What is the "Z-100 LifeLine"?
The "Z-100 LifeLine" has been a bimonthly journal (6 issues per year) for Z-100 owners and vendors and is currently published by Steven W. Vagts. Due to personal demands, however, beginning in 2007 the publishing schedule was separated from the calendar and was no longer published every two months. Each issue would only be published when articles were ready (roughly every two to three months) or when necessary for the needs of the readers. As it turned out, due to personal reasons, there were some lengthy gaps of two years in publishing.
The LifeLine serves as a communications vehicle to ensure readers have access to parts support and repair services, upgrade development and dissemination, and for problem resolution. Make me your sounding board if you have an issue with the Z-100.
The "Z-100 LifeLine" was intended to fill the void left by the failing and now defunct original Users' Group Magazines - "REMark" and "Sextant" Magazines and "CHUG" (The Capitol Heath Users' Group) Newsletter. Other popular periodicals of the time included "H-Scoop" and "BUSS", also now gone.
"Z-100 LifeLine" Guidelines:
This newsletter is strictly independent and has no connection with what remains of Zenith Data Systems or Heath Company. To my knowledge, it is the sole surviving newsletter for ANY Heath or Zenith Computer System!
Nearly every issue contains inserts meant for installation in the User's Manual, Technical Manual, or Software/Hardware Manuals. Information in past issues have information on Repair, Maintenance, Hardware Modifications or Additions, Software Problems and Fixes, MS-DOS and Computer Upgrades, and Support Services. More recent inserts deal with other topics that I feel you may find interesting or helpful.
For Sale / Wanted Column
All readers are entitled to free non-commercial "For Sale" or "Wanted" advertising for Z-100 related items. Any artwork must be camera-ready.
Articles are highly encouraged, but must relate in some manner to the H/Z-100; that is software must be able to run on, or hardware must be installable on, the H/Z-100. Articles describing special uses of the H/Z-100 is of particular interest. This requirement has been modified over the years to include other topics of interest.
Commercial use reprints are approved on a case-by-case basis. Non-commercial use reprints of any issue is permitted as long as proper credit is given to the "Z-100 LifeLine". Issues prior to issue number 31 (January 1994) were published by Paul F. Herman, Inc., 9317 Amazon Drive, New Port Richey, FL. Portions not specifically credited to other contributors were written by Paul and only he can approve commercial reprints of those issues.
Use of the material presented in the articles or of items purchased through the LifeLine or this web site is strictly AT YOUR OWN RISK. I cannot ensure the accuracy of the material presented, test the items on every configuration of the Z-100, nor do credit and background checks. However, I will make every effort to serve you any way possible!
Registered Trademarks are often used in the text here on the Web Site and in the Newsletter. In order to protect these trademarks, it is important to acknowledge them as the property of their respective companies. As many of these companies no longer exist, it is doubly important to recognize them for their important contribution to the computing world. For readability and space, Heath, Heathkit, H-89, H-90, H-100 (Heath Company), Zenith, Z-DOS, Z-89, Z-90, Z-100 (Zenith Corp.) IBM, IBM-PC, PC-DOS (IBM Corp.), MS-DOS, MultiPlan (Microsoft Corp.), CP/M (Digital Research), Gemini (Gemini Technology Inc.), EasyPC (UCI Corp.), Scottie Board (Scottie Systems), SuperCalc (Sorcim/IUS Inc.), dBASE xx (Ashton-Tate Inc.), WordStar (MicroPro International Corp.), Epson (Epson America Inc.) Panasonic, KXZ-Pxxxx (Panasonic Corp.), and others are so acknowledged, though specific references are not made in each occurrence. Thank you.
The "Z-100 LifeLine" is now published free on this website (see below). Just drop me an e-mail with your address and phone number. Additional information, such as a description of your Z-100 and how you are using it would be nice, but not required. I will also continue to stock replacement parts. I have several Z-100 projects to keep me busy for many years to come. If you choose not to receive the LifeLine, each project's progress will also be reported here, though updating this website is laborious, time intensive, and often delayed, so please list this website as a 'Favorite' and refer back to it often.
Printed back issues of all "Z-100 LifeLines" are still available for $3.00 each. However, issues #1 through 120 are now available on CD-ROM. Each CD-ROM covers 30 issues (#1-30, #31-60, #61-90, and #91-120) in PDF format for $20.00 each and obviously requires a PC-compatible computer with a CD-ROM drive to access, read, or print the issues. As I do not have enough issues yet to create a new CD-ROM for issues after #120, I list them here for your enjoyment. Feel free to print them out for your records. Note: The period between 2012 and 2019 saw a great transition in the Z-100 LifeLine publication. The earlier PDF documents were created by scanning the entire document to create the PDF document. These cannot be searched nor passages printed. The entire document must be printed. The later PDF files were created from within WordPerfect and passages can be copied or printed freely. These later documents also had full color pictures and better graphics. I hope you enjoy the changes. Finally, please note that I did not go back any further than Issue #121 to correct the email and website addresses. Please note that these have changed, when reading the earlier LifeLines. Thanks.
