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Workshop report

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  • Evan Koblentz
    Very good weekend! Thirteen club members were there, along with assorted InfoAge people and various others.We raised $1,000 for the seller of the large
    Message 1 of 4 , Aug 4 9:01 PM
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      Very good weekend! Thirteen club members were there, along with assorted InfoAge people and various others.

      We raised $1,000 for the seller of the large collection. There are still many items in her collection, which she'll bring back and sell to the general public at VCF East next spring. We put aside certain items for the club's collection, including an Apple III, multiple Franklins, a couple of Epson and Tandy laptops, various books/software, etc.

      As always, in addition to working on their personal systems, MARCHins also worked on club-owned systems. The highlight was Dave R. and Matt W. working on our PDP-11/44. They got it working! It booked from one of Matt's own drives; there are a few loose ends with our drives. But at minimum we can demo connecting to the 44 from a terminal and examining memory. So we decided to put it into the museum and move the 11/20 into storage; it's good to change exhibits once in a while. See picture: http://www.snarc.net/44.jpg ... one of the next steps is to swap the yellow surround on the computer itself for a better-looking one from our other 44. We'll also probably swap some of the yellowed drives for different ones.

      There was plenty of other work on club systems. Some examples (sorry to those that I forgot): Bill Deg. and (I forget who else) found that the Mark-8 seems to work, although we all need to learn more about it; Doug made new boot disks and new Valdocs disks for the Epson QX-10, while Ian P. gave me some cleaning tips for that system's case. Ian did quite a lot -- he also evaluated our Xerox 860 -- it shows a graphical Xerox logo on boot and then looks for disks that we don't have, so he'll try to make some; he also showed me how to open and swap some parts in DEC Rainbow monitors -- the one in the museum had some screen rot; now it's got a clean CRT from a different monitor. Jeff B. worked on two of our Educator 64s, with help from Bill Deg and Ian.

      Hope I didn't forget anything else club-wise, but I'm sure people will remind me!

      Oh, and my car needed some work, so Brian C. let me borrow his '79 VW Rabbit! Big thanks, Brian -- you saved the weekend for me. Just for fun: http://www.snarc.net/rabbit.jpg.

      The next club event will be Festivus!
    • corey986
      Correction/expansion... It was Ian and Bill Deg. who tested the MARK-8. After a visual inspection, they pulled the fuses and tested the supply which was
      Message 2 of 4 , Aug 5 4:11 AM
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        Correction/expansion...
        It was Ian and Bill Deg. who tested the MARK-8. After a visual inspection, they pulled the fuses and tested the supply which was perfect, no ripple and the put them back in and turned on the unit. No explosions or fires... A major accomplishment for a machine that is older than "Star Wars" and maybe "JAWS".

        Next up, both Bill and I have to brush up on our 8008 and MARK-8 checkout procedures and do a memory test and stuff.

        Great work for Bill and Ian who both have a giant set of "spherical objects" aka Balls for just attempting a power up after a quick visual inspection and power supply test!!!

