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Unknown_K
March 23rd, 2009, 08:28 PM
I was browsing ebay a little bit ago and seen a bunch of PC diagnostic cards. It has a PCI connector one one side and 8 bit ISA on the other. There are a few lights on the card and a 2 digit LED display. The thing was $1 BIN and a few dollars shipping.

Has anybody ever used one of these type of cards? Do they actually help in diagnosing what is wrong with a motherboard that doesn't post at all? Do they work all the way down to an XT and up to anything with a PCI slot (pretty much universal)?

I ordered stuff from China and Hong Kong before, shipping doesn't take that long for small item (a week or two). This might actually be usefull (if the instructions are in english anyway).

What do you guys think of these?

Druid6900
March 23rd, 2009, 08:34 PM
Yeah, I got one of those cheap far east POST cards and they do a good job and the manuals are pretty comprehensive (the one I got was even readable). It think it cost me about 12 bucks US shipped and I got it in about 8 days.

Unlike the one I got 20 years ago which cost me, like, 500 bucks or so.

I'm not sure it would work with a real XT as ISTR that it outputs on a different port. I'll try both of them in the clone XT boards I got recently and see what they do.

channelmaniac
March 24th, 2009, 05:21 AM
Those cards will tell you things the beep codes for the system can't/won't. They are very helpful in troubleshooting motherboard issues.

tezza
March 24th, 2009, 10:25 AM
These sound interesting. Would they work in a IMB 5150 (IBM-PC)?

Tez

Micom 2000
March 24th, 2009, 12:12 PM
I lusted after a Post card for years, but they were always too expensive to justfy on my limited budget. They were ISA cards and ISTR opened before the OS and possibly BIOS. Anyone got an URL for these ? And Druid, do these work on a PC or XT ?

Lawrence

Unknown_K
March 24th, 2009, 12:36 PM
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&item=220380396774

This one has PCI on one side and ISA on the other.

NeXT
March 24th, 2009, 01:19 PM
Some of those cards looks really cheap and flimsy.

Chuck(G)
March 24th, 2009, 01:34 PM
Some of those cards looks really cheap and flimsy.

Yup, but how can you go wrong for $2.50 including shipping?

tezza
March 24th, 2009, 01:40 PM
Yea, that's what I was thinking.

My IBM-PC is fine, but you never know what might happen in the future. And I do have a PS/2 which doesn't show video at all. I'm thinking one of these cards might help with that?

Tez

hargle
March 24th, 2009, 01:41 PM
we've got a half dozen of the PCI/ISA flip cards in our lab at work, and I think all but 1 of them are still working today. The ISA side is 8bit, so there's no reason it shouldn't work in an XT. (I could grab one and try it if you wanted me to)

I don't suppose many of you do low level software work, but they come in really handy to send yourself a little note of where your code is via one of these things. I use the ones in the lab all the time for that.

frozenfire75i
March 24th, 2009, 01:49 PM
Honestly guys that is so cheap I don't know if I would even trust in a good vintage system? What if it mess's something up?

Trixter
March 24th, 2009, 02:44 PM
Well, then, you'll have the card already installed to diagnose what it messed up! (ducking)

Vlad
March 24th, 2009, 02:53 PM
Well, then, you'll have the card already installed to diagnose what it messed up! (ducking)

ba-dum-tish

In all seriousness though we had a PCI one at our shop, it was incredibly helpful for finding out what went bad in a customer machine. Ours was a cheap one that was rock solid reliable, I just don't remember who made it.

modem7
March 24th, 2009, 03:35 PM
POST cards appeared around the time of the AT. The IBM AT BIOS outputs codes to port 80h, and so the vast majority of POST cards will be monitoring port 80h.
Other machines started to output on different ports. The following list is from the manual for my 'Micro 2000' POST card:

Port 80h = standard usage
Port 84h = All Compaq computers
Port 90h = PS/2 models 25 and 30
Port 300h = Award BIOS
Port 680h = Computers with Microchannel bus

Therefore some POST cards will have switches/jumpers to change which port is being monitored.

IBM XT

The IBM 5160 BIOS outputs only a few POST codes and does so to port 60h.
Someone has listed those codes at http://www.61131568.com/E_ibmxt.asp
I have yet to see a POST card that monitors that port. Anyone got one?

As for XT clones, I would expect that some BIOS manufacturers added the code to their XT BIOS after they saw the technique introduced in the IBM 5170 (or was it that IBM copied the technique from some other manufacturer).

IBM PC

Not practical. See my earlier post: http://www.vintage-computer.com/vcforum/showpost.php?p=72589&postcount=21

Micom 2000
March 24th, 2009, 07:08 PM
If you examine most every newer card or peripheral, they are made in China , Tawan, or Indonesia, no matter how impressive the rebadged product name. They are sold very cheaply to the rebrandng corporations because the manufacturers use young asian women with small, nimble fingers, who are paid miniscule wages. Which is why we have such problems attempting to repair the item with our large well-fed fingers and pay relatively little at the large retailers like Walmart.

