VAX4000 VLC diagnostics/console

Peter Corlett abuse at
Sun Sep 5 08:12:33 CDT 2021

On Sat, Sep 04, 2021 at 09:34:30AM -0400, emanuel stiebler via cctalk wrote:
> On 2021-09-04 08:30, Antonio Carlini via cctalk wrote:
>> "Digital Diggings" couldn't get BlueSCSI to work on either VAX or Alpha:
>> That's a pity as it's
>> much cheaper than SCSI2SD.

Apparently not so much cheaper any more, since it's based on the dirt-cheap
"Bluepill" SBC which has basically vanished off the market, at least on this
side of the Pond. They seemed to be mainly distributed via AZ-Delivery in
Germany, who are out of stock. I guess they're waiting for the same boat
from China that everybody else is.

The UK-based vendor of the BlueSCSI has had to hike the price to cover the
cost of getting hold of the remaining stock of Bluepills, which must be even
trickier than if they were here in the EU where I also can't just click a
"buy again" button and have a load fall through the letterbox next-day.

The only reason to have ever cared about the Bluepill was that it was so
cheap that one could gloss over its major design flaws which made it
unsuitable for a lot of projects. Now we have the Raspberry Pi Pico which is
also still rather cheap, can actually be bought, and is much more powerful
and much less buggy, the Bluepill is fairly moot.

> OK guys, but please compare that to costs for SCSI drives (please 6 of
> them, as you have partitions on the SDCARD), cost of SCSI controllers
> (QBUS/UNIBUS anyone?), or even IDE drives. So this is whining on a pretty
> high level, and there is no noise, so you can keep your machines working.
> (and *** very easy backup too) So, yes, there probably could be cheaper,
> but the guy spent a lot of time making it working.

It certainly looks like a more robust product than the BlueSCSI (not least
because it's not Bluepill-based), but it appears to only ship from Canada,
Australia, or the UK. The Australian distributor only takes PayPal so that's
an immediate hard no. The others seem to think that postage charges are a
trade secret which will only be revealed after committing to the sale, but
they do at least admit that they just throw it into the regular postal
sevice and hope for the best. So that's €30-50 for postage, at least a
month's wait if it arrives at all, plus a random courier surcharge due to
the sender inevitably screwing up the customs and VAT paperwork (assuming
they even bothered). Sod that, I'll make do without.

Breaking news for American businesses looking to sell into Europe: the UK
has left the EU, British exports have cratered due to red tape, its haulage
networks have all but collapsed, and a civil war is brewing which will
probably end in a break-up of the Union. You might want to pick a
distributor somewhere saner.

The people selling both the BlueSCSI and SCSI2SD do need to understand that
designing and building a product is only part of the job. If the ordering
process is broken, and fulfilment is slow, expensive, and stressful, this
drives away customers no matter how great the product is. If they just want
to make a bit on the side to fund their hobby, that's just fine, but perhaps
don't play-act at being a manufacturing business with global distribution.

I note that the guidance I get from the Dutch tax authorities points out in
that matter-of-fact Dutch way that they can tell the difference between a
genuine business and a hobby hoping for a tax break.

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