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Playing with PDP-11s

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As a push for myself to get back to making something in my spare time, I decided pretty recently that building a new old computer would be cool. Making a homebrew Z80 board was my first choice but I realized my S-100 setup has a pretty homebrew Z80 CPU and whatnot anyways, so I went for the second choice and picked up stuff to start my own PDP-11.


The setup so far looks something like this:




CPU, Serial IO: M8189 - 22bit F-11 CPU with MMU and boot ROMs, optional FPU and CIS chips available to be put in, 2x serial ports, jumpered to boot to ODT

RAM: 1x M8044-DB - 32K, 16bit

Backplane: H9276 - 22bit, 4x9 slots

Power Supply: A cut-up Corsair TX850

Cooling: Some random 120mm PC case fans hot-glued to the shelf this sits on

Terminal: IBM 55SX running Kermit


...and with all this I can really just run the On-line Debugging Tool as I don't have any form of storage for it. Part of me would love to get something like a proper old RX02 drive setup, but it seems unless I manage to do what I did with the PDP-8 I own again and find it from someone who's looking to trash the thing/sell it a a low enough price and within a reasonable drive in the truck... maybe I'll re-purpose an old serial CNC paper tape reader for now?


So with that, I'd like to ask, does anyone else on here have this type of stuff and if so what things have you been able to do with it? I'd love to get this rack-mounted, add some form of storage, and maybe run something like BSD or RSX11M+ on it when I build a capable-enough setup but for now it seems that may take a bit of time and cash. If anything else this is just real cool for me as I always love the old minis, the PDP-8 has been one of my favorite cabinets to play with, so this is a cool next step to me.

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Outside the folks that restore this stuff, there's quite a bit of stuff you can do through remakes/emulators, like PiDP-11, which recreates one of the old 'blinkenlights' PDP panels. The page also has a ton of links to software, OS etc, which would probably get you started on what you could, potentially, do with your setup.


I know people have replaced the old storage options with SD card interfaces, or using a PC to emulate the drive storage. The latter is probably your best bet, as you can download/tweak the software right on the box the PDP is reading from.


Neat project! Wish I had the hardware knowhow to do something similar.

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