Author Topic: Interest Check: Network Cards  (Read 2032 times)

Offline famiac

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Interest Check: Network Cards
« on: September 27, 2016, 08:34:17 am »
Hey all,

I may be prototyping five Neptune-X v0.4 boards in the near future based on some schematics found in the nfg archive. Is anybody interested? If so, i can give a ballpark price estimate per board. Keep in mind that you will have to find an NE2000 compatible network card to use this board, which is less than ideal. But it seems to me like a better idea than shelling out $600 for a nereid. (Why are those things so goddamn expensive anyway?)

Offline kamiboy

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Re: Interest Check: Network Cards
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2016, 06:25:02 pm »
The Nereid cards also have USB support built in, right? As well as providing RAM expansion. In that case the price makes sense.

Offline Martin8bity

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Re: Interest Check: Network Cards
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2016, 01:07:21 am »
Sounds interesting. I would be interested. I have some experience with electronics, but not too much with X68000 yet.

Offline elmer

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Re: Interest Check: Network Cards
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2016, 01:53:30 am »
I'd like to get some kind of high-speed link to the X68000 for development, so I'm definitely interested in a board if you make them.

Unfortunately, I don't really have the electronics experience, or I'd just put one of these ...

http://www.waveshare.com/ft245-usb-fifo-board-mini.htm

... on a board with a 5V CPLD or discreet logic like the Neptune-X, and you'd have something for really fast file transfer.

Offline famiac

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Re: Interest Check: Network Cards
« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2016, 03:43:13 am »
The Nereid cards also have USB support built in, right? As well as providing RAM expansion. In that case the price makes sense.

Is there any documentation available for the nereid USB drivers?

I'll let you guys know when the boards are fabricated.

elmer, do you know where I can find information about the x68k's i/o slot.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2016, 03:49:19 am by famiac »

Offline kamiboy

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Re: Interest Check: Network Cards
« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2016, 04:42:41 am »
Hell if I know. I am just used to seeing them listed on Yahoo. Once I took a peek inside one of these auctions and saw that they featured USB and ram expansions in addition to network. They usually come with a driver disk and a manual. Not sure if the manual contains what you are looking for or not.

I am surprised there is any documentation available on the neptune cards at all.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2016, 05:31:04 am by kamiboy »

Offline neko68k

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Re: Interest Check: Network Cards
« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2016, 05:30:08 am »
I think the I/O slot, among other hardware things, is documented in Outside X68000.

Nereid USB is for NetBSD. Nereid RAM is for Human68k RAMdisk or NetBSD. I use it as a RAMdisk with the temp directory on it. AFAIK programs for Human68k have to be specifically written to use Nereid RAM because it is mapped to I/O slot addresses not as an addition to main RAM.

Offline kamiboy

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Re: Interest Check: Network Cards
« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2016, 05:33:19 am »
Bah, that makes this piece of kit a lot less cool that I thought.

Offline neko68k

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Re: Interest Check: Network Cards
« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2016, 11:46:59 am »
It's still a nice piece of hardware just so you don't need to have a full length ISA card hanging out the back of your x68000 to have networking.

Offline corpsicle

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Re: Interest Check: Network Cards
« Reply #9 on: September 28, 2016, 03:21:48 pm »
Interested!
Depending on final price obviously. =)

Offline elmer

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Re: Interest Check: Network Cards
« Reply #10 on: September 29, 2016, 05:07:19 am »
elmer, do you know where I can find information about the x68k's i/o slot.

Not specifically, but neko68k's suggestion of "Outside X68000" sounds sensible.

I'd be very surprised if it's really much more than a standard Motorola 68000 bus, and you can see the interface timings for that in most Motorola manuals that you can get from the internet.

The pinout for the X68000 I/O slot itself can be found on the X68000 circuit diagrams that are on the wiki.

I found the physical size specs for the slot by loading up the old Neptune-X .pcb design files that are on the FTP site into an old trial/cracked version of Protel 99SE SP6 in a Windows XP virtual machine. It can be saved from there in the newer version of the .pcb format, which then allows it to be loaded by recent versions of the Altium DXP PCB design software.

That was a bit of a roundabout way to get at the info, but I don't have Outside X68000.

****************

I liked the idea of the USB-FIFO better than a network card and full network stack, because it would be really easy to write transfer software for, and because the Neptune card is pretty darned slow (according to one of the files in one of the Neptune-X directory of the NFGGames file archive).

Offline famiac

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Re: Interest Check: Network Cards
« Reply #11 on: September 29, 2016, 05:17:10 am »
Right, but implement the USB FIFO will involve digital logic design and knowledge about the X68000 I/O slot. I'll look for a copy of Outside X68k in the meantime, and then we can discuss it further.

I think I'll sell the bare Neptune-X PCBs for $40 a pop. I should have 5 boards coming in in the near future. I'm gonna post a link to a digi-key cart with all of the necessary components. They're all easy, through-hole parts.

