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USB in a 486 PCI motherboard

Tetrium

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I'm contemplating testing a 486 with a PCI USB card (OS will probably be 98SE).
Anyone know anything more about weather this can work or not?
Specifically anyone know what cards/chips can work in the old 486 PCI slots?
I'd rather not buy a couple old USB cards only to find out later they don't work.

Thanks
 

glitch

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I did once manage to get a USB 1.1 card working in a late 486 with PCI slots, under Slackware Linux. IIRC, it's not that uncommon for 486-class hardware to have USB ports in the embedded world. I /think/ the Soekris net4801 boards we use as firewall appliances at work have USB.

You'll probably have to get a 5V PCI card, rather than a 3.3V unit. I'd skip USB 2.0 altogether and look for an old USB 1.1 card.

What's the purpose for this -- specifically, why with Windows 98? I think I tried to install Windows 98 SE once on a 486 DX4 at 100 MHz and found it unusable due to slowness. Then again, I was probably running with 16 or 32 MB RAM and a less-than-1GB hard drive! I would imagine you'll probably have more trouble out of the OS than you will the hardware, assuming you can find a compatible board.
 

wolfie

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i remember having a copy of windows 95 with usb support. i never tried using usb in my with my 486 but i was thinking about trying.
 

krebizfan

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i remember having a copy of windows 95 with usb support. i never tried using usb in my with my 486 but i was thinking about trying.

The Win95 USB supplement was quite buggy and limited in devices support. Win98 USB would work reliably with many USB mice and keyboards and thus was a substantial improvement. Devices more complex will prove a bit too CPU consuming to work well with a 486.

Now, getting a PCI card to work with a 486 motherboard is an interesting challenge. Not only did many PCI cards not test for the 486 (generally PCI v1) implementation, some of the motherboards didn't follow the PCI standard. I think it was Gateway that had a PCI slot that only worked with a limited selection of cards that in turn only worked in the specific slots Gateway offered.
 

Chuck(G)

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You can give it a try--PCI USB cards aren't budget-busters.

Windows 95 didn't use the same driver model that Win98 did. It's possible to find some USB drivers written for 2K that will work on the Win98 minidriver stack.

But more to the point, what USB devices were you going to try on the setup?
 

Unknown_K

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Anything that doesn't have native built in USB (needs a card with drivers) will not be usable untill those drivers are running so if you have a USB keyboard and mouse then getting into the CMOS to make changes will not work. You also can't boot from anything USB.
 

Tetrium

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Thanks for the tips. Yup, forgot to add I wasn't going to bother with USB 2.0. USB 1.1 will be enough for my needs.
I know 98SE isn't the best for a 486. heck, I'd put ME on it if I'd think I could get away with it! :p

I went down to 98SE because of it's better USB support. I intend to tweak 98SE and hopefully make it speed up a little bit.
I primarilly want to test if this is a good way to add a USB mouse to a 486, since most 486's don't come with PS/2 and optical scrollwheel serial mice seem to be non-existant.
I'd rather have somekind of PS/2 add-on card but it seems those don't exist also.
 

Caluser2000

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You may well find the mobo has a PS/2 header, usually beside the AT keyboard connecter, suitable for attaching a ps/2 port to. A long shot, but you might even be able to use a PS/2 to USB adapter with it.
 
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Unknown_K

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PS/2 Keyboard ports became popular at the tail end of the generic 486 PCI motherboard era, and you can buy PS/2 splitters (used for laptops mostly) so you can use a PS/2 keyboard and mouse at the same time.

I also like the feel of Microsoft Optical mice (the cheap 2 button with scroll wheel mouse optical 1.1A USB PS/2 capable). My setup for 486 systems (even 286/386) is to use a Belkin Omnivew SE Model F1D104 4 port KVM. The KVM has PS/2 ports (you can just use a cheap AT to PS2 adapter on the computer keyboard end), standard VGA port, and instead of a PS/2 port for the mouse you can use a serial cable to the KVM which will emulate the PS/2 port over it. On the control end I use a PS/2 IBM Model M keyboard the above mentioned USB Optical mouse with PS/2 adapter (that mouse works on PS/2 as well) and the KVM forwards the signal to the serial port on the computers (works with the standard Microsoft DOS serial mouse drivers). The PS/2 mouse port will also work with systems that have PS/2 ports while still working with serial emulation on the others.

The F1D104 KVMs have been pretty cheap on ebay for the last few years as people dump them for USB + DVI setups. You can gang 4 together for up to 16 system on the 4 port model (I have 2 that way), and they also have 8 port units.
 

tomasont

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PS/2 Keyboard ports became popular at the tail end of the generic 486 PCI motherboard era, and you can buy PS/2 splitters (used for laptops mostly) so you can use a PS/2 keyboard and mouse at the same time.

AFAIK the splitters only work on PS/2 ports that are designed for it. Two unused pins on the keyboard connector are used to carry the data and clock signals for the mouse. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PS/2_connector)
 

Chuck(G)

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Another issue with PS/2 mice is that the controller must be mouse-aware. If you don't have a PS/2 mouse connector or header on your motherboard, it's a pretty good bet that the controller knows nothing about mice.
 

vwestlife

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AFAIK the splitters only work on PS/2 ports that are designed for it. Two unused pins on the keyboard connector are used to carry the data and clock signals for the mouse. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PS/2_connector)

Were there any 486 ATX boards? I've never heard of a regular AT board with a PS/2 keyboard connector, although many of the Pentium-era AT boards provided a PS/2 mouse port (on an expansion slot bracket).

Of course, it doesn't make much difference, because you can easily use an AT 5-pin-DIN-to-PS/2 keyboard adapter. In fact, I'm using one to connect a Tandy PS/2 keyboard to my IBM 5150 PC. (Somewhat of a rarity, the keyboard is XT/AT auto-switch, but has a PS/2 connector.)
 

k2x4b524[

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vwestlife you will find at style super 7 boards that have USB on them, usually only 1 header for 2 ports, and a header for the ps/2 port, along with a standard at-keyboard

the high-end boards even gave you headers for sound, game, video, usb, and the ps/2 mouse header
 

njroadfan

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Were there any 486 ATX boards? I've never heard of a regular AT board with a PS/2 keyboard connector, although many of the Pentium-era AT boards provided a PS/2 mouse port (on an expansion slot bracket).

ATX came out well after the 486 era, around 1997 is when ATX boards starting coming out. For awhile Asus made an "AT-ATX" Super 7 motherboard (P5A-B... the B-less one is ATX) that fit both case types and had dual power connectors. I currently have one in a standard AT case. PS/2 mouse and USB is via a header. The killer is ACPI support is hampered by the lack of a soft power switch. Regarding onboard PS/2 ports, I have seen a few baby AT motherboards with PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports, but unless you have a custom case to match (or Dremel), only the keyboard port is accessable.

As for 486 PCI boards, pop the card in and see if it works. I ran a PCI video card and a Realtek 8139 based NIC card on my PC Chips M919 board for many years without issue. I never gave PCI card compatibility a second thought.
 
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