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USB ISA cards?

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Reply 20 of 125, by alexanrs

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USB 1.0 isn't THAT useless. I've used flash drives on Socket 7 + USB1.0 systems before, and it is still faster and more convenient than floppies (specially because my main PC doesn't have a floppy drive... or controller). Network is still king though.

Reply 21 of 125, by ibm5155

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Just a note that I discovered with my MVP3 machine.
You better use the onboard usb 1.1 for data storage beceuse there will be no performance hit at all, just to compare I got an usb 2.0 card, it works great for everything, but for data storage, it's a cpu hungry board. Let me show you the data.
no usb flash drive : quake 2: 38.3fps
USB 1.1 + Flash Drive: quake 2: 38.2fps
USB 2.0 + Flash Drive: quake 2: 27fps
USB 2.0 + 2 Flasj Drive: quake 2: 23fps

It was a nec board the pci one, but I'm just doing an aware that this isa usb card may be a performance hungry if used with a flash drive too (mouse and keyboard didnt affect the performance)

the sys processor is a pentium mmx233 with 1mb l2 cache

Reply 23 of 125, by alexanrs

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USB is a processor intensive protocol, as it does a lot of things on software (unlike serial/parallel ports, that do a lot on hardware). It is no wonder that higher transfer rates would lead to higher CPU usage.

Reply 24 of 125, by swaaye

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USB devices were not very approved of early on because of that CPU overhead. Of course the early USB hardware also could be unstable, particularly the early VIA USB controllers....

I try to not use it at all on older machines. I go for PS2 ports for mouse and keyboard, for example.

konc wrote:

For data transfers a CF card on an adapter mounted on the case (bracket type) is convenient. You can access it without opening the case, you insert it in a card reader on the main PC and just copy files to it. Haven't tried this card in particular, but I must say that my experience with dos+usb is not that positive until now.

I do this with a SSD. USB SATA dongle with main PC to partition, format, and copy files. SATA/PATA adapter on the old hardware. On really old hardware a low capacity CF card probably makes more sense though.

Reply 25 of 125, by fyy

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smeezekitty wrote:

Wow a real working ISA USB card (8 bit too)

I am sure it is slow with 8 bit ISA though

Yeah USB 1 is slow (12 mbits at "full bandwidth"), but the controller is also being plugged into a slow bus so they kinda match up nicely. You would be looking at around ~1.5 MB/sec transfer speeds max, which IMO isn't bad for an older machine. You'd be feeding the DOS machine a floppy disk worth of data every second through the controller. You're not going to be transferring Blu Ray videos over an ISA bus to a DOS machine, but something like Duke Nukem 3D? Doom? What are they, like 20-30 megs at most? I think that would be perfectly reasonable. The bus and controller speeds are reasonable for the expected load.

Reply 26 of 125, by ibm5155

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I don't see any problem with usb at all, I don't have any impact at all using the onboard usb 1.1, but any time that I plug my flash drive over the pci usb 2.0 board i got a huge fps lost, even if it's not having data transfer,Maybe usb 1.1 is more pentium friendly

Reply 27 of 125, by PhilsComputerLab

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alexanrs wrote:

USB 1.0 isn't THAT useless. I've used flash drives on Socket 7 + USB1.0 systems before, and it is still faster and more convenient than floppies (specially because my main PC doesn't have a floppy drive... or controller). Network is still king though.

Exactly my view 😀

A hot swap storage solution for DOS would be awesome. Maybe something that uses the parallel port, like a parallel to CF adapter. Could be a neat project. For small files, I love the Gotek USB emulator. But for larger things, like copying games I just pull out the CF card. MS-DOS I install from a CD-ROM I made myself + Boot floppy.

I don't mind sneaker net with DOS machines. They shut down, and boot so quickly, that I'm much quicker removing the CF card, loading stuff onto it on my desktop, than mucking around with FTP or Ethernet.

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Reply 28 of 125, by alexanrs

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There are the Bret Johnson's USB drivers, and while I've had success using USB mice in a DOS machine (as a temporary solution before getting the PS/2 header it needed), I could not get it to recognize my flash drives. Well, actually the drivers aknowledge they are connected, I just couldn't find a way of accessing them.

Reply 30 of 125, by Stiletto

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there is one that has Linux drivers, but I don't know about the one in the picture

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Reply 31 of 125, by cyberluke

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Read this!!
http://www.toughdev.com/content/2018/04/usb-f … to-usb-adapter/

It needs standard CH375DOS.SYS driver for this chip and there is video booting from USB on 286.

Next, there is this project in Germany. Anyone would like to assemble it? http://www.flxd.de/isa-ws-sl811/

Reply 32 of 125, by BitWrangler

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PhilsComputerLab wrote on 2015-05-12, 22:55:
Exactly my view :) […]
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alexanrs wrote:

USB 1.0 isn't THAT useless. I've used flash drives on Socket 7 + USB1.0 systems before, and it is still faster and more convenient than floppies (specially because my main PC doesn't have a floppy drive... or controller). Network is still king though.

