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VCF Midwest 10.0

The Vintage Computer Festival Midwest is now just one month away! Here’s the official press release from the media page:

Now in their tenth year, the Vintage Computer Festival Midwest will return to Chicago's northwest suburbs to awaken memories of computing's past. 2015 brings a new, larger location, conveniently situated near O'Hare International Airport. VCF Midwest showcases rare artifacts and restored relics as well as the home computers of the 1970s, 80s and 90s along with new gadgets from the hobbyist community that help make them useful even today. Speakers and demonstrations relevant to the industry and the hobby will also be featured in a family-friendly setting of interest to all ages. 

“Founded in 2005 as a Midwestern offshoot of Silicon Valley's original Vintage Computer Festival (vintage.org), VCF Midwest was originally held in West Lafayette, Indiana and organized by Patrick Finnegan at Purdue University. After four annual shows a one-year hiatus, the baton was passed to Jason Timmons of Chicago Classic Computing (chiclassiccomp.org) who proposed merging the Festival with an existing gathering of Commodore computer enthusiasts. Six years on, VCF Midwest has propelled both exhibitions to become the largest gathering of vintage technology fans in the region. 

“The Vintage Computer Festival Midwest is free of charge and open to the public, running August 29th and 30th at the Holiday Inn Elk Grove Village. More information can be found at http://vcfmw.org” 

Nick Allen will once again be exhibiting his COSMAC system, and Josh Bensadon and Lee Hart will be exhibiting a table full of various 1802-based computers. Lee will also have his popular Membership Card kits available for purchase, and likely another surprise or two inspired by Joe Weisbecker.

Check out the full list of presentations and exhibits, and make plans to attend!

New Horizons and Longevity Planning

Public domain image courtesy of NASA

After nearly 10 years in space, the New Horizons mission will reach Pluto and its moons in a few days time. No, there’s no 1802 on board this one, but frequent forum member Steve Gemeny led the team that “developed, deployed, operated  and maintained the ground system that handled (and still handles) all commands and telemetry for the spacecraft.”

Beyond that, Steve drew some inspiration for mission planning from his experience with vintage computing equipment. You can read his paper A Tale of Two Processors on this website. When it takes more than a decade to go from planning a mission to a critical window of observation, you’d better have some contingencies in place to make sure old hardware, software, and knowledge have been well preserved.

Tenuous as the link to COSMAC microcomputing may be, the New Horizons mission is just plain cool and we share Steve’s excitement about the upcoming encounter. According to Steve’s post, “On Tuesday July 14th at 11:49:57 UTC (7:49:57 EDT) New Horizons will make its closest approach to Pluto with a flyby speed of about 32,50 0 MPH (5 2,300 KPH) and a close-approach of approximately 7,750 miles (12,500 kilometers) above Pluto’s surface.  Additional science will be conducted for another 2 and a half hours as the spacecraft passes through the shadow of both Pluto and the moon Charon. The 16 GByte of data to be collected during the entire encounter period (spanning several weeks on either side of Close approach) will be returned at ~1000 Bits per second over the next 9 months.”

Forum member Mark Thomas pointed out this video showing the path of the space craft and its maneuvers during the observation window:


Update July 14, 2015: New Horizons is healthy and outbound from Pluto, with the expected amount of data collected. Congratulations to the New Horizons team!

© Dave Ruske 2001-2017, except where noted