The Final 2023 Charity Auctions are LIVE!

The story of the Missing Speccy is a long and convoluted one. Actually its not that long. In fact its a 23 minute video. You be the judge.
Anyway! It’s now time to sell it again. And its gained a friend!
There are TWO auctions running this week, and at the end of them I will do a little live stream to cover the ends of the auctions so we can tally up the final score. And maybe kick off this years event at the same time!
Here are the auctions for you to peruse and bid on.

First up the Missing Speccy. This has been around the world! A bespoke, custom hand built machine with all new parts, in a beautiful case and including new tape deck and new games on cassette.

And the other auction:
A lovely ZX Harlequin 128k in an original case which includes a NOS faceplate that has never been used. Also included is a new PSU and brilliant quality Harlequin RGB cable from Retro Computer Shack. All of this in an original box with original manuals. Wonderful!

Replacing a Unique and Bespoke Charity ZX Spectrum Computer

The tragic tale of a poor “ZX Spectrum Special Bespoke Charity Edition” which was never delivered to its intended owner by eBay. In which we find out how this terrible event unfolded and how the catastrophe was finally put right. Also I build a cool Harlequin 128k on a very cool motherboard in a super cool translucent case. Its cool. And the first news about this years Commodore based charity event! IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DONATE! You can still do so here: With thanks the  @RMCRetro  for permission to use beautiful b-roll from the Befriending ZX Spectrums episode: Thank you to  @PCBWay  for supplying the motherboards And thanks to Chris for the correct revision board too!

