Raspberry ZX-Pi hack breathes new life in to ZX81

zx-pi computerI know a few of you have managed to keep your classic Sinclair machines in a cupboard. Now it’s time to dust them off and put them to use thanks to the addition of the Raspberry Pi.

There has already been a ZX Spectrum emulator running on the Raspberry Pi but this ZX-Pi looks pretty sweet if you have a dead ZX81 someplace.

The ZX-Pi hack has been carried out by Tony Smith who also previously detailed how to use an Arduino Leonardo to connect a ZX81 keyboard to the Raspberry Pi.

Smith states:


“If you plan to try this yourself, the best advice I can give is to spend plenty of time trying out possible internal configurations of Pi and cables. The location of the Leonardo board is fixed to a degree by the size of the ribbon cable coming off the keyboard. Eventually, I settled on placing the Pi upside down with the USB and Ethernet facing the back of the casing, and the HDMI port adjacent to the ZX81’s original video out, cassette and power ports.”

ZX-PiHe goes on to point out:

“Unfortunately, the GPIO extension cable connector added too much to the Pi’s depth and so prevented the ZX81 case from closing with it in place. So I had to reject that plan. I also had to remove a very small part of the lower half of the case at the back to fully expose the Ethernet port. Aside from opening the case’s separate cassette and power ports into a single port to fully expose the Pi’s HDMI connector, I had to make no other changes to the ZX81’s external appearance.

Hardware hackers with more experience and confidence than me could do a lot better by stripping the Pi of some of its ports – USB, Ethernet and the GPIO header in particular – to run wires from the board to the case’s ports rather than regular cables. This should make everything fit a lot more smoothly.”

All in all this looks like a decent way of breathing new life in to the shell of a venerable classic.

It would be neat touch to hook it up to its own HDMI screen too 🙂

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