Retrochallenge 2009
      Summer Challenge
      Mark Wickens

                                      Work In Progress

      Well, I finally bit the bullet on Saturday and started coding. Hurrah. One of
      the problems I'm having is that although the OpenVMS documentation is extensive,
      finding what you need to know without a clue or too is hard work.

      OpenVMS Documentation Tower

      Anyway, I managed to catch 'The Hoff' on the OpenVMS IRC channel run on behalf
      of the Death Row Cluster[1] and he managed to point me in the right direction.

      As an aside, my shipment of 14 Compaq 4.3GB SBB canisters arrived a few days ago
      and I managed to have a look inside the big-ass box that they came in. They're
      not all sealed, but a fair few are:

      New SBBs

      Finding anything new like this always gives me a lovely, warm feeling. Doubly so
      when it involves hard drives. I amassed quite a collection of 50 pin SCSI drives
      early on in my VAXstation ownership to try and find a few that were not horribly
      noisy and were therefore likely to last a while. For some reason I never really
      looked into what DIGITAL provided, and ended up settling for Quantum Atlas
      II/III 18GB 80 pin wide SCSI drives as, with a converter, you could run them
      happily as system disks on the 4000/90.

      SBB Identification Label

      Any road up, these new drives fit into something called a BA356, which is an
      eight slot enclosure and can either hook up via 8 bit or 16 bit scsi depending
      on the 'personality module'. On 8 bit scsi unless you have a dedicated scsi bus
      for the enclosure you have to be careful to not use the same drive number in the
      external enclosure as you've assigned to internal hard drives or CDROMs.

      Here's a picture of the BA356, with drive DKA500 (SCSI ID 5) working hard
      backing up an internal drive:

      DIGITAL BA356 Enclosure

      You can tell it's SCSI ID 5 because it's the sixth (SCSI IDs start at zero) slot
      from the right. On the right hand side is the 'personality module' which is
      where the SCSI cable plugs in, on the left is the power supply unit (you can fit
      two for redundancy).

      All in all a nice bit of kit. The VAXstation is still snuggled under the desk as

      VAXstation 4000/90

      Whilst the backup is running, the VAX is running at about 30% CPU in the
      verification phase, as it ensures that the backup is a perfect copy. Always good
      to verify:

      VAX running the backup

      The plan with all this is long and convaluted but might end up with me taking
      the contents of my VAX drives away with me on the IBM X60 tablet in the form of
      drive image files, mountable by the SIMH VAX simulator[2]. So I need to make
      copies of the two drives on the VAXstation I'm using, unplug the BA356 and
      connect it to another VAX running NetBSD, dd the contents of the drive into
      images (probably on an NFS mounted drive attached to the linux server), ftp them
      onto the laptop and fire up the simulator. Phew, if that works, everyone will be

      1. Death Row Cluster

      2. SIMH Hardware Simulator