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Old Nov 15 2019, 08:40 PM   #5121
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Well performed live music never gets old, especially when it's by an artist you've followed for years.



Have followed these guys since well before they even were a group, the composer (on the piano above) was a very skilled soloist before picking up the rest of the group.

Have several albums now, including two signed on vinyl from backing their funding projects on Kickstarter, but this is the first time I've been lucky enough to see them live.

Moment of the week so far is getting the whole room full of people singing along with the chorus on a couple of the songs. That's one of those things which really don't get old to be part of and still makes my hair stand on end when it happens.

Hats off to the tech crew as well for getting the audio halfway listenable...the room is an absolute swine to mic up. It's really long, narrow and has a low ceiling...so to get anything resembling a useful level of audio at the back of the room basically means you've got to have the drivers at the back of the room...facing the mics. Not ideal. They tried having things rear facing set back a ways from the stage but that used to result in a horrendous resonance at one couple of square foot spot in the room which kept trying to turn the audience inside out, which while sometimes hilarious is generally frowned upon.

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Old Nov 16 2019, 01:16 AM   #5122
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Zelendeth, out of curiosity who is the group and will American's have heard of them yet?
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Old Nov 16 2019, 06:07 AM   #5123
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Zelendeth, out of curiosity who is the group and will American's have heard of them yet?
...That would have been smart stuff to include wouldn't it...

The gentleman on the piano above goes by the name Fox Amoore (I've not the foggiest of what their legal name is...though this is how most of their material can be found so it works anyhow) who has a SoundCloud page with a decent cross section of their material over here.

Since they have formed more of an organised band with Pepper Coyote to become Foxes & Peppers they have released a couple of actual albums, at least a couple of which are on Spotify over here

Not sure how well they're actually known outside the Furry Fandom, though I know Fox has done some work on some bigger projects in the past.
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Old Nov 16 2019, 01:00 PM   #5124
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So my husband made the mistake while out in suit earlier of standing still for too long.

The nose horn is just begging to have things hung on it...like my conbadge.



Such antics are par for the course. I'm sure I've the same sort of nonsense awaiting me in future when my suit is finished, albeit more in the form of him trying to balance things on my head as the species my suit is based on are known for having very flat, wedge shaped heads...cue other jokes like this one I came across yesterday evening by someone who had been left on door duty at one of the larger events.



Poor door wedge...

Actually pretty sure that's one of the very earliest suits based on the same base hardware that I'm using, back in the days when Dream Vision Creations actually still did full suit commission's rather than exclusively making components.
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Old Nov 17 2019, 01:07 AM   #5125
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Thank you I'll have to look them up online. Something about the name Fox Amoore rings a bell somewhere in my subconscious but I can't place where.



Quote:
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...That would have been smart stuff to include wouldn't it...

The gentleman on the piano above goes by the name Fox Amoore (I've not the foggiest of what their legal name is...though this is how most of their material can be found so it works anyhow) who has a SoundCloud page with a decent cross section of their material over here.

Since they have formed more of an organised band with Pepper Coyote to become Foxes & Peppers they have released a couple of actual albums, at least a couple of which are on Spotify over here

Not sure how well they're actually known outside the Furry Fandom, though I know Fox has done some work on some bigger projects in the past.
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Old Nov 17 2019, 10:55 AM   #5126
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So my husband made the mistake while out in suit earlier of standing still for too long.

The nose horn is just begging to have things hung on it...like my conbadge

Such antics are par for the course. I'm sure I've the same sort of nonsense awaiting me in future when my suit is finished, albeit more in the form of him trying to balance things on my head as the species my suit is based on are known for having very flat, wedge shaped heads...cue other jokes like this one I came across yesterday evening by someone who had been left on door duty at one of the larger events.


Poor door wedge...

Actually pretty sure that's one of the very earliest suits based on the same base hardware that I'm using, back in the days when Dream Vision Creations actually still did full suit commission's rather than exclusively making components.

Wonderful pictures Zelandeth! Keep us posted about your costume!
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Old Nov 17 2019, 06:00 PM   #5127
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Well that's big news for our little convention.

