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jgavila
August 23rd, 2015, 09:02 AM
Hi all,

I got an HP Apollo 735 some years ago as it was about to being tossed in the trash at my former workplace :shocked:. BTW, when I got it, I had no idea of what it was except it was an HP and looked like a nice unit ;)

Well, one good thing is that I managed to get at same time several items which, later, I found that were part of the system: a couple HIL keyboards (one Spanish, one Englsh), a HIL mouse, some HIL cables and such. I din't get a monitor, though.

Yesterday I decided it was the day to get back to life the HP Apollo 735. So I took it from storage. I had it for about 4 or 5 years, but it had been on storage previously an unknown time. I guess it was unused for at least about 15 years.

So I took the cover off and then the inner metal cover, to find very dirty internals. And I mean very. Well, armed with a vacuum cleaner, some small and medium sized brushes, and lots of patience, I began getting all that crud out and dismantling the unit completely. It is interesting how well made are these units and how easy they are to disassemble. Great job, HP!

It was too late so, after reassembling it, I left for today the first power-ON test... I had set up a GBS-8200 V4 board to try to convert the video to a VGA monitor (my 735 has a GRX graphic card) and had also located a HIL keyboard and mouse (which were also got for free same time than the Apollo :p ). But I was missing a HIL cable, as it had been used on my HP-9000. I thought I had another one on my storage area, so I went for it. I left the unit powered OFF, but with the power cable already connected.

In about 5 minutes, I was back to my main home building, and I noticed a burnt smell even from the lower floor :shocked: (my lab is on the upper floor). Rushing to it, I expected to find my lab on flames!. But, not, the protection system had triggered in, but the power supply on the 735 had thrown some brown stuff from the rear of the unit, to all the surrounding objects . And the smell was... terrible.

I know this kind of fault, as it has happened before twice, once on an HP item (an external HPIB HD/FDD combo) and once on a Philips counter. The culprit was a SCHAFFNER power line filter. It shorts inside and burns / boils until the power line protection triggers. I wonder if this is a common thing to happen and perhaps next time I will directly replace it, as it is a 4 EUR item which causes a big work, due to the messy substance spillage.

I had a similar unit, bought as spare for another project, so replacing it was just a matter of minutes (after an hour of cleaning!). Then I have powered the unit... and the power LED has flickered some times... and yet more fumes have erupted from inside the 735!. It seemed to me that they came from the PS assembly again, so I have opened it. But nothing seemed suspicious nor damaged on it.

Well, time to think... I have removed the hard disk tray to access the power switch and have carefully cleaned it with DeOxit, just in case there was a contact problem. Then I have tried again. But the power LED dimmly lighted for an split second on each power ON attempt. So something was preventing the PS to start. A shorted capacitor perhaps? :confused:

So I have removed the VIDEO board. All was OK. Then the I/O board over it... and there it was!. An SMD electrolytic had exploded!. It was a 33uF/16V unit, which I have replaced with a 33uF/35V/105C standard cap. Once I have put the assembly back, the unit has finally powered ON, done some things (according to the changing status LEDs), and end with an error, due to not finding a booting unit (the hard disk was still removed). Great!!! :D

I have not been able to get the video displayed on the VGA monitor. I get something, but sync is not working. On the HP-9000, I don't need to add any external device to sepparate SYNC and it works fine. It seems the video generated by the Apollo is different. Any hint regarding this?. Perhaps the cheap GBS-8200 is not the solution in this case.

I plan to add a page on my WEB (http://jvgavila.com) depicting all this procedure and the future work on the Apollo, as I always took plenty of pictures of the works I do.

Best regards,

JOSE

PS: the lab still smells... funny ;)

paul
August 23rd, 2015, 12:28 PM
I have a 735. The only PS problem I've had is that the 5V smoothing caps needed replacement.

Video has not been an issue for me - all LCD monitors I have on hand can accept the SOG 1280x1024 output.

jgavila
August 23rd, 2015, 02:47 PM
I have a 735. The only PS problem I've had is that the 5V smoothing caps needed replacement.

