Avalon Hill Games ported to the Z-100 CP/M platform
Greetings and Happy New Year, Z-100 Brothers!
It’s been a while since my last update, but I have not been idle in my Z-100 affairs. Why not meet the new year with some authentic Avalon Hill games released specifically for the Z-100 platform! The Z-100 software archives now contain four classic Avalon Hill games that were ported to the Z-100 series CP/M platform:
Stocks & Bonds
Telengard – love this game!
B-1 Nuclear Bomber
The game manuals have been scanned to pdf files and are in the .zip files. To play the games on a Z-100, do the following:
Prepare a Z-100 CP/M formatted floppy disk
Unzip a selected game file
Use a terminal program to transfer the individual files to a CP/M-formatted floppy on your Z-100 – do NOT transfer the .pdf files.
Launch MBasic (included in the .zip files)
Type “run <filename> where filename will be something like b1 or gard. You don’t need to specify the .bas suffix.
Enjoy your game!
Update 12/31/15: I’ve added ImageDisk files (.IMD) of each game to the respective game .zip files to support those who don’t have serial connections to their Z-100, but have a PC capable of writing floppies with ImageDisk.
Gemini Board: Photo courtesy of Steven Vagts of Z-100 LifeLine
The Gemini Board was a PC emulator circuit board designed to plug into the Z-100 motherboard and provide better IBM-PC compatibility mainly at the BIOS level. The board had a separate 8088 processor dedicated to handling BIOS and video compatibility. You transferred your Z-100’s 8088 onto the Gemini board and also routed the video cable through the board so the Gemini could plug directly into the Z-100’s 8088 socket and video connector to provide both pass-through and IBM-PC modes of operation. You could also add an optional 8087 math coprocessor to the Gemini for even better compatibility and speed.
I first acquired an old Gemini board on eBay and bought it “at risk.” Unfortunately, it was DOA. Since most of the chips on the Gemini are soldered in place, there’s not much you can do with a bad board. That’s when Steven from Z-100 Lifeline stepped up and offered to replace my Gemini board with a fully tested and functional unit – thank you Steve!. Installing the Gemini board and figuring out its internals took some time and there are a few gotchas to watch out for which I’ll talk about in my next article on using the board.
The stock fan inside of the Z-100 power supply is a 12 volt Panasonic Panaflo FBP-08B12H with an airflow rating of 32.9 CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute). The acoustical noise rating is a stunning 39 dbA! While the stock fan moves a lot of air, it also sounds like a train engine in the process. The fan noise is probably the biggest complaint of the Z-100. Luckily, PC component mechanical specifications haven’t changed much over the years. A standard 80x80x25 mm fan can be used as a drop-in replacement for the Panaflo with just a minor connector modification required.
After months of 19.2K and 38.4k serial data transfers, I now present to you a Z-100 software and manual archive like no other on the Internet. The bulk of my Z-100 manuals have been scanned and OCR’d and all 232 5 1/4″ and 8″ disks have been digitally archived for posterity. Most of this software has never been available online until now. We’re talking ZDOS, CP/M, CP/M3, CP/M-86 and even Concurrent CP/M software for the Z-100. See the 00Index.htm files in the various directories for detailed descriptions. I’ll be converting some of the system disks into ImageDisk format in the near future so people can make their own boot disks (I mainly need to do this for Concurrent CP/M).
A special thanks to Bill Adney for providing the bulk of the software and manuals for this archive.
Posted inZ-100, Blog|Comments Off on The Definitive Z-100 Software and Manual Archive Now Online
With my collection of CP/M systems growing, I decided to make my high speed version of IMP platform independent. I’ve removed the hardware-specific code from the main program but kept the code changes to support baud rate tables up to 115k. This means you can apply any existing IMP overlay now as long as you sequence your baud steps in this manner:
Establishing a serial link in CP/M 2.2 was a little bit more challenging than on the ZDOS side of things. There were no CP/M terminal programs on disk so I had to download a CP/M terminal program with a ZDOS client first onto a DOS floppy, then use a program called COPYDOS to copy from the DOS floppy over to a CP/M-formatted floppy. COPYDOS can only read DOS 2.0 formatted so I had to find and boot a DOS 2.0 floppy in order to format a DOS 2.0 scratch disk for the transfer. Once all of that was done, I had a working native CP/M 2.2 terminal program and could begin investigating and modifying the existing terminal programs to get the best speed possible with the technology. The Z-100’s UART chip is a Motorola MC2661B (aka 2661-2). The data sheet for the 2661 is contained in the appendices of the Z-100 Technical manual (gotta love Zenith’s great documentation). The 2661 is limited to a maximum baud rate of 38400 bps but the transfer rates are more determined by how optimized the terminal programs are. After a little bit of Assembly hacking, I’ve optimized two CP/M terminal programs, IMP and MEX, for 38400 baud data rates. I used the same techniques to optimize IMP and MEX that I used for the PCPI high speed serial I/O card on my Apple IIe a couple of years ago.
With a fully functional Z-100, the next step was to configure one of the Z-100’s serial ports to interface with my MacBook Pro laptop so that I could begin transferring files between the two systems. I wanted to be able to both archive the old data off of the 5 1/4″ and 8″ floppies and also download new software to the Z-100. Having already linked up two 80s-era computers with serial cables previously (an Apple II and a Kaypro) and also having designed my own high speed serial port board for my Apple II’s CP/M card, I didn’t think the well-documented Z-100 would be that difficult. The one issue that might complicate matters would be not having a terminal program already on floppy. After combing though hundreds of 5 1/4″ and 8″ floppies I eventually discovered one lone 8″ disk with some communications software for ZDOS. There were two terminal programs on the disk: Access by Hilgraeve Corporation and Pro Driver by Studio Companies. Using these programs, I was able to download and compile Kermit which is one of the best file transfer applications available for older computers. There is a Kermit build for the CP/M-80 side of the Z-100 as well. That will be my next project.