13

I'm wondering if it is possible to buy an sort of device currently in production that uses a z80 compatible CPU - not an FPGA.

I don't want to build a kit or use a soldering iron. I'm also looking for something that is commercially produced rather than a hobby device designed and sold by hobbyists to other hobbyists.

When I say reasonable cost well I guess in the domain of $50 to $80 since the chips cost around $18.

I've searched fairly extensively and there's not much it would seem. The more peripherals the better and bonus points if it had some sort if display output and GPIO.

Ideally something that uses a "modern" Z80 variant such as the eZ80 which runs at 50Mhz.

Anyone seen anything along these lines? I've seen the Ti 84 calculators but it appears the operating frequency of these are severely constrained which means I wouldn't be able to run it near the eZ80 50Mhz maximum clock speed.

  • 6
    The TI-84 Plus CE runs an eZ80 at 48 MHz, which is pretty close to 50. They're outside your price range, though, at least in Europe. – Michael Graf May 25 at 10:49
  • 2
    I'm not sure your reasonable price range is. Typical markup for components → commercial device is 3×. So if an eZ80 is $18 and your range is $50-80, you're only allowing a component cost of $16.70–26.70. Your CPU is taking ⅔ of that maximum, and still you need RAM, ROM, logic, interfaces, circuit board, case … – scruss May 25 at 13:22
  • 2
    @MichaelGraf Unfortunately the only ez80's you'll find nowadays are SoCs or microcontrollers. At least, I couldn't find any "true CPU". Would love to be proven wrong. – mid May 25 at 20:56
  • 2
    @mid So what's the problem? They (at least the ones I've checked) still have the complete system bus (address, data, control) available externally, so you should be able to hook up whatever you want. Besides, the original question was for a complete system, "the more peripherals the better"... – Michael Graf May 25 at 21:58
  • 2
    What is your use case? What are you looking to do with such a machine? Most folks using these today are simply hobbyists that enjoy the electronics and interfacing side, or folks trying to run original software (mostly games). – Will Hartung May 26 at 4:25
18

Bill's MinZ180 is tiny, fast, fully assembled, and falls within your price range.

MinZ180.

He may have one or two left, I'm not sure.

| improve this answer | |
  • 2
    In the still-available-but-you-can't-afford-it category, Flite's Micro-Professor MPF-IB may be available at £450 … – scruss May 25 at 13:30
11

It sounds as if your ideal device would be something like a Raspberry Pi, but based on a Z80 rather than an ARM core. The Pi provides a video generator, USB ports for peripherals, GPIO points, and so on. However, the reason Raspberry Pis are so cheap is that they're based on System-on-Chip products that are made in large volumes for other applications.

These days, I really doubt anyone makes Z80-based SoCs with video generators. Commercial applications of 8-bit microprocessors are for smaller and simpler tasks than running a display to modern standards. But there are other ways to get the experience you seem to be after.

The easiest is to buy a Pi and run a Z80 emulator on it. There are several available, including at least one that boots directly on the Pi, without needing the Pi's usual OS as a host. This will run much faster than historical Z80 hardware.

Another way is to make contact with your local maker group or hackspace, find someone who enjoys building computers from kits, and get them to build a kit machine for you.

| improve this answer | |

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.