In 1983 I bought my first book about microprocessors during a summer holiday in Austria, it was titled “Microcomputer selbstgebaut und programmiert” (“Microcomputer self-built and programmed” in English) written by Rolf-Dieter Klein. German television made even a course on it and a lot of the material is still there. Also my thesis was done around the Z80 working on a MPF-1B Z80 trainer. Over the years I kept my plans alive to build/design something myself like that but never got to it. Also in the meantime I did some side-steps to the 6502 processor.
Last year I discovered the RC2014 project / website and got inspired to dig out my old plans make something my own.
Especially in the RC2014 project I like the active online community (which didnt exist in the 80’s) we had real “Computer geek meetings” but they were very local.
What do (did) I like about RDK’s book/modules, and RC2014. First of all its modularity, the RC2014 even more than RDK’s. The “low level entry”, it is almost possible for everyone with some soldering skills to build a Z80 computer, making LED’s , displays, and relays blink and click. Make sound, video boards etc.
What did I do different. The major thing I dont like about RDK’s designs as well as RC2014 is the “wobbly single row connector backplane” (some might shoot me for this statement <Grin>). And where RDK’s boards were well buffered I see this lacking in the RC2014 design.
So the design criteria for my own system were :
- Eurocard (100x160mm) form factor board with 64-PIN A-C row connector.
- A decent (19″ rack) based backplane.
- All exension boards as well as the CPU board buffered.
- Doesn’t necessarily have to be very low (basic electronics) level, I might use SMD components as well as programmable logic (GAL, CPLD). But everyone with some soldering skills might be able to build it.
What do I NOT intend (to be) :
- Commercial , I am not planning to make a business out of it.
- Being a competitor for RC2014, as said , I very much love the project and community, I do have some other ideas about designing though.
I DO hope to inspire other people tinkering with old school (Z80) processors, peripherals etc. that are still widely available and sometimes even being manufactured.
NDR Kleincomputer by Rolf-Dieter Klein (For those who speak German) : http://www.ndr-nkc.de/compo/index.htm
RC2014 Site : https://rc2014.co.uk/