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Vercus
August 6th, 2009, 06:13 PM
Hello all,
I have to admit, I'm beginning to get a little frustrated at how hard it is to find a PDP setup. I've given up on craigslist (worthless) and ebay is insanely overpriced, at least for my budget. Where do you guys find your stuff? I've been searching for what seems like forever, and haven't found a PDP anywhere.

One real limitation for me is my budget. Sure, if I had $4k I could probably buy something off ebay right now, but that's not going to happen. We don't have any computer recyclers around here that I'm aware of, and I wouldn't know what to do with them anyway, as they're not in the habit of re-selling stuff anyway. I don't have any local friends into vintage computers, so no help there. Kinda lost, and a bit bummed. It's worse now with those RL02's teasing me, just waiting for something to do...

Don't get me wrong, I'm very grateful for what I have (2 RL02's and a VT-102), I'm just itchy to put them to use. I'm just afraid that I'll never be able to afford the astronomical prices this stuff goes for, as I lost my primary job, and just have one part time job that's pulling back my hours. Perhaps I should consider another less expensive hobby...

-Jon

ahm
August 6th, 2009, 08:34 PM
Have you considered building an SBC6120 (http://www.sparetimegizmos.com/Hardware/SBC6120-2.htm)?
(Sadly, the companion FP6120 (http://www.sparetimegizmos.com/Hardware/SBC6120_Front_Panel.htm) is no longer available)

Andy

pontus
August 7th, 2009, 12:01 AM
The SBC6120 will probably not drive an RL02.

With a little patience, you will probably be able to find an 11/23 or similar. They are quite common and usually not so expensive.

I've been extremely lucky and been given most of my gear, simply because I know people who wants to get rid of their bulky machines and I've been willing to drive long distances to pick them up.

tradde
August 7th, 2009, 03:09 AM
The SBC6120 will probably not drive an RL02.

With a little patience, you will probably be able to find an 11/23 or similar. They are quite common and usually not so expensive.

I've been extremely lucky and been given most of my gear, simply because I know people who wants to get rid of their bulky machines and I've been willing to drive long distances to pick them up.

Be willing to wait and you should find stuff. eBay was pretty decent 4 or 5 years ago
but now the prices are insane. Browse the Google groups alt.sys.pdp8 and alt.sys.pdp11.
Subscribe to the classiccmp list. Subscribe to pdp-8 lovers list. Put a notice on all of
the above that you are looking for stuff and someone might contact you. Yes, be prepared
to drive a long distance if it's free. :) It may take time, but if people see you are interested you will eventually get contacted. It just takes time.

billdeg
August 7th, 2009, 03:58 AM
I am confident that you'll see a DEC locally if you keep checking. Where I live, in the Philadelphia area, I have seen free VAX's and $20 DEC Rainbows on craigslist.com

:-)

RetroHacker_
August 7th, 2009, 03:59 AM
Time. It takes time. It took me FOREVER to finally find a Vax. I used to believe that they really didn't exist, and people just talked about them as some sort of weird inside joke. But then I found one. I remember spending a couple years looking for my first 11 as well. It will happen.

-Ian

barythrin
August 7th, 2009, 07:53 AM
Yup, as with the others it's a time game. A frustrating one but you just have to look once and a while but know it's not something that'll necessarily come quickly. Acquire some parts in the mean time if you come across some but just keep looking once a while.

tradde
August 7th, 2009, 12:08 PM
And don't forget, now that others know you are looking they may tell someone they know
who might have something and that person may end up contacting you. Just think you
already have more than you had a month ago.

