Multia under Thermal Camera

(This is a guest post by Antoni Sawicki aka Tenox)

DEC Multias are known for notoriously overheating. Someone even coined a term “Multia Heat Death”. The typical folklore recommendation of the time was to only run it vertically, replace the built-in fan with a more powerful, etc.

In modern times one can inexpensively acquire a thermal camera that attaches to a mobile phone. So why not take a peak inside the inferno.

This is how Multia looks like in a thermal camera. PS is on top. CPU on the left. FDD/HDD bottom left.

The CPU, Alpha AXP, runs at around 60C, not great, not terrible.

Scanning up close through individual chips I found this curiosity:

Wedged between the memory chips and the power supply is a little chip that generates almost 100C. That’s a boiling temperature of water. Note the thermal image is shifted in regards to the visual part due to close range.

What does this chip do? I have no clue. Perhaps someone can help here. What I however did to it is this:

Slapped on this really nice radiator. In fact I added little radiators you can buy for Raspberry PI to all the chips generating tons of heat.

This is how the motherboard looks like right now:

I also added a tiny fan on top of the CPU. Drilled some holes in the case and of course replaced the main fan with a highest air flow I could find.

Time will tell if this resolves the heat death, but my Multia now runs much cooler with help of all the radiators and extra fans.

Confessions of a paranoid DEC Engineer: Robert Supnik talks about the great Dungeon heist!

What an incredible adventure!

Apparently this was all recorded in 2017, and just now released.

It’s very long, but I would still highly recommend watching the full thing.

Bob goes into detail about the rise of the integrated circuit versions of the PDP-11 & VAX processors, the challenges of how Digital was spiraling out of control, and how he was the one that not only championed the Alpha, but had to make the difficult decisions that if the Alpha succeeded that many people were now out of a job, and many directions had to be closed off.

He goes into great detail how the Alpha was basically out maneuvered politically and how the PC business had not only dragged them down by management not embracing the Alpha but how trying to pull a quick one on Intel led to their demise.

Also of interest was his time in research witnessing the untapped possibilities of AltaVista, and how Compaq had bogged it down, and ceded the market to the upstart Google, the inability to launch a portable MP3 player (Although to be fair the iPod wasn’t first to market by a long shot, it was the best user experience by far).

What was also interesting was his last job, working at Unisys and getting them out of the legacy mainframe hardware business and into emulation on x86, along with the lesson that if you can run your engine in primary CPU cache it’s insanely fast (in GCC land -Os is better than -O9).

The most significant part towards the end of course is where he ‘rewinds’ his story to go into his interest in simulations, and of course how he started SIMH when he had some idle time in the early 90’s. SIMH of course has done an incredible amount of work to preserve computing history of many early computers. He also touches on working with the Warren’s TUHS to get Unix v0 up and running on a simulated PDP-7 and what would have been a challenge in the day using an obscure Burroughs disk & controller modified from the PDP-9.

Yes it’s 6 hours long! But really it’s great!

Setting up DECNet on VMS 4.7

Years ago, I was given an image of VMS 4.7.  I only tested it for idle capabilities, and that is as far as I got with it.  I never used it for anything else.

But today I needed to verify my Win32 Hecnet project works, so I needed to generate some legit DECNet traffic.  Luckily I still have the VMS image, and in the prevailing years I managed to get a copy of PathWorks for Windows NT (And one for MS-DOS as well!).

So googling around, I found blinkenbone who mentions the command needed to setup some DECNet love.  Now the one thing that is strange about DECNet is that the MAC address needs to be changed to the DECNet area & node id.  Thankfully there is an online calculator, powerdog.  Since I’m just testing, I’ll put my VAX in area 1, node 1, that means the VAX MAC needs to be set to:

AA-00-04-00-01-04

So in SIMH, I just use the line:

set xq mac=AA-00-04-00-01-04

Cool.  Now I use ansicon, in the hopes it’ll make the console better, and fire up VMS.

