Testing a Z80 MBC-2

Last week I bought a new Z80 homebrew computer from Ebay. Its a Z80 based single board computer with 128KB RAM with some optional modules such as a RTC, GPIO expander and SD disk emulator and runs BASIC and CP/M.

Normally I buy these as kits which you solder together yourself. This one came already assembled with FTDI cable and a preinstalled SD Card.

It arrived via signed-for Royal Mail delivery in a small plain brown box. The components inside were sealed in ESD bags and there was a sheet of paper with some brief useful information. I took the computer PCB and carefully attached the SD card and RTC modules. You have to insert the SD card and a CR2032 battery for the RTC. Finally connect the FTDI cable being careful to orient the cable properly to prevent damage.

Once connected to a USB port on a PC, the device shows in device manager as a Silicon Labs CP21-x USB to UART Bridge (COM7)

Use a terminal emulator like Putty. Connect on a COM port (7) and select the baud rate 115200, click open



“My God, Jim, I’m beginning to think I can cure a rainy day!”

Got to work today to find a broken laminator in the office. Someone had fed two thin laminate sheets at once. One wrapped itself around the heated roller and the other got scrunched up inside.

Being an IT technician, I don’t usually repair laminators but thought I would have a go as it was destined for the bin otherwise.

I just managed to take apart the bracket at one end that holds the whole roller mechasim in place. Slipped out the bushings, removed the laminate sheet and then rebuilt.

A few burnt fingers later and its all working again.

LFCC London Film & Comic Con 2019 London Olympia

On the 27th July 2019 we went to our first Comic Con at Olympia. Got there really early so we could get a car park space at the Olympia car park (£27 for 6-10 hours, £37 10+). Then a 1.5 hour queue until it opened at 9.30am. The downstairs hall was full of stalls selling every sort of memorabilia and upstairs is where the guest signings and photos take place.

We made our way to the desk to collect our Diamond pass goodies to be told we needed to go back outside and queue to collect our actual Diamond passes first. A helpful member of staff let us go through a side door and back in again afterwards to save us having to queue to get back in.

Diamond passes cost up to £200+ for each guest celebrity you want to meet. Someone bought me a pass for William Shatner and Darren & Debbie had passes for Tom Ellis, John Barrowman and Jason Mamoa. A Diamond pass gives you one photo with the guest, one autograph of a photo or other object you bring with you, a guest talk, a goodie bag and you get priority in queues to meet the guests.

Olympia quickly became very warm and busy. There are also no seats and we were standing all day for 10 hours before we got a chance to sit down. Some guests arrived a little late increasing queue times but the diamond pass meant I got to the front of the queue. Some guests were more friendly than others. When I met William Shatner he didn’t really say much but I got him to sign my replica communicator on the front in gold pen. Whilst waiting with Debbie to see John Barrowman, I paid extra to get an autograph with Walter Koenig ( he signed the back of the communicator), Robert Picardo and Lee Majors.

The talk with William Shatner was quite intimate with him recalling stories from his many decades as an actor and the audience could ask questions. With the Diamond pass you get a seat at the front of the stage area.

Downstairs we started looking for collectibles and purchased an acrylic case for my Apollo rocket from idisplayit and a replica Predator head signed by Ian Whyte the actor inside the costume in the film. We bought some food which was very expensive – 2 snacks, 2 drinks cost me £22.90!

It was a fantastic day and a chance to meet some actors from film and tv that I grew up with. Next time I would consider a weekend ticket and it was difficult to see everyone and check out all the stalls in one day.