        Cheers,
        Corey

        --- In midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com, "Evan Koblentz" <evan@...> wrote:
        >
        > Very good weekend! Thirteen club members were there, along with assorted InfoAge people and various others.
        >
        > We raised $1,000 for the seller of the large collection. There are still many items in her collection, which she'll bring back and sell to the general public at VCF East next spring. We put aside certain items for the club's collection, including an Apple III, multiple Franklins, a couple of Epson and Tandy laptops, various books/software, etc.
        >
        > As always, in addition to working on their personal systems, MARCHins also worked on club-owned systems. The highlight was Dave R. and Matt W. working on our PDP-11/44. They got it working! It booked from one of Matt's own drives; there are a few loose ends with our drives. But at minimum we can demo connecting to the 44 from a terminal and examining memory. So we decided to put it into the museum and move the 11/20 into storage; it's good to change exhibits once in a while. See picture: http://www.snarc.net/44.jpg ... one of the next steps is to swap the yellow surround on the computer itself for a better-looking one from our other 44. We'll also probably swap some of the yellowed drives for different ones.
        >
        > There was plenty of other work on club systems. Some examples (sorry to those that I forgot): Bill Deg. and (I forget who else) found that the Mark-8 seems to work, although we all need to learn more about it; Doug made new boot disks and new Valdocs disks for the Epson QX-10, while Ian P. gave me some cleaning tips for that system's case. Ian did quite a lot -- he also evaluated our Xerox 860 -- it shows a graphical Xerox logo on boot and then looks for disks that we don't have, so he'll try to make some; he also showed me how to open and swap some parts in DEC Rainbow monitors -- the one in the museum had some screen rot; now it's got a clean CRT from a different monitor. Jeff B. worked on two of our Educator 64s, with help from Bill Deg and Ian.
        >
        > Hope I didn't forget anything else club-wise, but I'm sure people will remind me!
        >
        > Oh, and my car needed some work, so Brian C. let me borrow his '79 VW Rabbit! Big thanks, Brian -- you saved the weekend for me. Just for fun: http://www.snarc.net/rabbit.jpg.
        >
        > The next club event will be Festivus!
        >
      • David Riley
        ... Further detail and long story follows; apologies for the lengthy missive. The 11/44 was actually in pretty good shape. Everything but the front was pretty
        Message 3 of 4 , Aug 5 6:48 AM
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          On Aug 5, 2013, at 12:01 AM, "Evan Koblentz" <evan@...> wrote:

          > As always, in addition to working on their personal systems, MARCHins also worked on club-owned systems. The highlight was Dave R. and Matt W. working on our PDP-11/44. They got it working! It booked from one of Matt's own drives; there are a few loose ends with our drives. But at minimum we can demo connecting to the 44 from a terminal and examining memory. So we decided to put it into the museum and move the 11/20 into storage; it's good to change exhibits once in a while. See picture: http://www.snarc.net/44.jpg ... one of the next steps is to swap the yellow surround on the computer itself for a better-looking one from our other 44. We'll also probably swap some of the yellowed drives for different ones.

          Further detail and long story follows; apologies for the lengthy missive.

          The 11/44 was actually in pretty good shape. Everything but the front was pretty clean, and all the cards looked like they were in good order, so we powered the beast up. Putting a fairly loaded Unibus machine on a circuit shared with the air conditioner and the plugs everyone else was using to test machines, solder, etc. was problematic, though; we could only run for about 10 minutes at a go before tripping breakers (and that was just with the CPU). We were unable to figure out any other building circuits which were lightly loaded, so we pulled the generator (14A breaker) from the warehouse and used that to power it, which worked fine for the rest of the weekend.

          It took a while to figure out which console port we needed to attach to and what baud rate it was set to (turned out to be 300, which we fixed in short order), but once we got it figured out, we had a console prompt! Things progressed somewhat smoothly from there, though we've not yet been able to make it run consistently with the Unibus expansion jumpered in; it mostly pops up ?CP DIDN'T START at boot unless we take the terminator out, which is bizarre behavior. Someone with more Unibus experience needs to look at that; the single backplane with the terminator at the end worked fine, but the second backplane contains a lot of goodies like serial multiplexers, parallel cards and a UDA50 for driving the main disks in the stack.

          We ended up booting 2.11BSD from one of Matt's SCSI drives on his Emulex UC17 MSCP SCSI card, which we put in place of the RL11, because that slot was plumbed for DMA (a source of consternation when figuring out why the SCSI card wasn't working). We could get to the login prompt, but upon entering a user name, it would just endlessly cycle back to the login prompt, so there may be some issue with the build, but the hardware all seems to be working well!

