September 2002: Lava Made to Order
September 2002 Vol.4 No.9
Inside this issue:
• Lava Made to Order
• All-in One Ethernet-Serial POS
• Quick & Easy Ethernet Serial
• RS-232, RS-422,
and RS-485 Overview
• Y- Cable Dual Parallel-PCI
Lava I/O News
Lava Made to Order
Lava has more facets than most people realize.
As an experienced and established designer
and builder of computer input-output products, Lava makes boards for all sorts of needs.
This month's issue of Link looks at some Lava
products you won't find on Lava's web site or
in the catalog of a distributor who carries
Lava boards.
People familiar with Lava usually know us for
our retail products: popular boards such as the
Parallel-PCI,DSerial-PCI,and USB and FireWire®
host adapters are often featured on retailers'
shelves and in end users' systems. A second,
more specialized, segment of Lava's product
line may never show up in a store, but
nonetheless appears in Lava's catalogs and on
our web site. These are the Lava products that
fit the needs of more specialized users. For
example, multi-port serial boards like the
Octopus-550 and Quattro-PCI usually find
their way directly into systems built for Pointof-Sale customers, and the boards themselves
never see a retail shelf.
The really hidden Lava is responsible for yet a
third group of our products: customized
designs and products purpose-built for
individual customers. When customers need
products that are not available off the shelf,
Lava is perfectly ready to fill the bill. These
products include customized built-to-order
boards designed from scratch for medical,
manufacturing, POS, industrial, and other
mission-critical environments. We know how
to come out with the products needed for
“heavy lifting.” We can tweak an existing
design or create a new board from the ground
up. Whether a customer needs parallel,
RS-232, RS-422, RS-485, USB, IEEE 1394 or
Ethernet, Lava can handle the challenge. Lava
is the ideal partner for this kind of work: our
factory has dual high-speed board assembly
Today’s Special
Custom Boards
lines, ensuring dependable manufacturing
capacity. We are capable of large volume
manufacturing, short production runs, and
quick turnarounds on work. As well, our
engineering, manufacturing, and product
testing are all carried out at our Toronto,
Canada headquarters. This tight integration
makes prototyping and testing boards quick
and cost-effective.
Our quality assurance program involves
purchasing and designing only high-quality
components, using these components to
manufacture the best I/O products available,
and subjecting every final product to comprehensive individual testing before it leaves the
factory. All Lava I/O solutions are covered by
the Lava Lifetime Warranty. The company's
own rigorous testing procedures and exacting
manufacturing standards give its products
maximum operating tolerance and reliability.
Every off-the-shelf Lava product is designed to
conform stringently to industry standards and
protocols, ensuring compatibility and interoperability with other manufacturers' hardware.
However, when individual design requirements call for custom interfaces or features,
Lava can design and execute alternatives.
Read further to find out about some of the
custom work Lava has produced lately.
An All-in-One EthernetSerial POS Interface
Here is an example of the type of custom
boards Lava can produce. A major retail
grocery chain needed a highly specialized
serial port server for use with their Point-ofSale systems. Lava's engineers worked closely
with the retailer's systems group to develop
this general-purpose Ethernet-to-serial interface board. Its upstream interface is an RJ-45
10Base-T Ethernet connection to a LAN,WAN,
or the Internet. The board can be given an IP
address and configured as a network device
through either a direct serial connection, or
through a browser-based web interface that
talks to a web server embedded in the
board's firmware.
On the downstream side, the board provides
eight serial ports for connecting various POS
devices. Four of these ports (the ones on the
farther side of the board shown) are straight-
forward RS-232 ports.The remaining four ports can be individually set as RS-232, RS-422, or RS-485
ports, as desired. Moreover, each of these four configurable ports has three connectors: two
connectors for each port are placed along the near side of the board, and an additional connector
is attached by a ribbon cable to a mainboard connector. This design minimizes the need to plug
and unplug peripherals when the serial mode of a port is changed.
When deployed in stores, this multi-serial/Ethernet board fits into an enclosure that protects all its
components, making it a versatile and robust product.This serial port server board was designed
from beginning to end as a targeted solution to this customer's unique needs: it was not available
off the shelf from any I/O manufacturer. As a result, the retailer looked to Lava as the true source
for ports.
Eight-Port Ethernet-to-Serial
Device Server
Quick and Easy Ethernet-Serial
This compact internal board is another variation on the theme of the network-addressable serial
port. In this case, the customer needed a standard 16550 UART RS-232 port with an Ethernet interface. This requirement could have been met by a number of serial port servers on the market,
except that the customer's specification had a specialized form factor. The device needed to fit
internally into a larger piece of network equipment. In addition, although the board's Ethernet
interface is a typical RJ-45 connector, its serial port and power connectors were non-standard: they
are both run through the ribbon cable that can be seen in the diagram. Lava was able to prototype
and develop this product with very tight timelines.
Single-Port Ethernet-to-Serial
Device Server
RS-232, RS-422,
and RS-485 Overview
The Eight-Port Ethernet-to-Serial Device Server shown on the left is capable of three serial modes:
RS-232, RS-422, and RS-485. Readers of Link's last two issues will by now be well versed in RS-232
serial connectivity, which in any case is the most common of the serial protocols used with PCs.
RS-422 and RS-485 may be less familiar. RS-232 references the voltages on its transmit and receive
wires to a ground wire —a transmission method called “unbalanced transmission.” While simple
to implement,this means of serial connection has a few limitations.First,the 50-100 foot maximum
cable distances of RS-232 are relatively short compared to the 4000-foot maximums of RS-422 and
RS-485.Second,RS-232 is only two-device communication,while RS-422 and RS-485 allow multiple
devices. Finally, RS-232 is slower than RS-422 or RS-485.
