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Intrest in new ISA cards?

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Reply 40 of 86, by ZipoBibrok

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brostenen wrote:
ZipoBibrok wrote:
Deksor wrote:

Something cool that hasn't been talked about here (though it could be made in another form that ISA card) would be a CD-ROM emulator with audio output. See, for windows we have Daemon tools and for dos, shsucdx to simulate a CD-rom drive. But in one case CD audio isn't working properly in most cases and in the other it's just out of question. Plus you can't boot from these CDs using software, and burnable CDs sources are slowly fading, and unlike floppy disks, finding CDs that you can burn in the future might become really really hard.

So it'd be the gotek of cd drives kind of.

Cheapest solution to CD-rom emulation could be ethernet card connected to RaspberryPi and some code...

Something a bit like this?

That goes further, connecting to IDE with FPGA and all. What I meant was using ethernet as connecting medium and device driver that connects via ethernet to something running on RaspberryPi which handles cd-rom emulation and audio file playback. Modified EtherDFS maybe, or something.

Reply 41 of 86, by Deksor

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But how do you boot from such "CD" ?

I think this is possible with something much simpler than a raspberry pi though. Almost anything would be much faster than any CD drive from the time.

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Reply 42 of 86, by ZipoBibrok

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Deksor wrote:

But how do you boot from such "CD" ?

I think this is possible with something much simpler than a raspberry pi though. Almost anything would be much faster than any CD drive from the time.

You probably won't, unless you create a suitable boot rom for the network card and add the drivers for the contraption to the image. I don't really see much use for CD booting, 486/early Pentium systems do not usually support it anyway. Main point for me would be the audio emulation for games that use CD-DA soundtracks.

Yes, something like STM32F4 would probably be enough for emulator that plugs to IDE, but it would require custom PCB with additional hardware (3.3V-5V level converters etc.) which built in small scale would end up costing a lot more than a RaspberryPi/OrangePi. I'd imagine majority already have an Ethernet card.

Reply 43 of 86, by Deksor

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If one buys one of these and adds a custom PCB it should be allright and would still cost less than a pi with ethernet.

Also, I differ with you about pentiums not being able to boot CDs. Some don't indeed, but the most common ones seem to do (at least those I can find).
The advantage of this would also be that it won't be just compatible with PCs, but anything with IDE ports and CD-Rom support (such as late PowerMacs, amigas ...) without needing specific software relying on hardware you might not have

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Reply 44 of 86, by gdjacobs

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ZipoBibrok wrote:

That goes further, connecting to IDE with FPGA and all. What I meant was using ethernet as connecting medium and device driver that connects via ethernet to something running on RaspberryPi which handles cd-rom emulation and audio file playback. Modified EtherDFS maybe, or something.

I don't believe that project supports ATAPI yet, although it looks very interesting.

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Reply 45 of 86, by Merovign

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Someone already mentioned it, but doing as much as possible in software on a Raspberry Pi seems like a wise investment in time. There's a project to make a drive emulator out of a Pi I'm keeping an eye on hoping it matures to the point where I can get help coding for a proprietary 36-pin RLL drive. Someone else basically did the pinout work and recreated the instruction set. Anyway, a Pi probably would fit on an ISA card, so you could integrate it and do drives/video/audio and some other hardware emulation in software.

https://www.recantha.co.uk/blog/?p=18807

Otherwise,

1) Don't do many things, do one thing. I mean maybe one card-slot device that has multiple functions, but still.
2) Don't do a wish-list, look for what most people complain is missing. Like a general-purpose sound card for ISA 8-bit as mentioned above.
3) If I *was* adding to a wish list it would be a VGA/EGA/CGA/MDA/Herc adapter that converted the EGA/CGA/MDA and Herc to a VGA signal internally. I still haven't got one of those adapter boxes and I don't have an RGB/EGA/15khz monitor. I'd like to run an EGA/286 or so on a more modern monitor.

