Your worst project?



It was used on their 8088 based computer.
Wayne
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I had hard sector floppy version of CP/M on my 8080B from Altair. I had gotten it from Lifeboat and it was on soft sector. But knowing the hardware I could copy soft to hard and viola. Config time then!
I had Forth as well and naturally Cobol, and extended Basic, and Fortran. All this on the 8080 and it ran just fine. I created Fortran routines for a company using larger mini machines. Nice to have home computing. This was in the latter 70's. By Mid 80 the 8088 IBM PC floppy and Floppy/HD came out. The AT was later an 8086 machine along with other business models.
Martin H. Eastburn @ home at Lions' Lair with our computer lionslair at consolidated dot net TSRA, Life; NRA LOH & Patron Member, Golden Eagle, Patriot's Medal. NRA Second Amendment Task Force Charter Founder IHMSA and NRA Metallic Silhouette maker & member. http://lufkinced.com /
NoOne N Particular wrote:

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    Hmm ... wasn't that machine called the 8800B instead?

    Nice trick. Some controllers would only work with soft sectored disks -- if the controller didn't see an ID sector, it would give up. The hard sectors got more data on the disk -- but you lost flexibility in sector size.
    I remember having problems with the distribution floppy disks for OS/9, and having to copy them to other disks (It turned out that my only double-sided 5.25" floppy was suffering from a dying (and massively overloaded) set of spindle bearings. They had used flanged bearings, but ball and not designed for axial loads, but the pulley end of the shaft was secured by a screw and washer into the end of the shaft, compressing the bearings seriously, and then locked with Glyptal. I got some replacement bearings and turned a spacer sleeve to go between the inner races to keep the load down to a reasonable level, and that drive became usable again.
    In the meanwhile, the copies were done on a track-by-track basis, and wound up totally scrambled because of different interleave. I had to figure out how to unscramble the sectors before I could load OS-9 into the system -- from the 8" floppies which worked, not the single double-sided 5.25" one which cogged and thus changed the speed enough so the data was unreadable.

    The FORTRAN for the SWTP 6800 with SSB DOS-68 never worked for me for whatever reason.
    And no COBOL either. Lots of versions of BASIC, including (later) ones with good random file access support, when DOS-68 got up to a version which could handle that.

    Wasn't the AT based on the 80286, not the 8086? Yes, I agree that the original PC was on the 8088 not the 8086.
    And there *was* an 8088 based CP/M for the original PCs, but it would not work on anything from 80286 on up. :-) I had one to play with for a while. (Actually, I probably still have it somewhere.)
    Enjoy,         DoN.
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DoN. Nichols wrote:

Yeesh, that was the Signetics/Intel 3002 series, with their insane local branching scheme, where your program listing had to be a 2D grid, with routines writhing all over the map like snakes!

Not much. This was really old-school Schottky TTL, there was a limit on how much they could put in one chip without thermal problems. The registers were external to the ALU chips, and you had to decode the register addresses. I could have made it un faster with faster register chips, but they would run even hotter, and be a lot less capable. The AMD register chips had 3 ports, 2 for reading one for writing, and there wasn't much alternative. 55 ns access time, I seem to recall, sounded blindingly fast at the time!

Yes, of course, how could I have forgotten that. I spent a LOT of time working with it, even rigged up a VERY early Memorex 10 MB Winchester drive to it, also has a 12" vector-writing CRT with a light pen, and a Honeywell 600 LPM drum printer, also 800 BPI 9-track mag tape for backup.

it would have been impressive if I'd ever gotten it running. I had 2 MB of Memorex 3rd party static RAM memory out of IBM 370's at work that were scrapped. I was going to build an interface between that memory and the 32-bit CPU, which would have allowed me to actually run a program on the thing. But, the microcoding was a total nightmare, partly because the tools I had were a bit primitive. It took me a couple days to write the code to do the simplest operations, like add 2 numbers together and write the result in another register. The last thing I did was get a simple 32x32 -> 64 bit multiply working. Next would have been divide, and I think that's about where the project stopped.

