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Home > Topfield TF4000 PVR > TFSPECT - a ZX Spectrum emulator for Topfield TF4000PVR

TFSPECT - a ZX Spectrum emulator for Topfield TF4000PVR

a port of the SPECTEMU ZX Spectrum emulator for linux to the Topfield TF4000PVR set-top box. Now more than 5000 games are available for this box!

H.A.T.E Warning: This program comes with absolutely NO WARRANTY! It will destroy your box and then your life. Use it at your own risk.

for all questions, please contact:


Topfield and TF4000PVR are trademarks of the Topfield Korea. All other mentioned trademarks belong to their respective owners.

This program is free software, and is distibuted under GPL. See COPYING for details

spectemu (c) 1995-1998 Szeredi Miklos
unofficial TAP SDK (c) 2001 PeN
tfspect port (c) 2003 Alexander Ponomarenko


Saboteur 2

TFSPECT is the port of the SPECTEMU, a ZX Spectrum emulator for UNIX by Miklos Szeredi, to the Topfield TF4000PVR. Now you can play games from the childhood on your favorite STB ;)

ZX Spectrum is the famous game computer from early 1980s. It was based on the Z80 CPU, and had 48K of RAM. More than 5000 games were developed for this platform, most of them are available for free download.

TFSPECT is based on the unpublished TAP API by Topfield, virtuously reverse-engineered by PeN.

Don"t ask me about porting to the other boxes - I know nothing about this!


1.1 Download the last development version (0.4) here: (binaries)

There is no "stable" version yet. See BUGS. Also you can download sources here (although they aren"t required to run the emulator):

tfspect-0.4 (sources)

1.2 Download the TAP uploader application from or Topfield Korea

Light Force

1.3 Upload tfspect.bin to the box using TAP downloader. Make sure that the file type switch is in the "program" position, and "tap name" is set to "tfspect.tap"

1.4 Upload games the same way, but now change file type to "data" and make sure that "tap name" is the same as the original filename.

You can use .tzx, .tap, .z80 and .sna files with the emulator.

1.5 Press "0" at the remote and choose "tfspect.tap" in the list, or type "exec tfspect.tap" at the console. To exit the emulator, press "mute" key, and then "pause" key. by the "power" key


2.1 Keyboard.

Key-to-remote map

ZX Spectrum has 40 keys, topfield"s remote has 42, including an unusable power on/off key. So, 40 keys are mapped to the corresponding Spectrum keys, and 41th (mute) is used to control the emulator.

Look at two attached files - spectkey.gif and topfkb.gif. First one contain the image of the original Spectrum keyboard, and the second explains keymapping of the Topfield"s remote. I suggest you to have these images by hand or to print them.

In addition to the CTRL key (mapped to the "mute"), there are two keys with special meaning - CS (Caps Shift) and SS (Symbol Shift). Unfortunately, you cannot simultaneously press two keys on the Topfield"s remote. So if you want to enter a CTRL+c combination (which stops the emulation), you"ll need to sequentally press CTRL, (i.e. MUTE), and then "C" (i.e. PAUSE).

CTRL, CS and SS keys are automatically released when you press any other key, thus they don"t act like the CAPS key of the PCs keyboard.

As I said before, there is no way to press two keys simultaneously, but this is required by most games. You can play such games only in the Kempston joystick mode, which is turned on and off by the CTRL+d command. In this mode, "1" is mapped to left-and-up, "2" is mapped to "up", "3" is mapped to right-and-up, and so on. "5" is mapped to "fire".

2.2 Useful CTRL combinations

  • CTRL+c: stop emulator.
  • CTRL+d: swich Kempston mode on/off
  • CTRL+l: load snapshot (requires console!)
  • CTRL+t: save snapshot (requires console!)
  • CTRL+w: save temporary snapshot
  • CTRL+e: load temporary snapshot
  • CTRL+q: reset Spectrum

2.3 Starting the game.

When you start the emulator, it suggests you to choose a game to load. If you press "EXIT", the Sinclair BASIC will start. Some games may take several minutes to load, this is normal, so don"t panic.

2.4 About loading and saving files

When you issue a LOAD/SAVE command, or request snapshot loading or saving, the emulator asks you for the file name on the console Even if you decide to cancel operation, you still need to press "ENTER" on the console. It is impossible to recover from a load/save request if you don"t have console attached! Please be careful.

Snapshots are loaded much faster than tap"s and tzx"es, so I suggest you to to make snapshots of your favorite games once you loaded them into the box.


3.1 Topfield has a bug in TAP API - the box hangs on the exit of large TAP applications. To avoid this, emulator reboots the box at exit request.

3.2 File I/O is very slow. Loading of snapshot usually ocuppies 30-120 seconds, please be patient

3.3 There is still no sound.

3.4 When emulator runs, it freezes box"s clock. Theoretically time should return to normal after emulator exit. But I didn"t checked this yet.

3.5 Keyboard emulation also needs improvements. There is significant lag, and some games don"t respond to the keypresses/releases as expected.

3.6 Mapping of the remote keys to Spectrum keys is inconvenient for most games. We"ll change it in some way or implement a personal keymap for each game.


4.1 Where to get games

World Of Spectrum, is an excellent site, containing thousands of games. If you don"t know which games are the best ones, look at one of their top100 ratings, for example this one:

"Your Sinclair" Magazine top100 rating

4.2 Game notes.

I didn"t inspected many games yet, but this is the list of games I use to test the emulator:

  • Saboteur 2 from Durell
  • Lightforce (very screen-intensive game, not yet perfect)
  • H.A.T.E (also very screen-intensive game)
  • 3D Deathrace (Hit #1 ;)

If your favorite game doesn"t run on tfspect, write me, and probably (but I don"t promise anything!) I"ll fix this someday.


Please note that tfspect is a patch, and the author of the original emulator doesn"t support it. If you have any questions regarding tfspect, contact us at:

Official tfspect project page:


  • 0.4 - bugfix release. LNB issue fixed (now emulator works with LNB connected and powered on. Hang on exit issue partially fixed (now emulator reboots the box to avoid hangup)
  • 0.3 - initial public release.

Posted by: shura

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