This year is the last year we'll be in the Livingston Mercure Hotel.

Photo snapped by me last year.



There also will be no convention in 2020...But we will intact return in early 2021, moving to the Crowne Plaza in Glasgow.

Um...this one (image from Wikipedia).


That's a bit of a jump!

With a confirmed 482 attendees this year though, the Mercure was just bursting at the seams...a move was going to have to happen. Wasn't quite expecting quite *that* a huge jump though.

Will be bitter sweet. Yes it's good news for the event, availability of local accomodation has really been the constraining factor on growth the last couple of years. This will be a huge step forward for us...in that the smallest function space we'll have in the new venue will be larger than the main stage in our current one.

However we've been here since 2014...and have a fantastic relationship with the hotel staff. They basically hand us the keys on a silver platter on the Thursday evening and tell us to do whatever the heck we want and just have fun. It feels like home...even if a very full one this year!

Still, be interesting to see how it unfolds...

Last edited by Zelandeth; Nov 19 2019 at 12:24 PM. Reason: Replaced the photo of our old venue with one of my own that's a more sensible size.
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Old Nov 17 2019, 08:38 PM   #5128
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Well that just broke me, in a good way.

Just in a room with probably a hundred people belting out Country Roads.

Not sure why, but that's a song which has a huge emotional impact on me whenever I hear it live...at least in that many people nobody can hear how tone deaf I am!
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Old Nov 18 2019, 04:55 AM   #5129
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Of course, if the songwriter had stuck to the Highways he would probably have got home in time.
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Old Nov 20 2019, 10:16 PM   #5130
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Having decided that I'd had utterly enough of the outside world by about midday and having a complete failure to summon enthusiasm regarding doing anything actually useful...I spent a couple more hours fiddling around with the Sun.

Task number one was dealing with the vacuum hoses in the machine. I knew these had taken on the consistency of dried pasta and would disintegrate the moment I touched them. I wanted them changed before I started poking around as they were mostly still where they were meant to be...and I'd rather not play guessing games as to where they go.



By the time I was done, this is what was left. Plus a bunch of bits buried in the bottom of the case I'll need to get out with the vacuum cleaner.



Much better...



I discovered the hard way that that solenoid valve on the water purge line has mains on the (unsleeved) terminals even when the machine is off when it gave me a good old belt. Absolutely stupid not having the plug pulled before I did that.

Fiddly bit under the gas analyser done too. I'd missed the line heading off to the pressure transducer (far right out of frame) when taking this photo, it was sorted later.



With that sorted out I felt I could turn my attention to sorting the stuff which wasn't working. Two nuts removed allowed the whole front bezel to be removed...this vastly improved access.



This solves the problem of not being able to get to the computer.



This let me take a closer look at things. Not least figuring out what CPU the thing was running. I was expecting something 8-bit, maybe Z80 (half hoping actually as I've messed with them before and might have some hope of making heads or tails of the software) or 6000 series...Finding this however was rather a surprise.



That's a National INS8900D. For those not familiar with it, that's a 2MHz 16-bit processor... really wasn't expecting this to be a 16-bit machine... especially given it has its roots back in 1979...overkill?

The memory board. Yes, getting these EPROMs read and backed up is high on the priority list.



Not totally sure how, but I managed to forget to get photos of the MUX and I/O boards. I'll fix that later.

The board I was most interested in today however was this one.



The edge connectors actually looked pretty clean, though I gave it a scrub up anyhow. Based on prior experience though I figured the most sensible thing to do was to remove (carefully, using the right tool) each of the socketed chips and reseat them. Somewhat surprised to see a humble 555 timer in a socket. Have to wonder if they've had reliability issues with that IC.

With that done, slotted the card back in, powered on, and...



Rock steady display... I'll take that as a win. Having a display which would stay running for more than five seconds at a time I could let it complete the warm up process and run through the self test (having taken the opportunity to clean the CRT faces while it was in warm up as they were filthy).





Still surprised how sharp this display is... especially now there's not 1/8" of grime on it.

The faceplate was similarly filthy.



