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Compatible SCSI tape drives

The “official” Commodore A3070 tape drive is an external QIC 120/150 drive, designed with an A3000-themed case and is required for the default scripted installation. It's believed to be identical to “Caliper CP150 SCSI QIC” and “Archive Viper 150MB Tape Streamer” (?) (some are rebadged as Connors) but case design is different.

See Amiga A3070 SCSI tape drive installation manual (PDF).

Compatible 3rd party SCSI tape drives:

  • Caliper, Sankyo and Wangtek brands of SCSI QIC-150 tape drives (Wangtek 5150ES and Sankyo CP-150SE verified by users)
  • Archive Viper 150 MB (see note below)

Note 1: The tape drive must always be set to SCSI ID 4 as the installation script is hard-coded for it.

Note 2: Drivers written by Frank Edwards for the Archive Viper tape unit are now included with Amiga Unix. Type Ctrl-D at the first prompt of the installation procedure. Type “viper_kludge”. Then type Ctrl-D to resume the installation“ (Source: Amiga Unix Version 2.1 - Addendum). Thanks to mark_k on EAB forums finding this old discussion.

Not compatible SCSI drives (verified by user): Tandberg TDC4120

You won't be able to get the drive to work reliably without the proper termination, so get yourself a DB25 SCSI terminator if necessary. If you need tapes, you can either find somewhere online to buy them new, or you can hit eBay. Used tapes are a dime a dozen on eBay (search for “qic tape”).

Tape commands

  • re-tension the tape (by fast forwarding and rewinding it): mt retension
  • rewind the tape: mt rewind
  • Zeroing out the tape (“format”), for 2.1 installation: dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/rmt/4hn bs=32k
  • Zeroing out the tape (“format”), for other versions: dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/rmt/4n bs=32k

“Using Amiga Unix” mentions tape only shortly on “Backing up your files” (p. 232-235), here are the examples:

  • Backing up files to tape: find /home/joe -depth -print | cpio -ocv -O > /dev/rmt/4
  • List the contents of your backup: cpio -ictv < /dev/rmt/4
  • Restore files: cpio -imdcuv -B < /dev/rmt/4

AMIX install tape creation

So you want to make an install tape. This is a slightly risky proposition, due to the likely age of your tape drive as well as the tapes you happen to be using. I'll present the method that worked for me here.

Step 1: Verify that you have the proper hardware

This method has been tested using an existing Amiga UNIX install (maybe installed using the HD hack) and a Commodore A3070 tape drive. It is hoped you have these things. In particular the installation is very sensitive to the tape drive used, so you may be wasting your time without an A3070. If you do not have these things, you can attempt to create the tape using a QIC 150 tape drive of any type using DC6150 tapes.

Step 2: Prepare the drive and media

Since your drive has likely not been used in a long time, and possibly never cleaned (ever!), you should take care of this. Buy a cleaning tape, they aren't that expensive compared to the cost of replacing your rather rare A3070 due to neglect. To use it, follow the instructions supplied with the tape. The drive will automatically run when the tape is inserted. The cleaning tape may come away quite filthy as mine did — you can feel proud of yourself if this is the case. If it doesn't, consider yourself lucky to have a well cleaned drive.

Next, unless you are using brand new tape, you should retension and zero out the tape. In AMIX issue the following commands, in some other OS you will possibly specify the device name differently.

Retensioning the tape: mt retension

Retensioning the tape fast-forwards and rewinds the tape in an effort to eliminate slack in the tape. It just takes a few moments.

Zeroing out the tape will depend on what version of AMIX you are installing. For 2.1 (recommended), you need to use the high density device name which will handle 150MB tapes. For anything else, you need to use the low density device name which can only handle 120MB. In both cases make sure the tape is rewound before issuing the command. If you just finished retensioning the tape you're ready to go.

Zeroing out the tape for 2.1 installation: dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/rmt/4hn bs=32k
Zeroing out the tape for other versions: dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/rmt/4n bs=32k

The reason for doing this step is simply that the tape will be more reliable this way than if it had some data leftover on it. Once the tape is full (dd will report no more space on the device) it should automatically rewind. If it doesn't or you're not sure, just issue mt rewind.

Step 3: Prepare the files for tape transfer

If you haven't already, download the tape media files you need from this file gallery: installation tape with seglist (110 MB)

You need to make the tape files accessible on the machine you are writing the tape from, assumably an AMIX box. How you do this is up to you, and depends on what resources you have available. I use an NFS mount. If you have no network card, you might consider using kermit and your serial port. Your box needs to have access to the following:

  • tape media extracted from the zip file
  • tape creation script ( as follows:
for name in `cat seglist`
        echo "Working on $name"
        dd if=$name of=/dev/rmt/4hn bs=32k

If your tape media does not have a seglist file (the 2.1 image on this site does, so no worries there) you'll have to figure out the order of the files on the tape. If they are numbered sequentially already, just do ls > seglist but make sure that only tape installation files are in there, and not other things like the script. If seglist is missing and the files aren't numbered, you need to figure out the order…list the cpio files you have until you encounter one with just two files in it: Version and List. cat the List file. The file containing Version and List needs to be the first onto the tape; everything else goes afterward, in the order specified in the List file. How you figure this out is up to you. The seglist just contains filenames in the order to go onto the tape.

If and only if you are making a 2.1 tape you need to modify before continuing. Change this line:

dd if=$name of=/dev/rmt/4n bs=32k
to this:
dd if=$name of=/dev/rmt/4hn bs=32k

If you're making any other version leave it alone. Now put that file where you will remember it (/tmp maybe) and make it executable (chmod a+x Now you should have your tape files somewhere you can get to them, whether an NFS mount or local directory, and you have the ready.

Step 4: Tape creation

Enter the directory with your tape files including the seglist, and run the script. If all is set up properly files will begin copying to the tape drive. This will take several minutes, so relax a while. Issue mt rewind when it's completed.

Step 5: Make another one!

Ok so this step is optional, but particularly if you are using old tapes, make another copy. Hell, make two. Go through the whole process except for cleaning the drive. Yeah I know it takes a while, but it beats blowing away your AMIX install only to have the tape fail halfway through. You will have to start the install over in this event, but at least you'll have another tape to try.

Step 6: Verify your tape

This step is also optional, but might save you some time in the long run. Take a look at the script included with the tape creation script. Modify the device name to be 4hn if you have a 2.1 tape and run it in an empty directory, copying the seglist file into it before you run the script. If you get any errors, you can either try that tape again (retension, zero out, write tape) or try a new tape. No errors? You're ready to install, but it's wise to have a backup tape anyway!

Bonus: print out a nice label and stick it on the tape to give it a professional look 8-) See Original Box & Manuals / Tape and disk labels for a download.

tape-creation.txt · Last modified: 2022/04/15 13:24 by wiki_admin