Friday, August 18, 2023

ZX81 Bus Extender: The Expansion Board Solution

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Adding expansion boards to the back of a ZX81 is always a slightly terrifying business, a fear compounded with each consecutive item tacked behind the little wedge.

The wobbly expansion of expansions is a near unsolvable problem when using off the (distant in time and space) shelf products, however, when building our own expansions there's really no need to suffer. What's the answer to the wibbly wobbly's? Why a decently designed Bus Extender board and case of course.

ZX81 Bus Extender with an Assortment of Add-ons

We're not embarking on a wheel-reinventing adventure here. The concept of a Bus Extender isn't a groundbreaking discovery; Over the past four decades, resourceful enthusiasts have crafted their versions for the ZX80 and 81. The only hiccup? Laying your hands on one. But behold the magic of our modern age: securing your very own Bus Extender is a breeze. A simple solution? Just place an order for a PCB at any of the numerous fabrication houses like JLCPCB, PCBWAY or AISLER. Now, of course, you'll need something to order, and lo and behold, we've got you covered with the ZX81 Bus Extender gerber files conveniently linked below. Your expansion dreams are just a click away!

Refer to for details
Maplin Bus Extender Interface (available at one point in the UK)

The Extender boasts a well-thought-out design, strategically accommodating up to three expansion cards and further expansion possible behind (Think ZXpand or similar). Its layout incorporates a three row hole arrangement on the printed circuit board, with ZX81 BUS 1a duplicated twice, offering the flexibility to house either two-row expansion headers or card slots – you know, the same kind that snugly attach to your trusty ZX81. This Extender knows how to cater to your every expansion whim. You'll require at least one expansion header to attach the thing to a ZX81 or ZX80, and  additional headers of your own choosing for accomodate the expansion cards.

zx81 bus extender / expansion edge connetor
ZX81 Adventures 3x3 Bus Extender

Naturally, a bus extender isn't fully dressed without its cosy enclosure. Picture it nestled within a polished case, a snug retreat ensures seamless operation, cradling expansion cards of your creation. The case boasts an elegantly simple design, seamlessly complementing your ZX81's rear. Oh, and don't forget those rubber feet (12.5mm*12.5mm*3mm(L*W*H)) – they elevate both style and stability, and some M3 screws to hold it together.

zx81 bus extender / expansion edge connetor in 3d printed case
ZX81 Adventures 3x3 Bus Extender in Handy Dany Case with Cards

Project Files

If you find these files useful, flip me coffee or beer etc.

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