Dumping Images of my VAX-11/730's Drives?

Mark J. Blair nf6x at nf6x.net
Sun Mar 6 12:26:19 CST 2016

This thread is a parallel discussion to a VCF thread that I started last night:

With today being cold and rainy, it seems like a good excuse to turn on my VAX-11/730. I can boot either VMS 5.2 off the RL02 or OpenVMS 7.3 off the R80, if I recall the version numbers correctly. Several months have passed since the last time I worked on the machine. In my last session I began trying to bring up TCP/IP networking, without success.

I want to get raw images of the system's drives off the machine and onto my modern systems. I can think of several approaches, and still more approaches have already been suggested in that VCF thread. I have a number of questions, and I'm also keeping my eyes open for hardware that might help me out. I'm not presently talking to eBay, so that limits my options.

First of all, if I manage to get TCP/IP networking up and running today, is there some way under VMS for me to dump raw disk blocks over the network to one of my UNIX-like systems? Alternately, if I manage to cobble together a Linux box running an older DECNET-aware distribution and bring up DECNET on the VAX, would that give me a way to dump raw disk blocks to a file on it across the network? I'm still quite clumsy under VMS. One of these network-based approaches seem like the only options that I would have any chance of achieving today, assuming that the networking hardware on my 11/730 is even in working order.

I don't think I have the patience to dump an R80 drive across an async serial port, but if I did have the patience, is there some way to accomplish this under a stock VMS 5.2/7.3 installation? Ditto for the RL02 and 9-track tapes.

I have a couple of broken Kennedy 9610 9-track drives in my pile. One has a SCSI interface, so I might be able to interface it to one of my newer machines that have both SCSI and a way to talk to my modern machines, such as my Sun Ultra 60 or my Amiga 3000. Both drives have hub motor drive problems that need to be diagnosed and repaired, though. This might end up being part of my best data path from the VAX to modern machines, but it'll take some time and work.

I can think of a few possible approaches if somebody here has suitable hardware for sale or trade:

* With an MSCP-emulating UNIBUS SCSI card, I might be able to hang a SCSI2SD off my VAX. These seem to be expensive and hard to find, though. I see a UC17 on eBay for $949 OBO. That's a lot more than I'm presently willing to spend, and I'm not on speaking terms with eBay/PayPal right now anyway. I do hope to find a suitable UNIBUS SCSI adapter at a good price, both for possible use in the VAX and for eventual use in my long-term PDP-11/44 project.

* With an M8061 RLV12 card, I might be able to borrow the VAX's RL02 and dump packs on my little PDP-11 half-rack. I already have a QBUS SCSI card for it that I procured a while back. I also have four more RL02 drives out in the pile in the barn for eventual use, but I'd initially borrow the known-working RL02 drive from the VAX, which also happens to be in the same room as my little PDP-11. I don't think I already have an RLV12, but I'll dig through my QBUS cards again today to see if I have one I've forgotten about.

* With some sort of Pertec tape adapter for one of my newer computers, I might be able to borrow the TU80 drive from my VAX (I think it has a Pertec interface; not positive yet) and use it to read/write tapes. It could also eventually get used with one of the Kennedy drives, but the TU80 already works. I might be able to use a PCI card in the Sun Ultra 60 if Solaris 8 can talk to it. Or an MCA card in a PS/2 65 that I recently acquired, running OS/2 Warp Connect 4, also assuming I can get suitable software. Or a SCSI to Pertec interface connected to the Ultra 60 or my Amiga 3000. Or even an ISA card in my crusty 386 clone running DOS 6.22. It would be ultimately nice to connect a 9-track to one of my modern Macs, but I don't expect that to be easy.

* It was suggested that I might be able to cluster the 11/730 with a MicroVAX, and then transfer data onto some SCSI device on the MicroVAX such as a SCSI2SD. I think I'd need to find a fairly turnkey MicroVAX, though, to avoid a bring-up problem that's even bigger than the data transfer problem I'm trying to solve.

Mark J. Blair, NF6X <nf6x at nf6x.net>

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