A plastic peek
Following from the previous update featuring the moulds pictures, our plastic manufacturing partners made the first injections to test the quality of the cases that come out of them. Now that this injection is done, they can start adjusting variables such as correct plastic flow and temperature to eliminate any artifacts that could affect the final look of the case. And for a first injection, it’s looking rather good already, but as expected three are a few flaws to fix. Behold:
Meanwhile, our keyboard experts are dealing with a new variable to them: a three-layer matrix. The original Speccy had the typical two-layers matrix one would find in a modern keyboard, but when the Spectrum+ was introduced with extra keys such as ‘Delete’, ‘Caps Lock’ and the arrows, a third layer had to be introduced -- the alternative would have been to add more connections to the keyboard membrane to the board, something Sinclair avoided to keep the compatibility between the Plus and the standard Speccy.
We’re facing the same challenge: we can’t add more connectors to the keyboard (or the Next board wouldn’t be compatible with the original Speccy keyboard), thus three layers it is, just like the Plus and 128.
And so started the experiments of manufacturing a modern keyboard, with new membrane materials, but using an extra layer in the middle. The most important factor here is to avoid the extra volume of an additional layer interfering with the performance of the keyboard’s butterfly mechanism, and keeping the ‘feel’ of the keys unchanged.
For the next update, we expect to see the membrane already attached to the test keyboard and fully validated ‘clicking-wise’, so the keyboard’s final plastic injection adjustments can take place in parallel to the adjustments of the case. Then, we assemble the two together and move ahead!
Power Blade 2 on the Next
Evgeniy Suhomlin posted a video with a peek of his team’s work on Power Blade, and how it works on the Speccy 128 and on the Next. There isn’t much disclosed about the project so far, but Evgeniy promised a new video soon (and this time with subtitles) for us all to dive in. For the time being, check out how the game looks on the Next (if you want to see the other versions, skip back the video a bit).
Elena programming language
Kevin Watkins is working on a new programming language for the Next called Elena. There’s a new demo for it, which looks a lot like Team17’s Project X for the Amiga, well worth checking it out.
More details about Elena can be found here: https://www.mrkwatkins.co.uk/2018/05/16/elena-the-second-demo/
The making of Next Lemmings, chapter three
Mike Dailly is forging ahead with his incredible work on Lemmings, with a third installment of his diary now available. It’s magic in the making, I tell you, and a wonderful read to boot: http://dailly.blogspot.co.uk/2018/05/making-next-lemmings-part-3.html
Firmware update (and including Dreamworld Pogie demo and more!!!)
A new update to TBBlue is coming this week. This will include tons of new features, plus a demo of Dreamworld Pogie (read more about it here: https://www.specnext.com/lyndon-sharp-wasp-and-pogie/), Orb Run by Matt Davies (a favourite of mine), an updated version of Nextoid from Lampros Potamianos and a new demo by Robin Verhagen-Guest.
Huge thanks and credits, as always, go to Garry Lancaster for the fantastic work on NextOS, the ever-better OS and Basic which is, in our humble opinion, the best BASIC there is bar none! ;)
- Core update to version 0.31
- New NextOS version 1.98D
- Includes latest version (03) of Geoff Wearmouth's Looking Glass ("LG") ROM. Includes keyboard fixes.
- Implemented new command to select speed 0/1/2 (3.5/7/14MHz):
RUN AT speed
- Implemented new commands to list the program (or banked section) starting from a particular procedure:
- LIST PROC procname()
- BANK n LIST PROC procname()
- Implemented new command to merge a range of program lines into a single line (separated with colons): LINE MERGE first,last
- When an error occurs, the listing in the NextBASIC editor is automatically adjusted to include the line that caused the error.
- On layers 1/2 (and in windows), PRINT AT y,x now uses character coordinates for consistency with layer 0 (although the number of lines/columns can change depending upon what character set size is selected and whether reduced height mode is enabled).
- On layers 1/2 (and in windows), added new positioning option to PRINT, which allows the print position to be specified in pixel coordinates (like PLOT): PRINT POINT x,y;
- Added '0' key as alternative to ENTER on menus and Browser. This allows joystick navigation, provided it has been set up as the "cursor" type in the Next/TBBLUE settings.
- Various bugfixes and minor improvements.
- Firmware update to 1.07
- Playable demo of Dreamworld Pogie by Lyndon Sharp
- Orb Run by Matt Davies
- Updated Nextoid from Lampros Potamianos
- New playable demo by Robin Verhagen-Guest. You can find more information on his demo here: https://seven-fff.com/spectron2084/.
New features and commands for this latest NextOS version were originally suggested by Matt Davies based upon his experience creating his “Orb Run” game for a game jam.
Stay tuned, the next update should have a lot of… Plasticity… about it. ;)