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PCI but no USB

Posted on 2001-07-24
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Last Modified: 2013-12-09
This should be easy peasy for you hardware guys... ;-)

I have no USB slots in my computer.

I have seen adapter cards to convert a "small" (don't know the proper name) PCI slot into x USB ports but I only have three such slots and they are all taken up (by my modem, sound card, graphics card).

I have three larger ones - none of which are used.

Is it possible to get a USB adapter card for these larger slots or is it possible to get an adapter card to convert a larger slot to a smaller slot and thus allow me to use one of the said USB adapters?

If so, URLs for the appropriate site would be appreciated.

If not, is there another way round it rather than shelling out dollars on a new motherboard?

rd707
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Question by:rd707
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36 Comments
 

Expert Comment

by:RougeTrader
ID: 6312514
The larger slots are called ISA slots for older types of expansion cards.  The only USB adapters I have seen are for PCI slots.  Some mobos have a socket on the mobo for a USB header lead.  Have a look in the BIOS to see if USB is available and disabled.
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Expert Comment

by:Lard
ID: 6312618
Try these guys at AllUSB. They do an ISA - USB adapter.

http://www.allusb.com/products/P11353.html

Regards.
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Expert Comment

by:pbessman
ID: 6312619
I think what your problem may be is that the case may be covering your USB slots.  Please provide Motherboard identification info when inquiring about your motherboard resources.  Thanks.
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Expert Comment

by:magarity
ID: 6313219
lard,
that card you've linked is USB to ISA, not ISA to USB.  It's a USB device into which you plug an ISA backplane bus.  rd707 should not get this.

rd707,
pbessman is on to something; depending on your system there is a chance that there are hidden USB ports on the motherboard that are not actually connected.

You do know that you'll need Win98/newer or Linux 2.2/newer to use any USB?
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Expert Comment

by:Lard
ID: 6313230
Magarity,

They do both variations. USB-ISA and ISA-USB.

Regards
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Expert Comment

by:magarity
ID: 6313346
lard,
Which one is the ISA card for USB?  I looked down the entire list of that page but can't locate it.  I'd really like to see such a card.
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Expert Comment

by:frache
ID: 6313364
Another way. Unplug PCI modem, plug USB board, and buy a new usb modem ... or find a old isa modem ... ;-)
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Expert Comment

by:frache
ID: 6313368
or an external com port modem ...
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by:magarity
ID: 6313461
While I've been playing with Lard (there is no such thing as an ISA card for USB because the spec requires 32 bit communication with a USB host; that's why there is also no such thing as a PCMCIA adapter for USB) frache has come up with probably the best answer:  You'll need to replace the modem card with a USB modem.  Then you're all set.
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Expert Comment

by:Otta
ID: 6315502
> three such slots and they are all taken up (by my modem, sound card, graphics card).

Unless you're a "conneisseur" of PC-generated sound,
remove the PCI sound-card, and find an old ISA SoundBlaster 16 sound-card (probably about $10 at any "used-computer-parts" store).

Voila!  You now have one "empty" PCI slot.
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Author Comment

by:rd707
ID: 6316319
Thanks for the help so far guys - appreciate it...

I'm running Windows 98.

Had a look at my BIOS and there is a setting called:

OnChip USB (currently disabled)

Sounds promising.

I'm a bit reticent to replace any of the three PCI cards to be honest as they're all recent purchases.

To cut to the chase - what I really want to do in the short term is add a scanner but looking round, all I saw were USB flavours...

I think I have one or two sockets spare at the back of my machine that look like the ones my joypad and printer use - what format are these and could I plug a scanner into them?

rd707
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Expert Comment

by:RougeTrader
ID: 6316374
Sounds like you have the capability for USB in BIOS,  next u need to look at the mobo for a connection, usually near to com and serial connections.  Also there are different header cables to connect from the mobo to the USB device.

