VOGONS


First post, by Jonas-fr

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Due to space constraints I'm using my PCI/ISA cards (sound cards and video cards) with small x86 machines. I'm using either laptops with docking station that allows ISA cards to be connected, either the odd AIC's Keyboard Network Station I stumbled uppon or industrial PCs which are very small and very sturdy (my prefered option for now, SBC does wonders when space is an issue).

I'm guessing if there's a fourth option that would involve a more modern x86 hardware, fully compatible with old ISA/PCI cards. Kinda like a tiny Raspberry Pi with extra IO for hooking PCI/ISA connectors and cards. I'm aware of the Vortex86 but it seems to have some compatibility issues. Ideally this is what I would be looking for but more porwerful (something between a 486 and a PIII). Well if you have some pointers I'm all ears! Thanks 😉

TL;DR I'm looking for a (modernish) ways to build a small (space wise) DOS gaming rig with ISA (16bits) and/or PCI support.

Reply 1 of 10, by Ampera

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Small? If you want ISA cards, get an industrial computer with ISA support. They range from deadly expensive to free.

If you want smaller, your looking at emulation, and I don't think I need to tell you how to do that.

Reply 2 of 10, by Jonas-fr

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Thanks for your answer. I was wondering if a NAS sized devices existed. You see a NAS enclosure is a card with lof of empty space for the drives. I would envision a small x86 board with link ISA or PCI slots (maybe 2-3 of each), something like that:

DS411+II-Open.jpg

Reply 3 of 10, by Ampera

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Jonas-fr wrote:
Thanks for your answer. I was wondering if a NAS sized devices existed. You see a NAS enclosure is a card with lof of empty spac […]
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Thanks for your answer. I was wondering if a NAS sized devices existed. You see a NAS enclosure is a card with lof of empty space for the drives. I would envision a small x86 board with link ISA or PCI slots (maybe 2-3 of each), something like that:

DS411+II-Open.jpg

There's probably an industrial form factor mobo out there, I mean Baby AT is pretty small to begin with if you can get the right board. If your looking for a NAS with ISA or PCI support I don't think you will find it. I think if you want PCI, you could find industrial board much easier, and there are possibly Mini-ITX boards out there with PCI, and as I said, custom/industrial form factors. They can be quite cheap if you find one everybody is trying to chuck.

There also exists this: http://arstech.com/install/ecom-prodshow/usb2isar.html which is a USB ISA slot. It should work just like an ISA slot, so you could get just the smallest x86 board you can find and hook a load of those up in a case. Heck maybe something with DOSBox and the RasPi can be done.

The thing is, with modern miniaturization, people can make really small computers and board, but the dilemma is that's today, when in the past people wanted to make smaller boards, but they really couldn't without cutting corners like crunch time at the circle factory (sorry ben), but now that we could easily make that stuff, nobody wants to because it's damned old.

Reply 4 of 10, by Jonas-fr

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Thanks Ampera for your second more throughful answer. The NAS idea I was refairing to was only for size comparaison, I'm aware that there's no NAS with ISA/PCi support since the won't serve any purpose for storage.

I guess we can only hope that the DOS nostalgia will drive some projects as the NES mini but for x86 fans out there (and that unlike the NES mini they won't be emulator based).

Reply 5 of 10, by Ampera

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Jonas-fr wrote:

Thanks Ampera for your second more throughful answer. The NAS idea I was refairing to was only for size comparaison, I'm aware that there's no NAS with ISA/PCi support since the won't serve any purpose for storage.

I guess we can only hope that the DOS nostalgia will drive some projects as the NES mini but for x86 fans out there (and that unlike the NES mini they won't be emulator based).

Start your own crusade. I'm with you as many people probably are. Most of the DOS gaming stuff can be done for pennies on the dime with the cost of real x86 hardware at 386, 486, P5 and P6 levels are dirt cheap in
today's manufacturing processes.

Reply 6 of 10, by yawetaG

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External cases containing a backplane with ISA or PCI slots and a power supply to power the slots (and sometimes hard disks) do exist for industrial systems, but may be hard to find. They connect to a normal motherboard using a specialized I/O card. The only problem is that you'll still be limited by the number of IRQ's and other system resources available in the host system if the objective is to use it for sound cards and video cards (industrial controllers for machinery are usually handled by specialized software that can circumvent such issues).

Reply 7 of 10, by Jonas-fr

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I'm afraid I've got no hardware experience if only for the occasionnal recapping of old board and samll fixing things. I don't know if a team effort is underway but I would gladly donate time and money for such a project! We need a modern and affordable small x86 computer with extensions like true DMA 16 bit ISA bus and PCI bus! As we need rare card modern clones (like the GUS and the Roland SCC-1A)!

Reply 8 of 10, by BloodyCactus

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here is your motherboard;

http://www.ebay.com/itm/261529118066

get a shoebox chassis. throw in a picmg board (core2du? k6? p4? etc. loads of them) eg.
k6 2-400 with 32mb ram http://www.ebay.com/itm/112229948698

or core2duo 3ghz + 4gb ram http://www.ebay.com/itm/371712818636

here is example of chassis (this one has backplane + psu etc allready in it)

http://www.ebay.com/itm/322188080832

--/\-[ Stu : Bloody Cactus :: http://kråketær.com :: http://mega-tokyo.com ]-/\--

Reply 9 of 10, by xjas

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Look into the PC/104 format. It's ~roughly the size of a mini-ITX board but implements the ISA (& sometimes PCI) bus as a pinheader. The intent is that you build your system up in a "stack" of modules, although you can also get adapters that plug a regular ISA slot into the pin bus.

Vortex86, Geode & Via CPUs are common but I've also seen modules running everything from 3/486es to P2s/P3s/C2D etc. And yes, I have seen DOS-compatible PC/104 sound cards using both ESS & Vibra16 chipsets. No idea how easy those are to find though.

It's a pretty common format in industrial gear, lab equipment, scientific dataloggers, even some POS systems and a lot of that is getting obsolete now... start going to business liquidations or make friends at the local uni.

i__srce694e866e355fc49bb47e9e98956faad_par1a3c1eb4506a5f22486e2677b9cb9c0d.jpeg
The black headers on the right are the ISA bus, the white ones are PCI.

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