eBay lost it! This beautiful custom hand-built bespoke computer. That all sounds a little bit dramatic and it is. It’s a bit of a tale and in this video I’ll try very hard to put right this terrible wrong. But first let’s go into exactly what happened and to do that we need to go back. Back to late summer 2023. Those of you who follow the channel might be aware of the big charity event I organised at the end of last summer but for anyone catching up the short version is I auctioned off loads of very special Sinclair ZX Spectrum and related items to raise money for the befriending scheme. Amazingly we managed to raise over 13,000 pounds, a stunning amount which I’m still having trouble absorbing. Of all those spectrums I built and repaired for the event this one was my favourite. This brand new 48k spectrum in its gorgeous translucent smoked case with white keyboard and purple motherboard sold to Andrew and Sarah all the way over in the US for the incredible sum of 680 pounds. I packed it up, double boxed in its extra sturdy flight case, paid extra for super insured postage and shipped it off. This was my first time using the eBay global shipping program and when I received a notification the package had been delivered, I crossed it off my list of things to worry about and moved on. But that’s not where this story ended. That notification meant the package had been delivered to the eBay warehouse here in the UK at which point my responsibility for the item ended. eBay flew it over the Atlantic and handed it over to UPS who then promptly lost it. Our generous buyer Andrew after checking the tracking and seeing it was showing the item stuck contacted me to ask if I could help chase it down. The eBay seller tools were pretty useless so I jumped on Twitter and made a fuss there and in no time at all a representative contacted me looked into the case and miraculously it started moving again almost immediately. Apparently there was some documentation they claimed was incorrect and this had caused it to be held up. Nothing to do with me I should add as I mentioned the shipping was being handled by eBay so we waited another few days and it refused to move. Just repeated import scans a couple of times a day. At this stage if Andrew reports it undelivered then eBay will refund him all of the money back and they would then never deliver the item. I was also concerned about where that would leave me. Would that mean they would ask me for the money back too? I asked that question and they assured me this was not the case and because I’d shipped it safely to eBay in the first instance the money raised for the charity was safe. Meanwhile Andrew was still reluctant to report it lost as that would mean he would lose any chance of receiving the spectrum he’d rightfully won. We waited as long as possible but there are only so many days eBay will protect a buyer’s purchase for and that time was starting to run out. The package was frustratingly refusing to move with multiple import scans a day. Andrew reported it missing. Now to give eBay the credit they’re due neither I, the befriending scheme nor Andrew, lost anything in this transaction. eBay swallowed the whole cost and refunded all of Andrew’s original bid his postage fees and import duties. I wasn’t asked to give any money back either. I cheekily asked eBay if there was any chance we would ever see the package again and their answer was a definite flat no. They explained if it wasn’t damaged or destroyed it would be sold off to recover their own costs. So that looked to be the sad and disappointing end to the story. Well no not quite. The thing that really stuck in my throat about this was knowing Andrew and Sarah had missed out on the spectrum they’d rightfully won and being amazingly generous and lovely people they were ready to send back the 680 pounds when they believed the befriending scheme was going to miss out on all that money. So I hatched a plan. To make it up to Andrew and Sarah I offered to build a replacement spectrum a better one more suited to someone living in the States and to be honest the original one was not that well suited. The tape player would not have worked there being 220 volts and I have no idea what the PAL composite signal would have looked like although the HDMI converter included might have helped with that. Essentially it could have ended up being a lovely translucent plastic 680 pounds paperweight. They agreed and generously sent over the money for me to use to make the best spectrum I could with one or two design choices to work around. The remainder of the cash would then be given to the befriending scheme once the parcel was packed up and sent off to live with Andrew and Sarah in the US. So I went shopping. The first conversation we had when deciding what to build was about the case. I suggested a Lee Smith design ZX Metrum and whilst Andrew and Sarah did like the Metrum it wasn’t the one they chose to bid on in the original auctions. They like myself had a favorite. So the case would need to be the same as the lost one. This was a nice easy start to the build as I could just order the exact same case from the excellent ZX Renew and know exactly what to expect. Isn’t it gorgeous? The next box to tick was the motherboard. This would need to be purple. This wasn’t quite so simple but I’ll get into that in a minute. Other than that as long as it was a ZX spectrum of some description I could go wild. To solve many of the problems with using it in NTSC and 60 hertz land I chose to go once again with a Harlequin. But this actually posed a slight problem. A purple problem. The single best way to buy all of the parts needed to build a Harlequin is from Ben at Bike Delight as all the mucking about with bills of material is done for you. But the motherboard that’s included with that kit is not purple. It’s black. Okay I thought I’ll grab the Gerber files and head off to a handy PCB manufacturer who can fag me a bunch of purple motherboards. Well no you see the Gerbers for the issue 2D revision Harlequin are not freely available. Not as far as I can see on the Don Superfo GitHub. On there you can click on a link and that will take you to PCB way and you can order that way. This means that quite rightly Don Superfo gets a slice of the cash generated from his hard work designing these boards. The problem is there are only links to the 3H, 4A and 4B revisions. The components in the Bike Delight kit are intended for the earlier 2D board and there are quite some differences between the revisions. Ben does sell the kit without the motherboard so I ordered that anyway and plan to use it as a starting point filling in the bits that were different or missing as I went along. Speaking of PCBs I need to say a quick thank you to PCBWay. No this isn’t a sponsor spot I’ve not been converted but PCBWay did offer to provide the boards for this project for free. That’s quite a big chunk of change saved that will go to the charity fund at the end. So thank you Elaine for helping out and thank you to PCBWay for not sponsoring this video.

