OK I got this here VAXen thingie.... what is it?

Johnny Billquist bqt at Update.UU.SE
Wed Jan 6 12:54:31 AEST 1999

On Tue, 5 Jan 1999, User Rdkeys Robert D. Keys wrote:

> I am beginning to think my eleven buckeroos de realme were well spent!

I'd say so.

> What different SDI(?) drives will fit and work in the VAXstation, for our
> play purposes.  Someone mentioned a 1 gig and a 2 gig size that I might
> want to use instead of the RA70, although beggars like me can't be too
> choosy.  A pair of RA70's would make a fair minimal box.  A pair of
> 2 gig drives would make a very comfy box to use as the main home server.

Fit as in physically fit. The RA7x series will fit. However, only the RA70
as far as I know have a switch pack for setting unit numbers. Any other
type of drive will default to unit zero unless you have a proper front

All RA-drives will work however. Me I have one RA72 in the box, two RA90
and one RA92 lying on the floor. :-)

Also remember that VAX binaries are *smaller* than what you might be used
to see. This is a CISC.

> OK.  What should cover the blank space in the rack, or just leave it open?

If you have blank covers, put them there. It improves the air flow in the
box. But you should be able to run it as is.

> Any funky jumpers to set like on Sun VME backplanes?

Nope. Just keep al the cards next to each other.

> > > How should one fire it up the first time, without blowing it up?
> > 
> > Turn on the power.
> I was thinking about boot sequences for roms or whatever, or anything
> strange in the callup from a dumb terminal.  Someone mentioned setting
> a break switch and a baud rate dial on the CPU?

To boot the machine, try "B <device>", where disks are DUAx, tape is MUA0
and ethernet XNA0 (I think...)

If you open up the front you'll notice that the CPU fron panel cover has,
in addition to the connector for the console, a small display, a three
position dial switch and a two-position switch. If you look at the back of
the panel, you have thumbweel.
The thumbweel sets the baudrate for the console. There should be a sticker
beside it with the key.
The three-position switch selects power-up action. Language menu, boot or
eternal selftest. The two-position switch selects whether booting to
console prompt, or booting all the way with OS.

There are a number of commands you can give at the ">>>" prompt. Useful
is (among others) "SHOW ETHERNET" which tells your ethernet address.

> I did get a box from the previous owner a few minutes ago, and there
> were a dozen or so TK50 tapes that I need to sort out what is on them.

Try booting them.

> He though they were Ultrix and VMS tapes.  If they turn out to be
> unknowns, I can probably use them to get someone to write a good
> boot tape for a BSD flavor, perhaps.  If they are, indeed Ultrix,
> would that be better or worse than a 4.3BSD or NetBSD or such?

Ultrix is definitely not something you want to run. It's okay to have
around, but it's not that much fun. It's more or less a mix between 4.2
and 4.3.

> I have never run Ultrix, but I am comfy with 4.3BSD or NetBSD kinds
> of things, as long as they don't get too strange.  I don't think I
> would like a VMS.

VMS is nice. :-)

> > Plain terminal will do. In fact, it *expexts* to get a plain terminal.
> > The MMJ is a DEC thingie. The electrical levels are compatible with
> > RS-232. You can get a cable from DEC, or perhaps some other place. I also
> > know that the pinouts have been published on the net from tim to time.
> Also, the guy gave me a cable with a DEC female DB25 adapter, a MMJ end,
> an RJ11 end, and a plain RS232 DB25 male adapter.  Would that be usable
> for a console or is that some kind of printer cable?  He thought it was
> plain serial, but was not sure.

The cable should be usable. If you have a VT220 or newer, the cable can be
used without any adapter at all.

> > > What kinds of printer can be hooked up to it, via what protocols?
> > 
> > Protocols? That's software!
> > As for electrically connecting it, that depends on what card you put in
> > the machine! Paralell or serial, you choose!
> Well, I prefer serial, no-handshake printer lines on my old junkque.

Ah. Intelligent opinion. Since the CXY08 is a serial interface, that's
your answer. (If the CXY08 has a driver for the OS of your choise.)

> That is a carryover from my early CP/M days where one never knew 
> which RS232 cable to use, and I got quickly in the habit of 3-wiring
> everything, instead.  Software or non-shake protocol always worked,
> if 4/5, 4/8/20 were jumpered on each end.  One of my friends said that
> DEC did some strange protocols on serial lines, and I was just checking
> for sure.

DEC has very seldom done strange things. It's rather the other way

Most likely your friend might have heard of DECs refusal to use modem
signals for handshake, since neither a computer, nor a printer is a modem.
(And by the book they are right, it's just that most other people like to
violate this fact. :-)
DEC always uses XON/XOFF.

> > > What is the best way to network it into my local home ethernet coax?
> > 
> > I assume you have 10Base2, so get an AUI-cable to extend the connection
> > from the DELQA to outside the box, get a 10Base2-transciever, and you're
> > set. For other types of carriers, get the proper transciever! :-)
> I must rub the right rabbit's food today.  Another friend gave me a DEC dongle
> box and cable that is an AUI to BNC transceiver (DECSTA?).  That is a good
> find, or the right find, perhaps?

Probably. I don't know offhand what the DEC transciever is called, but I
doubt there are any others with the right kind of looking connectors.

> > > Any suggestions are appreciated.
> > 
> > Yes. Boot NetBSD on it. Get 1.3.2, which works pretty fine on the machine.
> > You can netboot it to get started.
> My problem is getting it up to a network.  My home net is mostly down
> or only running between whichever two boxes I can get up at the same time.
> Most are AIX/4.3BSD IBM RT-PC boxes or FreeBSD/AIX x86 boxes.  Proper
> netbooting on them is a bit wierd.

Well, it isn't *them* you are about to netboot, but the VAX. :-)

> I might could drag it into the office and netboot off the archives somewhere.
> That may be the easiest thing to do, practically.


> Most of the boxes I prefer to load via tape, if possible for a lowest common
> denominator boot when all else may fail.  That way, everything is covered.

Well, if you have VMS or Ultrix, you can write out tapes...

> What needs to be cleaned out around the cabinetry or power supplies or
> backplane?  I don't want to get dustbunny fireballs rolling out of it,
> if possible.  Is there anything I should look out for in preflighting
> the beast, over the usual blow it out with a vacuum cleaner or air hose?

Getting the dust out is always a Good Thing (tm).

If you are a hardware junkie, you'll start by disassembling the power
supply into small bits and check it out througly before reassembling it
and allowing it to feed the system. Me, I'd just power the thing on. :-)

> Anyway, toy VAXuser getting there little by little.....(:+}}....
> Maybe I will get the itch to fire it up tonight.  Now to feed the
> Reddy Kilowatt meter man.  I hear these VAXen things make him very
> happy.

Nah. A 3500 is a small thing. Try an 8650 instead. :-)


Johnny Billquist                  || "I'm on a bus
                                  ||  on a psychedelic trip
email: bqt at update.uu.se           ||  Reading murder books
pdp is alive!                     ||  tryin' to stay hip" - B. Idol

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