Small / light NOT expensive PC with RS-232 port

Discussion in 'Computer Information' started by Robert Baer, Jan 30, 2014.

  1. Robert Baer

    Robert Baer Guest

    Any suggestions along this line?
    It should support Windows, ideally Win2K, but Win7 (or XP SP2) if
    push comes to shove.
    Unfortunately, Win98SE is no longer an option unless a legal version
    is available cheap via e-bay (i tossed all my older disks).
    Robert Baer, Jan 30, 2014
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  2. Robert Baer

    Paul Guest

    Desktop computer or a laptop ?

    Small and light, could be a laptop or a tablet.

    Desktop computers, some of them have expansion
    slots, and a card could be added to provide RS232 capability.
    For example, for a Parallel Port, I use a PEX1PLP card for
    the PCI Express bus. This is how I added a fully functional
    (not just a printer plug) to my computer. I can run my
    JTAG programmer cable from this thing.

    The RS232 port on old computers, was provided by
    means of a SuperI/O chip. Modern computers, Intel
    has been busy deprecating certain hardware interfaces,
    with the eventual purpose of removing the SuperI/O chip.
    And that means the RS232 is on the chopping block.

    For a serial port, I use a couple of these. They plug
    into the USB slots externally. LED indicators flash
    for TX and RX activity.

    Doing it that way, has added around $100 to the cost
    of my motherboard. The advantage is, when the motherboard
    is replaced, I just move these devices to the next PC.


    The smallest desktop you could get, would be
    an Intel NUC, at 4" x 4" x 1.6". This is going
    to be totally unsatisfactory for you, but I just
    wanted to show how small they can make them. The
    expansion capabilities are not very practical.
    The NUC is smaller than mini-ITX.

    The size of the computer, eventually becomes
    dominated by things like the size of the hard
    drive, the size of the optical drive, and so on.
    Or, how many memory DIMMs you want to add. If you
    want room for eight or sixteen DIMMs, it makes
    the motherboard rather large.

    The absolute best motherboard you could buy,
    would be one which is no longer manufactured.
    The 4coredual-sata2 had a LGA775 socket, and
    could take up to a quad processor. It has
    AGP, PCI Express, PCI bus slots. It has RS232 and
    parallel port. It has PS/2 for keyboard and mouse.
    It has USB2. It only has 10/100BT networking,
    but a card can be added for GbE. I have installed
    Win98 on it, and there were drivers for everything.
    (I installed Windows 98 as a joke, but was surprised
    the installation worked so well. Only one core
    of the processor is usable in Windows 98.)

    I have also run Windows 8 on that computer. So it
    spans everything from Win98 to Windows 8. I need
    to buy a more modern video card, to make Windows 8
    really practical. That was the only problem encountered
    there. No video card driver. A new video card would
    have fixed that.

    I currently have an E4700 2.6Ghz dual core processor
    in it, with no overclocking.

    The motherboard cost only $65. The motherboard
    is 12" x 9.6" (i.e. full sized ATX). When Asrock
    continued to ship that motherboard, Intel was annoyed
    (since it uses a VIA chipset, and Intel wanted to
    crush VIA). Now, Intel makes all of their own chipsets,
    as all of the competition has been crushed via the
    usage of licensing agreements (or the lack of them).

    You're unlikely to get a commodity PC with an
    RS232 connector on the back, but I know that
    information will not stop you from trying :)

    Paul, Jan 30, 2014
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  3. Robert Baer

    Robert Baer Guest

    * Prolly could get away with 128K of RAM f the OS would allow that.
    If i had not tossed my Win95, i could see if it would support this
    label printer on a 286; i suspect it would work - leading to a
    "miniature 286-50", 128K RAM, 5MB HD, keyboard, any video, one RS-232
    and no more.
    * Its an idea; expands the possibles. Thanks.
    The RS-232 port MUST be directly addressable (like the parallel port
    on that daughter board); USB will not cut it,as the label printer
    software was written "for windows" back in the Win95 days AFAIK.
    Robert Baer, Jan 30, 2014
  4. Robert Baer

    Paul Guest

    OK, had to give up on conventional motherboards.

    The mini-ITX store has a Gigabyte board with one serial port
    on the back. The processor is likely soldered to the motherboard.

    "Gigabyte E350N Dual Core Mini-ITX Board with Radeon HD 6310"

    "E-350D processor"

    This is the processor specs. I had to check, to make sure it
    was an X86 type of processor. It appears to be. Series E-350 - EME350GBB22GT.html

    Take a look around the mini-ITX store, and see if
    there is something you like. It's going to cost
    a bit more, than visiting the used computer store,
    and picking up a P4 junker.

    Paul, Jan 30, 2014
  5. Robert Baer

    Pat Guest

    I'd suggest you decide for certain what operating system you are going
    to use, find out the hardware requirements, and then look for hardware.
    Windows 98 and Windows 7 differ significantly in their hardware
    requirements. You could use a board around a 300 - 500 mhz processor for
    Windows 98 but you would need a 1 Ghz processor for Windows 7.
    Pat, Jan 30, 2014
  6. Robert Baer

    Robert Baer Guest

    The one you mentioned is under $100 and light enough to be cheap to
    ship around here and there.
    Looks GOOD; thanks.
    Robert Baer, Jan 31, 2014
  7. Robert Baer

    Robert Baer Guest

    I would rather not use Win7 - it eats a LOT of RAM.
    A 286-50 would do...
    Robert Baer, Jan 31, 2014
  8. Robert Baer

    Paul Guest

    The manual is here. You have to buy at least one memory DIMM
    to get it to run. If you're buying a small case for it, you
    may need to buy low-profile memory. I can't tell how high the top
    of the cooling fan is, and whether a regular DIMM is taller than
    it or not. Not a big deal if you're just going to leave it sitting
    on a table top as a raw board.

    Paul, Jan 31, 2014
  9. Robert Baer

    Robert Baer Guest

    In their rather extensive lists, i found three VIA boards that are
    good fit: EITX-3000, EPIA-M840, and EPIA-M830.
    I absolutely HATE this half-tone datasheet crap; there is absolutely
    NO reason to decrease readability by an order of magnitude.
    Are they ashamed of the specs?
    Robert Baer, Feb 3, 2014
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