Video has not been an issue for me - all LCD monitors I have on hand can accept the SOG 1280x1024 output.

Please, could you elaborate a bit more the last point?. Which graphic card your 735 has?. How do you connect it to the monitors, using the standard VGA input?. What about the sync signals?

Regards,

JOSE

paul
August 23rd, 2015, 06:59 PM
My graphics card is the A1659 (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:HP-HP9000-HP735-HighRes-Color-Graphics-1280x1024x8Bit-A1659-66001_01.jpg) with 3 x BNC outputting RGB with sync-on-green. I fabricated an adapter with 3 x BNC to HD15 f/m, for the RGB signal pins and shield only.

Two of my LCDs that work are Philips 17" and 19" but I would expect many if not most with native 1280x1024 screen to accept a SOG signal, as well as composite and separate sync. I can also drive my Silicon Graphics 19" colour CRT monitor, since early-mid '90s SGI are also SOG.

This is an awesome machine to have in your collection and was a high-end desktop offering for HP at the time. I would recommend NextStep 3.3 (risc) as an OS since it's more interesting than HPUX 10.20.

http://www.vintage-computer.com/vcforum/attachment.php?attachmentid=26048&stc=1 http://www.vintage-computer.com/vcforum/attachment.php?attachmentid=26049&stc=1

paul
August 23rd, 2015, 07:28 PM
...On the HP-9000, I don't need to add any external device to sepparate SYNC and it works fine. It seems the video generated by the Apollo is different. Any hint regarding this?. Perhaps the cheap GBS-8200 is not the solution in this case.

"HP-9000" refers to a large range of HP machines, including the 735.
The specs for the GBS-8200 do not seem suitable for the 735 application.

jgavila
August 23rd, 2015, 11:25 PM
"HP-9000" refers to a large range of HP machines, including the 735.
The specs for the GBS-8200 do not seem suitable for the 735 application.

Yes, sorry, I should say an HP-9000/310

Regards,

JOSE

jgavila
August 23rd, 2015, 11:49 PM
Yes!!!

Your comment about using a conventional PC monitor triggered a search on my cable stock... and I located an HP VGA to 3 x BNC one!. Perhaps it was also from the Apollo!

So I have connected a 1280x1024 PC monitor to the GREEN cable (as my Apollo 735 has a GRX video card) and it works!. I have so far arrived only to the first text display, as the hard disk is not connected yet. But it works :D !

More to come!

JOSE

jgavila
August 24th, 2015, 12:12 AM
OK, so I have connected the hard disk (what I had done was to remove the SCSI bridge on the rear of the unit, until I could see what happened on a monitor). So the system has tried to boot... but ends with a No boot device found error.

It shows the hard disk as:

Device selection: P0
Device Path: scsi.6.0
Device Type: HP C2235

So it is a 422MB hard disk, but it seems has no OS on it. Well, it is possible that someone wiped out the disk before storing the unit, as it comes from a R&D department.

Now the big question... How could I install NextStep 3.3 (risc) on this unit?. I guess I would need an external SCSI CD-ROM (should have one...) and then, what else?

Is there a WEB depicting the procedure?. I am pretty new to these HP systems (not to computers; I began with a Commodore VIC-20 on 1982 and have been working with computers since then)

Thanks and best regards,

JOSE

paul
August 24th, 2015, 01:29 AM
The internal hard disk is correct on ID=6 but you might want to find a 1 or 2 GB one. I doubt that one has sufficient capacity. I'm assuming you have a narrow (meaning 8-bit) SCSI-2 disk tray with the short SCSI-2 cable leading to the I/O board? Some units came with wide SCSI disks which is also available on that board using a longer cable but I think that type is not suitable for NextStep.

To install any OS connect a SCSI CD-ROM and make it ID=2. Be sure you have the termination set correctly.
When you list boot devices (as you have above) the CD will show up and you simply select that item to boot, assuming you have inserted a bootable CD.
The image you want is NextSTEP 3.3 RISC (Sun SPARC+HP PARISC).iso which you would download to your PC and burn a CD. Google is your friend regarding that.

jgavila
August 24th, 2015, 08:10 AM
OK, thanks!

