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View Full Version : IBM third party PC XT add on? Cipher 5210XT tape drive



Roland Huisman
May 22nd, 2012, 01:01 PM
Recently I found this tape-drive. According the poor pictures on the
website it looked an IBM model case to me. Today it was delivered.
The unit was very very dirty. It smelled like it has been 20 years in a farm.

This is how it came here. yuk.... :shocked:
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The first thing I did was cleaning.
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The data cable uses a big D connector.
Just like the external FDD for an IBM PC XT.
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Also the model number 5210 XT looks like
it was intended to use on an IBM PC XT.
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This is the inside. No shielded power supply. Just a PCB.
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(I will post some more pictures)

Roland Huisman
May 22nd, 2012, 01:12 PM
The Cipher drive is model 526 Floppy Tape
So the cable is really to be used as a third FDD
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The internal mechanism looks nice. No signs of wear.
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The PCB has a Zilog processor. An EPROM is stacked on top of it.
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Here you can see the drive next to a IBM PC XT.
It has really the same look, same size and same colors.
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Also the cable fits onto the IBM external floppy port.
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Roland Huisman
May 22nd, 2012, 01:19 PM
Okay it looks nice on my IBM PC XT.

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But... Will it work? The unit came with three tapes but no drivers.
Back in the old PC days I've used other third FDD tape-streamers on MS-DOS.
A driver was not necessary but you needed a backup program that was supporting your drive.

Does anyone have such a program to use this drive? I really like to try it.
The unit powers up and did also a tape seek after inserting.

And can anyone tell me more about this drive? Did IBM make this external case?
Or is it a real good redesign of the original IBM case?

Were the external IBM floppy drives also in this kind of housing?

Regards, Roland

Chuck(G)
May 22nd, 2012, 01:30 PM
I think I've got the software for the Cipher 525 somewhere. Would that work for you?

Roland Huisman
May 22nd, 2012, 01:42 PM
Hello Chuck,

That would be wonderful! I hope it will work on the 526 too.
I'll sent you a PM with my email address.

Regards, Roland

Chuck(G)
May 22nd, 2012, 02:37 PM
I've emailed you the archive, but given Yahoo's strange attachment filtering, I don't know if it'll make it.

You can also get the file here (http://www.sydex.com/temp/ciphr525.zip). I'll keep it posted for a week.

Roland Huisman
May 23rd, 2012, 03:00 PM
Hello Chuck,

Your software and the tape streamer love to work together!
You can watch a video here.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHvT6Gc_H2E

(Unfortunately my camera quality is poor.)


Here you can see a picture of the software formatting a tape.

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Thanks a lot!

Chuck(G)
May 23rd, 2012, 03:09 PM
My pleasure.

Wow, a whole 24MB on a DC600A tape! My head is swimming with the possibilities!

Shadow Lord
May 24th, 2012, 10:48 AM
Wow, that is a nice find! It cleaned up nicely and should be great for backing up those pesky ST412s ;)! I recently saw a HDD enclosure that was made to match the original IBM case. Unfortunately the seller was selling it with a 5150 so it was a no go for me... I wonder if there were other internal FH tape drives that could just be placed a in a 5161 expansion case and match the look/finish of the original IBM drives ?

Chuck(G)
May 24th, 2012, 11:14 AM
I don't see why not--even the Cipher unit above is a "floppytape" device. Heck, there were 8mm and DDS FH drives, but you'd have to add a SCSI controller.

Some QIC drives are QIC36 or QIC02 devices and require an appropriate controller.

Shadow Lord
May 24th, 2012, 12:04 PM
I don't see why not--even the Cipher unit above is a "floppytape" device. Heck, there were 8mm and DDS FH drives, but you'd have to add a SCSI controller.

Some QIC drives are QIC36 or QIC02 devices and require an appropriate controller.

I was aware of the SCSI drives. However, I was more interested in a drive like the cypher which was a "floppytape" and would not need additional HW or drivers loaded to be used. Plus many of the drives don't really match the look of the IBM FDDs and are just way too large for an XT. The cypher is pretty good though: right look and 24MB is the righ size for most HDDs of that time!

Chuck(G)
May 24th, 2012, 12:06 PM
How easy is it to find DC600A in usable condition nowadays? I've got a stack, but then I'm strange.

Shadow Lord
May 24th, 2012, 01:06 PM
How easy is it to find DC600A in usable condition nowadays? I've got a stack, but then I'm strange.

Honestly no idea. I would have thought you would be the "gold standard" on that sort of info. ;)

However, a quick search shows cartridges available (http://www.ecrater.com/p/3591201/imation-46160-60mb-600-dc600a-1-4-cartridge) for as low as $9.99 + S&H.

Chuck(G)
May 24th, 2012, 01:31 PM
Honestly no idea. I would have thought you would be the "gold standard" on that sort of info. ;)

Well, my gig doesn't involve writing new ones so much as it does reading old ones, so I haven't checked lately.

Roland Huisman
May 25th, 2012, 01:43 PM
I wonder if there were other internal FH tape drives that could just be placed a in a 5161 expansion case and match the look/finish of the original IBM drives ?

Hello Shadow Lord,

The Cipher 526 tapedrive is just a 5.25 full height drive. You can also put it in the PC.
I think in those days you could also buy this one as an internal drive.
Maybe other brands made them too. I don't know.

