DIY Ethernet for Apple II+ and IIe

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DIY Ethernet for Apple II+ and IIe

Evening All:

I want to play around with getting my Apple II+ and IIe on my home network and eventually Internet.  I know there are cards out on eBay and Uthernet cards, but I was curious how others have experimented with this.  In addition, I have some empty prototype boards and could, possibly, build one.

I have to admit I haven't done much research yet, but thought I would ask the community what experiences you have had and any do/don't suggestions.

Cheers,

mark

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Here's my take on building an Ethernet Card

You can find the link HERE.  I've since done more with it, but yet to share the result.  A visual of the card is HERE. If you click on the Photo, you can blow it up large for better detail.

It basically uses a Lantronix Serial to Ethernet converter module that also can act as a file transfer mediun but (for now) I'm only using it as a converter.

The nice part about this card is that you can configure the IP Addressing via a web browser so you can customize the interface without software. (or the hassle)

I was thinking of adopting the design into the Uthernet interface to gain more speed,  but for now, this card has a transfer rate of 38.6KBaud usinga different timebase and is considerably slower than the Uthernet.  But it has advantages the Uthernet doesn't, such as; you can use this card with an Ethernet Printer, for example.  It also has a Serial output in parallel with the Ehternet interface so you can use that to monitor what's coming into the Ethernet channel through the Serial Port.

Anyway, this is what I've done.  Wish I could spend more time on it but have to wait for completion of other priorities. :)

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Ethernet for //c

If you can support ethernet/internet connectivity at 38.6K baud, have you considered a dongle for the Apple //c through its modem port?

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I'm quite intrigued by this

I'm quite intrigued by this board and I am surprised that I never noticed it when you first posted about it.

 

Two things specifically.

First, have you continued to work on it?  Have you made any progress with card throughput and increased baud rates?

Second, I'm wondering if you have productinized the project - that is, have you got it to the gerber stage for PCB creation?

Third, how does the Lantronix module interface with the card vis-a-vis communicaitons software?  SomeLantronix standalone units can emulate a rudimentary Hayes type modem so that existing software wont kakk out.   The SSC firmware would also have to be familiar enough for existing software.

 

I'm asking these quesions from the point of view of thinking that this would be a much more elegant solution on my BBS than a Wifi modem or RPi running tcpser.

 

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Bldrick, Answers to your questions ...

To your first question, I did continue to work on it for a while.  Got the transfer rate to 38.6KBaud without errors but couldn't get it to 57.6KB without errors.  I did not test to see if it was a serial Sync issue or a Buss issue because I ran out of time. (at the time)  I have ambitions to start on it again but I have a few things going on here that prevent me from diving into it .

Regarding your second question, No, I haven't made up a board for it nor have I made gerbers.  I only have the schamatic. (to date).

Third Question about the Lantronics...

The Lantronix Serial to Ethernet Port is wired via hardware handshake to the ASIC, but I've not noticed any difference between the hardware handshake speed and the X-ON /X-OFF speed setting (regarding accuracy) until I got beyond 38.6KBaud.  You'll notice I'm using an antique ASIC chip on my board, and I'm pretty sure that has to change for me to increase transfer spreed.  My original build was to make this as "retro" as possible eve though adding the Lantronix module sort of defeated that purpose a bit.  The Lantronix itself is wired simply as a serial to ethernet converter.  I've not yet taken advantage of the server part of the module.  That comes later.

The software to control the Lantronix "beyond the web page configuration" is called "DeviceInstaller.exe" available on the Lantronix web site (free) and allows top-level configuration of the device if you need to control things not available via HTTP, but I've found that the tool itself is unnecessary beyond the initial setup.  You can control baud rate, device name, and a host of other settings from the web page and this makes the device really convenient to use over a LAN.  Unlike the Uthernet board, this device establishes connection by itself and is up and running about 5 seconds after power-up.  Works great through managed Ethernet Switches as well, and that's something I've struggled with using Uthernet.

With regard to the SSC Firmware, it handles commands as any other Apple Super Serial Card, and the In/Out via Serial is now also Ethernet. (both directions)

The Serial Port configuration of the card is hard-wired to "Terminal mode", so using it to another computer or device uses a standard RS-232 Serial Cable.  I found that flipping the handshake signals (i.e.; pins 2 & 3) are best done using a null modem adapter rather than the bulky jumper block that's in the standard Apple Super Serial Card.  This also bought me a bit of space to fit the Serial to Ethernet converter.

If I had to do it all over again, I would use a Lantronix X-Port device.  Much smaller, uses a lot less power and is just as powerful.  That might be my next project...

 

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