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HP e3000 A500 won't boot from DDS DAT ?

audiocrush

Member
Joined
Jul 21, 2023
Messages
19
Hi vintage computer enthusiasts!

I recently got hold of a HP 3000 A500 including a Storage Works Tape Array drive rack and two HP AutoRaid 12H SCSI storage systems.
Unfortunately the array failed due too many failed disks so I had to reformat the whole array after replacing the disks.
Now I also got a SLT and FOS Tape for MPE/iX 6.0 with all the hardware.
When I try to load the SLT in the DDS DAT drive whtat is in the Tape Array, it almost immediately comes back out and the tape LED on the drive is flashing.
So I can't boot the machine from what appears to be the "alternate boot path".
Is there maybe someone here in this forum who knows these machines and can give me some advice on how to troubleshoot this issue?
I'm in my early 30s and I never had anything to do with these systems. I just got hold of one now and I'm looking to explore this old tech. So almost all of the concepts that are involved with the operation of this machine are very new to me.
I know my way around linux pretty well though, so maybe that helps in a way? MPE/iX doesn't appear to be a proper unix though, so I'm not sure.
From what I understand the only way to install MPE/iX is from SLT Tapes and I'm also unable to find any images of these tapes online so I could make my own using another computer and a DAT drive.
Documentation is present, but the procedures described in the manuals don't seem to work for me because of that tape that keeps ejecting.
Otherwise the system seems to be working properly. The Disk Array is fixed and shows no errors, the tape drive doesn't appear to want a cleaning tape, SCSI IDs are set fine.

Greetings from Germany

Johannes
 

tradde

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Apr 30, 2003
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Katy, Tx
Welcome to the forums. I wish I could help, but know nothing about HP 3000s. Someone here should be able to help.
 

NeXT

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Oct 22, 2008
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Kamloops, BC, Canada
I've been having lots of trouble with the early DDS drives. Both of the Sony-manufactured drives in my Apple WGS95 and my ANS have plastics and the supply and take-up posts that have cracked with age. Another drive I had used for testing was the same way. It ingested the tape, sat there for a minute or so, then flashed a fault code for read errors and ejected.
 

Bob-O-Rama

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Jan 11, 2022
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Allentown, PA, USA, Earth, ...
Hi,

We had a e3000 - wish I had kept it!!! - it ran MPE/iX and we had a lot of our administrative systems on it for a decade. I may have some MPE/iX materials and tapes - though it may take time to find / aggregate them. MPE is not at all a UNIX, it will be entirely alien in every way. There was a POSIX compliant development environment. But even a potato can have a POSIX layer.

Can you describe in more detail the drive behavior? You insert the tape... Noises? Lights? How long does it take for the tape to be ejected? Also I would NOT use the MPE load tape as your test tape. They are essentially irreplaceable. Go get some compatible tapes as sacrificial test tapes, remove the drive and install into a PC with HP's test tools.

When you remove the drive gently shift it around and listen for loose parts. A very common issue we had with them is microscopic "e" clips would fall off. Do your testing and confirm proper operation then re-install in the 3000 chassis.

Also HP DAT drives were garbage when they were new - they were only designed for a 15% duty cycle which is bad for an enterprise product. We probably went through dozens of drives. So its posible the drive is bad. The tape itself may be damaged, have too much stack, or be adhered to the cartridge. But generally the drive will struggle if the tape is wonky and not eject immediately.
 

Chuck(G)

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Jan 11, 2007
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Also, the tape+drive combination doesn't need to be connected to the 3000 to check operation. All you need is power--if the drive can't load the tape or recognize the format, it will spit the tape out. For DDS, most of my gear is Sony, which has proven itself well.
 

mark0x01

Experienced Member
Joined
Oct 31, 2015
Messages
200
Location
Kaiapoi, New Zealand
Flashing led can indicate the wrong tape type for the drive, or a bad tape.

The early HP Dat drives were mechanically rubbish, and became unreliable fairly quickly when used daily.
 

audiocrush

Member
Joined
Jul 21, 2023
Messages
19
Hi,

Thank you so much for all your responses.
So I guess my best bet is to try the following:
Get a sacrificial DAT tape to test the drive on another SCSI machine
If it doesn't work, get another DAT drive
If I get a DAT drive to work, dump the SLT and FOS tapes as an image and upload them to archive.org, because apparently no one ever did that before :D

Maybe today I'll find some time after work.
To build a test-rig for the DAT drive.

@bear
Well I don't know... There were only MPE/iX 6.0 tapes that they gave me with that machine and they also never had a HP3000 before and after that so I assume they are meant for that...
The HP Museum says 6.5 came out in March 2000, so that could be on the brink of release when they got their machine.

They got that thing in the year 2000 to replace their Novell infrastructure, something went wrong with the project and then they dumped the HP3000 for a Microsoft based solution one year later.
So basically the whole system has almost no hours on it :D

@Bob-O-Rama
That sounds really cool. Finally something new :D
Well the drive sounds perfectly healthy. I assume the sounds to be similar to miniDV and other tape styles. So nothing crunching, squealing or anything. It just ingests ist, takes the head up to speed, slows down again and ejects it. While it starts ejecting the tape LED flashes once a second. I don't have it in front of me but it is a drive before the StorageWorks era, so it should be an HP SureStore DAT 40, it is still beige colored.
 
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