Once the USB is enabled in BIOS Windows should detect the USB hub (the bit on the mobo)

Let us know which OS ur running and the make n model of your mobo.
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Author Comment

by:rd707
ID: 6316395
I'm running Windows 98 (first release I think).

How I can I find out what make and model my motherboard is?

It is a custom build machine.

Are you saying that I could have USB sockets on the board?
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Expert Comment

by:frache
ID: 6317223
> Are you saying that I could have USB sockets on the board?

YES ...
In this case you need that :
http://stores.yahoo.com/1010net/dualusbconwb.html


--------------
Magarity :
Just for information :
For laptop, we can find cardbus ( 32 bits )to usb http://stores.yahoo.com/1010net/cartousbad.html
Have a nice day
;-)
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Accepted Solution

by:
RougeTrader earned 50 total points
ID: 6317232
OK

When u first boot the machine there is a loooong string of characters that appears at the bottom of the screen, try and copy this down.  Post this back and we'll try and decode it to work out what mobo u have.

Yes you could have on-board USB.  Difficult to explain what to look for on the mobo, at the rear of the mobo ur looking for a group of copper coloured wires sticking up from the board.  Depending on what type of connection you have they maybe in two rows, or a single row, usually next to them is a marking 'USB' or 'USB con' on the board.  If you have these note the configuration of the splines and you should be able to get a header cable, a short lead to connect the mobo to the USB device, which fixes to the backplane of the computer.  

I am posting from UK but the cables are readily available here for a few UK pounds.
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Author Comment

by:rd707
ID: 6317300
Cool, I'll get the mobo number tonight and crack open the baby and see if I can spot anything USB.
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Expert Comment

by:magarity
ID: 6318058
"For laptop, we can find cardbus"

Yes, because as you point out Cardbus is a 32 bit interface.  Older laptops with PCMCIA, which is only 16 bit, would not be able to use that.

rd707,
The USB connection on the motherboard will *likely* be two rows of little pins.  One row of 5 and one of 6 if I remember correctly:
******
*****
It is also more likely to be near the rear edge in between or behind the card slots or by the keyboard plug.  Sometimes they were put on the leading edge to go to a plug on the front of the case, but more often are in back.

Good luck!  If you can't find it; don't give up.  With that entry you found in the system BIOS I'm pretty certain there's a connection somewhere.  If you have or can borrow a high definition digital still camera, take a picture and post it on a web hosting service or ftp site and maybe one of us can spot it.
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Expert Comment

by:Otta
ID: 6318280
> I have one or two sockets spare at the back of my machine
> that look like the ones my joypad and printer use -
> what format are these and could I plug a scanner into them?

Those are serial and parallel interfaces, respectively, only for use by joypad and printer/scanner, respectively.

Some scanners do connect to the printer-port,
and then you connect the printer to the scanner.

I/O through a parallel-port is much slower than through USB.
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Expert Comment

by:m931a2
ID: 6319151
Most scanners have both usb and parallel port that i have seen, but only come with the usb cable. If you can get to a store, have them open it up or look at the display model to see what it has. There is no real reason not to use Parallel ports unless you do alot of scanning.

m931a2
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Expert Comment

by:Otta
ID: 6319168
>> I/O through a parallel-port is much slower than through USB.

> There is no real reason not to use Parallel ports unless you do alot of scanning.

Speed of scanning _IS_ one real reason.
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Expert Comment

by:pbessman
ID: 6319206
Custom built system, isn't response we need.  We need Brand and model of your motherboard so we can find necessary info.  I am sorry I was not quick enough to respond as Otta seems to have taken my cue that These ports are often covered up by Custom builders who forget to take out the square over the top of the PS-2 Mouse and Keyboard connectors.  If your system is not a true ATX system and you need to add USB there should be a header on the motherboard consisting of nine pins like this .:::: .  A good light and magnifying lens are great tools when having to read a motherboard.  
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Expert Comment

by:pbessman
ID: 6319227
What processor are you using???  How much and what type of RAM??? These are important clues to whether or not your system will properly support USB.  You need to have at least a pentium 133 for proper function of USB.  With the newer release of USB 2.0 you may even want to consider a faster processor.  Having a processor that meets the minimums is not a good idea.  Sure the item will work with that processor.  But, it may be the only thing your system will allow to work.
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Expert Comment

by:pbessman
ID: 6319238
BTW finding an ISA card for USB expansion is like finding an ISA 10/100 Network Interface card.  

