Hello from the South Wales - Where beebs were made

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srnet
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Hello from the South Wales - Where beebs were made

Post by srnet » Fri Aug 17, 2018 2:49 pm

I was surprised to find a active forum for the beeb, I stumbled across it when looking up some history on the micro.

I used to look after the electronics side of making the beeb at the AB Electronics factory in Abercarn, South Wales. At one point we were making as many as 5,000 a week, so quite a few design issues and faults to fix. The early 80s were busy for me.

Then there was the master, prestel adapter, laser disk, co-processors and of course the Archimedes.

Stuart.

VectorEyes
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Re: Hello from the South Wales - Where beebs were made

Post by VectorEyes » Fri Aug 17, 2018 3:07 pm

Welcome! Amazing to hear from someone who actually saw the venerable Beebs in production.

I know nothing about the mass production of decades-old computers but I must admit I'm very curious about how they were actually made! Could you share some details? Were there lines and lines of people soldering those little resistors onto every motherboard? Or was it all perfectly automated and streamlined?

Often when I open up Beebs I see lots of quality control stickers, signed by different initials. Were there different people dedicated to QA-ing different aspects of the hardware?

Sorry to hit you with all those questions. So, again, welcome!

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Elminster
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Re: Hello from the South Wales - Where beebs were made

Post by Elminster » Fri Aug 17, 2018 3:38 pm

Welcome. Sounds like you can add some interesting info to forum.

srnet
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Re: Hello from the South Wales - Where beebs were made

Post by srnet » Fri Aug 17, 2018 4:12 pm

The components, no surface mount remember, were placed by hand, lines of (mostly) ladies then trough a solder wave machine that soldered everything at once. Then all leads trimmed at once with the board moving over rotating cutter disks.

We did look at automating it with pick and place but the (mostly) ladies were actually fairly quick and there was little cost advantage to automating it.

Various stages of QA, but each complete one would have a functional test before packing. Then QA would extract a random few from every batch (60?) and do a repeat QA and test.

Finally each batch (120?) was presented to an Acorn on-site auditor that did a repeat QA and functional test on a few random samples.

Any failure resulted in an entire batch being unpacked, re-inspected and re-tested.

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CMcDougall
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Re: Hello from the South Wales - Where beebs were made

Post by CMcDougall » Fri Aug 17, 2018 4:30 pm

^ good insight!

Welcome Stuart :)
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Multiwizard
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Re: Hello from the South Wales - Where beebs were made

Post by Multiwizard » Fri Aug 17, 2018 4:34 pm

Hi Stuart,

welcome to this great Forum... :D


Greetings from my little Dutch Acorn Attic, Wim... :-)

Edit:

Oh, LaserDisc, tell me tell me... :o

(It's a loooong shot) :oops:

Any spare AIV discs which you like to part with? :mrgreen:
Last edited by Multiwizard on Fri Aug 17, 2018 4:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

srnet
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Re: Hello from the South Wales - Where beebs were made

Post by srnet » Fri Aug 17, 2018 4:44 pm

@mrgreen Any spare AIV discs which you like to part with?

As I recall we had one, that was used to test the players for the Doomsday project etc.

There were after all very expensive, not like your CDs of today and not copyable either.

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Multiwizard
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Re: Hello from the South Wales - Where beebs were made

Post by Multiwizard » Fri Aug 17, 2018 4:58 pm

srnet wrote:
Fri Aug 17, 2018 4:44 pm
@mrgreen Any spare AIV discs which you like to part with?

As I recall we had one, that was used to test the players for the Doomsday project etc.

