ZX Spectrum Next and Internet access

This section is for discussing everything about Next hardware and latest updates.
Post Reply
Posts: 7
Joined: Sun Jul 07, 2019 11:25 am

ZX Spectrum Next and Internet access

Post by moroz1999 » Tue Jul 09, 2019 9:59 pm

What is a current status of Internet access on Next? Is anybody developing something particular?
I wanted to share some thoughts and possibly offer some help as a developer of ZX-Art. Since ZX-Art contains ZX software, images in native ZX formats and music in native ZX formats, all this information can be used on a real ZX hardware.
In fact, there are already some attempts done to use this information and to access ZX-Art from a real hardware.

ZX Evolution with TS-Config (unofficial) is using ZX-Art (and some other projects as well) through ZiFi interface.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVaNe74bjc0 - a brief demonstration of how it looks like.
ZiFi is using HTTP text-based API to get the information from ZX-Art.
http://zxart.ee/zxnet?a=m - example request for top music. There are similar requests for graphics and authors.
There is also an on-the-fly converter from exotic formats to TS-Config friendly binary graphic format sxg. So, when ZiFi want to display a Sam Coupe image, it send request to ZX-Art, and ZX-Art converts it.

Another example is ZX Evolution with BaseConfig and NedoOS project.
https://youtu.be/tswHUAC2oWI - starting from 53:00 is displayed ZX-Art usage from NedoOS browser. This browser is capable of displaying a simplified HTML (may be even with inline images in some future).
http://zxart.ee/simple/ - this is where this simple HTML version of ZX-Art is located.

I've written all this to demonstrate the currently working Internet prototypes on ZX clones. I'm ready to implement something like this for ZX Spectrum Next from my side as a web developer, whatever format that would be.
Currently, there are three possible ways:
1. Dedicated application made for some particular web resource (similarly to ZiFi which only supports some dedicated resources)
2. Simple HTML browser like on NedoOS. Turns out this is not so practical since it wont work with frames, HTTPS, JS-based sites, heavy designs, ZIP-archives (with software) and so on. So, mostly this simple HTML would have to be prepared for ZX Browser manually by webmasters (like it's done on zxart.ee/simple).
3. Effective binary markup specially designed for ZX-like machines. Speaking simply, it's HTML with tags replaced with shorter binary codes, fixed line length, some really simple codes for formatting, inline images in format suitable for Next or ZX, server-based zip depacking and so on.

Is there anybody who is already working on Internet support for Next? It would be great to have all this software, graphics and music available on Next without need of manually copying it to SD-Card.

User avatar
Posts: 222
Joined: Mon Jun 05, 2017 5:30 pm
Location: USA

Re: ZX Spectrum Next and Internet access

Post by SevenFFF » Tue Jul 09, 2019 11:20 pm

Have you seen NXtel? https://github.com/Threetwosevensixseven/NXtel/wiki/FAQ

Also check out the PlusPack in the distro. Tim Gilberts has written a NextZXOS driver which exposes the ESP module through the BASIC standard channels and streams interface.

Most devs who want to copy content to their SD card use Toshiba FlashAir WiFi-enables SD cards. These use WebDAV to map smb drives on your PC OS.

The Zeus dev emulator also supports a wired 2 mbps serial connection to the Next UART via ParaSys, with remote debugging features. I use this a lot for cross-development. Kev Brady has developed something similar for his PDS-inspired dev system.

To give some context, the Next comes with an optional ESP-8266-01 module running the standard Non-OS firmware. These can easily be added afterwards, directly in the 8 pin socket, for only a few €$¥£. So you probably can’t write zifi-compatible code and expect it to work for more than a tiny fraction of hobbyist users who will change their hardware. Targeting the ESP-01 AT command set is the way to go for mainstream adoption.

If you can port your existing net-enabled stuff to the Next that would be fantastic! The Next High-speed UART is very easy to use, but you will need to either interface with the NextZXOS driver or talk in proprietary ESP AT commands directly to the UART (NXtel uses the second approach) :)

I hope you will get involved. I am also enthusiastic about the UART and ESP, as I can see the potential. Which is why I developed NXtel as a videotex service where the Next client is the primary focus and all Next users can be first class users :)
Robin Verhagen-Guest
SevenFFF / Threetwosevensixseven / colonel32
NXtel Spectron 2084blog

Posts: 67
Joined: Tue May 30, 2017 11:31 am

Re: ZX Spectrum Next and Internet access

Post by seedy1812 » Wed Jul 10, 2019 1:55 am

There is also IRATA.ONLINE https://www.irata.online/ which is a multiplatform sort of BBS. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9f8Vy9g7yM They have a plain ZX Spectrum connected via RS-232 to a Raspberry PI or wifi modem. Sounds like an upgraded version could be made for the Next

User avatar
Posts: 230
Joined: Tue May 30, 2017 7:43 pm

Re: ZX Spectrum Next and Internet access

Post by Timbucus » Wed Jul 10, 2019 7:48 pm

I took a look at this when I was developing the BASIC driver - it seems a really good way to expose a minimal set for 8 bit, systems. I became ware of the ZiFi work at the same time but, I was already some way down the track. I have not really done anything with applications due to lack of time and other projects but, it would certainly be possible to use the current BASIC driver to enumerate web pages like those.
I'm Infinite Imaginations when not in work... PAWS for thought.

Posts: 7
Joined: Sun Jul 07, 2019 11:25 am

Re: ZX Spectrum Next and Internet access

Post by moroz1999 » Wed Jul 10, 2019 9:29 pm

Thank you for the example, I've learned some new information.
NXtel visually looks just like I was always expecting from the Internet on ZX, that's fantastic :)
The only problem for me is that it's TCP/IP based, which means that it's currently not possible for me to support it on ZX-Art, since I'm using a cheap shared hosting and I'm limited to HTTP protocol only, because I'm not allowed to run the PHP daemon listening to sockets.
It is also limited to showing the text content, as far as I understood, but generally my goal is also making the downloads available directly to client machine, so anybody would be able to download new games/demos without need of manually copying them to SD card on PC.

Posts: 7
Joined: Sun Jul 07, 2019 11:25 am

Re: ZX Spectrum Next and Internet access

Post by moroz1999 » Wed Jul 10, 2019 9:33 pm

Ok, now I see that downloading the files using NXTel is really possible. If there is any way to run it on HTTP protocol in future, then I would add a support for it to ZX-Art.

Post Reply