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Hardware: Printing
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Chris Bourne


NEW from Kempston Electronics is the Model E Centronics interface for the Spectrum. It contains an EPROM which enables it, on power-up, to direct the commands LPRINT and LLIST direct to the printer without the need for additional software. Also built into the EPROM are routines which allow the use of COPY for the Epson and Seikosha ranges of printers.

Housed in the standard Kempston case, the interface plugs into the user port of the Spectrum and is complete with a cable to connect to the printer. The interface is dead-ended in that it does not have a through port for other add-ons; that may be a problem if you want to use it at the same time as the Kempston joystick interface or any other dead-ended device. A problem which may arise with full-size keyboards is that the case is shaped with a lip to fit on top of the standard Spectrum. The lip may prevent the case fitting snugly.

Inside the case is a 2K EPROM which houses the printer software and a handful of chips which detect when the Spectrum is using the LPRINT, LIIST and COPY commands. It does that with the COPY command by monitoring an address and when the Spectrum uses it to do a COPY the interface takes over and directs output to the printer.

Using the interface is very simple. If only text is to be printed, no setting-up is needed, apart from POKEing an address with the number of columns required if that is other than the default setting of 80. That address is one of the unused ones in the system variables area.

To use the COPY command the interface must be set up for your type of printer. By entering as a direct command COPY:REM? the interface displays a menu page which shows its current status. You can then set it up for the Epson range, Seikosha 100 or 250 printers, or add your own routines.

Once you have set it up in that way any user-defined characters or graphics characters which appear in a listing will be printed as shown on the screen. An annoying feature is that those characters are wider than normal characters and make the listing appear untidy.

For computer artists there is an enlarged setting. When that is turned on COPY will produce a double-sized copy, about 180mm. x 145mm. on an Epson, suitable for hanging on the wall. Other settings are available to control the tokens, escape characters and automatic line feeds.

At £55 inc. the interface is by no means inexpensive - but it contains many useful features.

Details from Kempston Micro Electronics Lid, Unit 30, Singer Way, Woburn Road Industrial Estate, Kempston, Redford MK42 7AF. Tel: 0234-856633.

Not Rated