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82161A HPIL tape drive - possible source for tapes
Message #1 Posted by Ellis Easley on 28 May 2003, 7:08 p.m.

Michel posted the address of a company that sells tapes that look a lot like the ones for the HPIL tape drive in this message:

I wrote an email to the company and have had the following interchange:

to: <>

I am interested in these tapes because they look like they might work with a Hewlett-Packard tape drive (82161A) which HP no longer supports. HP also called the tape cartridges "Mini Data Cassettes" and the manual for the tape drive says the cartridges contained "24 meters (80 feet)" of tape. If there is a chance one of your tapes might work in this drive, I would like to know how I can buy some to try out.

Thank you, Ellis Easley

Hello Ellis:

We sell new CMC80 mini-data cassette tapes in packages of 10. The part number is 600-0057-001 and the price is $19.00 each. These tapes operate in a CM600 tape drive which is used in many different applications by a multitude of companies around the world. We no longer manufacture new units but continue to service units in the field. If you have a serial number on the unit we may be able to cross-reference it in our data base. We process these orders on a credit card or COD basis. Please advise if you would like to order these tapes. Thank you.

Hello Louise,

I would like to try the CMC80 tapes with my drive. Is the price $19.00 for one tape or the package of 10?

Thank you,

Ellis Easley

Hello Tony [???],

The price per CMC80 mini-data cassette tape is $19.00 each and the minimum purchase is 10 tapes in one package or $190. Please advise if you would like to place your order. Thank you.

So my question is: would people be willing to spend $19 each for these tapes (assuming they will work *perfectly* in the 82161A)? I am thinking of writing back to ask if I can buy one tape to verify operation because I know a number of people who are looking for tapes and would be willing to "club together" to but a quantity of them. If this company was actively selling the tapes, they would probably sample me one, but I'm pretty sure they are just supporting a legacy product (remember when companies used to do that?!!!)

EduCalc charged $9.50 each / 10 for $90 for these tapes in the last catalog that listed them. I don't know what they are going for on Ebay.

Re: 82161A HPIL tape drive - possible source for tapes
Message #2 Posted by Michel Beaulieu on 28 May 2003, 7:44 p.m.,
in response to message #1 by Ellis Easley

Yes it's interesting; it they fint in the drive and have the "mirror" at the end of tape to tell the reader... the end....

so just find 9 others, 8 if you take one!


I found that link when searching fluke replacement data cartridge that also fit the HP drive.

Re: 82161A HPIL tape drive - possible source for tapes
Message #3 Posted by Ellis Easley on 28 May 2003, 7:55 p.m.,
in response to message #2 by Michel Beaulieu

I bought a box of Fluke tapes on Ebay just to see if they would work. I never put them in the drive but I measured the tape in other ways: The actual thicknes with a caliper (it is thicker that HP tapes) and the length, indirectly by counting turns of the hub (there is considerably less than the HP tapes). The fact that HP says their tapes had a length of 80 feet and this company (Braemar) sells models "CMC80" and "CMC50" makes me wonder if their CMC80 is the same as the HP tape and their CMC50 is the same as the Fluke tape.

I don't know if I want to pay $19 each for these tapes! If enough people do want to, and if the company will sell one tape for test purposes for a reasonable price, it is worth persuing.

Fluke tapes
Message #4 Posted by Mike on 28 May 2003, 8:24 p.m.,
in response to message #2 by Michel Beaulieu

I have over 20 brand new Fluke tapes and they fit fine but they will not format because, apparently, they are too short.

Of course it could also be because of missing holes or someting. They loaded properly so I assumed the eot holes were fine. Didn't check beyond trying to format them.

The format failed and I just assumed it was length, since the tape ran all the way to the end before an error was given. Then the tape just rewound.

I assumed it saw holes before it was finished formatting.

Re: 82161A HPIL tape drive - possible source for tapes
Message #5 Posted by Diego Diaz on 29 May 2003, 4:36 a.m.,
in response to message #2 by Michel Beaulieu

I contacted them few months ago, and posted here:

though nobody shows any interest by those days.

They only offered me the 10 unit box at $21/unit i.e. $210 + shipping, as I live in the Canary Islands and I was only going to make a try... this seemed quite a lot for my budget, of course, they didn't say a word about 82161A compatibility. So it must be done at your (our, mine...) risk.

Anyhow, price has come a bit down ;-)... may be in one or two years...

About Fluke tapes, if the shell fits into the drive and mirrors (at least one of them) is in its place, the tape itself can be substituted with regular audio cassete tape. I'm willing to get a pair of them for testing.

I've done it on two heavily worn out HP cassettes and they are working fine since then:

(I must say that they have only been formatted (NEWM) and recorded and read/verfied twice, as they are only used for long term archiving purposes. 9114B is the *real* solution for HP-IL mass storage)


Re: 82161A HPIL tape drive - possible source for tapes
Message #6 Posted by Ellis Easley on 29 May 2003, 5:34 a.m.,
in response to message #5 by Diego Diaz

I guess I missed your posts. I wonder if the price will keep coming down? $2 every few months - they should be free by next year! I wouldn't even consider buying 10 tapes at these prices, even shared among several people, without knowing that they will work. Even if they are the right tapes, that's a lot.

