View Full Version : BBC-B and Spectrum +2 device advice...

November 13th, 2008, 02:26 PM
Hi there :)

I recently got hold of a BBC and amstrad +2 and am wondering If there are any homebrew methods for...
1: Playing the plethora of tape games that came with the BBC-B with a standard 3.5mm jack tape player

and 2:re-wiring a Zipstick (standard atari type joystick) for use with the ungodly amstrad joystick port on the +2

Any advice would be taken with the utmost gratitude.

I realise I could spend some cash and get a din to 3.5mm converter for the Beeb and an interface for the speccy but I'm not ready to go down that road at the moment.

November 14th, 2008, 08:56 AM
The BBC, Electron, Oric and some others have the same cassette pinout, and cables such as you describe were actually common. You can probably find one on eBay or wire your own. I'd recommend you to implement remote if your tape recorder supports it. The pinout may be hard to find (BBC related websites are a bit spotty, covering very advanced topics but ignoring the newbie ones) but I know it is in one of those books. If you like, I can point out exactly which one. Actually I think I've posted the pinout to this forum before, so go ahead and search the Vintage Computer Forum.

I don't know about the Spectrum +2 joystick port though. I happen to own a few QuickShot joysticks with some funny switch for Amstrad CPC464 computers. Would they be compatible? They're still DB9 style and frankly I don't know what the switch does.

November 14th, 2008, 10:26 AM
I do have the pinouts of the socket but wouldn't have a clue what to do with it, I really am quite useless.
I'm not 100% sure if this is the plug or the socket though...
What wires need connecting to what? I have a 5 pin din plug from RS and plenty of RCA and 3.5mm plugs, sockets and leads and stuff.
The +2 port isn't cpc464 compatible afaik ,I remember having a quickshot back in the day with a grey lead coming off it ,Thats the +2 plug.

I wouldn't want to use a quickshot though, Much prefer the Comp-pro style Zipstick.

Amstrad were real idiots not using the standard config, Wanting people to buy Amstrad sticks only and make some more money that way, If anything it would have put people off buying the machine, Alan Sugar pff.

November 14th, 2008, 10:50 AM
Amstrad were by far not the only ones not to use Atari style joysticks. To begin with, in theory you should pay a license fee to Atari for implementing/using their design, but I doubt very many did or they had any opportunities to sue for not doing so. It appears that even within the Atari style crowd, there are some differences in how the pins not used for up-down-left-right-fire-ground are wired. Perhaps individual improvements over the original design cancelled out any patent infringements.

When it comes to the tape recorder, you have a 7 pin DIN. Wire Tape Out (1) and Ground (2) to one 3.5" plug, Tape In (3) + ground to another.. I think the remote function (2.5") is achieved by wiring pins 6 and 7 together. I can't tell which of In and Out goes into Ear respective Mic, but it is a matter of trial and error. Logic tells me that Out from the computer should go into Mic on the recorder, but at least on the ZX Spectrum I believe the jacks on the computer are marked the other way around.

Terry Yager
November 14th, 2008, 11:29 AM
Same with HX-20, backwards.


November 14th, 2008, 12:01 PM
Tape In (3) + ground to another..

GND is 0v? :lookroun:

Also do I want to use a mono 3.5mm plug/lead or just connect the 5 pin plug with L lead from a headphone wire going to the gnd and the R going to Tape In?

Sorry if these questions are tiresome ,I should really go read a book on it or something...
Eventually I'd like to use my ipod to load games into the bbc like I do with the spectrum.

November 14th, 2008, 04:04 PM
Yes, ground = GND = 0V. I believe ideally you should have a cable where each wire has its own shield, so you have outer plastic - ground - inner plastic - signal cable. In that case you'd need to join the two ground wires at the computer end.

As for using a MP3 player, please remember to use a 3.5 mm plug tall enough to go all the way into the headphone jack so the player will actually output any sound. My BBC cassette cable has plugs tall enough to go into my MP3 player jack, while my Sord/MSX cables have a bit shorter plugs so they never make contact -> no sound, no data to be loaded. The same happens on my PC: the built-in headphone jacks both on the front and back are too deep for the Sord and MSX cables to operate properly while my SB Live! card works better to play back WAVs. I already have an idea how to remedy this, by using some kind of forgiving adapters or splitters.

November 15th, 2008, 03:51 PM
I just got a Phillips cassette tape recorder and its the same one I used to have for my spectrum+ ,I'm a happy chappie. :)

Now I have a tape player I can use the UEF converter from here also :)