Saturday, December 29, 2007



Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas SGI Haul

Operation Crimson has ended. Bounty collected is as follows:

- SGI Crimson Elan/Server (it's got both labels - maybe upgraded from Server to Elan gfx option?)
- SGI Indigo2 (teal) with xZ gfx option
- SGI Indigo2 (teal) with unknown gfx option
- SGI Indigo2 (purple) with xL graphics and FDDI card

There was supposed to be an SGI O2 as well, but it went missing, so in its place was:
- HP 88780B 9-Track open-reel tape drive!

I think that's a fair trade-up from the O2. It's monstrously heavy, but, assuming it works, I have now been mired another step deeper into the pit of vintage computing. Now to get it hooked up to something that can read those old tapes I've been storing for years. Wonder if there is any Windows software that will support it?

I don't go back to work for another two weeks, so sometime soon I'll be sorting these machines out and figuring out what I have. The I2s will likely be traded off if they're of lesser spec than the ones already in the collection.

More heavy stuff

I'm going to need to clear some space.

Operation Crimson Begins

Currently heading north on I-94 towards the great land of Mil-wau-kee. Due to slip beyond the Cheddar Curtain in moments. The steam of the Zion nuke station is on the horizon.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Sea Lions!

Pier 39, San Francisco, CA

They've been showing up there since 1989. No, you're not allowed to feed them.

Liberty Ship

An $8 tour turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip. This is the aft 6" gun. There is a 5" gun at the bow which you can sit in and spin around the platform using the hand cranks.

Streets of SFO

Doing tourist stuff

Sunday, November 4, 2007

VCF Exhibit and Marketplace Opens

Stuff for sale, some really great stuff on display. More pics in the Picasa gallery after I get back.

I missed breakfast this morning after being wiped out by that early flight. Spent the whole day in the CHM, watching the talks, checking out the exhibits and shopping the marketplace. The need to fly back with whatever I buy is limiting my purchases, probably for the better. So far I've picked up only a limited-run Atari cart and an HP calculator power supply. Jason Scott showed clips from his upcoming documentary and spoke for nearly three hours on a variety of entertaining subjects, with the conversations following him out into the hall as the CHM shut down for the night.

Dinner was a two-part affair consisting of two stops at two different In-n-Out Burger locations. The first one wasn't enough. We drove up and down Hwy 101, took a quick tour of downtown San Jose, and returned to the hotel early. After having only one real meal today, I'm going to make that breakfast in the morning.

Jason Scott tends to the warez

I bought one of the white shirts. I've got a lot of black t-shirts.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Crazy Sink

Inspired by SETI?

Well we're here in Mountain View, CA, after a long day of travel. Slept through at least half the flight, which helped. It was due to be early but ended up about 45 late because of heavy fog near the runways. Once safely on the ground things progressed as planned. Our rental car turned out to be the sporty Kia Optima. It's really trying hard, I'll give it that. It's even got Tiptronic(-like) transmission!

Crossed the San Mateo bridge again (this time intentionally,) but that same fog prevented any view of the bay, so we crossed the smaller Dumbarton bridge to the south, which for some reason was not fogged up. A little exploration of the Mountain View area found us some lunch, then it was check-in time, just in time for a major nap. After a couple hours of nap and a couple more of recovery, it was back to Castro St. for dinner, which, despite the abundant choices, ended up being sub sandwiches brought back to the hotel.

And that's the first day. The hotel promises a "full" breakfast (not a buffet?) every morning, and tomorrow's speaker lineup at VCF means I'll be staying the entire day.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Things Happening

Just a few days left 'til VCF! I'll be spending a few extra days in the SFO area, so many photos should be forthcoming. I'll try to update from the road when possible. Not looking forward to: flying, driving in SanFran, paying for parking. Other than that, it should be a good time.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Hamfest score!

It's a flight simulator control panel. The yoke is mounted on a hydraulic rod, the slides on the right pull out, and although the gauges are fake, the buttons around them are not. The back has some mystery connectors, but I think it was meant for a PC. Time to hit Google for the answers.

Today's 'fest (Peotone, IL) was good to me, as it was the last time. Got the flight trainer, a box of Western Electric handset cords and wall jacks, all in plastic, some brand new Trimline bases and handsets in their Bell boxes, a grey(!) 2-line 2500 set, Bell 50a conference phone, a Dec VT330 terminal that came with 2m radio and FMJ packet box (all for $5!) and a few other $1 items here and there. The car is once again full (since I haven't emptied it from the TRS-80 pickup yesterday.)

