One of the other boards I had in the latest order is an oddball PCI Express 1X riser card, which I could not find commercially. In trying to figure out how to plug a PCI Express parallel port card into my little 3.5″ Atom motherboard, I couldn’t come up with a way to make it work. First of all, Quanmax placed a batter and other obstacles in the way of the PCI Express slot, almost as if they didn’t intend for anyone to ever use it. Secondly, I didn’t really want the connector for the parallel port cart to stick out the back of the case, since it connects internally to the FPGA card. I searched online trying to find a commercial riser card or extender to do what I wanted, but aside from a cheesy ribbon cable extender I got for $5 (and summarily dismissed due to the high cheese factor), I couldn’t find anything.
I realized I had a couple of sample packs around from Sullins, and it so happened that they contained a few varieties of PCIe 1X connectors. I figured I’d try my hand at a design for a riser card that would do exactly what I wanted. I’m pleased to say it works! The PCBs as received required a little bit of cleanup with a file to widen the notch and to chamfer the edges, but other than that, they were ready to go. I booted up the motherboard into Linux and lo and behold, the parallel port card was detected. I still need to do some stress testing on the interface, but that’s a pretty good start!