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Thread: TU60 TA8E / M8331 maindec and caps-8 questions

  1. #1

    Question TU60 TA8E / M8331 maindec and caps-8 questions

    Hello, I've a few questions about the TU60, the TA8E controller and software.

    Wednesday I can pickup a TU60 tape drive. I'm quite happy with that.
    Since there is no controller with it I've made my own drawings for the TA8E controller.
    The PCB is already drawn but I have some questions which I can't find in the documentation.

    board.jpg

    On the board are J1 and J2. All the pins with a signal are mentioned in the schematics.
    But there is no info about which pins are on GND or floating.

    Can anyone check these pins with the orange arrow for me on the controller if they are connected to GND or if they are floating?
    And I assume that all the pins in the two orange rectangles are GND. Hope someone can check that for me too.

    pin connections.jpg

    I've asked David Gesswein about a DumpRest version for the TU60. It isn't currently available.
    He said since the TU60 is supported in SIMH it can be added in the future and he put it on his to-do list.
    But he can't say when it's done.

    That brings me to the next point, are there TU60 images for Caps-8? And how can I put them on a tape?
    Or did DEC supply a papertape tool to create a Caps-8 TU60 tape?

    The last question... I found several Maindec files to test the controller and drive.
    But I could not find the documentation belonging to those maindecs.
    Is there a matching set for maindec and papertape image available?

    Thanks in advance for your help!
    Roland
    WTB: Case for Altair 8800 ...... Rolands Github projects

  2. #2

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    As far as I understand OS/8 should be able to use TA8E / TU60 as a data device, not system device though.

    There there are a CAPS-8 package on the SimH page: http://simh.trailing-edge.com/kits/caps8_all.zip

    I think you should be able to move the file overs using serialdisk when running OS/8. But when it comes to CAPS-8 and all things related to TU60 I would ask Lou.

  3. #3

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    Very interesting!

    I have a TU60 drive for my PDP-11/35 that I haven't restored yet. I would be very interesting to build this and test the drive. One more project to put on the stack...

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by MattisLind View Post
    As far as I understand OS/8 should be able to use TA8E / TU60 as a data device, not system device though. I think you should be able to move the file overs using serialdisk when running OS/8. But when it comes to CAPS-8 and all things related to TU60 I would ask Lou.
    Thanks, I've sent a message to Lou. I hope he can reply here. In the meanwhile I found this reverse
    engineered documentation for a TA8E maindec. So the original documentation is probably a hard to find document.
    http://dustyoldcomputers.com/pdp-com...ost/dhtaa.html
    I've also seen those caps-8 files, but I'm not sure yet if I can make a bootable cassette with these files.

    I've seen that the TU60 is supported in OS8 but only as a data device indeed. But there
    are TU60 cassettes to create OS/8 bootable media on an RK05 for example.
    So I really wonder how difficult it would be to let OS/8 boot from it as well...
    It will be painfully slow but hey, it would be fun right?

    There were a few people working on the OS8 diskimages for the serial disk server.
    Maybe these guys can say anything about making the TU60 bootable for OS/8?

    I've already added the TA8E bootstrap in the M847 extended edition firmware.
    The bootstrap for CAPS-8 is the same as for the OS/8 installation cassettes.

    Quote Originally Posted by anders_bzn View Post
    Very interesting! I have a TU60 drive for my PDP-11/35 that I haven't restored yet. I would be very interesting to build this and test the drive. One more project to put on the stack...
    Well, I will order 5 of these boards but I need only one. So that makes 4 spares which can go to other people.

    I've checked the documentation from the TU60 and the pins are matching perfectly with the controller.
    The GND and the not connected pins are also not mentioned in the TU60 documentation.
    So when I have the drive I can check those connections on the drive as well... When they are open in
    the drive they can be open on the controller. And when they are GND the controller can be GND as well...
    Last edited by Roland Huisman; August 4th, 2019 at 01:19 PM.
    WTB: Case for Altair 8800 ...... Rolands Github projects

  5. #5
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    Roland,

    My TU60 came with 3 cassettes, so maybe something interesting on them.

    TU60-3xCassette.jpg

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roland Huisman View Post
    I've seen that the TU60 is supported in OS8 but only as a data device indeed. But there
    are TU60 cassettes to create OS/8 bootable media on an RK05 for example.
    So I really wonder how difficult it would be to let OS/8 boot from it as well...
    It will be painfully slow but hey, it would be fun right?

    There were a few people working on the OS8 diskimages for the serial disk server.
    Maybe these guys can say anything about making the TU60 bootable for OS/8?
    I haven't yet seen the driver for the TU60, but it seems likely that it is not small, which means it will be difficult to come up with an OS/8 system driver.
    I've checked the documentation from the TU60 and the pins are matching perfectly with the controller.
    The GND and the not connected pins are also not mentioned in the TU60 documentation.
    So when I have the drive I can check those connections on the drive as well... When they are open in
    the drive they can be open on the controller. And when they are GND the controller can be GND as well...
    I found this
    tu60gnd.jpg
    in the TU60 drive doc's.

    Vince

  7. #7

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    Hi Vince,

    Quote Originally Posted by vrs42 View Post
    I found this
    tu60gnd.jpg
    in the TU60 drive doc's.
    Ah great! I didn't see that. I did see that the TU60 cables are crossed in that document.
    Totally overlooked that piece. Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by vrs42 View Post
    I haven't yet seen the driver for the TU60, but it seems likely that it is not small, which means it will be difficult to come up with an OS/8 system driver.
    Ah okay that's a shame. I was hoping that it would be a small step since the drive is already supported in OS/8.
    But still enough fun to use it with OS/8 and Caps-8.

    Regards, Roland
    WTB: Case for Altair 8800 ...... Rolands Github projects

  8. #8

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    A difficulty with the TU60 is to find tapes that work with it and tapes that last. The original tape had this special notch and also a blank leader. Then the tape itself was quite sturdy. I tested some more modern tape and it took just one rewind to destroy the tape.

    Right now there is one single tape on Ebay in Italy. This type of tape I have tested and it worked quite well. It is also longer than the standard DEC TU60 tape so it will be able to store more (if that matters).

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/VERBATIM-DA...53.m1438.l2649

  9. #9

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    It's no longer available (I bought it).

  10. #10

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    And here are a few more

    Regards, Roland
    WTB: Case for Altair 8800 ...... Rolands Github projects

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