Microvax II 'primer'?

allison allisonportable at gmail.com
Mon Jan 22 14:05:53 CST 2018

On 1/22/18 2:18 PM, Douglas Taylor via cctech wrote:
> I can't believe you 'just carry it into the house' all by yourself, 
> unless you are professional athlete.
> I also have a MicroVax II in the BA123 world box and it has wheels for 
> a reason!  The damn thing weighs 130 lbs!
> I took it to the VCF East last year, never do that again.  Too heavy.
Huge difference between BA23 and ba123 as the BA123 is about twice the 
size and internal board space.
I have both.  I can't lift a BA23 anymore, old back.

> When I got mine, it had only 3MB of memory and I found that I couldn't 
> install VMS 5.5-2 or 7.3 with that amount of memory.  I put in an 8 MB 
> board and 11 MB total was fine.
Sounds about right.

> You should make your own cable to connect the console to a PC or 
> terminal.  Its that odd.  I found the PC connection to be helpful 
> because you can log what you are doing.
> Yes, remove the NiCad battery.
Its easily replaced.

> The box I got had 3 RD53 disks in it and none worked.  I am using a 
> Viking SCSI controller and a SCSI2SD drive to boot the system.

RD53s had a problem with the head sticking against the stops.  I repair 
them, yes I open them
unstick it then remove the offending the rubber parts.

A Viking or CMD SCSI controller makes using larger and more modern disks 
easy.  A disk of 500 MB
will run a lot of users and VMS will not use much of it.

> I left the RX50 drives in and reconfigured the RQDX2 to address them. 
> They come in handy for getting the VMS hobbyist licenses in.
> The TK50 never worked.
It can be very handy.

> I put a DELQA in for networking, never tried a DEQNA.
If the DEQNA works use it Support is there through V5.4 and the driver  
is there for later but
unsupported (don't call FS!).   Delqa tens to be more reliable.

> I consider it an important machine in computing history.  It allowed 
> scientific researchers, like myself, to get off of remote mainframes 
> that billed at fantastic rates and compute in a more relaxed environment.
> BTW there is one in the Air & Space Museum in Washington DC.
I have two MicroVAXIIs on in BA23, the other as a BA123 (uVAXII/GPX).  
Also a few uVAX2000,
and a slew of uVAX3100s.   A 3100 can be handy as both a VAX and a boot 
host for the MicroVAXII.
I run the whole bunch in the winter for a few days each year (12 
systems) as a LAVC
(local area connected) VAX Cluster.  Much fun and about 1400watts of heat.


> On 1/21/2018 2:25 PM, Jules Richardson via cctech wrote:
>> So, I picked up (and I did just carry it into the house, and now I 
>> hurt) a Microvax II from another list member yesterday. Cosmetically 
>> it's a disaster (BA123 has a cracked top panel, broken wheels, 
>> missing front door, missing right-rear panel) but internally it 
>> appears to be complete; board wise we have:
>>   M7606 - CPU
>>   M7608 - 4MB ram
>>   M9047 - grant continuity
>>   M7504 - DEQNA ethernet
>>   M3104 - DHV11 8-port serial
>>   M7555 - RQDX3 disk controller
>>   M7546 - TX50 controller
>> ... it's got a TK50 and hard drive (no idea of capacity).
>> Operational status is a complete unknown, and I have absolutely zero 
>> knowledge about these systems - so my question at this stage is what 
>> background reading I need to be doing in terms of pre-powerup* 
>> checks, actually hooking a console, if there's a suggested minimal 
>> config I can use to diag the CPU, and then (assuming it gets to that 
>> point) how to actually use the thing (I'm assuming it was running VMS 
>> rather than Ultrix, but I don't know for sure). I'm wondering there 
>> aren't any handy tutorials out there, alongside whatever DEC docs are 
>> recommended.
>> * e.g. for most machines I'd be thinking in terms of pulling all 
>> boards/drives, hooking up a dummy load to whatever PSU rails required 
>> it, and then at least running the PSU up in isolation first, but I 
>> don't know to what extent this machine requires some logic in place 
>> for the PSU to even run.
>> cheers
>> Jules

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