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Re: [ORE_bits] OT: 386 embedded PC

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  • aaron
    ... The flash disks can be used to boot from. The issue with them was that they point the wrong way . They point towards the ISA connector on those 386
    Message 1 of 14 , Jul 1, 2003
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      Ken McKinnon wrote:

      > I have two of those '386 units, so I have two flash modules. They
      > appear to be 2 mb each. I was thinking of stacking them if required.
      > But as I recall, I remember some issues on using the flash modules.
      > Do you use them at all? What were the issues? Can they be used to
      > boot the unit?

      The flash disks can be used to boot from. The issue with them was that
      they point the 'wrong way'. They point towards the ISA connector on
      those 386 boards, rather than away from it. This means that when the
      flash card is installed, you aren't able to use the ISA extender board.
      The trick is to built a small converter which puts the flash disk out at
      a 90 degree angle.

      Stacking them likely won't work. If I am not mistaken, they work by
      placing some code into the PCs boot code. When the PC boots, it runs
      this code which lets the PC boot from the flash disk, as well as have
      the various routines needed to read/write from the flash disk. Stacking
      two of them would mean that they conflict with each other. They might
      just end up running in parallel.

      A nicer solution is some of the stuff that peewee linux sells :
      http://www.peeweelinux.com/products.html#cf40 For 30 bucks canadian (+
      a compactflash cart), you can have a flash based IDE drive. Compactflash
      carts are pretty cheap (32M for less than $32 canadian), and then you'd
      have a boatload of room to put a real linux distro.

      > But the big question of the night is "So are we going to see one of the
      > '386 boards on one of your robotic creations?"

      If you can believe it, I have FIVE of those embedded 386 computers
      kicking around. <grin> They keep teasing me. As soon as I finally built
      a large enough frame, I'm definitely going to be using them. The only
      bummer with them is the large current draw in comparison to a
      microcontroller. Normal sized batteries would drain fairly quick. If I
      remember right, it was somewhere between 1/2 and a full amp of draw. The
      exact numbers are hidden in the ORE_BITS archives.

      Aaron
    • Albert den Haan
      Do we have Linux kernel driver code for the ISA extender board yet? This may be my chance to do some Kernel hacking :) Albert. P.S. No I wouldn t want to get
      Message 2 of 14 , Jul 1, 2003
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        Do we have Linux kernel driver code for the ISA extender board yet?
        This may be my chance to do some Kernel hacking :)

        Albert.

        P.S. No I wouldn't want to get my hands on a example, no that wouldn't
        be it at all...

        aaron wrote:

        > Ken McKinnon wrote:
        >
        > > I have two of those '386 units, so I have two flash modules. They
        > > appear to be 2 mb each. I was thinking of stacking them if required.
        > > But as I recall, I remember some issues on using the flash modules.
        > > Do you use them at all? What were the issues? Can they be used to
        > > boot the unit?
        >
        > The flash disks can be used to boot from. The issue with them was that
        > they point the 'wrong way'. They point towards the ISA connector on
        > those 386 boards, rather than away from it. This means that when the
        > flash card is installed, you aren't able to use the ISA extender board.
        > The trick is to built a small converter which puts the flash disk out at
        > a 90 degree angle.
        >
        > Stacking them likely won't work. If I am not mistaken, they work by
        > placing some code into the PCs boot code. When the PC boots, it runs
        > this code which lets the PC boot from the flash disk, as well as have
        > the various routines needed to read/write from the flash disk. Stacking
        > two of them would mean that they conflict with each other. They might
        > just end up running in parallel.
        >
        > A nicer solution is some of the stuff that peewee linux sells :
        > http://www.peeweelinux.com/products.html#cf40 For 30 bucks canadian (+
        > a compactflash cart), you can have a flash based IDE drive. Compactflash
        > carts are pretty cheap (32M for less than $32 canadian), and then you'd
        > have a boatload of room to put a real linux distro.
        >
        > > But the big question of the night is "So are we going to see one of the
        > > '386 boards on one of your robotic creations?"
        >
        > If you can believe it, I have FIVE of those embedded 386 computers
        > kicking around. <grin> They keep teasing me. As soon as I finally built
        > a large enough frame, I'm definitely going to be using them. The only
        > bummer with them is the large current draw in comparison to a
        > microcontroller. Normal sized batteries would drain fairly quick. If I
        > remember right, it was somewhere between 1/2 and a full amp of draw. The
        > exact numbers are hidden in the ORE_BITS archives.
        >
        > Aaron
      • Ken McKinnon
        ... You mean that they sit female connector to female connector, requiring a M/M converter? (and a right angle one?) ... [Non-text portions of this message
        Message 3 of 14 , Jul 1, 2003
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          aaron wrote:

          > Ken McKinnon wrote:
          >
          > > I have two of those '386 units, so I have two flash modules. They
          > > appear to be 2 mb each. I was thinking of stacking them if required.
          > > But as I recall, I remember some issues on using the flash modules.
          > > Do you use them at all? What were the issues? Can they be used to
          > > boot the unit?
          >
          You mean that they sit female connector to female connector, requiring a
          M/M converter? (and a right angle one?)

          > The flash disks can be used to boot from. The issue with them was that
          > they point the 'wrong way'. They point towards the ISA connector on
          > those 386 boards, rather than away from it. This means that when the
          > flash card is installed, you aren't able to use the ISA extender board.
          > The trick is to built a small converter which puts the flash disk out at
          > a 90 degree angle.
          >
          > Stacking them likely won't work. If I am not mistaken, they work by
          > placing some code into the PCs boot code. When the PC boots, it runs
          > this code which lets the PC boot from the flash disk, as well as have
          > the various routines needed to read/write from the flash disk. Stacking
          > two of them would mean that they conflict with each other. They might
          > just end up running in parallel.

          >
          > A nicer solution is some of the stuff that peewee linux sells :
          > http://www.peeweelinux.com/products.html#cf40 For 30 bucks canadian (+
          > a compactflash cart), you can have a flash based IDE drive. Compactflash
          > carts are pretty cheap (32M for less than $32 canadian), and then you'd
          > have a boatload of room to put a real linux distro.


          > I did see this one, although it wasn't a peeweelinux product, the
          > prices and product are similar. It appears that it would make a good
          > low power/no moving parts system. Perfect for those moving
          > bases..........
          >
          >
          >
          > > But the big question of the night is "So are we going to see one of the
          > > '386 boards on one of your robotic creations?"
          >
          > If you can believe it, I have FIVE of those embedded 386 computers
          > kicking around. <grin> They keep teasing me. As soon as I finally built
          > a large enough frame, I'm definitely going to be using them. The only
          > bummer with them is the large current draw in comparison to a
          > microcontroller. Normal sized batteries would drain fairly quick. If I
          > remember right, it was somewhere between 1/2 and a full amp of draw. The
          > exact numbers are hidden in the ORE_BITS archives.
          > Aaron
          >

          > I bought two. And now I need to give them a purpose! I hadn't
          > thought of integrating them into a larger robot base. Hmmm. A couple
          > of those 7 amp/hr 12 volt batteries and a DC-DC converter.......I'll
          > have to give it some thought. I still have that HERO 2000 that is
          > looking for a brain. Of course, making the HERO work is my ultimate
          > project, with lots of litle projects on the way.
          >
          >
          > Ken


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          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Ken McKinnon
          No ..... would a kernal driver be required? I had assumed (wrongly?) that it would appear to be a normal 386 PC. Would it appear different or ...? Ken ...
          Message 4 of 14 , Jul 1, 2003
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            No ..... would a kernal driver be required? I had assumed (wrongly?)
            that it would appear to be a normal '386 PC. Would it appear different
            or ...?

            Ken

            Albert den Haan wrote:

            > Do we have Linux kernel driver code for the ISA extender board yet?
            > This may be my chance to do some Kernel hacking :)
            >
            > Albert.
            >
            > P.S. No I wouldn't want to get my hands on a example, no that wouldn't
            > be it at all...
            >
            > aaron wrote:
            >
            > > Ken McKinnon wrote:
            > >
            > > > I have two of those '386 units, so I have two flash modules. They
            > > > appear to be 2 mb each. I was thinking of stacking them if required.
            > > > But as I recall, I remember some issues on using the flash modules.
            > > > Do you use them at all? What were the issues? Can they be used to
            > > > boot the unit?
            > >
            > > The flash disks can be used to boot from. The issue with them was that
            > > they point the 'wrong way'. They point towards the ISA connector on
            > > those 386 boards, rather than away from it. This means that when the
            > > flash card is installed, you aren't able to use the ISA extender board.
            > > The trick is to built a small converter which puts the flash disk out at
            > > a 90 degree angle.
            > >
            > > Stacking them likely won't work. If I am not mistaken, they work by
            > > placing some code into the PCs boot code. When the PC boots, it runs
            > > this code which lets the PC boot from the flash disk, as well as have
            > > the various routines needed to read/write from the flash disk. Stacking
            > > two of them would mean that they conflict with each other. They might
            > > just end up running in parallel.
            > >
            > > A nicer solution is some of the stuff that peewee linux sells :
            > > http://www.peeweelinux.com/products.html#cf40 For 30 bucks canadian (+
            > > a compactflash cart), you can have a flash based IDE drive. Compactflash
            > > carts are pretty cheap (32M for less than $32 canadian), and then you'd
            > > have a boatload of room to put a real linux distro.
            > >
            > > > But the big question of the night is "So are we going to see one
            > of the
            > > > '386 boards on one of your robotic creations?"
            > >
            > > If you can believe it, I have FIVE of those embedded 386 computers
            > > kicking around. <grin> They keep teasing me. As soon as I finally built
            > > a large enough frame, I'm definitely going to be using them. The only
            > > bummer with them is the large current draw in comparison to a
            > > microcontroller. Normal sized batteries would drain fairly quick. If I
            > > remember right, it was somewhere between 1/2 and a full amp of draw. The
            > > exact numbers are hidden in the ORE_BITS archives.
            > >
            > > Aaron
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
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            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Albert den Haan
            It depends, A kernel driver would be required for any extra I/O beyond the usual IDE, parallel, and serial ports. The generic ports should be well covered.
            Message 5 of 14 , Jul 1, 2003
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              It depends, A kernel driver would be required for any extra I/O beyond
              the usual IDE, parallel, and serial ports. The generic ports should be
              well covered. It's the extra GPIO stuff that may not be.

              Albert.

              Ken McKinnon wrote:

              > No ..... would a kernal driver be required? I had assumed (wrongly?)
              > that it would appear to be a normal '386 PC. Would it appear different
              > or ...?
              >
              > Ken
              >
              > Albert den Haan wrote:
              >
              > > Do we have Linux kernel driver code for the ISA extender board yet?
              > > This may be my chance to do some Kernel hacking :)
              > >
              > > Albert.
              > >
              > > P.S. No I wouldn't want to get my hands on a example, no that wouldn't
              > > be it at all..
            • Aaron Ramsey
              ... No kernel driver required for the isa extender board... it s just a passive backplane. The flash disks on the other hand will likely require drivers. The
              Message 6 of 14 , Jul 1, 2003
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                > No ..... would a kernal driver be required? I had assumed (wrongly?)
                > that it would appear to be a normal '386 PC. Would it appear different
                > or ...?

                No kernel driver required for the isa extender board... it's just a
                passive backplane. The flash disks on the other hand will likely require
                drivers. The assumption that I was running on was that those drivers have
                already been written and are available in the distribution that you are
                using.

                The flash disk will not simply appear as a harddrive or floppy drive by
                default in linux. The drivers built into the flash unit will let DOS see
                the drive as a floppy drive though, so it is possible to boot linux. You
                need to basically have a gzip'd system on the floppy, load it into memory
                and decompress. Then you run linux completely from a ramdisk.

                Any additional reads or writes would need the flash driver.

                When I was playing with RTEMS, I was booting from the regular floppy drive.

                > You mean that they sit female connector to female connector, requiring a
                > M/M converter? (and a right angle one?)

                Hmmmmm.... it's been a while since I looked at it. The answer is sitting
                in the ore_bits archives somewhere. I forget who cracked that nut... was
                it Mordechai?

                Well, just got back form the archives and couldn't find anything. I did
                find the current measurements that I took though:

                Without video card (only motherboard powered up)
                +5V - ~1.4A
                +12V - ~28mA

                With video card
                +5V - ~1.6A
                +12V - ~40mA

                I was leaving the -5 and -12 supplies unconnected.

