initial boot up takes place, you need to configure the wireless network access:
Once the file opens, you need to edit the contents to match the screenprint below:
Press CTRL-X and then Y to save and and exit. Then run the following command to have the file read and try to connect to your Wifi.
Now we have Internet access we can download the software to make the eye work:
At the command prompt, type the following:
  1. cd
  2. curl https://raw.githubusercontent.com/adafruit/Raspberry-Pi-Installer-Scripts/master/pi-eyes.sh >pi-eyes.sh
  3. sudo bash pieyes.sh

Finally, connect the Raspberry Pi HDMI output to the input on the Gakken Worldeye and run the setup. This took about 10 minutes to complete.


Raspberry Pi 3B with new DVB TV µHAT

Saturday morning, we got home and found my new µHAT waiting for me on the door mat from The Pi Hut at £22.99 including delivery.

I grabbed the nearest Raspberry Pi 3B that wasn’t already being used for a project.



Unboxing the Hat… Not much in there.


The hat, some standoffs/spacers, an ariel socket, a header extension and some screws for the standoffs.


Fir the header extension.


Push the Hat onto the GPIO pins on your Pi. Screw the spacers into place. I couldn’t use the third spacer on my model of Pi as there is no hole to attach. Push the ariel socket into place on the end of the Hat until it clicks and locks in place.


The guide says use the latest the version of Raspbian. My Pi already had a fairly recent o/s, so I decided to boot it up and do the updates.


Wanted to find the unique serial number for my Pi..


Started doing the updates…


Updates all done, ran the command to install the TV software.


And it failed.


So started again from scratch but this time started with a fresh copy of the latest Raspbian image. It worked this time.


Omce installed, a wizard starts and asks you to create login credentials for the administrator.


Once the TV software is installed on the Pi, it acts as a streaming TV server which you can access from other computers. You are asked to go to a PC and enter a URL to access the server remotely but this didn’t work. Tried again but using the Pi’s IP address and you receive a login request for the administrator credentials you set up earlier.


Then the wizard starts for configuring the TV software and channels. I found it fairly intuitive but here is the full guide.


After the software finds the channels, you click on a TV icon next to one of them and here I am watching BBC One on my Laptop being streamed from the Raspberry Pi.



Sunfounder Raspad

Back in April, I backed a Kickstarter campaign for Raspad, a $129 Raspberry Pi powered Tablet computer that would be open source. The campaign was successful and whilst I was away on holiday, my package arrived but was taken back to my local Post Office Depot.

When I went to pick up the package, the Post Office wanted £13 for VAT on the item as it was an import and a handling charge.


Here’s the packaging, once you open the outer carton:

In the bottom of the box were some additional parts from the Kickstartter campaign, a small LCD, ultrasonic sensor, case, heatsinks that were supplied free, albeit floating loose.

Turn it over and you can see the cver that gives you access to the recess where you install your Raspberry Pi:


Overall the unit feels like good quality but the cover was a little difficult to remove and i’m worried it might break in the future.

I had already flashed a 64GB Micro SD Card with the latest Raspbian and inserted this into a spare Raspberry Pi 3 B+ I had lying around for projects just like this (these were not supplied with the Raspad unless you paid extra money).

The Pi locates onto four lugs on the underside of the recessed area. Attach the HDMI and Micro USB power cables. Then place a small black piece of plastic over the Pi to help keep it in place and finally replace the cover.


I then looked to see if the Raspad was getting power. No lights. Ummmm. Then I noticed my extension lead wasn’t working. Plugged the Raspad into another power source and a green flashing light came on indicating it was charging.

Pressed the power button for 3 seconds and the Pi began its initial setup:



Then I noticed the touchscreen was not responding. I realised I hadn’t moved the USB connector from the left hand side of the screen into one of the Raspberry Pi’s USB ports. Did this and then the touchscreen started responding.


At this point I also realised that the touchscreen is not accurate and is offset by a few millimetres but I cant see a way to calibrate it yet – will have to investigate this.

There is also no on screen keyboard so I had to connect a USB keyboard to go any further with the setup. Followed the Raspbian set up instructions. There was an error message on the last screen print which I ignored as I will be manually updating Raspbian:


Then did the usual RPi update’s:


Then I installed matchbox for a virtual keyboard:


After this, go to MENU >> ACCESSORIES >> KEYBOARD and the keyboard will appear.

