This HOWTO is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details. ©2008 Avi
I finally blew the dust off the old P-200 and installed OpenBSD on it after Spike sent me an ISA card. In my excitement of it all, I didn’t bother to check if the card was an ISA or an EISA, and yup, it flew across 2 oceans only to turn out to be a *sniff* 32 bit EISA Intel 10/100 NIC.
So now I have a mess in my room with PC parts all over and a box I can’t use as a router as it only has 3 PCI slots, and I need one for the display. Which was the first reason for me wanting an ISA card; the motherboard has 3 empty ISA slots.
Every local vendor I asked laughed me out of their stores when I said ISA. Bastards.
Secretly hoping Spike would cut his hands opening rusty cabinets, I retired the PII-350Mhz box running Slackware for a while. This lasted until I noticed my modem connected with its cable and remembered I had a spare cable. Some rummaging later, and lo behold, I now had two RS-232 cables.
The OpenBSD box has 2 com ports, one’s a DB-25 and the other a DB-9, this isn’t an issue, but OpenBSD can only use Com1 (Windows term) for serial console communication on i386 and AMD architectures. Ensuring both sides needed DB-9, and a quick printout of the pinout from nullmodem.com had me looking for my solder gun. Well, it’s a pen, but the first guy who lent me his, called it a solder gun, and the name’s stuck.
For those of you attempting this for the first time, don’t be disparaged by comments like this from OpenBSD:
“Note that serial interfacing is NOT a trivial task — you will often need unusual cables, and ports are not standardized between machines, in some cases, not even consistent on one machine. It is assumed you know how to select the appropriate cable to go between your computer and the device acting as your serial terminal. A full tutorial on serial interfacing is beyond the scope of this article, however, we offer one hint: just because the ends plug in doesn’t mean it will work.“
If you have soldered leads on to any electric applicance before, this is just as easy. Ensure your solder pen has a really fine tip and a comfortable grip and you’ll be on your way. It’s not cake, but it’s definitely not hard.
At Hungry Hacker, we historically follow ghetto scientific methodologies so obviously, I sleeved the wires and trimmed the copper strands with my God given tools, my teeth. Yes, I open soda/beer bottles with them too when a bottle opener is MIA cause I’m too lazy to walk and get one.
You, on the other hand, may want to use a plier to denude the wires.
So without further ado, here’s the photologue:
Minutes after soldering the first wire, I remembered why I hadn’t soldered anything in over 5 years – because I suck at it. Notice how well arranged the working desk is? See how well spaced out the tools are?
Such things go a long way towards a professional fit and finish.
For you weirdo’s who notice such stuff, yes, that’s a Logitech Z5500 controller at the back
I used my trusty Shimano fishing pliers as a makeshift clamp –
After soldering the first wire, I decided to roll a spliff in an attempt to appease the “shaky hands” Gods.
Well, and a few other things, but we’ll stick to the technology discussion at hand.
Always keep a mug of cold water handy in case something hot needs to be cooled fast.
This is what shoddy soldering looks like when the dust’s settled –
Some might say it’s alright, but I learnt, or tried to at least, from someone for whom it was a craft and I fall short in my opinion.
All the extra unused wires were twirled together and chassis ground _|_ (by soldering) on to the metal bracket along with the built in Earth _|_ wire (thicker black wire not shown). I forgot to take a picture of this. Doh!
It’s a good idea to do this and twist the wires as much as possible before soldering them on to the contacts. This reduces Near End Crosstalk (NExT); and is exactly why wires inside network (Cat 5/6) cables are twisted.
My serial cable length is just short of 12 inches and I wasn’t too worried.
Another look at the finished product –
I could only salvage one DB-9 connector casing, the other one was a moulded type and wasted. The one in the back of the photo was snapped back on and connected to the BSD box.
Today’s male serial connectors on back-panels of ATX cabinets and boards are wa-ay more accessible for “naked” female serial receptacles.
I shut off the PCs – Connecting serial/PS2 devices with the power on is a bad idea as fried keyboards in my room will attest.
Edit /etc/ttys to allow serial consoles with root logins and presto! –
Allow Com1 (tty00) in /etc/ttys to accept root logins by changing it to:
tty00 "/usr/libexec/getty std.9600" vt220 on secure
A final look at things and I edited /etc/boot.conf to pipe the boot messages to console by adding: set tty com0
This will show the bootup process in console. It’s a shame the motherboard doesn’t support redirecting BIOS events to console.
That would’ve owned!
I would love to make something like this guy did soon.
I detest Hyper Terminal back from the BBS days –
Putty is my one-stop shop for all remote communication, I finished by fixing up serial settings and this brought a sense of fulfillment as the clock struck 9.
Check the Serial settings in Putty to make sure Flow Control is Off and the line speed is set to 9600 baud or whatever you set it in /etc/ttys to.
A final check and it’s time to pack up the screw-driver set and tuck the PCI VGA card away.
Time to use OpenBSD’s tight UKC to disable video and other frivolous things I don’t need.. oh, and might as well install Slackware 12 on the PII-350 now..
See email address in the disclaimer on top.
The little b1sh that he is, fwaggle conveniently “found” his ISA NIC a day after I received Spike’s. Just over “A YEAR” after he said he had one he’d look for. He then shamelessly started to fornicate it and posted pictures.
I hope you burn in the fires of hell *****breath.