I wasn't surprised by the "service required" messages at the calibration screen. If I'd been abandoned in a cold damp shed since 2005 I'd be in need of a bit of TLC just the same.

I did a quick check on the gas analyser first to see if it would respond to a clean. First check though was of course to make sure that the IR source was "lit" correctly. The source here takes the form of a carbon rod, heated to the point where it just about glowing a really dim red (camera makes it look a little brighter than it is).



This is then focused via two parabolic mirrors onto a pair of sensors at the far end.







The spinning shutter at the source end allows the reading to be sampled from free air and the gas under test alternately.

It was given a really good clean (carefully...the mirrors are surface silvered) as the whole lot were filthy.

Sadly it didn't just miraculously come back to life...so further digging will be needed. Despite the errors,it was quite happy to continue into running mode.

First page you get is to enter the vehicle details - Number of cylinders, 2/4 stroke, and the timing offset. Once that is entered it presents you with the following screen.



The *** entries show where readings are missing due to the calibration issues. It will blank things out rather than potentially show erroneous data. This allows you to check things like the starter motor current, battery voltage during cranking. It also allows you to compare the current draw during each cylinder compression stroke to give a rough relative compression test to show if one pot is far lower than the rest.

Once that is completed, the engine running test page is presented.



I like the "bar graphs" drawn using the text...sneaky ways to do stuff like this without the overheads of bitmap graphics is half the fun of old kit from this sort of age.

Looks really the part with the front panel back in place.





So issues we need to look into:

[] Gas analyser inoperative.

[] Volt/ohm meter inoperative.

[] Temperature probe reading nonsense (see 160C reading above).

[] Suspicious of the vacuum reading.

[] Possible cap issues in the power supply as it shows a low line voltage warning at the calibration screen despite our line voltage being anything but low.

First port of call is going to be going over the machine end to end and reseating every socketed chip as I did on the CRT board, then see where we are. Will also make a point of checking for any signs of damage to the wiring where it enters the boom as it could be prone to chafing there.

Oh...and sort the dent in the power supply fan grill so it stops rattling before it drives me mad.



Interesting to see that the fans are actually 115V units...have to assume they're running from a step down transformer buried in that brick of a power supply.

Definitely making progress though.

Last random photo for the old tech enthusiasts...old computer equipment like this often displays interesting or odd artefacts on screen when rebooted. This is what the display shows on this for about a second when powered up.



Thought it might just be random nonsense in the RAM, but it seems to show the same every time.
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Old Nov 22 2019, 06:24 AM   #5131
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So, Zelandeth, you've been fiddling around on the dark side of the Sun :-)
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Old Nov 22 2019, 09:54 PM   #5132
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So, Zelandeth, you've been fiddling around on the dark side of the Sun :-)
Aye! Spent a couple of hours with my head buried inside it!

-- -- --

Today I picked up a couple of the correct F30WT12 tubes for the lit sign on the Sun 1215.

While T8 tubes physically fit and will work, the electrical specs are quite different. The T12 3' tube dates back to the original set of designs from the earliest days of fluorescent tech, whereas the T8 is a far later design which operates at a far higher voltage but lower current. As such an F30WT8 in this application would be overdriven, running at around 45W rather than the correct 30W, so wouldn't last long.

These however will be perfect. They're hard to find here as this size were never popular in the UK. These are new old stock circa 1993, so goodness knows where they've been hiding since then.



Replacement took all of about 30 seconds.



I remembered to check and clean both the reflector and inside of the diffuser this time. They were distinctly grubby.



Everything back together. You really can't see any difference externally to be honest.



As it's not the sort of equipment a lot of people will have used and it seems to have generated quite a bit of interest I thought I'd try to write up a bit of a guide to the basic startup and configuration of the machine. Figured some of you might find it interesting.

This isn't a full user guide...just a quick run through of the real basics from what I remember of using the one a mate had about 20 years ago and what I've seen messing around with this one.

Hopefully this will demystify all those buttons a bit.

When first powered on the machine shows a message informing you that it has started its warmup phase and gives a countdown (starting from fifteen minutes) to when it will be ready to use.



