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What I got my paws on


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Figured I'd start one of these to patter in.

 

I've got a 7100/80 with a NuBus Pro Tools setup that I put together last year and am enjoying very much (also have some more stuff that I'll cover when it gets in), and I wanted a backup system, so I bought another 7100/80 from eBay in Germany.

 

It came with a German Extended II (which I've wanted for a long time since the Help button says Hilfe and that's very exotic for me), teardrop mouse, and all original floppies, manuals and CD, and also adapters for monitor and AAUI. All packed in the original box for peripherals that came with the computer. Pretty sweet. I've never saved original packaging for everything

 

It doesn't have an accelerator or PDS video card, but it did come with a couple of NuBus cards: A Radius Precision Color 24XK, which looks like one of the last, higher-end NuBus cards; some kind of ISDN/Telephony card that I haven't identified yet; and a National Instruments GPIB card.

 

The machine was used by a print shop, last files on the hard drive are dated around 2002 as far as I can tell, so that's a pretty good run for a machine like this. There's some software on it that I'll be backing up. I was kind of in two minds about getting this, because it has the software and a dongle meant for working with a very specific film recorder (Agfa PCRII/Plus), and while it doesn't seem like anyone would still be using this professionally, maybe it would have been useful for someone who likes antiquated print equipment like I like old music recording equipment. In the end I didn't know when the next 7100/80 would come up at a reasonable price, so I just bid what I thought it was worth and happened to win the auction. And I'll be hanging on to the dongle and happy to pass it and the hard drive with the POM software on for free to anyone who can use it.

 

I'm kind of intrigued by the GPIB card. I wouldn't mind coming across a box of controllable relays or a plotter or something. But I'm guessing they'd need specific Macintosh drivers, even if it's a standardized interface. It came with all the software (on the drive, not on disk unfortunately) including the programming headers, including, as far as I can tell, the ability to speak GPIB from HyperCard! But I suppose unless you really need the extra speed it'd make more sense to talk to the outside world via the serial port. Maybe I'll get a GPIB interface for my scope though.

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20 hours ago, paws said:

Maybe I'll get a GPIB interface for my scope though.


Funnily enough I was looking at a GPIB - USB interface for my 'scope recently but was horrified by how expensive they are. It's cheaper to buy an entire old ATX PC and put a PCI GPIB card in it! 
 

I'd love to know the model of your card. It'd be sweet to get my 80s scope chatting to a 90s Mac some day. 
 

Congrats on an unusual find! 

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It's a National Instruments NB-GPIB/TNT. It doesn't look like NI have any info on it, but here's a blurb from a seller:

 

https://www.apexwaves.com/modular-systems/national-instruments/nb-series/NB-GPIB-TNT

 

It looks a little unusual as far as Nubus cards go, since there's almost nothing on it:

 

s-l640.jpg

 

Basically one ASIC and a few buffers, I think. I'm not sure exactly what the internal connector is for, maybe you can link multiple cards? The docs call it an RTSI connector, which apparently means "real-time system integration". I'm not into Labview at all, so I don't know what that does. But it's got extensive docs if you want to programme it from C or Future Basic.

 

My scope is an Agilent from around 2000, but I mostly use it for very basic things. It does have 16 digital channels, though, and if the GPIB connection was fast enough to stream data over to do longer captures than the scope itself will, that'd be extremely cool. But I'm not sure there's much in the way of analysis software or similar. Last time I tried to process data from it I just got an ASCII dump of measurements over serial. It took forever, and then I did a bunch of text processing in C for some reason. I don't remember the details, just that it was well tedious!

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Crikey, that card looks like a prototype! What a bizarre design. 
 

Your Agilent is probably lightyears ahead of my old HP from 1989. I'm just a sucker for green phosphor displays and it does everything I need so why upgrade, eh? 


Interesting that you were able to grub some ASCII data from it. I wonder if a Raspberry Pi could become some form of translator for the scope readings. I'd love to be able to continuously record data from my scope like that - purely for the jerry-rig kudos! 

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Mine is this:

 

It's a very good instrument. I think the only thing I'd get out of, say, a brand new Rigol or similar was a little less weight and clunk, more memory and modern connectivity. What do you have? I love old scopes.

 

Unfortunately it is very far from real-time when using serial - I've only really use it the one time five or so years ago, but as I remember it writes numbers per measurement in ASCII, so a few bytes per sample, over 9600 baud serial.  I would make a capture, stop the scope, start the data dump, then go make tea. I was trying to reverse engineer a serial data protocol between an embedded system and its display, so I couldn't just stare at the captures on the screen.

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As for the card, it kind of does look like protoboard in the pictures, but they're not holes, they're just little spots. Everything is extremely integrated and optimized for automatic manufacturing. They have older GPIB NuBus boards that are full of through-hole components.

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... I was really looking forward to making a long post about a big haul (30kg!) of Pro Tools software, NuBus cards, and a NuBus expansion chassis that I got from eBay in Germany, but what happened was that the two packages arrived in Denmark, were shuffled between two distribution centers for about a week, and are now being returned to the seller who was a little reluctant to ship it all to begin with. Maybe I'll get it in the future, maybe it's a write-off. Not happy!

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I have finally received my new old Pro Tools stuff. I had a small system before, but now I think it qualifies as "pretty big": 3 disk i/o (+ 3 882 interfaces), 4 DSP farms, and 2 SampleCell cards. Up from just one of each before. The whole thing is in a 12 slot Digidesign Nubus expansion chassis. So I've only got one Nubus card in my 7100 now that connects to the chassis... so I think I'll replace the PDS video card in there with a G3 accelerator at some point, and use the very nice Radius graphics card I got with the backup 7100 mentioned earlier.

 

The chassis, btw, is huge. 19" rack width, 4U and probably 70cm deep. Easily the biggest box I've got.

 

The Pro Tools III NuBus system consists of two different types of cards: Disk I/O and DSP Farms. The Disk I/O cards are SCSI controllers (you attach a disk directly to them) and also connect to the audio interfaces. The later PCI-based Pro Tools systems allow you to use the built-in disks for audio, or a separate SCSI controller, but the NuBus systems have their own SCSI controller so they can shuffle audio from the disk directlly to the DSPs or the audio interface. The DSP Farms implement a digital mixer with very flexible routing and expandable effects - I think this is where the whole idea of DAW "plug-ins" came from. The cards are connected together via an audio bus called TDM, which also sometimes used as a name for the entire system. TDM runs over a ribbon cable that connects each card together in a chain.


The SampleCell cards are basically musical samplers on a Nubus card. They are also on the TDM bus, so I can route their outputs through the same effects as the hard disk audio tracks. They're really not the most exciting of samplers, but the integration with Pro Tools is quite nice. I used to have a little page about the SampleCell online, but my site is down for now since the I don't have a static IP at home right now after moving. That should be fixed soon, and I hope to write some more and take more screenshots.

cards.jpeg

chassis.jpeg

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This also came with a stack of floppies, unfortunately they're mostly old Pro Tools application installers. I had hoped for more plug-ins. It came with a disk that had some fun software called VocAlign on it, but no auth floppy to move it to my main drive. Annoying.

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