KEYBOARD HAS CLASS
THE LATEST add-on keyboard to hit the crowded Spectrum market is the Cheetah 68FX1 from London MicroTech Ltd, marketed by Fox Electronics Ltd. Aimed at the upper end of the market it has 65 keys, using proper switches, including 13 single key functions and a 145mm long space bar. Those are arranged as a main keyboard with a separate numeric pad and are printed in two colours, black and red.
On the left is a true Shift Lock key - one press puts the lock on and the second takes it off - and two blank keys. While, in theory, you could wire those for your own needs, in practice it would be extremely difficult as the leads to the switches have been cut so short as to make them inaccessible.
To the right the single key functions are Edit, Delete, Break (Caps Shift and Space), Graphics (which toggles on and off), Run (R followed by Enter), four shifted cursor keys and an extra Caps Shift. The only obvious omission is an 'E' mode key, particularly as there are not two shift keys conveniently adjacent.
Fitting it entails removing the Spectrum from the original case and then mounting it on pillars on the base of the keyboard. Two ribbon cables from the new keyboards then fit into the top of the PCB and the whole assembly is screwed together. That is like most other full-sized keyboards and should not be a problem.
If Interface 1 is to be fitted then the pillars are changed around and the interface sits underneath the base of the keyboard. The instructions for that are not very clear so trial and error will be needed. As the base is of metal great care should also be taken.
Overall, the keyboard has a good feel to it, it is solidly built and while the keys are heavy they will probably loosen with use. The shifted cursor keys are useful for program writing or word processing and the lack of 'E' mode key could be overcome with familiarity.
The price of £59.95 inc. puts it near the top of the scale but even so it is still good value. It is available by mail order from Fox Electronics Ltd, Fox House, 35 Martham Road, Hemsby, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk NR29 4NQ. Tel: (0493) 732420.