You can bypass this delay at any point by pressing #, but there's obviously a greater chance of the accuracy of the machine may drift as it warms up. The fifteen minute delay helps ensure that everything is stable before you put it into use.

The # button basically functions as the "next page" control throughout.



At the completion of the countdown, the machine waits for you to press # to continue before it will move on to the self test/calibration screen.



This takes a minute or so to run through...and obviously has a few errors reported in the case of my machine... hopefully these will disappear as time goes on and I work through things.



Next page is the program setup screen where things start to get a little more interesting.



The "set ignition selector" relates to two modes that the ignition side of things can run in. There's a table in the operator's manual telling you which cars which setting should be used with.

This is selected using this button.



Shown above in mode 1, and below in mode 2. Yes, this is a bit of an excuse to show off the flipdot indicators...even if they are a bit grubby at this stage.



"Set 2 or 4 cycle" is asking you to select whether the engine is a two or four stroke. There's a dedicated button for this, which like the ignition selector has an indicator built into the button itself.



Self explanatory really...4 for a four stroke and 2 for a two stroke.



The number of cylinders is then set using the left of the three buttons below. These have different functions in different program modes hence having several legends, it's less confusing than it initially looks.



The selection starts at 0 by default, and pressing the button cycles through 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12 then loops back to 2.

The last thing on this section is the timing offset. This is only needed I believe where the car uses a magnetic pickup to fire the ignition, this is usually offset a few degrees before or after TDC. You need to dial this in here.

Pressing "number select" initially changes the sign to + or - to reflect whether the offset is before or after TDC, then "cursor advance" moves to the first digit, with "number select" used to advance the number. This process is repeated until you've dialled in the correct offset.

The screen below is an example which would have been used on my old Saab from memory, you can see the cursor showing which digit is being entered.



Once you have advanced to the last digit it will tell you to press # to the next page. It won't let you proceed if there are things you've missed.



This brings you up to the "Cranking/Pinpoint Tests" page.



This gives you quite a bit of information on what's going on. However this is only half the information it can show you. An additional page is accessible using the "short" button on the control panel. This appears to indicate "short-cut" rather than that it shorts anything out to kill the ignition system or anything.

Here it's shown activated, hence the vivid orange indicator shown.



All of the buttons - even those which are purely momentary - have the indicators in them. Utterly unnecessary, but a nice touch.

This screen gives you some really quite clever diagnostic information.



This shows you the difference in engine speed, starter motor current draw as the engine spins over each cylinder. This can be helpful in showing if one or more cylinders has a significantly lower compression ratio than the others.

You might need to actually stop the engine from starting to get solid data from this test, and there's a control to disable the ignition system labelled as "engine kill."



Pressing this toggles the kill, and when it's enabled a flashing "engine kill" warning is shown on the display to warn the user. Having this feature on hand is obviously useful from a safety perspective as well.

The "Short" button latches, so pressing it again will drop you back to the Cranking/pinpoint Tests page.

Once you're done with that, pressing # will advance you to the main running test page.



This shows you pretty much everything you need to know. The displays look to update pretty rapidly, at least a few times a second. If wanted, you can pause the data on screen with the "Display Hold" button. This is directly below the # button.



When this is enabled a "hold" message flashes at the upper right of the screen to warn the user that live data isn't being shown.

A useful feature of this as well is that in the main screen above, when the display hold control is released, the original data is left in the screen with a new column being put up for the live data. This allows you two "old" readings to be shown along with the live data. This could be really useful if you're making small tweaks and wanting to double check what effect it's had.

The below display shows a "full" page with two columns of held data shown.



The live data is always shown on the leftmost column.

That's as far into the running of this unit as I've gone...but it gives you a basic rundown of how the computer works. Shows how it does a pretty good job of guiding you through everything...which in the mid 80s really wasn't a given!

Probably the most daunting looking controls relate to the scope...though I've never really done enough work with that to be able to talk through it from memory.



The Short button being grouped here rather than with the computer controls is just to keep you on your toes.

I'll try someday to write a bit of a how to for this too...I'll need to learn to drive it a bit better first though.

Likewise some of the advanced features of the computer...there's a whole additional layer in there I think.

