Network Computer, CB-6971.
       17. Simple electronic devices.        

17.25 A simple computer for 10/100 network, based on CB-6971.

  * It is a small, but fully functional computer consumes a very little power. You can feed it from the phone charger (+5VDC,1A). Not in production at the moment.

Why I do it.

First, I need a standing apart computer that I would be practiced in Linux.
The second. Computer must run 24/7, so power consumption is very critical.
The third. I don't like when a noisy cooling fan running to infinity. This annoys me.

The basic.

   We know that any network device has a computer in the middle. Not always possible to get in the middle and used it for something else, but there are exceptions.

   It is heavy and has a simple military design, where everything is made of metal. But much more interesting, what is inside.

  It took a time to read .pdf docs about chips located on the Board. And in the end, we have a simple, PC compatible computer, based on Geode CPU from AMD.

  And good thing that all IO connectors are present on the Board. A little more time and we have the full picture (add. two photos: CPU, switch).

  In the final, have a small, fan-less computer, with 4 network interfaces (3 + 1 for 4xETH switch) and full set of i/o ports. CF card & MINI PCI slots - are a nice bonuses.

Does it work via 'Console'?

   In the beginning, it would be nice to check if it works and how it works.

   By default, 'Console Redirection' should send all BIOS messages to the 'Console' port (front of the unit). If this does not happen - disconnect CMOS battery for 1 min.

   I will need a serial cable (Cisco pin out) and, because on my computer is no RS-232 interface, 'USB to serial' adapter.

   PuTTY, speed 19200, rest by default. Power up and first screen:


   Ok. It works. Now we need to see what is in the BIOS settings  (Press 'Tab' at boot time, 'Esc','Esc' - menu, back).

   If you were lucky enough to go into the BIOS, several things must be done.

      1. 'Load Optimized Defaults', first.
      2. Set up date and time.
      3. In 'Advanced BIOS Features':
        3.1 Set BOOT order: USB-HDD, HDD-1(CF Card), HDD-0(IDE);
        3.2 Check 'Console Redirection' - [Enable];
        3.3 'Baud Rate' - 19200;
        3.4 'Agent after boot' - [Enabled].
      4. 'Set User Password' - leave the field empty, the password will be disabled.
      5. 'PC Health Status' - check CPU temperature & voltages.


        Save & Exit Setup.

  These screens are for illustrative, how does the BIOS screens looks via serial interface (Console Port).

If everything is done correctly.

   If you did everything as described earlier, that never happens for the first time, you have the ability to redirect everything that goes to the VGA screen, even after BIOS, to the 'Console' port. Option 'Agent after boot - [Enabled]' allows you to do this.

   On the next screen, DOS Navigator, which works through the 'Console' port.

    In addition to a simple test, it shows that the redirection occurs in DOS mode (messages are send in DOS format). Some boards allow you to select the format (DOS - Linux), but not this one.

***For those who have a allergy to DOS and other programs from the last century. On the screen the real software setup to program 'top of the line' motherboards, which is 'in production' today.   


    Two programs, both from the last century, ensure reliability of computer equipment. This is a MemTest (for 8h or more) and Prime, which take 100% CPU load. The first catches memory errors (most be 0), the second - verify that the computer & CPU are not overheating. Both test pass successfully, for this computer.

What is next.

    Now it's time to install Linux on this machine and see how it works. To do this, I select TinyCore that relatively quickly loaded. Certainly not as fast as DOS, but that's not a point. The idea is that would install TinyCore Linux with minimal config. and see how it works.


Dec. 27, 2016  SKootS


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