The boards were ordered and quick as a flash they arrived looking glorious and purple. More on the motherboard shortly. That bit of the story isn’t quite over yet. The next problem to solve would be the loading mechanism. The original lost spectrum included a brand new tape deck with some brand new games on audio cassette. That was the part I was concerned wouldn’t be usable in America. Well this time we went a bit more modern with a fantastic Div MMC future from Rod at the future was 8-bit and to match the design aesthetic I managed to grab one in a white case. A smoked grey case with its cool white keyboard and faceplate. A white Div MMC future. A purple Harlequin 128k. This is looking like a pretty sweet package. Probably a good idea to put it all together now. The one thing I was really not looking forward to was piecing together all of the parts I would need to make the latter revision Harlequin motherboard work with the kit bought from Bite Delight. Well fortunately for me I didn’t have to. Chris, one of the brilliant volunteers at Neil’s RMC cave museum, had previously helped with the charity efforts by donating one of the infamous Heba flight cases. He’d offered to donate another one but this time I declined as sending one of those overseas is kind of expensive. When he heard me complain about the different motherboard revisions on a previous video on my second channel he jumped to the rescue offering the correct revision motherboard in the perfect purple colour. So I’m ready to put all this together now and don’t worry not only does this tale have a happy ending it also has a twist but I’ll save that for later so stick around if you want to know what happened next. Time to put this Harlequin together. As usual Ben has done an amazing job of making this process as painless and enjoyable as possible. The instructions are easy to follow and the parts are all bagged up with labels. This will be my third Harlequin build so I should be getting pretty good by now. One thing I will need to do first before I get started on the packets of passives is fit this AD724 video encoder chip. This takes the RGB signal and converts it into either a PAL or NTSC composite signal. It’s also the only chip on here that is surface mounted with all of the others being chunky through-hole and normally if you buy the full kit from bike to light with its black motherboard this chip would already be fitted so if surface mount soldering is not your thing you need not worry. Personally I really like surface mount soldering I think it’s actually easier than through hole. Takes a bit of getting used to and you need the right shape tip on your iron. Okay now the diodes. I’m following the instructions to the letter on this build even installing the optional parts. On my last build I didn’t install one of the resistor packs that is marked as optional and that resulted in a lot of head scratching when it turned out it was not actually optional but simply fitting it fixed the issue. Then the resistors. A request to Ben at bike to light is for an interactive bill of materials or i-bomb that would make this so much easier. A million sockets are sold and in place next. I’m using my new fumic structure that fuzzy lee dropped off for me. A handful of transistors. A bunch of capacitors. Some headers, connectors and switches. And finally a whole load of chips. So many chips. Care should be taken when inserting these you don’t want to put them in misaligned and it’s super easy to bend over legs if you’re not paying close attention. I’m gonna blame my filmmaking at the same time for my mistakes. Once the last chip was inserted I plugged it in and gave it a test. Safe in the knowledge I’d done this a few times before and forgetting that two out of the three times they didn’t work on the first power up. Well make that three times out of four. I was greeted with a garbled screen. Well that’s okay maybe I’d missed a component or put one in the wrong position. I checked it against my own harlequin. No missing components and they were all correct. Or maybe a chip was in the wrong way around or in the wrong place. I checked against the schematics. All the chips were in the right way and in the right sockets. Could it be a bent pin? I took all the chips out one by one and found two bent pins. But when I fixed them it was still broken. Could I have missed soldering one of the pins on a socket? I’d done that before. I checked wearing my head mounted magnification and then again with a microscope. I didn’t find a single unsoldered leg or stray piece of solder bridging anything. I searched the internet for other similar faults and nothing was conclusive. Mostly going over what I’d already checked. In desperation I took all of the chips off of this board one by one again and put them in my own harlequin and they all worked perfectly. I’d wasted a day’s tinkering by this point and walked away to clear my frazzled brain. I came back sometime later and gave it some thought. All of the components are there and in the right positions. There are no bridges in the places I’ve been soldering. All of the silicon is working. It’s unlikely but not impossible that one of the passives is faulty. So what’s the most likely thing that could be wrong? Well the most likely thing is I did something wrong and the most likely thing I did wrong was miss a pin somewhere. I set about searching the back side of the board again looking for that hidden fault. Ever hear the expression you can’t see the wood for the trees? Well it turns out I’d not missed a single pin. I’d missed a whole chips worth. Actually it did have two pins soldered, enough to hold it in place but I’d forgotten to solder a whole bunch of pins on one of the sockets. I soldered them up, plugged it in, switched it on and it’s spring to life. Phew! And here it is completed. The harlequin is an incredible piece of electronic design fitting so much logic into the exact same form factor as the original rubber key ZX spectrum is an incredible feat and all done using off the shelf parts with no custom silicon required. Now before I can put this motherboard into the translucent ZX Renew case I need to make a few modifications. This is the scary bit. Getting this wrong will mean buying a whole new case. The only change needed is an opening for the RGB socket. First with the motherboard inside the case I roughly mark where I want to cut and then cover the area around it with some blue tape. This will make it easy to see where I need to cut and at the same time should hopefully protect the surrounding area from damage. I could drill away some of the plastic but getting that perfectly square is tricky with a perfectly round drill bit. So instead I’m falling back on my woodworking skills by sawing straight lines down close together then using a sharp marking knife and a steel rule I score a line across the base of the cuts and snap off the bits of waste plastic. That leaves me with a rough edge I can fit on with a file down to the tape line. With both sides cut out and the two halves together I can check the hole looks nice and square. Well that looks factory to me and with the motherboard inside it looks even better. Now I can fit the keyboard membrane and screw it all together. I did actually put this face plate in slightly the wrong position which made the keys on the top row stick. I fixed that now and it all works as it should which just leaves some testing to do. Plugging in the Div MMC I can load up one of my favorite games and enjoy this beautiful replacement ZX Spectrum. Stop! What? Stop stop stop stop stop. That’s not the end of the story. Whilst it’s lovely that Andrew and Sarah will now get their super speccy and it’s also really great that the befriending scheme are going to get the balance of the 680 pounds. I still need to do the final maths on this and I’ll share that info in a future update. It’s a crying shame that the original machine that lovely 100% almost brand new ZX Spectrum built to the original specification using all modern parts will never be seen again. There won’t be another machine quite like that in the world. In its beautiful smoke translucent case with white keyboard from ZX Renew and a brand new tape deck and the brand new games on tape. A crying shame.

