Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Got Military Grade 386SX VME Board From 1992 Running 16-Bit VOS-DOS!!!

I got this board from leftovers in an auction held out the way I work. Running like a top, low power, nothing but an LCD for serial output. I was interested in this board after I read a Navy document claiming this board was "indestructible" and had "run for centuries" on remote ocean buoys without maintenance.

I have to say, in my experience so far, nothing is more reliable than the bare bones version of Vault-OS running in DOS, compiled with Turbo C++ 3.0 and with a single line output to console or serial port LCD. The version I was running in PowerBasic for DOS was not as reliable. The version in VB-DOS Professional was crap, had all kinds of memory fragmentation problems running on small devices. The version in Windows-32 will run a couple of weeks before it hits problems.

The DOS version is like a Timex, takes a licking and keeps on ticking. Nothing crashes it or locks it up. Best of all, you can run practically any other DOS applications you want alongside it under Desqview-X and they never seem to step on each other's toes. If I didn't know better, I'd say the cooperative multitasking under Desqview-X is way superior to Windows, Linux or Apple OS.

The most interesting deployment in DOS I am looking forward to is the seismic monitoring security system running on a program in DOS but integrated into the Vault-OS network. I've got a WinSys 48-bit digital board that can watch all lines in real time and never miss a signal on any of those lines, in a program compiled with Turbo C++ for DOS, which will immediately notify all listeners over TCP-IP that there is a seismic post triggered, with coordinates, scale and time relationships. That's the kind of thing I'm not sure I'd trust to Windows. So far I have been able to build only one cheap seismic sensor, which kind of limits my testing environment. If I had 48 of these sensors in a grid pattern on my land, a field mouse could not set foot on it without me pinpointing it through interpolation in seconds.

Still debugging this stuff but soon, out of the blue, there is going to be a release candidate. Soon. I've gotten some customization code in there now so that the source is useful to people who may have completely different setups than mine. I have been trying to put as much configuration as possible into editable files so nothing is assumed about the I2C network or the subscribers to the service the particular machine is offering. What is left can be coded up quickly with a simple script language similar to QuickBasic.

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