Washing machines, strange smells and the PC gallery
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Another interesting Saturday at the museum and a number of key events occured during the week.
After many weeks of hard work by the volunteers and outside contractors we finally had a test-opening of the new history of personal computing gallery in the afternoon. We are all really pleased with the result and initial comments from the visitors is also really good. During the day we did a few more jobs like securing the keyboards (Peter V) and reconfiguring a new SUN server (Ben) to drive the 6 displays in the Gallery.
A major step forward was made by Pete H on the ICL restoration on Wednesday. After sourcing replacements for some obsolete components he managed to fix the PSU on two EDS200 'top loading washing machine' err I mean disk drives and succeeded in getting the units powered on and functioning. He has not got as far as putting a removable disk pack in yet but the drive ran for several hours on Wednesday and most of the day on Saturday. This is a really major step forward in getting the ICL 2966 operational again so well done Pete! The next step will be to try a scratch removable disk pack but Pete is currently trying to source a disk pack cleaning unit before this can be done.
On Friday we had a delivery from Hanslope Park - the hush hush MI6 mansion just outside Milton Keynes but don't tell anyone I said so - It was another Ferranti Argus 700 system. It looks really nice and is currently parked in the large systems room, next to the first Argus delivered a month or so ago. This is good news as we should have enough spares to get one of them running again.
Our small stand-alone Alpha 800 server, used to run our emulated systems, which for years has been performing faultlessly finally showed it's age when the main cooling fan bearings failed and the system had to be switched off. Peter V managed to get it going again with a bit of TLC and a large can of lubricant. Fortunately during the day our rack mounted Alpha 4100 server was finally fixed and started up allowing us to move the software and data from the 800 to the 4100 and use that from now on.
A large number of fibre channel disk arrays also arrived during the week. This is going to form the main part of our new document archive and asset logging system. Ben certainly has his work cut out getting all that installed in the 19inch cabinet and set-up.
Last weekend someone detected a strange smell coming from the Elliott 803 so it was decided not to power it up until the problem was fixed. John S and various people's noses were called upon on Saturday to try and discover where the strange smell was coming from. Nothing was found during the day and the system functioned as normal. Later in the day Adam thought the smell was coming from the main power distribution unit but closer inspection could not identify it as being the source. John S decided the 803 could not be used until the problem was identified so instructions were left not to power up the system. Work will continue with the investgation next Saturday, where our noses will be available again should they be needed!
Our new kitchen is almost complete. As well as fixing his 'washing machine' on the ICL, Pete H also finished connecting the cold water feed and hopes to complete the kitchen during next week.
Tony F has started to install the visitor counters by our main entrances. After a little hic-cup, when he decided to make some mounting hols for the PCB slightly bigger and managed to cut through some tracks in the detector PCB, the first one was fitted. Only another 3 to go Tony!
As a result of the new PC gallery 'hands-on' area using many of the machines from our existing hands-on gallery, the hands-on gallery has now been closed. Planning is underway to use that room for a new display of working! punch card machines, which are currently in storage in Liverpool. We hope to get them transported down to us in the next few weeks but there is still a lot of planning and work to do so an opening date for the gallery has not been decided yet.
Saturday was a really nice day and as a result visitor numbers to the museum were also high.