[rescue] Rescue of a life-time.. or the year at the very least.

Patrick Finnegan pat at computer-refuge.org
Fri Sep 17 01:21:14 CDT 2004

So, after forgetting to bid on the 11/780 that was on eBay, ending on 
Sunday (I slept in 15 minutes too late), I decided to drop the guy a 
message and see if he had another 11/780.

Much to my amazement he did, and when I asked if he had any other DEC 
equipment, he replied that he had an 11/750 (which it turned out he had 
two, but I only took one of), and that I should "bring the largest truck 
I could find, and he'd get me loaded up.

So, I spent Sunday night looking at options for rental or borrowed 
trucks, and times, and decided that it was cheap enough to get a 15' 
Budget Truck (which was a lot cheaper than what Penske or UHaul wanted 
for a similar size), and after finding out he'd be leaving Friday for a 
month, I decided I needed to go get the stuff now.  So, I reserved the 
truck for Tuesday.

Having done this "move computer that weighs a lot" thing a few times 
before, I put together some tools Monday night, 10 or 12 ratchet straps, 
hard packing foam to keep stuff from scratching too badly, tape for 
marking things, along with some cardboard boxes, ziploc bags, masking 
tape and a sharpie and 2 friends (well one was my roommate).

We left here at 8am on Tuesday morning, picked up the Truck in Waukesa, 
WI, around 12:15, and got to the place before 12:30, avoiding too much 
bad traffic driving through Chicago a bit after morning rush hour.

The building the machines have been stored in for the last decade (or 
more) is an old limestone building in downtown Waukesa, which according 
to the guy who was trying to clear out the stuff used to be a brewery - 
fitting for an old building near Milwaukee. : )  Anyhow, the guy is a 
landlord, and some company was using the building as storage.  He said 
that there used to be a lot more machines there before - some had been 
scrapped, and he had been able to sell some things using eBay.

So, after getting there we loaded up the 11/750, and UNIBUS expansion 
rack that appeared to go with it, and headed to the "large pile" to look 
through more things.  In that pile were the two 11/780s, another 11/750, 
a Systems Industries disk rack with some sort of controller, which I'm 
guessing goes with the VAXen, a 5ft DEC rack with a Cipher tape drive in 
the top and a UNIBUS box at the bottom.

Aparently, attached to all the VAX hardware was some Intergraph and 
Synercom CAD "workstations", which consisted of an approx. 4x2x3ft 
(WxDxH) box that contained the "main electronics" with a 4x2 ft 
digitizing tablet, and two monitors which were 20-24"  on top of the 
main 4x2x3ft box.  The Intergraph ones were somewhat plain, with the two 
monitors in one enclosure, but the Synercom ones had a very "Bat-Cave" 
feel to them, and were separate monitors on swivel posts.  If I had room 
for one, I would have grabbed one of them.  I didn't get a chance to 
look too closely, or take a picture either, which I do somewhat regret.

In the back corner behind that stuff was a CDC 14" disc cartridge drive 
of some sort (which was rated 1phase, 208VAC.. I didn't have room for 
it, or disk carts), a Sun 3/180 with a pair of 800MB-ish Fujitsu SMD 
drives and a Sun-branded 9-track tape drive.

The final item I found there was a Data General Eclips MV/4000.  It had 
two 19" rack mount disk drives, which appeared to possibly be SCSI (?), 
a 9-track drive, and the CPU.

So, I managed to bring home one of the 11/750s, its expansion cabinet, 
one 11/780, the Systems Industries disk rack, the DEC rack with the 
Cipher drive and UNIBUS box, the Sun 3/180 rack, and the DG Eclipse.

All in all, I'd say I made out fairly well.  The truck was probably a bit 
overloaded (I'm certain we had more than 3500lbs of stuff in the truck, 
which what it's "suggested capacity" was, as the leaf springs on the 
back tires were arcing upwards slightly, instead of downwards... I'm 
glad it's a rental. : )  The ride home brought us right through 
rush-hour traffic on Chicago's loop (I-90/94), and we got back here 
around 10pm; we left for home around 5pm after some lunch.

I spent the next day (Wednesday) working all day, and then came home and 
unloaded the truck with some help from friends.   We removed as much 
weight as we could from the racks before taking them down the ramp, 
which was actually wide enough to be of some help, and was strong enough 
to hold up to the mostly-intact 11/780.

I've got a picture of the 11/780 up, with the front doors removed:
I don't yet have pictures of anything else, nor do I have most of it 
reassembled yet.  I spent this afternoon testing the 11/780's power 
supplies with a dummy load - they all appear to work - and then running 
a 30A 220V line from where there used to be an electric range in this 
house to the garage so I can try to power it up.

I noticed when I was working on the VAX (I had to look at what cards are 
in it!)  that it has a full complement of 32MB of ram (8 x 4MB boards), 
made by EMC Corp, along with a memory backplane power supply by EMC and 
a battery-backup power supply box for the memory, which was the same as 
what the 11/750 used for its memory backup (the 11/750 I got also had a 
memory backup battery power supply).  I took the batteries out of those, 
along with the TODC power supply, as I'm quite certain that they need to 
be replaced.  If I can remember, tomorrow I'll be fetching a new battery 
for the TODC power supply in the 11/780 and fitting that.

Tomorrow I'll be finishing that up, wiring up an adaptor so I can plug in 
the 11/780's PDU (I "fixed" it a bit - moved plugs around - so I can use 
it with 1-phase 220 instead of 3-phase 208), and potentially re-racking 
some of the rest of what I have.  I hope to have the 11/780 cleaned up 
and ready to try powering up before the end of the weekend.  After that 
will be the Eclipse, the 11/750, and the Sun 3/180 (in no particular 
order).  As I set up my 11/780, I'm gonna try to put together a page on 
it like the 11/750 page I have on my site right now, I'll probably do 
something similar for the Eclipse too once I get that far.

One thing I noticed after getting home is that I should have engaged the 
shipping locks on the disk drives... so I don't know how well they 
faired, but that'll be something I can worry about later, as it's too 
late to do anything about it now.  In one of the UNIBUS boxes 
(presumably for the 11/780) I got, there was a Emulex UC18 UNIBUS SCSI 
card, so if all else fails, I should be able to put some low-power disk 
drives (even FH 5.25" drives are low power for it! :) on that thing, and 
I *think* (but am not yet sure because I haven't checked it out) that 
the Eclipse also uses SCSI disks.  I realize how much the UC18 is 
probably worth, and would consider selling it if I had another form of 
mass-storage for the 11/780, but I'm not sure I do.... that's something 
I still have to look into.

Since the stuff I got is now blocking my roommate from parking in the 
garage, I'm gonna have to start purging some of the smaller / less 
interesting things I've got laying around here, so look out for postings 
of stuff available from me soon.  As well, if you're interested in the 
Intergraph or Synercom stuff, or those disk drives (sorry I didn't look 
closely enough for a part #), you might want to look the guy up via the 
11/780 auction and send the guy a message.  Just remember that someone  
already has the other 11/780 and 11/750 going to him. :)

Purdue University ITAP/RCS        --- http://www.itap.purdue.edu/rcs/
The Computer Refuge               --- http://computer-refuge.org

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