DIY: IT's first three-letter acronym

Flashback to the days when this pilot fish is the senior technical consultant on a factory automation project where the big minicomputer that runs the show needs more terminals -- and more serial ports to plug them into.

"The PDP-11 was maxed out for RS-232 serial ports, but had room for more boards," says fish. "We didn't have the budget to purchase an expansion cabinet, so I got to drive to Radio Shack, buy two 'project boxes' and a metal nibbling tool, and perform surgery.

"I put the RS-232 port block onto the photocopier and printed out copies to use as templates. I glued those onto the project boxes, drilled starter holes, and then used the nibbler to cut out space for the four serial ports themselves.

"The new controller board was installed in our development system, the ribbon cable run out one of the spare holes in the backplane, connected to the port block itself, and fired up.

"Fortunately, there was no smoke involved -- it worked the first time. I put the project box together and placed it beside the system.

"Then I performed the same operation for our production box, again without letting any magic smoke out.

"There wasn't much that I did not do on that project..."

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