I like serial hardware.
The ability to get lots of ports on one board,
the relative simplicity of the protocol and electrical interface,
and the wide range of devices that can talk RS232 appeal to me.
DeepThought now has 48 serial ports.
Two serial ports are on the motherboard.
Two 16-port concentrators hang off of a Digiboard X/em PCI board.
One 16-port Digiboard Portserver is in the garage, with 14 of its ports
appearing on DeepThought through the “digiport” driver.
The serial devices currently connected to DeepThought are:
Occasionally connected devices:
Other serial hardware I plan to acquire:
- A Protek 506 multimeter, which has a serial port that lets it be used for logging.
- A BP Microsystems EPROM/microcontroller programmer.
- The IR receiver that I used to decode IR remotes
so that I can emulate them with the controller.
The Interface Unit E which I attach to my Canon EOS 620/630/RT cameras' Technical
The TBE records every imaginable parameter of each exposure (except the focus
distance, which unfortunately isn't available in EOS cameras).
The information can be downloaded through the IUE.
- An Agfa digital camera, for downloading images.
Elsewhere in the house we have Wyse 60 terminals on the Digi Portserver and a
Livingston Portmaster 2e.
We at one time had about a dozen spread through the house, but with the advent
of the graphically-oriented web, they aren't quite as useful as they used to
Aside from the one mentioned above, all we have left are two in the upper living
room, one in the garage, and one in the downstairs bathroom (just because).
- A serial-controlled X10 base station, so that we can control lamps,
appliances, etc. throughout the house.
- A serial controlled outlet strip, which gives individual simple on/off
control of each outlet at a much lower cost/outlet than X10 modules do.
- More weather instruments.
- The serial display device that I plan on converting my
LED matrix into.
- Lots of other things!
Formerly connected devices throughout the house:
On the onetime upper living room server, eddie:
- Ten modems on a rack of 12
This rack of modems was the most generous contribution DeepThought
Until it was given to me, many of DeepThought's modems were 2400b and 9600b.
The Telebit 3000s did 14400b+compression (v32bis/v42bis).
When I got down to two modems (as more and more users switched to logging in
over the net), I replaced it with a couple of standalone modems to free up the
- Three ZyXEL U-1496 modems.
These did v32bis/v42bis, in addition to ZyXEL's proprietary 19200 modulation.
They also did voice IO.
One of them was on my voice line, so I would play with
vgetty every once in a while.
- The modem rack control port.
This let me query the status of and reset the rack-mounted modems.
- The modem rack monitor port.
This allowed for monitoring/analysis of problematic connections.
- A Mouse Systems graphics tablet.
This was a nice device, and was
Summagraphics compatible so it worked with SCO's event driver.
Unfortunately, back when it was working I never found a utility that
used the absolute position information it generates.
- The console mouse (which now uses the keyboard mouse port).
- A secondary console keyboard.
DeepThought used to have two video boards and three monitors.
One of the video boards was a mono board, and was connected to two monitors.
One of the mono monitors was at my desk next to the color monitor; the other was
at my workbench.
Also at the workbench was a Keytronic 1200b serial keyboard.
I used SCO's
mscreen program to convert the secondary keyboard and monitor into
a secondary console (something mscreen was never intended for!).
I wrote an mscreencap entry that understood the escape sequences produced by
the Keytronic keyboard and the escape sequences necessary to cause the SCO
console driver to switch
multiscreens between those I'd assigned to the
mono display with
I started up mscreen like this:
TERM=ansi-k /local/bin/setpgrp $keyboard-tty sh -c \
"(stty 1200 sane -ocrnl -ixon -ixoff; mscreen -n 7) < $keyboard-tty > /dev/mono"
This caused its input to come from the serial keyboard and its output to
go to whichever multiscreen was currently displayed on the mono monitor.
- Two Wyse 60 terminals.
One was my workbench terminal, replacing the secondary console device described
I have since moved the console display itself to the workbench.
The second sat next to my console, and was used as the console for the kernel
debugger, since the real console was usually in a graphics mode that the
debugger can't deal with.
The system is far more stable now; I haven't needed its kernel debugger for
- A homemade UPS monitor. I added a monitor port to the system's previous
UPS, which I salvaged/fixed by adding circuitry to its Power Good and
Battery Low LED indicators to make them deassert carrier detect and send
a break respectively.
On the onetime garage server, earth:
- A Diablo 630 daisy-wheel printer.
For many years this was the house's main printer, producing much nicer output
than any of the dot-matrix printers of the time.
It was noisy enough that it lived in a printer enclosure.
- Five modems used for SLIP and PPP by the sites that shared the cost of our
IP link with us for the first decade or so.
- The control port of the Ascend P50 ISDN/Ethernet router that initially
connected us to the Internet.