For the sake of convenience there's a remote control which duplicates a number of buttons from the front panel to make life easier for the technician. #, Display Hold, Short and Engine Kill being those controls.



The "Print" button would trigger the optional printer. No timestamps or anything, it would just literally print a copy of what's shown on the screen. Sadly I don't have the printer, though I do have the interface card (found in the base cabinet) should I ever come across one.

This has been probably horribly tedious to most of you, but hopefully it's vaguely interesting to you if you're into old tech and want to see what would be happening when you're blindly mashing buttons to see what makes it tick.

If you have any questions please feel free to ask.
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Old Nov 23 2019, 09:12 PM   #5133
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Because I'm me and find them far more interesting than I probably should, here are a couple of additional photos of the ridiculously overcomplicated status indicators built into the buttons.

It surprises me that they went to the lengths of building them into even just the momentary controls. You never actually *see* this one as the control is actually latched on software...the orange announciator in the button is normally hidden by your finger.



The actual indicator that this is active is a message that flashes at the lower right hand corner of the screen.



There is apparently a volts/ohms measurement capacity in there somewhere (which I've yet to figure out how to access), which is switched between the two modes using this control. Here it is in volts mode...



...and ohms mode.



Just surprises me this wasn't just done either on screen or using a status LED next to the control. I remember looking at this sort of control when I was building a power supply a few years back, and these things were *expensive* - even basic ones without legends like this. "We spared no expense" seems to be a running theme with this machine.

I've got a slightly more sane (though still offset) temperature reading now I've actually got the thermocouple plugged into it rather than a hall effect sensor!

I wanted to have a look at all the analogue cards to check for any additional socketed components, dirty contacts or dry joints.

Started out with the volts/ohms board as I know there are issues with that subsystem.



Had a brief "Ah ha!" moment when I spotted that toasty looking resistor...but checking it shows it to measure precisely the value that's stamped on the side of it. Nothing else obviously amiss.

The next board is the trigger control board.



This is quite important in that what it does is essentially listen for the ignition pulse firing on cylinder number 1, as that is the timing reference to which everything on the machine is slaved. Nothing amiss here that I can see.

Unsurprisingly, the next board along from that is the main timing board - this basically keeps everything in sync with the signal tracked by the trigger control board.



One of the more densely packed boards.

I initially thought that the next board (labelled "AMP" on the card cage) was going to handle a lot of signal amplification...but it actually appears to be the signal processing for the amps and temperature sensors.



This board does have a couple of dry joints that I'll give a tickle with the soldering iron tomorrow.

"CAL" is the next one, which I'm assuming given the precense of several relays, physically connects loads of known values across the inputs to undertake the calibration self test.



Again some of the soldering isn't great looking, but I couldn't actually see any dry joints...I may well reflow some of the heavier connections though as they could be better.

The fact that the only systems which are consistently failing the self calibration are the HC and CO meters is one of the reasons I want to have a really good look at the wiring from the I/O backplane to the sockets at the end of the boom.

Speaking of I/O, that's what the next board is tasked with dealing with.



Nothing wrong with this one that I could see.

Next up is the vertical pre-amplifier board, I believe this relates to the scope.



Quite obvious from the lovely old school hand routed traces that this one and the trigger control board are quite a bit older in design to the majority, though the date codes show they were actually made at the same time as the others.

"Logic Board No. 2" is next...though I don't recall seeing a number 1 anywhere!



I'm guessing a bit, but based on the hardware present that this is just handling some low level buffering or such like they didn't have room for in the main computer cage.

No signs of trouble anyway.

Finally we have an identical pair of cards containing quite beefy deflection amplifiers to drive the CRT (one card handles horizontal, the other vertical).



All of these boards could do with a good clean, as do the digital boards (which I'll grab proper photos of soon too) due to the close proximity of the cooling fan. Shame Sun didn't feel it worthwhile to fit a filter to it.

So nothing nothing obviously amiss there, aside from one resistor which has got a bit warm at some point and one capacitor on the amp/temp board that's got dry joints. I really did want to get them all out for a proper check over though. No socketed ICs or anything like that (which was responsible for the original display issue) in need of attention, but it was worth checking.

