Uncle Miod's machineroom
miod > machineroom > over the years > 2009

A tour through the machineroom in march 2009

After relocating again in 2005, I had the chance of having an even larger room available to use as the machineroom. Every year or so, I would bring a new set of shelves to be able to store the new arrivals. The following pictures show the machineroom in its heyday.
However, not all (dark) corners of the machineroom will be visible, so a few machines which appear on previous years pictures may not show up (such as the RS/6000 550H); rest assured these machines were present in the machineroom, but too many other hardware would hide them from the view.

No first glance into the machineroom

I used to start these virtual visits with ``at first glance'' shots from the door. However, this wouldn't be easy in the current configuration.
The room which acted as the machineroom in this place was roughly a 4 meter square, with a chamfered corner, in which the entrance door is set up.
This tour will look into the machine room from my work area, against the door, and will turn, counter-clockwise, to face all the walls of the room; then a few pictures of the center of the machineroom will complete the madness.
All the pictures in this tour are links to higher resolution images. There are a few pictures which are a bit blurred. Sorry about that.

First shelves

To the left of my work area, a set of shelves try to reach the ceiling. And then another set is even higher, but still misses the ceiling by a few centimeters.
And as you can guess, these shelves are quite densely populated. In front of them, you can see the movable display tray; the monitor on it can be connected to all the machines of these shelves, using various adaptor cables, when there is a need to.
But that tray is actually a full-blown machine, the VAXstation 3520, ready to run as long as soon as I plug its power cable...
And by moving the tray a bit, you can see there are even machines standing on the floor. I can't afford leaving that precious space unused!
Let's focus on the second shelves, those which obscure the windows behind them (-:
Here again, no space is left unused. Being closer to the open windows, the machines there tend to collect more dust than the others, and as you can see from the black itanium machine, I am behind in my cleaning schedule.
The dark stains on the ground are not dust - these really are stains.
Visitors often are impressed how all these machines significantly block light and make the machineroom darker than it needs to be. However, the day I took these pictures was quite sunny, and despite the windows facing north, there was enough brightness to impact the digital camera sensors.
By the way, did you notice the large monitor in the corner behind the shelves? I knew you didn't.
One important change in this shelves arrangement, compared to the previous years, is that although I am trying to use all the space available and thus do not want too much room at the top of each row of machines, I am also trying harder to regroup them by hardware architecture. This helps them sharing odd video cables and keyboards.

More shelves

To the left of the tallest shelves is some room allowing me to reach the windows, and also to reach the shelves from behind. Then, there is another pair of shelves mirroring those you've already seen.
Before we look at them, one can't help but notice there is always stuff lying around... In this case, the latest addition to the machineroom, an HP 9000 B1000, which was found on the street, a few weeks ago. And I couldn't help but need to (temporarily) put stuff on top of it...
Back to the shelves! Nothing fancy there. Huge machines, cables flowing around.
Looking up, a few machines, some networking gear...
A crowded VME cage, with various cards and their external storage...
...and more machines boringly stacked...
...until, this time, we reach the ceiling. By the way, the vertical box in the middle is an external frame buffer. Its front bezel is broken and needed to be blocked with duct tape.

Even more shelves

Turning one quarter again to face the fourth shelves, you can notice the bottom of it is quite obscured by one more big machine standing on the floor. And, as usual, its top is a stable surface, which of course I'll use to store more random pieces.
The top of these shelves look almost empty in comparison to everything you've seen so far. This is because there is nothing tall to the left. And the open SPARCbook laptop causes a lot of space to be wasted.
I had almost forgotten to let you glance at (the top of) an AViiON machine, currently stored in the way between shelves, until I find a better place to it. This machine needs to be close to the 220/110V converter, which is behind the Ethernet hub on the left of the picture.
A blurred view of the monitors on top of the shelves. The white one is used as an external display by the SPARCbook, allowing larger resolution than the internal LCD panel.

Approaching the unsorted area...

To the left of the shelves we were looking at, a few more large machines courageously guard the floor from collecting dust. And they let me put more random things on them, mainly untested SCSI CDROM drives here though...
...but also a couple PCI cards, dead Motorola HYPERmodules, and external SCSI enclosures.
We finally reach the unsorted corner of the machine room. I would like to put shelves there, too, and I'm considering getting rid of the left monitor, but what prevents me from putting shelves are the four large Motorola VME crates on the floor, which I no longer have any real use for, and which I need to drive to the recycling bin... But to do this I need to temporarily store everything currently on top of them somewhere else, and that's a tough problem as well!
(I solved this situation in 2010, adding one more set of shelves; but I did not have the opportunity to take pictures of this before having to pack the machineroom for storage).
In the meantime, everything which would go into these hypothetic shelves is on the floor in stacks. VME boards, spare hard disks, random connectors.

The Attic

And now for the last shelves of the machineroom. There is more unsorted stuff here, although things are more in order than one could think. You can notice various spare or barebone machines...
...as well as many boxes of boards, connectors, and other random things.

The tinkering area

In addition to my main work area, I need a place where I can work on hardware, to set it up various ways I want it to be, run tests on it for a while, and move back to its ``production'' location (or back to the Attic).
This place is in the middle of the room. There is a huge Sun 4/670MP case, on which machines being worked on are stacked. And those which are not of the pizza box form factor are put to the side of the Sun machine, as you can see...
So this is what the work pile looked like on that day. I had just needed the SPARCstation IPX on top to check a few things in its OpenPROM, and minutes later it was back to the Attic.

My work area again

Let's complete this tour by looking at my work area. It should be no surprise to you that the laptop, not being on the table, is on a stack of machines (which is a bit annoying when I temporarily need to move one of them to the hardware work area).
So what can be found on my work area? Mainly things I use daily, but also reminders, such as that PCI wireless card I need to spend some time on, to the left. But also random useless trinkets, such as the large grey lightbulb behind it (a souvenir from a place I used to work at, yes, really!).
What else? You can see the disc currently playing, and some memory sticks under it... All of this on top of a hardware manual (which I'm working on a driver for at the moment), which is on top of two dictionaries.
Next to that, a dead laptop hard drive, which I need to order a replacement for; a pen, a coffee mug...
Also, you might notice on the monitor, the xterm in which I issue the xlock command when I'm leaving the machineroom...
On the other side, more trinkets, more pens, and a lot of random paper notes (including a receipt from a cheese vendor acting as a reminder that someone I resold the cheese to has not paid me yet).
On the high-resolution image, you might want to have a look at my keyboard layout as well.