Consider these Asian marketers like Direct sellers. They eliminate the middle-men. I love that the internet and EBay have enabled them to direct sell to a large market, and postal rates in those countries have paved the way.

I had an enjoyable time browsing the seller of this product's list and will be buying a couple of the cards as well as other items I had wanted. Some of the gadgets were mind-boggling such as the 4-hub USB and coffee/tea warmer, with the admonition " the Warmer heater temperature may lessen when using more than 1 USB device." Or the description of set of sterio headphones by an artistically gifted but less-capable translator, " The soaring sterio sound will fill one with an indelible sensation." Perhaps a carbon copy. And there were a few references to Bule Tooth. Sounds like a Viking.

Lawrence


Some of those cards looks really cheap and flimsy.

Unknown_K
March 24th, 2009, 08:42 PM
I think it is cheap because we are getting them direct from the maker, there isn't much to the cards with respect to parts, and they probably make these by the thousands to use in troubleshooting the motherboards they make in asia and are dumping these because of slow internation sales (they need the cash).

Either way I have a P233mmx atx motherboard that used to work and will not post now, so it will be first to get tested (no huge loss since it is dead now anyway).

The price is so cheap I cannot think of a reason not to get one. PS what happens if you plug an 8 bit ISA card in backwards (every other slot I know of is keyed so that cannot happen).

Chuck(G)
March 24th, 2009, 09:26 PM
The price is so cheap I cannot think of a reason not to get one. PS what happens if you plug an 8 bit ISA card in backwards (every other slot I know of is keyed so that cannot happen).

It will probably kill the card , given where the +12 and -12 will land. There's $2.50 down the drain. I doubt that it would wreck your motherboard, but best not to try.

hargle
March 25th, 2009, 07:12 AM
I can confirm modem7's description about not many POST codes showing up on an XT. I put my card in my XT last night as I was working on my code for the 8bit IDE controller, and sure enough, it read 00 all the way through POST until it started executing my ROM where my codes were.

So, no worries about putting one of these cheap cards in your beloved old machine, you won't get any information out of it anyway!

Weird that they output to port 60 instead...

Druid6900
March 25th, 2009, 07:24 AM
According to the manual with mine, plugging it in wrong way around in an ISA slot won't cause any damage to card or machine (and, as stupid as this may make me sound, I can confirm this through actual experience).

My old, old POST card may work in an XT, I'll have to try them both TODAY and see what happens.

Chuck(G)
March 25th, 2009, 09:16 AM
According to the manual with mine, plugging it in wrong way around in an ISA slot won't cause any damage to card or machine (and, as stupid as this may make me sound, I can confirm this through actual experience).

My hat's off to you for sheer ...um... bravery?

Terry Yager
March 25th, 2009, 12:34 PM
Veering just slightly off-topic, a couple of weeks ago, I was drooling over POST cards for laptops, that, IIRC, jack into a parallel port. Anyone have experience with these?

--T

Unknown_K
April 1st, 2009, 04:30 PM
The card arrived with a small manual (codes). Seems like it is built ok, and when I tested it on a dead machine the light for the 3.3V was off.

The card has a sticker on it saying inserting it backwards in an ISA slot will not hurt anything.

Unknown_K
April 1st, 2009, 04:31 PM
Veering just slightly off-topic, a couple of weeks ago, I was drooling over POST cards for laptops, that, IIRC, jack into a parallel port. Anyone have experience with these?

--T


Nope but they sound very useful, now if they have those for $4 shipped from Hong Kong I will snag one.

Druid6900
April 1st, 2009, 07:05 PM
Well, I did try both my cards out on a couple of clone 5160-086 boards the other day and I was getting data, but, it's inconclusive because neither of the boards are working fully yet.

Unknown_K
April 1st, 2009, 08:33 PM
I tried plugging it in backwards and the power supply doesn't turn on. It seems to get a little warm using the ISA side.

It didn't do much in a C&T 386 board other then light up the voltage LEDs and show some activity with a flashing "." between the 2 LEDs.

On a PCI Pentium 200 it worked fine, and on a dead 386 it never lit up at all (I think I killed that one putting in a new 30 pin SIMM holder).

Seems like it is made for the common AMI, Phoenix, Tandy 3000 BIOS (thats what all the codes are for) and the manuals says something about getting the 4 LED version for P2-300 or faster system for better results.

All in all I guess it is ok for the money, the 4 LED version is about $5-6 shipped. I also seen some parallel port ones for laptops, but the laptops seem to be newer models and the card needs power from USB.