But wait! Here’s a twist. A little while ago my good friend Paul Universal Retro Boss who is always lurking on eBay snapping up Sinclair and Commodore bargains messaged me with a simple picture. I checked the listing. My hands shaking. It was indeed the missing spectrum. The seller was using my original listing with my photos and the exact same description that also included the words “All proceeds from this auction will be donated to the befriending scheme.” Now this is all guesswork and supposition but I think what happens is enterprising entrepreneurs buy up pallet loads of random items from eBay. Items that eBay were unable to deliver for instance. The buyer then breaks up the contents of the pallet and sells them off individually to try to make a profit. Sounds like a good idea for a million YouTube channels. Clearly this seller was using some kind of automation to list all of the items from a pallet they’d bought in these liquidation sales. I immediately contacted them and asked them to either agree to give the proceeds to the charity or change the listing which they did. They also agreed to remove my logo from the main cover picture. So now what? Well it’s back but the opening bid was £300. I would estimate that the value of the whole kit if you bought it all new would probably be up close to that value so I wasn’t sure of the best way to proceed. I spoke to a few channel supporters and some other YouTuber pals and we decided to club together to try to win it back but I was adamant that the money would not be wasted. The total I was willing to put into this from our little syndicate would be £300. So no wiggle room here basically just the opening bid. I contacted the seller and asked if they were open to an offer and they declined saying that they wanted to see the auction complete. Fair enough. That certainly reduced the chances I would win the auction. I was basically counting on nobody else bidding. I did make a cheeky video and requested on social media asking for nobody to bid against me and then I waited waiting for that last 20 seconds of a nine-day auction to count down so I could drop that £300 snipe bid in there and heart hammering in my chest I would win back this special machine except that’s not what happened. A few days before the auction ended I checked to make sure there were still no bids and oh no. I’d saved the eBay seller and checked their profile to see if this missing listing was just a one-off. Maybe someone had made them an offer they couldn’t refuse but no all of their many listings were now gone. I can’t say for sure but it looked to me like their account had been suspended for some reason. Our special machine was gone again. Well we gave it a good try. Maybe it would surface again one day. Or I did notice it was still possible to message the seller and before I gave up entirely I contacted them asking if the item was still for sale and then I walked away not really expecting to hear anything positive. “You’ve got mail.” They replied it was still for sale. How much do I want to pay? Well I want to pay nothing but I do understand they bought it fair and square and I knew an insultingly low offer would probably kill off any chance I had of seeing the spectrum again. £300 is what we had raised to buy it back so I decided to go with that amount. It was their original opening bid and it was also about what I thought it was worth to buy again. I thought it was a fair price. I replied and offered them £300 with low expectations and they agreed. They said it would appear shortly on a friend’s account and then I could buy it now for £300. I quickly went round my cabal of amazing friends and gathered up the required funds and snapped it up. And here it is. They even sold it to me with free next day delivery postage. Having a look inside it’s all there minus the sweets. The trip around the world didn’t cause any damage thankfully and it’s very good to see it safely back in my workshop where it was born. But what now? Well as much as I would love to keep this lovely thing the whole purpose of this exercise is to raise money for the befriending scheme. So it’s going up for sale again. I’ll be hoping for a more successful outcome this time and while I will make this an international auction I would urge you generous people that live in other less electrically compatible lands to think twice about buying this. As I said at the start the tape deck will not work in the US and the video output for the spectrum will need conversion. Ideally someone in the UK will give this a good home. Due to my current family circumstances I’m unable to run a big event or host a live stream to promote this so I’m relying on all of you out there to get the word out about this one. If I’m able I will live stream for the final countdown of the auction so you can at least take part in seeing how well it does this time. I’ll aim for the auction to complete on the 5th of May but if that changes for any reason it would be nice to sell it on a fee free weekend to save some charity money. I’ll pin a comment here in this video. I will also be promoting this on social media and especially on my discord. All links will be in the description. Good luck bidding! Oh and a last minute addition thanks to the generosity of Super Channel supporter Andy Taylor who snapped up a bargain Harlequin kit being sold on my More Fun Making It discord server and offered it to me to sell for charity. So I’ll build this other kit and install it in an original case making the same modification to the back for the RGB port and this will be up for auction at the same time. But that’s not all I’ll be doing for charity this year. These spectrums are just a little appetizer and a moose boosh if you like. Not long after this sells we’re going to do it all again. Later in the summer, assuming my life has stopped being a slow motion car crash by then, I will be organising another charity event along the same lines as the last one. But this time it’s Commodore! I already have amazing pledges for incredible and unique items I’ll be able to build, fix or just sell to raise another big pile of cash. Hopefully there will be a series of videos featuring some of these machines being made ready and all of this will culminate in a big live stream with lots of special guests and me slowly losing both my voice and my mind. Which seems like fun! As a little teaser one of the machines will be a hand built by me. Amiga 500 using one of these very special Amiga 500++ boards designed and kindly given to me by Rob “Pipo” Taylor. I have a couple of battery damaged 500 pluses to harvest parts from and hopefully we can make one really nice machine from all of this to put up for auction. I also have this C128 you might have seen in a recent video on my second channel. This is the one I’m using the community to crowd fix with everyone giving me their suggestions on how to fix the strange fault. This belongs to my friend Paul Universal Retro Boss and he’s really kindly donated it along with its power supply, a disc drive if I can fix it and a load of games on discs. I’ll make sure it’s all fixed before the auction as well. There will be various other youtubers running their own mini auctions at the same time in different regions around the world. Plans are currently in the very early stages but I can tell you there are at least two Commodore 64’s going up for sale in America and one of them is a very special silver label with a low serial number and it’s a beauty. More details on both of those and hopefully more international sales to come. If you’d like to help out in some way please get in touch. You can reach me via email which you can find in my about channel section and YouTube or come over and join discord and get involved. That’s it for now a cracking outcome and even more money raised for a great charity. Thank you for watching. Bye!

