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Thread: issues with 3C503 on a 80386DX

  1. #1

    Default issues with 3C503 on a 80386DX

    Hi,

    I am building a 80386DX with 3MB of RAM. For the most part things have been going well, except that I couldn't get Ethernet to work. Using a 3C503-16-TP Etherlink II ISA Ethernet card (I have 3 of these) with the DOS packet driver from http://www.crynwr.com/drivers/ (file many-other-drivers.zip), I managed to get the card detected at address 0x2E0 and IRQ 9. However, none of the DOS Internet apps I tried (Arachne, WGET, MTCP, Minuet) could work. Both MTCP and WATTCP failed to get response from DHCP server, saying no packets were received.

    A few observations:

    1. My card has 2 ports, AUI and RJ45 port. I start the packet driver with "3c503.com 0x60 9 0x2e0 1" to force the card into thinwire mode. Without the last parameter ("1"), the packet driver would report "no network connections available", although it still reports the correct Mac address under "My Ethernet address".

    2. The card has 3 set of jumpers: (1) base address (set to 0x2e0), (2) ISA data mode (set to 16-bit) and (3) MEMORY jumper. Setting MEMORY to anything other than DISABLED (e.g. D8000, DC000) will result in packet driver initialization failure, saying either the card shared memory is defective or there is an address conflict.

    3. Setting different IRQs and base addresses does not seem to change anything.

    4. The Link LEDs on both the router and the card are on. The Activity LED blinks at times.

    I wonder why it simply doesn't work. Maybe the packet driver is still using the AUI port for communicating? But I have no routers with AUI ports to try. I am currently using a WRT54G route with DD-WRT for testing. Thinking that the card may not support 10/100Mbps autonegotiation (as is the case for some old Asante Ethernet card for Mac), I have set the router port to 10Mbps half-duplex and disable auto-negotiation, but it still cannot work.

    Could it be that my card is defective, although it's unlikely since all 3 of them show the same symptoms? The card has "3C503-16-TP 10Mbps Signaling Device" written on it.

    Any advice is appreciated. Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
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    The memory should be disabled since you (likely) don't have a boot ROM installed. Do you have another Ethernet switch or hub to try? You said the link status LED is ok?

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by booboo View Post
    The memory should be disabled since you (likely) don't have a boot ROM installed. Do you have another Ethernet switch or hub to try? You said the link status LED is ok?
    Yes, the boot ROM socket is empty.

    The LINK status LEDs are ON on both the card and the router. The ACT LED on the card and the router would also blink at times, making me think that the link is actually ok. But sending DHCP requests via MTCP/WATTCP would just timeout.

    I will try with an older 10Mbps hub tomorrow, but just wonder if there is anything specific to this card that I should know? I played with many other vintage Ethernet adapters and even PCMCIA or the Xircom parallel port adapters are not that difficult to setup.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by mdanh2002 View Post
    Both MTCP and WATTCP failed to get response from DHCP server, saying no packets were received.
    This is usually the sign of a IRQ conflict but...
    3. Setting different IRQs and base addresses does not seem to change anything.
    ...if you've done this and made sure there's no conflict then I'm out of ideas.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by mdanh2002 View Post
    2. The card has 3 set of jumpers: (1) base address (set to 0x2e0), (2) ISA data mode (set to 16-bit) and (3) MEMORY jumper. Setting MEMORY to anything other than DISABLED (e.g. D8000, DC000) will result in packet driver initialization failure, saying either the card shared memory is defective or there is an address conflict.
    "Shared memory" in this context may not be a boot ROM. It might actually be a shared memory buffer so you can copy packets in/out. While the card might work without shared memory, it's possible that the drivers you're using require it. So I think it's worth taking some time to see if you can get this working.

    Try going into your BIOS setup to see if it has any options allowing you to reserve memory regions for adapter RAM, or to disable shadow RAM in certain regions. It's possible that the shared memory isn't working because your motherboard is overlaying shadow RAM on top of it.

