Well, it's home! Let's open this thing up and see what's inside, eh? I opened the door on the back of machine to see how this thing was built, what model it was, and its power ratings. Below is the back of the main unit with the four fans which blow air to keep it cool.

[The back of the main unit]

Here's a better view of the sticker. As you can see my Nova is a 3/12, which means that it has 12 card slots. Since I live in Australia, it runs on 240V AC. I also figured that I do the same for the disk cartridge unit, which sits just below the main unit.

[Nova 3 model sticker] [Disk Cartridge Unit model sticker]

When the disk unit is pushed out, it reveals the fuse and power distribution box, as well as more fans, underneath. The fans take air from a vent at the front of the Nova, and forces it up through the rack. They are very powerful and 'whoosh' quite loudly. As you can probably tell there's a lot of dust at the bottom which I later cleaned out, as well as the fans, otherwise it would be blown everywhere upon powering up. Inside the back door is the schematic diagram of the power distribution box.

[Dusty innards and yet more fans] [Power distribution box schematic]

Okay, time to check out the front of the unit. Below is a picture of the front panel which is similar to its beefier cousin, the Eclipse. Data General abandoned the original Nova console design to fit in with its then current product line. The front panel is decked out with incandescent light globes (not LEDs) and high quality C&K toggle swiches. Unfortunately, the plastic switch paddles have gotten brittle with age and are showing signs of damage where they connect to the switches themselves. I'm reinforcing them with lots of araldite glue to give them a bit more strength. I have absolutely no idea if and where replacements can be obtained. Bummer!

[The Nova 3 console]

Here is the card cage, both full and empty. There are twelve slots, numbered 1 to 12, starting at the bottom. Each card is 15" by 15" and nicely populated with SSI and MSI TTL IC's. For those that despise acronyms, that is Small Scale Integration and Medium Scale Integration Transistor-Transistor Logic Integrated Circuits. Quite a mouthful, huh. Now you can understand why 'tech-heads' abbreviate everything. I'll cover the boards in greater detail in the next chapter.

[The populated card cage] [The empty card cage]

Here's the backplane into which all the cards plug into. Each slot has long pins sticking out the back so one can wire-wrap edge connectors to hook up external peripherals. As you can probably guess, to get the most out of the machine, a circuit diagram and an understanding of digital logic would have been rather handy.

[The backplane]

Ahh, the disk cartrige unit in all its beautiful glory. I received it with the drive loaded. The disks are a 15" diameter aluminium platter, similar to those found in a hard drive, coated in a magnetic film and encased in a protective plasic cartridge. I think they can store around 3 or 4 megabytes. For something so physically large, this really isn't much. Considering, in those days, programs were much much smaller, the disks were more than adequate. The picture on the right shows the empty drive after I cleaned all the filth off.

[The loaded and filthy drive] [The empty and clean drive]

Whoever serviced the drive was a comedian. This is what I found written on the bottom of the unit.

[Serviced by...] [Have a nice day]