Looks like I might actually get a few hours free tomorrow afternoon, if so I'll hopefully get a bit more stuck into trying to work out what's going on with the faults.

The biggest irritation there really is that there don't seem to be many labelled test points, which would make checking to see if all the power supply rails are present and correct (there are a load of them!) a lot easier. Obviously given the card based construction it's a bit tricky to probe a lot of the machine when it's running as the cards are quite tightly packed together.

The other thing I wanted to check these cards for was whether they were hiding any more tantalum capacitors like I've seen on at least one or two of the digital boards, as once I've ascertained how many of them there are they will be getting replaced on mass. Wouldn't surprise me if that alone sorted a lot of the issues based on prior experience.
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Old Nov 24 2019, 07:34 PM   #5134
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Today was the day to get all the digital cards out for a check over and to get everything reseated.

So here are the digital boards, from left to right.

"CRT" - This is responsible for taking the data from the computer and converting it into a composite video signal which is fed to the monitor.



"MUX" - Handles all the analogue to digital conversion, signal processing and such like. Initially I thought "oh my god bodge wires" when I saw this, before realising those wires are all shielded coax, so they have just decided it's a more reliable way of getting a clean signal across the board than using PCB traces. Even if it does look a bit shonky.



The whole machine is astonishingly free of bodge wires actually...especially for a design from the late 70s where they usually would find *something* after the board's had gone to be made...

Lovely white ceramic package on the ADC.

"I/O" - No great surprise, does most of the heavy lifting with regards to the actual I/O side of things.



"CPU" - Unsurprisingly, contains the CPU and the 64kB of RAM it makes use of.



"MEM1" - Basically all the ROM. Interesting to see that while these initially all look to be EPROMS, they're not. While there are some, there are also a shedload of character generators. My guess is they're using this to give greater control over the display without going to the lengths of full bitmap control.



"PP" - Pre-Processor. Not actually entirely sure what this does, though I have to assume basically just does some general housekeeping which we would normally expect to be handled directly by the CPU these days... purely a guess though.



The EPROM here was losing its label, so a bit of black tape was applied to help keep the data safe.

Probably the main reason I would love to find an actual service manual for this (VERY unlikely as Sun kept really quite tight control over) is that it would probably give me a really good breakdown of the actual system architecture - sadly there's a lot of hardware in here I've never worked with before, so there's a learning process involved.

All of the socketed components on these boards were reseated while I had them out, as I knew this had already sorted one problem.

Turns out that while it's not fixed everything (the gas analyser is still failing the self test), it has definitely helped. Previously we had complete nonsense shown on the voltage readout. Now however we seem to have sensible data shown.



The column on the right is showing the data from when I had a car battery connected to the voltage measurement lead, the one on the left is with the leads shorted together. Had to do that as it's smart enough to know when there's nothing connected and will just blank the display for that measurement. Helpful in the real world...but slightly awkward during testing!

Not worrying too much about a 0.2V offset at zero for an instrument of this type, the reading with a load connected was spot on...multimeter was showing 12.23V.

Worth noting that we appear to have more sane readings on the vacuum gauge as well now, that was tending to wander around quite a bit at rest too.

Definitely progress.

Know this is repeating myself to some folks I've spoken to about this, but I figure it's worth mentioning one of my plans for this thing long term to the world at large. One of the useful things about the monitor the computer is that it's simply a self-contained composite unit. The signal from the computer to it is simply carried by a twisted pair of wires. So it would be a truly trivial task to cut into that and introduce a switchable video source.

My intention here is to fit a small self contained computer (probably a Raspberry Pi because I know I can just throw Debian at it rather than having to muck around with it) somewhere in the case. This would then allow me to use the monitor there to view manuals, data sheets, instructional videos etc in the garage on something a bit more user friendly than a tiny phone screen. It's a really nice sharp screen so should do just fine.

I'll do doing nothing which cannot be reversed easily. The only thing I'll need to fit to the outside of the case will be a switch to change video sources. Luckily I won't even need to drill a hole for that as there's a convenient rubber bung by the remote control input for an option port...so I can just put a hole into that rubber bung rather than drilling a hole in the actual case.



