How to use vintage IBM mainframe hardware
with your PC
It is possible to use some old mainframe equipment with your pc. My personal computer mainframe has an IBM 9348 9 track 10" reel tape drive connected to it that can read/write tapes that a real modern day mainframe can read/write. I also have a (sometimes working) rare IBM 3279 graphics terminal that connects thru an IBM 3174 communications controller and CISCO token ring/ethernet bridge. I also have an IBM 3278 "Green Screen" terminal that works well with DOS/VS. A 1980's IBM 3179 color terminal rounds out the video terminal collection at the moment. Though it is made by DEC I have an LA-100 Letterwriter that makes a good substitute for the IBM 1052 when running DOS 360.
In the case of a 3270 type mainframe terminal a controller is needed to connect it to a pc. The most practical unit is the 3174 which comes in several interface flavors. They made an ethernet version which can connect directly to your home network but it is a hightly prized collector item (very expensive). It is possible to get one with a token ring adaptor or buy a token ring adapter off ebay and add it to a 3174 with an X.25 interface. This is probably 5 or 6 hundred dollars cheaper than getting the ethernet version. With the token ring adapter you can connect with a linux box with a TR PCI adapter thru a token ring concentrator. ebay has them cheap. There are still some linux distributions that have token ring support built in but be prepared to compile a driver for most modern distros. The other alternative is to get an old CISCO router (I use the 2612 - setup guide) that has a token ring port. Then you can connect that directly into your home router and you are ready to go. The 3174 requires a couple of control diskettes to operate and setting the options can be a headache. When you buy a 3174 be sure to enquire as to wether the diskettes are included. They can still be bought new from mainframe terminal dealers but they run about $80. When I get some time I will try to go into detail on how to set the options. In the mean time if your looking for more information check the Yahoo interest group ibm-legacy-hercules.
My Current Console Setup
IBM 3174 TN3270 Error Codes
Sometimes when you first crank up the 3174 and try to open a TN3270 connection to hercules it will fail with error 60. I have found that preceeding trying to connect, doing a ping from the hercules PC to the 3174 will establish the proper routing so that the first connect attempt actually works.