Archive for June, 2009

QS 20 Serial Port

Posted in HowTo, Projects on 30/06/2009 by Undersys

The IBM QS20 Cell blade (Merrcury systems) has some wacko serial port connector. So what.. well its the ONLY way you can install Linux (or anything) on the QS20. The Serial port and console/ media redirection won’t work! Not even the DVD-ROM!

So looking at the serial port its a micro-D (molex part number 0834219042). If only Molex would send me a dam cable, IBM won’t!

So no one will send you this micro-D connector. What do you do??
Well you bust out the soldering Iron.

You’d be happy to know that pin 1 though to pin 9 on the mini serial port port at the front of the QS20 is as per standard serial port pin out. So just solder pin 1 from the micro D to pin 1 on your d-sub.
So its quite easy to solder on 9 wires to a standard serial port . Then you can interface the QS20 with any standard serial port and terminal software ( minicom..)
I soldered onto the back of the remote serial paddle board. I did not want to make any mods since its not mine. You can un-solder the wire and its gone.

From the below you can see my handy work on the QS20 (note that the serial port paddle port  is about 1cm wide) You will need a steady hand. The image makes it look bigger then it is.

QS20 Serail port
QS20-Serial Port close up

Its not the best pic, but you get the idea. The other end of the 9 wires is soldered into a standard 9pin DIN connector. Its just hanging out the front of the blade via one of the infaband port holes.


kde or xfce???

Posted in Personal on 24/06/2009 by Undersys

This is not a techinical post…

With the biulding of my new pc I want to step back and look at what I did wrong on my current linux install.
There is a lot I am not happy with.
The big one  is KDE, yes its good yes its looks nice blah blah blah, i am not going to turn this into a holy war.
The thing for me  is that my 6 year old dual xeon can’t run kde 4 … thats right its to dam slow and my video card is just far to old.
Well I am getting a new system so what? Its faster it can run kde4 and all the pretty things.

So a new system is a good excuse to have resource intensive  window managers?? I think not. I don’t care how much CPU power or RAM I have I want lean,fast and clean apps, not heavy fat slow ones “cough vista”

Do I really need kde4? do I really need kde 3.5? I live in terminals so why do I need kde?
I’ve decided to install XFCE. One of the big turn offs about KDE is its hungry, very hungry. I won’t talk about gnome because I just don’t like it. XFCE on the other hand is very light weight and very minimal.
System resource wise its a whole lot lighter then KDE. I also like the fact of how minimal it is compared to KDE.

My current XFCE setup has no visible menus or task bars, so far its working quite well for me.
I know you can do this with kde but why??  If your eating up so much cpu time you best be showing something off for it!

One of the things i want from my new systems is that the User land applications don’t bog my system down. I need to have a nice light window manager. So far XFCE is living up to it . I’d take a screen shot but theres nothing to see!

Once i’ve sorted out what I like, I will post up a list of software for the base build of my new systrem. Gentoo linux of course, why do things the easey way.. wheres the fun in that!

We shall see how XFCE will go maybe I’ll just end up with KDe 4 no idea yet.

Nixie Tube Clock

Posted in Personal, Projects on 08/06/2009 by Undersys

I love tubes, weather they are for audio or for displaying something.
Not only do they lookl unreal if your using them for Audio gear they sound great to!

A while a go, before I started this blog I wanted to build a clock.. Not some regular lame clock a clock using nixie tubes.

They look so dam good or maybe that’s just me. I know you can buy tubes from E-bay, but then you need to work out a circuit  and buy the bits to drive the tubes. That’s when I stumbled across this web site Tube Hobby. They sell tubes and other displays, they also sell clock kits.

The kit is designed to work with IN-14 Russian made tubes. They look nice, but I don’t like the “5” it looks like an upside down 3… Yes I am picky…
Instead I brought the IN-8-2 tubes and the Clock Kit. The In-8-2 are the same size physical and the numbers are the same size. The IN-8-2  five looks like a real five, kinda also looks like the five from the start of the SIN logo..

The kit comes with everything you need, apart from a power supply. It has standard 3.5ml round plug for DC input.

I had to change the layout of my  tubes as the IN-8-2 have a different layout from the IN-14. Tube hobby supplys the pin out sheets for them. They are in Russian but you can still make out what pin should go where.
The kit instructions are in English.
Did not take me long to put together the kit. Do remember that tubes require high voltage to operate so be careful.

The ower of tube hobby is most helpfull. I would not have any hesitations to buy from him again.
You can see the full images at my flicker

Hear is a taste of what it looks like on during the day.

Nixie Tube Clock