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Z100 Lifeline  - IDE Controller Board

This board was an answer to the wide verity of IDE hard disks that became cheap and abundant in year 2000 and beyond.

IDE Board

The board was designed an put together by a group of guys that have worked together as a user group with the Heath/Zenith Z-100 system that go under the name Z100-Lifeline.  They are still active and can be contacted here.

The Z100 IDE Interface is a multifunction S-100 board designed for the Heath/Zenith Z-100 Series computer but in reality could be used with most S-100 systems. It provides the following features:-

IDE interface
An interface from the Z-100 S-100 computer bus to the industry standard IDE hard drive interface. This allows you to connect up to four standard IDE drives which are much more available than the old MFM hard drives originally supported S-100 HD Controller boards. DMA capabilities, however, are not supported. Solid state memory devices, such as compact flash cards, that use the IDE interface can also be usable.

The circuit design utilizes a complex programmable logic device (CPLD) from Altera for all of the control circuitry. This programmable device was chosen because it made development easier and hopefully more reliable. It also required less power. Altera was chosen because the development tools were readily available from their web site.

Non-Volatile Static RAM
A bootable Non-Volatile Static RAM (NVsRAM) device is also present. This nonvolatile memory storage device, based on the Texas Instruments bq4850 programmable NVsRAM, can be programmed at any time without removing it from the board. The NVsRAM device is fully bootable and can contain up to 512k of user selectable programs or files, making it an excellent choice for holding the CPM or DOS boot up files. The bq4850 has an onboard real time clock and an internal battery for memory retention. There are no special programming voltage required so programming is greatly simplified with no special timing routines required.

A breakout switch to enable program analysis using the Z-100's enhanced Monitor ROM utilities from the hand prompt or the DEBUG utility.

Prototype Area
A prototype area for adding your own options. One idea is to add a second NVsRAM chip selected by means of a toggle switch.

The board has two IDE 40 pin connectors allowing up to 4 IDE drives to be connected.  The S-100 bus (pre -IEEE-696) is an 8 bit data bus. The IDE is 16 bits wide.  The onboard Aktera  converts the odd/even data to 16 bits for transfer to the IDE drive.

There is a large amount of documentation for this board at the Lifelines Web site. See here.
A description of the board can be obtained here.
The schematic for this board can be obtained here.
A description of how the Altera CPLD was programmed can be obtained here.
An example of a BIOS for PC-DOC can be obtained here and here.
I intend to write a CPM driver for this very useful board in the future. If anybody is interested please see
the following useful pieces of information. Connecting to IDE Drives and Basics of an IDE Interface


Z100 Lifelines S-100 Boards
IDE Controller Board


This page was last modified on 10/25/2013