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Core Plane Circuit Board

Technical Information

Catalogue No: C1232
Category: Unknown
Object Type: Module/Sub-Assembly/Component
Object Name: Core Plane Circuit Board
Part No: None
Serial No: None
Manufacturer: Unknown
Division: Unknown
Year of Manufacture: circa 1970
Width (mm):
Height (mm):
Depth (mm):
Weight (g):
Location: Rack RAA03 [Main Store]

63-11023-1 on one side &
63-11023-2 on the other.


This is again the type of circuit module used in the early 70’s but the unit it was used in is not currently known.

http://www.computerconservationsociety.org/software/elliott903/more903/Manuals/index.htmThe 920 series of computers was developed at Elliotts Borehamwood Computing Division in the 1960’s and was derived from the successful 901 commercial computer which was miniaturised for airborne use. One of the primary production derivatives was the MCS 920M which was used in the
Jaguar Navigation and Weapon Aiming Sub-System NAVWASS This system comprised the MCS920M central digital computer, E3R inertial platform, projected map display and horizontal situation indicator together with the necessary power supply, electronic, interface and control units.
The MCS 920M is a microminiature general purpose digital computer using flat pack integrated circuits and. has a random access, 8192 word, 18 bit ferrite core store with a 2microsecond cycle time. Elliotts lacked access to multi-layer printed circuit board technology so used a special technique developed at the Borehamwood Computer Laboratory (see ‘Moving Targets’ by Simon Lavington). The box is unusual in that it folds out into three blocks.
In addition to performing navigation and weapon aiming calculators, the computer caters for in-flight monitoring, initial alignment and in situ first line system testing. The Computer also had an Interface Unit which enables the digital computer to receive and transmit information from and to other units in the aircraft in compatible signal form. The Interface Unit also supplied the power for the computer and Navigation Control Unit.
In its production form the MCS920M was widely used in its intended role in the Jaguar navigation attack system and eventually grew to a 64 K machine. The 920M also saw use in the ELDO rockets.
The MCS920M was also adopted for a number of naval inertial navigation applications.

Thanks to Terry Froggatt we have two pages of how a 920M is built.

The two pages shown look very like the Core Stack photos (minus a top plate) catalogued as C1059.

We assume an Elliott typo (not uncommon), for "7 epoxy-glass printed circuit boards" read "9 epoxy-glass printed circuit boards" There are 24 chips in the Core Stack and a pair of 24-way ribbon cables. Possible explanation:

“8192 words is not a square number. On a 920B/903 the store is addressed as two 4096-word stores, so there are 64 "Y" address wires running though ALL 8192 words, and 64 "X" address wires running through EACH 4096 words.

Total 192 wires, = 24 * 8, (and each wire needs 4 diodes).

So, your core store may well be a spare for a 920M, or perhaps from a 920M "extra store" module, or a 920C.


See:    http://www.computerconservationsociety.org/software/elliott903/more903/Manuals/index.htm  this gives copious links to the 920 Computer family.

Magnetic-core memory was the predominant form of random-access computer memory for 20 years between about 1955 and 1975. Such memory is often just called core memory, or rope core memory and also core plane.

Core uses tiny magnetic toroids (rings), the cores, through which wires are threaded to write and read information. Each core represents one bitof information. The cores can be magnetized in two different ways (clockwise or counterclockwise) and the bit stored in a core is zero or one depending on that core's magnetization direction. The wires are arranged to allow for an individual core to be set to either a one or a zero and for its magnetization to be changed by sending appropriate electric current pulses through selected wires. The process of reading the core causes the core to be reset to a zero, thus erasing it. This is called destructive readout. When not being read or written, the cores maintain the last value they had, even when power is turned off. This makes them nonvolatile.

 There was a development programme preceding the A-7 project called 'Integrated Light Attack Avionic System'  (ILAAS) and for this the Team Leader Jim Machin and the team  developed a 2K rope core memory Read Only Memory (ROM) from scratch as it was necessary to ensure non volatility and a very wide temperature range (in fact he achieved about -70C to around +120C).  The approach used large ferromagnetic cores threaded with a number of copper wires, threading or bypassing the ferrite cores. The design gave a store cycle time of around 1 microsecond. and avoided the ½ current drives of a conventional core stack. (For the subsequent A-7 HUD production a manufacturing source was established in Portugal drawing on their lace making skills.) The provision of reliable storage was a problem and a magnetic core store, of 2048 words, was used for the main program store. The new 16bit bipolar RAM was used for the data memory but to keep costs down this was limited to 64 words. In the A-7 the weapon aiming calculations were performed in a central computer and although such data as airspeed, height, aircraft velocity vector and altitude were provided to the HUD for generation of the symbology this design was not used  to carry out the weapon aiming itself. The original 18/12 processor used a programmable memory of 2K read only rope core memory. There was  a story that hese were assembled at one time  by the lace maker ladies of Portugal; following a workers revolution this was then shifted to the lace makers of Malta  and finally to Hong Kong. The production derivative extended the memory to 4k to allow for weapon aiming computation.


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