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  1. #1
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    Newbie to forum, sort of newbie to flight sim!

    Hi everone,

    Absolutely overwhelmed at the wealth of information and expertees here!

    I dabbled first with Flight simulator on the ZX Spectrum nearly 30 years ago as a 12 year old and just decided on a whim to have a go with the latest incarnations, have played around with the FSX demo and just ordered the "Gold" package

    I am looking around for a starter control package and have narrowed down to either a Saitek or CH Yoke for just general aviation for starters, don't want to commit to any specific type of aircraft at this stage. Which is better for realism/quality/future expansion? Or would I be better waiting and spending more bucks on something else...


    Jeff

  2. #2
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    Matt Olieman's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie to forum, sort of newbie to flight sim!

    Hi Jeff and welcome aboard. Thanks for the kind words, we've got people like you to thank for the wealth of information Lot's of beginner "builders" ask questions, they eventually become the experts and contributors to our wonderful site.

    You mentioned the ZX Spectrum, I'm not familiar with that, and sure would like hear more about it.

    Glad to have you here

    Matt Olieman

  3. #3
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    Re: Newbie to forum, sort of newbie to flight sim!

    Hi Matt,

    Thanks for the welcome, the ZX Spectrum was my first home PC introduced just in the UK I think, designed by Clive Sinclair following the success of his ZX81 machine the year before.

    The technical details, all from memory so please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong

    Processor Zilog Z80 running at 3MHz
    RAM 16KB later upgraded to 48KB
    Program storage on audio cassette
    It was one of the first machines with a colour output just 16 colours on a display of 256x176 resolution (TV used for display)

    I learned my first programming in BASIC on this machine and later in machine code and it was key in progressing to my early career as a software engineer and later into network engineering!

    The "Speccy" spawned many classic games which are still enjoyed today via Spectrum emulators on the PC!

    Jeff

  4. #4
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    Neil Hewitt's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie to forum, sort of newbie to flight sim!

    Ah yes, the glorious ZX Spectrum

    I too lost my proper programming cherry to this marvellous little machine. I had its predecessor, the ZX81, but it wasn't until the Spectrum that I learned assembler and how to program properly. The massive (and unusual, for the time) popularity of microcomputers in the UK is one of the reasons we produced some of the finest coders (especially games programmers) of the last thirty years. Nothing beats trying to do something useful in such a small amount of RAM, counting CPU clock cycles and bytes as they get used.

    Matt, you might possibly have heard of the Timex Sinclair 2068? This was a somewhat-improved Spectrum clone, produced under license and sold in the US by Timex. Back in the days when almost every company was producing their own computers.

    The Spectrum could do some remarkable things if pushed correctly. It had just a simple speaker and a beeper, but someone worked out how to modulate the output of the beeper in such a way as to produce multi-channel music from it. Mind you, they then decided to write a game based on the music of... Wham. Oops. Well, it was the 80s.

    The TV display had a large empty border around it, which you could only set the colour of, so for example most games which worked on a black background would set the border to black, leaving an empty space around the game area. When loading programs (from tape!), the border would show weird yellow and blue lines, caused by strobing the border colour in time with the incoming data. Some clever games programmer worked out that if you calculated exactly where the electron gun would be writing to the TV screen at a particular time you could generate a stable split-colour border (say, blue in the top half and yellow in the bottom). They used this trick on a waterskiing game to make the water / sky interface seem to stretch across the whole TV screen, something which should have been impossible on the Spectrum.

    I myself wrote a program to double the number of characters that could be displayed on one line - the default character set used 8x8 pixel letters and could only show 32 characters across the screen. By changing the character set to use 8x4 pixel blocks you could display 64 characters, which was enough for basic word processing and business software. I also wrote (based on someone else's idea, I must admit) a program that would allow you to display colours that the Spectrum didn't actually support or have the hardware to generate. This used the Z80's hardware interrupt mode and some very funky clock-cycle to TV screen-refresh rate calculations to execute bits of code at the exact moment that the TV's electron gun was painting a particular area of the screen and interpolated different colours to give the impression of a mixed pallette.

    I love C# and .NET and all the modern stuff, but I really miss the old days <sob>.

    Anyway, welcome Jeff! Nice to see another Brit of my era here.

    NH

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    Re: Newbie to forum, sort of newbie to flight sim!

    Hi Jeff

    I'm fairly new here as well. Good people on the forum and a wealth of knoweldge.

    FWIW I have the CH yoke, pedals and throttle quadrant. Good enough for my needs especially since I am retired and do not have a lot of hobby money available. The one problem I (and others) have had with the CH yoke is that it is sticky on the elevator axis. I cleaned the shaft with rubbing alchohol and then coated it with a thin layer of a dry graphic lubricant. That made a big improvement. I've never used Saitek. But if you beyond CH or Saitek then you need a much fatter wallet.

    I just bought FSUIPC4 (for FSX) which I will use to calibrate and control my controllers rather than letting FSX do it or using CH Conrol Manager.

    BTW I am old enough to remember the ZX Spectrum but I never owned one. I seem to recall another early computer board called the KIM-1 or something like that.

    Cheers
    CH

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