[Joshua Coleman] likes to design his personal computer systems. Typically, which means drawing up bus architectures, reminiscence maps and I/O port pinouts. Different occasions, he can focus his efforts extra on the final aesthetics, in addition to on constructing an incredible set of peripherals, as he exhibits in his newest ColemanZ80 undertaking. Due to the RC2014 structure defining a lot of the important options of a traditional Z80 computing platform, [Joshua] was in a position to design a contemporary retrocomputer that’s not solely genuinely helpful, but in addition seems as if it got here off a manufacturing line yesterday.
The exterior design is a sight to behold: brilliant purple laser-cut acrylic items kind a neat, semi-transparent case with air flow slots on the perimeters and plenty of blinkenlights on the entrance. Impressed by Seventies classics just like the Altair 8800, the entrance panel provides the consumer a direct view of the machine’s inner state and permits easy command inputs by means of a collection of tumbler switches. The CPU, RAM and different primary gadgets are housed in a single case, with all of the enlargement modules in a second one, linked to the mainboard by means of a 40-wire flatcable.
Though the mainboard intently follows the RC2014 design, [Joshua] went by means of a whole lot of effort to tune the system to his particular wants. The enlargement boards he constructed embody an NS16550 UART to interchange the default 68B50, a battery-backed real-time clock, a YM2149-based sound card and even a speech synthesizer module constructed across the traditional SP0256 chip, of Communicate & Spell fame. An much more uncommon function is the presence of an AM9511, one of many earliest math coprocessors ever made, to hurry up floating-point calculations. All of those modules have been constructed completely by hand on prototype boards: we are able to barely think about how a lot time this should have taken.
Output gadgets embody a VGA adapter courtesy of a Raspberry Pi Pico in addition to a daily 4-digit 7-segment LED show and a set of traditional HP “bubble” LEDs. [Joshua] runs a number of demos in his video (embedded under), starting from computing the Mandelbrot set to enjoying chiptunes on the YM2149. There’s loads of scope for additional enlargement, too: [Joshua] plans to construct extra peripherals together with a floppy drive interface and a module to function a robotic automotive.
This isn’t the primary Coleman Z80 laptop: the earlier model ran on an structure [Joshua] designed all by himself. We’ve seen a number of different spectacular RC2014 derivatives, like a tiny micro model and this Altair-inspired case.