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HP SureStore DAT40 Tape Drive

DDS4 Tape Drive
DDS4 Tape Drive

Magnetic tape is the medium of choice for my offline backups & archives, as it’s got an amazing level of durability when in storage. (LTO Has a 30 year archival rating).
For the smaller stuff, like backing up the web server this very site runs on, another format seemed to suit better. Above is a HP DDS4 tape drive, which will store up to 40GB on a cassette compressed.
I picked this format since I already had some tapes, so it made sense.

Data Plate
Data Plate

Here’s the info for those who want to know. It’s an older generation drive, mainly since the current generation of tape backup drives are hideously expensive, while the older ones are cheap & plentiful. Unfortunately the older generation of drives are all parallel SCSI, which can be a expensive & awkward to set up. Luckily I already have other parallel SCSI devices, so the support infrastructure for this drive was already in place.

Option Switches
Option Switches

On the bottom of the drive is a bank of DIP switches, according to the manual these are for setting the drive for various flavours of UNIX operating systems. However it doesn’t go into what they actually change.

Controller PCB
Controller PCB

The bottom of the drive has the control PCB. The large IC on the left is the SCSI interface, I’ve seen this exact same chip on other SCSI tape drives. Centre is a SoC, like so many of these, not much information available.

Drive Frame
Drive Frame

Removing the board doesn’t reveal much else, just the bottom of the frame with the tape spool motors on the right, capstan motor bottom centre. The bottom of the head drum motor is just peeping through the plastic top centre.

Head Drum
Head Drum

Here’s the head drum itself. These drives use a helical-scan flying head system, like old VHS tape decks. The top of the capstan motor is on the bottom right.

Cleaning Brush
Cleaning Brush

Hidden just under the tape transport frame is the head cleaning brush. I’m not sure exactly what this is made of, but it seems to be plastic.

Loading Motor
Loading Motor

A single small DC motor with a worm drive handles all tape loading tasks. The PCB to the bottom left of the motor holds several break-beam sensors that tell the drive what position the transport is in.

Tape Transport Mech
Tape Transport Mech

Here’s the overall tape transport. The PCB on top of the head drum is a novel idea: it’s sole purpose in life is to act as a substrate for solder blobs, used for balancing. As this drum spins at 11,400RPM when a DDS4 tape is in the drive, any slight imbalance would cause destructive vibration.

Tape Transport
Tape Transport

Here’s the drive active & writing a tape. (A daily backup of this web server actually). The green head cleaning brush can be better seen here. The drive constantly reads back what it writes to the tape, and if it detects an error, applies this brush momentarily to the drum to clean any shed oxide off the heads. The tape itself is threaded over all the guides, around the drum, then through the capstan & pinch roller.

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Evolis Dualys3 Card Printer Teardown

I recently dug out my other card printer to fit it with a 12v regulator, (it’s 24v at the moment), and figured I’d do a teardown post while I had the thing in bits.

This is a less industrial unit than my Zebra P330i, but unlike the Zebra, it has automatic duplexing, it doesn’t have Ethernet connectivity though.

Unlike domestic printers, which are built down to a price, these machines are very much built up to a spec, and feature some very high quality components.

Naked Printer
Naked Printer

Here’s the mechanism with the cowling removed. This is the main drive side of the printer, with the main drive stepper at left, ribbon take-up spool motor lower right, and the duplex module stepper motors at far right.

Main Motor Drive
Main Motor Drive

The main drive motor runs the various rollers in the card path through a pair of synchronous belts, shown here.

Main Stepper
Main Stepper

The stepper itself is a quality ball-bearing Sanyo Denki bipolar motor.

Main Stepper Driver
Main Stepper Driver

Electrical drive is provided to the stepper with a L6258EX DMOS universal motor driver. This chip can also drive DC motors as well as steppers.

Ribbon Supply Spool
Ribbon Supply Spool

Here is the encoder geared onto the ribbon supply spool. This is used to monitor the speed the ribbon is moving relative to the card.

Printer Top
Printer Top

Here’s a top view through the printer, the blue roller on the left cleans the card as it’s pulled from the feeder, the gold coloured spool to it’s right is the ribbon supply reel. The cooling fan on the right serves to stop the print head overheating during heavy use.

