Crowdfunding: !Sinclair !ZX Vega To Lose The Sinclair Name

It’s not a good time to be a backer of the crowdfunded Sinclair ZX Vega retro console. After raising a record sum on Indiegogo, a long series of broken promises and missed dates, and a final loss of patience from the crowdfunding site, it has emerged that the owner of the Sinclair and ZX brands is to withdraw the right to use them from the console.

The Vega itself should have been a reasonable proposition, a slick handheld running the FUSE Spectrum emulator rather than Z80 hardware, and from Retro Computers Limited, a company that boasted a 25% ownership from Sinclair Research and thus Sir Clive himself. The sorry tale of its mishandling will probably in time provide enough information for a fascinating book or documentary in itself, but one thing that has come to light in the BBC’s reporting is the fate of those Sinclair brands. They famously passed to Amstrad in the 1980s, a move that gave us the Spectrum +2 and +3 with decent keyboards and built-in tape and disk drives, but long after the last Spectrum had rolled off the production line they passed with Amstrad’s set-top-box business to the satellite broadcaster Sky, who are now responsible for pulling the plug.

This is a general news story as much as a hardware story as there is little by way of a hack to be found beyond the realisation that you could almost certainly roll your own with a Raspberry Pi, a copy of FUSE, and a 3D-printed case. But it’s a fitting follow-up to our previous reporting, and unless something unexpected happens in the Retro Computers boardroom it’s probably the last we’ll hear of the product. In an unexpected twist though they are reported to have shipped a few Vegas to backers in recent days, and we’ll leave the final word to the BBC’s quote from [David Whitchurch-Bennett], one of those recipients.

“The buttons are absolutely awful, You have to press so hard and they intermittently stop working unless you apply so much pressure.”

From where we’re sitting, remembering the dubious quality of some of the keyboards on original Spectrum products, we think that it might have more in common with the original than anyone is willing to admit.

5 thoughts on “Crowdfunding: !Sinclair !ZX Vega To Lose The Sinclair Name

  1. Hmm …. so you lost me already after the first word in the title: Crowdfunding.
    Full stop.
    You know how the gaming-crowd runs ape when people say they want to preorder games?
    Never preorder games!

    Same with Crowdfunding.
    Sorry to be the ass but seriously. No product, No pictures besides of some fancy renders…
    I have supported ONE Indigogo campaign in my lifetime and only because I know the company behind it – My DBrand Grip case. Period. So often you read about crowdfunding that they breach their goals, are vaporware and never ever release something useful.
    Why don’t people say: Look, I WILL give you my money, IF you can show me anything working. But so often it’s just vapor.
    Not sure about this particular campain but it reads awful on this article.

    I know that many projects suceed and you never hear about them, Some people might be legit on this page here and have crowdfunding running. BUT keep in mind: People that are serious are open to communication. Dbrand i.e. had weekly updates after the campain was over to inform me of my status.

    So TL;DR:
    Make small promises, keep your crowd up to speed and especially do stuff! Don’t just sit on your butt and relax.

    1. To be fair, the company behind this had previously produced the Vega, so initially there were no concerns over this being another ‘pie in the sky’ crowdfunder.
      But.. and there’s always a but. Things went bad, fast.
      The CEO ousted 2 directors who were the brains behind this product. He then installed 2 of his friends as directors, who between them could just about play with Lego.
      Since then, they’ve been floundering around like a fish out of water (I’m putting it politely).

      Pretty much every statement/promise made by RCL has been shown to be a lie.
      There’s websites devoted to all of this, so I won’t regurgitate it here, but even the latest BBC news linked in the article was rebutted by RCL, even going so far as calling them out as siding with one of the ex-directors.
      Several hours later, there’s an update to the BBC story with a new quote from SKY confirming the story and giving more details of why and when the license was revoked.

      It’s almost as if RCL were run by the Iraqi Minister of Information we used to see on the news.

  2. interestin, nice idea but… not only for zx.
    better way is put normal procesor+fpga, good graphics
    open riscv or epiphany16, good sound good accumulator

    one fpga 25Mhz is very good for running old system
    meybe 2 or 3 fpga with 500Mhz?

    1. You could emulate a Spectrum at 8x speed on a 386-SX40. So logically a 5MHz 386, or maybe a 12MHz 286 could do it at 100%, drawing into a simple mode 13h 64K bitmapped framebuffer. 3 FPGAs is way more than you need.

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