• Please review our updated Terms and Rules here

Picked up a MAI Basic/Four model 6403 tape drive with a tape cartridge

mountainking

Experienced Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2022
Messages
156
Location
Philadelphia
I've been doing some wheelin' and dealin' lately, letting go of some pieces from my collection so I can pick up some pieces that I want more...


Long, boring story part (you may want to skip to the second paragraph, though it is also long winded):

So a couple weeks ago I saw a post by a member who was looking for a Kennedy 9219 TB tape drive exerciser, which I had, to help him repair a Kennedy 9000 Transport. Well, I wasn't all that attached to the exerciser and I would rather have it used for it's intended purpose than sit on my shelf so I decided to sell it to him. Now, when I sell a piece from my collection I always use the money to put towards another piece that I want more, that way my collection gets better and better:) I had my eye on a couple pieces on ebay and while looking around I saw this MAI tape drive. The strange thing is I had seen the listing over a year ago (may have been close to 2 years) and then quickly forgot about it. This was one of those listings that has a bunch of photos but none of them actually show the entire item and what I could see of the drive was dusty and in need of a cleaning but it nonetheless it was appealing to me, I didn't have any kind of industrial business type pieces in my collection and I dug the big blue box with it's super heavy duty cable coming out the back of it and the thing that finally sold me was the fact that it came with a tape cartridge! The fact that the seller came down on the price to the point where I only had to add about $10 to the money that I had gotten from the sale of the exerciser also influenced my decision to pull the trigger on the drive. But wait, there's more. After I purchased the MAI drive I sent the seller a message asking him to be sure to pack it well, saying that it should be packed well enough to be able to be dropped without causing damage (my form letter to sellers I buy fragile items from. Well, I had a feeling that my words may be falling on deaf ears but figured it couldn't hurt to mention. So then came the day that the drive was supposed to be delivered (FedEx) and I waited and waited checking the tracking which said that it was out for delivery. Night came and still nothing then the tracking said that the delivery date was pending. Next day same exact thing happened. Finally yesterday it arrives and the box is pretty beat up and crushed and it weighed a ton, so I crossed my fingers and opened the box. Inside the box is the tape drive which is flush against the one side of the box and with a bunch of pieces of foam loose in the box not doing much at all. The knuckleheads who sell stuff on ebay never cease to amaze me, it's like they have an arrogance that makes them think they don't have a responsibility to make sure the things they sell get to the buyer in the same condition as they were sold in. Fortunately, the only thing that seems to have happened in transit was that a plastic bolt that holds a heat sink to a voltage regulator was broken and loose in the chassis. There's nothing worse then when an irreplaceable piece gets wrecked in transit because the shipper did use care or common sense, doesn't really matter if your purchase gets refunded, it won't replace the piece you were so excited to score.

So this drive has some interesting physical attributes. First, it weighs about 25 lbs, no exaggeration, with it in the box that it was shipped in the total weight was over 27 lbs. Most of that weight seems to be made up by the power transformer that looks like it has a bunch of different taps on it so maybe it's density comes from it having a bunch of different windings for the different taps? The fan and the power supply cans/caps make up most of the rest of the drive's weight as the enclosure itself is made of some kind of plastic/fiberglass even though it may appear to be metal. Next, the drive is barely held together, the lid was originally held on by these odd, 3M hard plastic velcro type things that no longer do anything so the lid just kind of sits on top of the rest for the enclosure. And then there is the power supply section and the fan which are not bolted/screwed in place, they both just sit in these slots formed by the enclosure, really weird, makes me wonder if there is some particular reason they did this, and what makes it an even odder design choice is that even if those velcro thingys worked you still would have to be careful when handling/carrying the drive because if you turned it upside down or even on it's side the power supply and fan would likely just fall out of the enclosure and be hanging by the cables connected to them! Last, there is a monster cable coming out the back of the drive that is plugged into one of the boards inside the enclosure and then comes out through a slot in the back of the enclosure, this cable measures at least 10ft long and has an ultra, heavy duty protective sleeve thing throughout the length of the cable. This sleeve has a short grounding type cable where the sleeve part ends near the end of the cable, my guess is that because the cable has so many conductors and is long that this sleeve is acting a grounded insulator for the cable to help protect the cable from outside "noise" and interference.

Overall the drive is in really nice shape, at least visually, considering what it went through in transit, there is a piece missing though, the dust cover piece that went over the area where you insert the tape cartridge, but it doesn't seem to effect the insertion of the tape or anything, you just need to put something over the area to keep the dust out. From the ic date codes and inspection type stickers inside the drive it seems like the it was built early to mid 80s, probably '84 though there are ics from the late 70s and one of the inspection type tags is dated '86 so hard to say exactly when it was made.