There were after all very expensive, not like your CDs of today and not copyable either.
Ok thanks, I'm still looking for some AIV discs, my Domesday hardware is ready to go it just need some AIV gasoline... :(

Do you perhaps recall the title/name of that disc? :D

Was it used for calibration or so :?:


Greetings, Wim... :-)

Thanks in advance...
Last edited by Multiwizard on Fri Aug 17, 2018 7:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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flaxcottage
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Re: Hello from the South Wales - Where beebs were made

Post by flaxcottage » Fri Aug 17, 2018 5:07 pm

Welcome, Stuart. An interesting background. :D
- John
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Re: Hello from the South Wales - Where beebs were made

Post by daveejhitchins » Fri Aug 17, 2018 5:12 pm

Welcome the the Forum, Stuart . . . Enjoy . . . And more stories, please =D>

Dave H :D
Parts: UM6502CE, GAL22V10D, GAL16V8D, AS6C62256A, TC514400AZ, WD1772, R6522, TMS27C512, AT28C256
Products: ARA II, ARA III, ABR, ATI, AP6, MGC, AP5 . . .
For a price list, contact me at: Retro Hardware AT dave ej hitchins DOT plus DOT com

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Re: Hello from the South Wales - Where beebs were made

Post by cmorley » Fri Aug 17, 2018 5:26 pm

Hello and Welcome!

Did you build B+ at the factory too :)
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=15248

Chris
Last edited by cmorley on Fri Aug 17, 2018 5:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

srnet
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Re: Hello from the South Wales - Where beebs were made

Post by srnet » Fri Aug 17, 2018 7:01 pm

Multiwizard wrote:
Fri Aug 17, 2018 4:58 pm
Do you perhaps recall the title/name of that disc? :D
What it used for calibration or so :?:
Cant remember the name, it was around 34 years ago.

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davidb
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Re: Hello from the South Wales - Where beebs were made

Post by davidb » Fri Aug 17, 2018 10:21 pm

Welcome! :D

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tricky
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Re: Hello from the South Wales - Where beebs were made

Post by tricky » Fri Aug 17, 2018 10:53 pm

Welcome, I don't think you are alone around there.
There is a Google map in someone's signature that you can register on if you like.
Have you found bbcmicro.co.UK yet?

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Re: Hello from the South Wales - Where beebs were made

Post by aerworuld » Sat Aug 18, 2018 8:49 am

Welcome Stuart; good to have you here!

From another Stuart ;-)

srnet
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Re: Hello from the South Wales - Where beebs were made

Post by srnet » Sat Aug 18, 2018 9:49 am

The Electron was also made by AB Electronics, at the Rogerstone factory, we did ocaisional bits of board stuffing for them.

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danielj
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Re: Hello from the South Wales - Where beebs were made

Post by danielj » Sat Aug 18, 2018 10:57 am

Hello there :)

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Re: Hello from the South Wales - Where beebs were made

Post by RobC » Sat Aug 18, 2018 11:42 am

Welcome. I'm based in Newport so possibly not too far from you!

Kazzie
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Re: Hello from the South Wales - Where beebs were made

Post by Kazzie » Sun Aug 19, 2018 8:49 am

And here's a friendly wave from the other end of the A470!
BBC Model B 32k issue 7, Sidewise ROM board with 16K RAM
Archimedes 420/1 upgraded to 4MB RAM (mid- restoration)
Acorn System 1 home-made replica

srnet
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Re: Hello from the South Wales - Where beebs were made

Post by srnet » Fri Aug 24, 2018 8:00 am

Well, I have lived in Cardiff since circa 1960, and spent several years riding past Newport on my way to the beeb factory in Abercarn. North Wales I know well, many a climbing and kayaking adventures have been had there.

Of all the things that were 'revolutiuonary' at the time and built in the humble factory in South Wales, one development has only in recent years become very significant. When the first Archimedes arrived in the lab, we all said, 'gosh thats fast'.

Now many years later the ARM processor has formed the cornerstone of the Smartphone and social media developments that have had such an impact on society worldwide. There are now apparently some 100billion ARM chips out there.

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oss003
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Re: Hello from the South Wales - Where beebs were made

Post by oss003 » Fri Aug 24, 2018 10:41 am

Hi Stuart,

welcome and enjoy the forum ...... back to the future ...... :lol:

Greetings
Kees

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