EvanK
August 7th, 2009, 02:51 PM
Vercus, try posting a message on our local mailing list: http://groups.yahoo.com/groups/midatlanticretro .... perhaps one of our members will have something for you. We're spread out from Hartford to Pittsburgh to D.C. .... or come visit our museum where you see (and often touch) our big selection of DEC stuff. :)

Vercus
August 7th, 2009, 08:29 PM
Hello,
Posting on the MARCH site is a good idea. I'll definitely do that. That reminds me, the vintage computer festival website (vintage.org) has been asking for a password. I've been trying to find out about the vintage computer festival east, as it's not too far from me. However, I don't know how to get in. It seems odd that the home page would ask for user/password. Is there something I'm missing?
-Jon

Unknown_K
August 8th, 2009, 12:25 AM
How much DEC gear hasn't been made in Hondas yet? Most of what is left should be in collectors hands by now.

EvanK
August 8th, 2009, 10:56 AM
Hello,
Posting on the MARCH site is a good idea. I'll definitely do that. That reminds me, the vintage computer festival website (vintage.org) has been asking for a password. I've been trying to find out about the vintage computer festival east, as it's not too far from me. However, I don't know how to get in. It seems odd that the home page would ask for user/password. Is there something I'm missing?
-Jon

No, you're not doing anything wrong: http://www.vintage-computer.com/vcforum/showthread.php?p=109544#post109544

ddsnyder
August 9th, 2009, 09:31 PM
Sometimes letting people know you are looking helps. I have let people, through networking, know what I'm looking for. Letting people in other forums know does help. Most of my DEC gear, I have aquired from recyclers and word of mouth.

Dan - Western PA

Vercus
August 10th, 2009, 04:47 AM
Hello Dan,
What is the best way to approach recyclers? Do they usually want money for the stuff then? I would assume so, if they had to pick it up, as they have fuel costs, etc. I just haven't known the best way to approach them. I also have a local university here in town, but same thing- I don't know who / how to ask.

-Jon

Twylo
August 10th, 2009, 12:01 PM
Hi Vercus!

Boy howdy, I sure do feel your pain. I've been in love with DEC stuff since I first found an abandoned PDP-11 in 1993. Until then, I'd never had a chance to be around any minicomputers, just microcomputers, and it immediately caught my fancy. I've been a DEC-head ever since.

It really feels like there was a glory period back in the early and mid 90s where PDPs were relatively easy to find. They were regularly being decommissioned and scrapped, and were common if you knew where to look and who to ask. I even once scored a complete pdp8/i in 1996 just by asking "hey, does anyone have any old DEC gear they'd like to get rid of?" The same went for peripherals. VT-100s and VT-220s seemed to be on every loading dock waiting to get carted off to the scrappers, so it was never an issue to just pick one up for free. I got lots of good stuff that way.

Well those days are LONG gone, and with them, at least for me, 90% of the fun of collecting. The joy of making a new haul is no more. And worse, over the years, I've had a few big life shake-ups and I've ended up giving away all of my gear to other collectors, so I don't have a single piece of PDP equipment any more. I've thought about trying to get a MicroPDP-11/23 setup going, but even those are rare as hen's teeth and many times more expensive. In 1994 I could get them for free. Now? $300 if I'm lucky enough to find one. Same for VT-100s, I haven't had one of those since 1998. So it goes, I guess, but it is frustrating.

Good luck with your search! I hope you find something that'll make you happy!

ddsnyder
August 10th, 2009, 07:21 PM
I normally find re-cyclers during my travels, my job requires ~60% travel. Some I find on ebay. I do offer cash, some accept, some not, but this never stops me from trying. I realize these guys have expenses, but the money they get from re-cycling requires volume, so the money I offer is more than what the machine is worth as ground up scrap. I get to know people that I know are doing IT work and they definately know I like old DEC gear. I do drive distances to get the stuff. Matter of fact I'm in the Phoenix AZ area now and I have found a half a dozen or so re-cyclers and I plan on visiting them all. I already have aquired two Alphastations for $55, in excellent working condition. Of course I will have to ship them home as airline baggage and some cost.

