[NTLK] Newton gateway idea

Randy Glenn randy.glenn at gmail.com
Sun Jan 10 01:55:59 EST 2016

On Fri, Jan 8, 2016 at 11:37 PM, David Arnold <davida at pobox.com> wrote:

> Back in the day, there were PCMCIA serial cards from a company called
> “Socket Communications” (I think?) that were supported out-of-the-box by
> NOS.  A quick search suggests that some form of that company still exists
> selling mobile-related stuff, so it might be possible to get a hold of
> their cards.  But I *think* they were really just low-power,
> 16550-compatible, basic serial/UART cards.  So it *might* be pretty easy to
> build a PCMCIA card with a suitable UART chip that works with NOS without
> any additional effort.
http://www.ti.com/product/tl16pc564b is probably a good chip for this (at
least, it's the first purpose-built one I found)

> I used to use NIE’s PPP to a Linux box on a regular basis, and my
> recollection is that it worked without any real issues.
> Rather than requiring two serial ports, once you’ve got PPP running, you
> can use PT100 to telnet into the Linux box.  My plan was a expose
> configuration through an old-skool HTML-2/HTTP-1.0 web site that could be
> easily grokked by NetHopper …
My concern about using Telnet is that if the PPP server isn't working,
you've got a brick on your hand. Having an extra UART available for
debugging would make things easier.

> If you wanted to get fancy, shipping serialized NewtonScript frames back
> and forth over TCP might make native application development pretty simple
> too.
> > Going with a Type III PCMCIA card form factor should allow space for a
> > Linux system and the serial hardware, while still fitting into an eMate.
> A
> > Pi Zero might fit in that form factor.
> Type III rules out the MP2k’s, so I was hoping to get a Type II (ie. 5mm
> high) form factor to work.
Trickier to pull off, but the possibilities are pretty awesome.

> > Actually pulling it off is another matter entirely, of course - a lot of
> > PCMCIA stuff is now end-of-life.
> Yes.  So the next year or so is probably a critical time to buy EOLed
> components if it’s ever going to be possible.

It looks like that TI chip is last time buy, with a deadline of March 26.
The unit cost is $14, with a minimum quantity of 90. Ick.

A cheaper method might be to use an FPGA as the UART(s) and PCMCIA
interface. That combined with something like the RT5350 router chip (runs
Linux, 360 MHz MIPS core, up to 64 MB RAM, WiFi, and very cheap) might do


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