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EEVblog => EEVblog Specific => Topic started by: EEVblog on September 30, 2017, 11:08:56 am

Title: EEVblog #1028 - What's All This PC/104 Stuff Anyhow?
Post by: EEVblog on September 30, 2017, 11:08:56 am
Forget Arduino & Raspberry Pi being the embedded platform computing standards, PC/104 has reigned supreme for over 25 years and is still THE industrial embedded computing standard.
Dave boots up a 17 year old 80386SX PC-104 board with Disk On Chip flash drive. Well, after a lot of frustration anyway.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ad0KP5EvpU (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ad0KP5EvpU)
Title: Re: EEVblog #1028 - What's All This PC/104 Stuff Anyhow?
Post by: Artlav on September 30, 2017, 11:14:18 am
Well, what do you know.
Just a week ago i was ripping the data off of a Disk-On-Chip, which involved making an OS, a TCP/IP stack, a driver for a network card and a driver for the DoC, all on a weird half-PC embedded board i happened to buy on a garage sale a few years earlier, and now i see a board like that on EEVBlog out of the blue.
Title: Re: EEVblog #1028 - What's All This PC/104 Stuff Anyhow?
Post by: Red Squirrel on September 30, 2017, 12:39:43 pm
Oh man, floppies and dos are so nostalgic, but yeah they are a pain haha.   I had to flash some SAS HBA cards for my file server and it required the use of a floppy, took me hours to get a damn DOS boot environment to work so I can run the flash util haha.  Had to play around with mem386 and autoexec.bat to allocate enough memory and stuff.  Fun fun.

Title: Re: EEVblog #1028 - What's All This PC/104 Stuff Anyhow?
Post by: Brumby on September 30, 2017, 01:46:00 pm
Computers these days are just sooooooooo easy to play with.

Wiring a video connection like that brings back so many memories......


... and DOS has a simplicity and integrity that just shows today's modern operating systems as the bloated mysteries that they are.
Title: Re: EEVblog #1028 - What's All This PC/104 Stuff Anyhow?
Post by: max_torque on September 30, 2017, 09:37:12 pm
Two comments:

1) PC therapist: Is the therapy actually derived from the pleasure of smashing your pc to pieces due to the continual imbecilic responses of the therapist??

2) "hmm, i remember better resolution than this, maybe i had a better monitor".  Nope, rose tinted monitor viewing spectacles!  Like when you go back and play last generation play station games, where at the time you could have swore the graphics were 'photo realistic' and yet, funnily, when you replay them years later, er, nope they weren't

 :-DD
Title: Re: EEVblog #1028 - What's All This PC/104 Stuff Anyhow?
Post by: Artlav on September 30, 2017, 09:46:28 pm
where at the time you could have swore the graphics were 'photo realistic' and yet, funnily, when you replay them years later, er, nope they weren't
Ah, so much of it was imagination-augmented. :)
I remember playing a game in the DOS era that was absurdly photo-realistic, and yet when i found it again this century... er, nope.
(https://i.ytimg.com/vi/AdJXUeKQjfI/maxresdefault.jpg)
Title: Re: EEVblog #1028 - What's All This PC/104 Stuff Anyhow?
Post by: TK on September 30, 2017, 10:03:17 pm
Arduino starter around 2003, so it is almost 15 years old, just 10 years younger than PC/104
Title: Re: EEVblog #1028 - What's All This PC/104 Stuff Anyhow?
Post by: 22swg on October 01, 2017, 01:28:13 am
Dave Jones ... Time traveller !  . Reminded me of all the things we had to do just to get a C prompt ... A*
Title: Re: EEVblog #1028 - What's All This PC/104 Stuff Anyhow?
Post by: capt bullshot on October 01, 2017, 04:21:56 am
Cool stuff
Once upon a time, I built instruments (very special power line analyzers) with these as the main CPU (a 486 with 4MB RAM, later 16MB).
The PC/104 CPU was mount on a mainboard containing all the stuff required for the instrument to work.
Using the PC/104 saved us a lot of work, because we just put in the board and we didn't have to bother with all the PC related stuff (like layout, where to get the BIOS, ...)
First generation booted DOS and DOS/4GW from a flash disk (roll your own style, no fancy Disk-on-Chip) - just to load the software into memory and then take over full control, never go back to DOS.
Next generation booted Linux from a similar home made flash disk, and now we had a decent file system and networking support.
Over time, manufacturer discontinued the PC/104 boards, but newer boards still ran in our system (most of them at least, sometimes we had some compatibility issues to solve).
Title: Re: EEVblog #1028 - What's All This PC/104 Stuff Anyhow?
Post by: free_electron on October 01, 2017, 08:23:48 am
this just screams : alley cat !
Title: Re: EEVblog #1028 - What's All This PC/104 Stuff Anyhow?
Post by: stmdude on October 01, 2017, 04:58:23 pm
So, since there's PC/104 people in this thread, maybe I could finally get an answer to something I've been wondering..

