Author Topic: Old Rockwell STSOC Team Computer  (Read 4071 times)

Offline AirmanPika

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Old Rockwell STSOC Team Computer
« on: 09/15/2010 01:03 AM »
OK got another "wtf is it" question. I got this old Rockwell STSOC Team computer off eBay sometime in 2003ish and its been languishing in a closet till just recently. I got it in the post Columbia accident months when my interest was peaked and then joined the military and forgot about it. Anyone know what it might have been used for? I figured at first it was just some generic computer used in the space program in some form but having done a teardown of the system, it has some rather unique parts that make me wonder. I recall the auction didn't really describe what it was so I doubt the seller knew either. Prolly bought in some liquidation sale. I've posted pics of the system in the link below detailing every part and tag on it in case they help.

http://reimuchan.com/rockwellpc/index.htm

Thanks for any info you might have.

Offline TexasRED

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Re: Old Rockwell STSOC Team Computer
« Reply #1 on: 09/15/2010 02:36 AM »
This my guess:

From first glance it looks like a lab machine of some sort to me, lots o' serial ports, RS-422 cards, etc. That, and a turbo button  ;D

I think this is from a Shuttle Transportation System Operation Contractor (STSOC) based off this Google Book Preview from "An assessment of Space Shuttle flight software development processes" by By Nancy Leveson, National Research Council (U.S.). Committe. 

This is the snippet describing them:
Quote
The Space Transportation System Operations Contractor (STSOC) supports JSC's MOD and Reconfiguration Management Directorate. Using government furnished equipment, flight data, and software patches from development contractors to fix problems documented in DRs, the STSOC reconfigures the OI loads for use on specific missions. The STSOC is currently a division of Rockwell International (and several subcontractors) based in Houston, separate from the Rockwell/Downey personnel who build the BFS.

So all-in-all I think this is a lab machine for FSW development of some sort. Looks like this could have been from the group responsible for the I-loads (config data) on Shuttle IMMU. Do you remember where it came from, was it from Houston?

Have you tried to get it running?  8)

Offline Jim

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Re: Old Rockwell STSOC Team Computer
« Reply #2 on: 09/15/2010 02:57 AM »
Rockwell (RSOC)  Space Transportation System Operations Contractor  combined LSOC SPC (Shuttle Processing Contractor) to form USA.

Space Transportation System Operations Contractor performed many of the same function at JSC as USA does.

Offline TexasRED

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Re: Old Rockwell STSOC Team Computer
« Reply #3 on: 09/15/2010 03:03 AM »
Also, Diversified Technology is still around, maybe they could find some specs or history for you.

http://www.dtims.com/support/contact.php

Offline AirmanPika

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Re: Old Rockwell STSOC Team Computer
« Reply #4 on: 09/15/2010 03:19 AM »
Have you tried to get it running?  8)

Well it turns on but the issue is video output. It has a rather interesting video card. The STB card with the "Four on the Floor" sticker is an EGA video card that is unique in that it can output to 4 separate screens at the same time though I'm not sure if it only mirrors whats displayed or can be 4 separate display outputs. Problem is it seems to have used a unique 37 pin dongle that output to probably 4 EGA connectors which I don't have. There may also be an EGA output on the actual computer board but I don't have a compatible EGA monitor. To display EGA on VGA you need a special adapter which I can't find. Its not a simple pin converter.

Unfortunately I do not remember where it came from. That definitely would have given a clue as to where it was used at. I poured though my old e-mails from 2003 but I wasn't too good at archiving back then so I couldn't find the details of the auction.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Old Rockwell STSOC Team Computer
« Reply #5 on: 09/15/2010 03:23 AM »
Part of W.O.P.R.

Offline AirmanPika

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Re: Old Rockwell STSOC Team Computer
« Reply #6 on: 09/15/2010 03:37 AM »
Part of W.O.P.R.

Would you like to play a game? ;D

I shot Diversified a message. I looked at their manual library and they have several similar boards listed but the model CAT960 isn't listed. Might have been a custom board they didn't mass produce. Funny seeing "Made in USA" on the board. My how times have changed.
« Last Edit: 09/15/2010 03:40 AM by AirmanPika »

Offline Downix

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Re: Old Rockwell STSOC Team Computer
« Reply #7 on: 09/15/2010 04:08 AM »
Have you tried to get it running?  8)

Well it turns on but the issue is video output. It has a rather interesting video card. The STB card with the "Four on the Floor" sticker is an EGA video card that is unique in that it can output to 4 separate screens at the same time though I'm not sure if it only mirrors whats displayed or can be 4 separate display outputs. Problem is it seems to have used a unique 37 pin dongle that output to probably 4 EGA connectors which I don't have. There may also be an EGA output on the actual computer board but I don't have a compatible EGA monitor. To display EGA on VGA you need a special adapter which I can't find. Its not a simple pin converter.

Unfortunately I do not remember where it came from. That definitely would have given a clue as to where it was used at. I poured though my old e-mails from 2003 but I wasn't too good at archiving back then so I couldn't find the details of the auction.
EGA is pure digital, VGA is analog.  In addition to the 4 EGA, if you noticed also has the SGI 3D control ports, two of them, with a serial port.  With that, you'd have a full 6DOF interaction.   I have an SGI myself with the same ports on it.  So, what you'd have is one big display, with layered effects added to it, one background with three layers.  It could have been for development or run-time of a simulator.
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Offline Blackstar

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Re: Old Rockwell STSOC Team Computer
« Reply #8 on: 09/15/2010 04:28 AM »
Part of W.O.P.R.

Would you like to play a game?

Don't do that.  It doesn't always work out right.