It's funny the tape works very well. I've seen some information about
rubber string (how is it named?) breaks in the tape. So it might be better
not to use it to very much.

Chuck named the 525 unit, you can find a lot information for
this unit. It seems it's almost the same as the 526
But for the 526 or 5210xt I can not find any information.

Regards, Roland

Shadow Lord
May 25th, 2012, 06:51 PM
Roland,

Thanks for the info. I figured the unit would also be available as an internal drive. The problem is finding a working unit in 2012 ;)

Denniske1976
December 14th, 2013, 02:52 AM
Hi and sorry to resurrect this old thread but I got one of these drives yesterday from someone (for free and totally clean and undamaged, really happy with it) and this thread was just what I was looking for :-) I saved that software back when it was posted on the previous page for some reason... Only thing is, I have no tapes. At least no DC-600A tapes. I do have some DC-300A tapes (new in box, so don't wanna take them out if they don't work), anyone know if they work? Maybe at a lower capacity since DC-600A is supposed to be 60MB but formatted at 20MB by the drive/software...

Dennis

SpidersWeb
December 15th, 2013, 10:22 AM
Hi and sorry to resurrect this old thread but I got one of these drives yesterday from someone (for free and totally clean and undamaged, really happy with it) and this thread was just what I was looking for :-) I saved that software back when it was posted on the previous page for some reason... Only thing is, I have no tapes. At least no DC-600A tapes. I do have some DC-300A tapes (new in box, so don't wanna take them out if they don't work), anyone know if they work? Maybe at a lower capacity since DC-600A is supposed to be 60MB but formatted at 20MB by the drive/software...

Dennis
You can just try it and see if you can read or write to the tape, but first open it up and make sure the capstain (rubber wheel which grabs the tape) inside has not melted with age. Nothing worse than having one tape to use, inserting it, and it getting covered in a magic goo that gets everywhere and sticks to everything (including the drive heads, tape surface, your hands, anything within 10 metres you accidently touch afterwards)

Chuck(G)
December 15th, 2013, 11:44 AM
If you've got any DC-6150s, you might try those.

It all depends on how smart the drive is. QIC drives determine the cartridge type by measuring the length of the tape leader between the BOT and BOI markers. Sometimes, using a higher capacity tape works better than trying to use a lower capacity one. (in my experience)

Check the condition of the pinch roller/capstan in the drive before you go too far, however. A lot of units have this critical rubber part either crumbling or turning to goo.

Denniske1976
December 19th, 2013, 01:51 AM
Well, I opened the drive yesterday and it was totally clean! Not a speck of dust anywhere and the rubber roller on the capstan is also still fine, just like a new rubber one, not soft but not hard either and not sticky or dirty :-) BTW: Can you replace those? It just looks like some kind of cut piece of rubber tube that was put on that alu thingie (kinda like putting a car tire on it's rim)...

From what I could find, this drive only does DC-600A so I'll be looking for some of those tapes to play around sometime later... there's some on eBay, but as usual: obviously old tapes are also like gold :confused:

Shadow Lord
December 19th, 2013, 06:34 AM
From what I could find, this drive only does DC-600A so I'll be looking for some of those tapes to play around sometime later... there's some on eBay, but as usual: obviously old tapes are also like gold :confused:

Capstan's can be replaced if you can find the part! I have changed the capstans on two 6157s and both work like new now. I've also bought DC600A tapes off of eBay and so far no issues. Of course I am not doing daily backup but it is working well so far! YMMV. ;)

firebirdta84
August 15th, 2015, 06:42 PM
I just wanted to jump on this older thread. I recently acquired a Cipher Floppytape 525, which it appears that Roland started this thread about. It is in an AT&T-branded housing instead of an IBM-branded one, slightly different shape at the front to match the look.

The AT&T model on the back of mine is KS 23356-LI

This was go to with one of my UNIX PCs / 3b1. I also have 2 tape backup controller boards that plug into the back of the UNIX PC, and one mammoth-diameter cable.

But the internal guts are the identical Cipher Floppytape 525 that you guys discuss here on this thread.

I'm so glad someone got one of these to work and posted about it here. Mine errors out when formatting track 2, and I haven't gotten any further than that yet.

Should I get to restoring it in the coming weeks or months, I'll add to this thread about it.

-AJ
http://MightyFrame.com

DDS
August 16th, 2015, 07:31 AM
The AT&T model on the back of mine is KS 23356-LI



Perhaps more trivia than relevant. Just about anything made or supplied through Western Electric to the old pre-1983 "Bell System" was marked with a KS number. KS was WECo's Kearny Stockroom in Kearny, New Jersey.

http://www.nytimes.com/1983/01/29/nyregion/kearny-plant-is-dying-along-with-an-old-era.html

firebirdta84
September 6th, 2015, 05:08 PM
Perhaps more trivia than relevant. Just about anything made or supplied through Western Electric to the old pre-1983 "Bell System" was marked with a KS number.

DDS, I find the trivial in this vintage tech realm fascinating, so I, for one, appreciate you posting it here. Very cool!

-AJ

Scali
September 6th, 2015, 11:11 PM
My IBM 5160 came with some extra ISA card installed, with something that looked like a floppy port of some sort at the back.
I'll take a picture of it and post it. It may well have been for some kind of tape drive as well, but I didn't get any such drive with my system, just the 'abandoned' card.