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View Full Version : 1988 IBM AS/400 B30 Build Project, Technical help required please :o)



RetroGamerVX
August 3rd, 2012, 09:40 AM
Hi all,

As you can probably tell from the title of this post, I have recently started a project to build a 1988 IBM AS/400 B30 spec mini mainframe. As a novice with this, I am asking for your technical help.

First of all, if your interested, here is the video of the bits I've aquired so far (Please excuse the extra bits and initial messing around, but people have sent me parcels and asked me to talk about other things :o) : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qnyt5n229qk

As you can see in the video, I have so far aquired the case, a power distribution board and I have an IBM 9332 400mb hard drive (was not bought as part of this project, but hope to include it in it).

Obviously, this system is going to be a stand alone system, so as far as components are concerned, I am needing a cpu and tape drive (I have a vt220 serial terminal on it's way to talk to the cpu), and the largest problem of all, the OS.

Ok, here are the questions :

1) Lets start with the cpu, although I've looked at IBM's system builders manual, they use their own codes in their so I cannot find the part numbers for either the cpu or tape drive. If anybody can help me with model numbers that would be suitable for this project, that would be useful :o)

2) With the tape drive, I've also been informed that you can use generic tape drives of the era to talk to this kind of set up and don't specifically need an IBM system, can you advise me on this as I am a complete novice.

3) With the hard drive, I believe I need about 1.2gb of storage. Can I use 9332's in this set up (I've been told they may be troublesome), or do I need another kind of storage solution (please advise).

4) And now for the largest problem.....the OS. I know that I will need os/400 for this, but is there a way to get a copy without sourcing from ibm (not a rich guy so no way I can afford it from them). I've also been told that I would need a copy specific to my hardware configuration. Is this true, and is there any way around this?

5) Ok, the other thing is, does anybody know of anywhere I can get the hardware for this without paying premium prices? If anybody knows, it would be a LOT of help :o)

I'm sorry if any of these questions look stupid but I'm a complete beginner here so this is a steep learning curve :o)

I hope you've enjoyed my video and any help you can give me with any of the points above, or any other thing you can think of will be very much appreciated :o)

Steve

P.S, I've set this one to email me when I get a response so you guys don't go unanswered this time :o)

RetroGamerVX
August 4th, 2012, 11:51 PM
P.S. I've found a 9402 200 motherboard, is it possible to install one of these into a 9309 (2) rack ?

eeguru
August 5th, 2012, 08:20 AM
Nice system. It's almost identical to one our company bought new around 1989 except we had 4 additional cabinets with drives. Few notes: It is absolutely not a 'mainframe'. It was IBM's new 'mid-range' system replacement for the System 3x line. Also you mentioned a vt220. System 3x and AS/400's of that era typically used 5250's with up to 6 daisy chained through a twin-axe cable or baluns that brought the RF down to twisted pair compatible levels. IBM did sell a protocol converter that would take one twin-axe port and bring it down to 6 ASCII RS-232 ports - one per port address. But the 5250 keyboards had lots of function keys and depending on the use by applications, it was sometimes difficult to manage key maps in a usable way. I think you will have issues connecting an ASCII async terminal like a VT220 to it. Does a VT220 even support EBCDIC?


Those communication cards you have look like duel synchronous serial ports with V.35 equivalent D subs. Typically you would run SDLC over them to some other system for cross communication. I worked on the UNIX side using a sea of 3B2's. We needed to move a ton of data back and forth and originally used bonded serial links. However at 56 Kbps each it was still to slow. We eventually switched to a clever scheme where 3 386 PCs were sitting between them downloading/uploading records to the AS/400 side using a 5250 emulator card and IBM PC Support then FTP'ing to the 3B2 side using PC/TCP under DOS.

Thanks for bringing back some fond memories.

RetroGamerVX
August 5th, 2012, 10:05 AM
Hi eeguru :o)

Thanks, yes, it's a project that is very different and probably slightly insane, they said it could not be done (the same as my serial terminal restoration) so I decided to do it ;o) I'm new to this area of computing and as far as I'm aware and have been told, this is mainframe arcitecture, if it is not, how does mainframe differ from this?.

Yes, with the terminal, we have people looking for a twinax for it, but with the vt220, reading the IBM Redbooks, it seems that there is an Ascii converter card available that would allow it to work (I do now understand that vt220s are charcter based whereas this system is screen based (had to have that explained to me))

Other than that, I'm not up on the technology of the terminals as the way I've decided to do it is to work from the processor outwards and that should hopefully keep things simpler so that I have to learn each new technology as it comes along (if you know what I mean)

I do have 2 questions you might be able to answer: I now have a 9402/200 motherboard for this, but am now unsure as to wether to can be put in the system, in other words, can you interface with it from the control panel? Also, with that, obviously, the motherboard has to go into a cage, what would you call that when searching for one?

