16° Meeting Sinclair QL Italiano – 5th of April 2020

The 16° Sinclair QL should have been held in Modena as it has been the case
since 2008. Unfortunately, due to the restriction enforced following the
Covid-spread 19 we had to meet on the virtual teleconferencing platform
Jitsi. Twenty people have attended the teleconference including Marcel
Kilgus, Dilwyn Jones and Urs Keonig as welcome international guests. 

Marcel, as also happened in the last two QL Italian meetings, had many
interesting news to report. Guest star was the new RGB-VGA interface for
Sinclair QL. This is yet another very useful piece of hardware to keep the
original QL alive at the time were only SVGA interfaces are available in
modern monitors. The prototype is almost finished and the image quality is
outstanding, everything is managed by a FPGA which scans the RGB signal and
transform it into a VGA signal. All the details can be found on
https://www.kilgus.net/2020/01/08/ql-vga-the-second/ An Italian QL user
living in Toronto since many years, Michele Perini, is designing a QL style
case to be realized with 3D print technology.  

The second news was that the excellent QL-SD interface card will not be any
more realized due to the effort at Marcel’s side needed to solder and
integrate the boards. That’s a pity, but do not despair as a new replacement
named QL-SD ROM is already in the pipeline. This board will connect to the
QL ROM port. The nice plus is that the new QL-SD ROM will have an onboard
flash ram capable to keep up to 8 QL ROMs which can be loaded and selected
with simple SuperBasic commands.

As side activity Marcel is also working in the port of SMSQ/E for the MiSTer
platform. MiSTer is a hardware platform capable to emulate most of the
“retro-computers”. You can find the Sinclair QL port on
https://github.com/MiSTer-devel/QL_MiSTer while a MiSTer description is
given at this link  <https://github.com/MiSTer-devel/Main_MiSTer/wiki>

One of the possible future ideas which were mentioned by Marcel is the QL
port on the Spectrum Next  <https://www.specnext.com/>
https://www.specnext.com/ which has been shown “live” by Massimo Boccardi,
one of the few guys who managed to buy one. One of the nice things about the
Spectrum Next is that the case has been designed by the same designer of the
Sinclair QL case. 

Another nice video contribution was an original Sinclair QL connected to an
internet connection with this serial-ethernet interface
hayes-compatible as well as V-Drive with a case made with SLS 3D printing
technology. The case was almost identical to the original Sinclair QL one.

Dilwyn Jones has shown his QL-IRC program. QL-IRC is written in structured
Super Basic (by Tim Swenson) and allows to any QL platform allowing to have
a TCP/IP connection like QPC2 to an IRC server (like e.g. the one hosted by
QLForum https://qlforum.co.uk/) 

During Dilwyn’s presentation I noticed QL IRC was running on QPC 4.99 so I
could not resist to ask whether this was an error or a special version
developed on purpose for QL IRC. Actually, Marcel forgot that he almost
completed the work on QPC 5 which is a version almost completely re-written
in C a part for the core. There are many advantages vs QPC 4 like full
Direct-X 11 support, an improved floppy driver and capability to save header
information on DOS files. Only minor drawback is that it will not run
anymore on Windows 95.

Last presentation was made by Giorgio Garabello who has shown the latest
developments of his Black Phoenix platform
http://www.hunggartorino.it/ql/black-phoenix-en/ Most of the efforts have
been spent on a new sophisticated file manager called Quantum Explorer which
will be available in the next release. Roberto Porro in parallel has shown
the ongoing development work in the routines to allow image processing also
to be implemented in a new utility which will be part of Black Phoenix.

I hope I did not forget any of the very interesting information exchanged
during this virtual meeting, two hours and a half has flown and our wish has
been to organize a similar virtual event not far in the future. This was
however not new for us as since 2014 during our physical QL Italian meeting
we always organized videoconferencing sessions which allowed many people
from outside Italy to attend and present their projects. Obviously our hope
is that at least in 2021 there will be again a physical meeting where we
will manage to bring again our QL hardware and have together a lunch with
tigelle and Lambrusco.

It is remarkable that after 35 years from his launch and after 31 years
after the first Italian QL meeting in the wonderful villa at Gardone Riviera
(1989 – my first drive outside my town after having got the driving
license), it is possible to discuss about new developments and future
projects on this incredible machine called Sinclair QL.

Davide (www.sinclairql.it <http://www.sinclairql.it> )


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