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Thread: headless microVAX?

  1. #1
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    Default headless microVAX?

    hello all!

    i just received my first DEC machine, a microVAX 3100/40, and i'm finding that i'm a little unsure what i need to start working with it. i purchased a DEC LK201 keyboard only to find that my chassis is lacking the keyboard connector that i saw in the documentation, leaving me with only MMJ connectors to work with. i've been having trouble finding any sort of adapter and realized i might be attacking this from the wrong angle, so i thought i'd ask for help. i'd like to avoid purchasing a terminal if possible, since i was under the impression that i'd be able to get the machine up and running with a serial connection and netboot and i do sort of lack space at the moment.

    any help is greatly appreciated!

  2. #2

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    What do you have or don’t have? If you have an MMJ cable you could butcher it to connect one end to a serial DSUB connector to something like a PC serial port or USB-serial adapter to run a terminal emulator. If you don’t have an MMJ cable you should be able to cut the locating tang off a phone plug and use that. Yes you can NetBoot over Ethernet (you’ll need an Ethernet adaptor for the 3100) from (say) SimH running on a PC.

  3. #3
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    sorry, i think i may have been a little unclear! i have the components for ethernet and serial either sitting and waiting or in the mail right now, my main issue right now is getting a keyboard hooked up- i have a DEC LK201 but it won't connect to the MMJ ports on the back of the chassis, and i haven't been able to find any clear answers about adapting either something more modern (PS/2, USB) or the 4P4C(?) connector this keyboard has to MMJ.

  4. #4

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    The keyboard won't do you any good on a MicroVAX - only the VAXStation variants support standalone workstation operation. What you'll want to do is use the serial connection to boot it and get an OS installed, then configure Telnet/SSH access.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by commodorejohn View Post
    The keyboard won't do you any good on a MicroVAX - only the VAXStation variants support standalone workstation operation. What you'll want to do is use the serial connection to boot it and get an OS installed, then configure Telnet/SSH access.
    aha, so THAT'S where my confusion comes from- thank you for clearing that up for me! i should be good from here out, thanks again everyone

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by hiimfoster View Post
    hello all!

    i just received my first DEC machine, a microVAX 3100/40, and i'm finding that i'm a little unsure what i need to start working with it. i purchased a DEC LK201 keyboard only to find that my chassis is lacking the keyboard connector that i saw in the documentation, leaving me with only MMJ connectors to work with. i've been having trouble finding any sort of adapter and realized i might be attacking this from the wrong angle, so i thought i'd ask for help. i'd like to avoid purchasing a terminal if possible, since i was under the impression that i'd be able to get the machine up and running with a serial connection and netboot and i do sort of lack space at the moment.

    any help is greatly appreciated!
    I wonder if you mixed up MicroVax and VaxStation many web sites seem to make the same mistake. So there are both Microvax 3100's and Vaxstation 3100s and I think for the 3100 they are different. For the MicroVax 3100 you need a terminal to boot the thing. I think to help more info would be usefull.

    ******* If it has VMS and licences its very important not to wipe them as HP no longer issue hobbyist licences. DO NOT TRY AND INSTALL ANYTHING ******

    Ok so you need a terminal, any thing will do, PC with serial port is best. Once you have a terminal connected it should run the self tests, which usually fail, because there is no ethernet (this is a fail) and the battery is flat and the default boot device is the network. You need I think "SHOW ALL" or "SHOW SCSI" then try and boot from a SCSI device. I think these are usually DKA0: or perhaps DKA100.

    There are some manuals here:-

    http://bitsavers.trailing-edge.com/pdf/dec/vax/3100/

    but note I think the VAXStation one is in the wrong place.
    Dave
    G4UGM

    Looking for Analog Computers, Drum Plotters, and Graphics Terminals

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by g4ugm View Post
    I wonder if you mixed up MicroVax and VaxStation many web sites seem to make the same mistake. So there are both Microvax 3100's and Vaxstation 3100s and I think for the 3100 they are different. For the MicroVax 3100 you need a terminal to boot the thing. I think to help more info would be usefull.

    ******* If it has VMS and licences its very important not to wipe them as HP no longer issue hobbyist licences. DO NOT TRY AND INSTALL ANYTHING ******

    Ok so you need a terminal, any thing will do, PC with serial port is best. Once you have a terminal connected it should run the self tests, which usually fail, because there is no ethernet (this is a fail) and the battery is flat and the default boot device is the network. You need I think "SHOW ALL" or "SHOW SCSI" then try and boot from a SCSI device. I think these are usually DKA0: or perhaps DKA100.

    There are some manuals here:-

    http://bitsavers.trailing-edge.com/pdf/dec/vax/3100/

    but note I think the VAXStation one is in the wrong place.
    you're spot on- i think i was unconsciously mixing and matching some documentation from the VAXstation 3100 and the microVAX 3100, and ended up with a gap or two along the way. nothing too major, though, and i'm on the right track now! i'll keep the note about VMS in mind though, since i'm planning to run netBSD on it personally.

  8. #8
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    If you add your location to your profile you may find a number of VAX/DEC experts in your area who may be able to help out.

    Dave

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by hiimfoster View Post
    aha, so THAT'S where my confusion comes from- thank you for clearing that up for me! i should be good from here out, thanks again everyone
    That's what "headless" means. I assumed you understood that since you had it in the topic. Headless -> no monitor and keyboard. Instead you have serial port.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by bqt View Post
    That's what "headless" means. I assumed you understood that since you had it in the topic. Headless -> no monitor and keyboard. Instead you have serial port.
    yeah, i had initially acquired the keyboard thinking that i could use it (documentation mismatch) and then just got a little confused when it arrived, haha

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