Overall first impressions:

  • Watch out for the UK customs/VAT charge on top of the sale price.
  • Reasonable price
  • Overall good build quality
  • Worried about the Raspberry Pi cover breaking
  • Sound is good from the little onboard speaker
  • Touchscreen works but cant calibrate and it needs to be done
  • Lack of default onscreen keyboard
  • Portable.
  • Comes with a 4A DC adapter that seems a little flimsy but does the job?
  • The unit arrived with a an almost drained battery and started beeping after using it for a short time without the mains adapter. Will recharge and check how long it takes to charge and then how long it takes to drain back to empty.
  • Cant see much in the way of online support from Sunfounder yet on their website. On their forum, someone else has raised the same screen issues with very little response from Sunfounder.
  • Looking forward to trying some projects with this and seeing if it really is useful or just a gimmick.
  • Useful to attach GPIO cable and accessories for projects
  • Can also attach to an external HDMI screen but haven’t tried this yet. A message was sent by Sunfounder that there were some problems with HDMI cables and they would be sending out replacements?
  • Will purchase a Bluetooth keyboard and see if this better than trying to use the touchscreen.

Update 20/11/18

I haven’t used my Raspad much since it arrived but plan to change that in the near future. I, like many other users have had some early issues with the touchscreen and I think some users have not had much feedback from Raspad themselves. I emailed their support team on the 7th November and received the following reply on the 19th November. Not sure if this well help anyone or not:

So sorry to bring you trouble.

Actually, the reason why inaccurate of touchscreen is that compatibility between system and screen is not good. Currently, Raspberry Pi is designed by Linux system that is worse than Windows system on user experience. In the meanwhile, the mode of compatible screen and mouse should be required by the screen so that there are some deviation while using it.

 We are very glad you guys to support our product, we are trying to do the perfect product. We will try our best to research a good way to improve this issue. 

You can improve your experience by using large icons.

Setup steps:

1. Select Preferences>Appearance Settings in the RasPad menu bar.

2. Click on Defaults

3, choose For large screens

4, choose OK



Capacitive touch screens are easier to operate, but not as accurate as the mouse.

To prevent false clicks, most touch screen interface uses larger icons, even larger click areas such as Android and iOS. They even render web pages at much lower resolutions, such as 2K resolution iPad rendering 576P web pages.

Like most desktop environments, Raspian with the PIXEL desktop is not suitable for touch screens, and the touch screen provides a poor touch experience.

For that, we have been developing a RasPad OS with larger icons, better on-screen keyboards, etc. to improve the touch experience.

RasPad is not only suitable for Raspberry Pi and Raspbian. RasPad provides external HDMI input and USB touch output for more platforms and operating systems.

If you’re looking for a better touch experience, try using Android or Chromium OS, such as Emteria OS (Android) and Flint OS (Chromium OS). for more information visit:



PS: Please keep the Rasbian OS.


SunFounder Team

I will do another update soon and try some of their suggestions and feedback. Maybe I should have bought a Pi-Top?


Lego 1093 Interface A

This is another project. I purchased this kit from Ebay and it dates around 1986 and would be used with an original BBC Microcomputer to interface it with Lego motors and sensors. The kits are fairly easy to get hold of and Ebay still sells sensors and motors but the kit has no software and/or instructions.

I have a BBC Micro but need to get hold of the software. There are some Lego fan sites with at least one selling the software but for £400+.

I spoke with Lego who cant help me and have just emailed someone at the Centre for Computing History who apparently have a complete kit in storage box 130. I’m hoping they can help me with copies/code examples/instructions etc as it would be nice to get this old kit working again.

Once working with the BBC, I would also like to see if its possible to get it working with something more modern like a raspberry Pi.

Lets see what their response is……

15th September – No email response from the Centre for Computing History but today we attended their annual Retro Computer Festival and chatted with some of the volunteers. One chap managed to locate the software disc I need and is going to copy it and se me a copy in the post. Lets see if it arrives?

Arcade Machine Project Part 1

This is the start of another arcade machine project inspired by something similar I saw being sold on Ebay. It was an arcade system using Jamma or Raspberry Pi made using recycled wood.

