Most users of PS/2 computers do not have a need for data acquisition cards (by data acquisition I mean the collection of information about an environment via analog and digital signals). Well, my day job centers around data acquisition so to me it is natural that I have an interest in applying this field to the PS/2 computers. Doing some research, it was easy to see that not many data acquisition cards were ever developed for the MCA bus, nor did very many survive the 1990s. Sure, there are some resellers who offer a National Instruments MC-MIO-16 board for sale, but not to hobbiest like myself, only to corporations and educational instritutions. The following table lists all data acquisition cards for the MCA bus that I know about:

uCDAS-8PGAMetraByte 8 A/D channels
uCCDA-04MetraByte4 D/A channels
uCPIO-12MetraByte24 Digital I/O ports
DIO72QuaTech72 Digital I/O ports
MC-GPIBNational InstrumentsGPIB Interface
MC-DIO32FNational Instruments32 Digital I/O ports
MC-MIO-16National Instruments8 A/D channels, 4 Digital I/O ports
MC-IEEE488Scientific SolutionsGPIB Interface
MC-DAS16xxScientific Solutions16 A/D Channels, 4 Digital I/O ports

The above table is most likely incomplete and possibly incorrect, so please email me any additions or corrections.

From the table above, most readers know that MetraByte was absorbed by Keithly Instruments. QuaTech and National Instruments are still around, but no longer sell nor support any MCA adapters (although QuaTech still has some MCA downloads). Scientific Solutions, on the other hand, is still around and continue to sell and support their MCA adapters. Because of this, I choose to work with the MC-DAS16xx boards from Scientific Solutions.

Scientific Solutions sells two versions of their MC-DAS boards: the MC-DAS1612 has 12 bit resolution on A/D conversions and the MC-DAS1616 has 16 bit resolution on A/D conversions. I found and won a MC-DAS1612 board off eBay in the fall of 2002. Over the winter of 2002, I purchased and read the book "Windows NT Device Driver Development" by Peter Viscarola and Tony Mason. This book is a must for writing NT device drivers.

I also purchased a manual for the MC-DAS1612 board as well as the external cable / wiring block from Scientific Solutions. The manual proved to be invaluable in developing the NT device driver. It contains everything a programmer needs from decoding the POS bytes to offsets for analog and digital functions.

As of the summer of 2003, I had an alpha driver built that supported analog output, digital output, and digital input. Analog output still elludes me, so I have asked the kind folks at Scientific Solutions to check out my driver and point out what I have done wrong. Whenever I get the driver working, I will post the driver, a DLL library, and a sample C++ application that interfaces with the device.

Note: Through testing with the board, it has come to my attention that upon power-on of the PS/2 computer, the analog output is HIGH (ie, 10V) and the digital outputs are HIGH also (ie, 5V). You have been warned.

Last updated on 09/03/2003