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Minis from the shed

PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2016 1:50 pm
by SeanKennedy
Thanks to Dom, I've become the proud owner^H^H^H custodian of three new machines to populate my Unix rack.

The HP B132L fired up straight away, although X Windows might be a bit of a challenge (or rather finding a monitor that can do 1024x1280@75Hz natively).

The SparcStation 10 and LX will have to wait until I can cobble together another couple of 13W3 video leads (There was a nice 13W3 to 13W3 one in the pile of cables sitting on top which I could chop in half and put DB15's on the end - I'll see how eager I get...)

Retrobrite might be required - although they have been in storage for over 10 years, it looks like they absorbed a fair bit of UV back in the day:


Note the Sun three-button mouse - the chaps here at work were in awe of an early nineties mouse being optical - until I showed them the metal mouse pad that is required to reflect off.

Time to add a 1U bar across the front of my rack with a swathe of DB9 serial connections so I can plug a console in at will - only some of them play nicely with the KVM switch so others have to run headless. Currently, from bottom up, housing a Dec-Alpha DS-20 running HP True64, a SCSI disk array shelf, Dec-Alpha DS-10 running CentOS (These three from the period of time when Compaq bought Digital, but before HP bought Compaq... still using DEC colours), a couple of no-name rackmount PCs runing UBuntu, a SunNetra box which I have failed to make do anything except spin a few fans, a Cisco switch, a Compaq KVM/Keyboard/trackball combo tray, a nice BenQ LCD that only just fits (on a tilting retractable arm) and perched on top because it can't fit in a 19" gap is the old SGI Indigo² R10000 Impact (Purple of course!). Just enough room between the Netra and the KVM to fit the Sparcstation 10 and the HP B132L.

/edit - home now :


Raspberry Pi has been relegated to the workbench - Oh, and there's an Apple Sunflower sitting on top at the back too, which technically is running Unix, but isn't really old enough to be of Vintage interest (although it is probably the coolest looking Apple to date).

I daren't power them all up at once!

Re: Minis from the shed

PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2016 6:39 pm
by tezza
Great to see. We need a "like" button!

Re: Minis from the shed

PostPosted: Sat Sep 10, 2016 1:14 pm
by SeanKennedy
Ok - time for an update on the Sparcs.

I've gotten all the video leads connected now, thanks to some 13W3/VGA converters that you can still buy in China. Sparc10 fired up, but had a dead NVRAM battery, so all the MAC address and machine details were gone. And nothing to boot from. Ditto the SparcLX.

Well, the LX is on the bench anyway, and yesterday I took delivery of a 5 pack of 48T02 NVRAM ICs. Great - just need to pop them in and recode the NVRAM defaults and we'll be all go. Except I bought the wrong ones - needed 48T08 ones for this. Bother.

There is of course another option when trying to replace DALLAS type chips - grind out some resin and add a battery to the exposed metal. I'd always thought this to be both a barbaric and risky way of doing it - what if I cut into the Lithium battery and end up with an small explosion? Or even worse, grind off too much resin and have no metal left to solder on to?

Heaps of descriptions on the web on how to do this, but most end up with AA cells taped into place, or some nasty soldering attempts directly onto button cells. Again, benchtop explosions are no fun - especially when mercury or worse is sprayed around.

But I bit the bullet and had a go.

48T08 IC's are a double deck affair. ROM sized package underneath with a half crystal, half battery layer on top, with thin leads at each end connecting the two. The deal is to saw the top in half, chip away at the resin and ping off the lower end (ie not the bit with the Pin1 indicator).

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Next, the delicate art of soldering a couple of leads onto the exposed contacts on the lower IC. This is propped up on the IC socket shield which provides a keyed shroud around the motherboard socket and allows easy removal (if you have small enough fingers to reach the "handles" at each end)

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Next I had to find a better way than just velcroing a battery box into the somewhat crowded case (SparcLX is a "lunchbox" style 25cm square unit) - I noted in one guide that a chap epoxyed a CR2032 socket on top - that made sense, and something easy located in the garage on a Saturday morning. Enter a donor HP desktop that has seen better days. A bit of desoldering later, a nice shiny CR2032 socket ready to add to the mix.

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Re: Minis from the shed

PostPosted: Sat Sep 10, 2016 1:20 pm
by SeanKennedy
Well, I haven't quite got the hang of Terrys image hosting bizzo - looks like only 3 per post? Anyway, onwards:

I mentioned at the start that the Sparc would boot with messages around missing config etc:

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As you can see, Ethernet addresses and other details are all defaulting to aa:aa etc.

Anyway, I digress...

Soldering on the leads, and covering all sins with heatshrink:

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And popping the unit together - looks like some pseudo cockroach!

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Re: Minis from the shed

PostPosted: Sat Sep 10, 2016 1:25 pm
by SeanKennedy
...and a wee close up of the side - dynamic tension seems to be more than enough to hold things together.

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Next it goes back into the socket.

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I mentioned before that the case is quite tight - what you can't see here is the top half which has the PSU and drive caddies which sit quite snugly on top of everything else.

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Re: Minis from the shed

PostPosted: Sat Sep 10, 2016 1:27 pm
by SeanKennedy
And lastly, the new boot screen (well, and abridged one without the RAM check) showing the new Ethernet address - The 08:00:20 bit is mandatory for a Sun I think.

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Yes, I am that immature - but I had to think of something that could be said in hex...