Jump to content
sfiera

AppleTalk net cable

Recommended Posts

I’m looking to connect two 68k machines via AppleTalk to share files. Since there are just two of them, my understanding is that I can connect their modem or printer ports directly. But, there seem to be two kinds of cables: a crossover “printer” cable and a straight “serial” cable. 

 

There are three things I’m wondering:

  1. Can the computer be damaged by using the wrong kind of cable? (I’m hoping not)
  2. Which is the right kind of cable? (I’m guessing crossover)
  3. Is there some way I can snoop on the traffic? (e.g. routing serial-to-USB through an intermediary machine)

 

Thanks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

P.S. I wasn’t sure if this is the appropriate subforum, but “anything you can hook up to your Mac” would seem to include another Mac!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There’s certainly a lot of information on that page, but if the answers to my questions are there, I can’t find them. Mostly, it’s discussing bridging to Ethernet or PhoneNet, which I’m not interested in. I see “The simplest LocalTalk network is simply a serial mini-DIN-8 cable from the printer port of one Mac to the printer port of the other,” which maybe means that the answer to (2) is that I should use the straight serial cable instead of the crossover printer cable, but that’s contrary to my expectations and I’d rather not try that without an answer to (1).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@sfiera Your instinct is correct:  you need a crossover "printer" (null modem?) cable for connecting 2 computers directly to each other for a two-computer AppleTalk network.

 

Although the best solution is to get a PhoneNet adapter and just use regular phone cabling.

 

This old thread covers it pretty well.

Edited by olePigeon

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That thread covers my questions pretty well, thanks! I’ll give it a try.

8 hours ago, olePigeon said:

Although the best solution is to get a PhoneNet adapter and just use regular phone cabling.

 

I’ve seen this assertion several times. For just two computers, is there an advantage to PhoneNet? It seems like two adapters ($10+ each) and a phone cable is more trouble than a single ($5) cable. (author’s note: “accommodating a growing Mac collection” is not an advantage :))

 

Actually, if you’re willing to tie up both the modem and printer port on three computers, could you get them all talking, or is AppleTalk limited to one port at a time? I remember Marathon’s network code assumed a ring topology. That would make sense to me if computers were connected by modem and printer to the previous and next machine in the chain, making a series of 2-computer networks instead of one big network.

 

 

Edited by sfiera

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You can only designate a single port for AppleTalk be it the printer, modem, or (if you have an ethernet card) ethernet.

 

I don't know if there's some sort of server software that lets you use multiple ports.

 

The PhoneNet allows for much greater distances.  But if you just have 2 computer next to each other and don't plan on connecting them to an AppleTalk network, then there's no point.  Just stick with the serial cable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

LocalTalk is itself a ring network design, physically, even though it won't work to create a bunch of multihomed 2-machine LANs.

 

Regarding distance: Apple's own Localtalk wiring kits can achieve the same distance PhoneNet can, it's just that serial cables are typically only six feet long. (I have seen a couple longer ones, which would be nice for a couple different scenarios.)

 

There is a localtalk bridge tool and AppleShare and ASIP server machines are supposed to be able to multi-home AppleTalk, so if you were using a beige Mac as an ASIP or AppleShare box, that could be a way to have some flexibility.

 

The other thing is, if you have an AppleShare IP server and some newer clients, you can use that server on ethernet with IP and turn AppleTalk to a serial port for local. (I used that method with my beige G3 to move files from vtools to my PB1400, for example.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I connected the computers. No smoke, no dice. Unfortunately, in my haste to try out networking, I failed to realize that the Plus’s “Apple File Exchange” isn’t related to AppleShare, and I didn’t find any other software to use. Floppy drive’s broken too. I guess I’ll wait until my SCSI2SD arrives.

 

 

I will probably end up connecting the Quadra to IP and LocalTalk in the manner you describe. I plan to try LocalTalk Bridge on it too—it would be nice to get it talking to EtherTalk machines.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Perhaps an orange pi and a localtalk bridge may be interesting for you. The orange pi can be a fileserver. For futher information you can read here:

https://www.macip.net/

You can surf in the internet with localtalk too. I use this configuration and it works great.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/15/2019 at 7:28 PM, sfiera said:

That thread covers my questions pretty well, thanks! I’ll give it a try.

I’ve seen this assertion several times. For just two computers, is there an advantage to PhoneNet? It seems like two adapters ($10+ each) and a phone cable is more trouble than a single ($5) cable. (author’s note: “accommodating a growing Mac collection” is not an advantage :)

 

For 2 computers, you can use an Apple StyleWriter cable to connect. Only advantage to using PhoneNet for 2 computers is if you need to span many feet with your cable.

