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Storage Solutions for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum

 ZX Spectrum 

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More Details
                      about the divIDE Hard Disk Interface for ZX
                      SpectrumThe DivIDE Plus Hard Disk Interface

The DivIDE Plus Hard Disk Interface provides a standard ATA (IDE) interface to allow any Sinclair ZX Spectrum (including the +2A, +2B, +3 and clones, including the Timex TC2048) to connect to an industry standard hard disk drive, CD ROM drive or Compact Flash (CF) memory card (up to 2GB).  It builds on the original DivIDE design by Pavel Cymbal and incorporates several new features thanks to the work of Jarek Adamski and Jurek Dudek in Poland.

The Quick Start Guide and manual is is supplied to our customers on purchase of the DivIDE Plus
and is subject to copyright - it is not freely available for distribution.

We have recently provided a guide on our RWAP Software Forums to using a 128K editor with the DivIDE Plus interface, and also copying software from a +3 disk drive to the compact flash card.

The DivIDE Plus has the following benefits:

  • Image of divIDE Plus bare PCB from above -
                        click for bigger pictureAbility to use both a CF Memory Card and an IDE hard disk to be used at the same time (there is both an IDE connector and a CF Memory Card Slot built in).  You can set a jumper to specify whether the CF Memory Card will be a master or a slave, or you can use two IDE hard disks on the same cable.

  • A through connector to allow you to connect other peripherals to the ZX Spectrum at the same time. 

    Image of the bttom of the divIDE
                          interface board - click for bigger pictureWe are currently investigating the possibility of an update to the +DivIDE firmware to allow both the DivIDE Plus hard disk interface and the PlusD floppy disk interface to be used at the same time.

  • Works in 128K BASIC Mode on Spectrum 128K, Spectrum+2 and Spectrum+3 home computers, although this may need to be disabled for full compatibility with some 128K snapshots.

    128K Mode can be selected in software by using OUT 23,
    %001xxxxx.

  • Both the onboard ROM and RAM have been increased from 8K to 512K each - this will enable better firmware to be written for the DivIDE Plus (as can be seen by the release of ResiDOS).  The RAM is also battery backed as this is required by the ResiDOS firmware.  Battery backed memory allows ResiDOS to use ramdisks for storage and also allows FATware to remember the last file loaded and position in the disk browser since you last used the Spectrum.

  • The DivIDE Plus comes loaded with five firmwares: FATware, ResiDOS v2.00 (complete with FAT-16 support), +divIDE, DEMFIR and MDOS which you can switch between with the command OUT 23,x.  We are soon to release an update to the Flash EPROM which will include a firmware selector when you switch on the Spectrum, to make it even easier (this will be supplied as a free update to those with earlier interfaces).

Image of divIDE Plus cased from the Spectrum
                      end - click for bigger pictureMore details for developers wishing to incorporate these facilities into ZX Spectrum emulators and improve firmware are available in our notes for divIDE firmware and emulator authors.

We would like to thank SVP (who provide low cost media) for providing us with a range of Compact Flash cards for testing and as a result will be able to offer low cost compatible Compact Flash memory cards shortly.

DivIDE Plus Firmware Selector

Following feedback from customers, and as promised, we have now released a small piece of software which proves indispensable with all of the various firmware options.  The Firmware Selector allows you to use a simple menu to select which firmware should be run on the DivIDE Plus, whether to start up in 48K or 128K Mode (if your Spectrum only supports 48K this option is not shown) and even allows you to enter 48K BASIC without the firmware being installed at all.

The selector even remembers the settings from the last time that you changed your options, so no longer do you need to reload the firmware whenever you turn the Spectrum on.

Discussion Forum Now Open

We have started a discussion board specifically for DivIDE and DivIDE Plus - the more people talk about the DivIDE the better chance there is of more enhancements being forthcoming.

