|HK Computer: Vector Connection|
|Connection: Zorro II|
Magazine Article - 93K
Download a picture of a magazine article (german)
A multi-I/O, Zorro-II board for Amiga 2000/3000/4000. It features up to 2 parallel and up to 4 serial ports at speeds up to 115200 baud. The older software will run under AmigaDOS 1.3. However, the latest software version requires at least AmigaDOS 2.0. The back cover of the board has two serial ports. Two additional slot covers, each with a serial and a parallel port can be installed if more ports are required. Their cables will then have to be plugged onto the board.
REVIEW Due to the quite different concepts in the old 1.3 compatible software version and the newer one which requires AmigaDOS 2.0, I will describe them separately. The old software requires some changes in your user-startup file. Most utilities are CLI based programs. Only the preferences editor is GUI based. The installation was incomplete when I did it (approximately 2 years ago). The software is stable. The latest software gets installed very nicely. There is no more need to know and use CLI utilities. The software fits perfectly in the OS. Earlier versions of the new software were buggy, but the last version I have tested (2.2) did not produce any problems any more. Of those two serial ports on the slot cover at the back of the card, one is standard 25-pin, and all additional ones are small 9-pin ports. No adapters are supplied with the card. After installing the software, your application programs can use the new ports by using the new devices and units. The standard serial and/or parallel port can also be redirected to the Vector board, so even software that was not designed to use custom devices can now use the ports of the board. The current version of the Vector Connections allows for up to 115200 baud on each port. Each two ports share one serial driver and one 4-byte FIFO buffer. As a result, the baud rates have some restrictions. According to the manual, two ports using the same driver cannot be used at 115200 and 76800 at the same time. They can, however, be used at the same speed without problems. I myself found that they _would_ work at 115200 and 76800 at the same time, but not at 115200 and 57600. I used up to three serial ports for about two years, and I never had any problems that were due to the board. I had tried a parallel port once, and it worked, but I did not use it regularly. DOCUMENTATION The board comes with a printed manual. It contains all you need to know to install and operate the board, and I suppose that it is understandable for beginners and experts alike. Since I bought my board in Germany, I got a German manual. I do not know if an English version is available. LIKES I like the easy way to get four additional serial high speed ports. I like the new software, too. DISLIKES AND SUGGESTIONS I do not like the fact that they do not include adapters for the small 9-pin ports. They should be included. A 16-byte FIFO buffer would be very nice, and after all, this is the reason why, after having used the board for two years, I sold it and bought myself a GVP I/O Extender. COMPARISON TO OTHER SIMILAR PRODUCTS I had used a A2232 serial card before. Even though the Vector Connection does not provide seven additional ports, like the A2232 does, I would always prefer a board that allows up to 115200 baud on four ports. If you want to use V.34 modems, you have no choice anyway. I am currently using a GVP I/O Extender. I decided to get one because I hoped that the 16-byte FIFO buffer would leave more CPU available during downloads. Even though it really does, the difference is smaller than I had thought. IMHO, you get more for your money if you buy a Vector Connection, as one GVP I/O Extender will give you only two additional serial ports. BUGS I didn't find any. VENDOR SUPPORT I did not have any problems with my installation, so I did not contact the vendor directly. I called the BBS once, asking for help, but never got an answer. Fortunately, I was able to solve the problem on my own. The new software, however, is freely distributable, which IMO is a good product support. WARRANTY In Germany, there is a minimum warranty of six months required by the law. HK-Computer does not extend this warranty. CONCLUSIONS I found the Vector Connection to be a good product, sold at a fair price. I would recommend it if I was asked by a friend. I rate this product 4 stars out of 5. COPYRIGHT NOTICE Copyright 1995 Metin Savignano. This review is freely distributable, but not for profit.