"Z-100 LifeLine" issue #121 was mailed in July 2012!
This issue provided a new source of delay lines for the Z-100, asked the question whether CP/M would be capable of using our IDE Controller, and continued our Zenith ZVM-13x Series of Color Monitors, Part 2, that was begun in issue #120. The Attachments can be read here: ZMonitor1 and ZMonitor2..
"Z-100 LifeLine" issue #122 was mailed in August 2012!
This issue discussed my efforts to run CP/M on the Z-100, provided a description of CP/M Plus (aka CP/M 3), and discussed 22DISK, a CP/M <-> DOS Disk Interchange Utility. It also provided a Date patch for CP/M 3's DATE.COM. The insert contained an All-Base conversion program in assembly language for CP/M.
"Z-100 LifeLine" issue #123 was mailed in December 2012!
This issue continued my working with CP/M and the 22DISK Utility, discussed disassembly of CP/M-85's ASSIGN.COM, and provided some thoughts on CP/M Assembly Language Programming Essentials.
"Z-100 LifeLine" issue #124 was mailed in August 2013!
This issue discussed the "Error - Memory Parity or Buss", published Charles Hett's article "Substitute Backup Battery for Dallas Semiconductor DS1216E Smartwatch" (please read an update on the article in issue #128), and reported that Heathkit(R) was back - or at least sort of.
"Z-100 LifeLine" issue #125 was mailed in July 2015!
This issue discussed setting IDE autoboot, choosing Picture Density for display on the computer screen or for printing family photographs, discussed the results of my IDE Compact Flash testing and showed a few purchase options of inexpensive units. It also reprinted a Z-100 Fan Replacement article by Eric C. Neilson (with permission, of course), which was published on the internet at "Antediluvian Designs" on February 8, 2015. It replaces our noisy Panaflo FBP-08B12H (39 db(A)) with a much quieter Noctua NF-R8 fan (17.1 db(A)) purchased from Coolerguys.com, with about the same airflow. As of January 2020, it runs about $10.00 on Amazon.
"Z-100 LifeLine" issue #126 was mailed in April 2016!
This issue, in color, discussed my RAM tests on an older 768k Motherboard, introduced efforts to make an LCD monitor work with the Z-100, and discussed Video Logic Board repair. The inserts included the GBS-8219 VGA Converter, the GBS-82xx series VGA converter testing (two articles by Charles Hett), and installing a GBS-82xx converter in the Z-100.
"Z-100 LifeLine" issue #127 was mailed in October 2018!
This issue described a Z-120 "All-In-One" with an internal color CRT!! The machine was introduced to the Z-100 public at the first Z-100 Get-together in Norfolk, Virginia, way back in November, 1990! It did catch a paragraph in issue #10 of the "Z-100 LifeLine", but then disappeared entirely, until it was offered to me in 2018. The brainchild of Lee Jones, Lee managed to fit the complete color system of a security monitor very neatly into a heavily modified Z-120 - an engineering marvel! I finally got to document the event as I think it should have been done. Several color pictures show the installation. In addition, we discuss the problems I had with the EasyPC and Gemini PC-emulator systems in that machine, and pass along a ZCLK (calendar/clock) Y2K software patch.
"Z-100 LifeLine" issue #128 was mailed in December 2018!
This issue updated the SmartWatch mod mentioned above, provided greater details on a new ZCLK2 calendar clock board, and discussed some of my efforts to work with the new Gemini ROM chips - another lively issue. You will not want to miss it. The insert, ZCLK2Article, describes my new ZCLK2 board (see the following section on the ZCLK2), and an additional article, ZCLK2Clock, provides a complete User's Guide, including board layout and schematic. Enjoy.
"Z-100 LifeLine" issue #129 was mailed on August 27, 2019!
Please note my new email address & check out my new website! This issue concentrates on notifying all of you of the website and email changes and the reason behind the move. It also describes my efforts to create a new website using Joomla!, how to purchase your own domain name and where to find a reasonably priced web host. This issue also explains my decision to go with the times and become paperless.
"Z-100 LifeLine" issue #130 was published on January 15, 2020. Happy New Year!