Image of divIDE Plus hard disk interface with
                      through connector encased - click for bigger
                      picture

Ordering Sinclair ZX Spectrum DivIDE Plus Hard Disk Interface

-- All orders are now dealt with through SellMyRetro.com - the auction site for Retro and Vintage computers

Order DivIDE Plus Firmware Selector
£5  

Total DivIDE Plus units sold to date: 158

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. I have heard that the DivIDE Plus is not as compatible as the original DivIDE - is this true?
  2. How do I get software onto the Spectrum?
  3. Do I need an external power supply?
  4. Which Firmware should I use?
  5. When will I receive my order?
  6. Do you supply suitable hard disk drives?
  7. What Compact Flash Memory Cards are compatible?
  8. Will DivIDE Plus work with my Spectrum?

I have heard that the DivIDE Plus is not as compatible as the original DivIDE - is this true?

We have worked hard to ensure that the DivIDE Plus is compatible with the original DivIDE, whilst adding extra facilities.  The main problems were linked to disagreement over how to implement the extra RAM / ROM, although as we are the first to offer this, we would suggest our method to be the one to use in future.  The other problem is that some 128K snapshots will not work with 128K Mode enabled on the DivIDE Plus - however, this mode is disabled by default, and can be switched on specifically by software, once firmware supports it.

DivIDE Plus will also support some new firmwares which are currently being developed, and is the only version of the hard disk interface to support ResiDOS by Garry Lancaster.  At the moment, we support FATware, DEMFIR, MDOS3, +DivIDE and TBIOS.  We are working on releases of CP/M and ZXVGS, with hopefully ESXDOS and an enhanced version of MDOS3 at a later stage.

How do I get software onto the Spectrum?

This is now made easier with both ResiDOS and FATware being able to read Compact Flash Memory Cards and Hard disks formatted on the PC (in FAT-16).  Simply copy programs onto the compact flash memory and use one of these two firmwares, and you can load .TAP, .z80 and .SNA files directly on the ZX Spectrum.  If you like to use the +DivIDE firmware, you may be interested in the +DivIDE Manager from Scott-Falk Huehn (alas it is only in German at the moment).

One of the issues with the +divide firmware is that it stores the data directly in sectors without a file system. Therefore it isn't possible to exchange data between PC and Spectrum.

With the +divIDE Manager you can:
- prepare a compact flash card for the use with PC and Spectrum
- backup and restore the data of the +divide area on a PC
- extract disk images to a dsk, mgt or img file
- insert disk images from a dsk, mgt or img file
- write a disk image directly to a Plus-D disk
- read a disk image directly from a Plus-D disk

Available from: http://s-huehn.de/spectrum/software.htm

Do I need an external power supply?

We have heard that some Compact Flash cards needed external power when plugged into the IDE connector of the original DivIDE.  However, whether this is true, or the changes we have made to the design have overcome this, we are not sure - we just have not found a Compact Flash memory card which requires external power on the DivIDE Plus.  If you use a hard disk with the interface, this will need a PC power supply as the one supplied with the humble Speccy is not up to powering hard disks.

Which Firmware should I use?

This depends on your needs for the interface - see our separate page on DivIDE Plus Firmware

When will I receive my order?

We now only indicate on this website when they are available to purchase - orders are normally shipped within 1 working day.

Do you supply suitable hard disk drives?

No - DivIDE Plus users tend to prefer to use low cost Compact Flash memory cards for storage.  You can use any standard PC hard disk (not SATA, Firewire or USB) - although it must support LBA mode (which most drives you can find nowadays will be). The main problem is that you will need a power supply for the hard disk.  Due to the weight of power supplies and hard disks, plus the expense of obtaining custom made external hard disk cases, we made the decision not to produce these. 

When looking at a hard disk you also need to consider the size of hard disk you need - the maximum size which can be supported is down to the firmware.

FATware and ResiDOS will be able to access Windows partitions on the disk although you are limited to 2GB per partition, as they must be formatted with FAT-16 (not FAT-32 or NTFS which is currently the norm). This means that only 8.3 filenames can be used - FATware will address up to 8 such partitions, compared to ResiDOS which will support up to 26.

ResiDOS can also support a partition formatted with IDEDOS (which is a format devised for the Spectrum +3e ROM), with a maximum partition size of 16MB.

+divIDE uses virtual floppy disks on the hard disk, each up to 780K - you can access 2 of these virtual floppy disks at a time. It is however limited to 50GB overall.