I got a SGI Iris 2020 off the loading dock at work. It almost booted up, you could look around in the file system, etc. I got some help on the net and determined the graphics engine was bad, and bought all the boards out of a German guy's system for $100. His graphics engine worked, and the thing came up and ran their OS and nifty demos like the "flight simulator". It ran for about 2 years and then the graphics engine blew again. I sold all the guts for $200 to a broker. This machine was so far beyond obsolete it wasn't funny. 68020, I think.
My VAX just died this year, after 20 years of operation, and a number of upgrades. It is also mighty far out of date, 0.9 MIPS, 4 MB of memory. I had one last application running on it for the last 7 years, an energy/environment monitoring system that has a couple LCD displays around the house that show time, inside and outside temp, humidity, etc. and also logs a whole bunch of info on furnace and air cond operation to a file every 15 seconds. I finally migrated the code and interface over to my server PC. Every night it summarizes the day's data. Used to take 3 minutes on the VAX while the displays froze. On the PC it takes 0.7 seconds, so the clock display never misses a beat.
Jon
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    [ ... ]

    Perhaps it is just as well that I did not start collecting hardware to try that then. :-) And at that time, the 6800 was my only view of how a CPU should be configured.

    Before the LS series, then.
    Of course, I still have some plain pre-Schottky TTL just plain "SN7400"s and similar. (Then again -- I also still have the Altair 680b. :-)

    Yep -- considering what I was usually working with which was doing amazing things if it reached a 150 nS access time. :-)
    [ ... ]

    At first, I did not have *any* OS for the Altair 680b -- until I wire-wrapped an interface for a digital cassette drive and burned routines to read and write Motorola Hex format data to/from it and added commands to the monitor ROM to use those. Everything had to live in 1720 EPROMs (256x8 IIRC, and slow enough so the 680b was clocked down to 500 KHz instead of the native 1 MHz for the CPU. And the 6800 seemed to do a little more at 1 MHz than the 8080 at 2MHz -- did things on each edge of the clock pulse, instead of just one edge.
    The SWTP 6800 I ran on floppys (both 8" and 5.25") for quite a while, and was finally replaced with the SWTP 6809, using the same disks and controller cards. then I picked up an IMI 5MB hard disk with a controller whose external interface looked a bit like SASI, but wasn't quite it. I first wrote drivers for DOS-69 (rather CP/M like, except that it didn't have PIP as a command and was 6.3 filename format -- I think that CP/M was 8.3 like early MS-DOS. However, since DOS-69 (and its predecessor DOS-68) did not have a subdirectory structure, a 5MB drive got awfully cluttered, so I took the time to write drivers for OS-9 (unix-like OS for the 6809), and OS-9 was quite happy with the disks. I added another of those to max out that controller, then added two 27 MB MFM drives with a SASI (pre-SCSI) controller, and wire-wrapped an interface for that. That worked quite well until it got replaced by my first unix system, the Cosmos CMS-16/UNX which was based on an 8MHz Motorola 68000 CPU.
    [ ... ]

    O.K. About where it started to get really complex -- especially with primitive development tools.

    Hmm ... Well, I went through the 68000 (on the Cosmos CMS-16/UNX), then the 68010 (AT&T Unix-PC followed by Sun 2/120) before I finally got to the 68020 with the Sun-3 family.

    I have a friend who might have been able to sell you the parts to get it running again. But he strips machines and sells parts to dealers, so the prices would probably not be too friendly. :-)

    Isn't it amazing how much faster today's systems are. I tend to forget -- until I have to dig up the older ones to extract something for someone -- in particular the AT&T Unix-PC/7300/3B1, which was 10 MHz 68010. It seemed pretty fast compared to the v7 unix on the 8MHz 68000, but now that I am used to Ultra-SPARCs that is a different matter.
    Out of curiosity -- were you running VMS or a unix on the VAX?
    Enjoy,         DoN.
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DoN. Nichols wrote: Jon ELson wrote:

Either the hard drive or the 3rd party controller has died, or the drive cables got a bad connection. This was a 1 GB 8" hard drive I literally pulled out of the dumpster and was astounded it worked for 5+ years. I just haven't had the need to get into it to try to get it running again. I was in the process of pulling the files off it. Some are for historical interest, some are daily environmental data that is only of a little use. I have much of the data on mag tapes, but don't have a tape drive hooked to the PC. I have a Pertec formatter to SCSI adaptor that might work for that. Again, haven't gotten around to fooling with it.