"They do both variations. USB-ISA and ISA-USB."

Lard, When was the last time you personally saw The Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny at your house???



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Expert Comment

by:pbessman
ID: 6319250
I am sorry it was Magariy not Otta that saw my response and started the run of comments.  

NO I AM NOT SAYING YOU WILL NEED THE ADAPTER SHOWN ON  http://stores.yahoo.com/1010net/dualusbconwb.html

I AM SUGGESTING THE PORTS ARE THERE BUT COVERED UP.


Not knowing what motherboard you have is your biggest hinderance here.  PLEASE POST YOUR MOTHERBOARD MAKE AND MODEL!!!
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Expert Comment

by:pbessman
ID: 6319308
Pictures are worth thousands of words!  I will try and provide some photos to help you locate your USB ports if they exist.

Look at the photos a few lines down on this page to see a picture of where your USB ports may be.

http://www.microsoft.com/windows98/usingwindows/maintaining/articles/004Apr/USB.asp

Please go to the next website and click the motherboard to enlarge.  The USB connectors are between the Parallel ports and the PS2 ports. http://www.fica.com/products/motherboard/Socket7/PA2013.stm

Please be sure to look towards upper left of photo to see chrome boxes.  The top ones are for PS2 mouse and Keyboard then the next is USB.

Can you look at the size of the keyboard connector for your system?  Its size can also tell us a little about your system. Is your mouse plugged in reight next to your keyboard or does the mouse plug into a serial plug and your keyboard into a large black receptacle on the back of your computer??
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by:rd707
ID: 6319503
pbessman:

I'm certain enough that I don't have any external USB ports at the moment.

I have 96MB RAM and about a 300MHZ Pentium (Cyrix) - think it is actually a 233 overclocked. I think it needs more grease but I digress...

I enabled OnChip USB in the BIOS and it did all kinds of funky stuff when it rebooted. It installed:

* PCI Universal Serial Bus (wahey)

* IRQ holder for PCI steeting (eh?)

* USB root hub (stop it you're scaring me)

The number (mobo model?) at the bottom of the screen when it booted up was:

10/23/97-EQ82C6618A-ETEQ-2A5LDS2FC-00

I opened the girl up and I saw 4 pairs of prongs and a spare (like pbessman said) near where the keyboard, mouse and printer plug in. From the top it looked like this

.::::

Looked like jumper thingies to me though...

My mouse is plugged in using a small round socket and the keyboard using a larger round socket as there wasn't another small socket. So the keyboard connected to an adapter which connects to the larger socket.

The two spare parallel/serial ports are as follows:

I got a 9 pin baby on the same plane as my mouse connection like so -->

.....
....

And I got a 25 pin port on the same plane as my keyboard like this -->

.............
............

Hope this is enough for you guys to go on - really don't know what else to tell you.

rd707
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Expert Comment

by:pbessman
ID: 6319546
What you have done is enabled some of the features that even an addon card would provide.  Since your system was pre USB it seems that you will need the adapter that was mentioned to you.  I actually use one even though I have the built in USB ports so that I can have 4 USB ports at full power.
    You will still need to find an open slot on your system.  One close to the .:::: as it should be labeled USB.  

While you're in there why don't you just tell us what motherboard you are using.  That would asve all of us a lot of time.
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by:pbessman
ID: 6319565
You are using an AT case right?  Your system won't power down all the way when you exit Windows either.  You get the message, "It is now safe to turn off your computer" and it stops there right?