How did
Title: Re: EEVblog #1028 - What's All This PC/104 Stuff Anyhow?
Post by: fusebit on October 03, 2017, 05:23:47 am
By far the best was the floppy disk sound  :popcorn:
Haven't heard that for a while  :-DD
Title: Re: EEVblog #1028 - What's All This PC/104 Stuff Anyhow?
Post by: glarsson on October 03, 2017, 06:26:08 am
So, since there's PC/104 people in this thread, maybe I could finally get an answer to something I've been wondering..

How did
I think we have waited long enough now.
Title: Re: EEVblog #1028 - What's All This PC/104 Stuff Anyhow?
Post by: Red Squirrel on October 03, 2017, 09:22:37 am
Anyone know of any places that actually sell PC/104 stuff, specifically in Canada?  It's really cool to know that it's a standard and all but can't seem to find anywhere to even buy/shop.  There are situations where it would be nice to have a x86/x64 platform to have something run on but where a full blown PC would be too expensive/overkill/big.  I have a feeling it's pretty hard to beat the price of a RPI though even though that's not x86 it runs Linux and pretty much anything you would need to run on it.

Title: Re: EEVblog #1028 - What's All This PC/104 Stuff Anyhow?
Post by: TK on October 03, 2017, 11:22:55 am
I checked on eBay hopping to find bargains but what I found was pretty expensive, maybe because it is still used for industrial applications
Title: Re: EEVblog #1028 - What's All This PC/104 Stuff Anyhow?
Post by: chickenHeadKnob on October 03, 2017, 11:27:14 am
Anyone know of any places that actually sell PC/104 stuff, specifically in Canada?  It's really cool to know that it's a standard and all but can't seem to find anywhere to even buy/shop.  There are situations where it would be nice to have a x86/x64 platform to have something run on but where a full blown PC would be too expensive/overkill/big.  I have a feeling it's pretty hard to beat the price of a RPI though even though that's not x86 it runs Linux and pretty much anything you would need to run on it.
PC-104 or other industrial form factors have never been cheap, that is they are significantly behind price/performance of commercial grade motherboards. Unless you need one of industrial temp grade, long lifetime availability or unusual parallel I/O I would buy a fanless mini ITX. Some of these are tailored for the industrial market and quite a few of those have legacy ports if you need them. 
Title: Re: EEVblog #1028 - What's All This PC/104 Stuff Anyhow?
Post by: Red Squirrel on October 03, 2017, 02:08:17 pm
I was thinking it would be cool to incorporate in custom applications but guess the Raspberry Pi route is probably still best bet.  Going ITX would still be more expensive as it still involves a full blown PC.  ex: $100 for the motherboard, couple hundred for cpu, ram, PSU etc.
Title: Re: EEVblog #1028 - What's All This PC/104 Stuff Anyhow?
Post by: cdev on October 03, 2017, 02:26:15 pm
HP thin clients are physically small, cost less than an new RPI 3 (used) and they will run all i386 software, (they will run any old or even modern Linux) plus they have real serial and parallel ports. Some are fairly fast, too, considering how cheap they are.