Wouldn't it be something if they bought up a stock of HP tapes and re-labeled them? There was a rumor (here) that somebody's brother has a huge supply of HP tapes and is just waiting for the right time to sell them on Ebay. I didn't think to ask Jim Carter about them when he had his EduCalc closeout - I did buy several 80 packs of HP41 cards for about $2.50 each.

I don't have my notes at hand, but I'm sure the Fluke tapes had the holes in the tape and the mirrors, the main difference is that the Fluke tapes are made to be turned over - in fact, the Fluke tapes might be the original version - the HP tapes have two mirrors but only use one, and they have some extra plastic so you can only load them one way. I've (only) though about reloading the Fluke (or HP) tapes, is the width of audio cassette tape correct? I would choose a tape that was the same color - all I know about different formulations is that the old 5.25" floppy disks were brown and the later high density ("high [600 oersted] coercivity", the original 1.2 MB diskettes were marked) and 3.5" disks are black. At least cassette tapes come in different lengths and I always heard that the 120 minute tapes were thinner and more likely to jam. I measured the HP tape with a dial caliper and it is definitely thinner than the Fluke tape. I'll have to take a caliper to some audio cassette tapes. The next problem (I thought) was how to punch the hole cleanly without making the tape very weak.

Re: 82161A HPIL tape drive - possible source for tapes
Message #7 Posted by Diego Diaz on 29 May 2003, 6:46 a.m.,
in response to message #6 by Ellis Easley


Ellis, check out the whole thread under my previous post's last link. I think you'll find some useful info regarding tape refurbishing.


Re: 82161A HPIL tape drive - possible source for tapes
Message #8 Posted by Ellis Easley on 29 May 2003, 8:52 a.m.,
in response to message #7 by Diego Diaz

Diego, I did - after I wrote my message! I want to try some of your experiments myself.

Here's some ancient history that might apply: I worked for Tandy and I remember someone talking about the cassette tapes for the TRS80, which used a regular audio cassette tape recorder for storage. It was a factory issue because every unit shipped with a tape (and a recorder) - I think it was a Blackjack game! Radio Shack knows all about audio and knew how to mass produce pre-recorded audio cassettes and so they provided a master cassette and had the tapes made the normal way but they didn't work reliably - or at least the playback volume setting on the recorder, which was critical for success in loading programs, had to be changed from the setting that worked best to load programs recorded on the recorder, to load the prerecorded cassettes. The process for making the pre-recorded tapes involved making a master recording on metal tape and then bringing a blank tape into contact with the metal tape with both tapes in synchronous motion and hot air blowing past them. The advantage of this process is that it can be done at very high speed. They found that they had to increase the amplitude of the signal recorded on the metal tape master to get a pre-recorded tape that worked reliably without changing the volume setting.

The lesson of that story might just be that the recorder that was shipped with the computer recorded at a higher amplitude than it should have. But I give Radio Shack's engineers credit for eliminating that factor. I assume they started out by providing as a master, a typical recording produced by the computer and the actual model of recorder that was shipped with it (BTW, the recording level of the cassette deck was not user adjustable - I'm sure it had an automatic recording level circuit to maximize the level that went onto the tape, to minimize hiss on playback - it was a regular audio cassette recorder, not a high fidelity deck).

The lesson of the story seems to be that a nominally audio recording of digital data works best at recording levels much higher than for high fidelity sound recording. Maybe the optimal signal for digital purposes is what would be considerd a clipped signal for sound purposes. Does magnetic media clip "softly" - without sharp edges that would play back harmonics? If a voice is heavily clipped, you just hear the fundamental frequencies and can't understand the speech, which is mostly conveyed by the harmonics. But this type of modulation doesn't depend on harmonics - in fact, eliminating all other frequencies should make recovery of the data easier. Recording a clipped level on the tape might enhance that.

How did you use a drill bit to make the holes in the tape? Did you clamp the tape between two sheets of something hard for the bit to work through?

I'm curious about Tony's article. I have the HPCC CD-ROM - 20 Years of Datafile. Hopefully it is there.

Re: 82161A HPIL tape drive - possible source for tapes
Message #9 Posted by Diego Diaz on 29 May 2003, 10:16 a.m.,
in response to message #8 by Ellis Easley

Originally recorded signal in the HP tape (remember it didn't work) was fully saturated, i.e. it shows a flat upper and lower waveform with very fast transitions between them (almost squarewave).

Anyhow it was reproduced in a Hi-Fi deck, so heads are obviously unnapropriated for the task, but for reference only.

The holes at both ends were made with a 0.8mm drill bit (by hand) placing the corresponding portion of the tape with the magnetic coated surface towards a hard plastic flat piece and taped with scoth-magic adhesive tape to this plastic piece, then handle the drill bit carefully to make a centered hole thru the "sandwich", remove the adhesive tape (also carefully) and you'll have a very nice and round hole (little practise helps a lot.)

I'll look for Tony's article and will send it to you. It is a great job about repairing tape's pressure pads, opening the tape case, etc.

Cheers from Spain.

Re: 82161A HPIL tape drive - possible source for tapes
Message #10 Posted by David Smith on 29 May 2003, 5:42 p.m.,
in response to message #1 by Ellis Easley

When they appear on Ebay the HP tapes usually sell for over $20 each if they are new. I saw a 2 pack bring over $75 and a pack of 10 bring like $275. I have also seen them go for quite a bit less. $19 each seems like a reasonable amount these days.

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