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ISA card interference

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June 21, 2005 6:18:30 PM

I am trying to set up a computer with 9 data acquisition cards running on ISA buses. Each individual card works normally when put into the computer, but if more than one is inserted, some of the cards begin to fail. Are there any known issues with ISA busses that might be causing this? Is there any way to tweak the way the system recognizes these cards (running windows XP)? Am I totally boned?

More about : isa card interference

June 21, 2005 6:31:28 PM

are you sure you're talking ISA? cause like.. I havnt seen an ISA slot on a motherboard since first gen Pentium
June 21, 2005 6:54:29 PM

Which motherboard you have?

<font color=blue>If everything seems to be going well, you obviously don't know what the hell is going on</font color=blue>
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June 21, 2005 7:57:40 PM

The cards are most definatly ISA. The computer was set up specificallly to have 10 slots for ISA cards, since that was the only interface available for the hardware.

I didn't build the computer myself, but i'll post when i figure out what the motherboard is. (This is probably superflous, but the board with the processor/ram is actually plugged inserted into another board with all the PCI/ISA busses. The motherboard interface looks like a PCI and AGP bus placed end to end)
June 21, 2005 8:27:21 PM

Here are a few problems.

1. Anything with ISA bus is > 7 years old. some Pentium 2s' MAY have had it. not likely though.
2. Sounds like E-ISA (if it looks lie the cards have PCI and ISA toghet and they're long.
3. ISA is NOT PNP! thats one of the reasons for it's eventually faded away. unlike PCI which could help detect what device was in it. ISA did NOT support plug and play and the devices all had to be set up manually. that means IRQ's. DMA's and all those other fun settings.
4. Likelyhood that they're not working because of IRQ Conflicts or resource conflicts are great. a computer of that era only Really had around 15 IRQ's available for use. most of them are already assigned to system resources (your computer still uses IRQ's. Windows and PNP just know how to manage them so you don't have to worry)

SOOOO you will probably have to manually configure each card, probably via jumpers on the card to individual IRQ's that arent in use in that system.and configure whatever TSR / Windows Drivers to know where to look and what the device is.
June 21, 2005 11:05:58 PM

The processing part of the computer is very recent (Pentium 4, 3.2 GHz machine). As you have described them, the machine contains four E-ISA slots (one of which the board containing the processor/ram is plugged into) and eleven regular ISA slots.

The device manager for my computer has "ISAPNP Read Data Port" listed under Device Manager->System. The bios contains the following seemingly relevant options:

PnP Os installed (yes/no)
Resources Controlled by (AutoESCD/Manual)
IRQ Resources-> IRQ4(up to15) (PCI/ISA PnP/Legacy ISA)
DMA Resources-> DMA4(up to7) (PCI/ISA PnP/Legacy ISA)

None of which seem to fix this problem.

Unfortunately, I cannot find anything in the machine software that recognizes the cards as specific pieces of hardware. The cards themselves do not seem to have configurable jumpers to set IRQ/DMA, or any other method on the hardware to set this. There *is* a hardware method for setting the base address of the card that is later accessed by associated software to pull data into the computer. These are all set up so that each base address is different and the software configured to read each base address.

The truly maddening thing in this situation is that there is *some* data coming from the cards. Each card sends a bit to signify whether or not a 'valid'. Even when everything else on these cards breaks and 8 of them are put into the computer, a 'valid' signal can be generated and is recognized by each of the cards.

Thank you for your help
June 22, 2005 1:06:15 PM

Interesting. Havnt seen ISA in ages. Must be a custom server / Database machine of some sort? i'm curious to see what it is.

also, If there are no jumpers on these cards, I wonder if there's some sort of memory address conflict with thim and thats why they're conflicting. sounds like they're trying to share SOME resource that they're not allowed too.

i'm truly puzzled.. were these things designed to run in tandem like you're doing? and my other concern is Windows XP.. whats the legacy support in it? can it even handle the devices properly?
June 23, 2005 7:13:11 PM

Yeah, the machine is a custom job. There are jumpers on the card, but none of them are associated with the interface to the computer, they are used only to regulate the data going in (The card measures an x and y position, the jumpers can be used to change this to read only x or only y)

The machine cards seem to work perfectly if only a single one is put into the computer. Since they're ISA cards (and thus notorious for not working well as PnP devices, i've tried my hand at playing with these in the bios and device manager but...)

-The computer doesn't recognize the cards in either of these places. There is no option to set a specific IRQ or DMA to a specific card, the bios gives the option to set a specific IRQ/DMA to: PCI/ISA PnP device or Legacy ISA device.

(Even when the IRQ/DMA's are set to be configured manually, there is no additional place to set which card corresponds to which IRQ/DMA (at least that we've found), the only innate windows software that even comes close to recognizing the cards is in device manager -> system -> ISAPNP read data port. The only configurable setting in this, howver are the I/O read addresses. Changing them doesn't seem to do anything.)

-The cards ARE, however recognized by the software that came with them, there are several pieces of information that are testable and show that the cards are taking at least some data from the outside world. The problem is that most of the data coming in goes bad when >1 card is put in the computer.
June 24, 2005 5:37:53 AM

I have PNP ISA cards...mostly soundcards, a few modems, which allow the IRQ to be set in BIOS. But I have no idea how to set up a backplane, I've only ever torn them apart, never put them together!

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June 30, 2005 12:39:08 PM

Wait - correct me if im wrong, but I thought microsoft removed ISA support in Windows XP???
June 30, 2005 1:03:07 PM

Interesting idea so I had to google it. Here is a link.
<A HREF="http://www.annoyances.org/exec/forum/winxp/1097702263" target="_new">http://www.annoyances.org/exec/forum/winxp/1097702263&l...;/A>

And I found this:<A HREF="http://www.windowsnetworking.com/articles_tutorials/wxp..." target="_new">http://www.windowsnetworking.com/articles_tutorials/wxp...;/A>

I think the second link might help you. It looks like a good forum. I did read that non-PnP ISA cards won't work with Xp.

the Prisoner

I'm not a number, I'm a free man! :mad:  <P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by the_Prisoner on 06/30/05 09:16 AM.</EM></FONT></P>
June 30, 2005 6:30:07 PM

I haven't had any problems with XP and PNP ISA cards.

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<font color=red>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to an ego as large as Crashman's!</font color=red>
June 30, 2005 7:26:24 PM

I still want to see this machine. i'm curious
July 1, 2005 1:51:42 PM

It looks like non-PnP ISA cards won't work with Windows XP.

My PnP works.

the Prisoner

I'm not a number, I'm a free man! :mad: 
!