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Re: [midatlanticretro] New stuff to play with!

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  • B Degnan
    Chris, I don t remember if I have met you personally, but thanks for checking in, sounds like interesting projects are ahead. I have not used any VAX stuff
    Message 1 of 3 , Jan 31, 2011
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      Chris,
      I don't remember if I have met you personally, but thanks for
      checking in, sounds like interesting projects are ahead. I have not
      used any VAX stuff since 1994, it's been a while. I only have a few
      bits and pieces, nothing new. Are you planning to come to VCF East this May?
      Bill

      At 08:48 PM 1/31/2011, you wrote:
      >Hello folks,
      >
      >It's been quite awhile since I last posted anything (30 Jan, 2008 from what
      >I have in my outbox message archives :-/ ). My work life has settled down
      >somewhat now that I'm back into an engineering office setting. So, I feel
      >it may be interesting to some on the list to report new finds that I
      >recently acquired. Always interesting to some of us to see what others can
      >turn up. Recall I'm way out in far western NY, where deep snow is a
      >_normal_ thing, so have no chance to be too involved with anything out East
      >@ InfoAge.
      >
      >Last Fall the plant I work at was on a big kick to sort out excess, old
      >unused/obsolete "stuff" just laying around - primarily to divest ourselves
      >of crap that has piled up in cabinets, on shelves, in nooks, crannies, etc.
      >over the past decade or so. Big company with a one million square-foot
      >building, therefore less attention to clearing out stuff like one would see
      >done in small-to-medium size companies. Basically as a safety measure to
      >spread out work areas and gain efficient storage areas.
      >
      >Anyway, I had made good acquaintances in our Gaging Lab over the past year
      >and told them what some of my strong interests are - including history of
      >technology and of communications which is my main focus. I told them about
      >my radio and test equipment collection (some of the folks in NJARC are
      >fellow collectors in the AWA (see URL in sig below)) plus my keen interest
      >in industrial computing and suchlike.
      >
      >One day we were talking about some unrelated old equipment and I asked if
      >they knew of any old electronic test equipment being sorted out. "Ahhh,
      >come with me Chris..." was the response. With that I was taken up to the
      >"attic" of the plant where different departments and teams store "stuff"
      >(basically, it's the morgue). "Here's our Gage Lab storage area, take what
      >you want, it'll help us clean out."
      >
      >Ohh, goodness. I had sudden dreams of scoring DEC hardware (we were once a
      >completely DEC-run plant back in the VAX heydays), some Data General stuff
      >(I found tantalizing traces of DG presence in some other areas of this huge
      >building), earliest Allen-Bradley PLCs, VMEbus-based industrial
      >controllers, paper, software, etc., etc.
      >
      >However, the outcome was not quite to my dreams but nevertheless to my
      >liking. Most of the stuff found up there was tired, old worn out electronic
      >and mechanical gaging systems (we make heavy duty diesel engines for the
      >biggest trucks on the highway) but a few gems were floating upon the surface.
      >
      >Well, I scored an HP 9000-310 workstation (no keyboard found) with the 9121
      >dual floppy and monochrome monitor plus the associated A/D signal
      >conditioning electronics from a Sheffield Measurements Surface Analyzer
      >system (1987-88 vintage), two Epson HX-20 machines (one still in its
      >original carrying case) that had Taylor-Hobson labels affixed (big gaging
      >company), one Toshiba T3200 (an early portable) and, the best of the pile,
      >a DEC AlphaStation 255/233 with a DEC StorageWorks enclosure with tape and
      >hard disk, DEC color monitor and some other bits. The next day, he took me
      >up to a smaller storage area above the Gage Lab and found a pile of HP 85
      >manuals and a DEC VT420 monochrome terminal. More toys!
      >
      >I collected the gear up on a cart, got a material pass for scrapped
      >material signed off and loaded it into my car one day after work. Took
      >another several days to get the items into our house though. You see, Bev
      >would often give me the old fisheye and ask "Just what are you going to do
      >with that?" whenever I dragged home some sizeable non-radio goodie. Antique
      >radios are just fine with her. She would help me haul THEM in and find a
      >spot in my shop or collection, but most other stuff? Inquisition time...
      >
      >Should have seen her reaction back in July 1998 when I drove into the
      >driveway in a 22' truck stuffed absolutely _full_ of rescued DEC PDP-11s, a
      >couple of early VAXen, disk drives in the short cabinets, a "Grey Wall" of
      >VMS 5.5 manuals, "Orange Walls" of RT-11 and RSX-11 manuals, some software,
      >much other bits, etc., etc. Filled the garage full plus part of the
      >basement and my office. Still have about 1/4 of it all.
      >
      >The HP/Sheffield gear had spent its life out on the shop floor on the
      >crankshaft machining line. About ten years I estimate. The environment on a
      >shop floor in a factory like this is, to say the very least, not good for
      >fan-cooled electronic equipment. Some of you who worked in metal machining
      >factories either as an employee or tech support visitor certainly know
      >this. There was a gooey brown coating of, basically, condensed machine tool
      >coolant vapor covering everything, especially on the insides in the path of
      >fan-forced airflow. There usually is a very low concentration aerosol of
