ZX Spectrum 48k – panel replacement

or how I bought ZX after 29 years.


Yup, ZX Spectrum was the first computer that I had an occasion to play with. It was 1986 and I was 6 years old. I was at a birthday party for my parent’s friends. It turned out, that they had a computer. Their son wasn’t really interested in babysitting so he showed me some basics – how to load stuff from a tape recorder etc. and he left me with it.

Oooh yeah, happy days 😀
Playing all those games like Space Invaders or Knight Lore back then was awesome. My parents were happy because I didn’t whine much so they could continue partying. I was just simply sitting in another room silently punching rubber keys and staring at the TV for a whole day.

Fast forward to 2015. Soooo, after 29 years I realized that I can have ZX again, this time, my own one. I actually wanted to have a machine that drove me to who I am today.

Getting ZX Spectrum 48k

One day, I was having a nice garage whiskey session with my friend, Johny of Lamers. We were talking about the old days and we’ve figured that we simply have to get those “rubber” computers. Johny knew a guy who was selling ZXs. A few days later I had one on my desk!


…. but I didn’t have PSU, only ZX in a plastic bag so joy was delayed a bit.
After a while of web browsing, I figured out that it is powered by 9V PSU. However when I opened ZX, I noticed that there is an old good LM7805 Voltage regulator inside, so there was no need to get exactly 9V, it could be a bit higher. I’ve simply browsed through my super secret PSUs suitcase and pulled out a 12V 1.66A PSU
WARNING – You might brick your ZX so you better stick to 9V if possible.
Also, the Important part is that ZX has inverted power input pins, so I had to swap + and – terminals.

Loading stuff

Finally, it booted! but then I realized that I have no software…

Luckily for me, Silly Venture was just a few weeks away and Lotharek was coming to this party so he simply got one of his Divide2k14 for me.

This is a great add-on to ZX. It works as a “hard disk”. The juice is loading from a CF card. You simply connect it to a mainboard socket ad viola! It works. Here is how :

ZX Spectrum 48k + DividE –> Simple composite MOD testing from pit on Vimeo.

Divide2k14: http://lotharek.pl/product.php?pid=128

Rrrrrite , I’ve got it working finally but I wasn’t happy with a few details.
The display was kinda shitty on my LCD TV and a panel was missing quite a bit of paint.

Getting better video

So it turns out that this was an easy mod.
In the early ’80s, a majority of home displays were simply TVs with antenna input only, and therefore, ZX was equipped with an RF modulator. Nowadays we have nice and thin LCD displays which work better with a strong and clean signal like composite video for example.
To get this hack done all you need to do is to desolder all that old crap inside the modulator case and swap it with a single 100uF 10V capacitor.
The more detailed how-to is here: http://brianhoskins.uk/spectrumcompositemod/

Fixing a panel

This one was a bit harder to finish.
I took a high-res scan of my panel and here is how it looked:

The idea was to load it to GIMP and fix all missing paint and then experiment with printing it on various kinds of paper.
After a few minutes of using my lame gfx editing skills, I’ve ended up with this:

At first, I tried to simply print it on photo paper and cover it with adhesive, transparent foil. The result was rather poor because of air bubbles trapped under foil – it is hard to eliminate bubbles while working with paper.

Another idea was to simply laminate a paper.
It turned out to be a better option.
Here is a photo of a few laminates done.


Finally, I could glue it on and cut out all the holes.



Of course, this could be done better but I didn’t bother to do the whole process again so here is how it looks after this mod.

Here you have my original project file so you can download it for your own mods and experiments :


Cheers 😉


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2 thoughts on “ZX Spectrum 48k – panel replacement

  1. Nice job.

    I have a ZX Spectrum lying around somewhere.
    Just need to find it and start playing with it again. Haven’t used it since 1986 or thereabouts (got my own IBM compatible PC then).

    1. Wow! it’s been a while since 1986! 😀 It is a very cool machine 😀 Actually, the first computer I’ve played with.

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