DEMFIR is currently the only firmware which can read from a CD-ROM.

What Compact Flash Memory Cards are compatible?

We have tested various Compact Flash memory cards and only the 32MB PQI Card is not recognised by the DivIDE Plus - we have made some changes to the hardware to try and support a wider range of memory cards.  Please note that the higher speed cards may not work (we have not tried them).

Working CF Cards: Corsair x80 1GB, SanDisk 32MB, 512MB and 1GB (c) 03 on back, SanDisk Ultra II 1GB, Kingston 512MB, Integral CF Cards, 32MB Canon - marked (c) SanDisk 02

Non-Compatible CF Cards: SanDisk cards with (c) 99 on back, Kingston 1GB, Kingston 2GB v1.03, 256MB SimpleTech.

Will DivIDE Plus work with my Spectrum?

We (and some others) found a timing issue with the original DivIDE which meant that it may not always work with some Spectrums.  We have however worked hard on the design to overcome these timing issues, and successfully used the DivIDE Plus on the original Sinclair ZX Spectrums, the Spectrum +2, +2A, +2B and +3 and even some Timex clones (such as the 2068).  Please also note that we do of course offer a full refund (excluding postage costs), if the DivIDE Plus proves not to work with your particular Spectrum or clone.  We have however, found that the DivIDE Plus will not work with the Spanish Sinclair ZX Spectrum+128.

The Standard DivIDE 57c Hard Disk Interface

We can also supply a limited number of the original DivIDE 57c interfaces, complete with 1GB Compact Flash card and compact flash adaptor, so it is ready to plug in your Spectrum and go.

The Compact flash adaptor has power added to pin 20, to make it compatible with a wider range of compact flash cards.

Supplied uncased - get the ZX Spectrum DivIDE Compact Flash Interface from SellMyRetro.com

PlusD Floppy Disk Interface for the
                          Sinclair ZX Spectrum ComputerThe PlusD Floppy Disk Interface

The PlusD Floppy Disk Interface for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum Computer, originally manufactured by MGT (Miles Gordon Technology) is probably one of the most widely used expansions for the ZX Spectrum and its drive format is widely implemented in Spectrum emulators.  We are happy to be able to offer these floppy disk interfaces (constructed in 2006 to a high standard) and have a limited supply of compatible external 3.5" DSDD Disk Drives to go with the interfaces.

The PlusD floppy disk interface has various added advantages:

  • Compatible with ZX Microdrive commands (although this prevents it from working with the ZX Interface 1).
  • Has own simple command set such as:
    LOAD D1 "program".
  • 3.5" DSDD Disk Drives offer 780K Storage and (48K file loads in 3.5 seconds).
  • Has a snapshot button to allow simple copying of programs onto disk
  • In-built parallel (centronics) printer interface
  • Connects to any standard PC 3.5" Floppy Disk Drive (see below)

Although the interfaces are supplied unboxed, they are manufactured to a high standard and provide an excellent crash-free connection to the ZX Spectrum computer.  We provide a printed manual, disk complete with G+DOS operating system and demonstration programs, plus cable to connect the interface to a centronics printer.

You can also use the freeware Real Spectrum emulator from RAMSoft to convert various file formats onto PlusD disks.

Please note: the Plus-D Interface is suitable for the original 16K and 48K (rubber key) ZX Spectrum, the Spectrum + (48K and 128K) and the Spectrum +2, as well as the Timex TC2048.  Unfortunately, it cannot be used with the later +2A, +2B and +3 computers.

New Plus-D Floppy Disk Drive Interface
 
£Out of Stock
External SINGLE 3.5" Disk Drives
DSDD Disk Drive with case and UK standard psu

£Out of Stock 

External DUAL 3.5" Disk Drives
DSDD Disk Drive with case and UK standard psu

£90

10 x 3.5" DSDD 720K Floppy Diskettes
£7.50
Replacement PAL chip for PlusD Interface
£10

Please note: Disk drives are reconditioned units with external case and power supply - supplies are extremely limited

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use a standard PC floppy disk drive?

