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Thread: MicroVax II Boot Issue

  1. #1

    Question MicroVax II Boot Issue

    Hello,

    I recently bought a MicroVax II in a lot I picked up. I have been trying to get stuff off the console, which I have got working using my DecWriter II LA36 and a BCC08 cable. The only problem is that it does not boot, but instead comes up with an error.

    IMG_0198.jpg

    When I first turn it on, it spits out garbage for a few seconds before typing the "KA630-A Performing tests (etc)". After about 3-30 seconds of the system tests countdown, the countdown stops and I get the "?02 EXT HLT" error. Doing some online research, it looks like the error message means that "Break" was typed into the console. I have not pressed anything on the keyboard while the booting was happening. It then goes on to spit out more garbage onto the console, and sometimes it will randomly reset. Sometimes a ">>>" prompt will show up, while more garbage gets up on the screen.

    Anyone know what's happening?

    Thank You

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
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    Some of the output appears to be ansi printer or terminal control codes at first glance. Exit Printer Controller mode = ESC[4i where ESC is the value for Escape, not the letters. ESC would not print on the LA36. ESC[c is a request sent to (later) terminals to identify, but a standard LA36 without options would not respond to these. Does the LA36 have a third party board for graphics or other purposes?

    1) The ?15 error indicates console database corruption. The recovery from this is an internal reboot. Did you remove or replace the (old possibly leaking) battery? Otherwise the error may reoccur. Try the Power Up mode in the 1 (face) position.
    2) Try to disable any interference from a break, by placing the halt boot enable in the down position
    3) I don't see any "Normal Operation not Possible", so no self test errors as far as it got. At the >>> try some of the console commands like "show config"
    4) Noise from a badly grounded connection or faulty cable might generate what appears to similiar extraneous characters… Try to connect another terminal and/or cable if you can.

    Jerry

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by wa2flq View Post
    Some of the output appears to be ansi printer or terminal control codes at first glance. Exit Printer Controller mode = ESC[4i where ESC is the value for Escape, not the letters. ESC would not print on the LA36. ESC[c is a request sent to (later) terminals to identify, but a standard LA36 without options would not respond to these. Does the LA36 have a third party board for graphics or other purposes?

    1) The ?15 error indicates console database corruption. The recovery from this is an internal reboot. Did you remove or replace the (old possibly leaking) battery? Otherwise the error may reoccur. Try the Power Up mode in the 1 (face) position.
    2) Try to disable any interference from a break, by placing the halt boot enable in the down position
    3) I don't see any "Normal Operation not Possible", so no self test errors as far as it got. At the >>> try some of the console commands like "show config"
    4) Noise from a badly grounded connection or faulty cable might generate what appears to similiar extraneous characters… Try to connect another terminal and/or cable if you can.

    Jerry
    My LA36 does have 3rd party boards, but I have not taken the time to identify exactly which boards they are.

    As for the MicroVax, I let it try to boot a few times, and after the ?15 error, sometimes it will run all the system tests correctly and then hang on the ">>>" prompt. This leads me to think that the DecWriter II setup I have is not 100% with the VAX and the BCC08 cable I have hooked up to it. Before I used the DecWriter II I tried to build an adapter for my BCC08 to DDJ/DecConnect so I could use one of my VT320s, but only got garbage off the VT320.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
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    Chicagoland
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    154

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    Quote Originally Posted by ThisPostContainsComputers View Post
    My LA36 does have 3rd party boards, but I have not taken the time to identify exactly which boards they are.

    As for the MicroVax, I let it try to boot a few times, and after the ?15 error, sometimes it will run all the system tests correctly and then hang on the ">>>" prompt. This leads me to think that the DecWriter II setup I have is not 100% with the VAX and the BCC08 cable I have hooked up to it. Before I used the DecWriter II I tried to build an adapter for my BCC08 to DDJ/DecConnect so I could use one of my VT320s, but only got garbage off the VT320.
    The good news here is that you have several components here, almost working. However each may its own issues that has to be determined and resolved.

    1) The hang on the >>> prompt could be several things. Incorrect wiring or speed setting on the terminal transmit to the MVII side of things would be the first to check.

    2) The >>> prompt would be the normal action of the computer if the HALT switch is in the UP position (Console Mode). It can also be the action when the self test or bootstrap fails, but typically other error messages would accompany this.

    3) The ?15 indicates that the battery backed ram that remembers the console Language and bootstrap settings is corrupted. Its on the reverse side of the panel with the LED and switches. See page 27 in a copy of the AZ-GLBAA-MN MicroVAX II 630QB Technical Manual. Suggest you just disconnect battery and remove it for now.

    4) Getting a good connection from known good terminal (or emulator) would be my next suggestion.
    The modified LA36 seems to have some of its own issues, so I would put it aside for the moment.
    The 9Pin connector is not wired like those found on a IBM PC Compatibles (when they had them). Note: The USB to serial converters have their own driver details that fill multiple web sites.
    Check out http://www.mcmanis.com/chuck/computers/vaxen/panels.htm and https://vt100.net/dec/vt320/serial_connections for info on the MVII console serial port and <whatever> to MMJ to needed for the VT320 connections.
    Its common to get the receive and transmit connections reversed, especially when working through multiple adapters.
    Check for mismatched speed on connections, especially when seeing garbled messages.


    Good luck

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