Holidays, new gallery started and Elliott 803 activities

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After a much needed holiday in Cornwall for some of the volunteers over the past 2 weeks, it's back to volunteering at the museum (which we all enjoy, honest!)... This blog covers the previous 2 weeks activities

New gallery work starts

After several months of planning and design by museum volunteers and trustees, along with a very generous financial donation (who have asked not to be named just yet), Bex, our display fitters, made a start on the building work required for a new gallery. This is being done in an area of the museum not yet open to the public so we are very excited at being able to finally open up more of the museum when this is completed. This initial work involved bricking up a doorway and widening another, but before that could be done, the server room had to be protected by plastic sheeting (hence the rush to get the air conditioning fitted the week before). The work was completed over several days and you can follow the progress on our webcam page, although things may move slowly to start as this work is likely to take several months.

Yet more equipment moving

Yes, once again it was time to move yet more equipment to make way for the new gallery preparation. Over a period of days and a weekend, Tony F, Adam, Jo and Simon relocated a large number items using our trusty 4 wheel green mobile to our storage areas in another building. Stirling work guys... well done.

Who turned out the (fibre) lights?

Someone noticed that the webcams on this website were no longer updating, and this was after a very severe lightning and rain storm had occurred the previous night resulting in some water leaks in the roof, so we were expecting the worst. After some investigation by Tony F it was discovered that we had lost our main optical fibre network link from the server room to the other end of the museum where our ADSL network came in. On closer inspection, Tony discovered the Newbridge ATM switch had failed and would not power on, the power supply had failed again. This is one of the problems with using old equipment, they do eventually fail. But, as before, Phil, our resident power supply expert came to the rescue and was able to diagnose the fault and repair it within a few days. Thanks to Tony F and Phil we have our network again.

Quick, tidy the place up... one of the Bosses is visiting

We had a welcome visit from one of the Trustees, Matt Crotty, on the 6th June to see how we were getting on. Matt is very busy dealing with all things financial and so is not able to visit as often as he would like. Lin spent some time with him during the day showing off what we have done and also invited him to join our regular Pizza lunch meeting. Matt was very pleased with the progress we had made over the past year as well as the plans for the future and thanked us all for the hard work.

Elliott 803 - the visitors

We had several visitors one weekend who had originally operated the machine when it first came out (early 1960s) and much later when their school had one. One lady was given the opportunity to operate the machine again and it soon became apparent that she had not forgotten what to do after successfully loading and running a tape unaided - it was a really nice moment both for her and for us in being able to give her the opportunity to use the system again after over 40 years.

Elliott 803 - lights, camera, action...

Back by popular demand (well, Kevin M actually!), we have another 803 video courtesy of Messrs Peter O and Kevin M. This time Peter O was in front of the camera demonstrating loading and punching paper tape and Kevin was filming. You can see the latest video in rough form here. Nice work guys, although I don't think you need to order your Tux for the Oscars just yet!, and Peter O, a bit more practice on taking paper tape off the winder may be needed! You will have to see the end of the video to know what that's all about!

Elliott 803 - the stor[e]y continues

The fault on the 2nd 4K store is still proving difficult to find and that yureeka moment has yet to occur. All the store tests work on the full 8K without fault when the store tests are loaded into the bottom 4K but trying to load and run the test tapes in the top 4K store always fail immediately. Also in order to run the machine with 4K (so it works) a wire link needs to be soldered in and then taken off again to enable the 2nd 4K for testing. So as a temporary measure a switch has been connected in place of the link to enable the 2nd 4K store to be turned on or off easily. This should help speed up the investigations and the switch will be removed once the fault is found.

40 column punch card equipment

Graham continues to work on the card sorter during the week and is making steady progress. He has also done some preliminary investigation into the condition of some of the other machines. At the weekend, Kevin M, Kevin B, Peter V and Simon spent several hours re-organising the machines in the room into order. We currently have: a hand punch, an electric Punch, Verifier, Interpreter, Sorter, Collator, tabulator, an electronic multiplying punch and a reproducer. While the room is not yet open to the public, we try, where possible, to keep the door open so visitors can look in and see people working on the machines.

Visitor counters

Visitor numbers continue to rise with numbers often going over 1000 each weekend, which is good to see. Tony F has been making some additional improvements to the data capture so we can create more accurate figures.

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