HP & 800BPI / was Re: Tape cleaner on eBay

Brent Hilpert hilpert at cs.ubc.ca
Wed Oct 7 15:29:37 CDT 2015

On 2015-Oct-07, at 12:56 PM, Glen Slick wrote:
> On Wed, Oct 7, 2015 at 12:46 PM, Brent Hilpert <hilpert at cs.ubc.ca> wrote:
>> I have an HP 7970A - 9-track, 800BPI - with my HP 2116. I wrote monitor commands to exercise it and do tape dumps from it.
>> They're uncommon compared to 1600 & > BPI  drives, figured that was because the 800 standard was older and saw a shorter life before being superseded, but are such drives that rare or hard to come by?
>> (I rather wished it was 1600 so I could read more-common tapes.)
> I have an 800BPI 7970B in a 2113B rack system. I've never gotten
> around to trying to get it up and running. Are they fairly reliable
> drives to get going again? I don't have any other 800BPI drives to
> write any tapes to read with it.

Well, the unit here was in pretty good physical condition as received.
It had a cascading failure in the capstan driver but it was a fairly straightforward fix.
I think there was one sluggish/partially-seized pulley bearing (freed up with some oil).

Pretty rugged drives as you know. I wonder about the capstan rubber in the long term but I think that's about the only thing to worry about on age alone.

I think bitsavers nowadays has manuals and schematics for the B version as you have, years ago I had to do some reverse-engineering for the capstan repair.

This page is over ten years old and needs some updating, but FWIW:
Note the tape drive repair log page linked there.

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