The I-Opener FAQ
Written by Chris West, N5LTC
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-friendly for mobile operations and causes fewer blue-screen-of-death incidents. Your mileage may vary.
Here is what I did to get my I-Opener running. Thanks to Jim, WD5IYT, for helping with the project.
- First thing is to get an I-Opener from somewhere. I got mine brand new from eBay for $51.00 plus shipping. I have heard that the Austin Goodwill store has them from time to time.
- You will need to order an updated BIOS chip from http://www.badflash.com/.
- Order an All-in-One drive adapter from http://www.wizztronics.com/.
- You will need a CPU cooling fan since you will be removing the heatsink to make room for the hard drive. I got mine from http://www.tennmax.com/.
Those are the specialty items you will have to order. Here is the remainder of the needed parts that you can purchase at your favorite electronics store.
- A hard drive of no greater than 9.5mm in height. 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 ahs one PS/2 port so if you want to use a keyboard and mouse you will need the splitter.
- A USB-to-serial adapter. You may need a 2-port version if you have a separate GPS and TNC. 2 is better than one anyway. You never know what you might want to plug in.
- A USB ethernet device to connect to a network (makes loading updates, new software, etc. easier).
That does it for the parts.
Installing the Parts and the Software
- Remove the back desktop stand and the back cover of the I-Opener.
- Remove the silver heatshield.
- Remove the black heatsink. You should now see the connector where the hard drive will plug in.
- Remove the old BIOS chip and install the new one.
- Remove and replace the memory board if you chose to upgrade it.
- Install the Lasagna cooler. I had to modify the clip on mine because it wouldn’t fit. I am not sure why. It have have been bent during shipping. 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.
- Install the drive on the drive adapter.
- Plug the drive adapter into the second IDE port on a standard computer. Boot with a Windows 98 boot floppy. FDisk and Format the I-opener drive. Make sure to “format /s” so the drive will be bootable.
- Copy the entire contents of the WIN98 directory from your Windows 98 CD-ROM to the drive.
- Copy all the necessary driver files. This includes video and chipset drivers. Make sure they are unzipped on the I-Opener drive.
Download the drivers here
- Copy all the drivers for your USB network adapter, serial adapter, etc. to the drive. Make sure they are unzipped on the I-Opener drive.
- If you have the Street Atlas files extracted on another machine, extract them to the same path on the I-Opener drive. This step can be done later if you want. That are very large, so I would recommend you copy them over the IDE interface rather than Ethernet.
- Copy your APRSPLUS files to the I-Opener drive.
- Install the drive adapter in the I-Opener.
- Boot up the I-Opener and go into the BIOS setup 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.
- CD to the win98 directory and run setup. Let Windows install. It will set up in standard VGA mode.
- Once the machine boots into Windows, right-click the desktop and change the video driver to the new one. The I-Opener can do 800×600 16-bit color. Windows will complain that this is the wrong driver, but it works fine.
- Open the device manager. You will notice the PCI controller has a yellow exclamation mark. Using the device manager, update the driver from the 4-in-1 chipset driver found in the ZIP file above. 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 needlesly. I had to fumble with this for a bit, but it finally just worked.
- Install your USB ethernet and get the machine on the network so you can install Street Atlas from another computer’s CD-ROM.
- Once you have Street Atlas working, install the USB serial device.
- 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 the machine 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.