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Thread: Intrest in new ISA cards?

  1. #1

    Default Intrest in new ISA cards?

    I was pondering the idea of designing a brand new line of ISA cards to retrofit into old PCs.
    Things along the lines of:
    - A video card that used an FPGA to emulate VGA/EGA/CGA/MDA graphics, settable either by dipswitches on the card or a software utility, that has an HDMI output rather than a VGA. Since an FPGA would essentially completely replicate the functionality of the original VGA/MDA/CGA/EGA cards, it would be able to be 100% compatible with the video cards of the era.
    - An 8 bit USB controller that supports hot-pluggable USB mass storage devices such as flash drives, and possibly includes a virtual COM port so that a USB mouse would appear as a generic microsoft serial mouse to DOS.
    - A modern network card with integrated wifi
    - A card that emulates a Gameport, but connects to Xbox/PS4/Bluetooth controllers to provide wireless controllers
    - A card that uses an FPGA to completely emulate a Commodore 64 and use the PC keyboard and display. Onboard SID chip with audio pass-thru, a commodore serial port on the back to connect authentic commodore accessories, and a simulated serial link in between the PC and the Commodore to facilitate file transfers.
    - A standalone commodore serial card that lets DOS treat the commodore disk drives as a normal floppy drive, or use a commodore printer as a normal printer.

    I am not planning on any PCI cards at the moment, mostly because many of these things already exist on PCI cards. These are some things that were never available on ISA cards.
    None of them have been designed yet, these are just general ideas.

    If anyone feels like suggesting something that they would like to see in a new ISA card, that would be well received as well.

    Note: Mods, if this comes off as too close to advertising, just message me and I'll happily remove it. That is not my intention. I'm not trying to sell anything, I am just curious to see if there would be any interest in this area.

  2. #2

    Default

    Sure, interesting ideas, but don't expect to sell a lot.
    Such cards would be neither cheap, nor period-correct.
    AFAIK, there's only one such project which turned out to be a success: XT-IDE, and its variants like XT-CF.
    Old HDDs fail a lot, so there's a lot of demand for a solution to use modern drives.
    Old video cards, network cards, 8-bit computers don't fail that often, they are still easily available in fully functional condition.

  3. #3

    Default

    On your video card could you include PCJr/Tandy graphics?

    I lack either a PC Jr or a Tandy 1000 series machine and would love to play games that used the enhanced graphics and sound on my Kaypro PC or my IBM 5155.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnkiniston View Post
    On your video card could you include PCJr/Tandy graphics?
    Probably impossible - PCjr video RAM is located under 640KB.
    It would be possible to support Plantronics Color Plus modes, but is there any notable software with support for Color Plus, but not EGA?

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by dkarguth View Post
    - An 8 bit USB controller that supports hot-pluggable USB mass storage devices such as flash drives...
    This would be really nice but begs the question if it can actually be done, i.e., both hardware-wise and software-wise.
    PM me if you're looking for 3" or 5" floppy disks. EMail For everything else, Take Another Step

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stone View Post
    This would be really nice but begs the question if it can actually be done, i.e., both hardware-wise and software-wise.
    Hardware-wise seems perfectly possible, software-wise may be somewhat complicated...
    How to present the USB storage to the host?
    One option would be to pretend it's an HDD connected thru XT-style HDC, with its own BIOS - this way, however, hot-plugging would be problematic.
    Another would be to pretend it's a SCSI host adapter + drive + removable media, available in DOS via ASPI manager.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stone View Post
    This would be really nice but begs the question if it can actually be done, i.e., both hardware-wise and software-wise.
    I agree, It would be great, I don't see why it can't be done but i think software wise it may be a lot of work ?, Take the experimental lo-tech isa - usb controller, Hardware wise it worked but there was no software for it apart from the Chinese drivers, The DOS driver worked but the boot rom bios was crap, Shame it never went any further, I still use mine in my XT running the dos driver, little slow but it works.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    Atlanta, GA, USA
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    Default

    IMHO, NetPi-IDE is a better idea than a 8-bit USB card since you can do the same thing with the Pi and a USB stick. I have a new set of iCE40UP5K based prototype boards just no time to debug them and get it working. It's not a lot of work, but I'm just slammed for time until at least summer.

    https://www.retrotronics.org/netpi-ide/

    There is already plans for a packet driver and RNDIS is also possible.
    "Good engineers keep thick authoritative books on their shelf. Not for their own reference, but to throw at people who ask stupid questions; hoping a small fragment of knowledge will osmotically transfer with each cranial impact." - Me

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Los Angeles, CA
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    375

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Xacalite View Post
    Sure, interesting ideas, but don't expect to sell a lot.
    Such cards would be neither cheap, nor period-correct.
    AFAIK, there's only one such project which turned out to be a success: XT-IDE, and its variants like XT-CF..
    Agreed on this. Though, if someone could make an inexpensive (sub $60) MFM-IDE (or MFM/RLL to anything current really) I'd be all in on that since the XT-IDE doesn't help with non PC's. While they exist, they're all about $200+. Of course, this isn't an ISA solution as the OP requested, so it won't help.

    Anyway, I honestly can't think of an ISA solution we really need... Maybe an ISA WIFI Card? The ISA USB might be interesting, but the only thing that would make that interesting is it had to have DOS drivers.
    -- Brian

    Working Retro PC's: Apple IIe/II+, Atari 800, Atari 520STFM, Commodore 64, Commodore Amiga 3000, Commodore SX-64, IBM PS/1 2121-B82, Kaypro II, Tandy 1000 SX, TI-99/4A, TRS-80 Model 4 GA

  10. #10

    Default

    There are DOS drivers for the ordinary PCI USB ports.
    PM me if you're looking for 3" or 5" floppy disks. EMail For everything else, Take Another Step

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