So this post is some musings on a rainy day in SoCa on a wish list for a tool and maybe a start of discussion on production....
I obviously have no hardware design experience so I am hoping that if it is a possibility one of the HW gurus like Sergey or Pearce_jj who have helped out the community so much will step up and do the real heavy lifting.
The IBM PC never had real terminal capabilities (i.e. using a serial port to run stuff). Over the years people have attempted to add this capability with some degree of success. The PC Weasel 2000 was probably the most successful. More recently the XT-IDE BIOS has a options to boot over serial port. Other systems have had such capability built in (e.g. Sun, SGI, etc.) or have tool that almost achieve some of the same thing (ADT on the Apple II).
Terminal capability would be great for people who have an older PC (or compatible) but may not have the appropriate monitor, KB, HDD or boot disks. It would also be great for trouble shooting as one could be down to just a MB. So what I am wondering is as follows. How easy/hard would it be to make an 8bit card that allows for the following as a minimum:
1. 8-bit ISA Card
2. Bootable BIOS w/ terminal capabilities (maybe from XT-IDE?)
3. Free-DOS/ROM-DOS in ROM for full DOS capability to format disks, copy, fdisk, etc.
4. 9pin and 25pin Serial port that is already setup as a null modem (so one can use a straight through serial cable)
5. 16650 or better UART (bigger buffer/faster speeds)
Would be nicer if we could also add:
1. HW DX Suite built in (ala Supersoft LANDMARK ROM POST)
Nicest would be to add
1. A monochrome display emulator (like the PC Weasel 2000) so that the machine can have full terminal emulation. The Weasel used to a KB cable for pass through of KB input to the main system. I am wondering if it would be possible to do this with SW (i.e. directly place keystrokes in the host computers KB buffer).
A deluxe version could add an RJ45 port and network capability so you could telnet into your vintage system from any other computer (although you can always connect the serial port to the LAN via 3rd part equipment like the Avocent series for RS232 to RJ45 terminals).
So how easy it would be to built this? I know it is doable but can it be done on the same scale and ease as the XT-IDE project? Would it even have use for other people?