VMS. I was a card-carrying Unix hater for years. I tried out Unix-derived systems starting in 1976, and was supremely unimpressed, time after time. I cloned a National Semi 32016 system that I talked a department at work to buy, running Genix, and used it for a while. (My clone had slow memory on it that made it quite a bit worse than the bought machine.) It was spectacularly slow, but it worked for some of the stuff I was doing. I ran it for a year, I guess, back in the mid 80's. I tried to write a printer driver for it for my salvaged Versatec electrostatic printers, and it worked OK in character mode, but it was WAY too slow in graphics (raster) mode, and took 10 minutes or something per page. I just didn't have the knowledge to hack a driver properly, I think it was allocating and freeing storage one byte at a time for the print FIFO.
Then, finally, Linux came along, and while it still had the taint of C and unix commands, which grew like topsy in typical hacker form, a lot of improvements have been made. This is the first Unix-derived system I used that ran X, maybe that is the difference. Or, maybe it is the first system that I made the move to write in C, rather than trying to use historical programming languages like FORTRAN and Pascal with poorly-done translators or hobby-level compilers. (Metalworking content: The way I got dragged into Linux was through the EMC project and I got on board as the second outside user (outside NIST, that is) in 1997. I had it running my Bridgeport in 1998. Maybe it was having a real, complete, running project on Linux that got me inside, and learning how to compile, use make, emacs, Tk/Tcl, and etc.) Linux has come a long way in 10 years, too!
Jon
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    Was this a genuine DEC drive, or a third-party drive? I used to work with 1GB 8" drives with SMD format cables from the controller cards on Solbourne rack-mount systems running variants of SunOs 4.1.X at the time. They shut down computer making about the time of the move to Solaris, though I still have a couple of Solbourne desktop machines, which were faster than the SS-2s of the same period. They are now retired, as newer machines are so *much* faster. :-) Unfortunately, the 1GB SMB 8" drives moved into the classified area and were thus "contaminated" with classified data, so they could never be thrown out and put to private use. Instead, if they ever get fully retired, they need to be slagged or otherwise destroyed.
    My first v7 unix system wound up running on Fujitsu M2312K drives, 8", and 84 MB with the SMD interface. Of course, that system is also fully retired by now -- but I learned a lot from it. :-)

    So the 8" drive was SCSI, not SMD?

    While I took to unix very happily -- through the OS-9 path. I've never used VMS, but the flavor of the commands which I have seen (and the ftp format needed to get things from the original Simtel-20, which was a DecSystem 20, IIRC) kept me convinced that I would not like it. :-)

    Hmm ... I've got a couple of Tektronix 6130s -- 32016 based, with a BSD 4.2 flavor of unix.

    Hmm ... SunOs 4.1.x came with a Versatec driver as one of the standard ones. I just never had the printer to use with it. :-) (And I did write to a Versatec from a CDC 6600 long ago, writing some 3D view graphics files -- and I was not impressed with the quality -- just the length of plot which could come out of it. :-)

    I've never really seen a linux that I like. I have been really happy with both the old SunOs 4.1.x (BSD flavored) and the later versions of Solaris -- especially Solaris 10, which you can download for free from Sun's site. I also like OpenBSD for systems which are going to be exposed to the outside net, though less so for workstations. They make great firewalls, however -- and on just about any platform you have around. :-)

    Well ... most of my earlier unix machines had no GUI, or in the case of the AT&T Unix-PC/7300/3B1, there was a GUI, but a rather klugey one. The first X11 that I used was on the Sun 2/120, and on from there continuing.

    My first serious work in C was on OS-9, which did have a real C compiler, unlike the Tiny C variants on the DOS-68 systems. By the time I got my v7 unix box I was quite at home with C.

