The Zeal 8-Bit Computer Complete Edition Is Everything You Need for Some Retro Zilog Z80 Fun

The "first finalized" version of a project that began back in 2021, the Zeal 8-bit Computer ticks a lot of nostalgic boxes.

Gareth Halfacree
10 days agoRetro Tech / HW101

The Zeal 8-bit Computer, which began in 2021 as a project to celebrate the longevity of the classic Zilog Z80 microprocessor, has now launched in "Complete Edition" form — delivering a working microcomputer, add-on video board, and optional 3D-printed case.

"[The project's] goal is to make a complete homebrew eight-bit computer that keeps the same simplicity of retro microcomputers, like the Commodore 64 or the ZX Spectrum, while providing more recent features like VGA graphics, TF [TransFlash/SD Card] card support or NOR flash storage," the project's pseudonymous creator, who goes by "Zeal 8-bit," explains. "This complete pack represents the first finalized version of Zeal 8-bit Computer."

The Zeal 8-bit Computer is based around the long-lived but now end-of-life Zilog Z80 microprocessor, running at 10MHz to deliver a total performance of around 1.45 million instructions per second (MIPS). There's 256kB of NOR flash memory, upgradeable to 512kB, holding a custom operating system, and a secondary 32kB EEPROM. The system as 512kB of RAM, with 16-bit logical and 22-bit physical addressing.

The original design of the Zeal 8-Bit Computer delivered a single-board computer that was compatible with range of add-ons — including any PS/2-standard keyboard — but lacked the ability to display graphics. The Complete Edition fixes this by adding on an optional FPGA-driven video board, which has 80kB of dedicated RAM and the ability to output an 80×40 text-mode or 320×240/640×480 color bitmap mode over a VGA connector.

The "Complete Edition" comes bundled with an FPGA-powered video board capable of text and graphics modes. (📹: Zeal 8-bit)

To finish, and to get the project closer to its creator's vision of the device as as "real product," the Complete Edition can also be ordered with a 3D-printed enclosure in a range of colors — and those opting to protect their system thusly will also receive a free capacitive touch sensor for their troubles, Zeal 8-Bit says, installed in the lid.

The Zeal 8-Bit Computer is available to order now on the official Tindie store at $180; the cases start at an extra $9.90 for basic PLA, $12.90 for metallic silk PLA, or $15.90 for a white resin variant. Additional information is available on the project website. Project source code, meanwhile, is available on GitHub under the permissive Apache 2.0 license.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
Latest articles
Sponsored articles
Related articles
Latest articles
Read more
Related articles