Like I said before, the inclusion of one of the original tape cartridges was a big plus for me since after all without it the drive can't do anything (it would still have historical value though) and it not exactly a common cassette format that can easily be tracked down, but even better than the drive coming with a tape is that the tape, at least from what the post-it notes that came in the tape case seem to indicate, has a bunch of data on it! I haven't powered the drive up yet and I have no intention of trying to play the cartridge at this time as one of the rubber wheels on one of the capstans has turned to goo and would need to be replaced before using. For now I am very much enjoying just looking at it, digging the artistry of it's aesthetics.

So, anyone had experience with or currently own any MAI Basic/Four machines?
 

Attachments

  • 20230517_183204.jpg
    20230517_183204.jpg
    3.6 MB · Views: 18
  • 20230517_182123.jpg
    20230517_182123.jpg
    4 MB · Views: 18
  • 20230517_190625.jpg
    20230517_190625.jpg
    2.3 MB · Views: 14
  • 20230517_184320.jpg
    20230517_184320.jpg
    5.2 MB · Views: 13
  • 20230517_184023.jpg
    20230517_184023.jpg
    5.7 MB · Views: 14
  • 20230517_184040.jpg
    20230517_184040.jpg
    3.5 MB · Views: 17
  • 20230517_182421.jpg
    20230517_182421.jpg
    3.2 MB · Views: 19
  • 20230517_182603.jpg
    20230517_182603.jpg
    2.4 MB · Views: 19
  • 20230517_182405.jpg
    20230517_182405.jpg
    1.9 MB · Views: 17
  • 20230517_182157.jpg
    20230517_182157.jpg
    2.1 MB · Views: 19
Last edited:

Tournesol_France

New Member
Joined
May 18, 2023
Messages
6
Location
Niort France (79000)
I've been doing some wheelin' and dealin' lately, letting go of some pieces from my collection so I can pick up some pieces that I want more...


Long, boring story part (you may want to skip to the second paragraph, though it is also long winded):

So a couple weeks ago I saw a post by a member who was looking for a Kennedy 9219 TB tape drive exerciser, which I had, to help him repair a Kennedy 9000 Transport. Well, I wasn't all that attached to the exerciser and I would rather have it used for it's intended purpose than sit on my shelf so I decided to sell it to him. Now, when I sell a piece from my collection I always use the money to put towards another piece that I want more, that way my collection gets better and better:) I had my eye on a couple pieces on ebay and while looking around I saw this MAI tape drive. The strange thing is I had seen the listing over a year ago (may have been close to 2 years) and then quickly forgot about it. This was one of those listings that has a bunch of photos but none of them actually show the entire item and what I could see of the drive was dusty and in need of a cleaning but it nonetheless it was appealing to me, I didn't have any kind of industrial business type pieces in my collection and I dug the big blue box with it's super heavy duty cable coming out the back of it and the thing that finally sold me was the fact that it came with a tape cartridge! The fact that the seller came down on the price to the point where I only had to add about $10 to the money that I had gotten from the sale of the exerciser also influenced my decision to pull the trigger on the drive. But wait, there's more. After I purchased the MAI drive I sent the seller a message asking him to be sure to pack it well, saying that it should be packed well enough to be able to be dropped without causing damage (my form letter to sellers I buy fragile items from. Well, I had a feeling that my words may be falling on deaf ears but figured it couldn't hurt to mention. So then came the day that the drive was supposed to be delivered (FedEx) and I waited and waited checking the tracking which said that it was out for delivery. Night came and still nothing then the tracking said that the delivery date was pending. Next day same exact thing happened. Finally yesterday it arrives and the box is pretty beat up and crushed and it weighed a ton, so I crossed my fingers and opened the box. Inside the box is the tape drive which is flush against the one side of the box and with a bunch of pieces of foam loose in the box not doing much at all. The knuckleheads who sell stuff on ebay never cease to amaze me, it's like they have an arrogance that makes them think they don't have a responsibility to make sure the things they sell get to the buyer in the same condition as they were sold in. Fortunately, the only thing that seems to have happened in transit was that a plastic bolt that holds a heat sink to a voltage regulator was broken and loose in the chassis. There's nothing worse then when an irreplaceable piece gets wrecked in transit because the shipper did use care or common sense, doesn't really matter if your purchase gets refunded, it won't replace the piece you were so excited to score.

