SUMMARY: Exabyte 8500 tape drive jam

From: Swee-Chuan Khoo (
Date: Wed Mar 02 1994 - 10:55:34 CST

This is my original mail. The response is overwhelm, but because
I got backup unit. So I've yet to try them out. BTW, I don't think
dust is the problem for us since the tape drive is located in
a clean room environment ( ~50k ).
Thanks everyone for the help.

> Hi,
> I have a Exatape 8500 tape drive connected to an ELC.
> Today was jammed and eject button doesn't work. Anybody
> have the same experience and solution. I am about to disassemble
> the tape drive now. The orange (bottom) light is on all the time,
> when I press the eject button, the yellow blinked for a while and
> stop.
> Please help and summary will be on the way.
> Thanks a million in advance.
> khoo
> System Admin
> NS Melaka, Malaysia

    Beginning of summary

1) (Sean Ward)

It is a bit difficult to describe the location, but there's a way to manually
eject the tape. If you are looking at the front of the tape drive, there is
a rectangular opening on the left side near the front. Look down the opening
from above, and there's a white plastic lever that's leaning against a thin
piece of metal. When you move the lever with a small screwdriver (it will
only move one direction), the door will pop open.

If the tape is stuck in there, you will probably have to cut the tape, and
it should come out fairly easily.

2) (Edsel Adap)

It happened to me once. So I rebooted the machine (a sparc 1+ running
sol2.3) and the eject button worked.

Maybe I was too drastic, perhaps cycling power on the exabyte drive
would have fixed the problem

3) pixels! (W.M.Gilroy [ATT Image Solutions] 908-981-8000 x291)
   lab@sylvester.Access.COM (Larry Blom - Access Graphics SE)

Below is a summary of what I got when I had the same problem.
Good luck

--------------- cut here ----------------------------

Below is a summary of what seems to be the only 2 fixes that I
received. The first fix was the most common. Neither helped
in my case. I will have to send the drive out for repair. Thanks
to the following people for responding. The original messages
is at the end of this message for those that care.
 (Bob Rahe)
         bill@Access.COM ( Bill Hunter [Sun Instructor / Support]) (Fazeel Mufti 6895) (Gerry Massie 858-1775) (Paul J. Bell)

Solution number 1

More likely than not, your Exabyte must have chewed up the tape.
It will start working once the tape has been ejected.

Perform the following steps to manually eject the tape.

a) Unscrew the casing of the Exabyte.
b) There is a 1/2" by 3/4" window above the actual tape drive.
   There are a couple of levers visible. There is also a cog wheel and
   stuff there.
c) Looking down at the top of the Exabyte, with the door away from you,
   at the bottom right corner of the window, there is a small lever.
   With a thin object, push the lever towards you. This will eject the

   | |
   | Window |
   | ------- |
   | | | |
   | | | |Door
   | | | |
   | -#----- |
   | <-- |

   # The lever you need to push.

Solution number 2

  I have a 8500 that gave me some similar problems at one time. I took the
drive out of the Sun box and found that the transport tape loading mechanism
had two screws holding onto the front of the actual drive. One on the screws
on this drive had worked itself loose. Tightening it has rendered the drive
normal again. ( at least I haven't had any trouble with it since.... )

4) (Dan Lacey)

This happened to me when a tape broke in the drive.
I had to leave it for about 4 months and think about it.....
Finally, I had to reboot this machine and while it was booting (before the
OS is loaded but after the hardware check I *think*) I pushed the eject
button. Lo and behold (whatever that means), the tape ejected.

I thought it was a flakey tape drive and put the tape back in!!!!!!

I hate when that happens!!! ;-)

5) (Dan Jiracek)

If you remove the housing and look on the left hand side, you can take a small slotted screwdriver and depress a button which will try and offload the tape. Some times the tape will break, you may even have to break it yourself to remove it.

Good Luck

6) (Paul Hostrup-Jessen)

How old is your tape drive? After a few years of use it becomes fairly dusty
inside. The dust prevents the revolving tape loading/ejecting mechanism from
functioning properly.