Druid6900
April 3rd, 2009, 11:03 AM
Well, the KickStart 1 POST card I have from 20 years back (ISA only) has 12 LEDs, 4 red for power and 8 green for data and you have to decode the hex numbers and look them up, bit, the newer (ISA/PCI) 4-digit one gives you the Hex code and then you look THAT up.

Chuck(G)
May 5th, 2009, 12:35 PM
I know the little document with these POST cards say that it won't hurt the system if you plug it in backwards, but

Don't believe it!

I accidentally plugged one into an old HP Vectra VL 133 ISA bus backward and got that burned resistor smell. Power supply is fine, but the mobo is bricked. I can't see anything obvious (burned resistors, etc) and the voltages are okay on the ISA bus, but something is toast. Given that this is an SMT motherboard, I don't know if it's worth fooling with.

Shame though, the HP Vectra VL series was nice stuff.

barythrin
May 5th, 2009, 01:26 PM
:-( I only know of one Vectra model but it's the pentium pro series with scsi drives instead of IDE. Quite a heck of a power system (for it's time) so sorry for your loss.

The problem I had with these cards atleast in our newer computers was they're cool and good and all, but it's kind of (again, newish stuff) just going to tell you "yeah it's a power supply" or "no, it's something surface mounted on the motherboard." and then you're still basically stuck replacing the same parts you would have tried in the first place.

Don't get me wrong, I have two of them. It's just when we (previous job) were buying Gateway PIII-450 systems they essentially have two parts, the motherboard, and a rise card (that transports power to the motherboard.. and btw a completely stupid design since the monitor sits on the riser card which the MB plugs into and puts stress on that connection resulting in shorts).

- John

patscc
May 5th, 2009, 01:31 PM
Did the POST card survive ?
patscc

Unknown_K
May 5th, 2009, 01:36 PM
I know the little document with these POST cards say that it won't hurt the system if you plug it in backwards, but

Don't believe it!

I accidentally plugged one into an old HP Vectra VL 133 ISA bus backward and got that burned resistor smell. Power supply is fine, but the mobo is bricked. I can't see anything obvious (burned resistors, etc) and the voltages are okay on the ISA bus, but something is toast. Given that this is an SMT motherboard, I don't know if it's worth fooling with.

Shame though, the HP Vectra VL series was nice stuff.

I tried it and the AT power supply did not start up (protection mode), remove it and all was well.

Did you try the PCI section in the VLB slot or something?

Chuck(G)
May 5th, 2009, 01:52 PM
I tried it and the AT power supply did not start up (protection mode), remove it and all was well.

Did you try the PCI section in the VLB slot or something?

Just backwards ISA in the ISA slot. The card still appears to work (well, it displays "00"), but the Vectra's toast.

Power supply started up, system did not boot and magic smell--no smoke. Possibly one of the bus transceivers, or worse, the southbridge chip.

I've got a PII Vectra VL (looks nearly identical), so I'm not out much, just a little ticked.

Edit Took a hard look at the board and there's a nice brown spot in the middle of the Intel SB82371 Southbridge chip. I could probably find another one, but it's just not worth it for a medium speed P1 box.

chuckcmagee
May 5th, 2009, 07:00 PM
Veering just slightly off-topic, a couple of weeks ago, I was drooling over POST cards for laptops, that, IIRC, jack into a parallel port. Anyone have experience with these?

--T


I got one. I have played with it for about 15 minutes. As far as I could tell, it was working alright. The badly translated from chinese manual is fairly hard to decipher. When I really need to use the card, I will chase down better info on POST codes.

patscc
May 5th, 2009, 09:29 PM
I ordered one, couldn't pass it up, and the incentive was that I think the proper one I have is in a crate that a TRS-80 Model II drive unit is sitting on, next to a custom 19" rack power supply which is a bit on the heavy side. So, the $10 or whatever it was seemed like a good bet. I got a PCI card instead, no instructions, a USB cable but no port, and a 25-pin port but no cable, but God only knows what the heck the 25-pin port is for 'cause it ain't RS-232C or parallel. Maybe it's a connection to a I-Ching simulator or something.
patscc

lutiana
May 6th, 2009, 12:01 AM
Did the POST card survive ?
patscc

Way to rub salt in the wound... I laughed out loud though... :D

barythrin
May 6th, 2009, 07:58 AM
geez.. I just realized I dreamt about this thread (plugging in card to loose ISA slot on some vintage computer) amongst the other bad dream I had last night.

Terry Yager
May 6th, 2009, 10:24 AM
Seek professional help immediately, John.

--T

modem7
May 7th, 2009, 12:36 AM
Seek professional help immediately, John.
Hey! He could use my two psychs.
And I'm not saying that because I'll get a discount due to the 'refer us a fellow nutcase' offer.