ZX Spectrum +3 with DivIDE CF board and RGB cable

A month or so ago I ordered a DivIDE board from Papaya Labs. The DivIDE board is an ATA interface for the ZX Spectrum, allowing IDE devices such as hard disks, CDROM drives and Compact Flash cards to be plugged into the Spectrum, which, through a special loader built into the board, allows .Z80, .TAP and .SNA images to be loaded into the Spectrum and run. The .Z80 and .SNA images are simply pushed into the Spectrum and it runs them with no need to reboot. The .TAP files are presented to the Spectrum as real tapes, and after typing ‘LOAD “”‘ they load in exactly as a tape would – only in a few seconds, rather than a few minutes.

This is a long post, with lots of information in, more after the break… Press it, you can watch a YouTube video at the end. More photos of the setup available on my photos website.

DivIDE board, as built by Papaya Labs
DivIDE board, as built by Papaya Labs

The board plugs into the expansion slot on the back of the Spectrum, and works with 48k, 128k and the + range. I first tried it on a 48K rubber key Speccy, but it didn’t seem to work properly, but worked fine on my Spectrum +3. Later I learnt this is due to a jumper on the board that needs removing for 48K Spectrums.

Operation is simple, turn on the Spectrum with the board and drive attached, press the NMI button and choose the image from a popup menu. If it’s a TAP image, type LOAD “” like usual. With Spectrum + models, the machine appears to boot up in 48K mode, however it still is running as a 128K Spectrum in USR0 mode so most 128K stuff works.

The other thing I have is an RGB cable for my Spectrum +3. This allows me to plug the Spectrum into a Commodore 1084s monitor (or one of the many many clones). I have three of these in my house and two of them contain a 9 pin D-Sub RGB port. Making the cable was fairly straight forward once I’d found the correct pinout for the monitor and the Spectrum. If you try and make one yourself, beware the +3 has a different RGB port pinout than the Spectrum +. Here are the pinouts for the connectors:

Commodore 1084d & 1084dS  Analog/Digital Connector
9 PIN D-SUB FEMALE viewed at the monitor

   5 4 3 2 1 /

Pin  Name    Analog Mode     Digital Mode
 1   GND      Ground          Ground
 2   GND      Ground          Ground
 3   R        Red             Red
 4   G        Green           Green
 5   B        Blue            Blue
 6   I        not used        Intensity
 7   CSYNC    Composite Sync  not used
 8   HSYNC    not used        Horizontal Sync
 9   VSYNC    not used        Vertical Sync

This was taken from this website here. The ZX Spectrum +3 RGB/Peritel port has the following pin configuration:

VDU Monitor

The +3 can use a monochrome or colour VDU monitor (or a French
standard PERITEL TV) instead of (or in addition to) an ordinary TV. If
the monitor that you wish to use isn't quoted as being Spectrum +3
compatible, then the chances are you'll have to buy a lead for it
(contact your Sinclair dealer).

A VDU monitor (or PERITEL TV) should be plugged into the RGB/PERITEL
socket at the back of the +3.

				      RGB/PERITEL socket
1	+12V				    __   __
2	GND				  _- |___| -_
3	audio out			 /  7     6  
	______________			/   o     o   
4	composite sync			| 3    8    1 |
5	+12V				| o    o    o |
6	green				  5       4  /
7	red				  o   2   o /
8	blue				  -_   o   _-

When using a monitor, some provision may have to be made for sound (if
required). If the monitor has an audio input, then this should be
connected either to pin 3 of the RGB/PERITEL socket or to the
TAPE/SOUND socket at the back of the +3. If the monitor is not capable
of producing sound, then an external amplifier will have to be

This is from the excellent World Of Spectrum‘s copy of the ZX Spectrum +3 User Manual. Remember when manuals were actually worth reading? 🙂

All I did was connect the R,G,B pins in the Spectrum to their equivalents in the Commodore monitor’s 9-pin D-Sub, and then connect the Composite Sync from pin 4 of the Spectrum to pin 7 of the Commodore. On the back of the monitor are several buttons to choose the type of input signal, eventually I found a combination that produced an image.

The sound comes from pin 3 of the +3’s RGB port and I simply soldered a short RCA plug to the wire on that pin and brought it out the side of the plug. Since I didn’t have a suitable casing for the connector I used the hardware hacker’s favourite – hot melt glue, plus a few bent paperclips to act as strain relief on the soldered connectors.

Here is a short YouTube video of the finished setup. Yes, it’s sat on top of a Commodore Amiga 1500 (which does work). I hope you Amiga fans don’t have too much of a fit seeing a dirty Spectrum running on your fine monitor 😉

6 thoughts on “ZX Spectrum +3 with DivIDE CF board and RGB cable”

  1. hi there

    i have the divide 57c and a spectrum 2- i am having trouble running any of th eold ultimate games on sna tap or z80 format they just seem to crash -is this because the roms are corrupted or another issue? id be grateful for any ideas?

  2. try running them in 48k mode and pressing ‘load “”‘ the tapeloader causes some games to crash i have found such as atic atac which is an ultimate game. When i ran in 48k it worked like a charm

  3. Hi,

    I solved my problems concerning “ultimate play the game” games like atic atac, knight lore, sabre wulf and other related stuff, using the fatware patch you’ll find here : http://velesoft.speccy.cz/zx/divide/divide-soft.htm (valid link at 01/05/2010)

    You need to launch it first before your desired game. It will transform your speccy in a more real 48 k speccy (not usr 0 mode). This program is still active until your spectrum is switched off.
    I hope it’ll help.

  4. I forgot to say that when you’ll launch the program patch, the default menu will appear again, choose “48 k” option and load your game into memory whatever is the format already accepted by divide.

    This tip work of course only with spectrum models with more than 48k of memory.

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