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Thread: Fun project "LSIbox": front-end processor for PDP-11

  1. #1

    Default Fun project "LSIbox": front-end processor for PDP-11

    Guys,
    This is a typical "look what I did" posting:

    "LSIbox" is a micro-Linux system used as front-end processor for a QBUS PDP-11.
    Core is a BeagleBone with 4 UARTs and GPIOs, connected to H9270 backplane.

    You can remote control the front panel,
    download code and start it over ODT console,
    run terminal and PDP-11 emulations,
    operate the PDP-11 "driveless" with TU58 emulator or SCSI2ID,
    or use the box as a small Debian-PC.

    Everything is packed in a small DEC-style box, making a stylish outfit was most work.

    See retrocmp.com/projects/lsibox + sub pages

    Took half a year to complete, perhaps waste of time?

    best,
    Joerg

  2. #2

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    If you wrote a bootloader and an RK05 driver for RT11 you could use Serialdisk as an RK05 disk emulator on one of the serial ports.
    Member of the Rhode Island Computer Museum
    http://www.ricomputermuseum.org

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Ok, call me stupid and not trying to take away from all the work you did but what’s the difference from that and just running PDP-11GUI on a separate system to control the hardware? Wonder what the problems would be in building up an interface that allows you to have direct access to the data and address bus along with a bunch of switches to manually enter values? What you would have then is a Unibus style control panel on a Qbus system. I know that the 11/34 control panel has the KY11-LB card that allows you access to those functions and would wonder how difficult it would be to build up something like that? This way we would have a Unibus style control panel with switches and lights without the Unibus price.
    I have been wasting hundreds of hours in the last couple years doing work on Nova systems in machine language using direct toggle in entry and debugging in binary and have to say that if you’re doing simple stuff there is no substitute for direct entry.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Qbus View Post
    Ok, call me stupid and not trying to take away from all the work you did but whatís the difference from that and just running PDP-11GUI on a separate system to control the hardware?
    Hmm, forget to tell that this project was mainly about having a BA23-mini-case with the QBUS cards exposed on top.
    Surely no need to build it just to have a debugging environment ...

    Wonder what the problems would be in building up an interface that allows you to have direct access to the data and address bus along with a bunch of switches to manually enter values? What you would have then is a Unibus style control panel on a Qbus system.
    So the idea ist: use a BeagleBone or RPI and connect GPIOs to all QBUS pins, to have a direct bus access?
    Then construct a lamp&switch panel which is controlled by even more GPIOs?

    Joerg

  5. #5

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    Wow! The hardware looks really slick!


    Current systems: PDP11/23, ZX-spectrum, MEK-6802D5, Ampex 210 CRT terminal
    Current projects: Paper tape punch restoration, ECB-bus 8085 Altair 8800 compatible
    Retro instruments: TTI LA-4800 logic analyzer, DATA IO system IX PROM burner, '79 vintage logic probes

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Salisbury Maryland
    Posts
    690

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    Not that smart of a guy to do it myself but was thinking of something like a PLC that has lots of GPI/O available, would need about 24 GPI inputs with having 16 for address or data, another switch for selecting the switch bank for address mode and data mode, about the same number of lights for the data / address bus, run, power and fault. Would not be like a full blown Unibus system and more like what you get with a 11/05 where they share the same switches and display. The PLC can be set up to send the commands to the system via the CON port, the echo back from the CON would be used to drive the address/data display. Maybe have a GPI for “Boot” option also. The KY11-LB has a 8085 or something like that along with its octal keyboard and display and have thought of looking at the code for that but that’s like project 8,456 and I am still trying to get project 3 completed.
    Your case and fabrication work is all first rate and indeed a thing of beauty. Like the tower alongside for air circulation.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Kamloops, BC, Canada
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    Not really sure about that cooling solution....
    = Excellent space heater

  8. #8

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    The KY11-LB has a 8085 or something like that along with its octal keyboard and display and have thought of looking at the code for that
    Forget about the KY11-LB as example. The CPU is 8008, and the board is full of TTL chips, the 8008 is interfacing to these and not to the bus.
    See http://retrocmp.com/tools/pdp-1134-programmers-console for a picture.

    But wait: there are QBUS-UNIBUS converter cards (ABLE QNIVERTER), so that + KY11 = your QBUS console ?

    but thatís like project 8,456 and I am still trying to get project 3 completed.
    Same here!

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by NeXT View Post
    Not really sure about that cooling solution....
    Wasn't working first, until I used a 180m≥/h fan and integrated bundles of little blow pipes.
    Now airflow is very focused, can blow off a pocket lighter one foot away.
    Good cooling if pointed carefully to the card cage.

  10. #10

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    Computer art

    Looks like something I would do. A mix of old and new technologies.

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