VT103 (was Re: Reviving DEC RX01 power supply)

Ethan Dicks ethan.dicks at gmail.com
Fri Sep 7 14:20:34 CDT 2007

On 9/7/07, Jerome H. Fine <jhfinedp3k at compsys.to> wrote:
>  >Ethan Dicks wrote:
> >My first -11 hard drive controller was an RLV11 that ran me about
> >$100.  I dropped into a BA-11N w/KDF11, DLV11J, MSV11-mumble (M8044),
> >and LPV11 that all ran me $300 in 1986...
> >
> Jerome Fine replies:
> I seem to remember that my first... was
> a VT103 with a PDP-11/23 inside and a DSD 880/8 floppy / hard drive combo.
> The latter was an 8 MB RL01 emulation combined with RX02 (actually RX03
> although DEC never released their version) 1/2 MB SSDD 8" floppy emulation.

Nice rig.

> At one even shorter period of time, the VT103 backplane had a
> PDP-11/73 quad CPU, 4 MB of memory, DHV11 and a Sigma RQD11-EC
> controller that supported FOUR * 600 MB ESDI Hitachi hard drives
> although it was essential that all of the hard drives were placed
> OUTSIDE the VT103 since each required its own fan and all of the
> hard drives and their fans also used a separate external power
> supply.

Wow... that's a lotta stuff for a VT103.

I have a VT103 up in the attic.  I _might_ be able to squeeze a VT100
case somewhere in my office... these days, though, I'd go with a 3.5"
SCSI drive and a Qbus SCSI controller.  The real question is, what to
choose for CPU and memory.  I could easily pull a KDF11B from the
shelf, add a meg or two on a quad-height board, and between those
three boards, have a running system.  What I think I'd prefer, though,
is something with a KDJ11.

So presuming one is starting from the assumption that you have a VT103
and a Qbus SCSI controller, what are good choices for the remainder of
the system?  One can assume that 1MB is minimum, but 4MB wouldn't be
unwarranted.  I kinda fell off the PDP-11 cart in the KDJ11 era, so
I'm not as conversant with what's out there, but ISTR that there's the
dual-height KDJ11A, and there must be a quad-height KDJ11 of some
flavor, with a variety of common accessories, but I couldn't quote
chapter and verse.

I have an 11/53-level KDJ11 board from a DEC comms controller, with
-11 ROMs installed, but it still has S-box handles, and only has,
IIRC, 1MB on it.  I'm thinking that any sort of 11/83 or 11/93 board
is probably going to be priced out of my range, but I'm willing to
entertain the idea.  I really don't _need_ the speed of an 11/83 or
11/93, but 4MB on board is attractive (if I've got my boards right).

Anyone else have any ideas on how to trick out a VT103?


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