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Thread: VAX Haul...

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    UK - Worcester
    Posts
    4,109

    Default VAX Haul...

    Ok,

    So I have shamed myself into booking a half day holiday and 'smoke testing' some of the equipment I hauled back...

    2 * VT525 base units. Both power up OK on 240 V and display a picture on a connected VGA monitor. Both report the message "Keyboard error" which is good, because I didn't connect a keyboard to them! One of the units has a faulty ON/OFF switch (the plastic connector between the on/off switch rod plunger and the switch itself is completely missing).

    1 * TLZ06-DA DAT tape drive. Powers up OK on 240 V. Light on the drive. The cooling fan is a little noisy and dirty. I may take this apart and give it a good clean at some point in the future.

    1 * DECserver 700. Powers up OK on 240 V. Lots of blinking and flashing lights . I think the 7-segment display settled on '3' which (reading from the manual I have just downloaded) means that it is trying to download the software from a remote host (that doesn't currently exist).

    1 * Modem. Powers up OK on 240 V. The "9600" and "RDY" LEDs light.

    1 * VAX station 4000 / 96. Powers up OK on 240 V. Fan OK. I seem to get diagnostic LEDs flashing in sequence as the firmware performs its tests. This seems to indicate that the CPU is at least OK. I suspect (from noting down some of the LED status lights that appear to persist and then checking in the manual when I got home) that this indicated that the RAM may be faulty.

    This machine didn't have any disks in it when I first inspected it. I have a 19" colour monitor for it - but no cable to link the VAX station to the monitor.

    I have just picked up a PS/2 keyboard from home and will attempt to get one of the VT525 units operational with the keyboard and will hook it up to the VAX station as the alternate console to see what is going on.

    I do suspect (from the state of some of the machines when I inspected them) that some of the systems may have been "interfered with" shall we say...

    Dave
    Last edited by daver2; October 2nd, 2020 at 10:57 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2020
    Location
    Millmeece Near Stafford UK
    Posts
    14

    Default

    Do you want to borrow a VT220 and cable to check these out?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    UK - Worcester
    Posts
    4,109

    Default

    A bit further tonight.

    I connected an old PS/2 keyboard up to one of the VT525 boxes and it works like a charm. This is the one with the 'broken' ON/OFF switch.

    Someone appears to have broken off the little plastic locating pin of a PS/2 keyboard plug in the PS/2 keyboard socket of the other VT525. Nasty person... I will have to do a bit of remedial work on that one to get it working.

    Ok, got one VT525 running at any rate. Set up a nice green on black colour screen with a DEC 423 serial connection.

    I also noticed the start-up text on the VT525 configuration from when the equipment was in service. I now know exactly what the system was when it was in service...

    Set the VAX station 4000 / 96 to the alternative console and hooked up the VT525...

    Hooray, we get a power up test sequence !

    Most of the box looks OK. I do, however, appear to get the odd diagnostics error:

    ?? 001 2 LCSPX 0512 (this was on the SHOW CONFIG)

    These are on the SHOW ERROR command I think:

    Code:
     ? 001 1 NVR   0025
    ?? 001 2 LCSPX 0200
    The NVR is obviously the Non-Volatile RAM and the LCSPX is the standard graphics card.

    Anyone any idea what exactly the error codes mean?

    There are no SCSI disks fitted to this unit.

    Tomorrow's task is to fit some SCSI disks then...

    Dave
    Last edited by daver2; October 2nd, 2020 at 12:59 PM.

  4. #4

    Default

    Sounds like you'll need a lot more vacations days to get all that sorted!

    Did you pick all that up in your Vauxhall? (Sorry, couldn't resist)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    UK - Worcester
    Posts
    4,109

    Default

    He he...

    Dave

  6. #6

    Default

    LCSPX is the frame buffer, might have a bad graphics controller!
    Collector of all things Digital, but mostly VAXes and corporate knick-knacks (books, mugs, etc).
    VAXes: VAX 4000-100A, VAXstation 3100-30, VAXserver 3100, VAXstation 4000 VLC
    Randoms: DECpc LPv+, Rainbow 100B, DECbridge 90, DECserver 300

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    UK - Worcester
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    Default

    I have a spare 4000 / 96 for use as a donor...

    Someone damaged the internal SCSI cable and removed the RAM modules from this unit.

    It is also possible that the graphics card is not sitting properly within the machine. I may remove it and reinstall it tomorrow.

    Does anyone know if the monitor cables are still available for this beast? I am finding what appears to be the part "BC29H-2E".

    Dave
    Last edited by daver2; October 2nd, 2020 at 01:08 PM.

  8. #8

    Default

    I don’t know the NVR error code specifically but I’d expect the 4000/96 to use the ubiquitous Dallas DS1287A RTC/NVR module (encapsulated chip + battery) like the rest of the clan and the battery will be defunct so it’s likely upset about the clock though the NVR bit should still be working (?) and it shouldn’t be fatal to booting (my microvaxes boot ok like that). Plenty on the www about bodging a repair or attempting replacement. I’ve not bothered.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Leicester, UK
    Posts
    225

    Default

    Hi Dave,

    I've been looking into making a video cable for mine as I haven't found a good source to buy one from. The connectors (3W3) are available from RS for about 14. It seems easy if your target monitor has sync-on-green. It's a bit more involved if not but still possible.


    Cheers,

    Andy.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    UK - Worcester
    Posts
    4,109

    Default

    Cheers Andy - good spot.

    I am hoping the monitor I have is still working. Haven't got that far yet... More "smoke testing" in the future I fear!

    Dave

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