Localtalk to Ethernet Adaptor

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I was wondering if there is any way to build a Localtalk to Ethernet adaptor. It doesn't have to convert protocol as long as it will work with Appletalk over Ethernet. Preferably as simple as it can get.

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jwg1962's picture
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Re: Localtalk to Ethernet Adaptor

Dear Swinsor,

A few companies made these back in the day. I can remember a Asante' and Kinetics as two of them. I think they eventually became one company as Asante bought out Kinetics. We had a ton of Kinetics Fast Path devices on campus.

THere are a few of them on ebay now. Just search for "LocalTalk to Ethernet Bridge"

Jay

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mmphosis's picture
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Re: Localtalk to Ethernet Adaptor

I've been thinking the same thing: building an Ethernet to LocalTalk bridge!

-----

Here are bridges that I know about:

  1. AsanteTalk LocalTalk to EtherTalk bridge
  2. Farallon Ethermac iPrint Adapter LT
  3. Apple LocalTalk Bridge (apple.com)

The Asante and Farallon devices can be acquired, but they seem a little pricey for me. The Apple solution would mean dedicating an older Mac with LocalTalk and Ethernet to run the bridge software.

Also, see Bridge LocalTalk to Ethernet (lowendmac.com)

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So, building an Ethernet to LocalTalk bridge!

A project like this might be over my head -- I don't know. How difficult is it to build Ethernet? How difficult is it to build LocalTalk? RS-422? The bridge software in the middle?

eeun's picture
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Re: Localtalk to Ethernet Adaptor

There's very little to a phone-net or localtalk connector, if my poor memory serves me correctly. If I recall correctly, it's not much more than a pin-to-pin, with the possible exception of having an isolation transformer if you want to play it safe.
Ethernet to Localtalk is reasonably complicated, if only because one standard is using 4 wires, and the other, two wires. And at different speeds.
I had one of the Asante localtalk bridges, and it was pretty busy little box on the inside.

I have seen plans to build localtalk adapters, and there are a number of different development boards that contain ethernet, but I've never seen the two meet in any DIY project. I did take a look at the Arduino as a possibility, but there are several deal breakers, including the Arduino's 115kbps serial speed limit, and the need to write a bloody huge Localtalk stack for it. ;P

If you can't track down one of the bridge boxes (and some of them only supported printers, not computer-to-computer), getting a Mac with both ports and running Apple's Localtalk to Ethernet Bridge software works well. It's maybe an overkill solution, but it does the job.

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Re: Localtalk to Ethernet Adaptor

I think perhaps someone should try building such an adapter. The whole reason I started this topic was because I wanted to try such a project with little to no spending whatsoever. Surely it wouldn't be too hard with OS9 (and even some versions of X) supporting Appletalk Over Ethernet to build a simple pin connector and hooking it up (at least in my case) to an iMac's Ethernet port on one end an say, hmm, a Powerbook 5300c's Serial port? Feel free to connect any errors I may have made or anything that I may have overlooked.

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Re: Localtalk to Ethernet Adaptor

swinsor wrote:

I think perhaps someone should try building such an adapter. The whole reason I started this topic was because I wanted to try such a project with little to no spending whatsoever. Surely it wouldn't be too hard with OS9 (and even some versions of X) supporting Appletalk Over Ethernet to build a simple pin connector and hooking it up (at least in my case) to an iMac's Ethernet port on one end an say, hmm, a Powerbook 5300c's Serial port? Feel free to connect any errors I may have made or anything that I may have overlooked.

For a basic overview, look at this article at Low End Mac:
http://lowendmac.com/network/bridge.shtml

The LEM article misses lots of considerations -- as soon as you get AppleTalk, you'll determine that you need TCP/IP as well. Having half a connection is not satisfying.

If you think you will be happy with AppleTalk, check out the consumer products offered by Farallon, Asante etc and find one that will work for you. Be careful to exclude adapters that only support printers because you need AFP, file sharing.

eeun's picture
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Re: Localtalk to Ethernet Adaptor

swinsor wrote:

Surely it wouldn't be too hard with OS9 (and even some versions of X) supporting Appletalk Over Ethernet to build a simple pin connector and hooking it up (at least in my case) to an iMac's Ethernet port on one end an say, hmm, a Powerbook 5300c's Serial port?

There is no simple pin-to-pin adapter possible. It requires complex hardware to translate localtalk to ethernet.
I think you're getting stuck on the fact that Appletalk exists on both. That's largely irrelevant.
The adapters that performed this function were complex and expensive out of necessity, and that's just as true today as it was back when Localtalk was current.

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Re: Localtalk to Ethernet Adaptor

@swinsor: Are you specifically looking to transfer files to/from the PowerBook 5300c, or do you want to run Apple Filing Protocol? There may be ways to transfer files using a regular RS-232 serial to/from the PowerBook 5300c, the software is not as easy to setup as AFP, but it might be easier than setting up hardware to adapt wired Ethernet to/from RS-422.