Offline Jorge

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Re: Old Rockwell STSOC Team Computer
« Reply #9 on: 09/15/2010 04:47 AM »
Rockwell (RSOC)  Space Transportation System Operations Contractor  combined LSOC SPC (Shuttle Processing Contractor) to form USA.

Space Transportation System Operations Contractor performed many of the same function at JSC as USA does.

All of them, actually - I think SFOC was a superset of all the contracts STSOC was doing.

Back to the PC, any STSOC/RSOC hardware that continued to be used after the transition to SFOC/USA would have gotten a new sticker over the old one. That tells me this machine was "retired" before the transition, in 1996.
JRF

Offline AirmanPika

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Re: Old Rockwell STSOC Team Computer
« Reply #10 on: 09/16/2010 03:47 AM »
Well it looks like Rockwell just used a Diversified system and then they customized it. The only thing Diversified could provide was some info on the CPU board, expansion board, and the chassis. Looks like the ports on the CAT960 board are simply 2 PS2 ports and a COM port. This means the only way I'll get any video off this is if I can find that EGA dongle for the STB For on the Floor video card and an EGA monitor. It would be fun to power it up and find some development versions of the displays on the shuttle or something. Prolly will be a while till I can do that though. Ah well.

Offline AirmanPika

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Re: Old Rockwell STSOC Team Computer
« Reply #11 on: 07/29/2017 03:37 AM »
Reviving an old thread

Well I'm making attempts again to bring the system to life again. My first attempt failed though. Basically I managed to source a 37 pin to 4 9 pin ports. Its meant as a comm cable but EGA and Serial are wired the same as far as I recall. I also got an EGA to VGA card. Unfortunately no signal so my initial assessments may be wrong or something is amiss.

For now, I have an old ISA VGA card on the way to see if I can at least access the system and see what is on it.

Offline jeffreycornish

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Re: Old Rockwell STSOC Team Computer
« Reply #12 on: 07/29/2017 04:08 AM »
I worked at Appian Graphics a couple decades ago and STB was one of our competitors.  They made the MVP Pro video card.

STB was mergered out of existance a good while back sadly

Have you tried to get it running?  8)

Well it turns on but the issue is video output. It has a rather interesting video card. The STB card with the "Four on the Floor" sticker is an EGA video card that is unique in that it can output to 4 separate screens at the same time though I'm not sure if it only mirrors whats displayed or can be 4 separate display outputs. Problem is it seems to have used a unique 37 pin dongle that output to probably 4 EGA connectors which I don't have. There may also be an EGA output on the actual computer board but I don't have a compatible EGA monitor. To display EGA on VGA you need a special adapter which I can't find. Its not a simple pin converter.

Unfortunately I do not remember where it came from. That definitely would have given a clue as to where it was used at. I poured though my old e-mails from 2003 but I wasn't too good at archiving back then so I couldn't find the details of the auction.

Offline AirmanPika

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Re: Old Rockwell STSOC Team Computer
« Reply #13 on: 07/30/2017 05:22 AM »
Yea I reached out to NVidia who owns all their IP now but never got a response. Doubt they would even know what to look for.

Offline AirmanPika

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Re: Old Rockwell STSOC Team Computer
« Reply #14 on: 08/11/2017 12:22 PM »
Well one small update. I installed a VGA card into the machine so I can access the BIOS and a small tidbit of info. It boots up and I can access the BIOS (which resets at each reboot thanks to a long dead BIOS battery).

Now once you get past that the ROMDISK DOES attempt to load, but the video is distorted. It looks like its attempting to output to EGA which makes sense. Looks just like how things look if you try to use an EGA windows driver in windows 3.1 while you have a VGA card installed. That said once things warm up I can make out a couple prompts...

A>el

A>edd411

_

which is then smeared and running multiple times across the screen. Eventually it goes to a blank screen. That might not be an "e" and instead an "a" or "c" but the distortion keeps me from knowing. I'm gonna let it run a bit longer as this system likely hasn't seen power for quite some time or been accessed to this extent and some caps might need reformed. I'll update if anything changes.

Oh....also I did a bit more research and the "DSCIM 411" on the chip of the 2 custom boards stands for "display system computer input multiplexer". Not sure what the 411 means. Am curious what the DSCIM did tho if anyone can chime in. Might be an indicator what the 2 cards were for.
« Last Edit: 08/11/2017 12:39 PM by AirmanPika »

Offline AirmanPika

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Re: Old Rockwell STSOC Team Computer
« Reply #15 on: 08/11/2017 01:25 PM »
Another observation. I installed the ROMDISK in another old PC just to see how it behaved and I get the same (still a VGA output) but a split second before switching to the prompts I saw "A>totext" display for a split second in plain view before the distorted video begins.

Offline Darren_Hensley

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Re: Old Rockwell STSOC Team Computer
« Reply #16 on: 08/12/2017 08:04 AM »
It's a backplane PC, 16 bit with VESA-VLA slots, a low capability 8 bit VGA board should do the trick, finding one is the real trick. Dual Port EGA/VGA cards were available in a 16 bit slot configuration. That would be the best card to use for single monitor startup and diagnostics.
See ATI https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ATI_Wonder_series
or Trident VGA cards.
There are dos commands to change the video driver realtime, look up MS DOS 3.3

Programming is low level M-DOS ROMs... think blending BIOS with MS DOS 1.1 in a burned chip, post boot is likely a realtime cobol prompt, or IBM DOS-II, Programmer edition and an ADA realtime compiler. US GOV offices often used ADA programming from 1980 and beyond.

A>totext  equals

Redirect contents of variable named "A" to text (totext) is a subroutine or another variable(text) for further processing
This could be a simple menu preparing to write to con

Good luck...
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