Rescue of a life-time.. or the year at the very least.

From: Lyle Bickley <>
Date: Fri Sep 17 09:23:17 2004

Congratulations on a great rescue!!!!


On Thursday 16 September 2004 23:21, Patrick Finnegan wrote:
> So, after forgetting to bid on the 11/780 that was on eBay, ending on
> Sunday (I slept in 15 minutes too late), I decided to drop the guy a
> message and see if he had another 11/780.
> Much to my amazement he did, and when I asked if he had any other DEC
> equipment, he replied that he had an 11/750 (which it turned out he had
> two, but I only took one of), and that I should "bring the largest truck
> I could find, and he'd get me loaded up.
> So, I spent Sunday night looking at options for rental or borrowed
> trucks, and times, and decided that it was cheap enough to get a 15'
> Budget Truck (which was a lot cheaper than what Penske or UHaul wanted
> for a similar size), and after finding out he'd be leaving Friday for a
> month, I decided I needed to go get the stuff now. So, I reserved the
> truck for Tuesday.
> Having done this "move computer that weighs a lot" thing a few times
> before, I put together some tools Monday night, 10 or 12 ratchet straps,
> hard packing foam to keep stuff from scratching too badly, tape for
> marking things, along with some cardboard boxes, ziploc bags, masking
> tape and a sharpie and 2 friends (well one was my roommate).
> We left here at 8am on Tuesday morning, picked up the Truck in Waukesa,
> WI, around 12:15, and got to the place before 12:30, avoiding too much
> bad traffic driving through Chicago a bit after morning rush hour.
> The building the machines have been stored in for the last decade (or
> more) is an old limestone building in downtown Waukesa, which according
> to the guy who was trying to clear out the stuff used to be a brewery -
> fitting for an old building near Milwaukee. : ) Anyhow, the guy is a
> landlord, and some company was using the building as storage. He said
> that there used to be a lot more machines there before - some had been
> scrapped, and he had been able to sell some things using eBay.
> So, after getting there we loaded up the 11/750, and UNIBUS expansion
> rack that appeared to go with it, and headed to the "large pile" to look
> through more things. In that pile were the two 11/780s, another 11/750,
> a Systems Industries disk rack with some sort of controller, which I'm
> guessing goes with the VAXen, a 5ft DEC rack with a Cipher tape drive in
> the top and a UNIBUS box at the bottom.
> Aparently, attached to all the VAX hardware was some Intergraph and
> Synercom CAD "workstations", which consisted of an approx. 4x2x3ft
> (WxDxH) box that contained the "main electronics" with a 4x2 ft
> digitizing tablet, and two monitors which were 20-24" on top of the
> main 4x2x3ft box. The Intergraph ones were somewhat plain, with the two
> monitors in one enclosure, but the Synercom ones had a very "Bat-Cave"
> feel to them, and were separate monitors on swivel posts. If I had room
> for one, I would have grabbed one of them. I didn't get a chance to
> look too closely, or take a picture either, which I do somewhat regret.
> In the back corner behind that stuff was a CDC 14" disc cartridge drive
> of some sort (which was rated 1phase, 208VAC.. I didn't have room for
> it, or disk carts), a Sun 3/180 with a pair of 800MB-ish Fujitsu SMD
> drives and a Sun-branded 9-track tape drive.
> The final item I found there was a Data General Eclips MV/4000. It had
> two 19" rack mount disk drives, which appeared to possibly be SCSI (?),
> a 9-track drive, and the CPU.
> So, I managed to bring home one of the 11/750s, its expansion cabinet,
> one 11/780, the Systems Industries disk rack, the DEC rack with the
> Cipher drive and UNIBUS box, the Sun 3/180 rack, and the DG Eclipse.
> All in all, I'd say I made out fairly well. The truck was probably a bit
> overloaded (I'm certain we had more than 3500lbs of stuff in the truck,
> which what it's "suggested capacity" was, as the leaf springs on the
> back tires were arcing upwards slightly, instead of downwards... I'm
> glad it's a rental. : ) The ride home brought us right through
> rush-hour traffic on Chicago's loop (I-90/94), and we got back here
> around 10pm; we left for home around 5pm after some lunch.
> I spent the next day (Wednesday) working all day, and then came home and
> unloaded the truck with some help from friends. We removed as much
> weight as we could from the racks before taking them down the ramp,
> which was actually wide enough to be of some help, and was strong enough
> to hold up to the mostly-intact 11/780.
> I've got a picture of the 11/780 up, with the front doors removed:
>g I don't yet have pictures of anything else, nor do I have most of it
> reassembled yet. I spent this afternoon testing the 11/780's power
> supplies with a dummy load - they all appear to work - and then running a
> 30A 220V line from where there used to be an electric range in this house
> to the garage so I can try to power it up.
> I noticed when I was working on the VAX (I had to look at what cards are
> in it!) that it has a full complement of 32MB of ram (8 x 4MB boards),
> made by EMC Corp, along with a memory backplane power supply by EMC and
> a battery-backup power supply box for the memory, which was the same as
> what the 11/750 used for its memory backup (the 11/750 I got also had a
> memory backup battery power supply). I took the batteries out of those,
> along with the TODC power supply, as I'm quite certain that they need to
> be replaced. If I can remember, tomorrow I'll be fetching a new battery
> for the TODC power supply in the 11/780 and fitting that.
> Tomorrow I'll be finishing that up, wiring up an adaptor so I can plug in
> the 11/780's PDU (I "fixed" it a bit - moved plugs around - so I can use
> it with 1-phase 220 instead of 3-phase 208), and potentially re-racking
> some of the rest of what I have. I hope to have the 11/780 cleaned up
> and ready to try powering up before the end of the weekend. After that
> will be the Eclipse, the 11/750, and the Sun 3/180 (in no particular
> order). As I set up my 11/780, I'm gonna try to put together a page on
> it like the 11/750 page I have on my site right now, I'll probably do
> something similar for the Eclipse too once I get that far.
> One thing I noticed after getting home is that I should have engaged the
> shipping locks on the disk drives... so I don't know how well they
> faired, but that'll be something I can worry about later, as it's too
> late to do anything about it now. In one of the UNIBUS boxes
> (presumably for the 11/780) I got, there was a Emulex UC18 UNIBUS SCSI
> card, so if all else fails, I should be able to put some low-power disk
> drives (even FH 5.25" drives are low power for it! :) on that thing, and
> I *think* (but am not yet sure because I haven't checked it out) that
> the Eclipse also uses SCSI disks. I realize how much the UC18 is
> probably worth, and would consider selling it if I had another form of
> mass-storage for the 11/780, but I'm not sure I do.... that's something
> I still have to look into.
> Since the stuff I got is now blocking my roommate from parking in the
> garage, I'm gonna have to start purging some of the smaller / less
> interesting things I've got laying around here, so look out for postings
> of stuff available from me soon. As well, if you're interested in the
> Intergraph or Synercom stuff, or those disk drives (sorry I didn't look
> closely enough for a part #), you might want to look the guy up via the
> 11/780 auction and send the guy a message. Just remember that someone
> already has the other 11/780 and 11/750 going to him. :)
> Pat

Lyle Bickley
Bickley Consulting West Inc.
"Black holes are where God is dividing by zero"
Received on Fri Sep 17 2004 - 09:23:17 BST

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