Concerts, IRIS fault finding and late night openings
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Many months of hard work and long hours by Matthew Applegate (Pixelh8) culminated in two very successful concert nights of his new work Obsolete? Both nights had a full house of nearly 100 people (with standing room only) and we were delighted to see Imogen Heap was a special guest on Saturday night. Feedback from both nights was excellent and Matthew expressed his thanks to the trustees and volunteers of the museum for helping him achieve his success over the past months.
After each of the concerts on Friday and Saturday we opened the museum to those who attended and we had two really successful nights. Saturday evening had almost all the attendees wandering around and we eventually closed the museum at 10pm, having been open since 1pm in the afternoon. A great time was had by all and the feedback from those visiting the museum was really positive.
The IRIS air traffic control system failed to start up on Friday when Kevin M switched it on, so was not running for the evening museum opening, which was a disappointment. On Saturday Peter V and Ben spent most of the morning and afternoon trying to figure out why one of the PDP 11/84s (the BEG responsible for the radar processing) did not boot. It was the same issue seen a few weeks ago but reseating the cards failed to resolve the problem this time and the pressure was on to get the system going again for the evening opening. It took a few hours to work out the connections between the two PDP 11/84s (RBEG & BEG) and the Newman SSD (connected to and accessed through the RBEG) and thus discover the hardware involved in the booting process. The interface between the BEG and RBEG used a DZS11 serial card in the RBEG and if that failed then the BEG could not access the Newman SSD via the RBEG so was a likely candidate for the problem. Fortunately LATCC supplied a lot of spares with the system so a replacement serial card of the same mod level was found, a quick soldering iron job done to set the correct addressing links to match new with old and it was fitted into the RBEG. There was relief and elation when the BEG started to boot and the system was fully operational 10 minutes later. It continued to work reliably for the remainder of the afternoon and throughout the late opening where it got a lot of attention, which was good to see.
John S made a suggestion a week ago about running some Elliott 803 mini training courses and a number of volunteers said they were interested in attending. On Saturday John gave his first course on the Power supply for the main processor cabinets which lasted about 1 1/2 hours. After this some of the group continued with the investigation of the strange smell detailed last week. Unfortunately the smell did not occur during the day so the source could not be traced, but the main batter charger is still the most likely cause. Further investigation will continue when the smell returns but the system is operating again.
Kevin B also created a new music paper tape for the 803. It was the theme from Monty Python and sounded really good (for an 803!). The actual title of the tune was "The Liberty Bell" by John Philip Sousa. We are trying to decide what tune to suggest next so we will see what Kevin B comes up with.
Pete H finally completed the kitchen during the week so we were able to move some of the kitchen stuff out of the office into it and gain some space back. It looks really nice - Well done Pete.
Tony F completed the installation of the visitor counters which are working a treat - good work Tony. They still need calibrating but we should now be able to get a good idea of visitor numbers.
A few more bits and pieces were done in the new PC gallery by Kevin M. Again the trial visitors who saw the new PC gallery as well as those from the concert were really impressed with what has been done. We invited the park volunteers around the museum on Wednesday night and they too were impressed with the new PC gallery.
Work has stated in ernest on a new display gallery with Tony F clearing out most of the equipment from the room designated for the displays. This new gallery will be describing Britain's key role in the technology of the internet and packet switching, and the current plan is for it to be very audio-visual. More details will be released once things are finalised.
Saturday was another busy day for visitor numbers.