VSII/GPX joy (and minor annoyance)

Patrick Finnegan pat at computer-refuge.org
Sun Sep 30 12:35:55 CDT 2007

On Sunday 30 September 2007 06:03, Arno Kletzander wrote:
> (Hah...Just in time to join in when vax-ownership is asked!)
> Hello folks,
> my very first DEC computer has arrived - a VAXstation II/GPX in a
> BA123 enclosure from Jos Dreesen, which I just brought home from
> Switzerland last weekend with the help of my parents. Thanks again!


> As to mass storage, there is a RX33 floppy drive in the vertical bay
> and the system has one HDD frontpanel insert installed. It came with
> a dead (possibly revivable) RD53, but a fellow collector also gave me
> a supposedly functional one.

As others will tell you, dead RD53s are a common occurrence.

> I assume the backplane is the original 4x Q/CD, 8x Q/Q thing that
> belongs in a BA123 as indicated by the lettering in the cardcage. To
> my understanding, this means the grant chain was broken in slot 5
> (after the RQDX3) because there's no board in its CD half. I
> rearranged the cards so that the RQDX3 now resides in 4AB, the QDSS
> base board is in 5AD and the DELQA in 8CD (I hope I did get that
> serpentine configuration right).

I think this sounds correct.

> After correcting an issue with the cardcage fan (which turned out to
> be just the connector inside the fan tray plugged in backwards!), I
> hooked up a crufty old laptop as a terminal but didn't get any output
> as the selftest always got stuck at "A", which corresponds to a
> keyboard/pointing device problem. This is supposedly normal since I
> have the VCB02 video option installed but nothing plugged into it. (I
> have yet to get myself a DEC keyboard, mouse and the BC18Z splitter
> box cable; at the same time, I'll be looking for a TK drive with
> controller and any other stuff I can cram in there.)

You can always pull out the VCB cardset...

> I can get into console I/O mode (chevron prompt) by sending a Break
> from the terminal but it's a bit annoying that I don't get to see the
> CPU version banner and the test countdown that way. Shorting pins 8
> and 9 on the serial console connector didn't make any difference
> either (I have read it will cause some VAXstations to use that as
> console instead of the graphics display) - bit of a bummer
> considering that any humble SPARCstation who realizes they haven't
> got a keyboard attached will start using the serial console.

I think that you may need to pull the VCB to get it to use the serial 
port as the console.

> I have read the KA630 User's Guide, especially the meaning of the BBU
> RAM contents, and it doesn't look as if there is anything short of
> hacking the POST code and burning a new PROM that could be done about
> it, but if I have overlooked something, I'm all ears. Other than
> that, I'm off now looking for a MOP server and some netbootable OS
> image, perhaps NetBSD, for a start...

Purdue University ITAP/RCAC       --- http://www.rcac.purdue.edu/
The Computer Refuge               --- http://computer-refuge.org

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