On the other hand I'll probably need the converter for my 80s laptops. Ehhh. The real reason I haven't got one is all the ones I've seen have DB-15 inputs for CGA/EGA, which is daft.

*Too* *many* *things*!

Reply 46 of 86, by ZipoBibrok

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Merovign wrote:

Someone already mentioned it, but doing as much as possible in software on a Raspberry Pi seems like a wise investment in time. There's a project to make a drive emulator out of a Pi I'm keeping an eye on hoping it matures to the point where I can get help coding for a proprietary 36-pin RLL drive. Someone else basically did the pinout work and recreated the instruction set. Anyway, a Pi probably would fit on an ISA card, so you could integrate it and do drives/video/audio and some other hardware emulation in software.

Another interesting possibility would be Terasic DE10-Nano or similar SoC-FPGA board on ISA card.

Reply 47 of 86, by brostenen

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There are virtual CD-Rom mounting tools for Linux. There are FPGA chips. And it is possible to build an IDE adaptor for the RPI.
I think the absolute best way to do a virtual CD-Drive, is to do some Linux distro, that boots into a custom virtual CD program.
Then you can do some ISO file selection, through some network bridging or other clever way. All from Dos command line.

I think this aproach is the absolute best. And to be honest. A RPI-ZeroW does not cost much.

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Reply 48 of 86, by SirNickity

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TBH, it seems like a huge kludge to me. There are ARM Cortex chips with SD interfaces. Place one of those on the bus with a tiny bit of glue logic for address decoding and bus cycle management, and there's not much to go wrong. Using a whole computer, with all of its complexities, on an ISA card for the same task is a fine way to prototype -- or even a hack DIY solution -- but it's kinda facepalm-worthy as something to productize.

Reply 49 of 86, by BushLin

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brostenen wrote:
There are virtual CD-Rom mounting tools for Linux. There are FPGA chips. And it is possible to build an IDE adaptor for the RPI. […]
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There are virtual CD-Rom mounting tools for Linux. There are FPGA chips. And it is possible to build an IDE adaptor for the RPI.
I think the absolute best way to do a virtual CD-Drive, is to do some Linux distro, that boots into a custom virtual CD program.
Then you can do some ISO file selection, through some network bridging or other clever way. All from Dos command line.

I think this aproach is the absolute best. And to be honest. A RPI-ZeroW does not cost much.

The trouble is, without going for an embedded/dedicated solution, it might not be ready quickly enough to be booted from. Maybe a pi with a very cut down OS would be fast enough, maybe not in all circumstances

Screw period correct; I wanted a faster system back then. I choose no dropped frames, super fast loading, fully compatible and quiet operation.

Reply 50 of 86, by brostenen

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BushLin wrote:

Maybe a pi with a very cut down OS would be fast enough, maybe not in all circumstances

That is the exact aproach, that the maker of Combian64 have done. And what I suggested.

Don't eat stuff off a 15 year old never cleaned cpu cooler.
Those cakes make you sick....

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Reply 51 of 86, by dumpsterac1d

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Hey, digging this back up from the grave to ask if this has had any more interest in the intervening years. After having a serious look at the MiSTer system (and also the price of some of the more obscure hardware for my new 486 build) I was thinking that perhaps someone out there was working on an FPGA-based ISA card at some point. Really hoping this comes to fruition.

My thought was that the FPGA card *could* be modular, in that it would have interchangeable I/O on the front and rear of the card with different connectors, and could be loaded up with cores for emulating expensive things like Soundblasters, 4x floppy controllers (something I desperately need), and maybe even VGA/SVGA cards as well. It would be a huge project to design such a thing, but I think there is possibly a need, even if the cost to purchase the card would in some cases exceed what is out there, I do think that with the community involvement it could be a thing to own for anyone with an AT system.

