Production backlog

What’s up?

13 March 2024

Some update, I know: it’s quite quiet 😉
No worries! Doing insanely much, but not very visible at the moment, so let’s change that.

Many very awesome ZX Spectrum projects are coming up, which I want to show a little glimpse of – you WILL like this!
Some highlights:
– Are you interested in a solution for the missing M1 line, without the need to even open your ZX Spectrum?
– Would you like to use your ZX Spectrum and add-ons with a professional graphical user interface? Yes, that’s what the screenshot is about!

So if I got your attention, let me explain!

As I’ve shared before, during the last years we needed to ‘redo’ a lot of bookkeeping from 2019 until now, meaning getting to know a new bookkeeping suite, uploading thousands of purchasing and sales invoices, processing them and enriching data, and matching them all to mutations on several accounts.
The cause of this was that our bookkeeper suddenly passed away in 2019, who did a real lot of work for us, that turns out that we now need to do ourselves – that is however relatively common amongst small businesses like ours.
Our bookkeeping is specifically complicated because we use 2 currencies, but after investigating several bookkeping systems, we found that none of them could really deal with our administration directly: we have to convert one currency – for each invoice where it’s used on, which is complicated, but we found a way – I spent dozens of hours on creating specific software myself to get proper data for the bookkeeping system, but that’s done now.

Now almost all is done, except the annual work for 2023, which we will finish in the next few weeks.
Really: what remains is not a lot of work anymore, especially since I documented all that needed to be done for the other past years in detail.
I can’t wait till we can say it’s finally done, and from then only need to spend like an hour a week to keep up!

How about repairs?
Well, I still need to do a handful, but I’m well over halfway – the remaining repairs are slightly more complex though though, so we’ll see..
Once that is finished, I finally can focus on production work again, with the same effort as months ago, before I closed down the webshop just after last Black Friday.

I’ve received so many questions about availability of many products, but: I will produce PRO ONE interfaces from next week!
Dozens, maybe hundreds of people are waiting for one.

However, there are some challenges with some products..
Amongst the challenges are the Harlequin kits, specifically the 128K kits.
AY-3-8912 chips are nowhere to be found anymore – I really think I obtained the last batches of a couple of hundred of working chips.
What remains on eBay or elsewhere, is 99.9% fake, and/or extremely expensive.
But as shared earlier, some months ago I’ve started testing replacements: clones based on very affordable microcontrollers.
But those had some limitations.
Fortunately Charlie Ingley developed an AY-3-8912 clone that should be a better option – I have some in stock, which I will do a huge comparison test with, including the File clones of the AY-3-8912 chip.
Most probably that means that Harlequin kits or ZX-AY interfaces, can continue to be offered!

Another challenge are ZX Spectrum 128K ROMs.
I have been able to offer a huge batch of original ZX Spectrum +2 ROMs, and I think many people have gotten used to the idea that these have been available: so many ordered a kit with an original +2 ROM.
But those are about all gone now as well.
So how to solve that?
Well, I can’t offer flashed ROMs because of the IP.
I see some like that are offered on eBay, but I even worry referring to those, just to be safe.
There is one option though that I want to explain, which is using a ZX Diag Cart to flash a ROM, that can be used on a Harlequin board. Will dig into that as soon as I can, and share the details.

I am working on several improvements for some interfaces!
I am trying out all kinds of new enclosure manufacturing processes, like for example resin printing (‘SLA’).
This has some huge benefits, which will be made available to you customers as well then.

And now for a selection of some insane projects I’m working on..

First is a way to get any add-on to work on a ZX Spectrum with a Z80 CPU that has a failing M1 line!
If this works, it will eliminate the need of a ZX Spectrum owner to even open up his machine!
I am working on a prototype of this solution, and need to check if it will work on any setup, but it IS very promising.
Once it’s done, I will most probably embed it in many interfaces that require a proper M1 signal.
I will also work on explaining what the M1 signal is for in text and on YouTube, since I haven’t found much detail of that yet.

Then something completely different: I think it’s finally time – maybe way too late, but still very exciting – to have a proper generic graphical user interface for the ZX Spectrum.
In the late hours I work on documenting and developing a new flexible modern OS for the ZX Spectrum: ‘ZX-OS’.
I have so many ideas, and I AM realistic – after working so many years on new ZX Spectrum hardware, I know what is possible and what not.
The main thing that is missing, is time to work on it.

However, here are some features that will be present when ZX-OS will be launched:
– File browser with LongFileName support
– Modular buildup of the software, with separate files for each function – all being accompanied by a text file with source code and documentation, to make it as easy as possible to update and upgrade features
– A new engine for a very small text font, to get as much info on screen
– ZX-OS will work on any standard ZX Spectrum with any DivMMC, but there will be some enhancement options:
– There will be a special ‘ZX-QS’ quickStart ROM, which can be deployed in several ways, and which makes it possible to boot ZX-OS in a couple of seconds – only after booting the memory will be tested, hardware will be detected and configured, etc, but you are already able to control the OS
– An external Expansion System will be developed, with integrated ZX-QS ROM, RTC and software controlled expansion ports, to make it possible to use any interface from ZX-OS in a very smart way, without conflicting I/O

So, does this get you excited?
I hope so, since I’m far from calming down yet 😉

About ByteDelight

ByteDelight is run by me, Ben Versteeg, with the occasional help of some family members, in their spare time.
I started ByteDelight in 2014 and been doing that fulltime since 2018.

We use a semi-automated production line with pick-and-place machine and reflow oven, but still do a lot of manufacturing by hand, which we love.

Production and repairs live on YouTube

I often stream live on YouTube doing all kinds of production work and repairs and more.
So subscribe to our YouTube channel and click the notification icon!