This information was updated March 22, 2021.
Welcome to the Web version of the "Z-100 LifeLine"!
I hope to use this page to bring newsworthy LifeLine items to your attention, so be sure to check this out periodically. Unless you've been receiving the LifeLine, you have probably been out of touch with the continuing changes in the Z-100 community. Some of these, I've mentioned elsewhere on this website, but not with much detail.
My website has several main pages, with their links to other pages given at the right side of each page. These pages will probably remain relatively static.
This page is where all the action will be. What's being worked on, who is doing the work, troubleshooting tips, and other noteworthy tid-bits. I will also post the last few Z-100 LifeLines so that you have the opportunity to read them at your leisure. We, the remaining proud owners of the Z-100, need your support.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any specific comments or suggestions.
Now, the news:
The "Z-100 LifeLine" has moved, again!!
I know this is old news to all of my regular readers, but anyone just visiting this site for the first time may still believe that I live in Elizabeth City, NC. On July 1, 2003, we moved from Elizabeth City to Hendersonville, North Carolina... and are very happy here.
However, in 2019 Earthlink informed me that they would no longer offer FREE webspace on their server for their Email users! So the old Earthlink "Z-100 LifeLine" website has been taken down and all my old Earthlink Email accounts removed.
"Z-100 LifeLine" IDE Controller Board
The new "Z-100 LifeLine" IDE Controller Board, ZROM v4.3, and Z-DOS v4.06 has been operational now for several years. I have heard of no difficulties with the board installation nor with its operation. There are only a few left, and once they are gone... they will be gone for good!!!
A product of the Z-100 LifeLine staff - John Beyers (software), Charles Hett (hardware), and I, the IDE Controller Board was an exciting project and the culmination of many years of hard work. The board enables use of IDE drives on the Z-100. The driving force behind this project was the need to replace the aging, and increasingly difficult to find, MFM hard drives for the Z-100. In addition, the board uses a 512Kb NVsRAM with Real Time Clock (RTC) to boot the computer, removing the need for boot code from the new hard drive, and has plenty of memory for speedy access to other programs. More information can be found at IDE Controller. And don't miss the article on the First Operational IDE Controller in the Z-100. There are a few extra boards remaining. If you are interested, contact me NOW!
The new Z-DOS v4.06 operating system (now on CD-ROM) and MTR-ROM v4.3 are also available separately.
Back Issues of the "Z-100 LifeLine" can now be found on the 'About Z-100 LifeLine' Page
I have been asked to make past issues of the "Z-100 LifeLine" available here on the website. As these would take up quite a bit of space, and since the earlier back issues are already available on CD-ROM, for $20.00 each, I'll place those after issue #120 on the 'About Z-100 LifeLine' page, toward the bottom. When I have enough for a CD-ROM, or if space becomes an issue, I'll burn them to a CD and remove them from the website. So, here on the 'What's New' page, I'll only list the latest few. You can go to the 'About Z-100 LifeLine' page for the earlier editions. Enjoy.
"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'm 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.
The "Z-100 Lifeline" is going Paperless!
Now that I have a new Website, and because the Post Office is getting so bizarre, I have decided to join the rest of society and begin saving some trees. What I intend to do is print up my Z-100 LifeLine newsletter as usual, convert it to a PDF file, and post a link to it here for you to peruse at your leisure (see the above three sections). This will not be on any kind of schedule, so I will notify you by email of a new LifeLine being completed and refer you to this website. I will leave the last three of four here also, in case you missed one. Feel free to look at the rest of the site while you are here, particularly the "For Sale" page. You might see something that was on your Christmas or Birthday Wishlist. Please email me to get on my contacts list, and please advise me of any email changes. That's all it takes.
A New Battery for the Z-100's SmartWatch Real Time Clock
If you have not noticed, the SmartWatch is out of battery power by now!
Charles Hett wrote the article "Substitute Backup Battery for Dallas Semiconductor DS1216E Smartwatch" that we published in issue #124, August 2013, for just such a reason. I'll not publish the procedures here, for safety reasons. It involved grinding away the potting material on the underside of the clock module to disconnect the battery ground and installing a separate external battery, such as a CR2032 coin cell. However, I have since found that all my SmartWatch modules had two batteries. The updated modification was explained in issue #128, given above.
A New ZCLK Calendar/Clock Board for the Z-100!
I mentioned SmartWatch and ZCLK earlier, and we obviously need a new clock calendar for the Z-100. After a brief search, I found that all the important parts of the ZCLK are still available. So I set about designing a new circuit board and have obtained three, so far. But let me first back up and briefly explain about the ZCLK.
The original ZCLK was manufactured in 1984 by FBE Research Company. It installed over the 68A21 Peripheral Interface Adaptor IC (U114) on the Z-100 motherboard, but it would interfere with the installation of the two most popular PC-emulators of the period, EasyPC and Gemini. A later model came with a short flat ribbon connector to offset the ZCLK away from the PC-emulator boards.
As I just mentioned, I've designed a new ZCLK2 with the ribbon cable and found all the necessary parts. I've already successfully tested all three boards and they look and work great. And the coin cell, the popular CR2032, can be replaced! The best part is that I can sell the boards for only $55.00 (includes the shipping costs), and I can order more, any time they are needed, for as long as the parts are available. Click on the images to see them more clearly. Please send me an e-mail if you are interested.
"Z-100 LifeLine" Periodical Index
I have completed updating a comprehensive index to "Z-100 LifeLine" articles covering issues 1 through 128 (present). 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?)
While the website was hosted by Earthlink, I was limited about how much I could do or say and I could not list items that I had for sale (Could not have a business website). Now that I have my own domain, I can spread out my wings and fly! So I have a lot of things that I want to add. One is a For Sale/Wanted page. Over the years I have collected a huge assortment of electronic parts and other items that are taking up space. So I'm going to list them here. If you could use any of this stuff, here's the place to look for it first. I'll also include a price list for all the Z-100 repairs and parts that I have in stock. So click on the link to the right to see if there is anything that interests you.
As I've announced many years ago, our software guru, John Beyers, has left "Z-100 LifeLine" rather suddenly and very unexpectedly. With us since the Z-100's early beginnings and well before my time, he has nearly single-handedly written or modified all the source code for this latest Z-DOS version, the last several monitor ROMs, and the LLSCSI and LLIDE Controller projects. He remains sorely missed and we wish him all the best in his future endeavors...
However, this has created a huge, very critical hole in our organization. I have been gradually trying to learn Assembly and make some sense of his programs, but this has been taking a huge amount of my time. If you have Z-80 or 8080 assembly code experience, have lots of free time on your hands, and would like to opportunity to work for free, we could sure use you. E-mail me with any questions you may have.