Anyone know of any places that actually sell PC/104 stuff, specifically in Canada?  It's really cool to know that it's a standard and all but can't seem to find anywhere to even buy/shop.  There are situations where it would be nice to have a x86/x64 platform to have something run on but where a full blown PC would be too expensive/overkill/big.  I have a feeling it's pretty hard to beat the price of a RPI though even though that's not x86 it runs Linux and pretty much anything you would need to run on it.
Title: Re: EEVblog #1028 - What's All This PC/104 Stuff Anyhow?
Post by: Red Squirrel on October 03, 2017, 03:16:02 pm
Actually yeah I always forget about thin clients, some of those can be pretty cheap and they are low power usage too.
Title: Re: EEVblog #1028 - What's All This PC/104 Stuff Anyhow?
Post by: meeko on October 04, 2017, 02:34:08 am
I was thinking it would be cool to incorporate in custom applications but guess the Raspberry Pi route is probably still best bet.  Going ITX would still be more expensive as it still involves a full blown PC.  ex: $100 for the motherboard, couple hundred for cpu, ram, PSU etc.

Still going to end up costing more than a Raspberry Pi, but I've got a bunch of new and used PC parts, including Athlon 5350s (2.05 GHz quad-core), a Mini-ITX motherboard, RAM and PicoPSUs, for sale over at https://forums.servethehome.com/index.php?threads/fs-motherboards-cpus-ram-case-nics-video-card-picopsus.16457/ (https://forums.servethehome.com/index.php?threads/fs-motherboards-cpus-ram-case-nics-video-card-picopsus.16457/).
Title: Re: EEVblog #1028 - What's All This PC/104 Stuff Anyhow?
Post by: Red Squirrel on October 04, 2017, 05:34:49 am
Thanks but not in the market now, was just thinking it would be cool to use PC/104 for future project if it was easily obtainable, but I'll probably stick to RPIs.   
Title: Re: EEVblog #1028 - What's All This PC/104 Stuff Anyhow?
Post by: jonovid on October 05, 2017, 01:46:59 am
Reminded me of DOS , Doom and Windows 3.2  those were the days ;D
Title: Re: EEVblog #1028 - What's All This PC/104 Stuff Anyhow?
Post by: brucehoult on November 16, 2017, 08:26:51 pm
Raspberry Pi? PC104? How to choose?

Seems you don't have to any more.

https://www.crowdsupply.com/parker-microsystems/pi-104 (https://www.crowdsupply.com/parker-microsystems/pi-104)
Title: Re: EEVblog #1028 - What's All This PC/104 Stuff Anyhow?
Post by: CM800 on November 17, 2017, 06:42:54 am
Raspberry Pi? PC104? How to choose?

Seems you don't have to any more.

https://www.crowdsupply.com/parker-microsystems/pi-104 (https://www.crowdsupply.com/parker-microsystems/pi-104)


Saw that... except it isn't PC104.
None of the connections or stack ability....

just the dimensions?
Title: Re: EEVblog #1028 - What's All This PC/104 Stuff Anyhow?
Post by: brucehoult on November 17, 2017, 08:31:32 am
Raspberry Pi? PC104? How to choose?

Seems you don't have to any more.

https://www.crowdsupply.com/parker-microsystems/pi-104 (https://www.crowdsupply.com/parker-microsystems/pi-104)


Saw that... except it isn't PC104.
None of the connections or stack ability....

just the dimensions?

Well that's pretty silly if they go to all that trouble but don't actually do it right!
Title: Re: EEVblog #1028 - What's All This PC/104 Stuff Anyhow?
Post by: foreverska on November 18, 2017, 12:40:00 pm
Quote
Saw that... except it isn't PC104.
None of the connections or stack ability....

just the dimensions?

Quote
Well that's pretty silly if they go to all that trouble but don't actually do it right!

