QL On A Stick

Picture Of QL On A Stick USB Pen Drive  

Probably The Most Portable QL Yet!

Last updated: 10/10/07

This project puts three QL emulators for Windows into one very portable package. Plug the USB pen drive (minimum 128MB) into any PC with a USB slot and you have a QL ready for use! So portable, you can carry it around on a keyring with you! QL On A Stick is normally supplied on a CD, ready for you to copy to a USB pen drive of your choice.

USB pen drives have come down in price quite dramatically recently. At the time of writing this, 1GB pen flash memory drives were available for about 10 pounds and the indications seem to be that they will continue to offer more memory for your money! So it makes sense to use available Windows QL emulators in this way to ensure we have a portable QL system we can take with us to work or on our travels, anywhere were you can make use of an available USB port on any Windows computer which supports these drives. It certainly doesn't have to replace your main computer at home, of course, but it does give you that ability to carry QDOS or SMSQ/E around with you wherever you go.

Your life may never be the same now you can carry your QL around with you on your keyring!

The emulators supplied with QL On A Stick are:

QLay2 setup screenQemuLator startup

QLay2 - a free QDOS emulator by Jimmy Montesinos, developed from Jan Venema's original QLay emulator. Supplied with copies of the QL ROM versions JM, JS and Minerva, plus a copy of Toolkit 2. This is a completely free emulator, ready to use, complete with SuperBASIC of course, all you have to do is set the timing for your system using a simple SuperBASIC program (takes just one minute) and you are ready to start QLing!

QL2K - another free QDOS emulator by Jimmy Montesinos, also developed from QLay and QLay2. QL2K is registerware, in other words it's free, although you should register for support and for the author to keep you informed of developments. Although very similar to QLay2 in many ways, QL2K takes the concepta stage further - you don't have to set the correct running speed as you did with QLay and QLay 2, there's sound support and of course you can set it to run faster than standard QL speed with a 'clock multiplier ' setting.

QemuLator - a shareware emulator from Daniele Terdina, this can be used in a limited mode free of charge (speed restricted to that of an original QL and maximum of 384K RAM). Registration ($40) gets you a code from the author to turn it into a very powerful and very fast QL emulator with large RAM support and which can run QDOS (version JM, JS and Minerva supplied, complete with Toolkit 2) or SMSQ/E for the Gold Card (Aurora version needed for 256 colour mode support). The registered version supports level 2 directory systems, QXL.WIN access, native Windows hard disk access, ramdisk, TCP/IP access, serial and parallel ports and much more. Registered users also have access to another emulator, QemuFast, which runs much faster than a standard QemuLator, although at the cost of slightly reduced software compatibility.

QPC2 - a version of the superb QPC emulator from Marcel Kilgus. The full version of this emulator is a former commercial program previously available available from Q-Branch in England, or Jochen Merz Software in Germany. This emulator uses the SMSQ/E version of the QL operating system, with inbuilt pointer environment, sampled sound system, 16-bit or 8-bit colour modes and high resolution screens, SBASIC, DOS/Windows floppy and hard disk read/write, TCP/IP access, serial and parallel ports and many other advanced features. The version of QPC2 supplied with QL On A Stick is fully working with the exception that save is disabled, so you can use it to run programs for testing purposes or to play games, but you can't save anything.

QPC2 demo version runningBootup screen picture

QL On A Stick is normally supplied on a CD, so all you have to do is to copy the content of the CD onto a USB pen drive of your choice (128MB or larger recommended) and it is ready to use. Don't worry about which letter a PC assigns to the USB pen drive, I've tried to make sure I have programmed relative paths into all of the emulators, so you shouldn't have to worry about that at all.