    O.K. You got into EMC rather early allright. Are you using the Servo-to-go card and servos, or are you using steppers?
    Enjoy,         DoN.
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DoN. Nichols wrote: Jon Elson wrote:

Fujitsu SCSI drive, 3rd party controller. I started with DEC MFM drives, went to ESDI, finally to SCSI. I have a Pertec formatter to SCSI

Yes, but the above was talking about a mag tape adaptor i got of a Digi-Data streaming tape drive we had at work - the worst POS I've ever seen. Brand-new drive, 4 months old, started burning out read-amp chips, and they cost $100 each. I have some CDC-MPI Keystone 92185 tape drives, really good streaming 1600/6250 BPI drives, but these have the Pertec formatter interface, and SCSI would be a lot easier way to connect to a PC. I haven't tried this adaptor out to see if it will work with the keystone drives, but I suspect it will.

Well, it didn't have the piping concept, but the command language was VERY well constructed and uniform over all the commands, unlike the way things are in the Unix shells. One major difference is VMS's Record Management System was part of the kernel, so the file system was essentially a database, if you needed to search on record keys.

I don't even know what a 6130 is. I have some Tek 9200 logic analyzers that have 68030's in them, I think.

Yeas, as soon as the first under-$10K laser printer came out, Versatec was DEAD! Horrible ugly-feeling paper, like handling a dirty chalkboard.

Well, I have one app that NEEDS Linux, the EMC machine tool control. And another that is only supported on Linux and Windows, I think, FlightGear. Is there a VMware version for Solaris? I need that to run Windows apps under Linux.

I used a Servo-to-Go card for years, but eventually had to upgrade the PC hardware (going flaky) and move to more current software, so I finally started using my own interface hardware on it. (Something like the shoemaker's kids going barefoot.) I am a stepper-hater, or servo-snob, so I don't have any steppers on my machines.
Jon
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    [ ... ]

    Ouch!
    Hmm ... HP made a nice front-loading self-threading tape drive (which we had with the Solbournes), which was SCSI interface. And I've got one which is AT&T branded, and which was thus slightly incompatible with the Sun or Solbourne drivers of the time. I should try it with Solaris 10 to see whether it can work properly there.

    Hmm ... while with unix you can pick the shell which you particularly like. I use tcsh for a command-line shell, and zsh for writing scripts -- because it will do the looping structures from tcsh, but is a bit friendlier for certain other features. :-)

    Well ... I have known of people who use the long filenames possible in the BSD FFS (also present in all versions of SunOs and Solaris which I have used) as the first stage of a database, using the shell's wildcarding to pre-select records form very ugly filenames. :-)

    The 6130 was also built on the 32016 -- and its main claim to fame is an IEEE-488 interface for controlling test equipment. All of an 80 MB internal disk drive, and no format command on the system -- but it did have a plugin card to allow SCSI devices, which I used for backup tapes -- but never found a way to format drives properly for mounting on the system. It had the ability to be a workstation, but neither of mine had the framebuffer cards, so I used them either via serial port and terminals, or rlogin via ethernet. (Needless to say, these days I would keep them on the protected side of a firewall -- though probably most attack would be looking for newer systems. :-)

    :-)
    I wonder what the technology which It used was? It looked sort of like a raster scanned photo buildup. Was it wet or dry processed?
    Now, if I could just find a good laser printer which could print on a roll of paper, I would be happy. :-)

    Maybe or maybe not. Solaris is supposed to be a real-time OS to start with, and with a PCI version of the Servo-To-Go card it should be possible to bring it up on any of the Ultra systems (which all have PCI slots instead of Sbus.) I've been sort of considering trying that with my Bridgeport. (The linux seems to not be stable with my current hardware, and I've never finished the conversion of the machine -- which started life as a Bridgeport Series-I BOSS-3 running on an old quad-wide LSI-11. The system had a massive case of electronic Altzheimer's, and would forget what it was doing within fifteen seconds of being reset. Usually, that was not enough time to load a tiny progrma to test it. :-)
    More about it later.

    That I don't know. I've never wanted to run Windows under Solaris -- though I do have a card which should allow me to run it in one of the PCI slots -- if I ever take the time to load the drivers and then the OS.