I found someone selling old pallets on Ebay for a £1 in Slough and bought 3 thinking this should be more than enough wood for the job. The intention is to break up the pallets into strips of wood, remove any nails and then sand and varnish. I will then cut the wood to make a table top arcade machine big enough for a at least a 19″ TFT monitor or whatever else I can scrounge. I will buy some arcade joystick, buttons, speakers and then I haven’t yet decided whether I go down the usual Raspberry Pi route or with some sort of Jamma/MAME system, perhaps even one of the Pandora boxes that come with hundreds of game ROM’s already built in and can be bought cheaply from Ebay sellers?

Total cost to date £3 for pallets

More to follow…

IMG_4235 (1).JPG

Sunfounder DIY Arcade Kit

I first saw these online some time ago but they have been out of stock or quite expensive to get hold of in the company. Finally, Ali Express had a fantastic deal on and it was actually cheaper for me to buy from them with shipping from the US.

Bought this in January for $35.99. Cheaper than I can get in the U.K. Delivery was quoted as up to 40 days but I think I had to wait for about 10 days so was very happy with this.

This is a kit to make an arcade machine using a Raspberry Pi computer. It comes with everything you need except the Raspberry Pi and the software including:

1 x Arcade Joystick Kit (screws and fixing plates included)

6 x Arcade Buttons

1 x Paper Box

1 x 8G Micro SD Card

1 x Raspberry Pi GPIO Reference Card

1 x Guide Brochure

Several Wires

The box arrived well packaged and already looked funky from the outside. I decided to take this into work and get my students to help build it and learn some maker skills. Beow is what the kit looks like when taken out of the outer packaging. You can see the precut holes for buttons and joystick with the colourful artwork. Although this is just a printed cardboard box it still felt fairly rigid and like it will take a reasonable amount of abuse.


Once opened there is some foam packing to keep everything in place and momentarily hide the goodies underneath.


This quickly gives way to the goodies inside. Everything seemed well packaged and in separate compartments to make it easier to identify everything.


Here’s the contents:

The buttons just push fit into the precut holes in the box.


You then need to take the four screws out that secure the top plate of joystick so it can be fitted into the top of the box:


The kit even includes a little GPIO reference board that slips over the pins to help ensure you connect the wires correctly – a nice little touch.



After this, its time to connect the buttons and joystick together. The Raspberry Pi just sit sin the bottom of the box although we plan to secure it better using some sticky pads of some kind.



And the finished hardware setup..


Follow this guide for downloading and installing RetroPie onto the free SD card supplied with the kit. Don’t forget you will need an SD card reader/writer and Etcher installed on a PC to write the RetroPie image to the SD card.

The kit comes with full instructions to help set up the Raspberry Pi and the controls..


I will update the post later this week when we finish the setup and copy some game ROM’s (legalley owned of course) onto the RetroPie setup. More to follow….




















Kickstarter – Raspad

I think this might be my 10th crowdfunded purchase from Kickstarter and Indiegogo. I have bought a couple of different Sunfounder products in the past to make Raspberry Pi based projects and usually find them excellent although not always easily available in the U.K – see previous blog posts.

Saw this advertised some time ago and as soon as they launched I had backed them within a couple of hours. Considering how many Pi based projects I make in a year, I think this will help me to complete projects in some sort of all-in-one development environment that’s also portable. Cant wait for mine to arrive. I will post an update to this post when mine arrives with my first impressions.


Gakken WorldEye Globe Display

I bought this on Amazon as a Japanese import with some vouchers I received for my birthday. Its is a spherical HDMI display with built in speaker that I plan to use with a Raspberry Pi based project. It comes with a number of videos supplied on a USB stick for demonstration. These unfortunately are in Japanese.

It cost about £150 in February and is quite large and comes supplied with a 2 pin adapter. I had a 2 pin to 3 pin UK adapter lying around and used this to convert the voltages. It has a built-in speaker and comes with a round remote for navigating its menus. The display is quite readable in normal lighting but looks better in a dim room.

The globe fits into a stand that lets you adjust the display angle.

I will make an update to this blog post when I find time to connect it to one of my Raspberry Pi projects.