Author Topic: PCs for RVs  (Read 330 times)

Cubik

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PCs for RVs
« on: November 16, 2018, 07:27:04 PM »
I have been working for some time to find a solution to the eternal RV PC issue. We have 3 RV's in daily use and I need to keep them running yet the biggest problem that we have seen is with the PC. I now have a solution and have all of our machines running new PC hardware with SSD's, all are networked and they seem much more stable than they have been for years.

This is not a cheep fix, I recon the PC's end up costing around £500 each but its amazing how much better they RV runs!

OK, you are never going to get away from W98, but it does run well on decent hardware and I see a bootup time of 4 seconds due to the SSD, even on a P4.

If you are interested please let me know and I will write it up and post it on here

Mike

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Re: PCs for RVs
« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2018, 08:18:50 PM »
Yes please- I'm sure that would be useful to some users here. Presumably using an industrial PC of some sort?
I dealt with the PC hardware issue by doing an ebay saved search for the same motherboard in my PC, and after a few months found one as a spare.
I used to run mine off a NAS (Thecus N5200) , with just the W98 boot stuff on the PC HD, but a more recent NAS I replaced it (Synology N4200) which no longer supports W98 networking.
 
I got round this by using my main PC to hold the files and a simple DOS batch file to copy newer TFR and CDF files both ways when I start the RV - I didn't want to run direct over the net to avoid issues if my PC crashes.

I don't think the PC hardware is particularly critical, other than the requirement for both ISA and PCI slots. I imagine finding W98 compatible SSDs is nontrivial, though  you could probably run if off a USB drive, maybe boot from a CF card, for which IDE adapters are available.   

Mike

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Re: PCs for RVs
« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2018, 07:25:38 PM »
Info from Cubik :
Parts selection
The PC motherboard needs PCI and 1 x ISA slot. We have found that a Pentium 4 at 2Ghz or more works really well as a system.
Our favourite motherboard is the Itox G4V620 series. There are some sites selling these NOS and quite a few on Ebay, sold as “Refurbished”

I use 1Gb RAM, a new case, new CPU fan and SSD sat on a raid card in a PCI card with Sil3114 chipset.



Files etc.
Motherboard drivers
NUSB dependant on your W98SE release. (Win98 generic USB memory stick driver)
Imagenation PXC200A drivers and PXC13 software : http://www.imagenation.com/dnpages/pxc_files.html
The RV install files (Pinned in software thread) and The .DAT file for your machine

PC Build
Build the basics of the system first, ignore the RV cards for now.
Set the Bios for “optimised” settings to get you going.
I use W98 SE so that the USB is properly supported.
Before you start installation, download the drivers for the motherboard. I have found that often, as the OS loads and before you load the drivers, you can lose the IDE interface, so the CD will no longer be recognised!
What I have done is get the install progressed as far as I can, then drop the SSD into another machine to copy the motherboard drivers onto the SSD (in a new folder) and then install the drivers in safe mode once the SSD is back in your target hardware. It’s a bit of a pain but it does work.
Once you have a working W98 install (which should be lightning fast by the way) you can start customising it for the RV. Make sure the USB works properly before you move forward and there are no unrecognised devices in device manager.

PC customisation for RV
In the bios:
Set PNP OS to YES
In IRQ resources, set IRQ 3 and IRQ 5 to Legacy ISA
Turn off any devices which you don’t intend to use, for example built in sound etc
Turn Hardware Acceleration to minimum to help with RVPlace Freezing issue
Have a look at your DSP card. Rev 3 does not have serial ports, Rev 4 does.
If you are using a Rev 4 card, disable the motherboard COM ports.


Next, install the frame grabber and power the PC up.
On running windows up, it will ask for a driver for the frame grabber, click cancel
Install the PXC13 software
Reboot
Once its installed and running, go to Start Imagenation PXC200A Samples 4CAM Sample
If the software and card is working you should see 4 black (sometimes Blue) windows – there won’t be any video as the cameras are not connected.
Close the windows by closing the top Right panel.

Next, install the RV software by clicking on Setup in install files
Make sure RVGerber is version 2.8 (Not 2.5). You can just copy it from the installed files to the \RV folder.
Create a desktop shortcut to c:\versatronics\rv – you will need this a lot!
If you are rebuilding a machine, copy the DAT folder from the old install into the new PC. This contains all of the machine calibration data, it sits in \rv\dat
Shut the machine down and install the DSP board.
Connect to the RV hardware in the usual way
The machine should now run as usual but will be super-fast and reliable due to the SSD.
Desktop shortcuts
If you want to put shortcuts on your desktop to RVPLACE etc, first generate them in the usual way, then right click and properties. Ensure that “Start in” is set to C:\versatronics\RV\

Bios settings for Itox G4V240 :


Cloning a PC hard drive
Put the new drive in the system
Boot W98
Open a command prompt
Run FDISK
Select the new drive (option 5)
Create a primary partition
Exit FDISK
Reboot
Check that you can see the new drive (you wont be able to use it but should be able to see it)
Open a command prompt
Run FORMAT d: /S and let it run
From the command prompt run
XCOPY32 C: D: /S/H/R/C/K/Y/Q
That should do the trick!


