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The Icon Bar: News and features: USB card roundup
 

USB card roundup

Posted by Richard Goodwin on 10:33, 31/5/2002 | , , , , , ,
 
I've been putting this off for a couple of days to get as much info as possible, but as things seem to be snowballing rather quickly now here's a heads up on what's happening USB-wise.

As someone quite eloquently summed it up, you wait ages for one and three turn up at the same time. After the release of the 100bT network cards, Simtec and Castle are gearing up for round two with both companies on the brink of releasing USB cards for RISC OS users.

Castle had their cards "for sale" at the recent Wakefield show, although shipping is currently to qualified Third Party Developers and other interested parties on the understanding that software is still Beta. It's a four port "hub" on a podule, meaning that four (low power) devices can be connected at the same time without having to shell out for a secondary hub. Four might sound like a lot, but pretty soon you might be running your mouse, keyboard, scanner and printer off the USB slot and wondering where the MP3 player, digital camera and mobile phone are going to go, so you can appreciate that more, rather than less, is good.
Castle USB Card
The Castle card
More information on Castle's USB card is on their support website. The main site says pricing and details are TBA; I've heard 99 is likely but can't confirm this. I do know it'll come with drivers for a range of keyboards and mice, and maybe a range of scanners too.

I've seen Simtec's USB card doing the rounds for some time, and that'll be ready for launch in July. Available in both podule for RiscPCs and ISA form for RiscStation machines it has two device ports and a host port. Price should be just shy of 80 quid, which means the smaller number of ports is offset by the cost (so you can use the money to buy a hub :) A wealth of info is available on their company website (see links above), but they've also created a new website just about RISC OS USB development at www.riscos-usb.com, including who's writing what drivers.

Drivers might be a bit of a thorny issue as both products use different APIs to talk to the devices, although it's been mooted that something to tie the two together would not be outside the realms of possibility.

And the third card? Well, more of a blast from the past, as MicroDigital has been rummaging in the cupboards and found their development board from 1999. Continuing their recent run of glasnost it, along with a host of other interesting info, is on display on their news page.
 
  USB card roundup
  (12:32 31/5/2002)
  Chris Williams (16:23 31/5/2002)
    MarcoF (20:07 31/5/2002)
      Andrew C. Poole (20:09 31/5/2002)
        John Duffell (23:31 31/5/2002)
          Chris Williams (03:43 1/6/2002)
            The Doctor (07:35 1/6/2002)
              Ross McGuinness (07:37 1/6/2002)
                Victor Shears (15:08 1/6/2002)
                  Michael Stubbs (00:24 5/6/2002)
                    MarcoF (12:22 5/6/2002)
                      Guest X (12:37 5/6/2002)
                        Iain Williamson (13:47 5/6/2002)
                          Jason Tribbeck (14:00 5/6/2002)
                            Stuart Tyrrell (15:12 5/6/2002)
                              Rod Dennis (00:05 6/6/2002)
 
MarcoF Message #91086, posted at 12:32, 31/5/2002
Unregistered user grumble.. USB.. grumble.. useless.. grumble. firewire.. grumble.. :P
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Chris Williams Message #91087, posted at 16:23, 31/5/2002, in reply to message #91086
Unregistered user grumble grumble.. ungrateful users.. grumble..
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MarcoF Message #91088, posted at 20:07, 31/5/2002, in reply to message #91087
Unregistered user grumble grumble.. :) .. grumble grumble
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Andrew C. Poole Message #91089, posted at 20:09, 31/5/2002, in reply to message #91088
Unregistered user grumble grumble... at least it's available... grumble grumble
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John Duffell Message #91090, posted at 23:31, 31/5/2002, in reply to message #91089
Unregistered user The above comments not to be taken as a representative survey of the RISC OS userbase.
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Chris Williams Message #91091, posted at 03:43, 1/6/2002, in reply to message #91090
Unregistered user sure about that?
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
The Doctor Message #91092, posted at 07:35, 1/6/2002, in reply to message #91091
Unregistered user I thought it was pretty accurate actually ;-)
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Ross McGuinness Message #91093, posted at 07:37, 1/6/2002, in reply to message #91092
Unregistered user Well at least we have something happening. Good to see the fruits of their labours nearing the market.
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Victor Shears Message #91094, posted at 15:08, 1/6/2002, in reply to message #91093
Unregistered user I think that most RISC OS users are delighted to see USB finally ariving on their chosen platrom. Now let us hope that pressure can be exerted on the relivent parties to sort out the driver issue. Vic
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Michael Stubbs Message #91095, posted at 00:24, 5/6/2002, in reply to message #91094
Unregistered user USB is an excellent development for the RISC OS platform. Anyone who thinks USB is suddenly going to be displaced by firewire has lost their marbles. USB will be around for years to come.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
MarcoF Message #91096, posted at 12:22, 5/6/2002, in reply to message #91095
Unregistered user relaced by fw? no, by usb2.0
but fw is just better.. and the comment was not meant seriously.. anyway, the rpc is too slow for fw anyway.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Guest X Message #91097, posted at 12:37, 5/6/2002, in reply to message #91096
Unregistered user What about USB 2? My four year old Dell laptop has USB 1 support, and I guess that other models in the same range wouldn't need to be that much more recent to have USB 2.
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Iain Williamson Message #91098, posted at 13:47, 5/6/2002, in reply to message #91097
Unregistered user I'm impressed by that Simtec riscos-usb site - there's a lot of info on there about exactly what's going on, which is a novelty in RISC OS land.

On the other hand, it doesn't explain the difference between the root and device ports (or device and host as they're called above?) on the simtec card, but then it's probably not aimed at hardware plebs like me.

As to this USB1/2 business, will any USB 2 devices I buy to use with a USB 1.1 card work alright? And if I later get a USB 2 card, will it still operate any USB 1.1 devices I've bought too? And is the difference between the two specs to the user just speed, or are we missing out on anything more significant?
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Jason Tribbeck Message #91099, posted at 14:00, 5/6/2002, in reply to message #91098
Unregistered user Many USB 2 devices will work with a USB 1 card, but there are some that will have to be USB 2 (mainly because of the speed requirements - video capture will almost certainly require USB 2 [but don't quote me on that!]).

USB 1 devices should work on a USB 2 card, but I'm not sure about mixing USB 1 and USB 2 devices on the same port - you'll either not be able to mix, or you'll have to put your USB 1 devices after your USB 2 devices.
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Stuart Tyrrell Message #91100, posted at 15:12, 5/6/2002, in reply to message #91099
Unregistered user The 'Host' port is that which normally communicates with devices (keyboards, mice, ADSL modems etc etc).

The Simtec card also has a 'device' port, which enables the card to act as a device (keyboard, mouse, etc etc). I suspect the main use of this might be inter-machine communications, perhaps keyboard/mouse emulation for server systems etc etc.

Stuart, off to read "Castle Heaps Praise on Simtec" news article in Acorn User, Feb 2002.
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Rod Dennis Message #91101, posted at 00:05, 6/6/2002, in reply to message #91100
Unregistered user Does anyone know the state of play of USB drivers for Microdigital machines, namely the Mico which has USB ports but no drivers?
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 

The Icon Bar: News and features: USB card roundup