Just seems a really nice way to bring it functionally into the 21st century somewhat to help it perform the sort of tasks it was originally designed for. Quite often I find myself in the garage with a wiring diagram of something open on my phone and getting really fed up with the screen turning off every five seconds...so having a fixed screen which I can't drop under the car will be most appreciated.

So that's what will be getting done to improve it in addition to the actual service and repair work.
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Old Nov 25 2019, 10:35 PM   #5135
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Is this the point where I should cue the classic mad scientist manic laughter?



The display is actually a lot sharper than it looks there, my camera is unsurprisingly not too keen of taking photos of an interlaced CRT display. While it's not exactly a 1080p TFT screen, it's perfectly usable and will be more than good enough for looking up the odd bit of information or watching instructional videos on.

There is a little screen burn, but it's really not noticeable in person unless you were actually looking for it. The camera makes it look far worse than it really is.

Test video to see how that looked was of course Aussie50's infamous washing machine destruction video where there really did look to be - as he himself put it, "a real life physics engine malfunction" at one point.



If you want to see what happens when you throw a few kilograms of unbalanced weight into a washing machine which has has the counterweights removed and had the motor hard wired to the mains, the video is over here on YouTube.

Definitely shows that the idea to use the display for dual purposes isn't a bad one. Sure there will be more to follow on that project at a later date.

Edit: Earlier in the evening I was out in the garage executing boring household tasks, namely extracting some stuff from the chest freezer that's been in there for years and is obviously never going to be used. Once I was done with that I figured it was really about time that I gave TPA at least a brief run as I don't think she's been started since I had the wheel stud snap. Decided that while I was at it, I may as well stick the camera recording...the result was a 15 minute or so ramble about the fleet in general and my tip of a garage with some Invacar noises in the middle.

Video is over here on YouTube if anyone wants to watch.

Apologies for the portrait format. I realised I'd made that mistake about five minutes in but really didn't want to start over or have to mess around editing two videos together for what was meant to be a really quick job. Will try to do better next time.

Last edited by Zelandeth; Nov 26 2019 at 03:32 AM. Reason: Added additional video link
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Old Nov 27 2019, 01:11 PM   #5136
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Well that's maddeningly unhelpful.



Car was last running a few days ago. Battery is less than a year old. That isn't just low, that's utterly and completely flat and then some.



Currently on the charger, though then I need to find out why it's flat. Really hoping the alternator isn't having issues, as having to replace that in addition to all the other work that's coming up really might be the straw that broke the camel's back. Especially as it looks like it will be a royal pain to change due to poor access.
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Old Nov 30 2019, 09:18 PM   #5137
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This afternoon an envelope containing four 3/8" BSF bolts dropped through my door.

The big question of course was whether they would fit the hub of the Invacar, given the hassle we've had on that count so far.



Yaaaaaay!

I can now confirm that the threads in the hub are 3/8" BSF.

With a little fermangling the old wheel nuts (which mostly had somewhat mangled threads) were drilled out to act as conical washers for the time being.



These were destined only for the bin so I had no worries about messing with them.

This meant that for the first time since September I was able to attach the wheel to the car again.



...Which meant the car is actually sitting on its wheels again rather than axle stands.



Obviously won't be getting driven on the road like this, especially with the remains of the original stud still being in there. However it will mean that I can at least move the car in and out of the garage until such time as the replacement hub turns up. Given that I need to shift it to get the Crypton machine out of there...that was getting kind of important.

While I was in the garage I figured it was time to have a better look at the booster fan for the heater.

Bit of experimentation was needed, but eventually found somewhere to put it where it was out of the way.



I hadn't been successful in tracking down the correct reducer to attach the ducting straight to the fan housing...so out with the duct tape. Not pretty but it's air tight.



The messy assembly was stuffed back in the corner.



It will be bolted onto the top of that rear wheel tub. Currently it sticks out like a sore thumb. It will however be getting painted in hammered black before I'm done which should make it blend in and look like it's meant to be there.

