NEWS: VAXbar goes on the road!

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[Inside the VAXbar] [VAXbar and builder]

The perfect thing after a Byte to eat:

A drink from the VAXbar!

The VAX 11/780 has always held a lot of sentimental value for me. Like your first love, you never forget your first computer. An 11/780 was the first computer I programmed on in the early '80s. My very first program, a test of a FORTRAN subroutine, I jokingly called ``FAST.EXE'' so that I could ``RUN FAST'' under VMS. Noteworthy because it was the first in Digital's very popular VAX line of computers, the 780 is also one of the few computers that can actually be considered a ``classic.'' Not only did it play a pivotal role in the mini-computer revolution, but it also evolved into a standard: Sure, it was the standard VUP (for VAX Unit of Performance) for the entire subsequent VAX computer line, but the widely used Specmark 89, Specint92 and Specfp92 benchmarks are also based on it.

So, when a VAX 11/780 donated to the HACKS computer club was on the loading dock headed for the dump after its CPU and memory boards were stripped for parts to get two other broken 780s working, I persuaded fellow HACKS members to let me have it and find another use for it. My ideas were either a bookcase for the ``Grey Wall'' of VMS books or a wetbar. Since I didn't have my own copy of the VMS documentation at that time, the wetbar idea was the obvious choice!

I spent quite a bit of time removing scores of left over wires and plastic wire tie wraps attached to the system cabinet with double backed tape. I also had to remove the three large CPU cooling fans.

With all the boards out of the card cage, the area seemed the perfect place for a countertop. I used the card cage support beams to hold it and the front rail to hold the lip of the countertop. I chose an almond-colored countertop as a reasonable match to the doors and side panels instead of the top, because I couldn't find one in Digital Blue! Since there was some spare countertop, I cut one side of it to use as a back splash guard. A hot and cold bar faucet was easy enough to find, but the choice of a sink was very limited due to the small 8 7/8 inch clearance between the two beams. After looking through many catalogs and visiting a few plumbing fixture places, I luckily found a small 8 7/8 x 11 1/2 inch oval bar sink that just barely fit. The bottom right 19 x 23 inch compartment for the DX01 console floppy drive also turned out to be perfect for a 1.7 cubic foot refrigerator.

[Front panel schematic] I wanted to tap into the front system control panel to operate various things I would put into the cabinet. It had two cables coming from it: a two wire cable which appeared to be for power and a 10-pin flat cable that carried the status of the switches and key setting. Due to the kindness of the local Digital service guy, I received a photocopy of the electronic schematic for the front panel circuit, and most importantly the pin assignments for the cable and panel power requirements.

[View from behind] The original power distribution box was perfect for the VAXbar power supply since it already had nine dual electrical sockets. The control panel needed 5V DC, so I got an AC/DC converter and installed it in the box. I also installed a 10-pin din jack into the top of the box so I could plug in the cable from the front panel. After some unsuccessful experiments with mechanical relay switches, I ended up using more expensive solid-state relays to be switched by the signals from the front panel. The front panel allowed me to have four separately switched dual outlets. [Inside Power box] The first set controlled by the Auto-Reboot switch, turns two clip-on lights on and off. A second set, controlled by holding down the Boot switch, operates a blender left in the ON position. The other two banks of power sockets are controlled by the front panel key switch. One is operated by the Remote (ON) or Local (OFF) position and is hooked up to the fridge. The other is controlled by the Disable (ON) or Not Disable (OFF) position and is not currently used.

The finishing touches included the slide-out plastic tub for ice and drinks in the compartment for the LSI-11 and battery backup, various bar accessories and the magnetic VAXbar sign.

The odd thing is.... I don't even drink. Well... maybe sometimes.

I would like to thank the University of Arizona Hardware And Computer Knowledge Society for letting me rescue the gutted shell from oblivion. I'd also like to thank my father for making the VAXbar magnetic sign and Tamara Fischell for taking some of the photos.

[On/Off VAXbar animation]

$ show system
BAR/VMS V1.0  on node VAXBAR  28-JUN-1997 18:11:08.82  Uptime 2190 17:43:42
  Pid    Process Name    State  Pri      I/O       CPU       Page flts  Pages
00001010 REFRIGERATOR    HIB      4     1212   0 00:10:12.23      4125    150
00000800 LIGHTS          COM      6     9121   0 00:34:23.11      1231    343
00000412 BLENDER         HIB      4     3412   0 00:23:49.32      1341    111
00000169 SINK            LEF      3      211   0 00:01:12.66       231    222
$ logout
  BARTENDER    logged out at 28-JUN-1997 18:11:23.75

VAXbar Gallery

[The VAXbar] [VAXbar and I]
[Sink area]
[Beer/Soda Tub] [Refrigerator]

NEWS: VAXbar goes on the road!

The VAXbar was at the OpenVMS campground at Fall '97 DECUS in Anaheim, California, November 1-6.

[Marilyn shows off the VAXbar]
For more pictures and info, see the
VAXbar at DECUS page.

Last modified on November 21, 1997 by Vance Haemmerle

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