Bringing modern connectivity to retro computers is an endearing field – with the simplicity of the hardware and software of the last century as a double-edged sword, you often bring a powerful and small computer of the modern age to its great-grandparent interface. help with today’s networking. [yyzkevin] shows us a PCMCIA WiFi card built using a Pi Pico W, talking PCI ISA. This card brings modern Wi-Fi connectivity to its IBM PC110, without the need for a separate router set up for outdated standards that limit typical PCMCIA Wi-Fi cards.
The RP2040 is made to talk PCI ISA using of course the PIO engine. A CPLD assists with PCI ISA address decoding, which is multiplexing and level shifting between the 3.3V and the PCI 5V levels of the RP2040. The RP2040 software emulates a NE2000 network card, meaning driver support is guaranteed on most operating systems of yesteryear, and the software integration seems seamless. The card is already working to get the PC110 online, and [yyzkevin] says he’d like to improve it – shrink the design to resemble a typical PCMCIA WiFi card, connect a handy feature to the Pico’s USB port, and maybe integrate his PCMCIA SoundBlaster project into the whole package while it’s at work .
This is a wonderful project in how it accomplishes its purpose, and a pleasant surprise to anyone who has observed the RP2040’s PIO engine overcoming interfaces typically unattainable by average microcontrollers. We’ve seen Ethernet, CAN, and DVI, among many others, and no doubt more will follow.
we thank [Misel] and [Arti] to share this with us!