Quantum LTO2 CL1001 Tape Drive Teardown

Drive Top
Drive Top

I have recently begun to create an archive of all my personal data, and since LTO2 tape drives offer significant capacity (200GB/400GB) per tape, longevity is very high (up to 30 years in archive), & relatively low cost, this is the technology I’ve chosen to use for my long term archiving needs.

Unfortunately, this drive was DOA, due to being dropped in shipping. This drop broke the SCSI LVD connector on the back of the unit, & bent the frame, as can be seen below.

Broken SCSI
Broken SCSI

As this drive is unusable, it made for a good teardown candidate.

Cover Removed
Cover Removed

Here the top cover of the drive has been removed, showing the top of the main logic PCB. The large silver IC in the top corner is the main CPU for the drive. It’s a custom part, but it does have an ARM core.

The two Hitachi ICs are the R/W head interface chipset, while the smaller LSI IC is the SCSI controller.
The tape transport & loading mech can be seen in the lower half of the picture.

Main Logic
Main Logic

Close up of the main logic.

Tape Spool
Tape Spool

Here the main logic PCB has been removed, showing the tape take up spool. The data cartridges have only one spool to make the size smaller. When the tape is loaded, the drive grabs onto the leader pin at the end of the tape & feeds it onto this spool.
The head assembly is just above the spool.

Bottom Plate Removed
Bottom Plate Removed

Bottom of the drive with the cover plate removed. Here the spindle drive motors are visible, both brushless 3-Phase units. Both of these motors are driven by a single controller IC on the other side of the lower logic PCB.

Head Drive Motor
Head Drive Motor

The head is moved up & down the face of the tape by this stepper motor for coarse control, while fine control is provided by a voice coil assembly buried inside the head mount.

Tape Head Assembly
Tape Head Assembly

The face of the tape R/W head. This unit contains 2 sets of 8 heads, one of which writes to the tape, the other then reads the written data back right after to verify integrity.

Cartridge Load Motor
Cartridge Load Motor

The tape cartridge loading motor. I originally thought that this was a standard brushed motor, but it has a ribbon cable emerging, this must be some sort of brushless arrangement.

A replacement drive is on the way, I shall be documenting some more of my archiving efforts & system setup once that unit arrives.

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