EDIT: http://www.digikey.com/short/39jzqz

Note: They are out of 74ALS30 chips, so I replaced it with a 74AS30, which is slightly more expensive, but I'm pretty sure it's a compatible replacement.
« Last Edit: September 29, 2016, 06:21:35 am by famiac »

Offline neko68k

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Re: Interest Check: Network Cards
« Reply #12 on: September 29, 2016, 05:25:14 am »
Outside X68000

Keep in mind, all the software for using Neptune/Nereid for TCP/IP already exists. This includes useful tools such as FTP and NFS. The work is already done and the system level libraries and stuff already exist and are based roughly on BSD sockets.

Offline elmer

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Re: Interest Check: Network Cards
« Reply #13 on: September 29, 2016, 09:22:15 am »
I think I'll sell the bare Neptune-X PCBs for $40 a pop. I should have 5 boards coming in in the near future. I'm gonna post a link to a digi-key cart with all of the necessary components. They're all easy, through-hole parts.

Cool!


Keep in mind, all the software for using Neptune/Nereid for TCP/IP already exists. This includes useful tools such as FTP and NFS. The work is already done and the system level libraries and stuff already exist and are based roughly on BSD sockets.

Absolutely true, I can't argue with that.

Just that it's slow (for ethernet) and that there's all sorts of other software fun to deal with, like setting up an FTP or NFS server on your network.

It doesn't help that I think that I threw out the last of my old NE2000 ISA cards a few years ago.

To be honest ... the X68000/PC software side of using the USB-FIFO doesn't bother me in the least ... I've been doing that kind of low-level software for decades.

The hardware OTOH, especially when it comes to decoupling capacitors and other analog issues, isn't something that I'm comfortable with.

Offline neko68k

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Re: Interest Check: Network Cards
« Reply #14 on: September 29, 2016, 09:45:01 am »
I couldn't say how accurate it is or how it compares to Neptune in real life but I can get around 10MB/s with the Nereid emulation in XM6g. That isn't bad. How much data would you realistically be transferring anyway? Games are a few MB, music is tiny taken in smaller chunks than the whole damn collection.

There is still the option of using serial null modem though. I tested that a long long time ago and it actually isn't bad. It's not exactly exciting to go back to 1996 speeds(38400 max stock, 115200 with the SCC clock mod) but it definitely works. You can even use the internet if you have a PPP server on the other end of your serial line.

Offline elmer

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Re: Interest Check: Network Cards
« Reply #15 on: September 29, 2016, 01:05:04 pm »
I couldn't say how accurate it is or how it compares to Neptune in real life but I can get around 10MB/s with the Nereid emulation in XM6g. That isn't bad. How much data would you realistically be transferring anyway? Games are a few MB, music is tiny taken in smaller chunks than the whole damn collection.

If you're getting 10 megabytes/second, then you're running faster than a 100-baseT network, let alone the 10base-T that's on the NE2000 board that's supported by the Neptune-X.

The ether_ne.sys v0.02 driver that's on the NFGames FTP site comes with a readme that says ...

Quote
development environment & speed comparison

X68030-25MHz (cache on) + Neputune-Evolution
+ Ether_ne.sys + ftp.x
Self-made AT machine i486SX-66MHz
+ TFTPD (FTP Daemon for Windows95)
We gave a speed comparison in.

Original ether_ne.sys
Reception 27KB / sec transmission 80KB / sec

- Modified version ether_ne.sys
Reception 30KB / sec transmission 137KB / sec

The above results I am based on the transfer speed display in the mput command of ftp.x.
Please note that it contains a certain amount of error in this value (network
Even numbers will vary by the amount of flowing packets).

Now, those are pitifully slow numbers, and that's on an X68030-25!

Back in the PC days, I was getting 800KB/second transfers out of a 10base-T network.

Communication through high-speed serial is an option, and there's the lovely 4-port high-speed serial port board for the X68000 that should easily do 500Kb/s that I've not been able to get a hold of.

A USB-FIFO with good programming on the PC end can get 1 megabyte/s transfer ... and it's such a simple port-based I/O solution on the X68000 that it really should be able to achieve a reasonable fraction of that (even without DMA).

As for actual internet-access on the X68000 ... I'm afraid that it's something that just doesn't interest me, but I can understand if others think that it's "cool".
« Last Edit: September 29, 2016, 01:06:38 pm by elmer »

Offline neko68k

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Re: Interest Check: Network Cards
« Reply #16 on: September 30, 2016, 12:43:43 am »
Did I say 10? I meant 1. Sorry for the confusion :D

FWIW I'm not using the old INETD either, there is also HINETD and XIP. I use XIP, it helps a bit.

For internet, it's useless. The browsers are too old and pretty crappy anyway. You can IRC ^_^

Offline elmer

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Re: Interest Check: Network Cards
« Reply #17 on: September 30, 2016, 03:00:49 am »
OK, thanks!

