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- Frequently asked questions
Our library provides background information for users of GCA equipment. Since our stepper and PG upgrade kits use DOS as a real-time control operating system, we have included information on the following related topics:
All versions of Microsoft Windows up to, and including Windows ME, come with a real-mode DOS suitable for real-time control tasks. The later versions of Windows based on the NT kernel (Windows NT, 2000, XP etc.) do not. Windows XP does provide the ability to generate a bootable floppy with Windows ME DOS on it (format a diskette and check the 'Create an MS-DOS startup disk' option). Alternative MS-DOS compatible versions of DOS suitable for commercial use are still available from the following:
Real-mode DOS supports networking. Windows 98/ME come with all the necessary files to provide IPX/NetBEUI protocol networking. For TCP/IP protocols, 'Microsoft LAN Manager 2.2c for MS-DOS' is freely available from their website. The real-mode memory consumed by the TCP/IP network drivers tends to be significantly larger than that consumed by the IPX drivers.
Real-mode DOS can be configured to support USB drives. This can simplify the task of transferring files to and from an upgraded stepper or pattern generator. This may be unnecessary if the motherboard BIOS supports USB in DOS mode, but for most installations additions to the CONFIG.SYS (shown for Windows 98 DOS) are required as follows:
For those who want to remotely operate the PG or stepper, there are KVM (Keyboard/Video/Mouse) switch boxes that use TCP/IP to provide control of a PC over a network (or the internet). The Startech SV1115IPEXT is a typical example. For remote network access to steppers that have a serial user terminal connection, an Ethernet to RS-232 adapter can be used. Lantronix manufacturers such devices. For remote monitoring of an installation, a PTZ (Pan/Tilt/Zoom) camera with network video streaming capabilities can be used. The Panasonic BB-HCE481A is typical of such cameras. We have successfully used all these devices but there are several suppliers of hardware with similar or equivalent functionality.
ISA-bus is still a standard for industrial computers and rackmounted versions are still manufactured. We are moving away from ISA bus products to simpler EPP parallel port interfaces for our newer products. For existing customers, we have successfully used Kontron units for PG and stepper upgrades but Kontron is only one of many manufacturers of ISA backplane computers. File Format Specification H&L Associates' Freeware
The following copyrighted software is available free of charge provided that credit is given when it is used in any way. If you have any questions or problems running these programmes or find any errors in them, please let us know.