Discussion:
Personal Workstation 433 rescue guidance
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Larkin Nickle
2021-06-14 16:36:52 UTC
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I’ve acquired a Personal Workstation 433, but I can’t get it to work. When powered on, the green light on the front turns on and I can hear the disk spin up, but there’s no serial or graphical output. The power light on the motherboard turns on but none of the diagnostic lights do. If the CD-ROM drive is connected to IDE, it shows no signs of life, but if connected to power only then it blinks, ejects, etc. just fine. The machine doesn’t even beep with all RAM removed. I’ve reseated just about everything and have also checked the PSU’s voltages and they’re all good. Any suggestions?
Stephen Hoffman
2021-06-14 19:01:57 UTC
Permalink
Post by Larkin Nickle
I’ve acquired a Personal Workstation 433, but I can’t get it to work.
When powered on, the green light on the front turns on and I can hear
the disk spin up, but there’s no serial or graphical output. The power
light on the motherboard turns on but none of the diagnostic lights do.
If the CD-ROM drive is connected to IDE, it shows no signs of life, but
if connected to power only then it blinks, ejects, etc. just fine. The
machine doesn’t even beep with all RAM removed. I’ve reseated just
about everything and have also checked the PSU’s voltages and they’re
all good. Any suggestions?
What's your budget? Too far into this effort, and maybe acquiring an
AlphaServer DS10 or AlphaServer DS15 from elsewhere is cheaper, if you
really want Alpha and not AXPbox, etc.

No beeps tends to mean a (partial) power supply failure, or a main
board failure, or a processor failure. Check the power supply voltage
setting, too—these didn't auto-sense, IIRC.

http://sup.xenya.si/sup/info/digital/MDS/jun99/Cd2/PC/B30WWSMA.PDF

These DEC boxes (DPWS, XP1000) are increasingly problematic in recent
years generally, due to corrosion, component failures, and plastic
parts shattering.
--
Pure Personal Opinion | HoffmanLabs LLC
Larkin Nickle
2021-06-14 19:46:40 UTC
Permalink
What's your budget? Too far into this effort, and maybe acquiring an
AlphaServer DS10 or AlphaServer DS15 from elsewhere is cheaper, if you
really want Alpha and not AXPbox, etc.
I do have some other (working) Alpha hardware, it'd just be nice to get this machine working too if possible.
No beeps tends to mean a (partial) power supply failure, or a main
board failure, or a processor failure. Check the power supply voltage
setting, too—these didn't auto-sense, IIRC.
http://sup.xenya.si/sup/info/digital/MDS/jun99/Cd2/PC/B30WWSMA.PDF
These DEC boxes (DPWS, XP1000) are increasingly problematic in recent
years generally, due to corrosion, component failures, and plastic
parts shattering.
The power supply voltage setting is set properly, and the PSU is outputting the proper voltages on the proper pins - I checked that as well. I guess the most likely things are that I have a dead CPU or mobo indeed.
John Wallace
2021-06-14 20:29:20 UTC
Permalink
Post by Larkin Nickle
What's your budget? Too far into this effort, and maybe acquiring an
AlphaServer DS10 or AlphaServer DS15 from elsewhere is cheaper, if you
really want Alpha and not AXPbox, etc.
I do have some other (working) Alpha hardware, it'd just be nice to get this machine working too if possible.
No beeps tends to mean a (partial) power supply failure, or a main
board failure, or a processor failure. Check the power supply voltage
setting, too—these didn't auto-sense, IIRC.
http://sup.xenya.si/sup/info/digital/MDS/jun99/Cd2/PC/B30WWSMA.PDF
These DEC boxes (DPWS, XP1000) are increasingly problematic in recent
years generally, due to corrosion, component failures, and plastic
parts shattering.
The power supply voltage setting is set properly, and the PSU is outputting the proper voltages on the proper pins - I checked that as well. I guess the most likely things are that I have a dead CPU or mobo indeed.
The link Hoff provided appeared to be the Intel (not Alpha) version of
the PWS Service Maintenance Manual.

Assuming that's not what you wanted, one flavour of a relevant Alpha
version is findable as MIATASG.ZIP e.g. at

http://www.cilinder.be/docs/digitalpwsau/miatasg.zip
There are a few other relevant files in that directory too.

Download and unzip MIATASG.ZIP (it's a collection of html pages), then
point your favourite browser at:

miatasg\dpws_aau\Service\Aaudpwssg.htm
which should be the
DIGITAL Personal Workstation System Reference and Maintenance Guide
a/au-Series

I've got a local copy squirreled away somewhere but not instantly
available. (I've got an actual PWS squirreled away too, again not
instantly available).

The same directory on cilinder.be also contains a PDF of the PWS a/au
Series Installation and Setup Guide, which includes some basic
troubleshooting info on what to do if the system appears lifeless at
power on. Worth a look.

Good luck, have a lot of fun.
Larkin Nickle
2021-06-15 06:29:11 UTC
Permalink
Thanks! I've already read through these and no dice however.
Crabs
2021-06-15 15:18:50 UTC
Permalink
Post by Larkin Nickle
I’ve acquired a Personal Workstation 433, but I can’t get it to work. When powered on, the green light on the front turns on and I can hear the disk spin up, but there’s no serial or graphical output. The power light on the motherboard turns on but none of the diagnostic lights do. If the CD-ROM drive is connected to IDE, it shows no signs of life, but if connected to power only then it blinks, ejects, etc. just fine. The machine doesn’t even beep with all RAM removed. I’ve reseated just about everything and have also checked the PSU’s voltages and they’re all good. Any suggestions?
There are 8 small leds on the upper motherboard between the processor and the ram, during the boot process they flash in a particular sequence.
Somewhere there is documentation that will tell you what each combination means, but if they aren't flashing at all during the boot then the upper
motherboard, or something on it has failed.
Check to see if the right RAM is installed, it must be in identical pairs, 66MHz or 100MHz (133MHz won't work) ECC CL3 Synch 3.3v 168-Pin DIMM Memory,
up to 1.5gb total.

