PDA

View Full Version : Trivector minicomputer / Megatronics disc drives



Roland Huisman
March 20th, 2017, 02:01 PM
Hello everyone,

Wednesday I'm going to pickup this mini computer. I've been told that it is a Trivector computer.
The drives are Megatronics disk pack drives. One internal and one swappable disk.

3715037151

Are there any safety precautions before you can put the machine into the car?
I'm somewhat worried about the internal disk. Do they lock automatic at turn off?

And by the way, does anyone recognize this machine or know anything about it?

Regards, Roland

commodorejohn
March 20th, 2017, 02:16 PM
Google turns up some mentions of a "Trivector Triton 4A" minicomputer, but unfortunately the only page that purports to have any details has vanished down the Total Site Redesign And Possibly Re-Adding The Content At Some Distant Future Date hole.

roberttx
March 20th, 2017, 02:39 PM
I've got nothing. Turns out I used to live near Trivector, but never met them.

Seems that the most pressing question is about locking the heads. Is there any way that you can ask the folks you're getting them from to provide a couple of model numbers. Googling on what we have now throws up way too much chaff to find any wheat.

Chuck(G)
March 20th, 2017, 03:07 PM
The disk drive looks to be a rebadged DEC RL02 or something very similar.

Trivector seems to have been in the bioscience area, offering its Trilab product which used the Triton micro (I suspect that if you open that thing, you'll find a commodity microprocessor at its heart).

commodorejohn
March 20th, 2017, 03:35 PM
The disk drive looks to be a rebadged DEC RL02 or something very similar.
That's what I thought as well. Reminds me of the rebadged PDP-11/73 mass-spectrometer control system I salvaged a bunch of goodies from a few years back - I wonder if this isn't a similar arrangement.

Roland Huisman
March 21st, 2017, 01:35 AM
This Trivector computer was used at a dentist for administration.
The owner told me he paid 100.000 guilders for it (about 50.000 dollar)

Somehow I expect to find a somewhat standard machine or clone in it too...
As soon as I have the machine I will show some pics and more information.

But can I transport the machine like this or do I have to lock the drives somehow?

Regards, Roland

Chuck(G)
March 21st, 2017, 07:42 AM
At a minimum, remove the drive pack. You should be okay if you avoid severe shocks during transport.

Al Kossow
March 21st, 2017, 07:53 AM
The drives are Megatronics disk pack drives.

which appears to be a Diablo Series 40

Chuck(G)
March 21st, 2017, 08:26 AM
There's a service manual for the Model 40 on Bitsavers (http://bitsavers.informatik.uni-stuttgart.de/pdf/diablo/81603_Diablo4xMaint_Apr75.pdf). Under "Unpacking instructions", there is a mention of a "shipping clamp" to prevent the head carriage from bouncing around during shipment. If you're really concerned and are secure in your ability to work on this beast off-site, you might be able to secure the carriage with a cable zip tie. Otherwise, I wouldn't worry about it if you're doing the driving.

Al Kossow
March 21st, 2017, 08:33 AM
There's a service manual for the Model 40 on Bitsavers (http://bitsavers.informatik.uni-stuttgart.de/pdf/diablo/81603_Diablo4xMaint_Apr75.pdf). Under "Unpacking instructions", there is a mention of a "shipping clamp" to prevent the head carriage from bouncing around during shipment. If you're really concerned and are secure in your ability to work on this beast off-site, you might be able to secure the carriage with a cable zip tie. Otherwise, I wouldn't worry about it if you're doing the driving.

I just checked the manual, and the Series 40 also uses a head load solenoid, so even if the carriage moves it won't smash into the disk. It does have a fixed platter though, so you should be careful moving it.

Roland Huisman
March 21st, 2017, 12:05 PM
Thanks for the info! It looks like that Diablo indeed!

I was thinking to put the whole machine on it's back (if that fit's into the car that way)
In this way the carriage could not come out. This to protect the fixed disk...
But I also read in the Diablo manual that you must not turn the unit upside down.

Maybe I can open it up somehow and lock it with a cable zip tie as Chuck mentioned.

The man told me he bought the whole system in 1981. I've got the feeling that it was
a bit outdated at that time... I really wonder what date codes I will find...

