File Submission Guidelines

Photos, Outlines, Documentation, and other files

In order to save us lots of unnecessary work, here are some recommendations for the submission of scans of adapters and parts to The Tool.

Please Let Us Know if you have any relevant material.


If you have driver disks, ADFs, user's guides, etc. we would like to hear from you!

Check if the company still exists and if you can find those same drivers or manuals on their website or somewhere else. If you had no luck finding them online, chances are good that we don't have them either.

If the company is gone or no longer remembers your adapter, please zip the files and send them to us. For manuals, if you can scan them, fantastic! If you have no scanner, making a copy and mailing it to one of us fine. If you have extra manuals, send them over.

Camera Images

Camera shots may be at whatever DPI you want, but I may make a lower resolution image for the page, and link the larger image to it. Camera shots tend to have poor lighting and are at an angle... Cameras have one focal point, and there is distortion the farther away from dead center one gets.

Take Me Down To Parallax City

This depicts the challenge that using cameras bring. You can get everything at once, but now detail may be lost due to it's being masked by other components. Also, there will be distortion of spatial relations towards the edges.
Ed. spatial relations does not refer to the person you could of swore was from outer space...

Flatbed Scans

This is the preferred method for creation of adapter and part outlines. The card/part will be about as accurate as can be for dimensions. In other words, "what the doctor ordered and why the preacher danced".

Flatbed Scanner - No Parallax

In this example, the adapter has a card guide to keep the card's PCB at the same height above the scanning head. Don't expect this to happen every time since some adapters (and planars) lack card guides. Also, some cards tend to pivot on the guide and bracket. To fix that, I use a small object near the bracket to weight the card so it rests parallel to the glass. For cards without guides or for planars, use something to prop up the PCB. SIMMs work fairly well, BTW...

Use paper to cover the top of the card. This gives you plenty of reflected light to determine the outline of the card. If you let external light to be scanned, it will do a job on your brightness and contrast. You can use scrap paper, but the clearer the paper is, the easier to see the PCB edge when adjusting the angle. The covering paper doesn't have to be super tight, like scanning in a closed room with no lights, but I find that three to four sheets of normal 20lb paper get the job done.

Please scan at 300dpi or higher. Use JPEG and set image quality to 8-9. If possible, scan the back of the card scanned as well. Please have the scans aligned in the same direction.

Long Adapter Scan First Scan

For long adapters, please do not send one scan that cuts off an end. What you need to do is scan the card bracket end towards the front. Where the scan ends, do another scan from the card guide back towards the card bracket.

Long Adapter Scan Second Scan

I only need about 1/4" overlap between the two scans to properly align them. It is easier if you do the second scan so it cuts a chip or component in half (roughly) so I can eyeball where the scans are in the right alignment.

Modules or Daughtercard Scans

For cards with modules or daughtercards, scan at the same setting used for the adapter. I will do the calculation so the adapter and the card are at the correct size relation to each other.

Unless your scans are totally washed out, please let me do the contrast/brightness on your images.

Try to Keep it Straight!

I can't set adapters up at perfect right angles on my scanner, and I don't expect you to, either. BUT... most software allows you to free rotate or enter an arbitrary angle to rotate the image. For long adapters with bulky components, the adapter may not lay on the scanner and you can't exactly shim it up to the same height. Do your best, and I will "interpolate" your scans.

For those looking for the edge, you can scan system planars. There, I usually had three separate scans where the board is at a different angle to the glass. If you burn with desire to scan a planar, do your best to prop the board up so it's at the same angle to the glass surface, get enough overlap between scans (make sure scans overlap!), and I'll stitch 'er up.

Submitted Outlines

As men know, size is everything... I chose to use 600 pixels wide as a format. I can't tell what kind of "Super-Whizz-Bang" machine you have [from Bob Watts]. For all I know, you have barely managed to get online and are desperately searching for drivers, manuals, or configuration information to get something to work better.

Example - Windows VGA is 640x480. So your looking for the drivers for the whatever card, and all the images are... oops, too long to fit in the screen. Rule of thumb, full length adapters will be 600 pixels or a little less. Cards like the Corvette are 450-500 pixels in length. Just look at the image on-screen and see what the height to width ratio looks like. A small card like a BOCA parallel port card 600 pixels wide would result in mega wasted space.

If possible use the following typeface for the component IDs:

Arial, 9px, Bold, no anti-aliasing, no subpixel rendering


In this neo-classist version, the artiste known as "William R. Walsh" has cunningly used color to wake up the viewer. He has chosen to detail the video memory on the left, although there isn't enough space to put the Chip IDs on. The empty area is most likely populated with support logic chips, and therefore is not detailed.

BusLogic BT-646 S/D

In this ode to austerity, the artiste known as the "God Emperor of Microchannel" approaches this difficult combination of two adapters that share the same PCB with a "callout" around the Differential version components. Again, much of the support logic chips are omitted.


This simple and understated image is from Sandy. Note the use of component IDs on the image. While this technique may work well for adapters with sparse components, it becomes unwieldy on more densely populated cards. The embedded text is also invisible to search engines and can't be copy-pasted. For these reasons the displayed approach should be avoided.

Reverse of Corvette

This is one of the times that detailing the back is worthwhile. After further study, U8,9 were determined to be autotermination for the external SCSI channel, U10,11 autotermination for the internal channel, CR3 provides TERMPWR for the external channel, U14,19 are the RAM for the adapter commands, and CR2 is the status LED. Ed. see the amount of screen that the Corvette takes up at 500 pixels?


This outline is an illustration of a fixed component on the 1MB SVGA. C31 as originally installed, causes a flicker, and eventual failure, of the video output. When a component is crucial to understanding, put it on... (thanks to Peter Wendt, Jim Shorney and David Beem for tracking down the reversed capacitor problem).

Stylebook for Detailing Scans


  • Significant Chips (controllers, A/D, VRM, fuses, RAMDAC, etc.)
  • Jumpers (at least the block outline, individual pins are extra)
  • Headers (inter-board, memory sockets)
  • LEDs (both through-hole and SMD versions)
  • Unpopulated Components (solder pads / silk screen for jumpers, headers, etc.)
  • Reworks / bodge-wires

The goal of outlining the card is not to faithfully record everything, but instead to aid in card identification, illustrate component layout, and draw attention to significant items.

Post-Scan Processing

Once you have sent the image, you aren't done quite yet. After I put everything together, convert to 600 pixels at 72dpi, then I do the chip IDs. Sometimes the manufacturer puts the chip ID under an edge, or the markings on a chip aren't clear. If it's possible, please have the card out until I get done. If it's a critical adapter, please let me know, then I can put it at the top of my list. If I can't get to it, then "c'est la vie", I'll put it up as-is. (Guttural French courtesy of "Diamond Jim" Shorney.)

Content created and/or collected by:
Louis F. Ohland, Peter H. Wendt, David L. Beem, William R. Walsh, Tatsuo Sunagawa, Tomáš Slavotínek, Jim Shorney, Tim N. Clarke, Kevin Bowling, and many others.

Ardent Tool of Capitalism is maintained by Tomáš Slavotínek.
Last update: 08 May 2024 - Changelog | About | Legal & Contact