    Well ... I've got steppers on my Emco-Maier Compact-5/CNC lathe, but it came with them.
    I've been converting the controller to EMC based, and the steppers to servo motors, with one serious hangup. The servos are a lot longer than the original steppers. The Y-axis stepper fit into a recess in the knee, and the servo can't fit. I've got to build an alternate motor mount/belt guard which slopes at a 45 degree angle down to the right, so the motor winds up beside the knee instead of trying to stab through the knee's jackscrew. :-) And to do this properly, I really need welding capability -- which I do not yet have. Or I need to get the motor mount assembly from a later Bridgeport -- from after *they* moved to servos.
    I've got all the servos, and some nice self-powered servo amps. It will all go into a (Plexi)glass-fronted relay rack to keep the chips out of the electronics, and the vibration out of the electronics, too. I plan to hang a dedicated VFD on the spindle motor, and use the Servo-to-go card's 4th axis to feed it command voltage for the selected spindle speed to keep from having to crank the pulley speed change cranks as much. :-)
    Enjoy,         DoN
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DoN. Nichols wrote:

There were two front-loading 9-track drives. i don't think either of them were very good, but the Digi-Data was certainly one of the worst things I've ever seen. It could have amazing disasters during threading, and I suspect any tape in the drive when it faults or loses power is trash, as it will simply slide off the hub onto the bottom of the drive when tension is lost.

No, this wasn't just file names, (although it was a part of directory searching) it had all the possible lowest-level indexed, multi-keyed and hashed record location features built into the FS.

Very wet. There was a big bottle of toner, which had something like laser toner suspended in some kind of solvent that smelled a little like paint thinner, a little like gasoline. Just writing about it, I can smell the stuff now! Yucck!
Anyway, the paper had a (clay?) dielectric on one side, it had a backplate with about 1" bars that were charged to 800 V, and wire electrodes at 400 V (2112 across ~10.5") to give 200 pixels/inch. A massive stepper motor drove the paper feed. It could do 1200 LPM in print mode, the paper just SPEWED out of the thing. It could have gone faster, but the stepper couldn't keep up. No computer we had could pump raster data fast enough to keep up with it, but we could still get one-page plots in 10-15 seconds.

Yes, that was the ONE advantage of the Versatec, but the rest of it was a DIS-advantage.

There IS no PCI version of the Servo-to-Go card. Strictly ISA, and thus woefully obsolete. My hardware runs on an IEEE-1284 capable parallel port. Is the real time compatible with rtai? I've been sort of considering trying that with

Bridgeport never got the hang of cooling electronics, all their gear cooked chips. They also built their own, very bad, power supplies. I know garage hardware hackers who have no formal training in electronics who build MUCH better gear than the old BOSS systems. Not a whole lot of LSI-11's around that still work.

That is a common issue. The Y-axis stepper fit into a recess

I need some of the same parts. I have a 1938 round-ram Bridgeport that I converted to CNC, but it still has the short knee from those days. I pcked up a later BOSS knee and saddle that have been stripped, and have been accumulating bits for it, to eventually put it on the old machine. I found a new Y ballscrew on eBay, but haven't come up with an X screw, yet. And, I need all the bearing mounts/belt housings, etc. Not a big rush, as it still has a lot of scraping to do before it is ready to go on.
Jon
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    [ ... ]

    [ ... ]

    Ouch! The HP was quite forgiving -- but there were flanges on the take-up hub in that machine, so it would have been better once it got threaded.
    [ ... ]

    O.K. Glad that I didn't try for one at the on-post surplus sales. For all I know, it came from the computer center where I used it that once -- but since it was a mainframe, I had to use it at a distance. :-)
    [ ... ]

    Just as it is the one advantage of a drum plotter which I have. Resolution is 0.010", almost direct drive of stepper motors from the computer, something like a 15 V input signal, even though it was low current. It required a special wire-wrapped interface from my SWTP 6809.
    The advantage of that roll paper feed was that I could directly plot the fret positions for a stringed instrument.
    [ ... ]

    So I see after visiting their web site. There is simply the original (which I have) and the second version, which is still ISA.

