WHAT IS THE LABCOMP?
The labcomp is a homemade computer using the z80 processor. It
runs at 4 MHz. Silicon gold.
Back in the day, "building a computer" involved a soldering iron. As
the ultimate nerd quest, I'm doing the same thing.
Provided everything goes as planned, the labcomp should be a
standard microprocessor computer setup.
With a Z80A processor at 4 MHz, 32 kb of static RAM programmable over an LPT
interface, and an easy, expandable
peripheral bus, all running from inside a Sunny's Surplus ammo case, the z80
labcomp should thoroughly rock.
So by now you're probably shaking your head, thinking that
this project has no use. Well, you're partially right.
But I figure that I'll actually find a use for this in all the random projects I
do. Since it isn't exactly easy to make
cards for your normal PC, and I always have random hardware projects, the z80
labcomp would be prefect for
tasks such as driving an electromagnetic tracking system or managing a flight
simulator device. So yeah.
WHAT DOES THE PROJECT ENTAIL?
The project has three phases:
PHASE ONE: Write a horribly inefficient compiler (Java!) to
turn Z++ code into z80 machine code.
PHASE TWO: Get parts in mail. Construct main z80 computer system.
PHASE THREE: Dremel ammo box, fill with components. Build expansion cards. Find
a use for this.
Easier said than... justified.
PHASE ONE: COMPILER
06.02.2004: Wrote compiler. Tested compiler. I think it
PHASE TWO: BUILD
06.01.2004: Ordered parts. Should officially take forever to receive
06.03.2004: Came up with an early idea of what the expansion bus pinout will be.
06.04.2004: Basic I/O system; hacked telephone keypad / 4x 7seg LED
Decoder hardwired for port 0x28 - 0x2B (40d - 43d); not bugged like simpleio. basicio.gif
PHASE THREE: EXPAND
06.03.2004: Did a schematic for a simple I/O expansion; should
be able to fabricate with only 4 chips.
Decoder hardwired for port 0x10 (16d). simpleio.gif
06.04.2004: Realized that I had an error in the simpleio decoder. Oops?
So yeah, realized lots of new things.
PHASE FOUR: NEVERMIND?
A) They make C compilers for z80s which blow Z++ out of the water. (It was for fun?)
B) It's really not that hard to make ISA cards. At all. I just need to try
C) I'm probably never going to make the labcomp (I write this as of 11.10.2004).
D) One day I'm going to find a use for my z80 parts. Until then, I'm putting this on my site.