NorthStar Advantage

Introduction

NorthStar Advantage PC

The Advantage was a high end Z80 machine produced by NorthStar. It has 64k of RAM and a bitmap display supported by 20k of video RAM. As standard it comes equiped with two floppy drives although a hard disk version is also available.

Emulation

Download the Advantage emulator pack and expand it in your home directory.

The command xbeaver advantage.cfg emulates the floppy version and the command xbeaver advantage.cfg -o H emulates the hard disk version.

Note that the distributions use CCPZ to replace the (rather naf) command processor for CP/M.

The floppy system has the image of the CCP overwritten with CCPZ on track 0 of the boot disk.

For the hard disk system the startup command is patched to CCPZ T-NET NOP to install CCPZ followed by T-NET with network drives N:, O:, P:.

Networking

The emulated system uses t-net to "network" to the unix host. As distributed the network drives are N:, O:, P:. These network drives maybe used to transfer files between a NorthStar Advantage and the unix host.

It is also possible to network a real NorthStar Advantage. To do this perform the following setup steps:-

  1. Install a serial card into the NorthStar Advantage Slot 2.
  2. Connect this interface to a serial port on a linux system.
  3. Copy the file fileserver.cfg into your home directory on the linux machine and modify it to change the baud rate from 9600 to 19200. In also check that the serial port is correct (by default this is /dev/ttyS0).
  4. In addition check that you have access to the serial port device - if not run chmod as root to set the access
  5. Send the file T-NET.HEX to the advantage - using PIP on the advantage and a terminal program on a Windows/Linux System
  6. On the advantage issue the command load T-NET to create T-NET.COM.

Now the network is setup to start do the following:-

  1. Power up the NorthStar advantage - but do not boot.
  2. Start the fileserver on the linux box with the command xbeaver fileserver.cfg
  3. Boot the NorthStar Advantage by pressing return.
  4. Run the command T-NET NOP on the advantage to start the network redirector.
  5. Network Drives N: O: P: Should now be available.
  6. The command T-NET R removes the network redirector.