Another Z80 single-board computer?

First Z80 CPU – 1976

Like a lot of other folks these days, I grew up in the early IC microprocessor era. My first computer at age 14 was a MICRO-ACE kit, which was the SINCLAIR ZX-80 before SINCLAIR bought the design and sold it as the ZX-80. I quickly expanded it to 8KB of RAM and replaced the “membrane: keypad with a HEATHKIT full-size “leaf-spring” keyboard that I found at a local hamfest. This is my Z80 SBC design with a few “modern day” enhancements.”

As the years went on, I made some friends in the electronics rep and disti community and one day, the NATIONAL SEMI rep called me and said he had a sample for me that he thinks I would enjoy working with. Turns out it was an INS8073 with TINY BASIC built in ROM. Well that was my next toy for a few years.

Later, I got tired of wire-wrapping and trouble-shooting my designs and then one day, while at my “summer job”, a rep for another firm walks in and says “hey, you guys interested in an APPLE ][+ clone?”  It turned out to be an ORANGE ][+.  A 6502-based computer with 64K or RAM (bank switched) and a Z80 softcard and FORTH built-in.

Now, decades later and lots of electronic components in my collection, I find that I am having the urge to take some time to design and develop a Z80-based single board computer of my own.  I have looked at other projects sites like Grant Searle’s and Thomas Scherrer’s and the seemingly popular RC2014.  I even considered purchasing an RC2014.  Although it would be more costly in terms of time and funds, I thought it would be better to design my own.  That way I had much more control over what features I wanted and how to implement them, which takes us to the creation of this web page and its content.

This page and its entries serves to document my design criteria, goals, progress (and failures) as I start from nothing but a handful of IC’s and some ideas about how to implement this “retro-computer”, in both hardware and software.

Peace and blessings.


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