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Z90-Control Version 2 Release
 
30 March 2007

If you use the automatic K2 mode-to-custom IF linkage in Z90-Control release 2, you may wish to manually edit the Z90.INI file to add comments to the IF frequencies. Or, for that matter, you may wish to edit the INI file for other reasons.

For compatibility with Windows Vista, the INI file is no longer located in the same directory as the executable file. Rather it is in C:\Documents and Settings\<NAME>\ Application Data\ directory. <Name> is the name you use to log onto the computer. (The waterfall color file Z90-Colors.txt is in the same directory.)

The exact directory can be found with Window's Search function by looking for Z90.INI. However, as a report from a Z90 owner reminded me, files such as Z90.INI may be masked or hidden in Windows XP, as in its infinite wisdom, Microsoft makes it difficult for you to search for or find this directory in Windows XP's normal setup, as these are considered "hidden files or folders."

I recommend you change the display option to show hidden files and folders. To do this, open Windows Explorer and then select TOOLS | FOLDER OPTIONS menu. This will show a dialog box. Select the VIEW tab and you should see the following display.

 


Under the Hidden Files and Folders item, select "Show Hidden files and folders."  I also recommend un-checking the "Hide extensions for known file types" option.

To apply this universally to all files and folders (directories) on your computer, select the "Apply to All Folders" button at the top of the dialog box.

This change will apply to future searches.
 

28 March 2007

I am releasing Z90-Control, version 2.01 today. This modifies 2.0 to add "turbo mode." To use Turbo Mode, you must re-flash the firmware to version 609 or later. Firmware version 609 is available on this page under the Firmware section.

I've also added additional RS232 link error detection code to 2.01 and hence I recommend all users install Z90-Control version 2.01.

 The Z91 and Z90 have always shared common firmware, because the customer base is just too small to make it reasonable to keep track of separate firmware versions and also to provide an upgrade path should a user decide to add the LCD and other parts to convert a Z91 to a Z90.

Although these are logical reasons, my decision meant that Z91 owners were presented with slower sweep speeds than necessary, as screen clearing and writing consume significant firmware resources . At the request of W1BNC, I developed an experimental Z91 firmware release that bypassed LCD writing, approximately doubling the sweep speed. After mentioning this, several Z90 owners asked if they could also run the firmware release. Although possible, it would be burdensome to say the least to have to re-flash the Z90 firmware every time one wanted to run in turbo mode or return to normal operation.

To shorten this story, I've returned to a single firmware release for both the Z90 and Z91, but with LCD bypass code. Hence, regardless of whether you have a Z90 or Z91, you will be able to run turbo mode. Of course, if you have a Z90, during turbo mode operation the LCD will not update and you must rely upon the computer display.

I recommend that all Z91 owners download and install the new firmware and operate in Turbo Mode and Z90-Control version 2.01. Z90 owners may wish to install the new firmware as well, whether they use it or not. It is not, however, mandatory for either Z90 or Z91 owners.

Z90-Control 2.01 is supplied as an installer program. If you have modified the Z90-Color file, it should remain intact. Likewise, your Z90.INI file should also remain intact.

Turbo mode is not a "sticky" option, and must be selected every time Z90-Control is started. This is an intentional safety measure to prevent inadvertently leaving it engaged and causing the Z90 display to freeze without the operator understanding why. Hence, Z91 users will need to remember to engage Turbo Mode when starting Z90-Control, every time.

The release consists of two files; an installation file Z90_201setup.exe and the compressed program file disk 1.pak. You may install this over top of Z90 release 2.0.

I've also made a PDF version of the 2.01 help file, which you may download by clicking here.


23 March 2007
I am releasing Z90-Control, version 2.0 today. This is a complete re-write, top to bottom, in Borland Turbo Delphi 2006.

