Big Glossy Title
Minor Update - 12th February 1997

Added some more game nots.

Note : This page is designed to be backward-compliant and readable on all browsers, including LYNX. Please notify me if your browser has trouble with any part of these pages

A lot of the really good games released now support Multi Player IPX networks. For most people, this requires an office or dedicated network, but it is possible to achieve all of this in your own home with just a network card, a cable and the software tha ts on this page.

So without further ado :

IPX networks for PC Games

What Hardware will I need ?

Getting setup under DOS.

Getting setup under WIN 95.

Hints,tips and reviews on individual games.

Transferring/sharing files from one computer to another: a gamer's view.

Hardware Needed

#1 NE2000 compatible Network Card.

A NE2000 compatible card should set you back about $35 American (I pay $45 Australian). A few notes :

a) If you want to use DOS, avoid EZ-2000 network cards with "built in NE-2000" compatibility. I've used three brands, and, whilst I finally got them working, it wasn't much fun. Most current cards should support Win 95, and any card made in the last 5-odd years supports Win 3.11.

b) Try to buy the same brand (or at least chipset) all together. We are currently using 15 network cards that cover three different brands, and I've got to keep all the different software available. Make sure that you buy cards that come with the setup software - about half of the e-mail I get is people asking for the setup programs for thei r jumperless NE-2000 Cards.

c) There are many different versions of network card out there. Price does equal quality, but for the amount of information that gets shuffled back and forth, only basic cards are required. See the Transferring/sharing files from one computer to another: a gamer's view. page for ideas on the speed these basic cards provide.

#2 Thin Ethernet Cable

This is cable that has a locking connector on each end. It looks exactly the same as professional Audio Visual cable, and is totally incompatible. Read this E-mail regarding Ethernet cable, sent by Tim Bird

I've found that 2 metre cable is best for a tight network, simply because cable will get confusing if you each have 20 metres of cable behind each computer. Basically, only buy enough cable to get to the next computer. Don't buy cables shorter than 1 met re, because these will introduce collisions and generally mess up the network. (See Tim Bird's e-mail)

Lately we are beginning to discover some of our oldest cables are falling apart. This is mainly due to them being rolled up tightly between weekly sessions. We are now switching to 2-metre cables that hang from the ceiling between games, preventing kinkin g.

#3 T-Junctions and Terminators

Each Network card should come with a T-junction, but not a terminator. Both are available seperately (pick up a couple of spare terminators, we are always losing them.), and should cost about $3-$4 dollars (sometimes cheaper). Basically, you put one a T-j unction on the back of each card and at each end of the network you put a terminator to say to "Hey, that's it, the network stops here". Essential.

#4 What's all this about a Hub

A few people and FAQ's recommend using the telephone-type cable and a Hub. This is a more efficient system, because if one cable fails, it only takes out one computer, and makes itself very obvious what caused the problem. If a cable fails in the Thin Eth ernet / Terminator system, you knock the whole network out.

The catch is, Hubs cost money. Here in Australia, a 8 port hub can easily cost $200. (That's four network cards, cables and terminators.) When we scrape up enough money at the club, we will upgrade. But for getting started out, it's a significant cost tha t can be easily avoided. Of course, when you do upgrade, you are going to have to buy all new cable.

Setting up the Network

Hardware

Setup up the cables and terminators : The cable setup for two computers has to be as follows :

Each computer has a network card, with a T-Junction attached, with a terminator on one side and a "Thin Ethernet Cable" connecting the two computers.

The cable setup for three computers has to be as follows :

Each computer has a network card, with a T-Junction attached. The computers at each end have a terminator on one side and a "Thin Ethernet Cable" on the other which attaches to the computer in the centre.

For more than three computers, you continue with the same pattern of the two end computers with terminators and t-junctions, and middle computers with t-junctions & cables on each side.

Software

1) When you buy your network card it should come with a disk with instillation software. This is normally a 3.5" disk with about 20 directories, one of which will contain the setup program. The other directories will hold specific Drivers for the big "ind ustrial" networks, so they are not needed here. The setup program is normally in the root directory, or ocassionally in "DIAGNOSE" or "SETUP"

The setup program is used to configure the cards interrupt addresses amound other things. This must be done before each card is used.Some cards are "Jumperless", and are software configurable, others require you to adjust the jumper switches on the card i tself.

You will need to set two things : What interrupt the card acts on (IRQ) and the Interrupt Address. Good settings to try include

	Interrupt	: 10,  11,  12,   or  15    (10 Recommended)
	Address		: 0x300, 0x310 or  0x320 (0x300 recommended)
Write these down on a scrap of paper - you'll need them in a moment.

We have one set of cards that requires you to pre-set memory locations. (Digital Etherworks 3 INST RX24 V2.1) This needs you to fiddle with your EMM386 line to exclude the area that the card loads into. Yes, it is fiddly - but e-mail me if you get a card like this and I'll try to walk you through it. Now wander off to the DOS or Win 95 Network Setup Information


If, after reading all of the pages above, you still have trouble, send me an e-mail and I'll see if I know what's going on (I probably can't help you, but I'll give it my best shot.)
If you have a good hint, tip, or utility about IPX networks, or have a horror story to share, send it in. (Sometimes I need all the help I can get)

I do still have some drivers available through This Link, but if your after a driver, and it isn't here, I can't help you with it.

E-mail nkingham@ozemail.com.au