[aprssig] Interesting setup ... but will it work?

Stephen H. Smith wa8lmf2 at aol.com
Fri Nov 28 18:15:12 EST 2008

Arte Booten wrote:
> Hi all,
>      I have the following two interesting pieces of hardware, which I bought
> specifically to set up a computer dedicated to APRS.  The first is an A.E.A.
> PCB-88 TNC (the equivalent of a PK-88, with a twist).  The other is from HAL
> Communications, a P-38 HF modem (precursor to their DXP-38).
>      The twist with both of them is that they're each full-length ISA cards,
> taking their own com ports and IRQ's. 

The biggest problem is that no machine has had ISA slots for the last 7 
years or so.   You are going to most likelhy have to scrounge an 
ancient  Pentium I or '486 machine to find one with ISA slots.   I 
happen to have one of the (very) few P-III machines with a single ISA 
slot alongside 4 PCI slots -- a 500 MHz Compaq Prosignia.    

You will then discover that such an ancient machine can't be expanded to 
enough memory to usably run Win2K or similar current OS.  Remember that  
Win95 was just getting off the ground in this era and required the 
then-staggering 16 or 32 MB of RAM.  Machines of the era typically maxed 
out at 64MB -- impossibly small for Win2K or similar.  If it can be 
expanded, it will most likely require high-priced obsolete RAM modules. 
  You could buy an entire new machine with 2 GHz dual-core CPU, 1GB of 
RAM, DVD-RW drive, 150-200 GB hard disk,etc for what you will pay to 
upgrade the RAM in an old machine (although it won't have ISA slots.). 

If this machine is going to be exposed to the Internet and run Windows, 
you simply must run proper security software (anti-virus and 
firewall/anti-malware).  Current security products consume so much RAM 
and so much CPU "horsepower" that such an older machine will become 
impossibly sluggish and essentially unusable  for anything once it is 
secured.   [Most current security products won't run on 9x Windows or 
earlier -- you must have Win2K, XP or Vista.]

Essentially, if a machine is old enough to have ISA slots, it probably 
can't safely be used on the Internet since you can't run  modern OS'es 
or security on it. 


Stephen H. Smith    wa8lmf (at) aol.com
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