The 23rd May marked the 31st Kickstarter update for the Spectrum Next project and you can read all about it here https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1835143999/zx-spectrum-next/posts/2195267.
We’re now at the point in time where the Kickstarter funding period ended one year ago. 3113 backers raised £723,390 to bring this idea to life.
In that time the Next has been refined in both hardware and software and has expanded greatly from its original intent. We have had the board only pledges delivered and now we’re well into the moulding process for the case, and prototyping the keyboard.
The case production involves a lot of refinement in order to produce a case to the quality and finish required. Hundreds of variables are at play with each stage of refinement being less and less conservative. Remembering the “law” of moulding. You can take metal away, but you cannot add it (you could but it is not advised). Each stage produces a better product until we reach that point of perfection. The legs on the Next must fit well and perform two functions. To snap shut and to snap open. A trivial thing when you have experienced such a thing in a consumer product but it can take trial and error with such parts. The term “metal safe” is used a lot in this practice, again reinforcing the virtue of starting off with more metal than is needed. In the words of Boromir, “One does not simply press a button and a CAD drawing is transformed into a perfect one ton metal mould”.
It is exciting for everyone to see these early stages. It is not something the company involved has ever done before. Show customers an initial injection? Expose all of their work in progress? Kickstarters are very much different though. The journey is as exciting as the finished product. More pictures will come, there will be imperfections, but they are shown so there is a complete picture and record of how this thing is evolving.
It’s the same with the keyboard. They are a very experienced company but there is an element of retro in what we are doing here. Don’t worry if the last Kickstarter update indicated any uncertainty. Once the testing of the pre-prototype is complete, we move into a full prototype, ensuring that the flex tail connectors can loop through the case and be inserted. That the bend in the tails is correct and the reinforcement pieces are the right length. Belt and braces stuff. There is nothing like testing something out in a real representative product. Better than a CAD or an SLA model. The keys themselves and the mechanism are the easy part. We have seen the moulds for the keys, and the butterfly mechanism is very well established. We hope to have more pictures of this process too.
I may not be in the Facebook group at the moment but too much time is now spent on Next. I’m doing as much as I can behind the scenes to help make this happen. No stone is unturned, no detail is overlooked. We have great partners. Everyone is going above and beyond to make this a reality.
Last but not least. That one man army of Next. Phoebus. He has some great things in the pipeline for the Next and has been absolutely working his socks off. The man codes, writes music, draws art, writes manuals, does releases and I wish I could do just one of those things well.
If anyone misses my shouty posts, or sunny disposition, message me 🙂