[SPARCbook] Bumper Christmas test of Sparcbook-compatible kit
sparcbook at sunhelp.org
Thu Dec 28 16:34:42 CST 2000
OK, bit of background first: my Sparcbook is my main work box - I use it
instead of an appalling Compaq Deskpro, even though the Sparcbook is
mine and work have kindly (?) provided the top-end Deskpro.
It gets lugged in my backpack for a daily commute of 16 miles of cycling
and 1 and a half hours on the train.
That's one solid laptop! :-)
I depend on this Sparcbook absolutely - and so it gets thrashed
For reference - quick specs:
Kernel patch 105181-20 (an old kernel rev - I think it's up to -26 now)
All the Tadpole 2.6 packages and patches
I've had some trouble finding PCMCIA cards that work OK with it, and so
here is a result of some testing I've done - I hope this saves some
people some grief.
First up: faster serial ports
I've got a TRGPro PalmOS handheld - max reliable sync rate via the
Sparcbook serial ports was at 9600bps. Not really much fun with 7mb of
data on the TRGPro.
So, for a faster serial port - Socket Systems PCMCIA 'I/O' serial card.
The model I have is a single port one. Once inserted, you get
/dev/cua/pc1 appear. (Or /dev/cua/pc0 if it's in the bottom PCMCIA slot)
A full backup of 7mb of data from the TRGPro took 5 minutes - CPU load
hovered around the 65% idle mark - I found this acceptable. YMMV.
Not sure which is the model number, and which is the serial number
(they're not marked) but the numbers on the card are:
8010-00012 F <- I suspect this is the model number
Various people stock them new, or pick them up on Ebay. The cable on
this one has the weirdo connector at one end, for the PCMCIA card, and a
9pin male connector at the other end - perfect for the Palm cradle.
Socket Systems make PCMCIA serial cards with up to 4 serial ports on
them - have a hunt around.
Next up: compact flash cards
My MP3 player, and the TRGPro, all take compact flash - so naturally I
want to access those cards from the Sparcbook.
I've got 2 PCMCIA->Compact Flash adapter cards. They are:
Sandisk Compacy Flash PC Card Adapter, and
Lexar Media PC Card Adapter - got a part number of 2076-A
These things are dirt cheap - pick them up for $5 on Ebay.
The compact flash cards I have are:
Sandisk 20mb, 48mb and 64mb
All are type I compact flash cards, all work OK.
These are going dirt cheap on Ebay, and considering I can use them
across 3 gadgets, it makes them even more value for money.
I mount them with the following:
mount -F pcfs /dev/dsk/c1d1p0:c /mnt
I tried every combination I could think of to mount these cards - the
above is the one that works, always, for all cards.
As you can see, I've got the PCMCIA/CF adapter in slot I (the top one) -
the PCMCIA/CF adapter should work with type II CF cards, but I suspect
you'll have to have it in the PCMCIA slot 0 (the bottom one). I'll let
you know when I get my IBM Microdrive.
(BTW - top tip if you're thinking of getting a Microdrive. The 340mb one
draws *much* more power on startup than the later 540mb and 1gb drives.
This means if your MP3 player or PDA has low batteries, it may not see
the drive. Saves you an enormous amount of pain if you know about this
Misc PCMCIA cards:
3COM 3C589C 10mb/s LAN card - works fine, appears as/dev/pcelx0 or
USR 33.6 Megahertz XJack PCMCIA modem - standard Ross Pennington gear.
Model number XJ4336.
JustCooler PCMCIA cooler/fan thing - this has given me some grief. The
moment I plug it in, no matter which slot, the other PCMCIA card will
die. Just stops being recognised by the Sparcbook. Don't know why, never
managed to get the fan card and another PCMCIA card to co-exist. Not
sure if this is just my bad luck, or a general Sparcbook thing.
Lastly: PCMCIA hard drives
I've got a boatload of these - I use them with encrypted filesystems to
store all my important stuff like mailboxes and documents.
I've got the following (all work flawlessly):
Callunacard 520mb (PCMCIA type III)
Callunacard 260mb (PCMCIA type III)
Callunacard 170mb (PCMCIA type III)
They all run hot, but then so does the Sparcbook, so what's a bit of
extra heat? :-)
Sadly, as they're type III cards, I have to pull the 3COM PCMCIA LAN
card I use - which means, for me, unless I dig around for the monster
cable and AUI adapter, I lose network connectivity :-(
And finally, stuff that definitely does not work:
IBM Wireless LAN adapter, IBM Part No.: 80G0900
These are the 1mb cards - I got them to test under Solaris. They don't
work, and I don't know enough about the Tadpole WaveLan driver to hack
These cards provide 1mb/s wireless LAN, that is *not* 802.11 compatible,
and won't work with the slower, earlier IBM wireless LAN cards. Those
ones are the 'entry level wireless lan' adapters - the aerials look like
wierd black domes. Off the top of my head, those ones max out at
These cards have beige flat aerials, that attach to the cards with a
cable - the idea is you Velcro them to the back of your laptop or
Anyway, they don't work - avoid them, get some 2mb/s WaveLans or DEC
RoamAbouts, test them, and let us all know the model numbers, and where
you got them from :-)
Upcoming items to test with the Sparcbook:
Wavelan 2mb/s wireless LAN cards (PCMCIA)
IBM Microdrive (CF type II)
56K modem (CF type I)
PCMCIA 56k/GSM modem card (working with my Ericsson T28s phone)
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