[vcf-midatlantic] WTD: PDP-11 tape drive?

W2HX w2hx at w2hx.com
Wed Mar 6 22:57:14 EST 2019

Hi friends, back in December, I floated the idea of acquiring a 9-track reel-to-reel tape drive for a PDP-11/23  I am putting together. Well, I bit the bullet and purchased this one:

I paid $150 for it and a lot more than that for shipping to the US. They agreed to send along a power cable from a similar item they had listed elsewhere.

As they were packing it up they contacted me with pictures of the packing job. They said they were very surprised to discover that these tape drives were actually new in box. And that they must have used a really shabby one when they took the picture long ago.  So there you have it. I received a brand new unit. Here are some pictures as they packed it:


And while its great to get a new one (very happy) there are some downsides to this deal. First, it has the DB connectors on the back instead of the IDC (or whatever) is normally used for Qbus cards.  Second, it does not have the rack mounting hardware that can be seen at the base of the tape unit pictured in the auction. 

I'll have to review the emails that came in in response to my inquiry in December, but I think I can remove the rear plate and get access directly to the boards and bypass these DB connectors. Of course this means I will probably also have to find the right cables. Not sure how that will go.  

Thanks for the encouragement you guys gave me to move forward.  I will say, it is quite heavy. It will be quite the task to move it up to the attic where I have my DEC stuff.

Now to get a) a set of cables and b) a QT13 (someone suggested I get this).

73 Eugene W2HX

-----Original Message-----
From: vcf-midatlantic [mailto:vcf-midatlantic-bounces at lists.vcfed.org] On Behalf Of W2HX via vcf-midatlantic
Sent: Wednesday, December 26, 2018 9:04 PM
To: vcf-midatlantic
Cc: W2HX
Subject: [vcf-midatlantic] WTD: PDP-11 tape drive?

Hi friends,

I am building my first PDP-11. It is a 11/23+ It is a nice set up with 4 RL02's lots of boards, two half-height racks, spares, you name it.  I would really like to get a real-to-real 9-track tape drive, the manual loading kind. I see many autoloading types but they just don't have the panache of what I used to use in the 80's and 90's at my places of work.

I have been watching on ebay for a while and those few that come up seem expensive. I did locate these (not cheap but cheaper than others).

The first one says "wiltec" but I am guessing that wiltec was just the reseller. It looks very similar (if not identical) to the second one which is listed as a fujitsu M2444AC.

For some reason the "wiltec" one is cheaper. It seems to have some  nice connectors on the back.  The fujitsu is more expensive, has rack mounting hardware (a plus) but no back connectors. It isn't obvious how to connect this to something. Also shipping for some reason, is $100 more.

I found a manual to this on bitsavers (thank you to whomever did this). It says it the fujitsu has 3 modes of operation.

Can they be made to interface with a PDP-11 Qbus system? Anyone have any opinions on these?

I should also ask if anyone has an open-real tape drive they would like to part with (preferably known working) let me know.  I am in NY, willing to drive a few hours or pay for shipping.

Your thoughts are appreciated.

73 Eugene W2HX

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