Who's rewired their house for this hobby?

Sean Caron scaron at umich.edu
Fri Nov 21 18:51:05 CST 2014

You bet! I have erected walls and built distribution frames, ran plenty of
110 circuits, not to mention all the phone and data cabling. I need to
install at least one new 220 circuit soon myself for my old Harris D1200;
it might help motivate me to bring it in from the garage, in fact...

I think doing basic residential wiring... 110/220 and low voltage
voice/data can be fun; it's an excuse to go get some nice Klein tools and
sit and work with your hands a little bit. If you have some background with
electronics doing this sort of wiring is fairly easy to pick up; you can
get nice results. If in doubt, just make it look like the circuit that your
dryer is hooked up to, or your oven :)

I definitely don't do the super high power stuff; I don't have three-phase
power... I mean if you are going for that you are going to need the
services of a licensed electrician and the active cooperation of your local
utility anyway. Really very little of my collection even requires 220...
just the Harris... and only my ROLM CBX requires three phase which simply
means it's a re-PSU project someday. Everything else runs comfortably on

In general, I don't have much larger than a PDP 11/34 or so. At this level
of scale I find things very practical to keep and run. Moving big heavy
stuff (and powering it for any material length of time) is expensive!!
Everything is either in my basement (preferred) or in a detached garage on
my property (big stuff I am digesting... phone switches mostly).

I try not to run the vintage stuff continuously; I mean, I  use and enjoy
it but I recognize that a lot of this stuff is getting on in years and I
don't want to run up the POH excessively. Also not power efficient. I moved
all my real 24/7/365 infrastructure over to little Intel Atom based
shoeboxes I built running Linux some years ago... hard to top 40W for a
complete system... beats the Sun Fire V120s I was running before (~100W
per) on raw speed, core count, physical memory and storage capacity, any
metric you can come up with. It can shake out to real savings on the
electric bill and saves the wear and tear on the museum pieces as well. :)



On Fri, Nov 21, 2014 at 6:00 PM, Guy Sotomayor <ggs at shiresoft.com> wrote:

> My wife thinks I'm certifiable too.  ;-)
> When we were looking for our current house, one of the requirements was
> that there was a place for my "stuff".  The place that we found has a 1400
> sqft shop as a separate building.  However, it needed work to be suitable
> for all of my classic computer stuff.  It needed a significant power
> upgrade (now has 200A @ 220v) which required a 400' trench from the pole
> and 5ton AC to keep things cool.  The electricians put in *many* 30A 120v
> and 30A 220v circuits (there are 2 panels that are *full*).  ;-)  It wasn't
> cheap but now all my stuff is close by and can be run when I get the
> desire.  ;-)
> TTFN - Guy
> On 11/21/14 11:46 AM, Todd Killingsworth wrote:
>> Hi All -
>> I'm looking into getting a bigger Sun box (bigger than my E3000) and after
>> reading the specs...  If I'm really going to do this, I'll need to get
>> some
>> 220v outlets wired up. (I'm in the US.) Any advice to pass along for this?
>> I'd much rather listen to other people's surprises than have to rediscover
>> them on my own.
>> How much of what you collect requires 220v?  How many big boxes do you
>> keep
>> running - 24/7 or just turn it on/off as you want to use it?
>> I guess somewhere in the back of my mind,  I realized that old machines
>> took lots of power.  But do the collectors here wire up their homes and
>> keep machines there?  Or do you have another place (old warehouse or
>> somesuch) that already supports multiple 220v hookups?  Or do you colo it
>> somewhere?
>> Not yet sure how expensive it would be, but my wife thinks I'm completely
>> certifiable.
>> Todd Killingsworth

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