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Bill Chennault
03-27-2007, 06:06 AM
Mike and All--

Can you remember a "microcontroller" board produced some time, say around 1977 or 1978, that ran something called Z-BASIC? The thing was about 14" on a side and had a lot of·preprinted writing on a red, translucent panel above the electronics. (It had a Z80 on board, I believe, hence the name.)

It was my very first microprocessor-based controller. It had (I think) 8 relays and 8 or 16 I/O ports. Maybe some other stuff. I used it to teach the very first college-level robotics course in the midwest. Fortunately, it ran a very straightforward version of BASIC with commands like "RELAY1 ON" and so forth. My class, which I only taught twice, was a lot of fun. The Z-BASIC board was not very reliable because it was simply a big PCB that flexed a lot. Not good. But, when it caused the robot to·move and ran into a wall and backed up, all the students were thrilled! (We ran their programs.)

Can anyone tell me the name of the board? (I addressed this to Mike because although we do not know each other, we go WAY back.)

--Bill

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You are what you write.

Unsoundcode
03-27-2007, 07:44 AM
Hi Bill, I remember around that time there were bunches of small "home computers/games consoles" begining to emerge. The Atmos Oric the Commodore 64 the Texas TI44 the Atari and also there was a machine called the·· Z-80 which was either kit form or pre-built. The Z-80 was brought into being by a guy called Clive Sinclair who later in his career marketed a 3 wheel 1 man battery operated vehicle. As I recall the Z-80 only had 1 or 2 Kbyte of ram, his next model the Spectrum had 16Kbyte, color graphics and the ability to load and save via a tape machine. I used to own a Spectrum then moved on to a Commodore Amiga.
Anyway the Z-80 had a basic language maybe the computer I have in mind is related to the board you are trying to place. Google Clive Sinclair and see what it throws up.

Jeff T.

the sound of a download will forever ring in my ears

Post Edited (Unsoundcode) : 3/27/2007 12:48:33 AM GMT

Robert Kubichek
03-27-2007, 07:55 AM
Na, the Z-80 had 2k ram, with a 16k rampack, and it was called the Timex Sinclair
I have 2 of em with a lot of manuals rampacks, and interfaces..
They still work, plus I adapted a regular keyboard to em...

Bob

Unsoundcode
03-27-2007, 08:05 AM
Hi Robert, yes it was sold in the States under licence as the Timex Sinclair 1000 in 1982. I believe their value is over 5 times what they originally sold for.

I found this link on Wikpedia, the little battery operated car is so cool.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinclair_Research

Jeff T.

Bean
03-27-2007, 06:34 PM
You guys are thinking of the ZX80 or ZX81. Both only had 1K of RAM.
When Timex made the TS1000 they put in 2K.
The TS1000 was my first computer, had it for years.
The Z-80 was the microprocessors used in it.

Bean.

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"Educate your children to self-control, to the habit of holding passion and prejudice and evil tendencies subject to an upright and reasoning will, and you have done much to abolish misery from their future and crimes from society (http://www.quotationspage.com/quote/29139.html)"

Benjamin Franklin
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www.hittconsulting.com (http://www.hittconsulting.com)
·

stamptrol
03-27-2007, 07:50 PM
Ah, memories!

When the latest crop of navy frigates were being built in both Canada and the US, they used thousands of cable assemblies with many multi-conductor connectors on them.

My job was to build an automated tester which could check continuity from all wires to all wires, all wires to ground, perform a hi-pot test on them then print out proof-of-integrity document.

The ZX-81, with a 16K memory pack, and a custom wire-wrapped interface board with 80 reed relays was the prototype which went on board to do the first bunch of ships. Other than needing a CRT as a display, and the sparking hazard of the original printer which used aluminized paper, it was a great improvement over manual checking.

Still have some ZX-81's if anyone needs one!

Cheers,

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Tom Sisk

http://www.siskconsult.com
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Bean
03-27-2007, 08:38 PM
Tom,
· Yeah the Timex printer was alot better. It was thermal, pretty fast, and good quality print.
· Remember how long it took to find those rarely used functions on the keys. Ha ha ha.
· I think my record was about 5 minutes, I'd finally break-down and read each key from top to bottom.

Bean.

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"Educate your children to self-control, to the habit of holding passion and prejudice and evil tendencies subject to an upright and reasoning will, and you have done much to abolish misery from their future and crimes from society (http://www.quotationspage.com/quote/29139.html)"

Benjamin Franklin
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
www.hittconsulting.com (http://www.hittconsulting.com)
·

QuattroRS4
03-27-2007, 09:49 PM
Yip Memories - still have a zx80,zx81, Zx Spectrum 16k, Zx Spectrum 48K, Spectrum 48K+ (hard keys),Spectrum 128 ,Spectrum 128K +2 (tape drive),Spectrum +2A,Spectrum +3 (disk drive) ,currah speech unit, kempstom joystick interface and a ZX Printer.

Years ago it was all the rage to connect a pc hard drive to the spectrum with modified roms A and B - although only half the hard drive was addressable ....

Just did a quick check and things are still as busy as ever !!
baze.au.com/divide/ (http://baze.au.com/divide/)
www.worldofspectrum.org/ (http://www.worldofspectrum.org/)
www.worldofspectrum.org/zxplus3e/ (http://www.worldofspectrum.org/zxplus3e/)
www.nvg.ntnu.no/sinclair/contents.htm (http://www.nvg.ntnu.no/sinclair/contents.htm)

Just noticed one of the Speccy emulators is called 'Spin' !!!