          We couldn't put ANY of the main drives (RA80, RA81) in run mode without tripping the 14A breaker on the generator, even with the CPU turned off. There's an RA60 as well, but I don't know if MARCH even has a pack for it. There's also connectivity for an RL01/RL02 chain as well, but there didn't seem to be a preassembled rack for that; MARCH has loads of RL01 and RL02 drives and packs in the warehouse, though, so if anyone can image a disk pack to boot an 11/44 on something interesting, that might be another decent path to pursue to turn this into a demo machine.

          The main drives are going to have to wait until we can get the thing on at least one 20A circuit, probably two (the power distribution box has two 110v plugs, presumably for separate circuits, but probably on the same phase; someone needs to check on that). But we've successfully booted it, and learned quite a bit of interesting Unibus troubleshooting in the process.

          We also found a SECOND 11/44 in the warehouse that had been put into the stacks facing in, so it was only identifiable if you'd been looking at the back of an 11/44 for a few hours. :-) We pilfered some grant continuity cards from that one for the first one, but it might be good to get the second one running. At the very least, it may have been a bit cleaner in the front than the one we restored (which was dirty and very yellowed in front), so swapping the faceplates and surround may be in the cards for the museum exhibit. Both of them appeared to have lots of serial ports on concentrator cards, so if we're ever going to get a MARCH BBS up and running, they might be good candidates.

          Last thing: Matt and I also did a fairly thorough inventory of the DEC collection in the warehouse, with some interesting finds. In a huge box of boards (mostly Qbus, with a small number of probable Unibus cards), we found an M8981-EB. That's the PDP-11/93 CPU board with all 4 MB of RAM built in, which is INCREDIBLY valuable. The only catch: someone pulled the J11 CPU from it. So if anyone has a spare 18 MHz J11 (ha!) and is looking to put it in an 11/93 board, we can load it into one of the chassis and have the fastest PDP-11 possible running for the club.

          I had a great time this weekend. If I'd had a bit more money and space in my various work areas, I would have made off with a number of the old Macs being sold. Kudos to Jeff Brace for taking the Quadra 950 and PowerMac 8600 and a IIfx (in disguise), all of which are some of the finest Macs of their generations.


          - Dave
        • Evan Koblentz
          Dave, thanks for yours and Matt s great work and for this detailed report. ... I will schedule earlier in order to get the other room for our next workshop,
          Message 4 of 4 , Aug 5 7:24 AM
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            Dave, thanks for yours and Matt's great work and for this detailed report.

            >> We were unable to figure out any other building circuits which were lightly loaded

            I will schedule earlier in order to get the other room for our next workshop, whenever that is. The other room has many more circuits; we already know which ones do what, and where they are; plus there's 220V.

            >> There's also connectivity for an RL01/RL02 chain as well, but there didn't seem to be a preassembled rack for that; MARCH has loads of RL01 and RL02 drives and packs in the warehouse, though, so if anyone can image a disk pack to boot an 11/44 on something interesting, that might be another decent path to pursue to turn this into a demo machine.

            Agreed. Short-term, it will be nice for visitors just to hear the machine running and see how we can interact with it from a terminal. Long-term, we should focus on making it "do" something.

            >> We also found a SECOND 11/44 in the warehouse that had been put into the stacks facing in, so it was only identifiable if you'd been looking at the back of an 11/44 for a few hours. :-)

            Heh ... when you've spent as much time in that warehouse as me, they all begin to look the same! :)

            >> At the very least, it may have been a bit cleaner in the front than the one we restored (which was dirty and very yellowed in front), so swapping the faceplates and surround may be in the cards for the museum exhibit.

            Will do that possibly as soon as next weekend. But, you guys need to remind me of where in the warehouse it's located. (Send via private email.)

            >> we can load it into one of the chassis and have the fastest PDP-11 possible running for the club.

            Nice!

            >> I had a great time this weekend. If I'd had a bit more money and space in my various work areas

            Can't help you with money, but there will be more space next time.
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