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The ZX Spectrum reborn: a new machine, fully compatible with the original computer, and packed with improvements and expansions.
The ZX Spectrum reborn: a new machine, fully compatible with the original computer, and packed with improvements and expansions.
3,113 backers pledged £723,390 to help bring this project to life.

A month of setbacks

Posted by Henrique Olifiers (Creator)
91 likes

Deep breath: This update will start with let downs. What should have been a month of wrap-ups, turned out to be four weeks of disappointments with little to no progress on the keyboard.

Last month (February) we got the keyboard to a final state with a hand-assembled prototype, with a few minor tweaks requested before getting a small batch produced by the automated assembly line. These tweaks included a lighter press ‘Enter’ key, longer contact strips and 3mm screws rather than 2.5mm.

While we got all these changes made and two new keyboards were shipped to us and validated on all these fixes, they were also hand-assembled rather than produced by the automated assembly line as the final product will be. Because of this, we’re still waiting for automated samples to give the final go-ahead for the keyboard production, when we should have done so three or four weeks ago.

The silver lining is that we baked six weeks into the forecast of delivering the Nexts to the backers by the end of Q2 (June), so this delay doesn’t change the shipping date. Still, a very disappointing month where we were hoping the Next keyboard and case would enter full production, followed by overseas shipping to the assembly plant in Nottingham.

We’re now expecting the automated keyboard to be done in the next couple of weeks, then trigger the production.

You might be asking ‘why do we need automated assembly line samples to validate the keyboard into full production?’ and that’s a good question indeed, as all the parts used in the hand-assembled are the same parts used in the automated line, thus no variance should be expected -- except on the keyboard silicone domes placement.

The Next keyboard matrix (the contacts layer) have composite contacts for special keys such as arrows, Break, Edit, True Video etc. In order for these to work well (ie. register the key press of two keys at the same time to achieve the composite result, such as Shift and 2 for Caps Lock) the silicone dome that lies on top of the matrix has to be perfectly centered. If it’s a bit to one side, it will register the press of Shift+2 in the wrong order (such as 2+Shift), resulting in ‘2’ rather than Caps Lock. Only the automated assembly can achieve the precision required, the hand-assembled samples do not produce 100% accurate key presses as the domes can be glued to the matrix misaligned by human hands.

The keyboard manufacturer promised us a quick turnaround now, we’re on top of them to make sure this happens fast so we can move on to full production. All that’s left for us is to apologise for this letdown and double our ‘is it ready?’ requests rate to the engineers at the factory.

Next discord channel

Michael ‘Flash Ware’ at Rusty Pixel (and also a FB Next community moderator) has set up a discord for all things Next. Jump into it via the invitation and meet like-minded Next people without Zuckerberg snooping on you.

Next discord channel

Abductor

Dave Flynn, in partnership with Dominion Games, announced Abductor on the FB group last week. While the details on gameplay and game universe are scarce, the screenshot speaks volumes: it looks incredible, with an original Speccy flair, but taking advantage of new video modes. Keep an eye open for this game!

Next on Twitch

For the first time (at least that we know of), the Next hardware was used to stream live to Twitch without using a camera to capture. With an Elgato HD 60 S, Asger Bonnevie managed to stream real video at digital quality -- check out the stream here.

sjasmplus

Peter Ped Helcmanovsky updated the Assembly Editor sjasmplus to version 1.11, including support for the new features of the Core 2.00.26. Check out the Github repository for builds for Windows, Mac and Linux.

Next Pentagon mode on CRT

Franco Bronda attached a Sony TV to the Next using a CRT cable, and went straight to demos of the Pentagon 128 mode showing correct timings for the demos’ effects. Worth watching, there’s so much good stuff for the Pentagon that not everyone outside of East Europe knows of…

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Qbee

Daniel Lopez’s re-imagination of Qbert for the Next is close to completion, and he posted a new video of the game in action. Check out how’s it looking like -- eager to find out how it plays too! Follow the game’s progress here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/dlogames/

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POWER BLADE: Delta’s Shadow

Evgeniy Suhomlin updated POWER BLADE with a video on YouTube showing the racing level, featuring the hero on top of a hoverbike inside parallax tunnels that are a show on their own.

And that's it for this update... The original plan was to headline with big neon-lit 'Production started!', but it just didn't happen this time around. Hopefully we'll be able to get this headline posted shortly, though -- or we'll storm a keyboard factory 'Stallone Cobra' style.

You better have these keyboards ready, miss...
You better have these keyboards ready, miss...

Comments

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    1. Missing avatar

      Alabug 1 day ago

      I've always had a love of homebrew and older computer systems. I grew up around Amiga machines and the Apple I/II. I never got to experience the ZX Spectrum, which is why I initially backed this project. I'm looking forward to experiencing this product after having read about all of the careful and subtle changes have gone into its final form. I think the wait will be worth it. Thank you.

    2. Marc M. Kloosterman on

      @Luis Alberto Marcos Peón wrote "If the deadline is after a brexit application in UK, what about backers of the rest european countries? What about a price increment by export custom duties or ship costs in that situation?"

      Luis, I'm glad to tell you that Brexit has been postponed until after the ZX Spectrum Next is shipping, in order to keep custom duties down. :D

    3. Missing avatar

      Kevin Phillips on

      I've waited 35-ish years to update my ZX Spectrum, so another couple of months won't kill me. ;-)

      Thanks as always for keeping the community in the loop with where things are at (even if not the news people want to hear). Roll on June, I say...