I have done some more advances... First, I have located on my storage area (how I am now enjoying years of saving things :D ) a SUN 411 external SCSI box, which had installed on it a CD-ROM (I got it along a SUN workstation, but this is another history) and also an HP SCSI-II cable (which I got on a local flea-market lots of time ago)

I have carefully cleaned it (it was as I got it, really dirty inside) and have found the NextStep 3.3 RISC ISO image on the Vestusware repository. I have burned a CD-ROM with it and have tried to boot from it.

The system recognizes the CD-ROM as P1, scsi.2.0, SONY CD-ROM CDU-8012, but it generates an error when trying to boot from it. It says:

Failed to initialize scsi.2.0
ENTRY_INIT status = -4

And then it dumps some hex group of 8 digits.

Any hint regarding this?

Thanks and best regards,

JOSE

paul
August 24th, 2015, 01:17 PM
Yes, it's simple. The old SUN CD-ROM units have a relatively-rare 512 byte block size while most other SCSI CD-ROMs have a 2048 byte block size.

I see it's the older type with the removable caddy. I'm unsure if it can be changed - look for a "block size" jumper on the back of the drive unit.

Otherwise you will have to find another CD-ROM that is newer. Most have jumpers.

I was going to mention this before but wanted to keep it simple and I thought "what are the chances he'll use a SUN CD-ROM unit?"

Also, further research tells me you should be able to fit your NextStep install on the hard disk you have on hand. So, once you have the CD-ROM sorted you should be good to go. It may take a few attempts - my install was getting stuck part way through but worked the third or fourth try.

jgavila
August 24th, 2015, 01:57 PM
Incredible :( !!!

Thanks for the hint. I would have been scratching my head for days!

Well, I will take a look to the Sony CD-ROM. And I think I have another SCSI unit somewhere...

Regards,

JOSE

jgavila
August 25th, 2015, 03:06 AM
Done :D !

I have finally taken an Apple CD 600i SCSI CD-ROM ('95 vintage, a 4x unit) from a parts-unit PowerPC 8500 to replace the SONY unit on the SUN external SCSI box, and it works!!!

The installation has needed some cycling to get it done properly. And I found that, if you don't activate the verbose option (-v), the system seems to be frozen at some point but it is waiting for some network thing which, pressing CONTROL-C, can be cancelled.

All in all, it has been an interesting experience!

Regards,

JOSE

paul
August 25th, 2015, 12:42 PM
Yes, that sounds right. It was years ago I did that install and forgot the details. Did you set the display settings to colour? Post a pic if you can.

Juror22
August 25th, 2015, 09:50 PM
Good call on using the Apple CD for the HP - I have been using these for several years now, they are still fairly plentiful. (Apple seems to have stuck them in about every performa/quadra/centris/PowerPC) I have an external 600e and a stack of 600i's to replace the internals with and as you found, they work great with the old HP workstations. Best of luck installing Nexstep - I might try that on some newer B series PA-RISC workstations that I have.

jgavila
August 26th, 2015, 12:54 AM
Yes, that sounds right. It was years ago I did that install and forgot the details. Did you set the display settings to colour? Post a pic if you can.

Well, my system has the monochrome display card (GRX, HP A19024-66001), so in order to use it with the VGA monitor, the fastest way was to connect just the GREEN BNC on the VGA-3xBNC cable to the BNC on the video card. That generates an all-green display, which is useable for text but awful in graphics mode. There is a way to get a proper display, multiplexing the signal using a video amplifier and applying it to the three channels (RGB). I will try that as soon as I have some time. But the best option is to get a proper video card (CRX, HP A1659-66001), which is what I have done (I found one at eBay and bought it :D )

BTW, there is a problem with the cursor, as when you move it, it generates a trace of black rectangles. This is probably due to a wrong driver which expects a RGB video card, I think.

