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Utility: I/O Handling
ZX Spectrum 16K

Chris Bourne


LPRINT is not only a Sinclair keyword but the name of a printer interface for the Spectrum. The small black box, 2.5in. by 2in., plugs into the expansion port on the Spectrum. Thereafter all LLIST and LPRINT commands are converted to a Centronics parallel interface on the back. By plugging-in a standard 20-way cable to its pins a standard plain-paper printer can be used.

Any Centronics printer can be used, as any graphics, user-defined characters and the like have to be programmed in by the user - each printer has ways of doing graphics and special characters. The instructions are so simple that they are printed on the bottom of the unit.

The same firm can also supply a tape with a program for using the COPY command. GP100 was used to reproduce every dot on the screen using a routine of only 76 bytes stored above RAMTOP.

A modification must be made before using LPRINT, as the printer would normally output a new line after every carriage return - ENTER - character. That facility must be removed so that it gives a new line only when the printer interface tells it to do so. The printer manual will undoubtedly cover that and there is a warning built into the COPY program. Sometimes all that is required is to throw a switch or insert a wire between two terminals.

The LPRINT graphics routine for COPYing the screen is its best feature. Its worst is that you cannot set the line length on LLIST, so it prints the line until it reaches the end of the line or exceeds the length of the printer paper.

The other thing about LLIST and LPRINT is that it ignores graphics and other non-recognisable characters. So a string with three graphics characters will print as an empty string - no spaces. It would be much better to prim space so that the graphics could be filled-in later by hand.

All the control for the printer is stored in a 2K ROM inside the box along with seven ICs. No user RAM is used unless the COPY command is required.

The LPRINT module costs £41.40, plus the printer cable at £12.08. The COPY tape costs £5. Euroelectronics is at 29 Clarence Square, Cheltenham, Gloucester. Tel: 0242-582009.

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