I'm at least giving serious consideration to renting a storage unit. I said I'd never do it, because I wanted to draw the line at paying a monthly fee for my collecting habit, but I've got enough boxable stuff now (magazines, sofware, books, small hardware) that I could free up a good deal of space at home and get my house back again.

Wow, storage is expensive. Min. $150/mo for the kind of space I need? Ouch.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Long Lines

Former AT&T Long Lines microwave tower, west of State Route 49, north of Valparaiso, Indiana

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Packing Up

I'm all packed up, time to help the others get their stuff ready to go. Things went well. I'm coming home with about the same, or maybe only slightly more, stuff than I came with. Picked up a Mac IIfx and some random books and such. Unloaded some blank tapes and lots of copies of Windows 1.03. Got myself on the local news (link coming later) saying some embarrassing stuff under the glare of the video light. Saw some great hardware and met some great people. Got to show off some wacky hardware and educate people on how things used to be done and how much fun it wasn't.

Due to hit the road in an hour or so, after a much-needed meal. Will post full pictures set tomorrow.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Not where we should be

City impound yard

Time to go

So I started packing at midnight last night. 90 minutes later I have a car full of random stuff I never intended to bring. I walked around the house/basement/garage/local dump and searched for things that, at least the last time I looked at them n years ago, were working. No one will be judging my display for continuity of theme, and certainly not for effort, so no worries. Just another day with a carload of dusty old electronics. This is my life.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Pretty much everything I've tried has failed or is broken. My display will most likely be a big pile of broken equipment, but still somewhat rare and possibly conversation-inspiring. Maybe I'll shift gears and display some other stuff that I know works. Time to hit the basement closet and see what presents itself...

Friday, July 6, 2007

Up against the clock

Well I've gone and signed up as an exhibitor for VCF Midwest and I'm not really sure what I'm going to display. Since I never have the time to really complete and restore anything I have, I'll probably just bring some unique items and leave it at that. If they turn on and people can do things on them, all the better. One week to go, and I seem to be living at work lately....

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

That's a lotta disk

HP6000-660S disk system I bought at Weird Stuff in Sunnyvalle, CA. I hooked it up to my laptop with a PCMCIA SCSI controller card and it saw three HP 2212A disks. I had to open it up to see what was inside - while it's very heavy I didn't expect these beasts. If there is any data on them, Windows wouldn't know what to do with it.

Each disk is covered with a heavy metal shield that is screwed onto the drive both on top and on the front face. I'm not sure how it is removed, so I can't find the real drive manufacturer or model number. The shield is labeled with model number 97548-60061, which appears to be an HP part number for a 660mb disk. 1.8gb of SCSI disk from ~1990!

Friday, June 22, 2007

CHM Pics

Here are the decent-for-a-camera-phone pics I took at the Computer History Museum. I'm off tomorrow on another computer rescue mission. Adventure awaits...

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Time to go

Back to camp

After a couple wonderful hours on the cliffs and beach in Santa Cruz, a shoe full of the Pacific and an aborted trip up CA-1 I am back on CA-17 climbing the hills that mark the southern edge of the Valley.

Next to me is a gray Lotus Elise with nowhere to go with all the beach-leaving traffic around us.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

At last I'm here

Up against the clock

Stopping for much-needed gas in Scott's Valley, CA. Racing on through the hills toward Santa Cruz. Got to see the ocean before the light is gone...

Down the Mountain

CA-17 south/west

Still more to do

Back at the hotel, aching feet, blown away by the CHM exhibits and staff. Stopped at UPS (took three tries to find one open) and shipped by heavy boat anchor (HP 6000 hard drive) and some other stuff from Weird Stuff. Didn't have time to check out Apple's HQ in Cupertino because I still want to drive down to Santa Cruz and see the sun set over the current from Japan. But I've got to eat the rest of my sammich first. I've spread my bags and junk all over the bed to prevent lying down and thinking about sleeping my last night here away.

I took lots of pics at the museum; I'll put them up on a Picasa or Flickr link later.


CHM. You should go. More later.

Uh oh

I bought something *really* heavy at Weird Stuff. I'm going to have to find a UPS store. But as of right now, it's time for a Quizno's sandwich across from CHM, then it's museum time.

Rows and rows and racks and racks of this stuff. Nothing *awesome*, but more and better than anything I've seen in any retail outlet.


I just stumbled upon them and Lockheed Martin while looking for places to shop.

HSC Electronics

Which way to go?

Unfortunately I won't see either on this trip.

