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Armadillo Intertie System

"The National Radio System of Texas"

The Armadillo Intertie System is a large network of amateur (ham) radio stations covering much of the State of Texas.
The system is operated by Armadillo Intertie, Inc., a Texas non-profit corporation, and is an affiliate of the Cactus Intertie System.

I-Opener FAQ

DISCLAIMER:  Many of the original I-opener users have moved from the SA Plus setup described below to a setup using UI-View and Precision Mapping.  I have not made the conversion yet.  Reports are that UI-View is more user-friendy for mobile operation and causes fewer "blue-screen-of-death" incidents.  Your mileage may vary.

The I-Opener FAQ

Here is what I did to get my i-opener running.  Thanks to Jim - IYT for helping with this project.

1.  First thing is to get an I-Opener from somewhere.  I got mine brand new from ebay for $51.00 + shipping.  I have heard that the Austin Goodwill store has them from time-to-time.
2.  You will need to order an updated BIOS chip from  They are currently running at $16.00. 
3. Order an "All-In-One" drive adapter from and it is currently $39.95 which includes shipping.
4.  You will need a CPU cooling fan since you will be removing the heatsink to make room for the hard drive.

Ok.  Those are the specialty items that you will have to order.  Now here is a the remainder of the parts list that you can get at your favorite electronics store/website:

  • A hard drive of no greater than 9.5mm in size.  I am running a 10GB drive.
  • A replacement windows compatible keyboard (PS/2).  The stock i-opener keyboard works, but it doesn't have an escape key.
  • A PS/2 mouse.
  • A PS/2 splitter cable.  The i-opener has one PS/2 port so if you want to use a keyboard and mouse you will need the splitter.
  • A USB-to-serial port adapter.  You may need a 2-port version if you have a separate GPS and  TNC input.  2 is always better than one anyway.  You never know what you might want to plug in.
  • A USB ethernet device for connecting to a network and loading updates, new software, etc.

Ok.  That does it for the parts.  Stayed tuned for part two which includes installing WINDOWS (no flames) on the i-opener.


1.  Remove the back desktop stand and the back cover of the i-opener.
2.  Remove the silver heatshield.
3.  Remove the black heatsink.  You should now see the connector where the hard drive adapter will plug in.
4.  Remove the old BIOS chip and put in the new one. I was able to GENTLY use a screwdriver to do this.
5.  Remove and replace the memory board if you chose to upgrade it.
6.  Install the Lasagna cooler.  I had to modify the clip on mine because it wouldn't fit.  I am not sure why.  It may have gotten bent during shipping or something.  Otherwise it would have put a ton of pressure on the CPU.  You'll plug it into the power plug on the drive adapter later.

Part 2b - These are almost verbatim of the instructions Jim (WD5IYT) sent me.  This assumes you want to install windows (no flames) and SA PLUS. 

1. Install the drive on the drive adapter
2. Plug the drive adapter into the second IDE port on a standard computer.  Boot with a Win98 boot floppy.  Fdisk and format the iopener drive.  Make sure to format /s so the drive will boot.s
3. Copy the entire contents of the WIN98 directory off the windows98 cdrom to the drive.
4. Copy all the driver files from the zip file I sent you.  (Send me email if you want the drivers).  This will be the video and chipset drivers.  Make sure they are unzipped on the i-opener drive so you can access them later.
5. Copy all the drivers for your USB network adapter, serial port adapter, etc to the drive.  Make sure they are unzipped so you can access them.
6. If you have the street atlas files extracted on another machine, extract them to the same path on the iopener drive.  This step can be done later if you want.  They are very large, so I would recommend you do them over the IDE interface and not the Ethernet.
7. Copy your aprsplus files to the iopener drive.
8. Install the drive adapter in the I-opener.
9. Boot up the I-opener and go into the BIOS screen.  You'll need a standard keyboard to do this.  Set the i-opener boot order to D instead of C.  The drive will show up as C in windows, but you have to set it to D to get it to boot from the hard drive.  The i-opener should boot to a DOS prompt at this point.  Some of you may not have to do this.  I didn't need to.
10. CD to the win98 directory and run setup.  Let windows install.  It will set up in standard VGA mode.
11. Once it boots into windows, right click the desktop and change the video driver to the new one.  The i-opener can do 800x600 16bit color.  Windows will complain that this is the wrong driver, but it works fine.
12. Open the device manager.  You will notice the PCI controller has a yellow exclamation.  Using the device manager, update the driver from the 4in1 chipset driver file in the ZIP I sent you.  Once it's installed, go back into the device driver and set the IDE controller to only use the primary IDE channel.  This is in the "advanced" tab.  Otherwise, it will soak up an extra IRQ needlessly.  I had to fumble with this for a bit, but it finally *just* worked.
13. Install your USB ethernet and get it on the network so you can install street atlas from another computer's CDROM.
14. Once you have Street Atlas working, install the USB serial device.
15. Now install APRS+SA and it should look for COM3 as the USB device.

From this point it will be up to you to connect it to your favorite flavor of TNC/GPS.  I am using a Kenwood D700 and a Garmin GPS III Plus.  I use it in MODE7 to get my GPS data from the same serial port as the TNC. 

Good luck.


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