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WARNING: Clear QIC Tape Bands


Veteran Member
Feb 1, 2010
Central VA

That's after sitting parked a couple months. I have a Dysan doing it too. The Dysan had been re-banded with a boiled 3M band and run for years like that with no shedding. I have another Dysan with a green Plastiband in it which is also fine, minimal/no shed. So, I think we may need to re-evaluate if the clear Amazon cheap "plastibands" are perhaps totally incompatible with tape.

I know, I know..."just use the band to get data off." But I want to *run* QICs without having to destroy them constantly.
Just so--I confess to being the culprit who introduced those after my Plastibands began disintegrating (FWIW, I believe that I was also the one who advocated using those). I do wipe the clear ones down m down with isopropanol before installing and they do the job that I was intent on using them for--get the data off the &%*#! tape before tossing the tape in the trash. I suspect that Al K has the same objective.

You are, if you'll permit an observation, severely deluded if you think that old QIC cartridges can be run forever. They were a terrible idea when they were new and time hasn't improved them.

As an aside, I've got factory 3M carts with the original band that show exactly the same removal of the oxide--since the bands are black, it's harder to notice.
Its been a long while since I bothered to read/write a QIC tape. For a backup media they are long obsolete but some systems (Unix) used them for OS installs so you need a work around for that.

I do keep a bunch of drives installed in 286/386 era PC systems and see no reason to remove them.
I have a QIC drive that came with my (donated to me) Alpha Multia. I have never tried to use it. The rollers look Ok from an outside inspection. But they could
be going bad. I really have no need to use it.
If the QIC drives are SCSI interface, you can pretty much substitute any SCSI tape drive (e.g. DDS, 8mm, DLT) for them. Any of those is better than QIC.
Yes, it is a SCSI. I think it included one tape with possibly something on it. And 3 blank tapes (still in shrink wrap). Needs the battery in the system replaced so it will boot properly. But I've never used an Alpha so doubt I will do much with this one. And I have heard the Multia had heat issues anyway. Thanks for the info.
Indeed, it's not the world's greatest tape design, but I do have machines that default to it, and the drives are working fine. So, why not try and use them? With boiled NOS bands, the tapes do hold up, if you can find a good band that doesn't crack on stretching. Plastibands seem to be less bad about removing oxide, from my own experience. I don't expect them to hold irreplacable data for 25 years.
Most QIC drives I seen were on PCs via ISA/MCA controller card (that did compression) or floppy controller. Once Travan came around they went to IDE as well. There were parallel port models but I am not sure what then actual drive interface was.
These are the "large size" QICs, they're common on Sun3/Sun4, AT&T 3B1/UNIX PC, and AT&T 3B2. I'm sure other UNIX stuff of the era used them.
These are the "large size" QICs, they're common on Sun3/Sun4, AT&T 3B1/UNIX PC, and AT&T 3B2. I'm sure other UNIX stuff of the era used them.
I have a few Tandberg models where the whole front faceplate drops for tape insertion (and they are SCSI). Very impressive looking large tapes.
Yes, the "clear" bands work only for the larger carts (DC300, 600, 6150). I recently used some on Magnus carts successfully. I know of none for the smaller QIC80 (e.g. DC1000, 2000, 2120...TRx)--yet, so it's still plastiands for those, although I'm looking. Right now, I'm investigating large TPU hair bands...

The later SLRx drives run tape at higher speeds, so if you get a snarl, it's pretty ugly. Same with later Travan--TR7 carts appear to use a mylar base somewhat akin to cling wrap.
Retensioned the two cartridges with clear bands today, they're fine. The oxide stuck to the bands appears to be staying put, it doesn't appear to have changed visually and did not foul the heads.

Retensioned and reread two cartridges with green Plastibands as well, one Dysan DC600 and a 3M DC600A. Both are fine. The green bands did not appear to have stuck to the tape at all, I manually rolled the tape forward a little to check before loading the cartridge in the drive. All of the green Plastibands I have in tapes pick up faint marks after the first use, which I assume is little loose bits being picked up from various parts of the system.

I suppose I'll stick with the green Plastibands for now, at least when I want to keep using a tape and not just grab data off one with failed bands.
The problem with Plastibands is that later QIC/SLR drives handle things at higher speed and are quite a bit more brutal with their motor control (I'm talking about Tandberg drives). The plastibands don't hold up for long under such treatment. (I'm using the 4" ones on DC-300 sized cartridges).
That's not surprising, watching them run in the QIC-24 drives on the Suns, you can see there's variation in thickness as they run on the idlers. Fortunately, I only need low-speed stuff.
I dabble in reel to reel audio, and Qic is just 1/4" tape right? If so could you just use the same leader tape we use for audio reels , correct? I know it's graded for archival use. Just throw on at least a few feet leader, and that should fix the problem right? Or maybe glue some to the top of the tape cartridge, where it is rubbing?

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Well, yes and no--the leaded is coded with perforations that tell the drive what size and type cartridge is being used.
As I mentioned, it's not uncommon to see stock tension bands with bits of oxide stuck to them, so it's just more obvious with the clear bands. Since the media sensing is optical, I suspect a black permanent marker could patch up any "see throughs" in the leader.
I've tried it, it isn't opaque enough. I have spliced out bad sections of leader
with superglue well enough to survive for a day.
Well was an Idea... Shame I threw away most my Qic80 tapes. Must have thrown out at least 50 when i moved a few years ago! I might still have a few, if I find them you can have them for shipping... I have to dig some stuff out anyways this weekend, just putting it off because its so dang cold outside right now LOL.
I've tried it, it isn't opaque enough. I have spliced out bad sections of leader
with superglue well enough to survive for a day.
...and that's all that anyone can reasonably expect. Employing a quarter-inch cartridge tape for frequent use just isn't prudent. Grab the data while you can.

I've got a few rolls of half-inch video splicing tape that use a black base. I wonder if covering the see-thru sections with that stuff might work.
Yes, but I ALSO have found that the Green 6" Plastibands work quite well, and do NOT have this shedding problem that is shown by Glitch in the first post of this thread, for the clear bands. I've had the 6" Green bands mounted now for three years on about 6 cartridges so far, and they are holding up nicely with no side effects.

See my video URL exact timestamp:
13:34 6" Plastiband Installation
25:22 6" Plastiband Test
42:11 6" Plastiband Endorsement

And my dedicated page to this topic: http://qicreader.blogspot.com/p/drive-belts.html

(Oh, and Glitch, the original creator of this VCFed thread, also was a top commenter on my referenced video, fwiw)

Oh, and does anyone know the commenter "tubastuff"? He also has some really good feedback on this matter... See his comments in the video too.