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Gary C

Into Alpha land

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Paul (PG31) gifted me three Alpha machines (what a star) and I have been investigating them.

First up is a DS10 AlphaServer 600MHz but it won't start. PSU would not fire up and without a drawing trying to find out what it failed has proved fruitless (so far). I happened to have a ATX PSU that was only an amp out on the +5 and +3.3 lines so that has been spliced in and it now powers up.
However, still no joy. I am not getting any activity on any bus (except the independent monitoring chip) so I am suspecting the CPU isn't running. More board out investigation required.

Next is an AlphaStation 255. Bought and installed an appropriate SCSI disk and it all seems to work nicely except the CD drawer wouldn't open. Stripping it down I have found that one of the gears has cracked and jumped off its spindle. Bit of glue as a temporary repair and the drawer now opens but a bit noisily, just know it will fail again and will be on the look out for an appropriate bit (the DS10 uses IDE so not an easy option)

But what OS to install. The DS10 came with a copy of TRU64 in it. Installed it works fine. Even found a list of hobbyist PAK's so I can authorise all sorts of software. I just can't find any though, no languages, no productivity type software. Never really had anything to do with Unix so I don't know what portability software has, something to look into. I also installed VMS just for fun.

I also have a copy of Windows NT for alpha but it didn't work. Never knew an Alpha needs to switch between BIOS's to run the different OS's but found an upgrade and swapped in AlphaBios instead of SRM and I am now installing Windows 2000.

Disk space is a problem and the bigger 50 pin SCSI drives are quite expensive but it came with a ultra2 SCSI controller with the 68 pin connector which apparently means I can use the 80 pin drives with an adapter and they are nice and cheap. 165GB for 20 (if it works) and 7 for the adapter. Hope it works.


The third machine awaits investigation.

In other news, my Microvax 3300 machine number 2 is up and running but machine 1 fails during the startup diagnostics. Looking like a RAM failure on the CPU board.

Its starting to get cold around here and my collection is in the garage. I have sealed the door to prevent drafts but I am a bit concerned about the dewpoint. Plan is to get a dehumidifier in the garage to protect the old car so that will help.

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Updated November 25th, 2020 at 06:25 AM by Gary C

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