Recovery adventure - Re: Unidentified DEC gear available, NSW-AU
tsg at bonedaddy.net
Thu Mar 3 08:01:13 CST 2016
Wow! Excellent write up and photos!
* steven at malikoff.com <steven at malikoff.com> [160302 17:51]:
> Well, it started with 'Unidentified DEC gear available, NSW-AU'...
> A few weeks ago you saw some poor quality photos Jay posted from someone who had found a PDP-11 of some sort.
> It seems no-one could identify it or the ancillary equipment at the time. As it happened to be located here
> in Oz, and only in the next state, I thought it was worth a gamble on going to rescue it even though it was
> hundreds of kays/miles away and would mean a few days driving.
> So I took last Thursday and Friday off work to drive down in my ute from Brisbane to the gear's location. I drove
> the inland highway and just camped along the way each evening. The weather was very warm and pleasant. During the
> evenings the mozzies were out in force, biting.
> Arriving at the location first thing Saturday morning (as I had camped the second night nearby) I was shown the
> horse stables where the gear was stored. It was near an entrance and the top of the rack was covered with a tarp.
> The rack was sitting directly on the dirt floor. The stables hadn't been used for decades as such and there was a
> lot of mouse and other animal droppings on everything. The front of the rack was against some horse tying-up posts
> so we got to work levering it away from them to get to the front, for which I had brought gloves.
> At this point I realised what I was looking at. It was a Foxboro Fox 2 computer, essentially a rebadged PDP-11/20.
> A while ago I had by chance downloaded and looked at the very same brochure for this machine, I think perhaps
> because it had been mentioned here. So I was able to identify it immediately. This is that brochure:
> The cabinet was about two and a half 19" rack-widths wide, painted lime green and with custom industrial control
> equipment to the left and the computer, paper tape reader and expansion box in the right. The half width section
> contained a series of power supplies. almost all cables had Winchester MRAC connectors on them (visible in the
> original photos, and I happened to have a need for some for my Diablos).
> There were no peripherals of any sort apart from the paper tape reader and the custom A-D I/O. No disc drives nor
> the fabulous drum shown in the brochure.
> At the bottom of the computer rack section there was a very sad PDP-11/05, missing its console, and full of mud.
> Being at the bottom it had been flooded over the years and was silted up. It had a cable to the BA-11 expansion
> I started by removing the 11/05, as there was a (very very) slim chance I might be able to use it for some spares,
> and I had a need for the BC-5 Power Control Unit in the chassis anyway. This machine was not on rack slides but
> just lying on the bottom on the dirt. Surprisingly the paper label on the top panel was still partly legible,
> considering the immersion.
> Next I worked on removing the BA-11. It was pretty much empty with only a small Unibus backplane.
> After that I attended to the Fox 2, and before long after a lot of sweating we had the machine out and ready to
> load onto my ute.
> Finally I removed the Foxboro paper tape reader. The tape holders each side slide up to reveal the rack mounting
> screws. Onto the ute it went.
> There were some other racks of gear, but all custom idustrial control equipment. One rack had a DEC A-D Converter
> in it with some serious cables connected to some backplanes of the smaller Flip Chip modules. I grabbed the A-D
> and Flip Chips.
> There is an identical DEC A-D on eBay at the moment which shows you what it's like:
> The I/O for the machine was (I believe) an ASR-35 the bigger brother to the ASR-33. I couldn't take it, it was
> wedged in behind the other racks and I had only a limited amount of time to load the equipment before I had to
> head back interstate to home. I did not see any sign of the optional I/O Selectrics shown in the brochure, as I
> would definately have liked to have found those if I could have! I don't think this machine had them, only the
> ASR-35, as no printout I found appeared to be done by a Selectric.
> There was a smallish dumb terminal under some junk, this didn't have any brand or logo on it. Can anyone identify
> it perhaps?
> Loaded the gear and the unmanaged mass of paper tape on, sort it out later!
> There were removalists boxes of documentation, so many I had no chance to go through more than half a dozen. In
> the ones I went through, I found manuals for the Fox 2, DEC printsets, printset for the 11/05, PDP-9 manuals,
> Honeywell 716 and Westinghouse manuals. I found a CDC disc pack that seems to be suitable for an RM03. Once again
> no PDP-9 (that I could identify as such!), peripherals or any other piece of hardware that these manuals were
> for was evident anywhere (I looked!!). No sign of any early DEC units such as RP01 02 03 or the like, nor PC04 or
> After looking at the Foxboro documentation it seems the Fox 2 ran an application called 'FOXY' which controlled
> the coking oxygenation plant at Port Kembla steelworks from about 1972 to the mid-late 1970s. Documents indicated
> the PDP-9 controlled the steelworks plate rolling mill. I have no idea (yet) what the Honeywell and Westinghouse
> machines did.
> One curious thing was, I was allowed to take the machines, documentation and so on, but not the rack slides nor
> any part of them. They were to stay with the cabinets. Yes I did mention they were specific to the equipment and
> probably no use for any newer equipment. So it's going to be another long process of making or adapting rack
> slides as I have already been doing for my other gear.
> As soon as I had finished loading I left gor home. After an overnight rest stop near a nice lake, I was back home
> in Brisbane on Sunday arvo. Here is the haul before I started unloading:
> I've contacted others about the need to recover the rest of the gear and especially the boxes, so I'll see what
> happens in that respect. I must thank Jay for putting me in touch with the relevant people. All in all it was I
> think a worthwhile 1651km (1025 mile) round trip!
> (Top posting my reply here - yes I don't normally do it nor condone it, but it in this case suited my lengthy post)
> ---------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------
> Subject: Unidentified DEC gear available, NSW-AU
> From: "Jay West" <jwest at classiccmp.org>
> Date: Fri, January 29, 2016 6:11 am
> To: cctalk at classiccmp.org
> > DEC Gear available. Unlike most dec gear, I must admit that I can't identify
> > exactly what this is. Several racks, I was guessing AFT or Instrumentation
> > Testing. Looks like one or more cpu or expansion cabinets in some of the
> > racks, and some DEC AD/DA interface stuff. I was left with the impression
> > that there may be one or more racks that are not shown in the pictures
> > provided. I was told that racks are in "several different buildings on the
> > estate" (residential). The first rack looks to be in very bad shape (perhaps
> > a power supply), but the other racks don't look so bad.
> > I am not sure that I can get more pictures from the owner, but will try. I
> > think that in order to get pictures of the fronts (what we all probably want
> > to see), the owner would have to move stuff (and them) and would rather not.
> > The equipment is located in NSW, Australia. It sound like they just want it
> > to go to a good home.
> > If someone is local to NSW Australia and wants to spearhead going onsite to
> > take a closer look for others and/or pick up the gear themselves, let me
> > know offlist and I'll give you the contact info.
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