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Thread: Sun Sparcstation 2 no display at boot

  1. #1

    Default Sun Sparcstation 2 no display at boot

    I have a couple of Sparcstation 2 machines that have been sitting in my "when I get around to it" pile and well...with current events, I am getting around to it.
    They both have all ram banks filled, and working sbus video cards (i tested these and the hard drives in another Sparcstation 5) but when I power them up, neither will show any display on a monitor that works fine with other Sparcstation 4 and 5's.
    If the NVRAM was dead, would that cause a 2 to fail to display at all?
    On a 4 or 5 it doesn't, but these are older machines.
    The harddrive seems to spin up, and no wierd noises, but I do not have a Type 4 keyboard so I cannot see the 4 led's that display the issues for these.

    Anyone have any ideas, I would welcome them.
    I do have an external CD-ROm and external hard drive which I will try next (when I find both the scsi cables, which are different, by the way) and see if I get any further.
    I also have a brother with a type 4 keyboard and so, when I can I will get that from him and see if I can go through the diagnostics.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Rhode Island


    If you don't plug in a keyboard the display defaults to the first serial port.
    Member of the Rhode Island Computer Museum

  3. #3


    NVRAM issues can cause this, yeah - as was already mentioned, check the serial port. If the thing is working at all, it'll tell you plenty about what's going on.
    Computers: Amiga 1200, DEC VAXStation 4000/60, DEC MicroPDP-11/73
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    "'Legacy code' often differs from its suggested alternative by actually working and scaling." - Bjarne Stroustrup

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Northfield, MN USA


    +1 on the fact that you need a keyboard for output to be sent to the display instead of serial.

    Secondly, even when everything "works", with a bad NVRAM is can take a few minutes before you get anything out of the machine.

    I just did NVRAM replacements on 2 SS2s - nice to know there are more out there

  5. #5


    Well, after much fiddling with terminal and null modem cables (thanks for the tips, guys!) I determined that indeed the NVRAM is dead (not a big surprise).
    I also found several ram issues...
    after making myself a custom ram removal tool RamTool_thumb.jpg from an old cheap pick tool with the end snipped off, I removed all the ram, cleaned the pins, cleaned the sockets, and re-installed it all and it was found properly.
    for anyone that runs into this, the openboot config lists the memory locations of the bad chips, but the mapping is not 'sequential', so you need to pay attention to the number, and make sure you are working with the proper chip.
    So, for anyone that needs to do this, I will attach the map of the ram banks on a '2' RamBanks_thumb.jpg.
    Now, I am off to see if I can find an NVRAM chip from a supplier that will work properly and not cost over $100.00 to obtain...I had success with the chips from Digikey on the Sparcstation 5's but I have seen people that have no success with those on the 1 and 2 models.

    To be continued...


  6. Default

    Are these TGX cards? If so you may need a newer version of the PROM to support them.


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