So this drive has some interesting physical attributes. First, it weighs about 25 lbs, no exaggeration, with it in the box that it was shipped in the total weight was over 27 lbs. Most of that weight seems to be made up by the power transformer that looks like it has a bunch of different taps on it so maybe it's density comes from it having a bunch of different windings for the different taps? The fan and the power supply cans/caps make up most of the rest of the drive's weight as the enclosure itself is made of some kind of plastic/fiberglass even though it may appear to be metal. Next, the drive is barely held together, the lid was originally held on by these odd, 3M hard plastic velcro type things that no longer do anything so the lid just kind of sits on top of the rest for the enclosure. And then there is the power supply section and the fan which are not bolted/screwed in place, they both just sit in these slots formed by the enclosure, really weird, makes me wonder if there is some particular reason they did this, and what makes it an even odder design choice is that even if those velcro thingys worked you still would have to be careful when handling/carrying the drive because if you turned it upside down or even on it's side the power supply and fan would likely just fall out of the enclosure and be hanging by the cables connected to them! Last, there is a monster cable coming out the back of the drive that is plugged into one of the boards inside the enclosure and then comes out through a slot in the back of the enclosure, this cable measures at least 10ft long and has an ultra, heavy duty protective sleeve thing throughout the length of the cable. This sleeve has a short grounding type cable where the sleeve part ends near the end of the cable, my guess is that because the cable has so many conductors and is long that this sleeve is acting a grounded insulator for the cable to help protect the cable from outside "noise" and interference.

Overall the drive is in really nice shape, at least visually, considering what it went through in transit, there is a piece missing though, the dust cover piece that went over the area where you insert the tape cartridge, but it doesn't seem to effect the insertion of the tape or anything, you just need to put something over the area to keep the dust out. From the ic date codes and inspection type stickers inside the drive it seems like the it was built early to mid 80s, probably '84 though there are ics from the late 70s and one of the inspection type tags is dated '86 so hard to say exactly when it was made.

Like I said before, the inclusion of one of the original tape cartridges was a big plus for me since after all without it the drive can't do anything (it would still have historical value though) and it not exactly a common cassette format that can easily be tracked down, but even better than the drive coming with a tape is that the tape, at least from what the post-it notes that came in the tape case seem to indicate, has a bunch of data on it! I haven't powered the drive up yet and I have no intention of trying to play the cartridge at this time as one of the rubber wheels on one of the capstans has turned to goo and would need to be replaced before using. For now I am very much enjoying just looking at it, digging the artistry of it's aesthetics.

So, anyone had experience with or currently own any MAI Basic/Four machines?
Bonjour,

Je suis un très vieux technicien de MAI France . . .
Je suis en train de donner tous les documents que je possède encore à un ami collectionneur . . .
Si vous avez des questions concernant MAI, je peu répondre à partir du BB II jusqu'au MAI 2000 sous Linux

Je peux vous donner l'adresse de mon ami qui, lui, est beaucoup plus jeune et capable de suivre les instructions des manuels de maintenance.

Comme vous voudrez, voici mon email perso (anciennement pro)
amgsr79 chez aol com

Alain-Marc Niort France
-------------------------------------
Good morning,



I am a very old technician from MAI France. . .

I am in the process of giving all the documents that I still have to a collector friend. . .

If you have any questions about MAI, I can answer from BB II to MAI 2000 under Linux



I can give you the address of my friend who is much younger and able to follow the instructions in the maintenance manuals.



Alain-Marc Niort France
------------- -------------------------------------------------------------
 
Last edited by a moderator:

mountainking

Experienced Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2022
Messages
156
Location
Philadelphia
I decided to fire up the drive today and the fan kicked on and a light came on from inside of where cassette gets inserted. I was surprised when I first got the drive and didn't see any kind of lamp/light next to the power switch or any place else on the drive but this is a much elegant design choice than the usual pilot light. Probably looks even cooler when the missing dust cover is in place!
 

Attachments

  • 20230520_185048.jpg
    20230520_185048.jpg
    3.7 MB · Views: 5
  • 20230520_185102.jpg
    20230520_185102.jpg
    3 MB · Views: 5

ajacocks

VCForum Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 21, 2011
Messages
1,329
Location
Middletown, Maryland USA
Bonjour,

Je suis un très vieux technicien de MAI France . . .
Je suis en train de donner tous les documents que je possède encore à un ami collectionneur . . .
Si vous avez des questions concernant MAI, je peu répondre à partir du BB II jusqu'au MAI 2000 sous Linux

Je peux vous donner l'adresse de mon ami qui, lui, est beaucoup plus jeune et capable de suivre les instructions des manuels de maintenance.

Comme vous voudrez, voici mon email perso (anciennement pro)
amgsr79 chez aol com

Alain-Marc Niort France
-------------------------------------
Good morning,



I am a very old technician from MAI France. . .

