PCjr. Cluster Adapter - Utterly Useless?

Hardware questions and modifications

PCjr. Cluster Adapter - Utterly Useless?

Postby GHiero » Sun Dec 01, 2013 8:58 pm

The cluster adapter seems to be the only networking sidecar released for the PCjr. It appears to have a BNC connector, but I assume it was meant to connect to ancient networks. With an RJ45 Transceiver and a packet driver (which someone would have to write), would it be useful today?
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Re: PCjr. Cluster Adapter - Utterly Useless?

Postby jmetal88 » Sun Dec 01, 2013 9:37 pm

Have you also been watching that one that keeps popping up on eBay that nobody ever bids on?

'Cause I keep thinking about bidding on it, but can't decide if I'd actually have a use for it, haha.
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Re: PCjr. Cluster Adapter - Utterly Useless?

Postby Brutman » Sun Dec 01, 2013 9:58 pm

The IBM Cluster Adapter is designed to attach a PCjr to an IBM Cluster network. "Cluster" if a very specific term here - it was a networking technology that IBM sold for a brief period of time and it is not compatible with any other networking technology. You can only talk to other machines with a similar adapter. There was an ISA version of the Cluster adapter as well.

It is not Ethernet. Wipe out those thoughts of "RJ45 Transceiver" and packet drivers. On Ethernet an AUI port on the card allows for the use of external transceivers but no such thing exists for Cluster and the terminology "Rj45 Transceiver" is wrong - it is more correct to call such a device a 10BASE-T transceiver. A packet driver could be written that emulates Ethernet over the Cluster frame format. You need the Cluster technical reference to figure out what work is required.

To make a PCjr with Cluster internet accessible you would need to have a gateway machine that has both Cluster and another networking device (serial or Ethernet). A Linux machine would be great for that, but Linux machines don't know anything about Cluster. Cluster was dead 7 years before Linux was started.

Cluster is a power hog. Do not run a Cluster adapter without a power sidecar in-line ahead of it. You will melt/fry your internal power supply card.
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Re: PCjr. Cluster Adapter - Utterly Useless?

Postby geoffdaddy » Mon Dec 02, 2013 3:13 pm

So you're saying Cluster is a cluster? :)
PCjr: 10MB RACore 01 hard drive expansion, Hotshot 640kB RAM expander, optical mouse, Xircom PE3, speech sidecar.
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Re: PCjr. Cluster Adapter - Utterly Useless?

Postby Brutman » Mon Dec 02, 2013 9:37 pm

I think they are cool. I paid way too much for my setup, but that was the only way to find out what it does. At some point I need to post the software and the technical reference manual before they get lost to the sands of time.

As far as the rest of the world is concerned, it was a flop. Another IBM proprietary technology that quickly failed.
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Re: PCjr. Cluster Adapter - Utterly Useless?

Postby shamanjoe » Wed Nov 18, 2020 3:58 pm

Would it be useful to get it for the case, and maybe stick one of the new production memory sidecar boards in it?

Also, have you had a chance to upload the documentation, or did the sands of time get them? :)
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Re: PCjr. Cluster Adapter - Utterly Useless?

Postby Trixter » Wed Nov 18, 2020 5:02 pm

DO NOT gut a cluster adapter to make a jrIDE or the PCjr gods will find you. Gut a power sidecar, or a memory sidecar, those are much more common, and also no longer necessary, once you hook up a jrIDE.

Cluster documentation is at ftp://ftp.oldskool.org/pub/drivers/IBM/ ... chment.pdf but it's nothing special. The adapter comes with no software. I, too, would like to see the software and the technical reference manual...
You're all insane and trying to steal my magic bag!
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Re: PCjr. Cluster Adapter - Utterly Useless?

Postby FortMax » Fri Nov 20, 2020 1:53 pm

Or even better, gut a dead sidecar, like one that had a barrel battery from something spill its guts all over at some point in the past.
PCjr w/ Rapport Drive 2 + 384KB Memory Expansion Package, jrIDE
Wanted: light pen
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PC Compact Printer
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