    Also if you're using a memory manager like EMM386 or QEMM386, make sure you exclude the appropriate memory region so your memory manager doesn't overlay UMB memory on top of your adapter RAM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by mdanh2002 View Post
    I managed to get the card detected at address 0x2E0 and IRQ 9
    Try not to use 9; it's the cascade interrupt from 2. If you have a device set to IRQ2, it will actually come through IRQ9. Do you have any other free IRQs? For that matter, please post the existing hardware configuration of your boards (what ports and IRQs they are using).

    Setting MEMORY to anything other than DISABLED (e.g. D8000, DC000) will result in packet driver initialization failure, saying either the card shared memory is defective or there is an address conflict.
    This tells the card to map a memory window to that base segment. You are likely using those areas as upper memory blocks, so that's why you get the error message. However, you don't need to configure the memory window; leave it DISABLED.

    3. Setting different IRQs and base addresses does not seem to change anything.
    I suspect you're just running into conflicts without knowing it yet. An audit of what your add-in boards are configured to would help solve this.

    I wonder why it simply doesn't work. Maybe the packet driver is still using the AUI port for communicating? But I have no routers with AUI ports to try. I am currently using a WRT54G route with DD-WRT for testing. Thinking that the card may not support 10/100Mbps autonegotiation (as is the case for some old Asante Ethernet card for Mac), I have set the router port to 10Mbps half-duplex and disable auto-negotiation, but it still cannot work.
    Try using the official 3COM software/drivers. Run its test/diag/setup program if it has one. You shouldn't have to specify TP, it is supposed to work with autodetect. Also, you don't have to set your router; I used the same router with DD-WRT and my legacy devices connected fine.
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  7. #7
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    For #2.
    From what I can tell, the 3C503 has shared memory - that'd explain the need for a memory entry when running the packet driver. If true then it's also possible the packet driver wasn't tested or designed to run with the memory disabled.

    I find running a tool like CheckIt to check your available IRQs and Memory Map before and after installing the card to be quite helpful at identifying what's going on up there.

    Just my two cents, not an expert on 3C503's here.

  8. #8

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    Thanks all for the hints to guide me in the right direction

    I got it working. Apparently among the three cards that I have, one is faulty. For this card, the diagnostic utility 3C503.EXE on the 3COM Etherlink II install disk correctly identifies its MAC address but fails during the internal testing, reporting "all DMA channels failed" or (sometimes) "ASIC test failed". The other two cards passed the internal testing, which suggests IRQ 3 and DMA channel 1. By using IRQ 3 with 3C503 packet driver on the other two good cards, I was able to get MTCP ping to work. WGET also works fine with a speed around 17KB/s.

    For the shared memory jumper, it can be set at the DISABLED position. However, parameter "1" needs to be passed to the 3C503.COM packet driver to enable thinwire mode (e.g. the RJ45 port), otherwise it'll complain that no network connections are available. There is no need to change any duplex/auto-negotiation settings on the router side, unlike some early Macintosh Ethernet cards.

    So moral of the story, do not simply assume that your ISA card is in perfect working condition. Run the manufacturer test utility if there is one once you can't get the basic setup to work. I wasted almost two days mostly on a faulty card with the wrong IRQ settings!

    Interestingly with the 3C503 installed, CheckIt reports another set of serial & parallel ports at COM3 and LPT2, with no IRQ assigned. Maybe my BIOS incorrectly assumes that the 3C503 is a serial/parallel port card.
    Last edited by mdanh2002; October 24th, 2017 at 09:07 AM.

  9. #9
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    Glad to hear you got it working.

    Quote Originally Posted by mdanh2002 View Post
    Interestingly with the 3C503 installed, CheckIt reports another set of serial & parallel ports at COM3 and LPT2, with no IRQ assigned. Maybe my BIOS incorrectly assumes that the 3C503 is a serial/parallel port card.
    Actually, it's probably because you chose IRQ 3, which is typically used for serial ports COM2/COM4. Since you're on a 16-bit system, I would have suggested something on the secondary PIC, like IRQ 10, 11, or 15. A list of typical assignments (and free assignments) is here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interr...ture)#x86_IRQs
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  10. #10

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    There's no jumper or any other options on this Ethernet card to select the IRQ. Also CheckIt reports the additional pair of COM/LPT ports without the packet driver (or any other thing) loaded, so most likely the card seems to be hard-wired to a certain IRQ. Anyway it isn't a problem for me, as soon as the card works

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