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Y.A.P.F.C.A. (Yet another Plea For Computer Advice)

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  • Y.A.P.F.C.A. (Yet another Plea For Computer Advice)

    I use an old Toshiba 386 laptop to run my DOS CNC router controller. I've always used a floppy to transfer the G-Code from my shop CAD computer to the laptop. Lately, the floppy has balked a few times but so far has always come back with a spritz of canned air.

    I know one of these days the drives's gonna go Tango Uniform on me so I'm thinking about trying to get the laptop up on my wireless network. The laptop runs Win95 so probably isn't going to see (without a fight anyway) the Linksys WPC11 PCMCIA wireless adapter a friend gave me.

    I Googled and it looks like several drivers are available for this adapter running W95 but my skills in the network area are sadly lacking. Has anyone here done this and remembers how to go about it? Oh, and my network is a "G" type and the adapter probably isn't. Compatible?

    I think Evan just did a W95/Network hookup on his digital picture frame thread....are you there Evan?

    ps: I'm on vacation this week....anybody else besides me wondering why the heck I'm even considering computer masochism? It must be be a disease.
    Milton

    "Accuracy is the sum total of your compensating mistakes."

    "The thing I hate about an argument is that it always interrupts a discussion." G. K. Chesterton

  • #2
    Well, since nobody showed up to hold my hand and guide me through the process I decided to strike out on my own.

    I found a Linksys driver download that says it's W95 compatible and was small enough to get onto a floppy so I could load it into the old laptop. All of that seemed to go OK except it asked for the Linksys installation CD (which I don't have.) I was able to complete the install without the disc.

    I shut it down, plugged in the wireless adapter and restarted. Windows found new hardware and needed something off it's installation disc. Thank gawd whoever set the laptop up before I got it had copied the whole W95 disc onto the HD and the installation continued normally. The wireless adapter lights came on but I can't get the network to "see" it. When I go into System/Device Drivers, I can see the adapter in the list but there's an exclamation point by it and Windows says there's a problem.

    I've now exhausted my meager computer juju...anyone got any suggestions? The wireless router, software and adapters in I'm using here at home were bought as a package (MS Broadband Network) and installed itself with no problems, hence my lack of network skills. The install CD that came with the kit says it's for W98 or later so I don't think I can use it to try & diagnose the problem.

    Do you think it's a simple Windows issue or the fact that I don't have a Linksys installation CD that's causing the problem?
    Milton

    "Accuracy is the sum total of your compensating mistakes."

    "The thing I hate about an argument is that it always interrupts a discussion." G. K. Chesterton

    Comment


    • #3
      Chances are pretty good the adapter won't work with 95.

      There is another option though. It's slow but it will work. You can connect the machines with a null modem serial cable. If the CAD machine doesn't have a serial port you can get a USB to RS232 serial adapter. Windows XP provides full support for the old DOS DCC (Direct Cable Connection). It permits two computers to be networked using only some wire between either the serial or parallel ports. I have used it on my old Thinkpad and it worked with no trouble at all. The laptop shows up just the same as any other networked machine but slow. Using the parallel port it was actually pretty fast with a transfer rate of .5 megabyte per second. The parallel connection requires a special adapter that is easy to make using a couple of DB25 connectors. The serial connection just needs a simple null modem cable which is readily available or can be made in a couple of minutes by swapping the wires at pins 2 and 3 on one end of a serial cable.
      Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

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      • #4
        Another thought would be a USB flash drive. It would feel very much like using a floppy disk but without all those annoying moving parts.

        Ward

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        • #5
          Easiest thing would be to go to goodwill and find an old laptop. I see PII's and PIII's all the time. Cheap too... Also craigslist.

          That way you can run 98 or 2000 and have full networking.

          And then you can run mach 3 and you will never want to go back to TurboCNC.

          Comment


          • #6
            I assure you, a 386 laptop with win 95 doesn't have USB capability. There aren't many options besides DCC if the floppy bites the dust unless it has a PCMCIA card slot. In that case it may be possible to find a compact flash adapter to fit the slot and transfer data that way. There are a lot of limitations imposed by the CPU itself not the least of which is that it is probably only 20 mhz or so.

            I would buy a new laptop instead. I have seen them here for as low as $300.
            Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

            Comment


            • #7
              I would like permission to use Y.A.P.F.C.A. in the future. DO you have a copywright?

              If so, I am going to change it...YAPFFCA (yet another plea for FREE computer advice)

              Comment


              • #8
                Permission granted S/M.