Mike

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Re: PCs for RVs
« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2018, 07:27:34 PM »
 I use a Gigabyte GA-6VTXE-A (Via 694T AGPset) with Pentium 3 733MHz and 64MB or RAM, which has been reliable, not tried SSD yet
The only time I notice any slight slowness is failed recognition on a noisy image, which can take 3-4 secs.

If you have a reliable system it's good idea to try to get a spare of the same motherboard to avoid driver hassles when swapping - Ebay favorite searches are handy for this, so you get an email when one is listed.

If you have a PC setup that has proved reliable ( or things to avoid) , please post details here.

Mike

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Re: PCs for RVs
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2018, 07:47:16 PM »
Also see these notes on the different version of Place.DLL in the software section.

trev

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Re: PCs for RVs
« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2018, 12:21:06 PM »
Much appreciated, thanks for putting this information together.

Trerv

spiyda

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Re: PCs for RVs
« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2018, 06:16:46 PM »
I'm pretty out of date with PC stuff..
will these type SSDs work in the older motherboards ?

https://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/BIWIN-Industrial-Storage-Device-SLC-1_60052506663.html

Mike

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Re: PCs for RVs
« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2018, 06:33:11 PM »
Just been playing with SSD, copied everything over but not yet managed to get it to boot Windows from the SSD - I suspect the BIOS may be too old.

I wonder if an IDE-SATA adapter like this would be another option ( search Ebay for "PATA IDE SATA")
 

Mike

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Re: PCs for RVs
« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2018, 06:34:55 PM »
I'm pretty out of date with PC stuff..
will these type SSDs work in the older motherboards ?

https://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/BIWIN-Industrial-Storage-Device-SLC-1_60052506663.html

That listing says PATA but the pictured drive is SATA.

 A search on ebay for Pata SSD brings quite a few options, so may be worth a try

You can get IDE to CF fard adaptors but I suspect CF cards are probably not as fast or optimised for main drive use as SSDs.

spiyda

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Re: PCs for RVs
« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2018, 08:08:25 PM »
I just had a look around and they do make IDE interface SSDs for industrial use, even RS stock a 15Gb for 35 quid     144-8029
"Fully compatible with the IDE standard interface"
"ATA Standard"
MTBF    3,000,000 hours
I might try one in my existing machine as the hard drive is now old enough to vote !

Gopher

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Re: PCs for RVs
« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2018, 03:23:02 PM »
There is some added risk with SSDs in that Win98 knows NOTHING about TRIM which means the drive won't be able to do its wear levelling properly or at all. Maybe if you disable swap that could mitigate it as there not much disk writing in the machines day to day running. Or how about one of the aforementioned PATA-SATA adaptor cards and a hybrid drive, where (unless I'm mistaken) the drive handles the SSD wear levelling, I would think pretty much the whole system fits in the 8GB cache.
Also don't forget Win98 starts having issues when sporting  512MB+ of ram, some systems that meet the requirements might support & have more than that installed, you can beat it with a stick a little to support more but there is little point.

spiyda

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Re: PCs for RVs
« Reply #11 on: December 02, 2018, 02:00:38 AM »
Those RS  144-8029  SSDs are supposed to handle wear levelling internally to some extent (from the datasheet)
How well is anyone's guess..       I might give it a go just to see..  I'll still have the data stashed away on the original disc, the cloud and my NAS in case it
Its described as a "InnoDisk 1ME IDE DOM 44 Pins 16 GB Industrial SSD Drive "

Cubik

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Re: PCs for RVs
« Reply #12 on: December 07, 2018, 02:48:57 PM »
Im glad I wrote this, it seems like it has sparked some interest!

The reason that I used a raid card is that it has its own BIOS and mounts to the BIOS of the motherboard as "just another drive interface". I have tried other ways to achieve a reliable connection to a SSD, the described method has worked on every motherboard that i have tried so far. 

Another option which works sometimes is to use a PATA > SATA adapter, here is an example:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Livecity-SATA-Converter-Conversion-Adapter/dp/B0787SPXL6/ref=sr_1_30?ie=UTF8&qid=1544190149&sr=8-30&keywords=sata+pata+adapter

As I said, this seems to work with some motherboards but not all. I think this uses the same chipset as the one that Mike suggested.

I have been using WD Green SSD's, I havent tried any others. I like the idea of trying a PATA SSD, I may order one and try it out.

Paul

Cubik

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Re: PCs for RVs
« Reply #13 on: December 07, 2018, 02:56:37 PM »
With regard to Mikes OS that will not boot, I have seen this a few times when copying onto SSD.

I suggest that when you are testing this out to start off with, try installing W98 rather than copying your existing drive. To be honest, its really fast with an SSD, I have built machines from the ground up in 20 mins with an SSD rather than the usual 3 - 4 hours that it takes with an HDD

trev

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Re: PCs for RVs
« Reply #14 on: December 07, 2018, 03:40:23 PM »
Really appreciate the information. Found the Raid card on Ebay.

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/152988519024

Trev