Friday night

Yesterday was a slow work day but everything that needed to be done got done. I had planned after work to stop by a couple surplus stores along 101 and then head down to Santa Cruz to see the sea, but like most things those plans didn't work out. I did drive quite a bit, however. I was looking for a way to get near the bay shore and ended up quite accidentally at the Googleplex, where a sampling of the parking lot traffic led me to conclude that Google's primary hiring criteria is "attractive East Asian under 25." (Note: update resume when I get home.)

I drove further up 101, still looking for water. I passed Moffet Field and its enormous hangars. Moving toward San Francisco I spotted a sign for Half Moon Bay, down CA-92. I had been there in 2003 and figured it couldn't be far, and it definitely had water. I hopped on that and withing a few minutes figured out I had gone the wrong way, and was about to cross the Bay on the giant San Mateo bridge (which is more of a causeway, really.) I managed one picture from the car (posted below) and watched the water and waves as I crossed the big blue area on the GPS map. That landed me in Hayward, where I decided I was tired of driving (and driving the wrong way) and it was time to head home. There was a toll to go back the other way on the bridge, but fortunately I-880 was right there, and it took me directly back to SJC (after some rush-hour traffic fun.)

I spent the rest of the evening not eating enough, watching Stargate Atlantis and catching up on web reading. Eventually I got so hungry I had to go out in search of the chows. The hotel restaurant across the road was closed, so it was back in the car toward the only food I've seen around here - Wienerschnitzel. I detoured into downtown San Jose and got caught in the weekend nightclub traffic, turned away by a roadblock near the HP Pavilion, and for the first time here got chilly enough to put on a jacket (it's only 63 right now.) Back at the hotel with a chicken corn dog and a cheeseburger I was finally ready for sleep around 2am local time.

So that wasn't a good way to start a long day of driving and tours, but here I am. I've visited the free breakfast bar downstairs and put down a hearty pile of blueberry muffin, cream of wheat, sausage, toast and orange juice, which is more food before noon than I've had in months. I'd really like to just go back to bed now (woke up around 7am here, too hungry to go back to sleep) but this is my last day to see anything, the weather is perfect, and I've got a full list in front of me. First stop is the CHM, which should provide plenty of photos. Some shopping, landmark-spotting and better eating is also on the plan, with Santa Cruz being the optional late-afternoon goal.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Toward Hayward

Crossing the San Mateo Bridge, heading east on CA-92.

First day down

Today went better than expected, given the hellride of yesterday and little sleep that followed. Made it to work around 9:15, got most everything done in the first day, and was able to leave by 5:30 or so, lunch leftovers in hand. I headed back up the 101 and decided that if I stopped back at the hotel I'd lie down and sleep away the evening, so I kept on moving toward San this and El that, finally finding the mythical Fry's Electronics in Sunnyvale. Well, it's just another Fry's. Maybe a bit bigger than the one at home. Eh. But - while in line (I needed an audio cable to use my mp3 player in the CD player-less rental car) I found they have licorice Altoids, which I had assumed were now extinct. I bought two cans.

After that non-adventure I got back on 101 and headed south toward more Sans and Els. Scenery started to get slightly hillier and greener, but I started to get sleepier, so I turned off [somewhere I can neither recall nor find on the map] and toured around a more-or-less scenic road. It wasn't long until I was lost, so I engaged the GPS and eventually found my back to the area of the airport and the below-pictured hot dog stand.

And that was enough for today. Bedtime is soon, lest I repeat today's stamina-free performance.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


Two chicken(?) corn dogs, $2.50. A lot better deal than the $9 Subway sandwich I got for lunch.

The view from work

There are cows up there.

Hotel room with kitchen.

Still more to go wrong

Missed my 3pm flight by minutes. Had to kill five hours at ORD waiting for next available. That flight delayed an hour. Just landed at SJC. Got my bags. Waiting in giant line for shuttle bus to rental cars. Starving. Weather was reported as 89deg earlier but it doesn't feel more than 75 now.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Hittin' The Road

Tomorrow I fly out to San Jose, CA for my first work-related travel. Of course I've allocated some time for personal adventuring in the Valley of Silicon. CHM will be my first destination, but there were surely be many other sights to see and photos to upload. Stay tuned...

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Thrift Score

This probably won't be the last time I use that headline. I got me one of these over the weekend. Unfortunately no power supply, and I'll probably never seen one. They used the same dumb system the Atari 5200 did years afterwards, with the power integrated into the video cable. I did find a page with schematics to build your own, though.

