Approaches to projects (was: KM11 maintenance module

From: Tony Duell <>
Date: Wed Nov 24 19:00:45 2004

> On Wed, 24 Nov 2004, Tony Duell wrote:
> > A handful of buffer chips (or discretes) is a lot simpler, cheaper, more
> > reliable, and easier to obtain than a laptop. I do object to this modern
> > idea of _having_ to use a computer for everything.
> Really?
> My neighbors often discard computers, although admittedly rarely laptops.

Not over here they don't...

> They HARDLY EVER discard a handful of buffer chips (or discretes).

I've just looked at my KM11 clone. It's got 6 chips in it. 4 ULN2003's
(pr 2803s, not using one secion of each), a 7400 and a 7406. It would be
easier for me to find those than to find any computer...

It wouls also probably be cheaper for me to buy those chips than to get
the necessary software for the computer. Even if it's all open-source,
including the OS, I'd still have to download it.

Then there's the issue of where the heck do I put another computer, how do
I set it up near the DEC machine I'm tryign to repair (my KM11 clone is in
a small plastic box, much smaller than a laptop), the fact that the
physical toggle swithces are a lot easier tha using a mouse (and finding
somewhere to use it near the PDP...) and so on.

And FWIW I have been given several large bags/boxes of new ICs,
transistors, etc that were going to be thrown out...

> Therefore, the computer is cheaper and easier to obtain than components.
> 'Course I could get components by taking apart the discarded computers,
> but I seem to recall that you didn't approve of rendering working machines
> inoperable to get parts.

PCs don't count ;-).

> > The other day I bought some simple electronic kits for flashing
> > Newtonsday [1] decorations produced by Velleman. I was impressed that not
> > only were there no custom chips, there were no chips at all. They were
> > based on 2-transistor astable multivibrators.
> > [1] Christmas to the rest of you, I guess.
> Couldn't you flash the lights using a discarded computer?

I did. I've got a set of Newtonsday lights controlled by a PERQ 2 T4....
Now that _is_ overkill....

> Remember that 25 DEC == 31 OCT, which is the day of an American
> rowdy holiday just before your Guy Fawke's day.

Indeed. Newtonseday is much the same as Halloween....

Received on Wed Nov 24 2004 - 19:00:45 GMT

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