VMS 4.7 booted

VMS 4.7 booted

And then login as system/manager

Now I can setup decnet very simply like this:

Username: SYSTEM
Password:
Welcome to VAX/VMS version V4.7
Last interactive login on Saturday, 20-SEP-2008 17:32
$ @sys$manager:netconfig

DECnet-VAX network configuration procedure

This procedure will help you define the parameters needed to get DECnet
running on this machine. You will be shown the changes before they are
executed, in case you wish to perform them manually.

What do you want your DECnet node name to be? : rabbit
What do you want your DECnet address to be? : 1.1
Do you want to operate as a router? [NO (nonrouting)]:
Do you want a default DECnet account? [YES]:

Here are the commands necessary to setup your system.

————————————————————————–
$ RUN SYS$SYSTEM:NCP
PURGE KNOWN OBJECTS ALL
PURGE MODULE CONFIGURATOR KNOWN CIRCUITS ALL
$ DEFINE/USER SYS$OUTPUT NL:
$ DEFINE/USER SYS$ERROR NL:
$ RUN SYS$SYSTEM:NCP ! Remove existing entry, if any
PURGE NODE 1.1 ALL
PURGE NODE RABBIT ALL
$ RUN SYS$SYSTEM:NCP
DEFINE EXECUTOR ADDRESS 1.1 STATE ON
DEFINE EXECUTOR NAME RABBIT
DEFINE EXECUTOR MAXIMUM ADDRESS 1023
DEFINE EXECUTOR TYPE NONROUTING IV
DEFINE EXECUTOR NONPRIVILEGED USER DECNET
DEFINE EXECUTOR NONPRIVILEGED PASSWORD DECNET
$ DEFINE/USER_MODE SYSUAF SYS$SYSTEM:SYSUAF.DAT
$ RUN SYS$SYSTEM:AUTHORIZE
ADD DECNET /OWNER=”DECNET DEFAULT” –
/PASSWORD=DECNET –
/UIC=[376,376] /ACCOUNT=DECNET –
/DEVICE=SYS$SPECIFIC: /DIRECTORY=[DECNET] –
/PRIVILEGE=(TMPMBX,NETMBX) –
/DEFPRIVILEGE=(TMPMBX,NETMBX) –
Press RETURN to continue

/FLAGS=(CAPTIVE) /LGICMD=NL: –
/NOBATCH /NOINTERACTIVE
$ CREATE/DIRECTORY SYS$SPECIFIC:[DECNET] /OWNER=[376,376]
$ RUN SYS$SYSTEM:NCP
DEFINE LINE QNA-0 STATE ON
DEFINE CIRCUIT QNA-0 STATE ON COST 4
DEFINE LOGGING MONITOR STATE ON
DEFINE LOGGING MONITOR EVENTS 0.0-9
DEFINE LOGGING MONITOR EVENTS 2.0-1
DEFINE LOGGING MONITOR EVENTS 4.2-13,15-16,18-19
DEFINE LOGGING MONITOR EVENTS 5.0-18
DEFINE LOGGING MONITOR EVENTS 128.0-4
————————————————————————–

Do you want to go ahead and do it? [YES]:
%UAF-I-ADDMSG, user record successfully added
%UAF-I-RDBADDMSGU, identifier DECNET value: [000376,000376] added to RIGHTSLIST.
DAT
%UAF-I-DONEMSG, system authorization file modified
%UAF-I-RDBDONEMSG, rights database modified
%NCP-I-NMLRSP, listener response – Success
Logging sink type = monitor
%NML-I-RECADDED, Database entry added

The changes have been made.

If you have not already installed the DECnet-VAX license, then do so now.

After the license has been installed, you should invoke the procedure
SYS$MANAGER:STARTNET.COM to startup DECnet-VAX with these changes.

(If the license is already installed) Do you want DECnet started? [YES]:
%%%%%%%%%%% OPCOM 28-OCT-1987 15:42:37.64 %%%%%%%%%%%
Message from user DECNET
DECnet starting

%RUN-S-PROC_ID, identification of created process is 00000109
%RUN-S-PROC_ID, identification of created process is 0000010B
$
%%%%%%%%%%% OPCOM 28-OCT-1987 15:42:42.67 %%%%%%%%%%%
Message from user DECNET
DECnet event 4.10, circuit up
From node 1.1 (RABBIT), 28-OCT-1987 15:42:37.69
Circuit QNA-0

It basically set itself up.