      >said stuff in the plant atmosphere all the time when production is running.
      >Before I even laid a power cord on anything I carefully disassembled each
      >unit, cleaned with a strong non-ionic spray cleaner and small natural
      >bristle brush, and rinsed very well in very warm water. Dried for several
      >days in front of a fan. A paper label was carefully protected from the H2O.
      >Even after careful checkout and cleaning, the PSU would not startup.
      >
      >Most likely died from overheating. Both fans in the 9000-310 chassis were
      >gunked up so much from that aerosol vapor collected over the years they
      >quit working. Most equipment runs 24/7 in the whole plant because of two-
      >or three-shift operations. Had to scrape the goo away with a knife just to
      >turn the fans by hand. Between two and three millimeters of that gunk
      >coated the ID of the boxer fans and eventually interfered with the tips of
      >the fan blades. Same thickness was on the CPU board at the outlet of the
      >fans. Corrosion from that water-soluble gunk on connectors may (hopefully)
      >be the actual problem, though. Need time to look closer. Took six to seven
      >hours to cleanup that stuff just in that 310 chassis. I've got a pristine,
      >probably unused, mil surplus 9000-375 in the collection which has the same
      >chassis and PSU and can act as a substitution parts source.
      >
      >The AlphaStation and StorageWorks boxen were checked over well, including
      >the PSU, and cleaned up before applying power. Years of dust from the
      >metallurgical lab's x-ray backscatter analysis machine laboratory. The dust
      >almost completely clogged the CPU cooling fan and looked very uniform and
      >white. Almost like cotton lint from white lab coats. No keyboard was found.
      >Luckily, I found online that a PC keyboard and mouse will work. The system
      >came up just fine after setting for what they figure was about five years.
      >Found it runs OpenVMS Alpha version 6.2-1H3. I've long hoped to get into
      >using VMS/OpenVMS on some older VAXen I have. I have a MicroVAX II which
      >needs a hard disk and a VAX 11/730 which needs any mass storage, both from
      >The Great Rescue of '98. But now I have actual gear running to invest in
      >the OpenVMS Hobby License. (I think Alpha falls under the hobby licensing
      >program. Gotta check for sure though.)
      >
      >I never used DECWindows before and I find that some flavors of Linux I
      >tinkered with from mid-2000s has a GUI that's similar (KDE, I think?)
      >Certainly a different look than windoze.
      >
      >Anybody in the group willing to answer a few questions and guide me on
      >OpenVMS occasionally? For example, will DECNet play with peer-to-peer
      >windoze networks? Is there an online source of version 6.2 manuals? I don't
      >see (so far) any interesting applications such as prog. languages, etc on
      >the machine. It was probably just locked down with the apps it was
      >dedicated in managing (x-ray backscatter system). Boring. If I'm able to
      >get the Hobby License for the Alpha, then mans and languages will come with
      >it. But what can I do with this thing to have fun otherwise :-/ ?
      >
      >This is too long. But in closing, I do have my eye on a distro of OpenVMS
      >7.2 in its box found in another group's area of that attic plus a DEC
      >4000-400 VAXServer setting in an area that looks like it might be our
      >engineering group's pile.
      >
      >Have fun with your stuff everybody. I will. It's great learning about older
      >technology and I'm confident virtually all of you feel the same.
      >
      >-Chris F.
      >
      >
      >=======================================================
      >Christian R. and Beverly J. Fandt
      >31 Houston Avenue Electronic/Electrical Historian
      >Jamestown, New York Phone: +716-488-1722
      >14701-2627 USA email: cfandt@...
      > Members of Antique Wireless Association
      > URL: http://www.antiquewireless.org/
      >
      >
      >
      >------------------------------------
      >
      >Yahoo! Groups Links
      >
      >
      >
    • system@great-escape.tmesis.com
      ... I know one or two things about VMS. ;) DECnet will play nicely with other DECnet. WEENDOZE networking? Gack! Manuals are on-line at
      Message 2 of 3 , Jan 31, 2011
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        >Anybody in the group willing to answer a few questions and guide me on
        >OpenVMS occasionally? For example, will DECNet play with peer-to-peer
        >windoze networks? Is there an online source of version 6.2 manuals? I don't
        >see (so far) any interesting applications such as prog. languages, etc on
        >the machine. It was probably just locked down with the apps it was
        >dedicated in managing (x-ray backscatter system). Boring. If I'm able to
        >get the Hobby License for the Alpha, then mans and languages will come with
        >it. But what can I do with this thing to have fun otherwise :-/ ?

        I know one or two things about VMS. ;)

        DECnet will play nicely with other DECnet. WEENDOZE networking? Gack!

        Manuals are on-line at http://h71000.www7.hp.com/doc/os84_index.html

        Hobbyist licensing applies to all three VMS platforms. You can get
        PAKs for your Alpha. See the OpenVMS FAQ.



        >This is too long. But in closing, I do have my eye on a distro of OpenVMS
        >7.2 in its box found in another group's area of that attic plus a DEC
        >4000-400 VAXServer setting in an area that looks like it might be our
        >engineering group's pile.

        Whatever you may need, I've probably got! ;)


        While you're perusing the on-line docs, read through this for reference:

        http://h71000.www7.hp.com/doc/84final/9996/9996pro_233.html#brass_103

        and names! ;)
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