I also got a boxed Mountain King for the 5200 at the same store. I used to play that on the C64 all the time.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Gas stop, Lebanon, IN. When I saw this sign I realized this is the same place I stopped last year. There's a phone under the sign where you can call the Bondsman and he'll arrive in 15 minutes.

Looks like rain

...or maybe not, but I'm heading home. Got a headache that won't quit and I think I found all I'm going to find in southwestern Ohio. Indianapolis radio is calling me Westward. DuPage county hamfest in a few weeks will pick up the slack. And there's always Maxwell Street market tomorrow morning.

Friday, May 18, 2007


Sunburn, hunger, not all that much good stuff at the 'fest. I may just head home in the morning. But as of right now, Stargate is on.

First day down

Back at the hotel now, a little sunburned and some swollen feet, but holding up. Drove around looking for lunch but found nothing that struck me, so my hunger and desire to nap are locked in battle. I think the sleep will win out right now. If I don't sleep too long I'll wake up rested and hungry.

The 'fest is a little disappointing, as last year. No incredible "find" yet to make it worth the travel and expense (which is supposed to be an end unto itself, I know.) Today brought a couple CoCo accessories (a modem and an expander cart,) a Western Electric 556a KSU (controller for old office phone system,) a pair of HP 94 industrial computers with no power supplies and a very old HP 8" floppy drive ("Flexible Disk.") The model # isn't handy as it's still out in the car, but it's safe to assume I will never attach it to anything. But when has that stopped me from buying 31 year old hardware?

Bunch of guys that went to Libya with their radios.

Real Enigma mechanical encryption machines. Prices started around $3000.


This C64 is for Unclassified data processing only.


We can see here an Imasi 8080, a Bell and Howell "Black Apple" //, a Heathkit H-8 and a Hero Jr. robot, all for way too much $.

Big pile o'cables

This is what happens when you leave them in a room unattended.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

And here it is...

I couldn't get a close enough picture of the more impressive sign I first saw from the highway, a tall, stark black-on-white that read only "CHEEKS."

Dayton skyline

Motel livin'

Checked in to the Knight's Inn, Miamisburg (according to the receipt) or West Carrolton (according to the water tower right across the street.) Conveniently placed on I-75 in the same lot as a Perkins and a Bob Evans. Good eatin' guaranteed. And I spotted something else just down the road that I'll post later when I have a pic. A few antennae on cars in the lot here, even 15 miles outside of town. All the nearby hotels were filled weeks ago.

The room smells overpoweringly of soap/detergent/carpet cleaner. There is a 'fridge and an unplugged microwave and just enough outlets for all my gadgets and their chargers. The outlet nearest the desk is dead and my laptop died just as I was logging in. Argh. The lamp that was plugged in there has a broken switch, too.

I completely forgot I'd be on Eastern time here, so it's 6:30pm already. Despite this I made it to the 'fest on time and picked up my passes for tomorrow. I toured the grounds where people were already selling their junk, but haven't bought anything yet. I spotted a nice Vax 4000/600 that would fit nicely in the car, but the seller wasn't around to give me a price. Judging from his other prices ($25 for a Commodore 1541) I probably won't want it. I remember this guy from last year, though. I bought (and never used) a lot of glassware from him.

I have until 8pm to go back and drop off my stuff to sell, but I'd rather eat now and do that in the morning. All day I've eaten a blueberry muffin, some trail/fruit mix and a Power Bar. It's time for a real meal.


I'm standing in my vendor spot (#2839) at the Hara Arena in Dayton, OH. It's a little cold here but tomorrow will be better. OK, time for some pre-sale shopping...

Fuel stop Ohio exit 10

Heading out

Only an hour and a half late. Got to be in Dayton by 5pm. Might not be any time to stop. Heading into the Dan Ryan hellride...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Preparing for trip to Dayton is packed, maybe I forgot stuff, maybe I didn't. Got to gas it up and drive down to the Southern Command and stage for a morning departure.

Cats fed? Check.
Big bag of snacks and sugared water? Check.
Enough space in the car to bring back more than I'm leaving with? Check.
DVDs for the hotel room and a second laptop just to play them? Check overkill.
Hungry because I forgot to eat dinner during all the packing? Yep. Jimmy John's, here I come.

(Also - blogging from the Blackberry is pretty slick. Expect a report at every gas stop and roadhouse I encounter!)

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Hey there - another new blog for me. I'll be using this one for technical adventures, showing off old junk I drag home, and random photo uploads. No deep thought here, no pithy observations, at least not intentionally.