I've included a few useful QL programs on the QL On A Stick for you to use to start with - you can obviously add your own as you get used to the emulators. Toolkit 2, Turbo BASIC compiler, the Xchange suite of Quill, Archive, Abacus and Easel, pointer environment files (v2.01), and a handy little menu front end program launcher called Go! plus a few other useful little toolkits and programs, including Zip and Unzip (you can get the complete QDOS InfoZip versions from Jonathan Hudson's website), Zip Manager, The Copier, S_Edit editor, Q-Trans file handler, BMP PC/QL graphics converter/viewer, and File Info 2. Most of the emulators will run most QL software, and all three emulators include SuperBASIC (if using QDOS) or the enhanced SBASIC (when using SMSQ/E). The Go! program is a freeware pointer driven program launcher, making it easy to semi-automate program starting on a QDOS or SMSQ/E system via simple to set up menus, and if you wish to try it out, please visit the Utilities page on this website to download a copy. All the programs supplied with QL On A Stick are supplied in a native file format for QLay and QemuLator, and in a QXL.WIN file for QPC2. A registered QemuLator can also access the QXL.WIN if you wish.

Go! screen dump

The QL User Guide is there too - in .PDF file format for viewing on a PC, or in plain text format for viewing on a QL. This may prove handy for those who see the use of emulators in this way as a route back to a QL computer they haven't used for years, perhaps for nostalgic reasons. I don't mind if QL On A Stick gets copied - in fact, I encourage it - the more users, the happier I'll feel about having made a contribution to furthering the cause of the Sinclair QL, especially if it tempts former QL users back to using QLs again!

In addition to the QL software, I've also included a few very useful QL-related Windows programs.

The first is WXQT2 by Jonathan Hudson. This is a dual window file handling program, which allows you to copy files between Windows directories, QXL.WIN, and QL-format floppy disks.

The next program is QL Tools, for reading and writing QL disks from DOS. It is used by both WXQT2 and by the QLay2 emulator.

And finally, Norman Dunbar's Q-Stripper program, for converting Quill DOC or Xchange DOC files to plain text, HTML, Docbook XML or PDF files.

Starting QL On A Stick

QL On A Stick CDJust run the go.bat batch file from DOS or Windows. Probably best to run it using the Start menu in Windows - just browse to the QL On A Stick drive to select and run the go.bat file. This brings up a simple menu where you can choose to start the emulators, read the QL Users Guide (as long as you have a PDF file reader on the computer), read the QL On A Stick instructions file, or start WXQT2 or Q-Stripper. If you prefer, you can of course browse to find the executables themselves and start those directly.

The original archives are also supplied, so that you can also install the emulators on your PC's hard drive if you wish.

Copyright Notice

The QL On A Stick project is basically a freeware non-profit project which I hope will promote the use of the QL, so it can be freely copied as long as you don't make a profit out of it! But please take note of any restrictions on use placed by authors of the individual programs concerned.

The name "QL On A Stick" is copyright 2007 Darren Branagh and Dilwyn Jones.

QPC2 is copyright of Marcel Kilgus. QemuLator is copyright of Daniele Terdina. QLay 2 and QL2K are updates by Jimmy Montesinos of Jan Venema's original QLay QL emulator.

The Sinclair QL computer was originally designed and marketed by Sinclair Research Ltd in 1984. Please note that rights to the QL ROM images and QL manuals are held by Frank Davis and Paul Holmgren of Mechanical Affinity for North America, and permission should be sought from them before acquiring and using either the QL manual or the QL ROM images in North America. The Minerva ROM image is supplied by kind permission of Tony Firshman and Laurence Reeves of TF Services and not subject to the above restrictions in North America. Toolkit 2 is copyright of Tony Tebby and supplied free for use with emulators with his permission.


QL On A Stick is published by Q-Celt Computing in Ireland. Please contact Darren Branagh (send email to darrenbranagh AT gmail DOT com) for prices and any enquiries about supplying the software on CD-ROM or ready to go on a USB pen drive. Darren can also accept payment in Euro currency. For UK users wishing to pay in Pounds Sterling, with the software supplied on CD only, please order direct from me with payment of 5 pounds including UK postage, or contact Quo Vadis Design if you would like to buy online.

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