[rescue] rescue projects VAX-4000/500, DEC PDP-8e, DEC PDP-11/44, etc...

Wai-Sun Chia waisun.chia at hp.com
Wed Sep 8 01:30:52 CDT 2004

Mark G. Thomas wrote:
> Hi,
> I've got a number of rescue projects that I'm having trouble determining 
> how to proceed with.  Maybe listmembers can give me some suggestions or
> ideas.  In some cases, I am looking for components, but maybe someone here
> has a lead on something that would help me.  I'm open to trades and small
> amounts of cash if it's something really useful.
> - Pair of Vax 4000-500 machines, plus loaded DSSI R400X storage box.
>        I have one KZQSA SCSI controller, so was able to get, boot, and 
>        install OpenVMS from a CDROM drive.  Now what?  I have a T-1, so
>        now I'm wondering if this might be useful for some sort of 
>        MUD project or some sort of nostalgic online thing.  I'm not sure
>        that multiple different users can log in though with the hobbyist
>        license.  Hmmm.  What to do with a Vax...  If I were to keep it online,
>        I'd want to find a controller capable of a SCSI hard drive, so I could
>        use one or two low-power SCSI hard drives instead of this huge thing of
>        DSSI drives.

This pair will make a wonderful DSSI-cluster. If you want to go the SCSI 
path, there is this DSSI-SCSI thingie which at the system/OS side will 
see as DSSI but at the disks end is SCSI. Google for "HSD05" and "HSD10"..

> - PDP 11/44.  It's got lots of async ports, but I don't know what I would
>        be able to find for cheap or free to attach as disk storage.  Might
>        be fun to bring up some OS on, if I can figure out how to attach 
>        a hard drive.  A better QBus SCSI controller might make life more
>        interesting for the 11/44 as well as the 4000-500.  Emulex makes 
>        some nice ones, but they still seem to be $500+ from dealers.  Maybe
>        another route would be some other kind of PDP11-friendly DEC disk, 
>        but it's got to be cheap or free.  There is probably some sort of
>        controller in it, but I haven't even inventoried the cards yet.

Nope. The 11/44 is a Unibus beastie, entire different animal from QBus. 
You'll need Unibus SCSI controllers and THOSE does not come cheap!
Disks of the era were of the RL, RM, RP families. Those are washing 
machine sized disks!

> - PDP 8/e.  It's got some minor-seeming logic problems, but is hard to work
>        with since I'm short on switch handles.  An extender board would sure
>        make problem diagnosis easier, assuming there is such a thing for 
>        these. I keep hoping a front panel *with* switches will turn up on 
>        ebay, or that I'll stumble on some other source.  Right now my main
>        frustration is the front panel switches.

8/e still is quite common enough, but prepared to pay $150-$250 for JUST 
the front panel with switches.

> - Alpha 3000-500S.  It seems to work, but having just forked out $35 or so
>        for OpenVMS VAX media, I'm not sure I want to do the same for the Alpha
>        media.  This might be more interesting if I could use the video/keyboard
>        console, and I even have a LK-whatever keyboard, but I'm lacking an
>        adapter cable and mouse.  I've got OSF media and keys -- version 3.0
>        or so, but it's not y2k happy.  It looks like this OS is now tru64,
>        but unlike with Suns and Solaris, it doesn't look like I can just go
>        and download current OS from a web site.  NetBSD might be the way to
>        go, but then again, I can run NetBSD on just about anything, so why 
>        this machine...

The 3000/500 is a Turbochannel machine whose I/O throughput surpass the 
later PCI-based ALphastations. These will make great web/network 
servers. Great on I/O but a bit plodding on the CPU side as these were 
the 1st. gen Alphas (at 150Mhz IIRC).

> Any comments or suggestions?
> Mark

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