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'Necessity is the mother of invention'

Post Edited (QuattroRS4) : 3/27/2007 3:03:05 PM GMT

Gadgetman
03-28-2007, 04:44 PM
I ground my teeth on my brother's ZX Speccy...
(48K model, with the MicroDrive. Gosh, what speeds. The C64 guys were green with envy... )

Now I have a ZX81(with 16 RAM-pack and caput keyboard) and a ZX Spectrum. I also have a couple of Cambridge Z88, but as of yet, no C5 electric car...

anyway...
I think this belongs in the 'old school hackers' thread...

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Don't visit my new website...

T&E Engineer
03-28-2007, 06:34 PM
I still have a couple of Timex Sinclair 1000's that I bought on Ebay this year. However, I had to buy 5 to get 2 functional as some had either bad ULA chips, cracked keyboard connectors, etc. I have added a video output transistor and made some interface circuits to turn bits on/off OR complete bytes. I even added some modern·32K ram chips and 64K ram chips with battery backup (although you only get 32K for BASIC or ML programs, and 24K for ML programs only and the first 8K was for it's ROM chip = 64K total). Between Timex Sinclair interfacing projects and SX / BS2 and Propeller chips· projects - I stay busy and have fun!

http://www.ts1000.us/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.pl

One of my sites I go to. Anyone that has worked with the ZX81 hardware should have heard of Wilf Wrighter. He knows the ZX81 inside and out and has helped me many times on this site. I remember seeing his work 25 years ago when I go my first ZX81 kit at 17 years old.

Wilf is·to the Timex Sinclair like JonnyMac and Bean is to the SX - incredibly smart and willing to help when they can.

QuattroRS4
03-28-2007, 09:06 PM
T&E,
I know that there are new keyboard membranes for the zx Spectrums available - not too sure about the Timex sinclair though.

Gadgetman,
There seems to be a revivel of the C5 there are a number of dedicated sites - I have seen new boxed ones on ebay for stg£2,000. I have various ULA's if you want to knock on which versions you have I can check if I have a match.

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'Necessity is the mother of invention'

Chris Savage
03-28-2007, 09:25 PM
Bill, we were talking at length about all the Old-School Hacking stuff in the following thread...I don't think you were on the forums then though...Lots of good reading for those who have been around in the Microcontroller world for awhile.

http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=464494

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Chris Savage
Parallax Tech Support

Gadgetman
03-29-2007, 04:22 AM
QuattroRS4, the only thing wrong with my ZX81 is a cracked keyboard membrane.
That, unfortunately can't be fixed with an ULA...

Pay $2.000 for a C5 on eBay?
and how much in VAT and TOLL?
(We have 25% VAT here in Norway... )

Not to mention, trying to get license plates on it must be a nightmare.
(I have my doubts as to whether or not it was ever approved for Norwegian roads, and it has a top speed of over 5mph, which means it MUST be registered to be allowed onto the roads here. )
And yes, I would want to drive it...
(At least once... )

It would be easier and cheaper to construct my own and get it licensed as a one-off.

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Don't visit my new website...

Bill Chennault
03-29-2007, 09:23 AM
Chris--

Thanks for posting that old thread! It REALLY brought back memories! I think (maybe) the only guy on there older than me was Guenther Daubach (http://forums.parallax.com/member.php?u=40481). (Gee. Gunther, I hope you can still read this small font! <g> )

I started on the Altair 8800. (Actually, if you want to count it, I really started on a 360 Model 30, but I imagine there are a lot of people on this forum that began on the big iron and stuck with it.) The Altair was a bit-blaster. You had to set each bit the way you wanted it and then "deposit" it in the 4k RAM and then increment the RAM memory counter and create the next instruction (or data) in the same manner.

Later, there was a paper tape peripheral and even later some kinda CRT. I never had those luxuries.

I never wanted to shut the Altair off because I never really knew if it would come back to life. (It always did, though.) So, I wrote the most famous program that the Altair ever ran; it cleared all available memory and you didn't have to worry about sticking an end op-code at the right place. This single program allowed me to write more programs than one can imagine. I even had a great version of "Kill the Bit" up and running!

The Altair sits in my office to this day. I guess I should take some pictures of it. Gee. I guess I should also take some pictures of my H8 and later the H9--one of the few, maybe the ONLY terminal to be released by Heathkit with a mirror image chasis, but I made it work anyway--and my Vector Graphics B. This machine and another just like it, formed the heart of my first computer business along with two fantastic Centronics 703s! We ran the alpha-code of "Data Manager", which later became the core of "Smart" which later, I believe, became Informix. (Mike and Mark; are you guys there and alive and well? If so, I might have the relationships stated previously incorrect. If so, my apologies and B. Hornbeck says "hi" to one of you but I can't remember which one.)

However, no one even came CLOSE to figuring out what Z80 based "microcontroller" I had. (It ran Z-BASIC.) Maybe either my wife or I will remember. To everyone that tried: Thank you and try some more! But, remember it was about 14" x 14" and had no case. It was just a BIG PCB with a transluscent red plastic cover that gave it a little more rigidity.

Back to the Altair for a moment: It worked when I shut it off. I wonder if I should fire it up? I do not have the skills to fix it if something should happen . . . other than maybe blowing a cap or something simple like that.

--Bill

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You are what you write.

Post Edited (Bill Chennault) : 3/29/2007 2:32:14 AM GMT

QuattroRS4
03-29-2007, 07:22 PM
Bill,
Post an image or two - I'd love to see it...


Gadgetman,

If you are looking for a keyboard membrane - try the following


http://www.rwapsoftware.co.uk/membranes.html

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'Necessity is the mother of invention'

Post Edited (QuattroRS4) : 3/29/2007 12:31:41 PM GMT