By contrast with RS-232, RS-422 and RS-485 use “balanced transmission” (sometimes called “differential transmission”) to represent their signals. Each data signal is sent across a pair
of wires, with the voltage in one wire the inverted form of the voltage in the other. The receiver
compares the difference in voltage between the two paired wires to ascertain the signal.The advantage of this system is that electrical noise influencing the cable will generally affect both wires
equally (especially when the wires are a twisted pair). As a consequence, the signal will be much
less susceptible to electrical noise. A second advantage is that because the signal is represented
independently of the ground, differences in ground potential between transmitter and receiver
that can occur over long cables will not play havoc with the signal.
In addition, RS-422 and RS-485 can allow multiple devices to communicate. RS-422 can have one
master device communicating with up to 10 slave devices; slaves must communicate to other
slaves through the master device. RS-485 can allow up to 256 devices to communicate: each can
operate as a master or a slave as the need arises.
From this,it is clear that a multi-protocol serial POS device like the All-in-One Ethernet-Serial Device
Server shown on the left greatly increases the power and flexibility of serial communications for
POS systems.
A Dual Parallel-PCI with a Twist
Founded in 1983, GB Micro is the one
stop choice for Canadian computer
resellers, VARs, systems integrators and
retailers, large and small, looking for a
true value-added distribution partner.
GB Micro is a friendlier, more solutions
driven, distributor providing added
value to the channel through selected
inventory, product knowledge and competitive pricing.
GB Micro offers Canada-wide distribution from their head office warehouse
in St-Laurent, Quebec, a suburb of
Montreal. They are committed to maintaining inventory levels that allow
them to ship the products you need
when you need them. Orders received
up to 6:00 PM (Eastern Time) are
shipped the same day.
GB Micro is Canada's leading distributor
of computer memory products.We offer
top quality memory products for systems integrators as well as upgrades for
all types of computer products including
desktops,servers (PC and Mac®),printers,
network products, etc., all of which can
use Lava boards.
GB Micro is your reliable informative
source for computer memory and
upgrade products.
The Lava Dual Parallel-PCI, in its Y-cable form, is a good example of a customized variation on a
standard Lava board. A major parcel delivery company needed to add two parallel ports to their
order entry and tracking systems, and looked to Lava for the solution. They were impressed with
the Lava Dual Parallel-PCI, but the systems they were using had just one available slot opening in
the chassis. The standard Lava Dual Parallel-PCI, like two-port parallel boards generally, has its second port on a ribbon cable and occupies two chassis slot openings. Lava designed a Y-cable version of the Dual Parallel-PCI specifically to meet the physical requirements of this customer.
P.N. MOKO L76.0
Dual Parallel-PCI
Customized Dual Parallel-PCI
GB Micro
5575 ch St-François
St-Laurent, QC
Canada H4S 1W6
TEL: 514.333.7373
FAX: 514.334.7707
TOLL FREE: 800.361.2568
Serial Boards
Single 9-pin serial, 16550 UART
Single 25-pin serial, 16550 UART, low profile
Dual 9-pin serial, 16550 UARTs
Dual 9-pin serial, 16550 UARTs, low profile
Four-port 9-pin serial, 16550 UARTs
Eight-port 9-pin serial, 16550 UARTs
Single 9-pin serial, 16650 UART
Dual 9-pin serial, 16650 UARTs
Four-port 9-pin serial, 16650 UARTs
Single 25-pin serial, Com 1-4, 16550 UART, IRQ 3/4/5/7
Dual 9-pin serial, Com 1-4, 16550 UARTs, IRQ 2/3/4/5/7/10/11/12/15
Dual 9-pin serial, 16550 UARTs, RS422 pinout
Single 9-pin serial, Com 1-4 16650 UART, IRQ 2/3/4/5/10/11/12/15
Single 9-pin serial, 16650 UART, plug and play
Parallel Boards
Dual Parallel-PCI
Parallel Bi-directional
Single EPP parallel
Single EPP parallel, low profile
Dual EPP parallel
Single bi-directional parallel port, LPT 1/2/3, IRQ 5/7
Single ECP/EPP parallel, LPT 1-6, IRQ 2/3/4/5/7/10/11/12
Combo Boards
Single 9-pin serial, 16550 UART + single bi-directional parallel
Dual serial (9 & 25-pin), 16550 UARTs + single EPP parallel
Dual serial (9 & 25 pin), 16650 UARTs + single EPP parallel
Dual 9-pin serial, Com 1-4, 16550 UARTs + single bi-dir. parallel, LPT 1-2
USB 2.0 & 1.1 Devices
USB 2.0 Host Adapter
USB 1.1 Host Adapter
Dual USB 2.0 ports, 480 Mbps, fits in PCI slot
Hard drive enclosure with USB 2.0-to-IDE interface
Dual USB 1.1 ports, 12 Mbps, fits in PCI slot
IEEE 1394 (FireWire®) Devices
IEEE 1394 FireHost
IEEE 1394/IDE Controller
Dual IEEE 1394 ports, 400 Mbps, fits in PCI slot
Hard drive enclosure with FireWire®-to-IDE interface
FireWire®-to-IDE hard drive interface
Specialty Boards
8255 PIO interface card
2 Vulcan Street
Toronto, ON
M9W 1L2
TEL: 416.674.5942
FAX: 416.674.8262
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