Anyway, I have taken some pictures... look by yourself how pretty it is ;)

On another topic regarding this workstation, I found among my stock of parts, a full 735/99 CPU BOARD which had SIX 16MB memory modules on it (my 735 had just TWO 16MB modules installed). I guess that CPU CARD was discarded when another unit was upgraded / repaired. Anyway, adding all the modules together, my unit now sports 144MB RAM, which is lots better than the 48MB it had originally :p

Regards,

JOSE

2607926080260812608226083

paul
August 26th, 2015, 02:08 PM
Yes, the colour card is an essential upgrade, good decision to buy one! The NextStep install defaults to 256 shades of greyscale even with a colour card, but you can change it. I'm unsure of exactly how many colours the A1659 displays, but even dithered it's still more attractive than monochrome.

Good find with the RAM too, having only 32MB would have been painful. That hard disk looks original; all my HP disks were very noisy. Perhaps you can find a quieter Micropolis or Quantum in your stash to keep as a spare? I have HPUX on other disks but frankly it's a boring OS, IMO.

Thx for the pics, nice to see another in the wild.

Oh, I was going to ask - what would have been the use of this computer originally? I know these are fairly common in Germany for example, certainly not in New Zealand but mine came from the US where it was used for scientific R&D. I think it was removed from use only a couple of years after being purchased, possibly due to poor in-house support from the PC/Netware-oriented IT department.

jgavila
August 26th, 2015, 03:04 PM
Yes, the colour card is an essential upgrade, good decision to buy one! The NextStep install defaults to 256 shades of greyscale even with a colour card, but you can change it. I'm unsure of exactly how many colours the A1659 displays, but even dithered it's still more attractive than monochrome.

Good find with the RAM too, having only 32MB would have been painful. That hard disk looks original; all my HP disks were very noisy. Perhaps you can find a quieter Micropolis or Quantum in your stash to keep as a spare? I have HPUX on other disks but frankly it's a boring OS, IMO.

Thx for the pics, nice to see another in the wild.

Oh, I was going to ask - what would have been the use of this computer originally? I know these are fairly common in Germany for example, certainly not in New Zealand but mine came from the US where it was used for scientific R&D. I think it was removed from use only a couple of years after being purchased, possibly due to poor in-house support from the PC/Netware-oriented IT department.

Yes, the video card was a real find. It was only US$9.99 (nobody else placed a bid!)... but the shipping to Spain... well, I knew in advance, but anyway it is not nice to pay lots more that the item price!!!

The hard disk is an HP original. It is a bit noisy, but not the worst I have. The ones I use on the 9000/310 (one on a 9153B and another one on a 9133), those are really noisy (and just 20MB and 14.5MB each). They seemed like going to fail, but I guess that noise is not unusual, as they keep working without any error.

I have also located a couple 2GB units on eBay, but both are HP. Perhaps it was not a wise decission to buy them, according to your comments. I have also found a 2GB Apple (made by Seagate) on my parts-unit PowerPC 8500. I guess that should also work, right?

This unit was used at an R&D department on the local technical University, where I worked for almost 7 years (2006-2012). I am sure it worked 24/7 for several years, as they used to run long simulations on every machine they had around :shock: . Now it will have a gold retirement :D !

Best regards and thanks for your help.

JOSE

paul
August 26th, 2015, 05:38 PM
... They seemed like going to fail, but I guess that noise is not unusual, as they keep working without any error.
...
I have also found a 2GB Apple (made by Seagate) on my parts-unit PowerPC 8500. I guess that should also work, right?

Yes, the HP disks seem to run for years despite making all that racket. But the original owner of mine told me it "ate hard disks" and I think that might be due to the less-effective cooling in the front-most drive bay. I have a Micropolis 2 GB (1/2-height format, NextStep, rear bay) and a Seagate 4 GB (1"-high format, HPUX 10.20, front bay) on the tray, both are quiet. The Seagate is from an Apple also but any SCSI-2 or -3 disk with the same 50-pin IDC connector should work. An external terminator is a good addition too, if you don't already have one, to make it easier to add an external peripheral without changing the on-board terminating jumper on the hard disk.

Awesome job on this, by the way! There is an episode of Computer Chronicles (see YouTube) where the development of a business software application is demonstrated on NextStep in timed competition with SunOS.