Regards, Roland

Roland Huisman
March 22nd, 2017, 11:51 PM
So the Trivector Triton 3 machine turns out to be a Z80 machine. There are two Z80 CPUs on the motherboard.
Three serial cards for two terminals and one for a printer. 64k of non paged ram. Seems to be with parity? (18 ram chips for each ram board)
Besides some leaking capacitors the computer seems to be in an good shape. The harddisk unit needs a fair bit amount of TLC...
The foam disintegrated. So this drive needs to be cleaned and needs new foam before it can run...

372253722637227

3723537234372333723237236

37228372293723037231

The computer and the drive are made in the UK. The drive is a DRI 4000b branded but seems identical to the early mentioned Diablo series 40.
The machine was used to store medical information from an eye specialist.

Chuck(G)
March 23rd, 2017, 09:04 AM
What a strange footprint for those CPU boards. One wonders how the manufacturer arrived at it.

Roland Huisman
March 24th, 2017, 06:23 AM
What a strange footprint for those CPU boards. One wonders how the manufacturer arrived at it.

Yes quite strange. The cards are not locked in the system either.
The system unit itself doesn't have a top and bottom plate. Also strange in my opinion.
But it has a bus system and it is an expandable computer. But if you want to call this
system a mini computer, than you could call a S100 system a mini also...

Chuck(G)
March 24th, 2017, 08:29 AM
I see that one of the cards is labeled "Teletype". Is there any indication that the system was ever used with one?

Roland Huisman
March 24th, 2017, 09:41 AM
I see that one of the cards is labeled "Teletype". Is there any indication that the system was ever used with one?

There has never been a teletype on this particular machine.
There were:
- two Beehive DM5A terminals
- a Qume daisy wheel printer
- a Thally matrix printer

I've got the whole setup complete from the previous owner.
Here are the pictures from 1981 when the machine was new:
37275 37274 37276 37277 37278

It seems that one printer was attached to one terminal.
The other printer was connected directly to the computer.

The hard disk is a DRI model 4000.
http://www.computinghistory.org.uk/det/15517/Series-4000-Exchangeable-Disc-Drive/

The drive looks like the Diablo 44B. http://74s181.blogspot.nl/2011/03/diablo-44-disk-drive.html
But inside there are a lot differences. For example, the Diablo has an external power supply and this
DRI an internal power supply. I wonder, did DRI just use some Diablo parts? The DRI is made in the U.K.
The Trivector computer itself also has many parts made in the U.K.

Edit:

Found it. The power PCB is original Diablo...
37279

Regards, Roland

Roland Huisman
April 4th, 2017, 11:06 AM
So there might be something special about the Trivector machine...
There are three sets of reset switches on the front panel which I
didn't understood right away... Left, Right and Master...

37574

But when all cards are removed you can see three CPU blocks in the system.
The 40 pin chips are Z80 CPUs. The left and the middle of these circuits
are built with components. The right part is left empty.

The components are numbered L... M... and R... Hey resets Left Master and Right?

There are three sets of 8 bus slots. The right two sets are connected to each other by
a wire bridge between slot 16 and 17 (or between slot 15 and 16 if you count from zero)

The left 8 bus slots are not connected to the other 16 slots. There could be a wire bridge
placed between these bus slots as well... It seems the Left Z80 is for the left 8 slots
and the Master Z80 is used for the right 16 slots.

All the cards from the machine were placed in the right 16 slots. None of them in the 8 on the left.

37573

It seems the Trivector had the possibility to have 3 Z80 CPUs. I really wonder if there was
any interaction between these CPUs... This because one is called Master...

And also the left CPU has no cards in it's bus... If there is no interaction between the Z80 CPU's
the left one would be completely useless in the system. So I really wonder.. What is the purpose
of two Z80 CPU's in this machine...

Regards, Roland

Chuck(G)
April 4th, 2017, 11:13 AM
Reminds me a bit of the Molecular Z80 systems--a Z80 card for each user, with one Master handling the I/O tasks.

As I mentioned, the Trivector Titan system was offered as part of a laboratory (TriLab) system. I could certainly see an extra CPU or two for the purposes of real-time data acquisition.

It is a curious system!

PG31
May 3rd, 2017, 09:41 AM
I used to fix the 4A's over twenty years ago. They looked nothing like that system but board layout was quite similar and also using Z80. They had external 8" floppy, tape and 8" hard drives. If I remember correctly they ran BOS. The machines where replaced by DEC PDP-11/73's also running BOS

BOS https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_Operating_System_(software)

Roland Huisman
May 25th, 2017, 12:59 AM
Interesting! Did you save some documentation of these machines?
Any pictures maybe?