August 14, 2015

QIC-24 Tape Data Block Format Decoding & Analysis

Please also visit

So far, it seems that the comprehensive details of how the magnetic flux transitions are arranged on QIC tape using the QIC-24 standard, have been lost in the halls of time, and never made it to the internet, at least not in a complete way.

In my opinion, should be the most likely to have this information, but they seem lacking in the QIC-24 (and QIC-11) department.

Well, I am hoping that this page will fill in a lot of the missing information about QIC-24 tape format.

Before diving in, I wanted to clarify some of the "standard" terminology that surrounds this very mid-1980s QIC tape technology.  I've tried to simplify the definitions, and I put them in my own words.

QIC-24 is a tape data read/write format, defined best by 

August 7, 2015

MightyFrame Games Download

I discovered last night, immediately after setting up my vintage UNIX/CTIX display in the Whiskey Pirate Crew room at DEFCON 23 (2015), the crowd has spoken!  What do all of you hackers want to see?  Vintage MightyFrame games!

So, as a tribute to Whiskey Pirate Crew's hospitality and welcome of my vintage UNIX display at Defcon 2015, here they are:

found in the CTIX 5.25.1 factory-fresh install.

On the MightyFrame, these games reside at /usr/games

August 5, 2015

MightyFrame Peripheral Mounting Brackets

If you ever come across a full-height MFM hard drive or QIC tape drive with this style of mounting bracket, chances are that it came from a Convergent Technologies machine, most likely a MightyFrame.  Please drop us a note if you ever come across any of these:

MightyFrame S/320 Tape Drive mounting bracket

(The hard drive mounting bracket for this machine was misplaced when it was first removed)

July 11, 2015

Wangtek 5099 Tape Drive Main Board #30509 "Tap-In"

In an effort to eventually build a device that reads raw magnetic flux transitions on all QIC-11 and QIC-24 tape formats (plus a few others, hopefully), this page is dedicated to the analysis of the technical design and circuitry of the Wangtek 5099 Tape Drive with Main Board Assembly #30509.

The most comprehensive manual for this tape drive is the 


Before we begin, I'll point out that the main card-edge connector on this board seems to contain the connections necessary to at least read "data pulses", which would be the interpretation of the magnetic flux transitions on the tape.  These are standard pins on a QIC-36 interface, which seems to be what the main connector on this board provides
Pin 2 - Go
Pin 4 - Reverse
Pin 26 - Data Read Pulse
Pin 38 - Tachometer

June 14, 2015

Wangtek 5099 Controller Board #30425 for QIC-02 interface

I'm trying to get a Wangtek 5099 to work with my MightyFrame.

Right now, the MightyFrame uses an Archive 5945, but that only reads 60Mb 9-track QIC-24 tapes.  I want to read older 20Mb 4-track QIC-11 tapes, thus the attempt to switch to the Wangtek 5099, which has the physical hardware capability of reading those.

So, here's what I've discovered so far on my MightyFrame with it's original tape drive: 

Motherboard -> Tape Drive Interface Board -> Archive 5945L


Motherboard -> Tape Drive Interface Board = QIC-02 interface

and where

Tape Drive Interface Board -> Archive 5945L = QIC-36 interface

June 7, 2015

MightyFrame Motherboard Jumpers

This board pictured is from a MightyFrame S/320, best we can tell.  (Model CG-5140)

Without any MightyFrame hardware manuals as of yet, we can only guess what these jumpers are for.  We are currently asking around.  See the discussions at: 

May 23, 2015

1986 Convergent Technologies Status Codes Manual 2nd Edition

Days ago, I missed buying this very hard to find manual on eBay.  While not directly about the MightyFrame, the fact that it references the MightyFrame and CTIX is something that would have been very important to our MightyFrame and Convergent Technologies resource aggregation efforts.

May 12, 2015

Terminator 'B' Box on 34-pin MFM Cable

The MightyFrame S/320 has a more unique 34-pin cable for connecting to its 3 available MFM (ST-506) drives.  

The 3 drives are labeled D0, D1, and D2.

The card-edge connector for each drive is clearly labeled, and missing very specific contacts, as follows:

D0 is absent 28, 30, & 32.

D1 is absent 26, 30, & 32.

D2 is absent 26, 28, & 32.

April 21, 2015

Reading & Re-Creating QIC Tapes (for the MightyFrame)

(Note that this is on modern Linux using a Tandberg TDC-3620 with SCSI card, using DC600A tapes)

To read an original tape into the current working directory using my version of straight dd, create and run a script that looks like this:
(for logging purposes, I created 2 scripts, an "outer" and and "inner" script, named tapef and tapefslave respectively)

March 16, 2015

MightyFrame CTIX 5.25.1 install tape restored and used

Just this past week, I was able to image the first MightyFrame CTIX Install Tape that I've ever had access to.  (I used this process.)

5.25.1 S/120-22X-320 CTIX RAW/UPDATE 16USER

Many thanks to the generous donation of vintage CTIX cartridges from Mario at!

February 3, 2015

MightyFrame cpio demystified

I personally find cpio very confusing, and I hear that I'm not alone.

When working with the UNIX PC previously in this endeavor,  I abandoned trying, because someone had provided a working version of tar for the 3b1 (MC68010 processor).

However, when I started this post, I couldn't find the equivalent for the MightyFrame MC68020 processor.  I thought that now I must break down and learn how to use cpio.  Since then, Tom has pointed out that it is actually there, at /usr/bin/tar.  But, I found other reasons that I need cpio, such as copying an entire file/directory structure.  So, here is my analysis, such that it is:

February 1, 2015

MightyFrame: Creating A Boot Tape

First, write the VHB with bootloader, as shown in an earlier post:

sudo dd if=vhb.miti.tape.slice1.dd of=/dev/nst0 

The "nst0" tells the tape not to rewind after writing each file, or something like that.

(Note that this is on modern Linux using a Tandberg TDC-3620 with SCSI card)

Then, add the CTIX kernel after that.  We had to "adjust" the length of this file by padding the end with sets of null bytes (Hex Value 00) until the file reached exactly 396 blocks, otherwise, we got an error saying that 395+1 blocks read, 395+0 blocks written, or to that effect.

January 26, 2015

MightyFrame Formatting Maxtor XT-2190 followed by mkfs

screen took us SO long to get here.

Working with Sasa via Skype, I figured out how to trick the MightyFrame to format a Maxtor XT-2190 (physical) hard drive on D1, while the MFM Emulator ran the OS on D0.  

January 22, 2015

Creating MightyFrame /dev devices using a script on the UNIX PC

Tom Trebisky has done a marvelous job assisting us in this project.  We simply could never have gotten this far without his patient, dedicated help.

One of countless gems, Tom created this shell script to run in the /dev folder on the UNIX PC, where /dev is on slice 1, and contains other MightyFrame os files.

January 15, 2015

MightyFrame first login date: 01/14/2015

I quite literally by accident, got a command prompt on the thing for the FIRST time since I started this project!

(warning...lengthy, seemingly endless, wandering terminal screen captures follow)

January 12, 2015

Customizing inittab and rc files for boot diagnostics

The following files are customized to diagnose how the MightyFrame is executing my customized /etc/inittab and /etc/rc files while attempting to boot a version of CTIX5.11onb modified by Sasa Todorovic and renamed to CTIX5.11dbg