    4. Missing avatar

      Pete B on

      Normunds - Producing final production samples using the actual manufacturing process ahead of starting full production is completely normal. I suspect they probably know more about this process than you.

    5. Missing avatar

      Normunds on

      "..two new keyboards were shipped to us and validated on all these fixes, they were also hand-assembled rather than produced by the automated assembly line as the final product will be."
      I'm wondering a little bit about you! Do you realise how much costs starting /stopping factory production line?!!! And you are expecting them to start production line just for a couple of keyboards?!!!

    6. Missing avatar

      Petr Horak on

      Thank you for the update. I recently read about a high ratio of failures on Kickstarter in regards to hardware projects. I can only imagine how hard and time consuming it must be to deal with various hardware component producers, coordinating development of a case, not to mention the actual hardware development and production. I mean my friends were telling me to prepare for a possibility of never seeing an actual product. I really appreciate the fact that Spectrum Next got this far. I'd say that at this point it is pretty much almost finished. A few weeks here or there makes little difference. I wish that people, who are complaining about the timeline and delays, shared their own hardware development success stories with us.

    7. Missing avatar

      Antonis Slicher on

      Appreciate the honest update, looking forward to receiving my Next in June.

    8. Missing avatar

      Paul Murphy on

      Sorry, but this is very disappointing. I backed this in April 2017 with the expected ship date of January 2018. I've never made a comment on here, but this update has compelled me to make one.

      While I understand there can be delays, from the updates it seems that most of the minor tweaks or improvements to the case or keyboard that has been suggested since last year has had an unforeseen affect on the release date.

      Take last month's update. Four minor improvements suggested, with the keyboard ready to be mass manufactured. This update is now saying those updates have caused the keyboard manufacturer to send over a hand made sample, which is understandable because they're not going to mass manufacture a keyboard after further design changes.

      The update in December stated "Q2 at the latest" for the Next to be in the hands of the backers with a possibility of "earlier than Q2", yet here we are in Q2 and the keyboard still hasn't been finalised for mass production. The cases haven't been manufactured. Was "earlier than Q2" ever a realistic deadline?

      As far as I can see, to hit the Q2 deadline there is around 12 weeks to manufacture the keyboards and cases, ship them to the UK, hand assemble, print the manual and ship to the backers. Is there further testing scheduled in those 12 weeks? Are the keyboards and cases to be shipped by air freight or ship to save costs? What are the risks to not hitting that Q2 deadline?

      It would be good to give a clear, broken down timeline for deliverables so the backers can have a better understanding of you realistically hitting the Q2 deadline (already delayed by 18 months), instead of another "unforeseen" delay or milestone to be missed.

      Also, PLEASE stop tinkering with the keyboard and case designs, Rick Dickinson designed the case, leave it as he designed it instead of making design changes like making the case screws more suitable for opening/closing the case (not part of the original design spec, but how much did that change impact on the release date?)

      And please can we get update on the committed stretch goal games; Nodes of Yesod, Rex Next, the new Dizzy. Nothing has been communicated on those for months.

      Please guys, while it's fantastic to get updates and they are appreciated, can you try to stick to a deadline, communicate the milestones still to be completed to hit that deadline and PLEASE no more tweaks or improvements to the hardware - unless you clearly understand the implications to the release date and communicate that to the backers, who have paid to get a Next in their hands, they deserve to have confidence when that's going to happen.

      Good luck with the next 12 weeks and I can't wait to get the Next.

    9. Missing avatar

      jatmundua on

      Thanks for your sincerity. All my support and confidence in your decisions.

    10. Missing avatar

      Dennis on

      Thanks for letting us know, and Thanks for dealing with all this hassle for us, Roll On Production!!

    11. Missing avatar

      zyser on

      Thanks for the update... Keep up the good work!

    12. Peter Ped Helcmanovsky on

      Sjasmplus is only assembler, no editor included (but asm syntax-highlight rules for Kate editor are available in the "ZXSpectrumNextTests" project on github).
      And binaries are available only for windows, mac/linux users are expected to build from sources (both GNU make and CMake methods are supported).

    13. Missing avatar

      Dan Goodinson on

      Still very happy with the great comms - and still happy to wait for the finished article, as it's going to be stunning!

    14. Rob on

      A lot of experience gained that will help when you launch the Next +2 🙂🤪. Thanks for the honest update, looking forward to the finished Next

    15. Missing avatar

      Richard Young on

      Almost all projects suffer unexpected setbacks. I'm happy to wait until the product is ready.
      Thanks for the update and the opportunity to own a ZX Spectrum Next!

    16. M Hutton on

      Good and honest update, you don't try to hide the problems you are facing
      The wait will be worth it in the long run
      Still behind you 100%

    17. Missing avatar

      Luis Alberto Marcos Peón on

      Hi all, Next Team specially
      If the deadline is after a brexit application in UK, what about backers of the rest european countries? What about a price increment by export custom duties or ship costs in that situation?
      Regards

    18. Scott Fleming on

      Gutted, my birthday is first week of June. Doubt it's arriving for then. Ah well, 2 years and waiting...

    19. Missing avatar

      Rob Gregorczyk on

      Not ideal but still plenty of positives there.
      As down heartening as it is no one should be beating themselves up.
      Keep up the nagging 😉

    20. Missing avatar

      John Ioannou
      Superbacker
      on

      Thank you for the update.
      All is good.