I am in the process of giving all the documents that I still have to a collector friend. . .

If you have any questions about MAI, I can answer from BB II to MAI 2000 under Linux



I can give you the address of my friend who is much younger and able to follow the instructions in the maintenance manuals.



Alain-Marc Niort France
------------- -------------------------------------------------------------
@Tournesol_France , I removed your personal contact information from your post, as it isn't safe to have that posted publicly. Others can use the PM system to contact you, if you want to share your information with them.

Welcome to the forum!
- Alex
 

mountainking

Experienced Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2022
Messages
156
Location
Philadelphia
After I purchased the drive I looked around on ebay for more MAI/Basic Four pieces and saw this awesome button/pin and I just had to have it 😁. It arrived today.
 

Attachments

  • 20230522_131151.jpg
    20230522_131151.jpg
    822 KB · Views: 2

norwestrzh

Experienced Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2021
Messages
82
Location
mount vernon, wa
>> So, anyone had experience with or currently own any MAI Basic/Four machines?

Yep! I have an MAI Z-80 based all-in-one. It died quite some time ago, and I haven't done much with it since. Probably a dead power supply?

I also have a rather large and heavy 68010 based MAI. It also used to work, but last time I tried it the hard drive wouldn't spin up. It has a cartridge tape drive built into the cabinet. I think it was primarily used for back-up of the system (Bossix?), so I'd love to be able to dump it out, but have no clue how to do that. Both systems are pretty much boat anchors at this point. I have too many other projects and no time to work on these guys.

Roger
 

mountainking

Experienced Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2022
Messages
156
Location
Philadelphia
>> So, anyone had experience with or currently own any MAI Basic/Four machines?

Yep! I have an MAI Z-80 based all-in-one. It died quite some time ago, and I haven't done much with it since. Probably a dead power supply?

I also have a rather large and heavy 68010 based MAI. It also used to work, but last time I tried it the hard drive wouldn't spin up. It has a cartridge tape drive built into the cabinet. I think it was primarily used for back-up of the system (Bossix?), so I'd love to be able to dump it out, but have no clue how to do that. Both systems are pretty much boat anchors at this point. I have too many other projects and no time to work on these guys.

Roger
Is the Z80 MAI the white/beige one with red/orange stripes? I mostly love the blue enclosure era MAI stuff, admittedly mostly for the aesthetics, but that Z80 MAI that I'm referring to is something I would love to own. If the unit isn't powering up then I would say, yes, it's almost definitely an issue with the power supply. Well, if you ever want to sell it cheaply please let me know ;) I will give them a good home where they will be maintained and preserved.

With the 68010 MAI do you mean you want to dump the contents of the hard drive?


Alan
 

norwestrzh

Experienced Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2021
Messages
82
Location
mount vernon, wa
Is the Z80 MAI the white/beige one with red/orange stripes? I mostly love the blue enclosure era MAI stuff, admittedly mostly for the aesthetics, but that Z80 MAI that I'm referring to is something I would love to own. If the unit isn't powering up then I would say, yes, it's almost definitely an issue with the power supply. Well, if you ever want to sell it cheaply please let me know ;) I will give them a good home where they will be maintained and preserved.

With the 68010 MAI do you mean you want to dump the contents of the hard drive?


Alan
Yes, I think you got the color scheme right (white/beige with red/orange stripes). It looks like a nice Z-80 system, but alas ... only 4 MHz.

>> With the 68010 MAI do you mean you want to dump the contents of the hard drive?

Yes, but since the drive won't spin up, I'd say that's nearly impossible (other than spending big bux with a "recovery" service). I was thinking that the cartridge tape drive was used for back-up, so maybe what's on the cartridge I have might be fun to look at. BUT .... I have no way to do that.

Roger
 

mountainking

Experienced Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2022
Messages
156
Location
Philadelphia
Yes, I think you got the color scheme right (white/beige with red/orange stripes). It looks like a nice Z-80 system, but alas ... only 4 MHz.

>> With the 68010 MAI do you mean you want to dump the contents of the hard drive?

Yes, but since the drive won't spin up, I'd say that's nearly impossible (other than spending big bux with a "recovery" service). I was thinking that the cartridge tape drive was used for back-up, so maybe what's on the cartridge I have might be fun to look at. BUT .... I have no way to do that.

Roger
Yeah, unless you can get the drive fixed you are probably out of luck as far as recovering the data, but like you said, would be fun to see what is on the tape. Is it the same type of cassette as the one that came with my drive (there's a photo of the cassette) or can't you tell from the photo?

Alan
 
Top