The Museum of HP Calculators

HP Forum Archive 18

[ Return to Index | Top of Index ]

New connectivity for ISA card via USB
Message #1 Posted by Stephan (Switzerland) on 27 Dec 2008, 5:25 a.m.

Dear all

First things first, wish you all a happy New Years eve. Hope you had a Merry Christmas, or at least a nice vacation.

Then I like to emphasis the following shall not be taken as an offense to Jean-Francoise PIL-BOX (as I wrote to him already, I am looking forward to having one my self almost regardless the costs) but as an other solution to a long known connectivity problem with non-ISA mainboards. After all, I can imagine, this could be of interest to all of us.

After some research on the web I came across the following site:

ARS-Technologies claims to have a solution to connect the "old" ISA card to a more modern computer via USB 2.0. Being a bit of a "non-IT guy" I like to ask the more skilled ones among us, please have a look through the site and let me/us know if this is a real solution? Furthermore, I am not sure if I would need the power supply mentioned under the first subject.

For a quick overview allow me to post a text fragment out of the site concerning "pre-order considerations":

Subject 2 could be of interest to all the developers, couldn't it?
Anyhow, I'd like to thank all of you in advance for your constant support to all of us who are not so familiar with IT issues.

Pre-order Considerations
1. Powering needs. Our power supply module provides -5V, +12V, and -12V for using the usb2isa family of products. To find whether you need a Power Supply Module, please read DO I NEED A POWER SUPPLY MODULE

2. Software. The UNIVERSAL SOFTWARE LAYER should provide all the software you would need to get our usbisa card to work with your isa card(s). We offer an sdkbus for developers. If you have access to the source code, you may be interested in our SDKBUS. Otherwise, our hardware comes with all the software and drivers you will need.
For more software details, please see SDKBUS OR WILL THE USL DO?

3. Enclosures. ARS Technologies provides plastic enclosures/boxes for mounting a usb2isa and an ISA card. Please check the dimensions on the enclosures before ordering to ensure that the boxes will fit your ISA card using the ISA-B1 or ISA-B2.
I've tried already to get in touch with Christoph Klug - a warm hello to him via this channel ;-) - but he seams to be either on vacation, or (this is more possible) I got an old/invalid e-mail address of him.
However, best regards from Switzerland
Re: New connectivity for ISA card via USB
Message #2 Posted by Allen on 27 Dec 2008, 2:19 p.m.,
in response to message #1 by Stephan (Switzerland)

Stephan Interesting Find!!

the following shall not be taken as an offense to Jean-Francoise PIL-BOX

I hope it is not considered so. I wrote JF several weeks ago when the PIL-BOX discussion came up back in october and in november. I have not heard a word from JF in email.

Perhaps it would help my decision if I knew when the PIL-boxes might be available or how much they might cost. Given an unknown cost and schedule, it is hard not to decide for an alternative.

In terms of marketing/business perhaps the $150 alternative will provide a good middle ground for those of us that already have the HP-IL card, but do not wish to have a second (older) computer at hand simply for that reason.

Re: New connectivity for ISA card via USB
Message #3 Posted by PeterP on 27 Dec 2008, 2:52 p.m.,
in response to message #1 by Stephan (Switzerland)


Also Happy new year to you!

I've discovers arstech about 2 years ago and have tried to get both their generation 1 (which used usb1.1) as well as generation 2 (which uses usb2.0) to work but with little luck so far. The main problem is the security of windows xp and even more so vista which does not allow the low level access we would need.

However, my main goal was to use it to connect to jfg's emu41 for a full hp-il loop access. For 'normal' access we have already the mldl2000 which allows upload and download of images and via the use of one of the various modules it can simulate (w&w rambox, profiset, etc) also an easy way to store em and main memory content via USB. However this is not as convenient and complete as the full il mplementation that emu41 provides which is simply fantastic.

But I have failed to make it work: one needs to go from ISA to USB via some drivers that have to be working smoothly with your windows USB ports/drivers. And then you would need access to the USB ports/drivers from a dos-window in windows back to the ISA card. Arstech offers a sdk kit where you can write your own windows driver for it but I did not delve I to that.

Hope that helps


Peter Ps: I cant wait for jfg's new gizmo!!

Re: New connectivity for ISA card via USB
Message #4 Posted by Stephan (Switzerland) on 27 Dec 2008, 9:31 p.m.,
in response to message #1 by Stephan (Switzerland)

Hi Allen, hi Peter

Thank you very much indeed for your helpful answers.

@ Allen:
I was present on the Allschwil-Meeting this year and have had a look on the PIL-BOX when JFG demonstrated it. Fantastic gizmo (as Peter calls it;-). Thing is though, Jean-Francois told us that he won't produce it in series himself due to the lack of his equipment. Some of the other participants have had ideas on how to make a small lot of the PIL-Box. We shall pretty soon hear from either one of them about a schedule and hopefully a reasonable quote on it. Most of what I've heard so far when JFG asked what one would be willing to spend on the PIL-Box was between 50 to 100 Euro, which equivalences to 70 to 140 Dollars (give and take a little bit)
So be patient - it's worth it as I can tell. Keep an eye on the forum

@ Peter: Also your comments where very helpful. As you wrote, there seems to be a lot of additional work after I would have received the ISA/USB converter. I am affright this is beyond me and my skills. Thank you very much you saved me from disaster.

As Allen mentioned I am also using JFGs EMU41 together with Christophe Klugs ISA-board on a elderly W98 computer and would like to get rid of it as it is solely still there for the HP stuff.
Let's keep fingers crossed that we hear soon from the "boys" on how they getting on with the PIL-Box' development.

with my kindest regards Stephan

PS: I am in this forum since 2001 but couldn't remember my login coordinates - stupid me. You see how far I get when it comes to computers ;-)

Re: New connectivity for ISA card via USB
Message #5 Posted by Diego Diaz on 28 Dec 2008, 1:08 a.m.,
in response to message #4 by Stephan (Switzerland)

Hi all, and very happy new year!

Just for the tech part of the post regarding power requirements, the answer is no, you won't need an extra power source. The 82973A board only needs +5v.

Check TOS for the reverse engineered schematics I draw some years ago.



Re: New connectivity for ISA card via USB
Message #6 Posted by Meindert Kuipers on 28 Dec 2008, 9:04 a.m.,
in response to message #4 by Stephan (Switzerland)

I think the setup with USB to ISA and then to HP-IL will require very special drivers. It is better to wait for JFG's PIL box.

I do have the HP-IL card for ISA but no working computer anymore that supports ISA slots.


[ Return to Index | Top of Index ]

Go back to the main exhibit hall