Exactly my view 😀

A hot swap storage solution for DOS would be awesome. Maybe something that uses the parallel port, like a parallel to CF adapter. Could be a neat project. For small files, I love the Gotek USB emulator. But for larger things, like copying games I just pull out the CF card. MS-DOS I install from a CD-ROM I made myself + Boot floppy.

I don't mind sneaker net with DOS machines. They shut down, and boot so quickly, that I'm much quicker removing the CF card, loading stuff onto it on my desktop, than mucking around with FTP or Ethernet.

There is an almost period correct one, I've got a 386 laptop with the capability stock.... PCMCIA adapters... card services eat a chunk of DOS RAM though. Should be able to get an ATA mode PCMCIA to compact flash adapter, then that is hot swappable, and the CF cards are then cold swappable when it's out.

Edit: Did GRID do it with XT class?

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Reply 33 of 125, by Jo22

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cyberluke wrote on 2021-06-28, 23:41:
Read this!! http://www.toughdev.com/content/2018/04/usb-f … to-usb-adapter/ […]
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Read this!!
http://www.toughdev.com/content/2018/04/usb-f … to-usb-adapter/

It needs standard CH375DOS.SYS driver for this chip and there is video booting from USB on 286.

Next, there is this project in Germany. Anyone would like to assemble it? http://www.flxd.de/isa-ws-sl811/

The first one is interesting and looks usable, but I love the second one for using real, authentic technology (74 series chips, through hole components)! ❤️

Edit: Yes, the period-correct way of using USB in a ISA-only system was to use an ISA-PCMCIA host adapter and an PCMCIA card with USB ports.

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Reply 35 of 125, by BitWrangler

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But given a collection of a few hundred games, I bet dude back in 1987 with his alphabetised 5.25 floppy storage could load a specified one off low density disk before the XT-USB had finished printing the directory listing of the USB to screen.

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Reply 36 of 125, by mothergoose729

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BitWrangler wrote on 2021-06-29, 02:50:

But given a collection of a few hundred games, I bet dude back in 1987 with his alphabetised 5.25 floppy storage could load a specified one off low density disk before the XT-USB had finished printing the directory listing of the USB to screen.

More than likely our 1987 man would be doing data entry into Lotus. USB wasn't even released until 1996. It's ridiculous, which is why it's awesome.

Reply 37 of 125, by cyberluke

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Regarding the 2nd card, the Waveshare addon is not made anymore: http://www.flxd.de/isa-ws-sl811/ ...but I guess you can find some other USB host to serial adapter.

I don't care about period correct. 1996-1987 is only 9 years. Everyone had some computer for around 10 years and upgrade the parts every year as the market progressed. I have 10 years old i7 and I can buy NVIDIA RTX even it is not "period correct" by your definition 😁

Reply 38 of 125, by migry

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I bought one of these exact boards from China a few months ago. They are a little pricey at around $25-30. Also recently I bought a 486DX and motherboard on Ebay. I am hoping that this card, via the USB stick, will give me an easy way to transfer DOS programs downloaded on my main PC to the 486. I am still sorting out the 486 system, and just yesterday my VLB IDE and floppy card arrived. I'm still kicking myself when I rhink of all the VLB cards and floppy cards I must have thrown out back in the 90's 🙁 . Currently I do not have a hard disk connected, so I can only boot from floppy. Now I have the VLB IDE card I will try to get this working and install NWDOS7 (from my original disks).

Once I have NWDOS installed I will try the mentioned driver.

I had sort of assumed that the USB would need to be formatted in FAT12 (FAT16?) format and could be made bootable just like a floppy or hard disk.

Out of curiosity I traced out the connections to the ROM socket. I have a bit of a suspicion that the chip select for the ROM is not properly (fully) decoded, as the ISA connectors for A18 and A19 are totally un-wired! I would have thought that it was necessary for these top two address lines to be part of the chip select logic, otherwise you could get aliasing elsewhere in the memory map (where the RAM is) and possible contention.

FYI the CH375 is based on a 8051 core with USB circuitry added on. It contains firmware which contains a sort of BIOS for USB disk like access (read and write sectors). You can communicate with the chip (commands and data) either using the serial I/O feature or using the parallel I/O feature which has 8 data bits and one address line. So although there might be a lot of overhead it makes it really easy to use in a homebrew CPU board or with an Arduino.

I was hoping that this device might be supported by something like the XTIDE Universal BIOS and allow the USB stick to be booted from like a floppy or hard disk. This would require an option ROM, and as mentioned I think a ROM in the socket would work but might cause other contention problems. Thankfully I have a network card with a ROM socket, which I think I would trust more.

So if anyone can give any advice about using this card and how to transfer data via the USB stick, that would be most helpful. I am interested in recommendations of any tools (ideally free) which allow the USB to be formatted with an old version of DOS.

Once I find out more I will re-port.

BTW I forgot to mention, it's NOT a general purpose USB port, it has the 8051 processor core and firmware which only supports "disk" I/O.