Z90 Control version 2.0 implements a number of useful new features, including:

  • Windows Vista compatibility. Z90 Control version 2 is compatible with Microsoft's Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Vista operating systems. Earlier operating systems are not supported.
  • Faster screen redraws. Version 2.0 has been rewritten from scratch in Borland Turbo Delphi version 2006.
  • New waterfall display mode; provides a 350 line history of previous data sweeps.
  • Amplitude versus frequency mode can be displayed in either line (oscilloscope) mode or bar graph mode
  • User-editable features include line color, line thickness, font selection and background color.
  • Elecraft K2 integration, including frequency readout and "jump to" frequency mode allowing you to click the mouse on either display mode and see the actual RF frequency. Then, clicking on a button will automatically tune your K2 to that frequency.
  • Context sensitive help, with individual help screens, keyed to the active control.
  • The release consists of two files; an installation file and the compressed program file .

    [I've withdrawn these links and files as 2.01 has replaced 2.0]

    I've also made a PDF version of the help file, which you may download by clicking here.

    To install Release 2.0, download both files by clicking on the links above. Save these files to a temporary directory, and execute the setup program. It will then launch a typical Windows installation screen sequence as shown below. |
     

     

     

     
     
    I recommend that you do not delete the old Z90-Control version 1 until you have verified that Version 2 works with your computer installation.

    When you first run Z90-Control version 2, you will need to set up the communications port. And, if you wish to use the automatic Elecraft K2 linking functions, you will need to set up those features as well.
     

    In addition, if you are using a Z91, you may wish to consider downloading and installing the new Z91-only firmware release. It speeds up sweep speed by nearly 2:1. This release will NOT work with a Z90, and is for Z91 users only.

    Please report any problems with the installation or operation.

     
    Z90-Control Update

    13 December 2006
    The 09 Nov 2006 updates posted below require you to add two files to your existing installation and to replace one file. I've received one report of a user experiencing difficulty after completing this process, so I've decided to post a complete ZIP installation file of all the programs associated with Z90-Control. If you have a problem just updating the three files, you can un-install the complete Z90-Control program and install the ZIP file package. To download the ZIP'ed version of Z90-Control with installation software, click here.

    If you have already installed the three updated files of 09 November 2006, there is no reason to do anything more; this ZIP file has no new features or fixes.

    09 Nov 2006 Update.
    The 09 Nov 2006 Update is available for downloading. It adds an on-line help file to Z90-Control. The update consists of three files, zipped into one for download. To download, click here.

    Use the following steps to install the update:

    1. Download the update and save it on your hard drive. If Z90-Control is running, shut it down.
    2. Using Windows Explorer, go to the directory in which you have installed the Z90-Control software. Normally this will be c:\program files\Z90-Control.  Locate the file Z90-Control.tkn. Re-name this file Z90-Control.OLD.
    3. Open the ZIP file you saved in Step 1. You should see three files:
       
    1. Copy these files to the directory in which you have installed the Z90-Control program.
    2. Launch Z90-Control and click on HELP | HELP and the on-line help should appear.
    3. If the new Z90-Control program runs properly, you may delete Z90-Control.OLD.

    If you have problems with this update, you may revert to the older version by deleting the newly installed Z90-Control.tkn file and renaming Z90-Control.OLD back to Z90-Control.tkn.

    If you have problems with this installation, please contact Clifton Laboratories via e-mail at the address at the top of the page.

     
     
    Z90 Firmware Update
     
    04 November 2007

    I am releasing a Z90 (not recommended for the Z91) firmware update, version 610. Version 610 implements a "sweep reversal" option, addressing the frequency inversion found in the IF output of many receivers and transceivers, including Elecraft's K2 on most frequency bands.

    The sweep direction may be set either via the Z90's soft keys or through RS232 command. The sweep direction is NOT integrated with Z90 Control software.

    Firmware release 610 release notes (PDF format) are available by clicking here.

    Click here to download firmware release 610.

    If you are updating from version 609 or 608, you do not have to re-enter the custom IF, or calibration factors, provided that you uncheck the Program Data option when using the Micro Code loader.

