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Re: ISA NICs



Nick Holland wrote:

> You have to set the card before expecting it to work.  That's the rule
> with ISA: You can NOT just plug it in and hope that magic is going to
> happen to make it work.  SOMEHOW the IRQ, I/O address and if
> appropriate, the DMA channels have to be set to something the
> application expects, and you had best know what that "somehow" is.

A few months ago, I built my firewall using a 486 and three no-name
NE2000 clone NICs (Manufactured by "YES" -- probably as in "Yes, we do
make computers" .... their part Number is AN-16C.)

I found the cards by searching ebay for "ISA" and "ethernet"; I paid
$3.40 for four of them ($0.85 per card) plus $3 shipping in a dutch
auction.  These NICs do not have any hardware jumpers, which would have
meant I was SOL if they had not come with a DOS-based setup program.

As the 486 used to be a windows 3.1 machine, it was filled with crap I
didn't need in a firewall (internal modem, audio card, etc) that was
only useable with windows drivers.  I stripped that all out, leaving
just a barebones machine (motherboard and drives).  Stripping that crap
out freed up IRQs and I/O for my NICs.

Next, I downloaded a free DOS clone (FreeDOS or something similarly
named) and made sure the machine would boot it.  I then installed a
single NIC in the machine, booted using the DOS clone, then used the
DOS-based NIC setup program to set the IRQ, I/O and DMA for the first
card.  I noted the values I used, then shutdown, removed the card,
inserted another NIC, and configured it (using a different IRQ and
different I/O).  After again writing down the values I used, I repeated
the process for the third card.  I then shutdown, inserted all three
cards, booted the machine (this time using a real operating system :-),
and then configured the system as a firewall using the IRQs and I/Os
that I had configured the NICs to.

So far, it's worked great -- I think my uptime was 160+ days before I
powered the box down in order to move it to another room.  It was well
worth my $6.40 investment!  (At the time, I was unemployed, so my time
wasn't worth much.)

If you don't have manuals or software to configure your existing cards,
it's probably worth searching ebay for other cards... especially if you
can get duplicate

-- 

--Chris Webster, P.E.		www.speakeasy.org/~cwebster
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