To build or not to build - Zenith 80286?

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To build or not to build - Zenith 80286?

Postby cyclone3d » 2018-9-16 @ 02:49

Sooooo.. I received some cards for a Zenith Data Systems setup in a lot of cards I bought.. but no backplane.

The cards use the 124-pin extended ISA looking slot.

Cards I have are:
CPU/memory board with an 80286-8 (85-3261-01)
Memory board (fully populated - 85-3188-01F 022586)
Memory board (85-3260-02 072286)
Video board (85-2945-3 062584)

If I did get a backplane, I would also have to figure out a power supply as it uses a non-standard power supply plug.

And I would also have to hope that the backplane would be able to be mounted in a standard AT rackmount backplane case.

Is that more trouble than it is worth? Should I just sell the cards?
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Re: To build or not to build - Zenith 80286?

Postby Merovign » 2018-9-16 @ 04:04

I'd build it, if I could, but I have a thing for non-major-brand clones and I'm a little crazy.

Maybe try to see if someone out there has the right case, which is a very long shot.
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Re: To build or not to build - Zenith 80286?

Postby pentiumspeed » 2018-9-16 @ 04:13

I'm very familiar with these Zenith back when was big name with major institutions (started worked with computing dept in university from 1998 thru 1990's). Many of the zenith computers are perfect with DOS and win 3.x but they often don't have standard boards in them, except standard ISA slots (either 8 or 16 bits if they have that).

You will need zenith case with this correct backplane to start with. Voltages +5V -5V, +12V and -12V and plenty of grounds, nonstandard PSU plugs, in pinch, solder wires on the backplane to a PCAT style plugs pigtail if Zenith PSU is dead which is fairly common. Functionally-wise perfectly compatible with DOS, floppy drives standard interface, HD pick any and you can choose any hard drive controllers even SCSI. Memory is also Zenth card, for this one, you use DIP dram chips, always parity.

Their Zenith cases is NON-standard, black pointy tipped screws, and HEAVY in everything but slots openings for cards and PSU is also proprietary big way. Even inside PSU is so strangely designed with component that Zenith used house part numbers on the parts. Big bugger to troubleshoot when to fix. Only real cool thing about this is row of red LEDs for the voltage rails on the zenith designed backplane board.

You can leave out the video board and use standard ISA video card and multi i/o cards in place of this video board.

Use cmos setting program similar to PC/AT otherwise use zenith setup program for this.


Cheer! pentiumspeed
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Re: To build or not to build - Zenith 80286?

Postby cyclone3d » 2018-9-16 @ 18:58

Well, I just ordered a backplane. Has 4x of the Zenith type slots, 2x 8-bit ISA and 4x 16-bit ISA.

Also found a PDF manual that shows the wiring for the power supply so I can just hook up an AT or ATX power supply (with AT adapter + -5v).

Will 16-bit ISA cards work in the longer slots? I don't see why they wouldn't as I suspect the wiring would not be different and there is no special keying to keep them from fitting.
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Re: To build or not to build - Zenith 80286?

Postby bakemono » 2018-9-17 @ 05:05

I have a couple of the zenith "long" cards. One is a memory card with 640KB soldered on, the other is an I/O card with serial and parallel ports at the back and an assortment of the usual AT chips (i8037, i8042, etc.). Do you have the I/O card? BTW, don't quote me on this but I remember seeing a 16-bit ISA video card plugged into one of the extended slots, so it probably is compatible.
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Re: To build or not to build - Zenith 80286?

Postby cyclone3d » 2018-9-17 @ 06:20

I don't have a Zenith I/O card, but from what I understand I can use whatever.

The lot did come with an AST Research combo card which has serial, parallel and RAM.
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