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Networking my STE

The Background

Look guys, I know I am a complete NERD but hey, I enjoy it. Any way I have had a pair of Atari ST computers, an STE upgraded to 4Megs and a MEGA2,  sat in my Radio Shack for a long time now. From time time I would load up "XENON II" and have a quick bash. In the past I had written programs for them to edit MIDI voices, but now they are largely unused.

I had often thought about using the STs on the internet but theses days dial-up is almost dead. Besides if I could get them on the  home network which consists of a NETCOM ADSL Router connected into a small LAN with 10/100 switches I could exchange files with the other computers on the network.

So when I saw the message on "comp.sys.atari.st" about making an adaptor to allow an NE2000 clone to be used to connect an ST to a LAN I thought "that sounds like its worth a go". And when Lyndon Adams announced he was making them available for sale (see http://hardware.atari.org)  that sounded even better.

However of course his exams came along and delayed production so I decided to have a go at building one. The following pages describe my experiences along the way .....

  1. Collecting the parts
  2. Building the interface
  3. Configuring the network

Collecting the Parts

The interface consists the following parts.
bullet A small PCB double sided PCB that fits in the Atari Cartridge port
bullet A larger PCB has a the ISA socket for the NE200 card and a small chip to latch some signals.
bullet A piece of 40-way ribbon to connect the above together
bullet An ISA NE2000 clone card.
The parts were obtained as follows:-

Ethernet card

A visit to a local computer fair produced some RTL8019AS based cards at 2 for £5.00 so these were popped on in the shopping basket.

Printed Circuits

As I don't have the facilites to make the PCBs the GIF files were e-mailed to a friend who does, which produced me a couple of cards. As you can see from the picture below these are a bit "rough and ready", but he did not charge me for them.

Electronic Components

The board requires a small number of what should be very common components.
bullet ISA Socket
bullet 2 Capacitors
bullet 1 Resistor
bullet 1 x 74LS245 or 74HCT245
bullet Ribbon Cable and headers or connectors.
All of these items are in the Maplin's catalog, but when I visited my local store I was told the ICs are only available mail order. I did pause to pick up the ISA socket as there was one on the shelf but thought I would have the other parts, except the IC in the junk box. Fortunately there was a small dealer near me (Eclipse Electronic Comonents, Cross Street, Sale) who had the IC in stock, so those to went in the basket. Whilst there I also bought pair of 40-way right angle PCB mount IDC connectors. These have enough connector exposed so I could solder one row to the top of the small PCB and so get round the problem of no plated through holes.
 

Building the Interface

Soldering the IDC Socket to the small PCB was fairly easy. As noted above I needed to solder one row onto the top of the PCB, the result is as follows :-




 I had forgotten how poor my close-in sight is, so the result looks a bit messy, but after careful checks with a magnifier and meter and one repair to a broken track, it does now work. The second board was a bit harder. The GIF in download ZIP does not clearly show where all the links go, but after some drawing of lines with a ruler I decided they should be as below:-

Now I had the components assembled the whole thing looks like below. Note R1 is not visible as I used a surface mount under the board.




If you are younger and your eye-sight is better than mine yours should look much neater. Just the boards need to be linked together and plugged into the ST  but could not see any assembly instructions any where in the documentation and there are a number of ways it could fit together. After some checks with a meter on what voltages came out of the cartridge port it appears that the logical arrangement is correct. So on my STE with the cartridge port on the left hand end,

  1. The small board is plugged in the cartridge port,
  2. The other board is placed to the immediate left so the ribbon cable runs flat between the two.
  3. The NE2000 is plugged in with the face plate to the rear.
And the while thing looks quit neat, as you can see here. The card is connected to the STE, which is sat on top of the MEGA, and yes I will make a case eventually.

I actually put the thing together in small stages.
bullet Firstly I plugged in the two cards, but with no IC and no Ethernet Card and tested that the STE still workded and that the power on the IC socket was correct.
bullet Then I plugged in the IC and tested the STE still worked.
bullet Lastley I plugged in the card and tested that the STE still worked and the LINK light lit on the card when in the hub.
You can also use the test programs provided in the latest version of the archive. When you do note that some are designed to be run without the NE2000 card in place but otheres require it. Also note that HT3ENEC currently does not work so don't worry about it.

The Software

Personally I think that this was the hardest part, however a couple of factors contributed to this :-
  1. My system boots AHDI 6.0 from a floppy as it has an IDE drive and TOS 1.62
  2. My hard drive has an odd layout with many programs on "D".
  3. I have not used the ATARI "in anger" for a long while.
Any way after an e-mail from Lyndon I decide to start using the STING software stack. I downloaded this only to find the documentation is "HyperText" format and I did not have a copy of ST Guide. After some fiddling I found that :-

Which files are needed

  1. Most of the STING software needs to be in "C:\STING" where "C:" is the boot drive. Sting module have a type of "STX". Any unwanted files can be renamed to ".STY"  I currently have the following in my "C:\STING" directory :-
    1. RESOLVE.STX
    2. TCP.STX
    3. UDP.STX
    4. ENEC.STX - This is the driver from the project ZIP file
  2. The CACHE.DNS and DEFAULT.CFG files are also needs to be in this folder.
  3. The STNGPRT.CPX needs to be in your CPX directory to allow the card to be enabled
  4. The STING.PRG and STING.INF files needs to be in the AUTO folder.

Configuring the System

In order to configure the system you need to change the following entries in the "C:\STING\DEFAULT.CFG" file.
bullet Lyndon recommends setting the "Threading" value near the front of the file to "10"
bullet The "DOMAIN" value may be set if required
bullet The "NAMESERVER" should be set to point to your DNS server. In my case the Router/NAT box provides a DNS proxy service, and so it points at that.
The C:\STING\ROUTE.TAB file also needs to be in edited. I use a private class "C" network for my home lan of "192.168.1.0". The Router/NAT box is on "192.168.1.64" and is the default gateway resulting in two lines in the file.

192.168.1.0         255.255.255.0           EtherNet        0.0.0.0
0.0.0.0                 0.0.0.0                       EtherNet        192.168.1.64

You then need to re-boot and call up the STING Port CPX. In here you need to :-
bullet Set the "EtherNet" device to be enabled.
bullet Set the IP Address and SubNet Mask as appropriate for you network. If you normally use DHCP then you should reserve this addresses on the DHCP server
If you then press the "Addressing" tab and switch to the "General" view you should see the 12 digit MAC address of the ethernet card. Exit this and if all is well you should be able to use the PING and TRACEROUTE programs on the STING distribution to ping other hosts on your network. All you need now is some applications software to run on it......

Summary

I am very pleased with my board, and it seem to work very well.  I currently have the free version of CAB for WEB browsing and NEWSIE for News and Mail. I am also using GAPFTP to move files between my PCs and the ATARI. I have not done any testing it seems much faster than PARCP for moving files, and it has freed up the Printer Port on my PC for other things.

Any questions or comments should be sent to "atari@dwade.freeserve.co.uk"

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Last Updated 28/04/2012