SUMMARY: Problems with archive QIC-150 tape drive

From: Michael Schwingen (
Date: Sat Nov 05 1994 - 05:27:06 CST

This has been delayed for quite some time, due to installing a new solaris
machine, but finally, here comes my summary. My original question follows:

| I am having trouble with our QIC-150 tape drive. It is an external enclosure
| from SUN that came with our Sparcstation 1 quite some time ago - I think SUN
| calls these 'desktop backup pack'. It contains a drive which is manufactured
| by archive. Now the problem: whenever I try to write to a tape (by whatever
| means), I get an error message sooner or later - the position varies between
| tries and on different tapes. On the console, I get SCSI error messages
| telling me that there was a 'media error'. [SCSI seems to work fine, the 2
| disks + 1 HP dat on the same cable (behind the QIC drive) work fine. Until
| some months ago, this drive worked fine, too (it is not used too often, only
| to install new software from time to time).]
| However, the same tapes all work fine when used in other drives (a Tandberg
| TDC3600 at home, and another SUN/archive drive), so I think that the drive is
| the problem. Since I can't clean the heads from outside, the big question is:
| how do I open the case? There are no screws, the only thing I can see are
| little plastic snap-things at the bottom/side which I could not get open
| without breaking them.
| Second question: If I get to open the case, and cleaning does not help, are
| there any other suggestions what I might do to get the drive to work again?

Thanks to all who have respondet. Many people wrote how to open the case - that
was what I needed most:

>Use a small screwdriver or other similar instrument and press in through the
>third hole from the back, top row on each side. This will release the lock in
>tab and the top will then hinge forward like the pizza boxes do.

This works fine, I could then use isopropyl alcohol and Q-tips to clean the
drive. (And no, it is *not* explained in my manual.)

The drive works better now - but not absolutely error-free. It is acceptable
now, and since I do not need it very often, I do not think about having it

Three respondents suggested getting a cleaning tape - I tried that before I
posted my request and could not find one in the local stores, and after seeing
the open drive and the shape of the head, I am not quite sure if a cleaning
tape will be as good as handwork.

One suggestion was that the rubber belt which is driven my the motor might be
deformed a bit due to not using the drive for a longer time - I cleaned the
belt from both sides and it looks good.

Chris A. Wozniak said:
>I was told by the Sun technician after a very similar failure, that with time
>the heads go out of alignment. Sometimes the cleaning, using a vac and a brush
>is just enough, if not the drive has to have the heads realigned in a
>workshop. Try opening it up and cleaning.
Bismark Espinoza made a similar remark, so I suspect that this might cause the
problems which I still experience.

Louis Brune suggested that it might be SCSI cabling or termination problems - I
am quite sure this is not the problem in this case.

Thanks go to (not in any particular order):
Glenn Satchell
Pat Max
Herbert Wengatz
Dave Mitchell
Richard Davis
Perry Hutchison pluto!
Chris A. Wozniak
John Benjamins
Rocky Gould
Bismark Espinoza
Gary Richardson
Tom Plesha
Louis Brune
Gene Loriot

Sorry if I forgot anyone, and thank you for the fast response!

Michael Schwingen                          <>
Institut fuer Statistik und Wirtschaftsmathematik, | In the beginning there was
Wuellnerstr. 3, 52056 Aachen                       | nothing, which exploded.

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