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Awkward IO card

Posted on 1998-07-21
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Last Modified: 2010-04-12
The other day I bought a combined IO card - 2 com ports, an LPT port, a joystick port, plus floppy and IDE channels.  Mostly, the card is fine.  I have set the jumpers for the com ports to be 3 and 4 so they cohabit with the ones on the motherboard.  The LPT port is quit happy to live with the one on the motherboard too, set at LPT2.  The joystick port and floppy port I have disabled - the joystick conflicts with the one on the sound blaster, and I don't need the floppy.  The IDE is the problem.  I bought the card (amongst other things) to get an extra channel for discs, but it only works when the primary onboard IDE channel is disabled.  When it is enabled, and there are drives attached to all channels the computer sticks on the bios screen.

So... the question.  Do I have to take this card back to the shop, or is there a way around this problem.  There isn't too much bother with taking it back - they told me explicitly that it would work with my existing channels, so I should have a good case.

But then... question 2...  Can anyone suggest a suitable replacement card.  Something which has at least one lpt port and one IDE channel, preferably more, and also preferable would be some com ports.

Thanks in advance...
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Question by:robholden
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Expert Comment

by:SirCaleb
ID: 1121341
I'm pretty sure that the problem lies with the IRQ status.  You may be out of IRQ's.  From the DOS prompt, type MSD.  From here you will be able to view your IRQ's and see if they are free.  This is just a suggestion.  
Question:  What are you attaching to the new IDE port?
Hope this helps.
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Expert Comment

by:rmarotta
ID: 1121342
To save time before sumitting an answer to solve your problem, it will be helpful to know more about your computer.
Please list the components of your system that might apply.
(Motherboard, CPU, RAM, Hard Drive(s), CD-ROM, Soundcard, etc.)
Please post your autoexec.bat & config.sys files also.
Regards,
Ralph

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Expert Comment

by:wayneb
ID: 1121343
There is a limit on ide devices in a system 4 is the max ide channels you will run into port address conflicts if you try to use the ide channels on your addon card. Two on the motherboard
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Expert Comment

by:rmarotta
ID: 1121344
robholden,

IDE connectors may appear in various places. PCI systems often provide two directly from the motherboard. Multi I/O and IDE hard drive controller boards may provide one or two ports. Sound cards and other multi-media cards often provide one port, frequently labeled as a "CD-ROM" port. Many third party IDE devices are packaged with an IDE board.

It is important to remember that no matter how many IDE connectors there may be in the system, it is still limited to two IDE channels with up to two devices each.  

In general, it is best to disable IDE ports on sound and multi media boards if they are not needed (refer to manufacturer's documentation). Likewise, do not install IDE boards packaged with IDE devices if they are not needed. Instead, cable IDE devices either to the system board ports if available, or to the multi I/O board or hard drive controller board.

The above and more can be found at:
http://www.seagate.com/support/tape/tapeinfo/idefaq.shtml#10

Let me know if you need more,
Regards,
Ralph

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Author Comment

by:robholden
ID: 1121345
rmarotta-

Are you sure about this.  In the past I've managed to use 3 IDE channels - two on board and one on a sound card (which, sadly, I no longer have).  I accept that in this case the support was by software (win95) as opposed to by the bios.  This isn't a problem.

SirCaleb-

I'm afraid not - The problem occurs before such things start to happen - i.e. on the BIOS screen.  I guess this means it is an addressing problem.  If I disable the master IDE channel on the motherboard then there are no problems, and I can boot from this add-on card.

rmarotta- Hardware list:
ABit AX5 mobo
IBM PR166MX
64 MB EDO
Maxtor 5.1Gb   on board channel 1

Teac CD ROM  }
Mitsumi CDR  } on board channel 2

Iomega Zip   }
HP Tape 5Gb  } trying to attach to another card

Soundblaster AWE 64 Gold (without IDE sadly)

ATI XPert@work

OK, so, what happens:
Switch on, memory check, IDE device search (finds all on mobo) then stops.  I can go into BIOS settings, but it will not continue to load.