Hey guys!  Project creator here.  I've gone back and forth on the whole PC/104 thing being front and center in our media.  PC/104 refers to a whole family of standards including, PC/104 (ISA, like you're referring to), PCI/104 and PCIE/104.  It is pretty confusing at first pass.
We chose to implement a subset of the PCIE/104 standard called the OneBank connector.  It's a lot cheaper and doesn't have a bunch of pins we wouldn't use (since the broadcom chip doesn't have PCI or PCIE). But that means we are indeed stackable.  I have a cellular modem in my personal stack.
There's even rumors of USB to ISA to maybe support classic PC/104 cards but I wrote more about that on my campaign page which went live today.

It's very good to see discussion like this.  I will have to make it a priority to include media showing the stack-ability.
Title: Re: EEVblog #1028 - What's All This PC/104 Stuff Anyhow?
Post by: Brumby on November 18, 2017, 07:10:37 pm
It's very good to see discussion like this.
It is.

Even better is to have the engagement of the designer!

Quote
I will have to make it a priority to include media showing the stack-ability.
Very good!


Having a two-way interaction is going to make everybody's experience that much better.

As a designer, you can be too close to the subject matter and be intimately familiar with so many details about the project that you don't communicate all the good points.

As potential users, we don't get to see the hundreds of little minutiae that have been laboured over in the development and we will each be looking for a range of features and/or specifications.

The EEVblog forum offers the opportunity for both sides to meet, discuss, explore...    :-+
Title: Re: EEVblog #1028 - What's All This PC/104 Stuff Anyhow?
Post by: alpher on February 21, 2018, 11:17:51 am
Forget Arduino & Raspberry Pi being the embedded platform computing standards, PC/104 has reigned supreme for over 25 years and is still THE industrial embedded computing standard.
Dave boots up a 17 year old 80386SX PC-104 board with Disk On Chip flash drive. Well, after a lot of frustration anyway.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ad0KP5EvpU (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ad0KP5EvpU)

Fascinaating  :-+
Sorry to rehash  old thread, but I have one question.
Would you mind sharing the source for the VGA card that you used here?
I cannot find any available for sale for reasonable amount.
Main boards are no problem, I've scored a couple but no VGA in sight.
Thank you.

Title: Re: EEVblog #1028 - What's All This PC/104 Stuff Anyhow?
Post by: PixieDust on February 15, 2019, 04:04:40 pm
Unless I'm missing something, these 'industrial' computers can only really compete with the arduino in terms of performance. The RPi blows it out of the water in terms of compute power. So I guess if you want to replace the RPi, you can't with these things. Interesting video none the less! Thanks Dave!
Title: Re: EEVblog #1028 - What's All This PC/104 Stuff Anyhow?
Post by: Barny on February 15, 2019, 07:24:16 pm
What you've seen in the video is a ca. 20 year old iPC. (The i used to stand for industrie before the bitten apple stated its marketing hype.)
Its obvious that this modules arn't the fastest PC's on the marked.

Modern iPC's and PC/104 have similar power of the whole range of modern laptops.
Title: Re: EEVblog #1028 - What's All This PC/104 Stuff Anyhow?
Post by: PixieDust on February 15, 2019, 09:22:41 pm
Yep understood, just pointing out that despite these things being standardised and quite nifty, they are none the less quite outdated technology in coparison to the 'non serious' Raspberry Pi. I don't know how long RPi will be around for, but for the moment, it's a nifty useful device.
Title: Re: EEVblog #1028 - What's All This PC/104 Stuff Anyhow?
Post by: Fungus on February 16, 2019, 01:06:38 am
Unless I'm missing something, these 'industrial' computers can only really compete with the arduino in terms of performance. The RPi blows it out of the water in terms of compute power.

Who cares about that? Most industrial tasks are quite menial, eg. Read a sensor, activate a motor until it reaches the end-stop.
Title: Re: EEVblog #1028 - What's All This PC/104 Stuff Anyhow?
Post by: PixieDust on February 16, 2019, 06:04:03 pm
Ah fair enough.