Treasures from Slim

An ice storm was predicted for today; and in anticipation, the university shut down. Even faculty and staff don’t go in for a full shutdown.

Icy trees on my street in North Newton

Temperatures must have been quite a bit higher than expected; because although there’s some ice on trees, all the freezing rain that hit the ground stayed wet and is draining away.

Icy tree looming over garage

So here I am at home, waiting for more limbs from my neighbors’ tree to fall on my garage, and catching up on some electronics.

Another Weekend of Cleanup

Cort and I went to Pittsburg this past weekend to help Maeve clean up more of Slim’s stuff. The focus this time turned out to be books, but we each plundered other areas as well.

Ohmite resistor cases

I adore these vintage resistor storage cases. The drawers are about 1/2″ high — you don’t need much more than that to store resistors — and they’re totally dreamy. (Um, yup, I’m a geek. :-) )

Engler Hour Meter

Cort and I found this on a shelf in Slim’s garage:

Engler hour meter, angle view

It’s an Engler Instrument Company hour meter model 10N, and I think it’s absolutely gorgeous.

Engler hour meter, face

It wants to be built into a rich walnut case for something. (I’m not an active steampunker, but I definitely admire real and faux antique gear with wood and brass and glass and gleaming chrome and flicking needles with paper scales behind them.)

Engler hour meter, back

Give it 110VAC and it counts hours. The case is riveted shut, so there’s no resetting it. Still, it wouldn’t be that hard to run it long enough to reset — only about 35 months. (I’m going to need a good reason to do that, though . . .)

Slim’s Microcontroller Development Drawer

Slim's microcontroller development drawer

I’m not sure which cabinet this came from, but Maeve had taken a whole drawer full of Slim’s microcomputer and microcontroller development gear out to the garage. Cort and I picked through it, boxed it all up, and brought it home.

Some of the detail that follows is as much an inventory for Cort and me so we know what we have and where it’s packed, as it is intended to be of general interest.

PIC sticks

Lots and lots of microcontrollers and related chips: Two sticks of TL064 op-amps, three sticks of PIC16C55s, three of PIC16C56es, two of PIC16C57s and two UV EPROMable chips, two sticks of PIC16C71s, a stick of ISD 4004-16MP 16-minute audio recording chips, a stick of ADCs, a bunch of miscellaneous Mozer Digitalker chips, an XC68HC705K15, and a couple of MC68HC811E2INs.

Circuit Cellar RTC52 and RTCIO kits

Circuit Cellar RTC52 and RTCIO kits, unassembled. I was never a subscriber, but these appear to have been the foundation of many Circuit Cellar control and automation projects; see for example this touch-tone remote-controllable home automation system from 1991.

PICBASIC development kit

A PICBASIC development kit.

Microcontroller development boards

Various microcontroller development boards, at least two of each, and heavily biased toward Motorola.

M68HC705KICS development board

An M68HC705KICS programming board, adorably fitted in a box with cutouts for the power leads and ribbon cable, so it never has to leave its nest.

SWTPC boards

A RAM board and two MP-09A CPU boards from a Southwest Technical Products Corporation 6800/6809 computer, circa 1978. I would really like to find a good home for these with a SWTPC collector. I think there’s a related chassis in storage as well, which I’ll dig out next time.

LCD screens

Couple of LCD screens in “widescreen” format. :-)

Speech synthesizer board

A very funky, battery-powered speed synthesizer board. Cort said Slim picked this up somewhere (probably at the Dayton Hamvention) and the two of them (particularly Cort) poked at it for a long time figuring it out. They were able to get it to make noise, and it has both recorded phrases and a phoneme generator, but they never found any documentation about the dictionary and weren’t willing to spend the time to catalog it by trying every address. Cort also said it draws half an amp.

Huge pushbutton switch

And a very large, datacenter-style pushbutton switch. Sweet!

4 Responses to “Treasures from Slim”

  1. mazzoo says:

    about the hour meter:
    my guess is that it relies on the 60Hz AC for counting the hours. OK, now you already got the idea: take a microcontroller, make it toggle a pin with say 600Hz, hook it up to standard 110V/5V transformer in reverse direction, hook it up to the meter, and you’re down to 3.5 month :)


  2. Keith Neufeld says:

    Matthias — given the vintage of the hour meter, I’m guessing it actually has a timing motor with a governor and geartrain and it doesn’t rely on 60Hz AC. I could be wrong, though.

  3. Bill Dawson says:

    Hello Keith, I noticed your blog, the SWTPC boards, and that you are looking for a good home for them with a SWTPC collector. If you still have them I can definitely give them a good home. Please get in touch.



  4. Cort says:

    I was a AVID SWTPC computer user “back in the day”. We had two 6809 systems at the high school I attended. One for the computer classes (math department, not business) and one to run the school, with software written by the computer teacher. Fortunately my brother worked at the computer store, owned by Slim and Maeve. He supplied me with enough technical info to be…. uh… a teenager. If you background tasked compiling endlessly looping Pascal programs on one or enough terminals, eventually you could kernel panic the machine. It always came up on terminal 0 logged in as the superuser. Change my own user’s permissions, edit the system history file, logout, and AWAY WE GO! I guess I was a VERY primitive form of 1337 h4x0r… Thanks for the mention of SWTPC Keith, and the walk down memory lane :)

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