'Crabs
Larkin Nickle
2021-06-15 16:12:49 UTC
Permalink
Post by Crabs
Post by Larkin Nickle
I’ve acquired a Personal Workstation 433, but I can’t get it to work. When powered on, the green light on the front turns on and I can hear the disk spin up, but there’s no serial or graphical output. The power light on the motherboard turns on but none of the diagnostic lights do. If the CD-ROM drive is connected to IDE, it shows no signs of life, but if connected to power only then it blinks, ejects, etc. just fine. The machine doesn’t even beep with all RAM removed. I’ve reseated just about everything and have also checked the PSU’s voltages and they’re all good. Any suggestions?
There are 8 small leds on the upper motherboard between the processor and the ram, during the boot process they flash in a particular sequence.
Somewhere there is documentation that will tell you what each combination means, but if they aren't flashing at all during the boot then the upper
motherboard, or something on it has failed.
Check to see if the right RAM is installed, it must be in identical pairs, 66MHz or 100MHz (133MHz won't work) ECC CL3 Synch 3.3v 168-Pin DIMM Memory,
up to 1.5gb total.
'Crabs
Those lights don't turn on at all. That's what I meant by "diagnostic lights" in the OP. The RAM does seem to be correct, and the system is supposed to beep if not as far as I'm aware.
Simon Clubley
2021-06-16 12:46:47 UTC
Permalink
Post by Larkin Nickle
Post by Crabs
I?ve acquired a Personal Workstation 433, but I can?t get it to work. When powered on, the green light on the front turns on and I can hear the disk spin up, but there?s no serial or graphical output. The power light on the motherboard turns on but none of the diagnostic lights do. If the CD-ROM drive is connected to IDE, it shows no signs of life, but if connected to power only then it blinks, ejects, etc. just fine. The machine doesn?t even beep with all RAM removed. I?ve reseated just about everything and have also checked the PSU?s voltages and they?re all good. Any suggestions?
There are 8 small leds on the upper motherboard between the processor and the ram, during the boot process they flash in a particular sequence.
Somewhere there is documentation that will tell you what each combination means, but if they aren't flashing at all during the boot then the upper
motherboard, or something on it has failed.
Check to see if the right RAM is installed, it must be in identical pairs, 66MHz or 100MHz (133MHz won't work) ECC CL3 Synch 3.3v 168-Pin DIMM Memory,
up to 1.5gb total.
'Crabs
Those lights don't turn on at all. That's what I meant by "diagnostic lights" in the OP. The RAM does seem to be correct, and the system is supposed to beep if not as far as I'm aware.
Have you tried powering up with all attached devices disconnected
just in case something is pulling down the power supply lines ?

If that doesn't work try powering up with the RAM _also_ removed in
addition to the optional devices to see if you get the error lights.

When you are testing the PSU voltages are you doing it while the
PSU is connected to the system ? (IOW, when the PSU is under load ?)

If you can trace the power lines on the motherboard and can _safely_
probe them, have you tried probing the power lines on the motherboard
itself ?

I'm assuming the system would at least show some life if the backup
battery was dead, but have you checked the backup battery anyway ?

Simon.
--
Simon Clubley, ***@remove_me.eisner.decus.org-Earth.UFP
Walking destinations on a map are further away than they appear.
Crabs
2021-06-16 15:41:02 UTC
Permalink
Post by Larkin Nickle
Post by Crabs
Post by Larkin Nickle
I’ve acquired a Personal Workstation 433, but I can’t get it to work. When powered on, the green light on the front turns on and I can hear the disk spin up, but there’s no serial or graphical output. The power light on the motherboard turns on but none of the diagnostic lights do. If the CD-ROM drive is connected to IDE, it shows no signs of life, but if connected to power only then it blinks, ejects, etc. just fine. The machine doesn’t even beep with all RAM removed. I’ve reseated just about everything and have also checked the PSU’s voltages and they’re all good. Any suggestions?
There are 8 small leds on the upper motherboard between the processor and the ram, during the boot process they flash in a particular sequence.
Somewhere there is documentation that will tell you what each combination means, but if they aren't flashing at all during the boot then the upper
motherboard, or something on it has failed.
Check to see if the right RAM is installed, it must be in identical pairs, 66MHz or 100MHz (133MHz won't work) ECC CL3 Synch 3.3v 168-Pin DIMM Memory,
up to 1.5gb total.
'Crabs
Those lights don't turn on at all. That's what I meant by "diagnostic lights" in the OP. The RAM does seem to be correct, and the system is supposed to beep if not as far as I'm aware.
Could be motherboard(s), could be processor (kinda unlikely, never seen one fail), could be RAM, could be power supply, or some weird combination.
Regardless, getting to the bottom of this cheaply is going to be difficult.
I do have spare guts for the PWS series and more than willing to loan you some to help diagnose the problem.
Kinda depends on where you're at, I'm on the left coast of the US.
If you're far far away, like in Antarctica or North Korea, shipping will be an issue.

'Crabs
Larkin Nickle
2021-06-16 16:33:12 UTC
Permalink
I was testing the PSU under load and have tried removing the PCI cards and RAM to no avail. I replaced the battery already.

I'm also in the US but not near the left coast. I'm thinking I might just bring the machine to the next VCF or other similar event I go to and see if anyone else has one there.
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