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Thread: Recover Data from microVAX TK50 backups?

  1. #1

    Default Recover Data from microVAX TK50 backups?

    Hi Everyone,

    Sorry if this question has been asked before. I normally hang out in the TRS-80 forum;

    I've acquired some old backup tapes of some games i wrote in the 1980's. These are TK50 tapes written by a DEC microVAX running Ultrix. Some are DUMP and some appear to be TAR, according to the labels.

    Does anyone know how I might attempt to recover the data (ascii files). For example, could I connect a SCSI TK50 drive (or compatible drive for read), to a Linux PC. Would it be SCSI I ?

    I've read that TK50s are a somewhat peculiar backup and often need almost the same setup to work. is this true?

    I'm also wondering if there's anyone out there who might be able to help. I'm in London UK. I could possibly provide some payment, but not many hundreds of dollars.

    Another idea is to buy a drive (or borrow one?). But i need to do my homework to be sure the setup would work.

    thanks a lot for any help and advice,
    -- hugh.

  2. #2
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    Many (many) years ago I read TK-50s with a Linux PC using an adaptec SCSI-2 interface board (the model escapes me), so it is possible. You will have difficulty finding a SCSI card with the proper interfaces (PCIe on one side, 50-pin centronics on the other), but it might be possible to do with adapters. I'm in a similar situation, but fortunately I have an old 486 PC that I should be able to press into service when time permits. The TK-50 was released before the SCSI-1 spec, so it isn't exactly compliant, but old hardware/software seemed to deal with the issues okay. A TZ-30 drive is functionally equivalent and actually SCSI compliant, but probably more expensive nowdays.

    Keep us updated, I'm interested to find out your solution and how it progresses.

    CW

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    Quote Originally Posted by steaminghacker View Post
    Hi Everyone,

    Sorry if this question has been asked before. I normally hang out in the TRS-80 forum;

    I've acquired some old backup tapes of some games i wrote in the 1980's. These are TK50 tapes written by a DEC microVAX running Ultrix. Some are DUMP and some appear to be TAR, according to the labels.

    Does anyone know how I might attempt to recover the data (ascii files). For example, could I connect a SCSI TK50 drive (or compatible drive for read), to a Linux PC. Would it be SCSI I ?

    I've read that TK50s are a somewhat peculiar backup and often need almost the same setup to work. is this true?

    I'm also wondering if there's anyone out there who might be able to help. I'm in London UK. I could possibly provide some payment, but not many hundreds of dollars.

    Another idea is to buy a drive (or borrow one?). But i need to do my homework to be sure the setup would work.

    thanks a lot for any help and advice,
    -- hugh.
    A TZ30 Drive or TZ85 (TK85 Drive) is a SCSI device can read tapes (CompacTape or CompacTape II) written by a TK50.

    The tape format was proprietary. See link for discussion on using them with a PC - https://groups.google.com/forum/#!to...11/lXgoQ6DYiCA
    With the correct controller and drive, its likely you can use raw commands to offload the files.

    But you are dealing with old media and time generally is not kind to these things.

    Jerry

  4. #4
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    A TZ30 is probably your best bet. I recovered data from several TK50 cartridges a few years ago on a TZ30, I ended up using an old Adaptec 1522 PIO mode SCSI controller under Linux. The tapes had gotten somewhat sticky and required a few hours sitting on the radiator before they stopped causing feed issues. The heads had to be cleaned several times during this process.

  5. #5

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    Thanks Jerry & glitch for your input.

    I have several old Adaptec cards lying around somewhere with cables.

    I didn't know about the TZ30 drive and TK50, there's even a video here,
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esqZZSxNd5o

    Maybe from someone here.

    anyhow, I'll start searching for a TZ30. they seem a bit rare.

    edit:

    Which Linux did you use BTW?
    Last edited by steaminghacker; May 9th, 2017 at 12:04 PM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by glitch View Post
    The tapes had gotten somewhat sticky and required a few hours sitting on the radiator before they stopped causing feed issues. The heads had to be cleaned several times during this process.
    TK50's are one of those mediums that need a good day at least in a food dehydrator before you can trust them to not get mangled.

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    Even then, be ready with the screwdriver to manually rewind them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by steaminghacker View Post
    anyhow, I'll start searching for a TZ30. they seem a bit rare.
    You might be most likely to find a TZ30 tape drive inside of a MicroVAX / VAXstation 3100 or 4000 instead of a bare drive. The one I have came inside of a MicroVAX.

  9. #9
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    You might want to subscribe and post a request http://www.classiccmp.org/cctech.html.

    There should be a number of vintage owners of machines with TK50's around London willing to help (with the correct incentive ).

  10. #10
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    Mark Wickens who runs the DEC legacy event in the UK might know some one.

    http://www.wickensonline.co.uk/declegacy/

    and there is a contact form on site. I think I have an e-mail for him so PM me if the contact form doesn't work.

    There is also a DecTech list. Low volume but that sort of subscriber:-

    http://dectec.info/
    Dave
    G4UGM

    Looking for Analog Computers, Drum Plotters, and Graphics Terminals

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