Alternatively, with IDE channel 1 disabled on the motherboard it does memory check, ide search (this time finding devices on IDE card and on IDE channel 2) and boots fine.

I think I've got the wrong sort of IDE card.  I'm sure you can get extra ones which are supported by software.  This one just wants to take over as to primary IDE channel.

Cheers folks
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by:rmarotta
ID: 1121346
Rob,
There is no doubt!
Please go to the link I provided above for more info about it.

1) The PC can support ONLY two IDE channels or ports.
2) Each port may have up to two devices connected to it, for a total of FOUR.

> "In the past I've managed to use 3 IDE channels - two on board and one on a sound card...."

In that case, you didn't use 3 IDE channels, instead, you used 3 IDE devices.
The special sound card port provides a way to use a different port address for the CDROM.  That third device was seen by the computer as a slave on one of the motherboard ports, (primary or secondary) depending on the IRQ that was used.

In your case now, the four IDE devices (HDD, CDROM, CD-R, HP-5GB) may be connected to the two EIDE ports built into your motherboard. (Recommended, because most add-on multi I/O cards are slower than the EIDE ports on newer motherboards)

You did not say if the Zip drive is SCSI or IDE/ATAPI.
If SCSI, no problem.
If it is IDE, then you must choose which of the four devices already on the computer that you're willing to give up.

Let me know if you need more, and if you want me to re-submit the answer for your question.
Regards,
Ralph

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Expert Comment

by:wayneb
ID: 1121347
I have to agree with Ralph, you are not going to beable to do it.
And you will have major addressing problems. The Ide Addresses are hardcoded (Primary master, Secondary Master, Primary Slave, and Secondary slave.) You can change the way these devices use there port addresses.  A special cdrom controller like ralph said does in fact use a special port and only a cdrom will work on that kind of port.
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Expert Comment

by:wayneb
ID: 1121348
The above should be you can not change the way these devices use there port addresses.
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Expert Comment

by:rmarotta
ID: 1121349
To be more specific, there are four possible IDE ports:
(I'm not sure of my spelling)
    Primary
    Secondary
    Tertiary
    Quaternary
(I think the soundcard ports use one of the last two.)

Each of these uses a different I/O address, with master & slave configurations possible.
(Yes, that makes eight possibilities)

But, I repeat.........

You are still limited to a total of four devices installed on  the system.
Regards
Ralph

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Expert Comment

by:busuka
ID: 1121350
Ralph, let me correct some things: you are NOT limited to four
devices installed. Eight is correct. You limited to four _hard_disks_
and this is only limitation by BIOS. If you'll get BIOS, that
supports 4 IDE channels, you can set up to 8 HDDs. But right now
nothing can prevent you from having 4 HDDs (pri and sec IDE) and
4 CD-ROMs (tert and quart IDE channels).
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Expert Comment

by:rmarotta
ID: 1121351
Hmmmmmm,
Ian, the Seagate site says this:

"It is important to remember that no matter how many IDE connectors there may be in the system, it is still limited to two IDE channels with up to two devices each."

I always thought this to be so, but I've been wrong before....  :)
Now you have me curious.
Where can I find more info regarding your last comment?
Regards,
Ralph

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Expert Comment

by:busuka
ID: 1121352
Ralph, don't dig Internet :) Don't forget that Seagate is HD-maker,
so I assume they put this for simplicity. Just put any card with
IDE connector on it, configured as tertiary port (1e8h, if I remember
correctly), connect CD-ROM to it and let CD-driver locate it (by
search, or directly, as SBIDE requires, through /p:port,IRQ).
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Expert Comment

by:rmarotta
ID: 1121353
Ian,
That will work, no problem.  Many CDROMs are set up that way.
But, will it work when both primary and secondary ports are occupied?

