Sunday, 29 May 2011

Ser-USB Part 3

To use a  Ser-USB device on a QL obviously requires a connection with the serial port. After that the card or stick attached to the device needs formatting. The easy way to format uses the supplied Partition Manager task. This gives the option to initialise the device which is formatting and creating the root partition. After this has been accomplished subsequent partitions can be created simply through partition manager. So far QL Heaven has been playing about with making partitions and copying files to them and from them to get a feel for the system. Here are some screen shots of this happening. With the eye of faith you can see Qtrans (Dilwyn Jones program) displaying the contents of USB1_ and USB2_. 

The curvature of the image is down to the fact that this is a photograph of a CRT screen. The partitions can be quite large. No upper limit on partition size is mentioned in the manual but the practicalities of transferring files through the serial port should limit ambition. none the less it is possible to copy directories and then sub directories within the directory all to the USB device and then retrieve files.The question then is how large are directories on a QL root directory. There are no smsq/e functions to return this as far as QL Heaven is aware. So as there was a need here is QL Heavens SBASIC directory sizing program. The directory SBASIC containing all the _bas files has just been sized at 4MB and 486 files.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Ser-USB Part 2

QL Heaven has been allowed to play with a ser-USB device during the past week. There is probably only a few things that can be done with this type of device. At QL Heaven the principal benefit from this device is access to a portable medium larger than a high density floppy disk that can be read by any QL that has access to serial ports.This can leave some PCs challenged these days as more modern motherboards tend to have only USB slots and SATA slots. A driver for the PC emulators that could read the QL, presumably QUBIDE formatted USB sticks that the device creates would be the ideal way around this. By the way the biggest QL partition QL Heaven has created so far is 20MB. More on the device later.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

The Ser-USB Device

QL Heaven has been allowed to play a bit with the new Ser-USB device. It is a compact transparent blue box. There are 2 USB slots and a SD card slot. On the reverse side is the 5v power connector and the reset button.
The Hardware comes with a disk with the necessary drivers to be LRESPRed, a file with additional S*BASIC commands, a partition manager task, a monitor task and some other files.

QL Heaven has seen files copied via the QL serial port to a card in the device and EXed out into QD. The speed of the process depends on the BAUD rates supported by the QL serial ports. For files bigger than a few kilobytes a SuperHermes chip or emulator with serial ports able to support 54860 baud or higher is necessity.

Anyway above is a first glimpse.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011


QL Heaven has seen and got to touch one of these new hardware devices for the QL. The package from memory lane computing is comprehensive and professional. The build quality of the device is excellent. It is supplied with a 44 page manual describing the operation of the device and its set up. Along with this and the device is a double density disk with all the drivers and software plus a cable to connect the device to the serial post of the QL. QL Heaven hopes to be able to report on how it works in the near future.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

QL Hardware News

The Ser-USB hardware adapter has been released by Memory Lane Computing. QL Heaven is hoping to get sight of this exciting new product. USB ports on a QL and access to flash card storage deices that are portable across the various hardware configurations of the QL. About time something like this existed. There are MBs of QL software in the public domain these days but the only direction of transfer depended on PCs burning to CDs and CD access on the QL.

Here is a picture of the device. :

On ebay there has been a lot of QL activity. Hardware and magazines and software. Up to 3 pages of QL stuff some going for amazing prices such as £35-00 for an non functional QL! Here at QL heaven we are interested in the old magazines for sale as some have amazing bits of code as listings to type in and play about with. More on that later perhaps.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Jan Jones Designer and Writer of Sinclair's QL SuperBASIC language

QL Heaven discovered yesterday that Jan Jones is still a writer, but not about the QL at all. To quote her

"I am, first and foremost, a writer of romance. I believe that everybody, no matter how stressful their life, is entitled to at least one happy ending."

 If it seems unbelievable here i sthe link to her web site Jan Jones Website

Saturday, 7 May 2011

The 21st Century Black Box Sinclair QL project

Space 1999 is toast. The moon is still in orbit around Earth. While there is ample overwhelming evidence of alien life on Mars, NASA and the scientific community remain in total denial. But that life is undoubtedly native to Mars so we keep the moon and have not met any extra solar aliens either.

In the 21st Century the QL aficionados thirst for new hardware to run their QL programs on. OK some claim they do not, but the QL Heavens analysts suspect that despite their daytime denials they still dream of it and of the golden age of QL hardware which was the 1990s. New QL hardware disappeared with space 1999 although the moon remained.

So what now. It is time for QL Heaven to bring back the black box QL. This is a long term project and will cost a good bit of dough. So do not expect immediate results but over the next few months and longer the project will be documented here.

First off the internal dimensions of the original QL case. These are obviously important for the fitting of new gubbins. The internal width of the case is 120 mm exactly. The gap between the casing screws holding the top to the bottom of the case is 140 mm. The depth of the lower case is 22mm and that of the upper case is 22mm. The feet that tilt the QL to a typing angle give a maximum of 20 mm. The maximum depth therefore varies from close to 60 mm at the back down to 40 mm at the front. Here is my photographic evidence.

By the way and for information there are a few 1990 hardware bits, no space aliens, on this QL motherboard. At the far left is a Goldcard interfaced to the QL. At the left side the microdrives located at the lower right of the motherboard is a superHermes card. The keyboard ribbons are disconnected in this image.