ISA to PCI or Serial Converter?
September 21, 2006 7:16 AM   Subscribe

Converting an ISA card to something usable in a modern system?

I've got a few ISA cards that I'd like to put into newer servers. Right now they are in older Pentium-class boxes running Windows 98. The original manufacturer is willing to take the cards and put them into an external enclosure with a serial interface for a total in the thousands of dollars.

There is no alternative source for these cards, it's a very niche sort of product. It's possible to order new ones, but they are actually the exact same cards as the ones I've already got, and just come in external enclosures from the get go.

I am hoping that it's something I can do myself. I have looked around for a converter or enclosure, but with little luck. I know there are still remnants of the ISA subsystem in modern computers to run things like the floppy drive and serial ports, which what I'm hoping to tap in to. Is this possible? Or is the external enclosure a custom made thing this company came up with?

I did find a similiar question, but the solution in that thread was to replace the ISA SCSI card with a PCI SCSI card, and that's not an option in this case.
posted by voidcontext to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you don't mind the MacGuyver aspect, This Page has "instructions" on converting ISA to USB. Unfortunately, with all of the "legacy free" nonsense eating away at the heart of computers these days, pretty much any solution will require a little bit of MacGuyvering.
posted by fvox13 at 7:28 AM on September 21, 2006

This or this, no? They also sell power supplies and enclosures fairly cheaply -- looks like you should be able to do this for as little as $150 (depending on the number of cards and whether you need a power supply or not) yourself.

Of course, there may be software considerations with the old cards that may prevent a converter from working -- perhaps that's what all the additional money is for. Or maybe they're just jerks.
posted by eschatfische at 7:44 AM on September 21, 2006

fvox13, thank you! I did some googling based on what I saw in that page, and found this: a USB to ISA converter. I'm ordering one now. I can't believe I missed this when I was searching before. Half the time my askme questions just serve to show how bad I am at Google.

But, If anyone else has any suggestions, let me know. I won't know if the USB converter works for a couple weeks, so other alternatives are welcome.
posted by voidcontext at 7:45 AM on September 21, 2006

eschatfische, I just found the same pages. I was googling for ISA to PCI or ISA to serial converters, and idiotically left out USB.

Thank you, both.
posted by voidcontext at 7:47 AM on September 21, 2006

I just ordered one of their conversion kits, will report back on my success next week.
posted by voidcontext at 8:27 AM on September 21, 2006

There was a similar question a while ago..
It may have been Need a good basic P4 motherboard (jacobsee needed a current production motherboard to support many PCI slots).

Just thought I would try poking people in the brain a little - something useful might drop out.
posted by Chuckles at 10:23 AM on September 21, 2006

I tried one of the Ars Technologies cards a couple of years back: it didn't work with the ISA card I was using (a Winradio card). But I had already discussed it with the guy who runs Ars Technologies, and he agreed that I could return the card if it didn't work. So, you might want to drop them an email with the details of the ISA card you are using to see if they have tested it.
posted by baggers at 1:27 PM on September 21, 2006

Arstech kit didn't work. I am sending the cards in for the manufacture to convert to external enclosures.
posted by voidcontext at 11:24 AM on November 29, 2006

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