The airflow isn't fantastic, but is far better than the original setup was unless you were going flat out. Plus you can switch it off...which couldn't reliably be said originally.
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Old Dec 2 2019, 04:15 PM   #5138
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Xantia is now wearing a nice new set of Uniroyal RainExpert 3 tyres.



Tell you what I wasn't expecting...that changing the tyres has reduced road noise by what feels like about 70%. It's not something I was expecting at all, so took me a good few seconds to figure out what had changed.

I'm glad to be back on these tyres to be honest. Have been on others for a few years now down to availability and what cars came with...but the RainExpert has been my tyre of choice going back pretty much to the start of me driving back in 2003.

Annoyingly she will definitely be wanting rear discs for the MOT as they've only been working on a small portion of the rear of the disc - quite likely due to the usual Xantia issue of the caliper alignment being screwed up by dissimilar metal corrosion between the axle and caliper.

Deceptive this problem as the rear brakes don't do much in the Xantia unless you've a lot of weight onboard - the brakes in this one feel quite capable of stopping the rotation of the planet itself as they are.

Front discs will do a bit yet, but the pads are definitely getting towards due for a change.



Couple of weeks over two years and ~20K miles.

The exhaust has also decided to be annoying, having somehow managed to part company with the rearmost hanger.



Still not quite sure how it's managed this...though the whole system appears to have managed to get twisted somehow and this is the first day it's not rattled in several months. Will see if I can convince it to behave tomorrow.

If I can get this exhaust through the MOT I'll be happy...as I'd really rather not have to add another hundred or two onto the bill (and finding systems that actually fit well for the Xantia is a pain at the best of the time, irrespective of price). I'd like to get a stainless system made...but I could do with a chance to recover from the work about to be done before having to pay for that too!
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Old Dec 5 2019, 09:05 PM   #5139
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Well that was a waste of a morning.

Turns out the last email I sent to BL Autos never got through, vanishing into the aether somewhere...so they weren't expecting me to appear this morning as they'd never had the message from me saying I'd be there today. This meant that they had nowhere to put the car and their courtesy car was unavailable. So I was left with no option other than to drive back home and book it back in for the tenth.

Not their fault by any means...just annoying. Could have proven really awkward if I'd got pulled over on the way there for driving with no MOT too as the garage wouldn't have had any idea I was on the way. Luckily that didn't happen.

On the plus side it gives me the opportunity to clean the car up a bit before it goes in. I've removed a load of detritus from the door pockets and boot, and will be able to give it a wash to get the moss out of the window rubbers.

The exhaust was reattached to the rearmost hanger (again) and removed the demountable tow bar having smacked my shins on it for about the 78274638th time.



Just a bit of salt on the roads today...



Turning my attention to the van briefly I wanted to address one of the biggest shortcomings of the saloon heater. Most notably that this is it notionally "off."



The controller stays on so long as there's power. This is hooked directly into the leisure battery so doesn't shut off when the DC stuff in the back is turned off at the control panel. This won't be a huge issue long term as a proper controller will be replacing this piece of tat at some point (the controller is where they skimped most on the production costs), but for now I'd like to be able to turn it off.

Half an hour later this was sorted.





So it's now possible to turn it properly off without having to stand on my head in the side locker to remove the fuse every time.

Obviously you need to wait for the heat exchanger to cool and the fan to stop before you can power it down though or you'll damage it.

Yes it does mean the clock resets to 00:00 every time you turn things back on...but as the clock keeps laughably poor time (loses about five minutes a day!) that's not really an issue.

... I'm trying to resist the very strong urge to reposition the controller so it's level given it will be getting replaced and be returned to the original location on the wall...but it's really bugging me.
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Old Yesterday, 08:00 PM   #5140
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Well that was unexpected. Someone has just made me a distinctly left field potential swap offer for the Lada.

My initial reaction is an equal mix of the following:

"Hell yes! Not going to get another shot at that! You only live once."

Plus...

"Oh my god...what are you thinking...run for the hills!"

Not going to drop any more details yet as nothing has been agreed yet...but definitely considering the offer.
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