Sunday 2 August 2020

Minstrel Updates

This is an old post, preserved for reference.
The products and services mentioned within are no longer available 

Updated versions of the Minstrel 2, 3 and 4th are now available from The Future Was 8 bit.
I have simplified the options down to a single version for each, with optional ZXpand for the Minstrel 2 and 3.
These are now single boards, with the keyboard integrated into the main board. The is a keyboard overlay PCB with keywords as appropriate for the system, and the optional ZXpand board which is soldered onto the edge connector.
Now in fancy new packaging. If we call it a collectors edition, does that mean people will try to buy all of them?

Minstrel 2

This is a kit to create your own ZX80. The design follows closely the original ZX80 schematic, with a few improvements to make it more useful, 16K of RAM, multiple ROM images (4K or 8K versions of BASIC), and a modified composite video output circuit to make up for the shortfalls in the original design.
As with all of these Minstrels, these are self assembly kits, with all modern, still in production, through hole components.
The only surface mount part is the SD card socket on the ZXpand, and this is supplied pre-soldered so you don't need to do that if you want the ZXpand option. This allows you to load programs direct from SD card, and also adds a joystick port which supports ZXpand, INKEY$ and Kempston modes.

Minstrel 3

The Minstrel 3 is ZX81 compatible, it implements the same functionality as the ZX81, but with a different circuit designed with modern 74HC chips, rather than relying on an original ULA.
The updated design includes the NMI slow/fast mode used by lots of ZX81 games, and 32K of RAM with support for many of the high resolution techniques for the ZX81.
There is also a version of the Minstrel ZXpand for the Minstrel 3, again with a pre-soldered SD card socket, for fast SD card loading and the multifunction joystick port.

Minstrel 4th

The Minstrel 4th is a Z80 single board computer, which implements a memory map and display compatible with the Jupiter Ace, so it can run Jupiter Ace software, and you can try out the Forth language.

The Minstrel 4th is 'designed for RC2014' and can be expanded via an RC2014 bus connector, to make use of all sorts of existing expansion cards.

All of those kits are available now from the new 'Tynemouth Software DIY Computer kits' section of The Future Was 8 bit -
Along with the Mini PET of course.

2022 Update: Some of these kits, along with the updated version of the The Mini PET are still available from The Future Was 8 bit.

2023 Update: Minstrel 2, 3 and 4th PCBs, kits and built and tested boards are available via my SellMyRetro store -

See this post for more information -