Now that you have planted the seeds of your needs I can always act as a pair of eyes for you and help where I can

Vercus
August 11th, 2009, 03:44 AM
Hey DDSnyder,
I travel with my job too, but not real far. Plus, we don't have time to do side stops. I'll try to keep my eyes out as much as I can. I've been telling everyone I know that I'm looking, but so far no real leads. I'm sure it'll take time.

-Jon

pontus
August 13th, 2009, 11:42 PM
Here is a small PDP-11 on ebay. It lacks an RL01/02 controller (which I think you want) and I'm not sure if it has a console interface on the CPU-board? Perhaps someone could correct me on this.

Not so much memory either, but It's a complete system.

http://cgi.ebay.com/DEC-Micro-PDP11-System-in-Floor-Stand-Case_W0QQitemZ290339823799

One last caveat is that those hard drives have a reputation for being flaky.

cosam
August 13th, 2009, 11:56 PM
Here is a small PDP-11 on ebay. It lacks an RL01/02 controller (which I think you want) and I'm not sure if it has a console interface on the CPU-board? Perhaps someone could correct me on this.
Yep, that board has two SLUs, one of which being for the console.


Not so much memory either, but It's a complete system.Looks like a good start. A lot of older software won't use more than 256K anyway.

Vercus
August 14th, 2009, 06:12 AM
Thanks for mentioning the PDP-11. A micro could be a good start, plus it doesn't take a lot of space. I could actually keep it out in the living room, which is currently where the terminal resides, sitting next to the Pentium III which is it's controller right now.

My main concern with this one is it looks pretty rough. Looks like it sat in a moldy dungeon. Or maybe it's just dust/dirt. Can't tell on this computer monitor.

Since it's untested, what should I expect? I'm assuming the hard drive's probably bad. Any chance on getting a hard drive for this? Is it standard SCSI, or a proprietary interface? Anything else I should be worried about being dead/bad on this one?

Shipping for this guy's gonna be about $120, so that's something I'll have to factor in. Still cheaper than driving all the way out to Kansas! What do you guys think this system would be worth? I'm so new to this, I don't really know the values of this stuff.

Any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks!
-Jon

Vercus
August 14th, 2009, 06:15 AM
Hello again,
Just had another thought: Does this use the same Qbus interface and card form factor as a rack mount 11/23? If so, I should be able to find an RL02 interface for it eventually.
-Jon

cosam
August 14th, 2009, 07:09 AM
My main concern with this one is it looks pretty rough. Looks like it sat in a moldy dungeon. Or maybe it's just dust/dirt. Can't tell on this computer monitor.
It's probably mostly dirt, but you could always ask for more (or larger) photos. The plastic cases are pretty sturdy and inside that is a metal chassis which is built like the proverbial brick outhouse. Even if the plastic is junk, I'm pretty sure the metal bit is rack-mountable too (just needs a couple of rails/runners).


Since it's untested, what should I expect? I'm assuming the hard drive's probably bad. Any chance on getting a hard drive for this? Is it standard SCSI, or a proprietary interface? Anything else I should be worried about being dead/bad on this one?
Expect nothing ;-) The hard disk may well have had it. They're MFM drives, but you need one that's compatible with the controller unless you feel like calculating low level format parameters. Speaking of the controller: if you do get this machine, look for a RQDX3 to replace the RQDX2. They're pretty common, so you should be able to pick one up cheap or even for free.

The floppy may well work or be relatively easily fixed, same for the power supply. The Qbus modules themselves generally survive pretty well.


Shipping for this guy's gonna be about $120, so that's something I'll have to factor in. Still cheaper than driving all the way out to Kansas! What do you guys think this system would be worth? I'm so new to this, I don't really know the values of this stuff.
Being on eBay, this will probably go for somewhere between $100 and $150, maybe more. No idea what kind of reserve the guy has on it though - some people have a rather optimistic idea of what old computers are worth...


Just had another thought: Does this use the same Qbus interface and card form factor as a rack mount 11/23? If so, I should be able to find an RL02 interface for it eventually.
Yep, they both take the same modules.

