Home computing

What good is a network without computers? What good is a computer without a network? The peecee revolution has left lots of interesting hardware out there.

I already have a 2GHz Athlon machine that does the job in a most unexciting fashion.

Classic Computing

It's a fact that I've been doing computing for a long time. Lately I've decided that collecting some nice machines wouldn't be a bad idea. But I will start with a list of machines that I've used --- meaning written code of one variety or another.

MachineWhereComments
B5500SRIBob Barton's stack machine, written only in ALGOL-60
*SDS-940TymshareOne of my favorite machines; 24 bit instructions, 12 bit VA
B6700UCSDA newer version of the B5500; I actually used card punches...
*PDP-6,10SAIL,IRCAM36 bit machines, halfword instructions and fun OS
AltoPARC,RochesterMy all time favorite machine; almost a Nova
*PDP-11SAIL,IRCAMA great instruction set, possibily the best ever
VAXRochester,Bell LabsThe classic CISC
5620Bell LabsBart Locanthi's thin terminal
SunBell Labs,RutgersRISCy business
SGIBell LabsRunning 10th Ed. and Plan9

Thus far, I've collected a VAX 3100/M38, an SGI Indigo2, an SGI Octane and a Sun Ultra 1. What I wouldn't do to get an Alto again.

Home networking

I live in an enormous house, which was acquired mainly because it is beautiful and it was available... The house is so big and the walls so thick, that wireless just doesn't cover the house. This is not a theoretical statement but rather a measurement using a wireless laptop. I established the following design criteria:

  1. The wireless base must be able to reach the kitchen table and the porch table (wireless computing in the summer evening is a must)
  2. All floors should have at least one outlet
  3. Switches, not hubs should be used for full bandwidth
  4. Fibre channel looks like too much fun to ignore
The resulting network diagram is shown in the image below:

[network diagram]

Note the use of IEEE 488; this is because almost everything in the electronics lab uses 488. The Iotech 488/D is D for Digital and was OEM'ed to DEC for use in the VAX. Believe it or leave it, Iotech doesn't have a single manual for it. Attempts to find the source code of the VMS driver failed. So I'm on my own, or I'll have to use a PC card. There is a comparable box for the Sun (488/S).

The following Ethernet equipment was obtained from the usual source:

And, for the Fibre Channel (FC) network... The network itself was wired by an electrician who hates wires on the outside of houses, so he pulled it all the way from the basement to the attic. The cable is Belden Datatwist, obtained from the usual source. The wall outlets are from Leviton. The wires all meet in the basement, as shown in the picture below:

Home electronics

I had always wanted an electronics lab. So finally I have one. I have assembled various notes on test equipment.

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File last written on 2008-11-20 at 14:49
e-mail: mark.kahrs at gmail daht com
home page:http://www.kahrs.us/~mark