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Original Sinclair QL related hardware.

Manufacturer: Designed by Zeljko Nastasic and sold by Qubbesoft.

Item Name: Aurora Main board.

Estimated Rarity (1 - 10): 9

Related Software: Some came with SMSQ/E on floppy disk at an extra cost of 60.

Notes: The Aurora is a replacement QL motherboard, sort of. Initially described it as a QL graphics card. The main improvement an Aurora setup provided over a standard QL with Gold/Super Gold Card were much better graphics capabilities and support for VGA/SVGA monitors.

Technically brilliant, I still can't get my head around how the Aurora was considered economically viable to produce at the time - but I'm pleased it was! There's no doubt that it was intended for hardcore QL tinkerers only. Squeezing it into an original QL case is possible but requires some drastic modifications and for that reason it was better suited (and was recommended) for fitment within a PC case or some other suitable enclosure. It was necessary to transplant three or four chips from an original QL motherboard for use in the Aurora - not an issue, as I'm sure most people intended to replace their QL motherboard, so would have had no further use for them. The unusual aspect though, is that the Aurora also requires either a Gold Card or a Super Gold Card to function at all and only the Super Gold Card in conjunction with SMSQ/E could fully exploit the Auroras new features, so it was aimed exclusively at owners or potential owners of those products. The Gold and Super Gold Cards were sold by another company (Miracle Systems) and were popular on the QL scene, but still would have been fairly niche at the time (anything QL was always niche!).

I don't think many Aurora boards were sold. I was on the look-out off and on for about 5 years and didn't see a single one for sale in that time. Then, like buses, two came along at once, one with an enormous asking price (still for sale at the time of writing) and another hidden in plain sight within a lot of other QL related items, described as an 'interface card'. The Aurora was priced at a very reasonable 120 when launched in 1996 and by 1997 the price of Gold Cards and Super Gold Cards had gone down considerably compared to their launch price - to about 60 for a 2nd hand GC or 160 for a new SGC.

The images below show a board with original QL ROM(s) fitted at the lower left and the original QL ZX802 chip fitted top centre. The space at the lower right is for the QLs 8049 chip. The Aurora offers no support for the 'legacy' QL microdrives.

Hardware images:

Page on QL Wiki: https://wiki.qlforum.co.uk/doku.php?id=qlwiki:aurora

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