Lou - N2MIY
August 14th, 2009, 03:07 PM
I agree with the $100-150 value of this machine. It is a very good starter machine because:

- It's small
- It's Q22 (will support 2MW of memory)
- It has CD interconnect on the top three slots (will support PMI memory if upgraded to 11/73 or 11/83 processor)
- The room and power for floppy and fixed disks is all in this same chassis and it includes RD/RX signal distribution (no M9058 needed)

RD51's don't seem to last too much longer anymore. I have one of the exact machine pictured, and the RD51 died about a year ago. The spindle bearings were shot. I suppose that could be rebuilt.

I also endorse switching to RQDX3 (M7555). While you're at it, upgrade to RX33 from the RX50 in there. An RX33 seems ENORMOUS compared to an RX50. Also, replace the RD51 with a pair of RD32s (ST-251 40MB) and you are cooking with gas. I can provide info on the BA23 button panel mod to permit two RD disks to work properly.

The cases of these machines clean up nicely. My micro 11/73 is in the same case pictured in the ebay listing. There was also a desktop case (my micro 11/23 is in it) that's the same case, but without the pedistal foot and has four rubber feet for horizontal orientation. They were painted plastic to begin with and can easily be repainted with light gray or almond paint and look really good.

Lastly, I did have an RLV12 in one a few years ago and it was fine.

Lou

leaknoil
August 14th, 2009, 06:12 PM
Why don't people even bother to take a damp rag to the things before they take a picture of them ? There is no reason that should look like that if you're trying to sell it. 10 seconds with a wash cloth and that would look 100 times better. Talk about lazy.



Here is a small PDP-11 on ebay. It lacks an RL01/02 controller (which I think you want) and I'm not sure if it has a console interface on the CPU-board? Perhaps someone could correct me on this.

Not so much memory either, but It's a complete system.

http://cgi.ebay.com/DEC-Micro-PDP11-System-in-Floor-Stand-Case_W0QQitemZ290339823799

One last caveat is that those hard drives have a reputation for being flaky.

Unknown_K
August 15th, 2009, 02:37 AM
Recyclers tend to not put any time into something unless they are sure it will make them MORE money then they expect.

Some people like the dirty and dusty hasn't been touched since it was yanked offline ages ago look anyway. Lets you know some collector hasn't got their hands on it and "fixed" it. I tend to strip units down to nuts and bolts anyway to see if there is anything wrong/odd with a machine when I get it so even a quick wipe will not have saved me any effort, and worst case somebody will have broken plastic bits trying to get it open to vacuum it.

pontus
August 15th, 2009, 04:49 AM
The same seller has this up now:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=290340098456

I'm curious what the emulex controller is.

leaknoil
August 15th, 2009, 08:10 AM
Just going by the detailed description and what's he's selling I don't think this guy is a recycler operation. He seems like he knows what he's talking about. I've not run into a recycler yet that knows about dec stuff other then its not a pc.

Personally I prefer a cleaned machine. Dirty beat up machines just say the machine lived a hard life either in operation or after. If there's that much dirt on the outside they'll be some inside as well.



Recyclers tend to not put any time into something unless they are sure it will make them MORE money then they expect.

Some people like the dirty and dusty hasn't been touched since it was yanked offline ages ago look anyway. Lets you know some collector hasn't got their hands on it and "fixed" it. I tend to strip units down to nuts and bolts anyway to see if there is anything wrong/odd with a machine when I get it so even a quick wipe will not have saved me any effort, and worst case somebody will have broken plastic bits trying to get it open to vacuum it.

rorypoole
March 8th, 2013, 04:21 AM
I live in the uk, and have been after PDP8 straight 8 for over 10 years and now have decided to build my self one, I recently payed for raw cores to build the core memory, I will be trading or selling cloned parts to get/buy the needed parts I cant build, would any one have a 4k set of core memory planes and cards, in any condition for me to clone. the minicomputer will have 32k of core ram and run a cnc router.