                Anyhow, back to the flash disks..... if I remember right, those cards are
                not keyed in anyway, and they don't connect to the full pc104 connector...
                meaning that there is no hints on how they connect to the board. If you
                are using the passive ISA backplane, the only way that they fit is to have
                the flash card facing 'upwards', away from the backplane. The computer
                won't boot when you do this though. If you pull the pc104 motherboard out
                of the chassis though, you'll see that the flash card could be plugged in
                facing 'downwards'. (no gender changer needed). The problem of course is
                that it won't fit into the chassis anymore. So you just nee to make a 90
                degree bend (or a 180) in order to fit the flash card and the chassis at
                the same time.

                It's been a while though, but that is what I remember being told...

                Aaron
              • Aaron Ramsey
                ... ARG! I m a fool. The message is in the archives after all. Wayne Crosbie was the guy who figured it out!
                Message 7 of 14 , Jul 1, 2003
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                  Aaron stupidly wrote:

                  > Anyhow, back to the flash disks..... if I remember right, those cards
                  > < a bunch of crap snipped>
                  >
                  > It's been a while though, but that is what I remember being told...

                  ARG! I'm a fool. The message is in the archives after all. Wayne Crosbie
                  was the guy who figured it out!

                  http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ORE_bits/message/1318

                  **********
                  The flash mates female-female. You need a bunch of dual header strips
                  to connect between the flash and the PC motherboard, leaving the pins
                  of the flash sticking out away from the circuit board. If you have
                  damaged your flash by having it plugged in the wrong way for too
                  long, they have a few extras (they gave me one for free).

                  Once installed, the flash shows up as a C or D drive. If you set the
                  BIOS to have no hard drives and put something useful on the flash,
                  you can boot from it. Now I have to figure out what!
                  ***********


                  And I found this message
                  (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ORE_bits/message/1320) from Ken, so I'm
                  glad that I'm not the only guy who is losing his memory. <grin>

                  Aaron
                • Ken McKinnon
                  Damn, I hate it when my own words come back to bite me. I knew I was down this path once, but set it aside, and never got back to it. While shuffling things
                  Message 8 of 14 , Jul 1, 2003
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                    Damn, I hate it when my own words come back to bite me. I knew I was
                    down this path once, but set it aside, and never got back to it. While
                    shuffling things around, came across my half finished stuff......and I
                    am back on it.

                    And ... that's why RTEMs sounded familiar!

                    (temporary) Alzheimers would be a good excuse, so this time I am going
                    to document what I am doing, so in another year or so, I don't go
                    through this again......
                    (humbled grin)
                    Ken



                    Aaron Ramsey wrote:

                    > Aaron stupidly wrote:
                    >
                    > > Anyhow, back to the flash disks..... if I remember right, those cards
                    > > < a bunch of crap snipped>
                    > >
                    > > It's been a while though, but that is what I remember being told...
                    >
                    > ARG! I'm a fool. The message is in the archives after all. Wayne Crosbie
                    > was the guy who figured it out!
                    >
                    > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ORE_bits/message/1318
                    >
                    > **********
                    > The flash mates female-female. You need a bunch of dual header strips
                    > to connect between the flash and the PC motherboard, leaving the pins
                    > of the flash sticking out away from the circuit board. If you have
                    > damaged your flash by having it plugged in the wrong way for too
                    > long, they have a few extras (they gave me one for free).
                    >
                    > Once installed, the flash shows up as a C or D drive. If you set the
                    > BIOS to have no hard drives and put something useful on the flash,
                    > you can boot from it. Now I have to figure out what!
                    > ***********
                    >
                    >
                    > And I found this message
                    > (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ORE_bits/message/1320)
                    > <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ORE_bits/message/1320%29> from Ken, so I'm
                    > glad that I'm not the only guy who is losing his memory. <grin>
                    >
                    > Aaron
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
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                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • Aaron Ramsey
                    ... The next step will be forgetting where you left your notes. Reading those old posts reminded me what I was planning on.... got me itching to get
                    Message 9 of 14 , Jul 1, 2003
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                      > (temporary) Alzheimers would be a good excuse, so this time I am going
                      > to document what I am doing, so in another year or so, I don't go
                      > through this again......

                      The next step will be forgetting where you left your notes. <grin>

                      Reading those old posts reminded me what I was planning on.... got me
                      itching to get started again too.

                      Aaron
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