    If the Program Data box is checked, your time base calibration, callsign, custom IF and custom span values will be overwritten with default values. So, make sure that Micro Code loader's Options | Program Data box is unchecked.

    The Micro Code loader program, and detailed instructions on updating your Z90/91's flash memory was provided on the CD-ROM distributed with your kit.

     
     
    28 March 2007

    I am releasing a consolidated Z90/Z91 firmware release, version 609. This release may be used in both the Z90 and Z91. It implements an optional Turbo Mode that disables the LCD write functions in exchange for significantly increased scan speed.

    Turbo mode is enabled by sending a plus sign + to the Z90 and is disabled by sending a minus sign - to the Z90. (Z91 is identical, of course.)

    I recommend that Z91 owners install the new firmware and use it in conjunction with Z90-Control version 2.01.

    Click here to download firmware release 609.

    If you are updating from version 607, 606, 605 or 1607, you do not have to re-enter the custom IF, or calibration factors, provided that you uncheck the Program Data option when using the Micro Code loader.

    If the Program Data box is checked, your time base calibration, callsign, custom IF and custom span values will be overwritten with default values. So, make sure that Micro Code loader's Options | Program Data box is unchecked.

    The Micro Code loader program, and detailed instructions on updating your Z90/91's flash memory was provided on the CD-ROM distributed with your kit.

     
     
    23 March 2007

    I am releasing an optional firmware update for Z91 users only.

    This release, version 1607, speeds up all sweep rates by a significant factor, by removing all code related to LCD writing. Consequently, DO NOT INSTALL THIS RELEASE IN A Z90!.

    No other changes are made in the code.

    Using version 1607 with Z90-Control, release 1.0 will show screen flickering and other potentially objectionable artifacts. Consequently, I highly recommend Z91 users use firmware 1607 only with Z90-Control version 2.0.

    Click here to download firmware release 1607. If you are updating from version 607, 606 or 605, you do not have to re-enter the custom IF, or calibration factors, provided that you uncheck the Program Data option when using the Micro Code loader.

    If the Program Data box is checked, your time base calibration, callsign, custom IF and custom span values will be overwritten with default values. So, make sure that Micro Code loader's Options | Program Data box is unchecked.

    The Micro Code loader program, and detailed instructions on updating your Z90/91's flash memory was provided on the CD-ROM distributed with your kit.

     
     
    27 November 2006 Update

    The 27 November 2006 Firmware Update, Z90_606.hex is available for downloading. It makes the following changes:

    • Revised the Z90's softkey delay procedures for Custom IF, Custom Span and Generate Frequency to make it easier to select digits and set their values. Earlier releases tended to advance a digit as soon as you released the switch. The behavior is much more user friendly in version 606.
    • Changed the vertical position automatic repeat to 5 dB/step. Earlier versions increased the vertical trace position in 1 dB steps, changing to 10 dB steps if the soft key were held in for an extended time. The large scale step is now 5 dB instead of 10 dB.
    • The software version is sent over the RS232 line at power up.

    Click here to download Z90_606.hex. Although the release applies to both the Z90 and Z91, Z91 users will not be affected by the first two changes, as the behavior is related only to the graphics display screen.

    Please follow the download and installation instructions provided for the 10 November 2006 update.

    It is not necessary to reload the EEPROM (program data) if you are updating from version 605 or 602. If you are updating from an earlier release, you should reload the EEPROM (program data)  when flashing the new firmware release. The EEPROM data is written to the Z90 when the Options | Program Data box is checked in MicroCode Loader.

    Writing new EEPROM data via the Program Data box requires you to re-enter your callsign, recalibrate the filters and re-calibrate the master time base and re-enter any custom IF frequencies and custom spans.

    .

    To load EEPROM data, check the "Program Data" box in MIcroCode Loader's OPTIONS menu as shown at the right.

    If you wish to retain the current EEPROM data, make sure that the "Program Data" box is unchecked.