This issue introduces new, reasonably priced test equipment for persons new to electronics and trying to create a suite of handy test instruments on a budget. They are from China, and don't come with all the bells and whistles of the more expensive equipment, but for the price, they are certainly feature packed. This issue concentrates on two transistor testers - with additional features - the Mega328, and the GM328. This issue also updates my experience with Joomla! and website maintenance - not all of it good. Finally, it is also my 100th Issue of the Z-100 LifeLine! With reason to celebrate - you need to dust off ZBASIC to run a surprise graphics program. Two advantages of not doing this in a paper mailing - I am not limited in size and I can include all the full color photos that I want! With the three massive enclosures, Mega328 Transistor Tester and GM328 Transistor Tester and GM328 Assembly Manual, this is my biggest issue ever - by 4 to 5 times! Enjoy.
"Z-100 LifeLine" issue #131 was published on March 1, 2020.
This issue explains the more interesting aspects of last time's ZBASIC program, CAKE.BAS, and covers several of my most recent Z-100 repair efforts, especially for troublesome motherboards. We also cover the preparation of the Z-100 MFM 'Winchester' hard drives, including a list of specifications used by PREP. Finally, it also continues introducing new, reasonably priced test equipment with the DL4YHF2 Frequency Counter and Crystal Tester. Enjoy.
"Z-100 LifeLine" issue #132 was published on August 17, 2020.
Did you know that the "Z-100 LifeLine" IDE Controller was first operational in January 2007? Did you also know that the battery in the IDE Controller's NVsRAM would only last about 10 years? This issue warns of the waning batteries in the NVsRAM of the Z-100 LifeLine IDE Controller Card and offers several solutions. It also offers a refresher on the IDE Controller and the programming of the NVsRAM. If you own an IDE Controller, this is must reading. This issue's insert, Z-100 Floppy Drives, also summarizes the Floppy Drives that may be used in the Z-100, along with information necessary to get them to work. Finally, it also continues introducing new, reasonably priced test equipment with the XR2206 Function Generator. Enjoy.
"Z-100 LifeLine" issue #133 was published on December 19, 2020. Merry Christmas!
Do you have any desire to finally get rid of the floppy disk? This small, but important and timely issue introduces the latest in data storage - Floppy Disk Emulators, specifically, the Gotek Floppy Disk Emulator. This issue also describes the newest addition to our reasonably priced test equipment - the DSO138 Oscilloscope Kit. So, check out this issue's inserts, the Gotek Floppy Disk Emulator Manual, and the DSO138 Oscilloscope Kit, Finally, I had a problem with instability in the DL4YHF2 Frequency Counter while testing my new Oscilloscope - I had to add a capacitor to its input. I've updated the DL4YHF2 manual listed in LifeLine issue #131 above. Enjoy.
"Z-100 LifeLine" issue #134 was just published on March 2, 2021, and updated March 22, 2021.
This important and timely issue continues and completes my reporting of my testing of the latest in data storage - the Gotek Floppy Disk Emulator. It has been many weeks of intense evaluation of the basic Gotek and its upgrades, and, hopefully, will make this process considerably easier for you to install and use this excellent new technology. One remaining problem is with the rotary encoder, which is flaky at best, but which I hope will be corrected in a future Firmware update. So, check out this issue's inserts, the Gotek Floppy Disk Firmware Upgrade and the Gotek Floppy Disk Hardware Upgrade. Enjoy.
This issue also describes the DiskPack Floppy Disk Software Driver. Originally dating back to 1989, DiskPack was a software package which allowed a person to use many popular floppy disk formats on the Heath/Zenith Z-100 series computer, including PC compatible formats. Aside from the floppy drives and cables, no additional special hardware was required - all formats supported by DiskPack were provided using the standard Z-207 floppy disk controller already installed in your Z-100. The DiskPack driver supported all popular 8", 5", and 3" floppy disk formats. So, check out this issue's insert, the DiskPack Floppy Disk Driver. Enjoy.
"Z-100 LifeLine" issue #135 was published on May 31, 2021.
This small, but timely issue publishes an important article 'Flash Floppy Gotek and the Z-120' by Darrell Pelan regarding his use of a modified Gotek Floppy Disk Emulator with the H/Z-89 and Z-120. This issue also introduces Hank Lotz, former publisher of 'The Staunch H8/H-89'er', and requests help promoting his new book of Sci-fi and Fantasy Short Stories. Enjoy.
"Z-100 LifeLine" issue #136 was published on December 17, 2021.