Your best bet would be to find a vendor for the board and see if they have any USB adapters specifically for this board.  I have seen about three different styles.  Aren't standards a great thing???
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Author Comment

by:rd707
ID: 6319948
Sorry if this is repeated - my machine crashed mid-send:

---

Not sure if it is an AT case. It does ask me to close down the computer - it doesn't auto-shutdown like my Aptiva used to.

What is the deal with this nine pin socket? Does this mean I can buy something with a plug at one end and a backplane with the USB sockets on the other?

There does seem to be a spare slot between where I plug in the keyboard and where I plug in the mouse that looks vaguely USBish.

rd707
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Expert Comment

by:magarity
ID: 6320183
"What is the deal with this nine pin socket? Does this mean I can buy something with a plug at one end and a backplane with the USB sockets on the other?"

Congrats, that's exactly what it means.  Especially since Win98 seems happy to have installed the PCI USB, the IRQ holder, and the root hub.  Scary as they may sound, those are the three drivers needed for USB.  Now to find a vendor selling the adapter, but that should be fairly easy.

magarity

pbessman,
"an ISA 10/100 Network Interface card"
Amusingly enough, there are such beasts though very rare and hopefully not made anymore...  At my previous workplace we had one room networked with HP's 100VG scheme (a *completely* wack setup: the hub polled the attached cards... each card didn't send until asked if it needed to transfer), which was a 100Mbit/sec  pre-100Base-T standard.  The cards in the workstations were all 100Mbit ISA and the server had a PCI of the same.  Sure, the ISA bus tops at 45Mbits, so the extra speed was lost on transfers larger than the cards' buffers, but they were rated to 100Mbits between the card and the hub.  And the most amusing thing: being pre-standard for 100 meant that the hub's uplink to the rest of our network was 10Base-T.
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Expert Comment

by:Otta
ID: 6320308
Decoding: 10/23/97-EQ82C  66 18A-ETEQ-2A5LD S2 FC-00

2A5LD: VIA VPX Chipset (sometimes relabeled as VXPro+ chipset)
S2: Soyo: http://www.wimsbios.com/HTML1/soyo.html

ftp://ftp.soyo.nl/Bios_Upgrades
10/23/97-EQ82C6618A-ETEQ-2A5LDS2FC-00   EAS-1A3 5EAS            5eas-1a3.bin

> What is the deal with this nine pin socket?
> Does this mean I can buy something with a plug at one end
> and a backplane with the USB sockets on the other?

Yes (to agree with MAGARITY).

Check Soyo's web-site for which "something" you need.
There were at least two different "pin-out" arrangements (back in 1997),
so you need to get the correct "something".

The good news is that such a "something" is inexpensive -- cheaper than popcorn-and-a-movie.
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Author Comment

by:rd707
ID: 6321137
Can't seem to find anything about my board on those sites.

How can I find exactly what I need?

So long as it has a nine pin connection one end and a USB plane the other it should be cool right?
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by:rd707
ID: 6321172
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by:pbessman
ID: 6322678
There does seem to be a spare slot between where I plug in the keyboard and where I plug in the mouse
that looks vaguely USBish.


Is there a square cutout over the hole?  I am guessing you have USB ports right there.  Do they look anything like this??? http://www.microsoft.com/windows98/usingwindows/maintaining/articles/004Apr/USB.asp

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by:rd707
ID: 6325892
Increased points as I've had quite a bit of help here.
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by:rd707
ID: 6325911
Thanks guys - managed to get enough information to hunt around for what I wanted on the net.

Got a Belkin USB cable and scanner. Plugged the beasts in and hey presto!

Had a helluva job find space for it on the backplane!

Ended up running the cables along the edge of the motherboard under the three PCI cards to the other side.

Thanks all again - have a swell weekend.
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