And on the Windows NT side, I simply set itself up as node 2 in area 1.

Windows NT + Pathworks

Windows NT + Pathworks

And now I can use CTERM to connect to the VAX.

CTERM

CTERM

Nice!.  And it even works through my port of HECNet.

On reboots you have to manually start the network.  I don’t have EDT, or I don’t know where to find it (remember the gold key? ugh).

Manually starting the network

Manually starting the network

But it’s a simple command:

@SYS$MANAGER:startnet.com

And you are good to go!

Likewise shutting down is accomplished with this:

@SYS$SYSTEM:SHUTDOWN.COM

And that’s about all I know about VMS.  But it’s good to see that configuring this was pain free!

As part of the retrochallenge 2012, there is a PDP-11 running 2.11 BSD out there!

No, really!

You can get an account, just sign up here!

Sander Reiche has setup a MicroPDP-11/83 with the following specs:

So far there are FOUR users.. which means you can get in on the action for sure!

For those of you who want a sandboxed version at home, you can download my install here, which of course I touched on a while back.

For those unfamiliar, here is what retrochallenge is all about!

  1. RetroChallenge commences July 1st, 2012 and runs until July 31st, 2012.
  2. In order to qualify, computer systems must by approximately 10 years old (or older!)… in general, this means 486 or below, 680×0 and pretty much everything with an 8-bit processor, but we’ll also let you in if you have an old Cray kicking about, and exceptions can always be made for exotica!
  3. Gaming consoles and PDAs qualify if they were made in the previous century.
  4. Where appropriate, replica hardware and emulators may be used.
  5. Entrants are responsible for adequately documenting their projects and submitting occasional updates during the contest.
  6. Projects may encompass any aspect of retro-computing that tickles the fancy of the individual entrant.
  7. Winners will be carefully selected and thoughtfully chosen prizes presented (hopefully before the next challenge commences).
  8. Have fun!

Sadly I don’t have anything physical around here that really qualifies.  A G5 mac is too new, and I recently picked up a Pentium 150 based IBM Aptiva, but its too new apparently….

Three tonnes of mini computers

It looks almost religious doesn’t it?

I just received this note from the HECnet mailing list, and I thought I’d broadcast it out..

This is a shameless plug for something I and the Update Computer Club 
have been working on this spring and opened yesterday.

The exhibition "Three Tons of Minicomputers" at Museum Gustavianum in 
Uppsala, Sweden.

http://www.gustavianum.uu.se/node13

We have collected computers primarily used by the university at some 
point in time. Highlights include a Linc-8 and a DECSYSTEM-2060 with 
peripherals.

Here are some pictures from the opening:

http://www.update.uu.se/~jeppe/tmp/vernissage/

I strongly recommend anyone nearby Uppsala this summer to take a swing 
by Gustavianum. If you want a guided tour, let me know and we'll figure 
something out.

It's only open for a few months, so don't wait to long.

Regards,
Pontus.

I don’t know when I’ll be in Europe next, but now I really want to go to Sweden!

DEC Legacy Event

Well I just found out about a “DEC Legacy Event” being held in the UK. Sadly I already booked tickets to the UK *this* month not the correct one… But then who knows… 😉

From the site:

The DEC Legacy Event that will take place on the 17th & 18th April 2010 in Windermere, UK.

The purpose of the event is to bring together people with an interest in the company Digital Equipment Corporation and their legacy of hardware, software and ethos. There will be both vintage DEC computer hardware and software and more recent HP hardware and software being demonstrated at the event.

I suppose this would have been the place to get some win terminals going, and have multi-user access into a VMS system running on SIMH on an Alpha…

Oh well…

At any rate they promise to upload video from the aftermath, and they’ve got up some interesting promo pics