Introduction

Ah, another retrochallenge is upon us! The summer days are warm, the summer nights are light, but the day is about 12 hours too short.

No matter, we're here to do as much as we can without wholy neglecting our 'day lives'.

I feel like I've been on a bit of a retro-trip for the past few months. I threw a very successful weekend-bash for people interested in DEC gear, and then a couple of weekends ago exhibited some DEC gear at the first UK Vintage Computer Festival at Bletchley Park.

My thoughts about what I fancied doing have bounced around a bit. What I ended up thinking was to implement some kind of lunar lander game come simulation. The target device, language and operating system have yet to be decided.

In the meantime, at the VCF-GB event, I cast my beady eye over a number of retro computers and my interest was captured by the Cambridge Z88. I never really wanted one when they were originally on the market, and subsequently I'd always thought them somewhat inferior because of the rubber keyboard. Anyway, it came down to the Z88 or a Tandy 102, and my bid on the Z88 won. I got the machine today, so I've only managed to give a cursory glance. However, what I can confirm is the keyboard is actually a real pleasure to type on and, out of the box, I was happily touch typing in no time.

My plan is to use the Z88 as my tool for documentation. In order to do this I need a serial cable. My investigations into the pinouts have revealed only half the answer - a section listing corrections to the Z88 manual gave a pinout for a Z88 to PC DB-25 cable, but as I'm going to be plugging it into a more modern PC I needed a pinout for a Z88 to DB9 cable. Break out the pen and paper, squiggly lines and I've come up with a plan:

Z88
PC
2
2
3
3
4
8
5
7
7
5
8
4
9
6 & 1

So I now need to find a DB9 Male connector (for the Z88 end) and a DB9 Female connector (for the PC end). I was hoping to get away with using some DB9 to CAT-5 adapters and working out how to crimp the cable (rather than having to resort to soldering) but alas that hasn't worked out. Time to root through the parts bins...