Here is an FAQ about the UARTs used on this card
Motorola MC68681: MC68HC681/2681 - DUART ======================================== The MC68HC681 dual universal asynchronous receiver/transmitter (DUART) is part of the M68000 Family of peripherals and directly interfaces to the MC68000 processor via an asynchronous bus structure. The MC68HC681 consists of these major sections: internal control logic, timing logic, interrupt control logic, bidirectional 24-bit data bus buffer, two independent communication channels (A and B), 6-bit parallel input port, 8-bit parallel output port. MC68681 Features: o M68000 Bus Compatible o 2 Independent Full-Duplex Asynchronous Receiver/Transmitter Channels o On-Chip Crystal Oscillator o TTL Compatible o Single +5V Power Supply MC68681/2681 Frequently Asked Questions --------------------------------------- -Question: On the MC2681 or MC68681, assuming that the write cycle is chip-select controlled, what is the minimum data hold time after chip select is negated on a write cycle? Answer: The answer is derived from a combination of two specifications. The first specification defines that there must be a setup time of the W signal relative to CS (Tch). The second specification defines the data hold time relative to W going high (Tdh). Since Tch = 0, and Tdh = 10 ns, adding them yields 10 ns for a data hold time relative to the CS. -Question: The specification for the MC2681/MC68681 specifies a crystal series resistance less than 180 ohms. Does that still hold? Can a crystal of series resistance of 200 ohms suffice? Answer: The specification that defines that a crystal must have a series resistance of 180 ohms still applies. It is recommended that any crystal with a larger series resistance not be used. Below is a list of manufacturers of crystal manufacturers that meet our specifications Saronix, Palo Alto, CA (800) 227-8974 inside Ca. (800) 422-3355, part #NMP037 Bomar Crystal, Middlesex, NJ (201) 356-7787 Crystek Corporation, Fort Myers, FL (813) 936-2109 Electro-Dynamics Corp., Shawnee Mission, KS (913) 262-2500 Allied Electronics, Fort Worth, TX (214) 265-9341 part # 994-0345 US Crystals, Fort Worth, TX (800) 433-7140 -Question: What value of shunt resistors must be used with the MC2681/MC68681? Answer: The MC2681/MC68681 manual is incorrect. A shunt resistor must be added across the X1/CLK and X2 pins. This shunt resistor is needed to help provide a 50% duty cycle. The recommended value of a shunt resistor is 10-20 Mohm. -Question: Which MC68681 signals require a pull-up resistor? Answer: The following signals of the MC68681 require pull-up resistors: DTACK, IRQ. The OP7, OP6, OP5, OP4, OP3 signals may require pull-up resistors if they are used as open-drain, active-low outputs. -Question: What happens when I read a reserved register on the MC68681/MC2681? Answer: When a read of a reserved register (locations $02 or $0A) is attempted, the DUART is forced into a diagnostic mode. This mode is used to test the baud rate generator circuitry. When the DUART enters this mode, it outputs baud frequencies on the general purpose output lines which are multiples of the frequencies listed in the baud rate table. If the transmitter is enabled, the DUART may also transmit at these frequencies, regardless of the value selected in the clock select register (CSR). A read to the reserved registers may occur accidentally by a monitor program that performs a read/verify cycle after write cycles, by negating the write strobe prior to the chip select signal at the end of a write bus cycle, or possibly by asserting the write strobe after asserting CS* at the beginning of a write bus cycle. To avoid the last two situations, the chip select signal to the DUART should be qualified with DS* from the processor. -Question: Describe the receiver FIFO of the MC68681/MC2681. Answer: The DUART has a three-byte receiver FIFO that acts more like a circular queue. It has both a head pointer and a tail pointer. The head pointer is controlled by a read operation and is incremented to the next buffer location whenever a read of the receiver occurs. The tail pointer is incremented whenever a new character that has been assembled in the shift register is transferred to the receive holding register. After an external reset or the issuance of a reset receiver command, the head and tail pointers point to the same location in the FIFO. The contents of the FIFO are not flushed when a reset receiver command is issued. It takes three consecutive reads of the FIFO to move the head pointer in a circle until it gets back to its original location. Note that the head pointer can inadvertently be incremented if a monitor program that performs a read/verify cycle after a write cycle is in use. The receiver ready bit (RxRDY) in either the interrupt status register (ISR) or the status register (SRx) should be polled before reading the receiver. If the bit is set, the receiver should be read. The status register