Saturday, January 10, 2015

Shed finished except for bolt-down to platform, keypunch interface PC software development and a bit of 1053 console searching for the fabled lost spring


I spent another hour digging through the Selectric mechanism in search of the dropped spring. I know it is interfering with the tab and space interposers, but even with that clue I can't find it yet. Very diabolically hidden deep in the mechanism but if I disassemble enough to see everywhere I will have a ton of adjustments I have to make when I reassemble it.


As of lunchtime, I have my startup dialog box that allows the user to pick the serial port working properly and the port open for reading/writing. The main window is open has stub menu items and lacks the status bar where I will display key information. I can't quit get the code right to position the status bar at the bottom and still see the main window with scroll bars where the cards will be displayed.

I temporarily disabled the status bar while I built out the code to open or create disk files, read/write them and display the card lines in the window. A validation routine will check the files to ensure that lines are not longer than 80 columns and that the ASCII characters in the file match the encoding method (e.g. BCD or BINARY).

Here is the UI so far - it begins by throwing up a dialog box showing the available serial ports and requesting the user to select one. That port is opened and communication with the keypunch will be established.

Opening dialog box to choose a serial port
The main window has three menus - File, Action and Options. Options allows selection of the encoding of ASCII characters to card hole patterns. In addition to the BCD, EBCDIC and Binary supported by the interface box, I added two modes that work with the IBM 1130 Simulator program written by Brian Knittel.

Main window (no file open at this time)

Options menu to select the encoding of the ASCII text file
A file to punch is opened by selecting the File-Open item, navigating to the text mode ASCII file (suffix .txt). If a deck of cards will be read in by the keypunch, File-New is selected and a new file of the users choice is created. File-Close will close the file, allowing the encoding to be changed or a different file to be punched or read into.

File menu
When a file is opened, it will display in a window with scroll bars,  the first card on top. If a new file is being created by reading cards on the keypunch, those cards will be appended to the file and appear at the bottom of the scrolled list. One of the Action menu entries is Goto, allowing the user to move to a specific card in the deck which becomes the starting point for further punching. This way selected cards can be repunched if there is a problem.

File open dialog box to select a file that will be punched onto cards
File save dialog to create a file that will hold cards that are ready by the keypunch
The Action menu also has Start Punch, Pause Punch, and Stop Punch. When a punch file is loaded (thus visible in the main window), selecting Start Punch will cause the keypunch to punch each card in sequence on the keypunch. Selecting Pause Punch will temporarily stop the program from punching additional cards, but it can be restarted at any time by again selecting Start Punch.

Actions menu that controls punching, reading and the current card position in the file
Stop Punch is used to stop punching a deck even though there are more cards in the file, but it also is the signal that a deck being read on the keypunch is complete. It is issued after the last card is read.

The encodings selected by the Options menu are used to do validation on the file to be punched. The checks will include:

  • Card is not longer than 80 columns
  • Only characters that are valid in the selected encoding are in the file
The Status Bar at the bottom of the main window will display things such as the current encoding, the number of card images in the current file, the current card to be punched from the file, and the status of the keypunch. 


The roof caps were also warped and amplified any twists that existed due to the warped roof panels I installed yesterday. I was able to get the first 2/3 of the roof line installed with a lot of wrestling, but the degree of twist at the rear is just too much to do solo. Once my son-in-law has some spare time, I can get those full screwed down. They are sitting partially installed right now.

I put on the front two skylights and installed the two sliding windows, so once I get the caps and their skylings resolved, the shed is essentially done. It has to be jockeyed into final position and bolted down to the wood platform, which includes shimming the front so the warped doors close properly, otherwise there is nothing left to do.

Skylights installed in front part of the shed
Warped roof cap along bottom

Joint won't pull together due to warping
It turned out to require a very heavy duty, wide jaw clamp I use for making furniture. I was able to squeeze, slide and twist the panels simultaneously by forcing the key joints together. These were each formed by a roof panel and two roof caps, meaning all three elements had to align adequately to get the screw to bite at the right spot. With the clamp, I finished up the roof caps and installed my remaining skylights.

Clamp used to pull the warped panels together in order to screw them together

Now that I have it closed up, I just need to shove it into final position, shim the edges to make the doors level and sink four lag bolts down into the wood base platform. Those are the only steps left for completion of the shed itself.

Gap in floor panels, hope to minimize this as I shove the shed into final position
I will put some paper down and wait until after we have a good rainy day, just to see if I have any leaks or drips. It is designed to have open air flow, with screened vents in the front and rear gable, and is certainly not air tight, so I need to know what kind of water entry I might get.

I can turn my attention to lighting inside, installing the weather proof outdoor 220V receptacle on the side of my house, and building a cord that will snake out of the shed and be plugged into the receptacle on those days when I want to run equipment in the shed data center.

I have to figure out a ramp to use when I roll the 1130 machinery up into the shed, but that won't be needed until the restoration is complete. I will move the keypunch and the punched cards and disk drives into the shed, since I rarely access them now, but those can be lifted up to the shed floor. 

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