Com ports. Endangered Species?
April 28, 2008 11:40 PM   Subscribe

Looking for a *new* motherboard with more than one serial port onboard.

A project I'm involved with is dealing with a number of computers that need to hook to measuring equipment via serial ports, and the newer machines they've bought to replace the old boxes only have one serial port, and there are two devices that need to be hooked up simultaneously. But wait, there's more! It needs a USB cell modem hooked up for communication as well, and it's running a custom O/S that's really old, but well geared for the diagnostic software (Custom Linux, not Windows) that needs to run. A USB-to-serial converter is being used to run the second bit of equipment, but if that is in place, then the USB cell modem doesn't work, so the equipment can't report back to base. If the USB-to-serial converter's removed, the USB modem works fine, but there's no diagnostic data to report.

Ultimately, this problem would go away if I can only find a motherboard that doesn't cost a fortune (and even if it did, if it wasn't too LARGE a fortune we'd probably entertain it) that has 2 onboard serial ports. Does anybody know of one, and if so, who still makes 'em?
posted by barc0001 to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What about PCI serial cards?
posted by zsazsa at 11:44 PM on April 28, 2008 [2 favorites]

Server board makers are your friend.

SuperMicro P4SBE with 2 onboard serial ports
or for something not already EOL:
SuperMicro P4SCA with SATA

Hell, even new C2D SuperMicro boards have 2 serial ports, although you might have to use up a card slot to get it, since one of them is probably just a header and comes with one of those brackets with a connector on it.

I know I've seen a few Tyan boards that do also, but I can't find one off hand.
posted by wierdo at 11:58 PM on April 28, 2008

In this instance, I think a USB hub would solve the problem.
posted by Pronoiac at 12:14 AM on April 29, 2008

Response by poster: zsazsa, I'm going to give PCI serial cards a go as well, my only concern there is possible issues with drivers and port addresses (2F8, etc..). Wierdo, that's an excellent start, I'm going to see what pricing my local hardware guy can give me on those boards. Pronoiac, unfortunately a hub won't do anything useful in this case, the issue is being caused by the fact that both devices want to be on /dev/ttyUSB0 inside the OS, all a hub will do is allow more devices to be added to the system, but not on that address.
posted by barc0001 at 12:33 AM on April 29, 2008

Sounds like a job for a mini-itx motherboard. Not super cheap, but one of these with the optional serial port module installed would give you the serial goodness you're craving, plus all the reliability advantages that a fanless system brings.

Or use one of these and wire up the COM port headers on the mainboard.
posted by pharm at 5:27 AM on April 29, 2008

Or go really teeny with an EPIA NX: they've got two serial port headers on the board.
posted by pharm at 5:31 AM on April 29, 2008

Agree with using an add-on serial card, and that it may not work due to hard-coded COM1 COM2 memory addresses.

Agree that many boards will have a second serial port available as a header on the board, you'd just have to buy one of these if the board doesn't come with it.
posted by gjc at 6:34 AM on April 29, 2008

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