     
     
    22 November 2006 Update

    The 22 November 2006 Firmware Update, Z90_605.hex, is available for downloading. It makes the following changes:

    • Decreases the time between power-on and the five second count-down sequence from 1 second to 200 milliseconds. This will reduce the annoying screen flash when powering up the Z90.
    • Displays the firmware release number during the five second count-down sequence.

    Click here to download Z90_605.hex. This release applies to both the Z90 and Z91. However, the two revisions will not be perceptible to Z91 users as they relate to the graphics display.

    Please follow the download and installation instructions provided for the 10 November 2006 update. It is not necessary to reload the EEPROM data.

    Note: 605 replaces 604 that was available briefly today. Version 604 has a bug and should not be used. If you have downloaded and installed version 604, please replace it with 605.

     

    10 November 2006 Update

    The 10 Nov 2006 Firmware Update, Z90_602.hex, is available for downloading. It changes one of the pre-defined IF frequencies from 4914 KHz to 4915 KHz, for better compatibility with the K2 transceiver. This firmware release matches the change to 4915 KHz made in the 09 Nov 2006 Z90-Control release. (The frequency change in the Z90-Control program is cosmetic only; the stock IF frequencies are hard coded into the Z90's firmware.)

    Click here to download Z90_602.hex. This release applies to both the Z90 and Z91.

    Click on the download link with your RIGHT mouse button (rather than the left). If you are using Microsoft Internet Explorer, you will need to choose 'Save Target As' in the popup menu, if using Mozilla Firefox, then choose 'Save Link As'.

    The precise frequency in any particular K2 will not be 4914 or 4915 KHz, and for maximum accuracy, you may wish to define a custom IF frequency that matches your particular K2. Note, however, that the K2's design will slightly shift the Z90's display as different modes are selected. This is inherent in the K2's design.

    Use the following steps to install the update:

    1. Download the update and save it to your hard drive.
    2. On the CD-ROM supplied with your Z90, locate the loader program, mcloader.exe in the directory Firmware & Loader.
    3. In the Firmware & Loader directory, you will find the instruction sheet Firmware Updates.pdf. Read this for detailed instructions on installing the revised firmware.
    4. It is not necessary to reload the EEPROM, thereby preserving any custom IF frequencies or span settings that you may have made. To prevent overwriting the EEPROM, when running mcloader.exe, make sure the Program Data box is not checked.
    5. If you experience problems after reflashing the Z90's firmware the original firmware is provided in the CD-ROM and may be restored using the same procedure.

    If you have any problems with this installation, please contact Clifton Laboratories via e-mail at the address at the top of the page.

     
    Z100 Firmware Source Code

    The Z100's firmware source code is available

    Release 1.0 code is here
    Release 2.1 code is here
    Release 2.2 code is here. Version 2.2 Release notes are here.

    This code is provided for the use by Z100 owners in maintaining and modifying their Z100's and for general educational purposes. No other use of the source code is permitted.

    Version 2.2 makes the following changes

    Version 2.1 makes the following changes:

    • New "single tone" mode. This new mode allows the Z100 to act similarly to the PLL-type single tone detector. When tuned to the desired frequency, one of the green center LEDs will flash in sequence with the incoming CW. When incorrectly tuned, the LEDs stay blank. The detection bandwidth is 50 Hz, but you can change this, if you wish to modify the firmware code. This mode is engaged when the Memory Address switch is set to position "0."
    • Slightly narrowed low pass filter for the normal multi-LED mode.
    • Off-frequency display will not illuminate the far right LED. When listening with a wide bandwidth, such as LSB or USB mode, most of the audio energy is above the maximum displayable frequency, and will cause the Z100 to illuminate the rightmost LED, as a visual cue. I've received requests from a couple of Z100 users to change this display operation. Now, an out-of-range audio signal will not illuminate an LED.
    • The start-up sequence now blinks the current software revision number, with the major release (2) being shown to the left of center and the minor release number (1) being shown to the right of center.