Spectrum ZX Laptop

[Jim] sent in this interesting laptop modding project. He started with a Spectrum ZX and a Toshiba Libretto 110. The libretto kept its brains, but the lower case and keyboard was replaced with the ZX hardware. Since both machines use matrix style keyboards (but different matrix layouts) he was able to create a passive adapter circuit to match things up.


  1. atrain says:

    Awesome mod… Do you have the libretto running a zx emulator though? :P

    Why must every pic on this site be greyscale – with the only exception (atm) being the laser etcher?

  2. John Bokma says:

    It’s ZX Spectrum, not Spectrum ZX.

    (It was the first computer I bought, almost 25 years ago)

  3. g says:

    Great retro mod. Don’t envy him typing on that thing though the Speccy was renown for having one of the worst keyboards around!

  4. sweavo says:

    it’s a ZX Sp.. oh.

  5. Beanolini says:

    #3- It wasn’t just difficult to type on, it was unreliable too- the membranes wore out very quickly (3 times on my Spectrum).

    I’ve done the reverse of this- I wired a PC keyboard to work on a Spectrum. I just cut all the tracks on the PC keyboard’s PCB, and wired up the switches in a matrix matching the Spectrum’s one.

    I didn’t fancy soldering onto the Spectrum’s PCB, so I just pushed the wires into the connector. Worked well till I gave it away a few years ago.

  6. Stu says:

    Yup, the last thing I’d do with a ZX Spectrum (or speccy) is use its keyboard for something – hacking stuff is cool, but there are limits, its keyboard sucked so badly, that for mine, I actually went out and bought a third party keyboard that a local company made. We must be talking 1984 or 1985 here, wow.
    Now if he could turn that whole mod ass about face and put the guts of the speccy into the libretto and turn it into a mobile speccy, that’ll be better.

  7. def says:

    What’s the point? Crap keyboard on a crap laptop?

    If it really was a speccy 48k in laptop form then it’d be ace. If someone’d put one together and interface it to a SD card then it’d be ace. I’d also like to see a minimig put in a laptop.

  8. matt tc says:

    for anyone interested, you can also replicate the feel of a zx spectrum keyboard by covering your existing in 10-20 layers of cellophane. or wearing boxing gloves.

  9. matt tc says:

    make that ‘existing keyboard’

  10. Fry-kun says:

    I wonder how much harder it would be to make a real ZX Speccy laptop..?
    The biggest challenge would be the video output

  11. zigzagjoe says:

    i thought he had “merged” a zx and a libretto…but just replacing the lower bit with a craptastic keyboard is rather lame

  12. The ZX keyboard is indeed quite terrible. It is just a bit of fun, not intended to be anything practical.

    Keeping the real ZX motherboard seemed a bit silly, since the libretto can easily emulate a spectrum and many other more powerful retro computers. Also, cutting up a 20 year old computer’s case was quite traumatic enough without taking an iron to the electronics. The original spectrum board is safely stowed in an antistatic bag and still works fine.

    @frk-kun – you can get hinged TFT screens for playstations, which presumably take a composite video input – perhaps you could fix one of them to take a spectrum’s video output.

  13. Moonlit says:

    @jim macarthur – you can get hinged TFT screens for playstations, which presumably take a composite video input – perhaps you could fix one of them to take a spectrum’s video output.

    Like this fun li’l mod here?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 97,902 other followers