should again be read to determine the state of the RxRDY bit. If it is set again, the receiver should be read again. This should continue until the RxRDY bit is clear. If a read of the receiver is performed when the RxRDY bit is clear, the pointers will be incremented beyond the current valid data. -Question: How can I detect the end of break"? Answer: In order to detect a break condition, the DUART receiver continuously samples the receive data input (RxD). When it senses a low for the start bit and the number of programmed bit times, it loads a zero character into the receive FIFO. If no stop bit is detected, the receiver samples beyond the character frame for one more bit time. If this bit is low, a framing error has occurred. Having the framing error bit in the status register set and a zero character in the receive FIFO forces the received break bit to be set in the ISR and the SRx. The delta break bits in the ISR must be monitored on order to detect an end of break. The processor should not read the zero character in the receive FIFO nor clear the receive break bit in the SRx until the break is completely over. Once a break has been detected, the processor should issue a reset break change interrupt command, which resets the delta break bit in the ISR. The delta break bit will be set again whenever RxD transitions, indicating that the break condition is over. When this happens, the processor should issue a break change nterrupt command, a reset error status command, and then read and discard the zero character in the receive FIFO. -Question: What are the consequences of changing the DUART configuration without first disabling the receiver and transmitter? Answer: Whenever you decide to write to the mode registers (MR1x and MR2x), the clock select registers (CSRx), or the auxiliary control register (ACR), the receiver and transmitter must first be disabled. If the mode registers change while serialization is still active, the transmission may be restarted under the new configuration. If serialization is complete and the transmit buffer is empty when the mode registers change, one of two things can happen; either TxD can go into the space condition for a short period of time or the transmitter ready bit (TxRDY) in the ISR may set and then reset. The above events are independent of the values written to the mode registers. In fact, rewriting the current values to the mode registers can produce the same results. A more serious consequence may occur if you write to the CSRx or bit 7 of the ACR while the transmitter and receiver clocks are running. If the clocks are changed without first disabling the receiver and transmitter, clipped (shortened) clock pulses may appear during the change from one frequency to the next. These pulses may cause the receiver and transmitter to lock up. The recommended (and best) way to disable the transmitter and receiver whenever you plan to change the configuration is to issue a software reset command ($20 and $30 to the CRx). Not only does this disable the receiver and transmitter, it also places the DUART in a known state. -Question: What programming sequence is necessary to operate in the Multidrop/Wake-up mode? Answer: When the DUART is operating in the Multidrop mode, the transmitter sends data with the last bit of each character flagged as either address or data. Mode register 1, bit 2, determines whether the character being sent is an address or a data character. Thus, if you want to send an address character followed immediately by data characters, you must write to the mode register. Writing to the mode register without first resetting the receiver and transmitter could result in the incorrect transmission of data. Therefore, the following programming sequence should be observed when operating in the Multidrop/Wake-up mode: 1. Verify that the TxEMT bit is set to guarantee that the transmitter is not currently sending a character. 2. Reset the MR pointers, the receiver and the transmitter via the command register. 3. Load MR1 with the previously written data, insuring that MR1 = 1. Then, enable the receiver and transmitter. 4. Load the address character into the transmitter holding register (THR). 5. Wait until the TxEMT bit is set (character sent). 6. Reset the MR pointers, the receiver and the transmitter via the Command Register. 7. Load MR1 with the previous data, this time insuring that MR1 = 0. Then, enable the receiver and transmitter. 