This issue discusses my efforts to upgrade a Compaq Presario CQ-60 Notebook computer that was given to me as a gift from a neighbor. It also alerts readers that I have sold my last spare IDE Controller and asks the readers' opinions on whether to attempt to obtain more. Finally, it publishes two inserts that have nothing to do with the Z-100, though one is a fix to an oscilloscope that I thought you might like and the other is a repair to my Remington chainsaw that I thought was valuable enough to warrant publishing here. Please read the article 'Tektronix 468 Digital Storage Oscilloscope Repair' by Charles Hett and my article, 'Remington RM1025 Chainsaw Repair' if you have an interest. My thanks to Charles for his excellent article. Enjoy.
"Z-100 LifeLine" issue #137 was published on March 3, 2022.
This issue is special! The Z-100 series computer is celebrating 40 years young! So, as a form of celebration, I have created a new challenge. I wish to begin a three-phase contest open to anyone for a chance to win $20.00 off their next "Z-100 LifeLine" purchase. The first phase is probably the most time consuming, as it will require you to research the "Z-100 LifeLine" website (Hint: Check out the newly updated Periodical Index) to answer several trivia questions. It is meant to remind you of many, probably long forgotten, aspects of Zenith and Heathkit computing and will provide you a ready reference to assist in the other two phases of the challenge. Phase two, also in this issue, will be to complete a Word Find challenge. Phase three will be published in the next LifeLine and consists of another Z-100 Crossword puzzle. The winner(s) of phase two and/or three will each receive $10.00 off their next purchase. This issue also discusses Z-100 Serial Mice. Please check out the link, "Z-100 Serial Mouse", here. Enjoy.
"Z-100 LifeLine" issue #138 was published on April 5, 2022.
This issue continues our 40th Birthday celebration with the phase three LifeLine Crossword Puzzle! I have also set the contest to end on May 31, 2022. So get your Phase 2 and Phase 3 answers to me as soon as you can. Remember, there is $20.00 at stake. I have also redesigned how the "Z-100 LifeLine" Website treats articles. I hope you like the changes. This issue also includes two other inserts, "The DSO150 Oscilloscope Kit and Manual", another addition to our inexpensive test equipment toolbox, and an article by Charles Hett, "Gotek Rotary Encoder Fix", in which he describes his fix to a flaky Rotary Encoder. Enjoy.
"Z-100 LifeLine" issue #139 was just published on June 11, 2022.
This issue finishes our 40th Birthday celebration with the answers to the three phases of the Z-100 LifeLine Challenge and the announcement of the winners! I hope you enjoyed the Challenge. This issue also includes two other inserts that I had forgotten about, an article on "Z-100 Interlaced Video", and my last experiments with Seagate hard drive stiction in the article, "Seagate_ST251HD_Stiction". Enjoy.
"Z-100 LifeLine" Resources:
Z-100 Software Library
The "Z-100 LifeLine" Software Library contains nearly 1,000 programs and routines covering every application ever submitted. Software is included from the original Users' Groups (including HUG, CHUG, and NOHUG), Paul F. Herman, and GernWare. As much as possible, the software is separated and saved to disk by application. While individual volumes are still available as usual, the entire library is now available on CD-ROM for $20.00. However, a PC-compatible computer with a CD-ROM drive is necessary to transfer the programs to a floppy drive format usable on the Z-100.
Z-100 Software Archive Library
The "Z-100 LifeLine" Software Archive Library contains a copy of original licensed Software Applications for applications no longer available or supported by the original software developers. This software is maintained only for dissemination to licensed users who have lost the software due to disk damage. So as not to upset any copyright law enforcers, proof of license is required.
Z-100 LifeLine Publications Library
The "Z-100 LifeLine" Publications Library contains computer hardware and software publications, manuals, and books that are available for loan or sale at reasonable rates.
"Z-100 LifeLine" Periodical Index
I have completed updating a comprehensive index to "Z-100 LifeLine" articles covering issues 1 through 136. The Jul-Aug 2003 issue of Z-100 LifeLine had a complete, comprehensive index to "Sextant" articles covering issues 1 through 40, the last issue in March of 1989. While it contained a lot of H/Z-89 and PC material, the emphasis was placed on Z-100 material and articles of general interest. I have also just completed an index to all items of interest in "REMark" Magazine, issues #1 through #149.
Finally, I combined all these indexes into one huge Periodical index! This PDF file is available to you by clicking the link, 'PDF Periodical Index', or in the Title, or in the links to the right. Finally, I'm told that some of you would prefer the Index as a RTF file that you can search topics and print sections of interest. When you click on this link, 'RTF Periodical Index', the file will be downloaded and you can open it in WordPad, but won't display automatically in a separate window unless you open it. (Note: Every time you click on this link, another copy will be downloaded! Why does life have to be so difficult?)
Parts and Service
We maintain a complete inventory of all the standard parts for the Z-110 Low-Profile and Z-120 All-In-One series computers! Repair services are available. Most unique modifications and special boards are also available.