If you can take off the cover (unfortunately special screws) you might be
lucky to be able to give the revolving mechanism a gentle push in the right
direction upon switching on the power.

Note: It is precision mechanics and has been carefully adjusted from the
factory - so don't be too aggressive!

If this tip doesn't work then I'm afraid you have a hardware failure. We have
seen these problems before on our Exabytes.

7) Vincent Everett <>

Try shuttingh+powering everything down and powering up(both ELC and Exabyte)
don't bother to boot the ELC because the exabyte should work so long as the
ELC is on.

On power up if either of the lights start to flash continually, the drive is

If the lights steady then it ought to work..

One other thing to try, a double click on the button..this resets the whole
exabyte and may do the trick.

Failing that I think you will have to dismantle it,

If the tape won't come out, stretch it a bit and cut it..The tape will then
free easily..

Good Luck !

8) (Tim Griffin - Sys Admin)

Definately a hardware error !

9) (Agnes Phipps)

Recently my Exabyte was jammed. I finally got the tape out but it was half
"eaten". I send it out to be repaired and everything is ok now.

10) (Eckhard Rueggeberg)

After a reboot mt -f /dev/XXX offline should eject it.
If not : You have a mayor hardware problem ...

11) (Slezak L. P. (Paul))

I think....
        If you take the cover off, there is a little white lever on the
        left hand side (facing the tape door)
        of the tape unit that if you press will
        open the door. It is not obvious as it is surrounded by
        black metal. We had a similar problem a while ago.

12) (Mark Costello)

We had the same behavior. It was a hardware problem
with the drive. Our drive was under maintenance and
we had it replaced.

13) Charles Paffenbarger <>

It happened to me a year or more ago. Yes, we had to disassemble
the drive to extract the tape.

Remedy was new microcode from Exabyte. Call them and they'll send it free.

14) Daniel Pommert <>

The same thing has happened to me. The Exebyte tape drive will refuse to
eject your tape when it determines that it has an internal fault that the
firmware either cannot characterize sufficiently well or that it
determines to be of a nature which indicates that it would not be safe to
eject your tape.

So, you need to disassemble the thing to fish out the tape. Here is what
you will need (in addition to a clean work area and a clear head): The
appropriate phillips screw driver to get the Exabyte unit out of its
enclosure. You will then need a #8 and a #10 Torx screw driver. You can
use these to remove the screws on the lid of the Exabyte unit. At this
point it should be straight forward to fish your tape out. Of course be
careful what you touch and scrape.

Now that you have the lid open, VACUUM THE INSIDE OUT! This is a
frequent cause of failure of these drives and is what fouled ours up.

Re-assemble and power on. If all is well, it should load and unload
ANOTHER tape successfully. Clean the heads with a tape cleaner tape.

Hopefully, the self-check light will be out and your drive is functioning
normally, now. If not you will have to send it in to be serviced.

15) (Perry Hutchison)

I had a similar problem once with an 8200. I was never entirely sure
what fixed it, but I suspect it was a matter of reseating the power
connector a couple of times. These drives use both +5V and +12V; if
only one of the voltages is getting through the lights can still work
but the rest of the drive won't.

16) "Rick Wightman" <>

I believe there is a hole in the front casing big enough to stick a straightened
paperclip into. This should enable you to push the 'emergency hatch" and open
the tape door.

I'm at home so I can't check this out for sure, but I recall having the same
problem a few months back, and I think this is how I fixed it.

16) Vinay Somashekar <>

Here is a suggestion,
try taking of the terminator on the exabyte and pushing the eject button, this
worked for me.
If the exabyte is not the last device, u might want to disconnect the rest of
the devices from the chain, and leave one end open ( no terminator ) and try
ejecting now. Hope it works, Good luck

17) Ingo Donasch <>

I had the same problem with an old exabyte drive. you can powerdown the
drive, than it opens. if it won't, there is a little lever on the left side
(seen from the front) that locks the door (but you have to remove the drive
from the rack)!
i fixed the problem with a new firmware that allows
pressing the eject button even in the hangup state.

                    END OF SUMMARY

System Engineer/System Administrator
National Semiconductor Melaka, Malaysia

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