                Evan, I found out today the ol' Toshiba is actually a 486 instead of a 386 as originally posted. It has a PCMCIA slot in it that works. The wireless card lights up and is seen by Windows but I guess the driver I downloaded doesn't have the right magic incantations for it to work.

                Macona, yesterday I tried another laptop I have which has W98 and works great on my network. I loaded the CNC software, did all the configuration routines and it works...BUT (there's always a BUT when I'm messin' with computer stuff) even though I restart and run it in the DOS mode to run the control program, there's a rhythmic hiccup in the steppers when they're running and also do a "double-pump" glitch when accelerating up or down. I retried all the setups, differing speed settings, ad nauseum but couldn't get it to go away. Something in the mobo I reckon. I switched back to the old 486 Toshiba and all movements are smooth again. Go figure

                Wshelley I have a PCMCIA USB 2.0 2 port adapter that works well in my W98 laptop but again I couldn't find a W95 driver for the old W95 laptop.
                Milton

                "Accuracy is the sum total of your compensating mistakes."

                "The thing I hate about an argument is that it always interrupts a discussion." G. K. Chesterton

                Comment


                • #9
                  Win 95 doesn't support USB properly. There are some drivers that will make it work with a keyboard or mouse but not with a mass storage device. That said, it can be made to work on USB in DOS which would be perfect to go with DOS CNC software. In fact, you can use it with a USB hard drive, CD burner or memory card reader etc.

                  See here:

                  http://www.computing.net/dos/wwwboard/forum/13447.html

                  Also here. This is a download of the actual driver you need and it includes a full set of instructions on how to use it in DOS.

                  http://www.pocketech.net/downloads/duse_4_4.zip
                  Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Try disabling ACPI in the bios. I think there are a couple other things that can do that as well.

                    Why dont you download Mach3 and give that a try? Free for up to 500 lines of code.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      It's a 486 with Win 95. It doesn't have ACPI. ACPI came six years after the 486 was discontinued. Mach 3 won't run on it. This is a dumpster grade computer but it still works well enough for CNC. CNC isn't very demanding and once you get Windows out of the way the CPU cycles can actually be used to do something useful.
                      Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Well, I'm giving up on the wireless W95 project. I wasted too many hours being stubborn messing with something I'm way too un-edumacated to be successful with.

                        I jumped through all the hoops it takes to download what looked like the fix-all driver from DriverGuide.com...what a hassle that place is! It was an 8 meg download with numerous drivers and the original Linksys setup program and utilities so I had to drag out the old Backpack external CD drive to get the thing loaded into the laptop. It all loaded, the config program did what looked like wonderful things but still no go.

                        That site you linked to Evan re: USB drivers was really cool but it said the driver was for Pentium only. Besides, all those cryptic DOS commands brought back too many bad memories.

                        My new plan is to find the parallel cable that's around here somewhere and have it ready to do the Direct Connect thing with the network equipped laptop. If I have a proven work-around all set to go for when the floppy drive goes T.U, it'll work forever.
                        Milton

                        "Accuracy is the sum total of your compensating mistakes."

                        "The thing I hate about an argument is that it always interrupts a discussion." G. K. Chesterton

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I have a similar laptop and use an old parallel port ZIP drive to move files between it and my other computers. If you look around some people will almost pay you to take an old ZIP drive off their hands. They work much better than a floppy and hold about 75x more information.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            If you use the parallel Direct Cable Connection you need a special adapter for the parallel cable. It has no electronics in it but the wiring has to be switched around on one end.

                            Here is what you need to know about the cables:

                            http://support.microsoft.com/kb/q142324/#


                            Here is complete instructions on how to set up the computers:

                            http://support.microsoft.com/kb/814981

                            BTW, I would save the info from these pages instead of just bookmarking them. DCC isn't supported in Vista and MS has a nasty habit of purging old information from the database.
                            Last edited by Evan; 12-20-2007, 10:55 AM.
                            Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              What you actually want is a PCMCIA HDD such as an ARCHOS unit, they accept a standard laptop drive & just work with DOS and W95 or later, get a PCMCIA slot card for your main PC and you're sorted.

                              I used this setup to transfer data & software to an old Compaq 386 sub-notebook running DOS 6.22 & W95, don't ask why, I just decided to make it work before selling it for "Tuppence & a Balloon" on Ebay,

                              Regards,
                              Nick

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