    RTAI? What is that? The later Suns (including my SB-1000s) have a fully programmable parallel port, once you find the right termio signals to send to the driver. I would Google for RTAI, but the time is getting too close to go to the CAMS (Chesapeake Area Metalworking Society) meeting here in Virginia. (Alternate months are in VA and MD, and only the VA one is close enough to be really reasonable with a SUV which takes lots of fuel to carry the show-and-tell metalworking things to the meeting. :-)

    O.K. I've got three of them -- but the rest of the system locked up regularly. Actually -- the only time it behaved normally was when it was too hot in the shop for *me* to work without drowning the machine is salty sweat. :-(

    Do you know that the X-axis ballscrew does not turn? It is rigidly mounted to the right-hand end of the table, and the ball *nut* is what is turned between two matched bearings. The advantages are:
1)    The leadscrew cannot whip with a quick move.
2)    The ball screw cover is simpler -- a telescoping flat spring     wound around the ballscrew.
    And do you have the Series-I head for the CNC version? The ball screw for that is hollow -- surrounding the quill, with the ball nut rotating around that, so the thrust is truly on axis.

    Just as I don't have a great hurry here. I've got a nice Nichols horizontal mill with a vertical head which works nicely for manual milling.
    Enjoy,         DoN.
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DoN. Nichols wrote: Jon Elson wrote :

I still have a Calcomp 1076C plotter, takes up to size E paper, has servos that give 3 G accel and 50+ IPS motion. Mostly it just tears paper and wrecks $30 ceramic pen nibs (probably because I don't know how to set it up right.) I haven't turned it on in 5+ years, but being high-quality gear it most likely would fire right up if I did.
I did just get a color laser printer off the loading dock at work, where people set cast-offs that somebody may want. It almost worked, and with a little web searching, I found there's a little damper pad that works out of position and fouls up the pull-in time of a solenoid. Difficult to get to, but insanely easy to fix once you have it apart. Prints incredibly good color output.

A friend of mine did exactly the same on an ancient Calcomp at the Wash Univ. data center some 30+ years ago.

Yes, can't imagine they sell a whole bunch of them anymore.

Rtai is the current real time "extension" for Linux. It actually runs above the Linux kernel, and makes Linux the lowest priority task. The RT programs run as loadable kernel modules, and run with kernel privileges, and also kernel restrictions. The later Suns (including my SB-1000s)

The advantage of the IEEE-1284 (EPP) mode of the PC parallel port is it does all the handshaking between the PC CPU and the device(s) on the parallel port in hardware, so you can read or write a register on the device with a single CPU instruction, and do single-byte transfers at the rate of every 800 ns or so.

Yes, and I've actually got a screw made like that from some other machine, but it is obviously not a Bridgeport BOSS part. It actually would work pretty well, and I may use it, but I will have to machine all the attachment hardware to use it. I'm still deciding whether that screw should go on the mill or the lathe.

No, I do not have this. I have a usable 1J head that I have added a ballscrew assembly to the front of the housing, as close to the quill as I can get it. It has a little flex in the linkage, but the backlash is barely over .001", so I am mostly satisfied with it. You can see my insane hack job of a retrofit http://jelinux.pico-systems.com/CNCconv.html
Jon
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    Yep! Calcomp was the brand.

    Hmm ... a much faster one than what I have. The pitch of the steppers is in the mid-low audio region -- 100 Hz, IIRC.

    Nice! I've got an HP LaserJet 5C which has died as a result of a series of power glitches when a tree was blowing into the big three-phase wiring at the head of the block -- which I can't get as three phase in the house here. :-(
    It appears to have blown a fuse -- but I can't find a fuse anywhere accessible from the outside, I guess that I'll have to rip it apart, which is going to need some help moving it to where I can work on it. Too little access from any side but the front where it is.
    Or -- get a more recent laser printer -- though the LaserJet 4+ still works beautifully.

    Probably the same model of Calcomp. It was a three digit starting with 8 (the paper roll width in inches, IIRC). There was also a three-foot wide one at work.
    [ ... ]

    Hmm -- I don't know, to be honest. I seem to remember that the EMC project has gone through about three real-time mods to Linux over time, and what you are describing sounds like the first.

    O.K. I've not tried low-level driving the parallel port on these -- I've pretty much ignored it.
    What I would like would be a small box which would hang on the ethernet and translate packets to what is needed for the controller hardware.

    O.K.
    That sounds like the conversion which Anilam hung on a Taiwanese clone of the Bridgeport which we had at work. The main worry was that the off-center thrust would accelerate wear of the quill in the head casting -- especially with the number of cycles possible with CNC.