8. Load the data characters into the THR, until the message is complete. To send data to a different address, repeat steps 1-8. Whenever a DUART in a secondary station recognizes an address character, it will set its RxRDY bit. The CPU must then immediately read the receiver to see if the accumulated address matches the station's address. If it does, the CPU must set RxEN in either CRA or CRB so that the message can be received. At higher baud rate frequencies, it might be difficult to perform the compare and the setting of the RxEN bit before the data begins to arrive. To alleviate this problem, you could enable the RxEN bit as soon as you receive the address character and then either reset the receiver if a match has not occurred or read the data characters from the receive FIFO if the address matches. -Question: What are my options for driving the X1/CLK and X3 pins? Answer: The DUART is very sensitive to its clock. The clock circuitry can be driven by either a crystal or a TTL-level signal. When using a TTL-level clock, the clock signal should be connected to X1/CLK and X2 should be grounded. If you do use a TTL-level clock to drive X1/CLK, you must guarantee a minimum high voltage of 4 Volts and a minimum high and low clock pulse width of 100 ns. The X1/CLK driver does not have to be an open collector. The areas of most concern when using a crystal to drive the clock circuitry are the capacitance of C1 and C2, the duty cycle, and the rise and fall times of the clock signal. Signetics recommends that the values of both capacitors be around 5 pF to insure proper charging during the power-on cycle. Our data sheet says that C1 should be between 10 and 15 pF and C2 should be between 0 and 5 pF. There are no known problems using these values. Ideally, the duty cycle of the clock signal should be as close to 50% as possible. However, many DUARTs show a 60-40 duty cycle when hooked up to the crystal. To force a 50-50 duty cycle, add a 100 Kohm or greater resistor across X1/CLK and X2. The rise and fall time problem may never occur assuming you have a good crystal to start with. Below is a list of vendors for 3.6864 MHz crystals that meet our specs. There are probably many more vendors; these are just the ones we know of. Saronix, Palo Alto, CA (800) 227-8974 inside Ca. (800) 422-3355, part #NMP037 Bomar Crystal, Middlesex, NJ (201) 356-7787 Crystek Corporation, Fort Myers, FL (813) 936-2109 Electro-Dynamics Corp., Shawnee Mission, KS (913) 262-2500 Allied Electronics, Fort Worth, TX (214) 265-9341 part # 994-0345 US Crystals, Fort Worth, TX (800) 433-7140 Multiple DUARTs can be driven from the same crystal. Tap off the clock from X1/CLK, buffer it through an inverter, add a 1K pull-up resistor, and connect it to the other X1/CLK inputs (remember to ground X2 on these devices). -Question: What is the potential problem with receiver-controller RTS* negation? Answer: When the receiver controls the negation of the RTS* output, a one should be written to the appropriate output port pin immediately after enabling the receiver. The receiver will negate RTS* whenever the FIFO is full and the start bit of a fourth character has been detected. Because of this, care must be taken in choosing the transmitter at the other end. Some transmitters, depending on the manufacturer, will stop transmission after sending out the character in the shift register while others stop after sending out the characters in both the holding register and the shift register. The latter transmitters will cause an overrun to occur in the DUART receiver. -Question: How long must the pulse be on the input port pins before it is recognized internally? Answer: The state change detection circuitry requires two successive samples of the new state before the delta change bits are set in the input port change register (IPCR). This circuitry uses a 38.4 KHz sampling clock (generated from the baud rate generator). If the crystal frequency is 3.6864 MHz, then the sampling period of the internal state machine will be 25 microseconds. If the transition of the input pin occurs at the same time as the first sample pulse, then the new level must be present for 25 microseconds. If the level change occurs just after the sampling edge, the new level must be present for at least 50 microseconds to guarantee recognition. -Question: Does an interrupt acknowledge cycle clear the bits in the interrupt status register (ISR) or do I have to clear them in software? Answer: None of the bits in the ISR are cleared by an interrupt acknowledge cycle. The input port change status bit (ISR_7) is cleared when the processor reads the input port change register (IPCR), the channel A and channel B change in break bits (ISR_2 and _6) when the CPU issues a reset break change interrupt command for the corresponding channel, the channel A and B receiver ready or FIFO full bits (ISR_1 and _5) when the CPU reads the receiver buffer for the associated channel, the channel A and B transmitter ready bits (ISR_0 and _4) whenever the processor loads a character into the appropriate transmitter holding register, and the counter/timer ready bit (ISR_3) by a stop counter command in both the counter and timer modes. -Question: When do the output ports go high after RESET is asserted? Answer: The output ports (OP0-OP7) are placed in the logic high state about 80 to 90 ns after RESET asserts (asynchronous to the X1/CLK input).
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