¿What is it?


The ZX Dandanator! Mini is a game cartridge for Spectrum computers.


It’s a hardware external memory (eeprom) peripheral that aims to be a platform for developing and releasing cartridge games and also serves as a Z80/SNA/TAP/Rom game snapshot loader.

It adds some extra functionality like a poke/trainer library, external test rom, 128k game loading, game compression, load screen freezing or Ramjet3 emulation. Its contents can be changed from the spectrum itself via Audio, Serial connection or using a Divide-like interface. Version 2 also includes a Kempston Joystick interface.


There is a basic API to configure and operate the board by sending commands from the Spectrum computer, making the ZX Dandanator! Mini a very flexible solution for several uses such as multiload game delivery or external interface hardware emulation (limited).




Features


  1. 512k of fast access memory, enabling multilevel game development that offer a console-like experience.

  2. Instant load of games by a simple menu.

  3. Games & Programs can be changed from the PC with no extra hardware via audio or with a serial connection or by using a divide/divmmc.

  4. From V2.0: Kempston Joystick interface onboard

  5. No need for configuration. It works in any Spectrum computer, from 48k to +3 and some clones like Harlequin, Timex Sinclair 2048/2068 , TK90/95, Inves Spectrum and Just Speccy 128. it works with almost every Spectrum hw out there with no configuration whatsoever.

  6. Supports 48k and 128k SNA & Z80 snapshots compressed/uncompressed as well as 16k ROM images. Also supports TAP files

  7. POK compatible trainer library for included games. Games can be launched with any number of enabled or disabled trainers as selected by a spectrum menu.

  8. Option to freeze loading screen until a keypress or for some seconds

  9. EDGE connector pass-through allowing to connect other peripherals (yes, Dandanators mini can be stacked ;) )

  10. It can stay plugged and deactivated. No need to unplug it to use your Spectrum for something different.

  11. Automatic shutdown if another peripheral wants to take control of the ROM space.

  12. Management software for Windows, MacOS y Linux to create, transfer and organize your games.

  13. Emulated as peripheral in release 4.2 of ZesarUX  and in Es.pectrum newest version

  14. Can be used as a CP/M plug&play system and “Hard Disk” of 460Kb+ for any +2A/B or +3 Model

  15. You can pause any game by pressing a button



¿Why does it exist? - Acknowledgements


This project was born out of the will to learn how to creating a HW peripheral for the Spectrum as several other people had done already. I also wanted to build something very flexible and easy to use while keeping the cost as low as possible. Thanks a lot to AntonioVillena, overCLK, Wilco2009, Kyp and all people that helped and contributed to the creation of this board.  Thanks to merlinkv for coming up with the board name!


I’d also like to thank Wilco2009, Flopping, Merlinkv, Iturbez, Shikitin, Izaro, Vidamia, Mikes, Retrolab, Drivers, Jjsaenz1969, Sinclair200, Ben-Kenobi, Airsoft, Hamham, Garvidal, Cdvazquez, OverCLK, mad3001, Pepilloelgrillo, AntonioVillena, Gorgo, Jason_rg, Utopian & chernandezba for being the “GuineaPigs” getting one board from the first batch and also thanks a lot to everyone that supported the project and showed interest at va-de-retro.com, retrowiki.es, worldofspectrum.org & speccy.org forums and Spectrum4ever facebook group.


The first batch of box+board+components kits was completed during June 2016 and had a cost of 15€ including p&p. The project started back in March 2016 and was ready for release on May 2016. It keeps evolving though so stay tuned!


Very special thanks to overCLK for his Rom Creation tool, chernandezba for supporting this board on his ZersarUX emulator, Pagantipaco for the very nice logo and Retroworks and Utopian for using this board to release their new game. Thanks to Javier Chocano (Habi) for emulating every aspect of the Dandanator in his Es.pectrum emulator.


As of release 5.0, mad3001 has joined the team. Now a three people team is responsible for the overall project! :)




PC/Mac Software


The multilanguage PC/Mac software for Windows, MacOSX & Linux helps in the edition and creation of the RomSets for the board. You can save or load your romset (full compatible with eeprom burners) or you can transfer them via audio or serial (using a kempston interface) to be programmed from the Spectrum, no extra hardware needed.

This tool is developed using JavaFX by overCLK. Compiled programs can be downloaded from the downloads section. You can also get the latest version sources from github


(note: Release 4 screenshots. Some new functionalities are available in release 6.3)

    
   




Alternatives


There are several alternatives to the ZX Dandanator! Mini. Each one has its unique set of features:


  1. Interface ROM (ifrom) by Antonio Villena

  2. Kartusho V4 by Antonio Villena

  3. Supercartucho by José Leandro

  4. Los Cartuchos del Interface II by Droy

  5. ZX Flash Cart by Droy

  6. ZXC4 by Paul Farrow

  7. And most likely several more options...  Check an extensive Speccy peripheral list at  ZX Spectrum in the 21st century




I want one!


Thanks a lot for being interested! :). The whole project, including source code, schematics, and documentation needed to build your own board are public domain. You have explicit permission to use, modify or adapt them in any way you like. I will support technically any non-commercial initiative by groups or individuals


I’m not organizing batches for the time being, however, retroshop.pt sells assembled dandanators on its Facebook store!


You can find me at worldofspectrum.org, speccy.org , retrowiki.es & va-de-retro.com  or at dandanator (email at this very domain)




Documents & Resources


  1. ZX Dandanator! Mini user manual

  2. Hardware diagrams

  3. Z80, PC/Mac & PIC Software - Available at the Downloads page

  4. Dandanator Mini Kit Assembly Tutorial (va-de-retro.com)

  5. V1.0 mod tutorial to allow spectrum-based memory programming




ZX Dandanator! Mini in action


A short video showing the game menu (4.0) operation