SEXBAR, a Serial Crossbar Network
This covers one of the most useful spinoffs of Microship development: the serial crossbar network.
This covers one of the most useful spinoffs of Microship development: the serial crossbar network. Presenting a command-line interface on one end and a matrix of DB-9 connectors on the other, the Sexbar eliminates the nightmares of random RS-232 connections… swapping pins 2 and 3, fiddling with gender changers, and assembling chains of cables to get something to work. If the plugs fit and the baud rates match, any two devices will talk — it even figures out which pins transmit and which receive, then connects them accordingly! This scalable design provides 31 channels, and up to four simultaneous bidirectional connections can exist among any of them.
Of course, this is a 17-year-old design, and there are much sexier ways to move serial data around these days. But if you have a lot of vanilla retro RS-232 devices and need random peer-to-peer interconnections, this works well.
This 1-megabyte, 40-page PDF includes schematics, FORTH code for an embedded 68HC11 controller, and enough design theory to port it to another platform if you wish.
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