At this point, I'd like to selfishly add a wantlist for something like this:

- Different form factors for the board eventually, PCI, ISA, and AGP (I'd say ISA first)
- VGA/SVGA cores that are emulating expensive chipsets, Tseng 4k, 3DFx, etc.
- Better I/O (2x floppy control board for 4 floppy drives, I need this for archival purposes and I currently need 2 or more machines to have everything, and cards that do this are rare and/or expensive)
- Bus extension? or VLB addon daughter board? to make use of the vesa bus on machines that do use it.
- Sound card cores

Even if such a card would have its i/o on breakout modules that occupied slots elsewhere on the motherboard, I really think something like this would get a lot of attention, especially if someone were able to hack up a Voodoo 3-5 core that worked.

I have no idea how realistic any of this is whatsoever and all I can do is say that if something like this were to happen and be sold, I'd likely buy *at least* one for each of my 4 PCs.

Reply 52 of 86, by debs3759

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dumpsterac1d wrote on 2022-01-20, 12:28:

- VGA/SVGA cores that are emulating expensive chipsets, Tseng 4k, 3DFx, etc.

If you think the ET4000 is expensive, you wouldn't like the cost of a custom chipset emulating it with a limited production run 😀

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Reply 53 of 86, by dumpsterac1d

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debs3759 wrote on 2022-01-20, 12:48:
dumpsterac1d wrote on 2022-01-20, 12:28:

- VGA/SVGA cores that are emulating expensive chipsets, Tseng 4k, 3DFx, etc.

If you think the ET4000 is expensive, you wouldn't like the cost of a custom chipset emulating it with a limited production run 😀

If that board can emulate anything I ask it to with some less expensive daughterboards and different I/O? Yes, yes I would.

Custom chipset really isn't needed? I'm recommending a basic FPGA board with headers for daughter boards, not someone making a one-off Tseng. DE-10 boards, even at resale price since the chip shortage, is less expensive than a Hercules VLB board fully loaded with RAM.

There are good ideas in this thread, like CD emulator hardware, which would likely be an FPGA at this point if it were ever to be made anyway, what I'm recommending is, much like the MiSTer, a generic FPGA device that can be broken out to serve whatever function.

Reply 54 of 86, by HanJammer

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If you start using FPGA emulation (no, it's not real hardware like some people say - it's just a hardware trying it's best to immitate original hardware - it's emulation). Then why bother with hardware at all... Just use PCem or box86 emulator and call it a day.

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Reply 55 of 86, by TrashPanda

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dkarguth wrote on 2019-02-07, 05:42:

The entire thing could be done in a small FPGA rather easily. If you don't know what an FPGA is, think of it as a chip that you can reprogram to emulate any other chip. You can even get FPGAs large enough to emulate an entire 486 computer if you wanted to.
Basically you would get a small FPGA that connects to the ISA bus, and it would emulate a gameport controller card from the PC's perspective. Then it would recieve the bluetooth signal from a bluetooth tranciever with the data from the controller, and feed it into the virtual gameport.
The PC would interact with the card exactly as it would a gameport, and software would see it as a gameport, but rather than being a physical gameport with a bluetooth adapter, it would be a self contained emulated gameport that interfaces directly with the bluetooth controller through an FPGA. There would be no analog per se, but it would act just like the analog axis to the computer.

The downside to FPGAs . .cost, even small ones are expensive compared to normal IC's

Im crazy not stupid, well not stupid enough to make claims that are total nonsense.

Reply 56 of 86, by dumpsterac1d

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HanJammer wrote on 2022-01-20, 15:27:

If you start using FPGA emulation (no, it's not real hardware like some people say - it's just a hardware trying it's best to immitate original hardware - it's emulation). Then why bother with hardware at all... Just use PCem or box86 emulator and call it a day.

Is this comment true when people install Gotek emulators? How is an FPGA doing one function in an otherwise "real" system any different, just curious.

Reply 58 of 86, by Plasma

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dumpsterac1d wrote on 2022-01-20, 12:28:
Hey, digging this back up from the grave to ask if this has had any more interest in the intervening years. After having a serio […]
Show full quote

Hey, digging this back up from the grave to ask if this has had any more interest in the intervening years. After having a serious look at the MiSTer system (and also the price of some of the more obscure hardware for my new 486 build) I was thinking that perhaps someone out there was working on an FPGA-based ISA card at some point. Really hoping this comes to fruition.