HAKKO vs Duratool

You know the desoldering moo stations? Want to know a bit more about how the cheap option stacks up to the more expensive brand? #Duratool vs #Hakko FIGHT!

Samsung SyncMaster 940mw Repair

In this video, I show you how to repair a Samsung SyncMaster 940MW TV by replacing the capacitors in the power supply. This TV is a great choice for retro gaming enthusiasts, as it has all the inputs you need, such as VGA, DVI, S-video, and composite. You can use it to connect your old computers and consoles and enjoy the nostalgia. The Samsung SyncMaster 940MW is a 19-inch LCD monitor with a built-in TV tuner and speakers. It has a resolution of 1440 x 900 pixels and a refresh rate of 60 Hz. It was released in 2006 and received positive reviews for its picture quality and versatility. However, some users reported that the TV would not turn on or would shut off randomly after a few years of use. This is a common problem caused by faulty capacitors in the power supply board. If you have a Samsung SyncMaster 940MW TV that is not working properly, don’t throw it away. You can fix it yourself with some basic tools and skills. All you need are some replacement capacitors, a soldering iron, a screwdriver, and some patience. In this video, I will guide you through the steps of opening the TV, identifying the bad capacitors, desoldering them, and soldering the new ones. You will be surprised by how easy and satisfying it is to repair your own TV. I hope you find this video helpful and informative. If you do, please give it a thumbs up and subscribe to my channel for more videos on retro gaming and electronics. Also, feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions or suggestions. Thanks for watching!

MEGA Donation with Rare and Unusual Items!

John who used to work at the Thorn EMI factory where they manufactured ZXSpectrum 48k’s and SinclairQL’s dropped off a haul of riches and wonder. Including a very rare, possibly unique QL motherboard and a ZX Spectrum with a controversial mod.

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