Massive tape, possibly data?

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Massive tape, possibly data?

Postby Clym5 on Mon Aug 04, 2014 7:56 pm

Hello again!

I'm not sure if this belongs in General or Repair and Restoration, so feel free to move this thread Tezza!

A few months ago, I got this massive magnetic tape reel from a local art studio when they were clearing out their storage room and I've never really known what it was.

It might be a video tape of some sort, or a data tape. I've got no clue, as this is WAY before my time, and still a wee while before my vintage computers were made too.

Here is a link to some photos. The only markings on the tape is the brand, Scotch, and in vivid, 7 Phil. http://imgur.com/a/CLYJn

The tape is in very good condition under the top layer.

Any idea what it might be?
Last edited by Clym5 on Mon Aug 04, 2014 9:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Massive tape, possibly data?

Postby tezza on Mon Aug 04, 2014 8:01 pm

Yes, it probably is better under General so I've moved it.

Hmm...I have no idea what that tape may be for.
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Re: Massive tape, possibly data?

Postby Clym5 on Mon Aug 04, 2014 9:04 pm

Hopefully someone knows. I hope it's a data tape, but I have a gut feeling that it's for video.

Through the gaps in the metal reel, I can see where it has been rewound, played and stopped for small bits all over. The tape doesn't sit perfectly on where it was before it was used.
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Re: Massive tape, possibly data?

Postby kevman3d on Mon Aug 04, 2014 11:04 pm

That's a tricky one to answer without equipment to play it on... I guess if you can dig about for someone with the gear to play it, you'll never know.

You could try contacting these guys and asking if they have any ideas - or if they offer services for a reel like this (I think they specialise more in smaller tapes but you never know unless you ask)

https://www.payam.co.nz/services/tape-data-recovery-2/
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Re: Massive tape, possibly data?

Postby petegeek on Tue Aug 05, 2014 12:18 am

Could it be a multi-track reel from a recording studio?
Here's one I have

Image

It's a 2" tape and this one has 16 tracks of analogue audio.
Can't remember what it was originally recorded on, maybe a Studer or Ampex machine?
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Re: Massive tape, possibly data?

Postby Clym5 on Tue Aug 05, 2014 8:30 am

Ah, that audio tape looks very similar. I might have a way of checking though! I've got a tape deck with gears that have been destroyed, and I could take the playback head out, on longer wires, and move it gently across parts of the tape. I know I probably wont get proper audio, but I think I could tell the difference between data and audio.

If that doesn't work, I'll send the people at Payam a email.
Amiga 4000: Apollo Turbo 040, 128MB Fast, 40gb HDD, CD-ROM (needs internet)
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Re: Massive tape, possibly data?

Postby Gibsaw on Tue Aug 05, 2014 9:07 am

Yep... That's most likely 16 or 24 track audio. (I've used it plenty in recording studios) It could be video. It may even be digital audio, but the likelihood is not high.

Contact places like SAE or Stebbings if you're really interested in seeing what's on it. At one point, SAE's main 24 track was an Otari, but I suspect they're all digital now.

Places like York Street and Stebbings would almost certainly have a compatible machine as the bigger studios usually sideline in remastering, archiving and format conversion. Please gently dust it, clean the mould off the reel and put it in an appropriately sized box and take new photos. They'll definitely want to examine it's condition closely before putting it on a (very expensive) analogue multitrack, and they'll hang up on you if they see photos of a mouldy reel on a dusty concrete floor. :)

Outside of that, you'll probably have to look for one of the little boutique places workin' the whole 'vintage gear' kitsch.
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Re: Massive tape, possibly data?

Postby Gibsaw on Tue Aug 05, 2014 9:14 am

Most studios are only too happy to help. Studio engineers are really just a another sort of nerd, and curiosity drives them too. :)

But please bear in mind that while a 2" 24 track can be picked up for about US$4000-7000 now, these were $100,000+ machines new. Servicing one is still a specialist job and still costs plenty, so if you expect someone to put that tape on their machine, you'll need to treat the tape with care, unless you want a big bill.

To put it in perspective, when a floppy drive has had head alignment problems or a head replacement, it requires specialised calibration media and knowledge to properly return that drive to service... Now take that single two millimeter head and multiply the problem by a very expensive vertically oriented 24 head array two inches wide that has all the major axes of adjustment, plus adjustments for the tape feed mechanism that are very similar to adjusting the autoloader for a VCR - with similar tape mangling consequences. Except, with bad luck, it can be the original 30 year old multitrack-tape for a classic album that gets mangled because the machine was out of alignment, which is why these machines are serviced meticulously.
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Re: Massive tape, possibly data?

Postby Clym5 on Tue Aug 05, 2014 1:13 pm

Just a quick reply for now, as I'm at school.

I know some people who know people at Stebbings, so I might get in contact with them.

I'll give it a dust off, and keep it in a box from now on. It's been sitting under a towel on a shelf in my workshop.

The previous storage of it was in a art studio, with chalk dust everywhere, sadly.
Amiga 4000: Apollo Turbo 040, 128MB Fast, 40gb HDD, CD-ROM (needs internet)
C64: 1541U-II, MixSID, WiFi, LumaFix64
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Re: Massive tape, possibly data?

Postby Gibsaw on Tue Aug 05, 2014 4:23 pm

Clym5 wrote:The previous storage of it was in a art studio, with chalk dust everywhere, sadly.

oooh... yechh.. chalk dust. Why did it have to be chalk dust? :?

Tell them the truth, let them examine the tape and make their own decision. Them deciding not to help you is better than paying through the nose for a replacement head array.
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Re: Massive tape, possibly data?

Postby Clym5 on Tue Aug 05, 2014 6:25 pm

I gave it a dust with a fine brush, and most of the dust is gone. Hopefully Stebbings have the equipment, as they'd be the easiest to contact about the tape.

If they end up putting it on their machine, I'll put all my vintage computer stuff on hold, and finish fixing my reel to reel player. It wont rewind, or record properly, dead pots, and many other things. Still plays tapes, barely. Good excuse I guess!

I'll take some nicer photos tonight. Thanks for the help! I'll post back when I hear from Stebbings.
Amiga 4000: Apollo Turbo 040, 128MB Fast, 40gb HDD, CD-ROM (needs internet)
C64: 1541U-II, MixSID, WiFi, LumaFix64
ZX Spec, A1200, CD32, MacPlus/SE, A500, BBC Turbo Master (NASA), 2600, Acorn 4000, VIC-20, IBM 5155, GameBoy
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