If you do not want to purchase one of our floppy disk drives for use with this interface, the main thing to be aware of is that modern PC floppy disk drives are set up to be DS1 (slave).  This creates a problem as the interface will expect one disk drive to be the master (DS0) which will be seen by the Spectrum as Drive 1.   Older floppy disk drives have jumpers which allows you to change the default settings, otherwise you will need to adapt a cable.  We use jumpered disk drives to overcome this problem.  These disk drives are also suitable for use with the BBC Micro and Sinclair QL floppy disk interfaces.  You also need to beware that most PC floppy disk drives are now HD drives (1.4M) - these can be used successfully, but you are recommended to only use 720K DD Floppy disks with these drives, otherwise you may have problems reading them on another drive. Please note that PlusD will only format to a maximum of 720K no matter what size floppy disk you use.

What Printer can I connect to the PlusD ?

You can use any centronics (parallel) printer directly connected via the standard cable supplied.  This allows you to use a much wider range of printers than the connectors provided on the ZX Interface 1, or built into the Spectrum +2,+2A, +2B and +3.  We supply various compatible printers, but you are encouraged to use an Epson printer, as most software for the Spectrum expects Epson compatible printers.  Please note that modern USB or Winprinters are not suitable.


Sinclair ZX Interface 1 and Microdrive
                          UnitThe Sinclair ZX Interface 1 and ZX Microdrive

The Sinclair ZX Interface 1 was released by Sinclair Research in 1983 to provide a faster means of storage, RS232 interface and network port for the ZX Spectrum.  The storage is provided by ZX Microdrives which can be chained together (up to 8 units) and use the same technology as was implemented for the Sinclair QL's built in microdrives (as well as on the ICL One Per Desk and Merlin Tonto computers). 

The network can be used to connect up to 64 Sinclair ZX Spectrums and Sinclair QLs together with network leads up to 3m in length and with speeds up to 100 kbits per second.

The interface expands many of the existing Spectrum commands to provide support for the extra facilities and an introductory microdrive cartridge was released which includes various demo programs and useful utilities.  The rear of the ZX Interface 1 includes a full through port to add additional add-ons.

Although very little software was produced on microdrive cartridge, you can use a Multiface to take a snapshot of a program in memory and save it to microdrive for later loading.

We can supply second hand, fully tested ZX Interface 1 units, together with manual and unused ZX Microdrive units, as well as blank ZX Microdrive cartridges. 

Second Hand Fully Tested ZX Interface 1
Plus Dual ZX Microdrive Units
Includes Microdrive fly lead, hard connector, joining plate, Introductory Cartridge and 4 blank microdrive cartridges
 

£Out of Stock  

Second Hand Fully Tested Sinclair ZX Microdrive Unit
 
 

£Out of Stock

Sinclair ZX Microdrive to Microdrive Connector
Extremely Hard to find - joining connector needed to join 2 microdrive units together - without this you can only use on ZX Microdrive with your ZX Interface 1
(5 in stock)

£10    

Sinclair ZX Interface 1 Network Lead
Cable to connect a Spectrum to other spectrums or a Sinclair QL over the ZXNet.  ZX Spectrums will all need a ZX Interface 1 in order to use this - the QL does not require any further hardware.
 

£2  

Sinclair ZX Interface 1 Manual
Original Sinclair Manual for using the ZX Microdrive and ZX Interface 1.
(1 unit currently in stock)

£4  

Sinclair QL / ZX Microdrive ULA 2G007

£6.00

Transform Plastic Hinged ZX Microdrive Storage Box (holds 25 cartridges)
£2  

Frequently Asked Questions

How reliable is the ZX Interface 1 and Microdrive?

With care, a ZX Microdrive will last many years.  However, they rely on technology very similar to a cassette and we have often come across problems where the small sponge behind the tape has worn away, or where the rubber wheel inside the ZX Microdrive unit has worked its way up the shaft.  These can be easy to fix, but the use of an early ZX Interface 1 can cause untold problems which may not be obviously linked to the Interface.  We always test our ZX Interface 1s and ZX Microdrives on more than one ZX Spectrum to check for compatibility, and the Microdrive units are always test for read / write and formatting capability as well as ability to work together with a second unit.