[rescue] uVAX II funtimes

Jochen Kunz jkunz at unixag-kl.fh-kl.de
Wed Jul 29 11:37:39 CDT 2009

On Mon, 27 Jul 2009 11:01:03 -0700
Ian Finder <ian.finder at gmail.com> wrote:

> Neither he nor I haven tested it comprehensively yet (plan to make a
> serial cable today)
Note that the DE9 has a "non-standard" pinout. Ask google.

> The only qbus card other than the CPU is the DEQNA ethernet card,
> which, to my understanding, is the less preferable of the two cards
> commonly found in such a unit.
You will be much, much, much happier with a DELQA.

> Still, it's probably a very good thing I have it as there is no hard
> disk, the floppy drive was disconnected and is missing its cable, and
> the disk controller was given to me separate from the chassis and is
> in unknown condition. I should also make clear I don't have a hard
> drive, and I have no idea what sort of drive I'd even need, though I
> haven't researched the topic thoroughly.
Search for the Mxxxx marker on the card (usually on the handles) and
look it up in http://world.std.com/~mbg/pdp11-field-guide.txt

Most likely it will be some kind of RQDX. This is a MFM disk controller.
You can use only a few disk types with it. You need a distribution
panel to connect disks and a floppy to the RQDX also. The RQDX speaks
MSCP, the Mass Storage Controll Protocoll. There is a tape variant
TMSCP. (T)MSCP is a common denominator in the VAX world.

My recommendation: If you really want local disks and if you don't have
a working RQDX with disks, look for somthing else:
- SCSI adapters: Rare and expensive, but your best choice.
- ESDI contollers: This will give you the best bang for the $.
- KDA50: Needs special DEC proprietary SDI disks (RA8x are
  quite unreliable) and eats lots of power.
- KFQSA: Nice, but needs special DEC proprietary DSSI disks.
- SMD controllers: Cheap but SMD disks are not that common these days
and usually they are at least 8" or 9" in size at least. Though, a
Fujitsu Eagle on a MV II is a lot of fun. :-)
Anything that speaks (T)MSCP will work in your VAX.

> For now, instead of tackling a pile of 25 year old hard discs, I was
> thinking I could netboot the MicroVax and operate it completely
> diskless. I *believe* this is easy with NetBSD, but I really want to
> try VMS. Is this a retarded idea? Will it even work, and if it does
> will it totally sack my performance?
Netbooting NetBSD on a MV II should be OK, but ssslllooowww.
The DEQNA may be unsupported by NetBSD...

An other option is plain old 4.3BSD-Tahoe. This will give you a very
interresting mid 80'ies VAX BSD UNIX experience. You can find
4.3BSD-Tahoe in the TUHS archive.

What kind of enclosure do you have?
BA23: 3U 19" box, possibly with flor stand.
BA123: Big deskside box on casters.


Homepage: http://www.unixag-kl.fh-kl.de/~jkunz/

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