Sunday 28 April 2024

Lots of new things for the Minstrel 3

I have listed lots of new things for the Minstrel 3.

Yes, I know, great time to announce new things for the Minstrel 3 now that the Z80 has been end of lifed. Yeah well, the world keeps changing beyond my control but I can't or won't go along with it.

It seems sensible to go ahead and list all of these now, and then follow with the more detailed posts on each one.

Micro ZXpand Minstrel

I have a few Patreon posts on this to follow, but in short it is a cut down version of the Minstrel ZXpand, based on ZXpand by Charlie Robson (sirmorris).

Unlike previous versions, this plugs directly on to the expansion header on recent Minstrel 3 boards. It is a microSD card disk drive, which uses a ROM overlay to replace the LOAD and SAVE commands and adds CAT and CONFIG commands. It does not feature the joystick or serial ports of the larger version.

This is only suitable for more recent Minstrel 3 boards with the pads by the edge connector (V3.5.5 and V3.5.8). I will, as is customary, state this is not suitable for use with a ZX81, but can now add also unsuitable for Minstrel 2 and older Minstrel 3 boards, and it will not fit inside a ZX81 case (there are pillars in the way).

That is now listed on SellMyRetro.

Best speak to be more ordering to make sure the right connector is fitted. It can have pins or sockets, if you have one of the few Minstrel 3's that have a pin header fitted.

The 2 pin header picks up on the ROM select jumper block, so will always expect pins on the board.

The full size version is still available, and there are still actual ZXpand and ZXpand pluses out there.

Minstrel Expansion Bus

That 2x23 pin header can now be had on it's own backplane. This can be plugged into a Minstrel 2, Minstrel 3 or a real ZX81.

This can be powered from the host if you are not using many modules or they use little additional power. Alternatively, you can fit it's own 9V in, 5V out power supply.

You can feed 9V into both the expansion bus and into the Minstrel 3, or fit the jumper and pass 9V between them. You should only fit the 5V jumper you have not fitted a 7805 on the board.

The kit includes all the parts, omit them if you don't need them.

Available in assembled, kit and PCB only versions. If ordering assembled, let me know which options you would like.

But what can you plug in?

Well, how about a Kempston compatible joystick module.

Minstrel Joystick

This is a simple Kempston compatible joystick interface, but fully decoded at address 31 (0x1F).

(there is a very long deep dive into Kempston interfaces currently on Patreon)

Also available in assembled, kit and PCB only versions.

That makes up for the lack of joystick on the Micro ZXpand Minstrel.

You can also build the standard Minstrel ZXpand to fit into this backplane. The same as the version shown here plugged directly into the Minstrel 3. (yes, I am going to have to build another one to get a photo).

David Stephenson has some modules which will also fit into the Minstrel Expansion Bus backplane, such as ZXIO. You will need to be careful about positioning of the card if you fit the voltage regulator components, as these sit lower that my modules.

I am currently building up one of those (waiting for connectors).

I am sure more modules will follow.

I did consider fitting RC2014 slots on there, but all the even addresses are tied up with the ZX81 port 0xFE, which is decoded as "any even address". I did look at rewiring the address bus to the RC2014 connectors so that the even addresses from 01 to FD were mapped to 00-7E or 80-FE on the RC2014 bus, but I thought that would just confuse things.

PET Dual Userport Joystick with Piezo

Oh, and I listed an alternate version of the PET Dual Userport Joystick.

This version has a piezo for PET 2001 and 2001N machines that do not have an internal sounder.

Fits perfectly in the corner that was artistically snipped off in the other version.

As before, Assembled, Kit and PCB versions.


The full range of Minstrel and Mini PET kits and accessories are available form my SellMyRetro store.

All the links can be found here:


You can support me via Patreon, and get access to advance previews of posts like this and behind the scenes updates. These are often in more detail than I can fit in here, and some of these posts contain bits from several Patreon posts. This also includes access to my Patreon only Discord server for even more regular updates.