I just found your page on the wiki about the software setup ...

http://gamesx.com/wiki/doku.php?id=x68000:internet_on_x68000_using_ethernet_or_null_modem_cable

That looks like it still needs a driver for the ethernet card, so I'd need to find out what to use for the Neptune-X if you don't think that ether_ne.sys is the best choice.

<EDIT>

OK, it looks like the etherL12.lzh file that you mention is the correct one, and it's just a later version of the ether_ne.sys driver.

Looks like the X68030-25MHz FTP speeds of 30KB/s send, 137KB/s receive probably still apply.

So, the next question is ... can we use an NE2000-compatible plug-n-play ISA card for the Neptune-X, or do we need to find a really, really old one that still uses jumpers to set the address/irq?
« Last Edit: September 30, 2016, 03:22:27 am by elmer »

Offline amigo-mexicano

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Re: Interest Check: Network Cards
« Reply #18 on: September 30, 2016, 08:22:30 am »
I am interested too :)
From Mexico City... Amigo-Mexicano!
videogamedose.com || video-juegos.com

Offline famiac

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Re: Interest Check: Network Cards
« Reply #19 on: September 30, 2016, 01:12:45 pm »
Sorry for the short off-topic. I do have to mention that I'm a full-time student and I'm working part-time right now, and so I may not have too much time to sit down and help development. I should be on break in a couple of months or so, though.

Don't worry, I won't let it affect the shipment of the boards.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2016, 01:20:12 pm by famiac »

Offline costa

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Re: Interest Check: Network Cards
« Reply #20 on: October 23, 2016, 10:27:06 am »
Is this still going on? I would be interested.

Offline famiac

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Re: Interest Check: Network Cards
« Reply #21 on: November 01, 2016, 05:26:58 am »
Yeah! Sorry for not posting an update.

I have received the boards. I have successfully assembled one of the boards, but only after a lot of trouble with the isa slot pins. The spacing is incorrect, but i was able to bend them into place. I had to cut it into two pieces to make it easier to manage. Here's a photo of the board, fully assembled.



Full size


I have not tested it yet. I won't be selling any of these before i can confirm that they work. So just hang tight for now. If anybody has pointers on using the drivers, please let me know
« Last Edit: November 01, 2016, 05:31:04 am by famiac »

Offline neko68k

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Re: Interest Check: Network Cards
« Reply #22 on: November 01, 2016, 09:11:54 am »
Check the wiki post a little further up the thread. DHCP _might_ work but I've always just used a static address.

Offline corpsicle

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Re: Interest Check: Network Cards
« Reply #23 on: November 01, 2016, 09:47:18 pm »
Maybe it was already stated, but does this take up two slots?

Offline famiac

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Re: Interest Check: Network Cards
« Reply #24 on: November 02, 2016, 01:12:44 am »
Not by itself. It depends on the profile of your NE2000 card. Mine is large and takes up two slots, but you might be able to find one that is thin enough.
I could make the capacitors parallel to the card, and then it would fit in one slot.

Offline famiac

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Re: Interest Check: Network Cards
« Reply #25 on: January 25, 2017, 03:03:56 pm »
So a bit of a status update on this.
Just ran some tests. It seems semi-promising.



full size

Essentially it seems that my ne2000 card is incompatible, so i'm going to look for a new one. It also says something about IRQ, but I still need to investigate. could be jumpers on the board.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2017, 03:05:51 pm by famiac »

Offline famiac

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Re: Interest Check: Network Cards
« Reply #26 on: April 08, 2017, 09:13:28 am »
Alright! So all of the tests seem to be working. I'm using an NE2000 that has been confirmed as compatible.  Here is the one i bought: http://page22.auctions.yahoo.co.jp/jp/auction/l374462390

Here are "screenshots" of the working tests.
http://imgur.com/a/9tPSo

I have two unpopulated boards left

If you want to build your own network card, they're $40 each

Note: I think the NE2000 card/clone will most likely work if it uses a genuine RTL8019. Mine has an RTL8019AS.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2017, 06:40:28 pm by famiac »

Offline Martin8bity

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Re: Interest Check: Network Cards
« Reply #27 on: May 02, 2017, 04:51:11 pm »
Just soldering parts and found strange thing. I cannot open the PCB/schematic sources, but to me it looks like the "VECTOR" part should be SIP switch and not 8x 4k7 SIP resistor. Is it really ok? It looks like you have soldered the resistor down and the card seems to be working.

Offline famiac

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Re: Interest Check: Network Cards
« Reply #28 on: May 03, 2017, 04:10:01 pm »
I'm pretty sure it's supposed to be a resistor array.

Offline Martin8bity

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Re: Interest Check: Network Cards
« Reply #29 on: May 05, 2017, 06:17:59 am »
What would be the purpose? If you use 2 resistor arrays it creates voltage divider to 2.5V. On other schematics I have is pull-up and DIP switch for interrupt vector (usually F9).