[rescue] VAXstation questions

Dave McGuire mcguire at neurotica.com
Tue May 13 11:38:04 CDT 2003

On Tuesday, May 13, 2003, at 10:58 AM, Curtis H. Wilbar Jr. wrote:
> I'm venturing into "new" territory....
> I've just aquired a VAXstation 2000, model VS410-AA.

   Hoo boy, a lunchbox VAX!  Those are fun machines...until you have to 
open the chassis.  They're a pain to get open.

> Does this thing support SCSI ?  There is a 50 pin connector on the
> mainboard (which I have removed).  There is also a 60 pin and 20 pin
> connector close by the 50 pin....  none of them labelled of course.

   That 50-pin connector is SCSI, NCR 5380 based.  However, it was 
intended only for use as a tape interface, and the boot ROMs can't boot 
from it.  Someone has hacked up new boot ROMs which you can find images 
of online somewhere...these will allow you to boot from a disk on that 
interface.  Otherwise, it'll be an MFM drive:

DEC designation		Drive			Capacity
RD50				Seagate ST-506	5MB
RD51				Seagate ST-412	10MB
RD52				Quantum Q540	35MB
RD53				Micropolis 1325	67MB
RD54				Maxtor XT-2190	159MB
RD31				Seagate ST225	20MB
RD32				Seagate ST251	40MB

   The MicroVAX-2000/VAXstation-2000 have formatting utilities built 
into the boot ROMs.

> There is what appears to be a load board at the bottom of the drive
> bay area with two drive connectors plugged into it... I assume it is
> a load board.  I also assume that when installing drives, you unplug
> the load board... however since it has two connectors, if only 
> installing
> one drive, do you leave one on the load board  (I wouldn't think that
> would be necessary).

   That's a load board.  Some early switching power supplies don't 
regulate properly without enough load.  Remove it when you install a 
drive...one drive is enough of a load.

> If this thing supports internal SCSI, would a VAXstation 2000 support
> a SCSI CDROM drive ?  If so, would I need to find a classic DEC
> unit RRD40, RRD42 (model #s from memory, I could be wrong here) ?

   You won't be able to boot from those...But depending on what OS you 
run, you may be able to use them after booting.  For booting from 
removable media with unmodified boot ROMs, you'll need the SCSI version 
of a TK50 tape drive.  Remember, this machine is *old*...things were 
done a bit differently then.

   If you want to install NetBSD/vax (which will run nicely on that 
machine) you can netboot it via MOP (Maintenance Operations Protocol) 
and install over the network.

> Will this support the latest OpenVMS ?

   If memory serves, yes.  It's based on the 78032 processor, which is 
the same as was used in the MicroVAX-II.

> There seems to be room for an expansion card on the motherboard in the
> area above the drive bays... looks like it would take a decent size
> board.... any idea what this expansion slot is ????

   That'll either be a memory board or a frame buffer.

> What are the memory options in these critters ?

   Hoo boy, it's been too long.  This part I'm not sure I'm remembering 
correctly  I believe there's 4MB on the board and you can go up to 12MB 
with an 8MB DEC-built expansion board, but someone else (Clearpoint?) 
made a 12MB board for a max of 16MB.

   You mentioned this is new territory for you...don't be dismayed at 
those 12MB/16MB figures...that's actually a good bit of memory in a 
VAX.  VAX processors are VERY memory efficient.  16MB on a VAX is about 
as useful as 32MB-48MB on a SPARC, for example.


Dave McGuire                "Why would a brothel need
St. Petersburg, FL            a streaming media server?"      -Kevin

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