    O.K. That looks reasonably workable.
    You know that the EMC project has moved outside of NIST now, and is under the URL of www.linuxcnc.org IIRC.
    Interestingly enough, this has drifted back *on* topic -- still without the "Subject: " header changing, however. :-)
    Enjoy,         DoN.
--
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(too) near Washington D.C. | http://www.d-and-d.com/dnichols/DoN.html
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wrote:

Also OS9. Ran well on 6809 based systems. True multi-user multi-tasking on a pico-power system. (I have OS9 for Radio Shack CoCo)

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    --Well here's a link to some of my smaller mistakes: http://www.nmpproducts.com/mistakes.htm     ...but my biggest mistake was probably "Z-Key", a hex key that fits in a tight place and has plenty of torque. Sounds like a good idea but after I spent something like $20k on tooling I found I couldn't even give them away. Sigh.     --Oh, and then there was that day in 1974 when, having recieved the first stipend from my 10-years-dead father's estate, I drove my excellent little VW beetle over to the Porsche dealer and swapped it for a 911-S. In the ten years I owned that car the maintenance bills would have bought two brand new beetles.     --Next boondoggle: I'm getting ready to build a weird car from the ground up, with surplus parts (lesson #1: don't buy new if you can get it used and in good condition!). If it doesn't work at least I won't be out too much hard cash.
--
"Steamboat Ed" Haas : Whatever happened
Hacking the Trailing Edge! : to Tom Nelson?
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Sounds interesting. I for one would be interested to hear more about it, if it's not too painful to discuss.
Speaking of painful to discuss:
Without a doubt, bar none, my biggest boondoggle (ongoing, slowly) is my shop & house project. I'm severely allergic to burying my butt in loans, and I have been throughly disgusted with various shoddy crap I've found in dealing with multiple houses built by others over the course of time, so I wanted one where I could look in the mirror and complain straight to the idiot that screwed things up.
The house is still a figment, the shop is going up first. Land was bought in 1998. A backhoe was bought in 1999. Driveway through the woods took a while. Concrete was poured and much progress made in 2003. Since then, things have slowed down a lot. It's still more of a construction project than a place I can actually get woodworking and metalworking done. I'd no doubt be further along if I was cursing some idiot's shoddy construction, and paying to heat their crappy insulation, and (ewww) paying interest at the frigging bank.
Should be nice whenever it's finally done, but in hindsight I should have bought the house with a garage and two shops that came on the market at a tolerable (but mortgage needed) price a couple years after we bought the land.
Still, not a cent borrowed so far.
As for having someone else do the work - other than my concrete contractor, I've yet to find anyone to do the work right - in fact, the other major thing I contracted out needs to be fixed, still, as the roof is definitely sub-par.
If doing it over, I'd make it larger area and one story, as the second story (staging, getting stuff up there, etc) is a big part of what's taking so long.
--
Cats, coffee, chocolate...vices to live by

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    --Ping me offlist and I'll regale you with details of how not to get rich, heh.
--
"Steamboat Ed" Haas : Whatever happened
Hacking the Trailing Edge! : to Tom Nelson?
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On Thu, 22 Nov 2007 23:01:12 -0600, Ignoramus689

I'm afraid that it's got to be listening to my neighbour when he suggested that we could clean up the corners of the pit that we had excavated for under my workshop, by driving the mini-backhoe into said pit (water table is very high in my garden). The result cost me a week's work about $3000 and a lot of stress:-
http://www.test-net.com/workshop/day6.html
The pit does the job it was intended for, but is neither as big or as deep as I had planned. If I were to do the job again under similar conditions I would dig out trenches and immediately fill them with concrete and rebar before the ground had a chance to move. Once the concrete was hardened I would excavate the ground from the centre section, pumping as necessary to control water ingress.
Mark Rand RTFM
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Mark, of all bad projects mentioned here, yours is the most spectacular. If anyone has not yet seen the pictures, it is highly recommended to take a look!!!
i
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http://www.test-net.com/workshop/day6.html

It's got my vote. It hurts just to LOOK at the pictures. Musta been some week.
My condolences to your wife.
Steve
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