Brian Ho (brianho) wrote,
Brian Ho


I got to perform surgery at work today. Two Fridays ago the tape backup drive at work quit working. I discovered this when I returned from ASI on Monday last week. All the lights on the drive were flashing and the tape wouldn't eject. I disconnected the drive and took it to my desk, but I didn't get a chance to look at it all last week.

Yesterday I opened up the outer housing and was able to turn the gears to eject the tape. But when I put another tape in, I was pretty much back in the same position. The drive wouldn't respond and wouldn't eject the tape again. I had (many) other things to do, so it had to wait another day.

The tape cartridge that I had recovered fromt he drive yesterday felt too light, and upon examination was missing probably about 2/3 of its tape inside. I had thought that maybe it was defective, but today I decided I'd tear into the drive further. What I discovered was that all that tape was inside the drive itself.

Unlike a cassette tape or a videotape, these cartridges have only a single reel. So the drive itself pulls the tape out of the cartridge and winds it around a reel in the drive. Apparently the tape had broken, so all that tape was still wound around the wheel inside.

At 10:55 this morning I started pulling tape out of the drive.

Three minutes later, I had a nice pile of tape building.

Another two minutes and the tape was still coming.

By this time, several people from around the office (including Kristy seen here) had gathered around my cube to see what was up.

15 minutes after I started, I finally had all the tape out of the drive at 11:10.

I put the drive back together, but tapes still would not eject once inserted. So I spent about the next hour disassembling the drive to figure out what was wrong. It turned out that I needed to rethread the loading mechanism.

Finally at 12:31, about an hour and a half from go time, I had the drive reassemebled and succesfully loading and unloading tapes. I didn't test it until after business hours since I'd have to reboot the server for it to see the drive. Unfortunately, the server still didn't see it because I found that one of the pins of the SCSI cable had broken. So I guess it won't be until tomorrow before I can get a replacement cable and truly find out if my little operation was a complete success.

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