Subject: Re: somewhat ot: looking dec multia help
To: bart sikkes <>
From: Michael Kukat <>
List: port-alpha
Date: 11/08/2004 20:57:21
Hi !

On Mon, 8 Nov 2004, bart sikkes wrote:
> i recently acquired a dec multia and it doesnt really seem to work. i
> have done some searching and found it could be the battery. there
> already was a non standard battery in there so it already ran out once
> i assume.

Multias usually don't work :)

Okay, the battery should be your first go. It behaves _VERY_ strange, if your
battery if off limits. And off limits really has a meaning here. You need 4.5V.
Don't use 4 1.2V NiCd cells, you might have luck, but you might have the
problem, that fully charged 1.2V cells have about 1.3V, which sums to 5.2V,
which could again be off limits. Use 3 AA size batteries if you don't find the
strange 4.5V block. Hint: Motorola Mac clones (which again use some original
Apple board) use the same battery. So you may find spare parts in some Apple
spare parts store.

> but i also read the owners manual and counted the flashes the
> diagnostic LED gives. that was 14 times, which appears to point into
> the direction of a memory issue.

Whatever this means in detail... There are 2 kinds of Multia: Pentium-based and
Alpha-based. Due to the context (this list) i assume, you have the Alpha
version. The CPU is usually socketet. At least i thought so. Never had a really
closer look at it, bit maybe you must unscrew the Heatsink to see the lever for
the chip. But okay, maybe it's really soldered. Cache SIMM? This must be the
Pentium version. Never saw a cache SIMM in my Multias.
Memory... lives long. Try just 2 instead of 4 modules, or try different
modules. Use 36bit modules to get sure, maybe 33bit are enough, but they are
rare compared to standard PS/2 modules with parity from old PeeCees (36bit

Use Fast Page memory, EDO may work, but also could make trouble. Look in older
"hightech" PeeCees or on eBay to gain such modules.

If you still get massive memory errors, and double-checking RAM and battery
doesn't solve them... bad luck. Check out the Multia FAQ. There is a small chip
on the underside of the board, which usually overheats. This chip seems to be
some bus driver, and without it, you get lots of memory errors. I had to
replace this chip in all my 3 Multias. Source: RS Components. They had it for
about $1-2 per chip. I got 10 the time i ordered the parts, maybe it's good to
have some spares :)

> based on the fact that i dont seem able to replace my processor i
> assume i got a VX40 right? there is a heatsink on the processor
> attached with two bolts but no lever on the side.

Okay, so the CPU is really soldered. Nifty box, but IMHO the worst thing DEC
ever made.

> what would the wise thing to do now, just try a new battery? (i have
> seen remarks on old part numbers and such, but living in the
> netherlands we dont have a radioshack, is it ok to just use some 4.5
> volt battery or are there other things to pay attention to?)

As told... 3 AA cells (okay, AAA also does the job, whatever, just don't use
rechargable cells) are your friends.

> i also read some mixed reports on being able to boot with or without
> the battery. could i just do some testing (on the memory for example)
> with the battery disconnected or do i have be sure to have a working
> battery because else the error led signal could be caused by no
> battery?

Just forget about it. You might have luck booting the machine, but usually the
board plays wild if the battery is not okay.


--    Home Powered by: (Net|Open|Free)BSD IRIX NonStop-UX
Solaris AIX HP-UX Tru64 MUNIX Ultrix VMS SINIX Dolphin_Unix OpenStep MacOS A/UX