I’ve always been into older, retro systems since my first home computer the ZX Spectrum 48k, followed by a C64 and on the side using a BBC in college. Yes, that shows my age but that is where I started my love for these systems, Basic programming and games.
The desire to revisit these systems has always been there and you don’t quite get the ‘experience’ with emulation.
Thats why I was excited to finally start investigating Z80 SBCs (more about them in a future artilce) and the RC2014 systems.
Most of the advanced Z80 and similar kits feature some sort of bus system, basically the important address and data bus along with power go to a common bus, then this bus is made available via headers and you can then design various modules that all use a consistent pinout and standard.
The Backplane Pro is one of a couple of Backplanes for the RC2014 range but it is the big gun so to speak
I’ve lifted this image as it gives a nice explanation of some of the features.
When you get the kit you can see its a top quality PCB, if like me you enjoy making up those basic kits online – you quickly appreciate this.
So all the parts are through hole making it a relatively easy soldering job, if you have soldered before. There are a lot of pins to solder when you factor in there are 12 x 40 way headers and also 5 of the expanded bus headers at 23 way. So that comes in well over 500 pins to solder – so patience is a virtue as it will take time.
The rest of the components are easy enough – decoupling caps, DC barrel jack, a toggle switch and a resistor and led combo for displaying power.
There is also an optional are for a 5v regulator and capacitors, if you desire to power your system say with 9v or 12v rather than a regulated 5v supply directly
Compact Flash Module
You have your system and you may want to add some storage – also this is one of the easiest boards in the RC2014 Pro system to assemble. With only five resistors, one capacitor, one led, one chip socket and the edge connector to solder.
There are 2 main options when buying this board
- Standard kit Includes the PCB, headers, socket, chip, resistors etc and the compact flash connector
- Part built kit As standard kit, but the compact flash connector is supplied fitted to the PCB
For me I bought the Part Built Kit as I did not fancy soldering the compact flash connector to the PCB. If you have a steady hand and a lot of patience you may feel differently – as part of the RC2014 Pro kit I bought it was already on.
The CP/M distribution, will support 64MB or 128MB compact flash cards. The difference is just the amount of drives and how they are split
A 64 megabyte card is split into seven eight megabyte drives and one five megabyte drive, available as drives A through to drive H.
A 128 megabyte card is split into 15 eight megabyte drives and one two megabyte drive available as drive A to drive P.
In the days of terabyte drives you may think this is tiny but for the Z80 system it is more than enough
My kit came with a 128MB card with CP/M already installed
I don’t get anything from this but appreciate hard effort and work put in – so if you want to look at the various products on offer, visit