I am looking into LocalTalk for a variety of projects...

  • I am looking to print to a LaserWriter 4/600 PS from Ethernet.

  • I want to play around with an old Newton which has a RS-422 connector.

  • Maybe someone will come around with an older model Mac like yours that doesn't have Ethernet. It might be useful to be able connect older model Macs using LocalTalk.

  • I also have a few Farallon connectors. For me, there is some appeal to the low cost and greater distances that these old networks RS485/RS422 have over wired Ethernet where speed is not such a big consideration.

  • If I can acquire a cheap enough Asante or Farallon Localtalk to Ethernet adaptor, I'll go that way.

  • I am looking into Macs that had both Ethernet (RJ-45) and a printer port (RS-422) built-in. The Apple PowerBook 5300c didn't come with Ethernet, only the modem/printer port. The PowerBook G3 came with Ethernet and still had the modem/print port.

  • The LTC485 seems like an inexpensive chip to handle one small part of building the hardware. I think that the hardware for Ethernet and the bridge appear to make it a less feasible project, at this moment in time.

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Re: Localtalk to Ethernet Adaptor

I suspect that someone with decent programming skill (read: not me) could make such an adapter using an Arduino with an Ethernet shield. I don't think the hardware would be the hard part of building an adapter.

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Re: Localtalk to Ethernet Adaptor

Quote:

There is no simple pin-to-pin adapter possible. It requires complex hardware to translate localtalk to ethernet.
I think you're getting stuck on the fact that Appletalk exists on both. That's largely irrelevant.
The adapters that performed this function were complex and expensive out of necessity, and that's just as true today as it was back when Localtalk was current.

Right, thanks. Well I am really bad at networking so excuse my mistakes. Now ask me to set up a recording studio and its a different story... Anyway, thanks.

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Re: Localtalk to Ethernet Adaptor
eeun's picture
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Re: Localtalk to Ethernet Adaptor

Swinsor, what was the intended use you wanted an adapter for?
I was just thinking that if it was only file transfer, you could use a comms program and connect a null modem cable plus a USB-to-serial between your older Macs and newer Macs or PCs. Files could be sent back and forth as compressed archives.

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Re: Localtalk to Ethernet Adaptor

Back when I was a teenager I had a massive network of my old macs (and a couple of PC's) on a few different hardware protocols, all interconnected... I even had a 512k on there somehow in some rudimentary form.

Basically I had a hub (which i still have) that had 10 RJ45 ethernet ports and a coaxial connector... that was basically the ethernet side of things sorted no worries. Obviously i too ran into the issue of having macs on the network that predated an expansion slot ethernet, or simply didnt have a card installed...

Thats where a handy little program called LocalTalk Bridge came into the picture... From memory it was an extension and a control panel that load at startup? I believe it may actually be an Apple product from memory too. But in any case I simply installed that on my LC which had connectivity to both the localtalk network and the ethernet network via the RJ45 ethernet expansion card, and it became a software bridge between the two networks... meaning so long as that computer was booted and operating, there was open communication across the network at least for filesharing and games which allowed network connectivity via Appletalk such as Super Maze Wars. I even went as far as to install the Appletalk/Appleshare stuff on my PC's so it could also share files between computers, which was actually more useful than I'd have given it credit for.

Hmmm... This is actually making me want to drag out my localtalk boxes and million kilometers of telephine cable and have a play round again... its been over 10 years lol

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Re: Localtalk to Ethernet Adaptor

schmoburger wrote:

Back when I was a teenager I had a massive network of my old macs (and a couple of PC's) on a few different hardware protocols, all interconnected... I even had a 512k on there somehow in some rudimentary form.

Basically I had a hub (which i still have) that had 10 RJ45 ethernet ports and a coaxial connector... that was basically the ethernet side of things sorted no worries. Obviously i too ran into the issue of having macs on the network that predated an expansion slot ethernet, or simply didnt have a card installed...

Thats where a handy little program called LocalTalk Bridge came into the picture... From memory it was an extension and a control panel that load at startup? I believe it may actually be an Apple product from memory too. But in any case I simply installed that on my LC which had connectivity to both the localtalk network and the ethernet network via the RJ45 ethernet expansion card, and it became a software bridge between the two networks... meaning so long as that computer was booted and operating, there was open communication across the network at least for filesharing and games which allowed network connectivity via Appletalk such as Super Maze Wars. I even went as far as to install the Appletalk/Appleshare stuff on my PC's so it could also share files between computers, which was actually more useful than I'd have given it credit for.

Hmmm... This is actually making me want to drag out my localtalk boxes and million kilometers of telephine cable and have a play round again... its been over 10 years lol

The Apple solution would mean dedicating an older Mac with LocalTalk and Ethernet to run the bridge software.