My thought was that the FPGA card *could* be modular, in that it would have interchangeable I/O on the front and rear of the card with different connectors, and could be loaded up with cores for emulating expensive things like Soundblasters, 4x floppy controllers (something I desperately need), and maybe even VGA/SVGA cards as well. It would be a huge project to design such a thing, but I think there is possibly a need, even if the cost to purchase the card would in some cases exceed what is out there, I do think that with the community involvement it could be a thing to own for anyone with an AT system.

At this point, I'd like to selfishly add a wantlist for something like this:

- Different form factors for the board eventually, PCI, ISA, and AGP (I'd say ISA first)
- VGA/SVGA cores that are emulating expensive chipsets, Tseng 4k, 3DFx, etc.
- Better I/O (2x floppy control board for 4 floppy drives, I need this for archival purposes and I currently need 2 or more machines to have everything, and cards that do this are rare and/or expensive)
- Bus extension? or VLB addon daughter board? to make use of the vesa bus on machines that do use it.
- Sound card cores

Even if such a card would have its i/o on breakout modules that occupied slots elsewhere on the motherboard, I really think something like this would get a lot of attention, especially if someone were able to hack up a Voodoo 3-5 core that worked.

I have no idea how realistic any of this is whatsoever and all I can do is say that if something like this were to happen and be sold, I'd likely buy *at least* one for each of my 4 PCs.

I like the idea but I think what you are proposing would be expensive. Both in parts and development labor. If somebody doesn't want to pay $200 for a 3dfx card they definitely won't want to pay what it costs to reproduce it in an FPGA.

If you are willing to lower the bar it becomes more feasible. Such as the Graphics Gremlin. eeguru was also working on an FPGA sound card but idk what the status is.

Regarding floppy drives, a trick I use to get 3 drives with a standard controller is to use an internal LS-120 (SuperDisk) drive. These are ATAPI devices so they use IDE ports, but the BIOS makes them appear as a floppy drive. Then you can put two other floppy drives on the floppy controller. You need a motherboard with BIOS support, which starts around the Socket 7 era. An added benefit is LS-120 drives read/write floppy disks much faster than standard 3.5" drives.

Reply 59 of 86, by creepingnet

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I like this idea too and while I myself have not looked at the cost of FPGAs, given what I've read, they're pretty expensive. No one here wants to pay $130 for an FPGA emulated ET4000 when you can buy one off e-bay B.I.N. for the same price.

Now some ideas seem pretty good. Like the USB emulation card, I could see USB as a way to actually emulate HDD and give us an actual sustainable method of data storage. USB ain't goin' nowhere! But ATA-100/133 IDE, SATA with legacy support, CF Cards, SD Cards, and the rest seem like they are. But USB keys are still around and in common use, and availible at every dollar, drugstore, five and dime, Wal-Mart, Staples, or wherever else there's an electronics aisle. Idea would be to slap on 2 USB ports inside the machine, plug your sticks in, they behave like a normal, bootable HDD, and can even be pulled and written to and from by your regular modern device without any special adapters, media-bays, or anything else.

I'm not as concerned about WiFi with my desktops, running Cat5e in my case is no biggie but I can see how other people might like the ability to put it on their modern WPA2-PSK network and treat it like that. Now, if this was a thread about PCMCIA, a PCMCIA card capable of either...

1) Acting as a WiFi adapter from DOS/W31x/W95 that can connect to a WPA2 network even at 802.11b speeds would be awesome

2) Putting a Network controller inside the card, and then a miniature AP that acts as a bridge to the network ala what another person said to do. Nobody with a laptop computer wants to have to velcro some $20 AP almost as big as the laptop itself to the back of it just to sit on the couch or the patio to Telnet a BBS or download some abandonware/shareware.

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