The goal Home The ISA riser slot

What you need

Before anything else, you need various tools :
  • a mini-drill with all percing and sawing tools ;
  • a solder iron ;
  • a set of screw drivers ;
  • fast and strong paste (cyanoacrylate and/or epoxy).
Now the hardware you definetely need :
  • a small 486 motherboard (baby-AT format), with an onboard serial port (for console), parallel port (for the LCD panel), and IDE port ; Verify that it can boot without a keyboard and without a video card.
  • a small and cheap Ethernet ISA card such as an NE2000-compatible ;
  • an ISA riser slot taken from an old desktop PC (386 or so);
  • a small power supply taken from an external disk box (must be at least 30 Watts, and provide +5, +12 and -12 volts) ;
  • a CompactFlash memory module of at least 16 MB ;
  • a cheap CompactFlash to PCMCIA adapter ;
  • cables, flat ribbons ...
We recommend that you add some of these hardware parts too :
  • an LCD panel (at least 2x40 chars), backlighted if possible ;
  • a serial port connector with a long ribbon (about the server depth) ;
  • some leds to indicate system activity ;
  • an ISA VGA adapter which will help you to test your hardware while you build it.
For our first server, we have chosen to build a plexiglass box because we only had that, but despite its nice looking, we really don't recommend it to anyone because it's very thick (1 cm for bottom + top), it's a pain to screw in it and it's also a pain to drill and cut it, even with appropriate tools. Anyway, whatever material you choose for the box itself, you need at least one bottom and one top cover. If you don't need the sides to be closed, you'll also need small sticks or tubes to maintain the cover at 4 cm from the bottom.
The goal Home The ISA riser slot