The other main question is regards the os. I have discovered that os/400 is processor specific. Does this mean that in the unlikely event I can find one for this system, is it that the copy has to be configured for the processor then can be configured to the rest of the hardware later, or is every copy pre-configured to an entire set up? (If you understand what I'm saying) :o)

SteveH
August 5th, 2012, 01:07 PM
You may find the AS/400 CISC System Builder (http://www.redbooks.ibm.com/abstracts/redp0042.html?Open) helpful. It covers the model the B and the series 200. I've never used an ascii converter with an AS400 but have used twinax 5250 terminals or 5250 emulation cards in a PC Obviously, if you can get this up and running and networked, you could use emulation software such as IBM's PC Suport or Client Access. As eeguru mentioned, terminals on the 400 are usually daisy changed - you can actually have 7 on a twinax port, the first being device id 0. In fact the console would be device 0 plugged into port 0. And you'd need the console up and running in order to be able to IPL into service tools and/or perform a scratch install of the OS.

I think the area you will stuggle with is the OS. A lot of the older models used something called a MULIC (Model-Unique Licensed Internal Code) tape that IBM supplied specifically for the box. There was also a FULIC (Feature-Unique Licensed Internal Code) tape, but I never found out what the difference between the two was. Both the B and 200 are CISC boxes so should support OS/400 up to v3r2 (although I've never seen a model B, or C for that matter, with anything greater than v2r2).

eeguru
August 5th, 2012, 01:52 PM
Yeah I didn't think an async terminal as the console was going to be possible. I can't imagine 5250's being that rare. IBM made a ton of them then. Unfortunately I wasn't an IBM'er back then, so I'm unfamiliar with the internals of the box.

Mid-range (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midrange_computer) systems from IBM of that era were the AS/400 and System 38 which it replaced. Main-frames of the era were S/360 descendants like the S/370 & 4300 series.

RetroGamerVX
August 8th, 2012, 04:13 PM
You may find the AS/400 CISC System Builder (http://www.redbooks.ibm.com/abstracts/redp0042.html?Open) helpful. It covers the model the B and the series 200. I've never used an ascii converter with an AS400 but have used twinax 5250 terminals or 5250 emulation cards in a PC Obviously, if you can get this up and running and networked, you could use emulation software such as IBM's PC Suport or Client Access. As eeguru mentioned, terminals on the 400 are usually daisy changed - you can actually have 7 on a twinax port, the first being device id 0. In fact the console would be device 0 plugged into port 0. And you'd need the console up and running in order to be able to IPL into service tools and/or perform a scratch install of the OS.

I think the area you will stuggle with is the OS. A lot of the older models used something called a MULIC (Model-Unique Licensed Internal Code) tape that IBM supplied specifically for the box. There was also a FULIC (Feature-Unique Licensed Internal Code) tape, but I never found out what the difference between the two was. Both the B and 200 are CISC boxes so should support OS/400 up to v3r2 (although I've never seen a model B, or C for that matter, with anything greater than v2r2).

Thanks Steve,

This system is going to be a stand alone, with just the one terminal attached. I want to get the ibm terminal eventually, but a museum is very kindly donating a vt220, for which I can get an ascii converter so that will do the job :o)

I believe that FULIC was a tape cut by ibm with all the applications that the owner of the system was licensed to use on it.

Yes, I have yet to get the motherboard for it so, depending on what I finally manage to track down will depend on what version of the os I start to try and get :o)

Thanks again,

Steve

RetroGamerVX
August 8th, 2012, 04:14 PM
So what is the difference in arcitecture between a mini and a mainframe. It's said that mainframes have redundancy, but so do these, I don't understand? :o(

mbbrutman
August 8th, 2012, 05:10 PM
So what is the difference in arcitecture between a mini and a mainframe. It's said that mainframes have redundancy, but so do these, I don't understand? :o(

Don't get too hung up on the definitions - there is a lot of overlap.

In ye olden days you had the big iron (mainframes) at the top of the hierarchy and then mini-computers. At the lowest end of the hierarchy were personal computers.

A mainframe was generally something managed by a centralized IT group. That group did the day to day tasks of running the machine, planned for maintenance and upgrades, and tried to balance the needs of the different groups of users and developers. Expected uptime was very high, and the price tag matched.

A mini-computer was something more likely to be purchased and managed within a single department or group of people. That group would not have to answer to any central authority and could use the machine as they saw fit, within a few guidelines. But the machine was much smaller in size and function, and generally was not considered important enough where centralized control was needed.

There are some iSeries machines out there that would rival a zSeries machine (the current incarnation of "mainframe").