I think the standard I/O addresses are:
   1F0 - 1F7  Primary
   170 - 177  Secondary
   1E8 - 1EF  Tertiary
   168 - 16F  Quarternary

Ralph
P.S. I think the newest SBIDE.SYS will search for the port.
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Expert Comment

by:rmarotta
ID: 1121354
Rob,
Sorry to have taken up so much of your space here.
Have you made any progress yet?
Ralph

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Accepted Solution

by:
spacebrain earned 100 total points
ID: 1121355
MMMMM i also thought that 4 ide devices was the maximum but busuka's comment intrigued  me so i went on the promise site to see what they had to offer and say about it.
Seems that adding ide port and devices is possible:
"Converts your older, existing IDE controller to
  support newer drive sizes, adds two more IDE ports for
   up to four more IDE devices"
this can be seen at http://www.promise.com/Ultraatahome.htm (look at eidemax2)

So robholden your answer to Q1 would be to return your i/o card and the answer to Q2 would be to get a promise card and another card for your lpt2 and com ports (promise site doesn't mention if they're are any lpt or com ports on these cards)

Space
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Author Comment

by:robholden
ID: 1121356
Spacebrain-

Thanks for this.  I took the card back to the shop yesterday and had a discussion with the guy there coming to almost the same conclusion.  He says that on his computer at home he has 5 IDE devices, two on primary, one on each of secondary, tertiary and quaternary.  (The last two being supplied by two sound cards)

The shop didn't have any suitable IO cards, but I've ordered another card from a mail-order place.  This one has two IDE channels, and the parallel port which I really need (plus some more com ports) and the salesperson assured me that it would do what I wanted... We'll see.

I'll leave the question open for now so that I can let you know the final result

Cheers-
Rob
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Author Comment

by:robholden
ID: 1121357
Time to wrap this up I think.  The other card I bought had precisely the same problem.  It was slightly more flexible, being changeable from primary to secondary, but it still conflicts with the on board IDE channels.  I'll be sending it back (and having a good old shout about it to them - they assured me it would do what I wanted), and buying a promise card.

Thanks everyone for the help.
Rob
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Expert Comment

by:rmarotta
ID: 1121358
Please let me know if that Promise card does what you want.
Just leave a comment here when you get it running.
Regards,
Ralph

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Expert Comment

by:rmarotta
ID: 1121359
Rob,
Did you solve this yet or have you found an "empty" promise?
Ralph
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Expert Comment

by:spacebrain
ID: 1121360
Yeah im also curious to know if works ok sine i got no more ide channel left and planning to buy a removable hard drive
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Author Comment

by:robholden
ID: 1121361
Sorry to keep you folks waiting... I'm still waiting for the card to be available from a UK supplier.  Or, alternatively, I'll be in the States in a couple of weeks time.  They're already available there.

Keep you posted.
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Author Comment

by:robholden
ID: 1121362
Only 6 months later... I managed to get myself a Primise EIDEMAX II, and it has done the trick.

My motherboard seems to take issue with the upgrade the card supplies for the existing IDE channels, so I've had to disable this section, effectively wiping out the PnP functionality.  However, I configured the thing manually, and I now have my hard disk, three cdrom drives (it's a long story), my ATAPI zip drive and my ATAPI tape drive working off the one computer.

Cheers for the help, Sorry I took so long acting on it.

Rob
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Expert Comment

by:rmarotta
ID: 1121363
If you've disabled the onboard ports, how did you manage to connect everything to the new card?
Are all the CDROMs IDE devices?
Ralph
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Author Comment

by:robholden
ID: 1121364
Sorry, re-reading my answer it doesn't seem that clear

The card has three functions - two are IDE ports, the other is some sort of clever upgrade for the motherboard ports.  It's this upgrade that I disabled, so I still have the motherboard ports (controlled by the system BIOS) and the additional two ports from the new hardware.
Rob
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by:rmarotta
ID: 1121365
Rob,
Thanks for the update.  it's good to hear you're running everything.
I wonder if that upgrade is BIOS extensions to support the new large hard drives that have come out? (larger than 8GB)
Is the info available at the Promise website?
Regards,
Ralph
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