 

(So far I'm repeating what olePigeon already said)

 

 

When using RJ-11 cabling for PhoneNet you need to check carefully and ensure that your modular phone line has all 4 conductors. Cheaper lines will only have the red and green conductors. PhoneNet doesn't use these; it uses the black and yellow conductors.

 

 

Edited by Dog Cow

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/17/2019 at 12:33 AM, sfiera said:

I connected the computers. No smoke, no dice.

With PhoneNet wiring? Check your phone line to ensure it has all 4 conductors, and not just 2.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No, with a printer cable. But I discovered that I didn’t actually have any software on the Plus yet to use the network connection. Maybe it was successful, but I don’t know. Now I have my SCSI2SD, so once I get it booting from there I can try again.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here is another, very important question: what System software are the machines running? System 7 and up is very easy to network. System 6 and below has no built-in ability to host files, but can connect to other file servers. I thought of this because you said you are using a Mac Plus as at least one machine. What machines and systems are there that you are trying to connect?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The newer one is a Quadra on 7.6, so it’s quite networking-friendly. I was able to get Fetch onto it via AFS over EtherTalk (but then switched AppleTalk back to the printer port, since now FTP over TCP/IP can be its link up the technology chain).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok so just going over things: you have AppleTalk on in the chooser, you have started file sharing in the Sharing (or whatever name it was in 7.6) control panel, you set AppleTalk to the Printer port (you already said you did). On the Plus, are you using 6.0.x, or 7.x? Either way you should be able to see the Quadra. If 6.0.x, be sure all the INITs that need to be there are (AppleTalk and such). I assume you are just trying to get the Plus to connect to the Quadra as a host.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/16/2019 at 12:30 PM, Cory5412 said:

 

Regarding distance: Apple's own Localtalk wiring kits can achieve the same distance PhoneNet can

Interesting side story: when I was 12 and knew nothing of wire resistance, signal degradation, etc, my friend and I rigged up what was probably the longest AppleTalk network ever: PhoneNet with successive strings of coupled 100 ft long phone cable between our houses. It went out my brother’s window, through my yard, then through a buried portion that ran between two or three property boundaries and then into his yard and house. The length? It had to be at least 1500 to 2000 feet long! It was slow as anything, but amazingly actually

Worked. We also used the two unused wires to run an intercom system.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Very nice!

 

extremely want to do something like this. Backyard/neighborhood LAN is an aesthetic I hold very strongly and would extremely love to do at some point.

 

Somewhere there's an official spec for how long an AppleTalk segment can be, and my favorite thing about it is that using a repeater/concentrator doesn't actually introduce any forgiveness to that max length, but bridging two segments with a Mac or with two ethertalk/localtalk bridges should. (I don't know if there were any routers with more than one localtalk connection, that wouold probably reset the distance.)

 

I don't know if LocalTalk is like DSL technologies (SHDSL in particular) where you can just keep stretching the length at the expense of sync speed or if there's a point at which it cuts out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not sure on the date, but I ran across the following yesterday.

 

http://www.tmetz.net/os/Apple/Inside_AppleTalk.pdf

 

That might be useful. Appendix A: LocalTalk Hardware Specifications begins on page 520 of the PDF.

 

 

So, I take it that for a proper network you need the little adapter boxes one way or the other? The advantage of PhoneNET being that you don't need the special 3pin miniDIN cables?

Edited by Nathan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, either APple's own localtalk adapters or the phonenet adapters. And, the advantage of phonenet is absolutely the cheaper and easier-to-get wiring. Apple's own wiring system has some neat functions - like, you don't need special terminators  or to complete the loop, and you can leave unoccupied boxes in spots without the network going down.

 

Here's the user guide to the Apple's wiring system: https://vintageapple.org/macmanuals/pdf/Apple_LocalTalk_Cable_System_Owners_Guide_1987.pdf

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think you are supposed to have a closed loop. In fact, page 9 of the manual upthread says "always a line, never a circle".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hm. I'll have to take a look, then. I've got an ET/LT adapter and one phonenet adapter that I wanted to use but something's been going sideways when I try. (Like, the machine crashes). It might just be something misconfigured in the software, but, it's weird because I can do a single serial cable LT network fine on that machine. 

 

That could also be weirdness introduced by that particular ET/LT bridge, too.

 

It's been just shy of fifteen years since I had any localtalk gear active, and I know i have some of the terminators.

 

To be clear: To the best of my recollection, only phonenet networks had terminators. Apple's own connectors had termination built in.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×