THE JOY OF TZX
The first job was getting the right software. In this age where we've all become so used to super user-friendly Microsoft applications, driven by a few clicks here and there, using MakeTZX proved a little bit of a challenge. It's home grown and damn clever stuff. But it does take a bit of getting used to.
In recent times a Graphical User Interface has been developed for MakeTZX, which saves faffing around with pretty tricky DOS commands and makes the preservation process a little more accessible for the non-nerd.
To play the Speccy tape I was trying to preserve, I enlisted the help of my trusty Dictaphone. An old Spectrum tape lead was pulled out of the cupboard, one end was plugged into the ear socket and the other was thrust into my PC's soundcard.
The MakeTZX software was fired up and after a bit of fiddling and consultation with the online manual, I managed to switch the program into the recommended direct recording mode.
A DOS screen popped up, indicating we were all ready to roll. I jabbed the 'Play' button on my Dictaphone and waited and waited and couldn't hear a thing.
Ah, that would be because I had the audio lead plugged into the wrong socket on my soundcard. A quick readjustment and a quick test and yes, I could hear those familiar squeals.
So I tried again. I pressed play and yes, I had some action! The DOS screen was clearly reading the signals and converting them. But now I was getting some strange 'Chk=ERR' messages, which looked like bad news.
After more consultation with the online manual, it was obvious this meant the software was getting a dodgy signal from this ageing cassette. So I tried adjusting the volume. That didn't help much, so I tried using MakeTZX's digital filter option, as suggested by the manual.