Spool Take Up Motor
Spool Take Up Motor

The spool take-up reel is powered by another very high quality motor, a Buhler DC gearmotor. These printers are very heavily over engineered!
This motor drives the spool through an O-Ring belt, before the gear above. This allows the drive to slip in the event the ribbon jams, preventing it from breaking.

Duplex Unit Stepper Drivers
Duplex Unit Stepper Drivers

The pair of steppers that operate the duplexing unit are driven by a separate board, with a pair of L6219DS bipolar stepper driver ICs. There are also a couple of opto-sensors on this board for the output hopper.

 

Main Control PCB
Main Control PCB

All the mechanisms of the printer are controlled from this main PCB, which handles all logic & power supply functions. Sections on the board are unpopulated, these would be for the Ethernet interface, smart card programming & magstripe programming.

Main CPU
Main CPU

The brains of the operation is this ColdFire MCF5208CVM166 32-bit microprocessor. It features 16KB of RAM, 8KB of cache, DMA controller, 3 UARTs, SPI, 10/100M Ethernet and low power management. This is a fairly powerful processor, running at 166MHz.
It’s paired with an external 128Mbit SDRAM from Samsung, and a Spansion 8Mbit boot sector flash, for firmware storage.

USB Interface & Power Input
USB Interface & Power Input

Here the USB interface IC is located. It’s a USBN9604 from Texas Instruments, this interfaces with the main CPU via serial.

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Zebra P330i Card Printer

Front
Front

This is the teardown of a Zebra P330i plastic card printer, used for creating ID cards, membership cards, employee cards, etc. I got this as a faulty unit, which I will detail later on.
This printer supports printing on plastic cards from 1-30mils thick, using dye sublimation & thermal transfer type printing methods. Interfaces supplied are USB & Ethernet. The unit also has the capability to be fitted with a mag stripe encoder & a smart card encoder, for extra cost.

Print Engine
Print Engine

 

 

 

 

On the left here is the print engine open, the blue cartridge on the right is a cleaning unit, using an adhesive roller to remove any dirt from the incoming card stock.
This is extremely important on a dye sublimation based printing engine as any dirt on the cards will cause printing problems.

Cards In Feeder
Cards In Feeder

 

Here on the right is the card feeder unit, stocked with cards. This can take up to 100 cards from the factory.
The blue lever on the left is used to set the card thickness being used, to prevent misfeeds. There is a rubber gate in the intake port of the printer which is moved by this lever to stop any more than a single card from being fed into the print engine at any one time.

Card Feeder Belt
Card Feeder Belt

 

 

 

Here is the empty card feeder, showing the rubber conveyor belt. This unit was in fact the problem with the printer, the drive belt from the DC motor under this unit was stripped, preventing the cards from feeding into the printer.

Print Head
Print Head

 

 

 

Here is a closeup of the print head assembly. The brown/black stripe along the edge is the row of thin-film heating elements. This is a 300DPI head.

 

Print Station
Print Station

 

 

 

This is under the print head, the black roller on the left is the platen roller, which supports the card during printing. The spool in the center of the picture is the supply spool for the dye ribbon.
In the front of the black bar in the bottom center, is a two-colour sensor, used to locate the ribbon at the start of the Yellow panel to begin printing.

LCD PCB
LCD PCB

 

 

Inside the top cover is the indicator LCD, the back of which is pictured right.
This is a 16×1 character LCD from Hantronix. This unit has a parallel interface.

LCD
LCD

 

 

 

 

Front of the LCD, this is white characters on a blue background.

Roller Drive Belts
Roller Drive Belts

 

 

 

Here is the cover removed from the printer, showing the drive belts powering the drive rollers. There is an identical arrangement on the other side of the print engine running the other rollers at the input side of the engine.

Mains Filter
Mains Filter

 

 

 

Here the back panel has been removed from the entire print engine, complete with the mains input wiring & RFI filtering.
This unit has excellent build quality, just what is to be expected from a £1,200+ piece of industrial equipment.

Main Frame With Motors
Main Frame With Motors

 

 

The bottom of the print engine, with all the main wiring & PCB removed, showing the main drive motors. The left hand geared motor operates the head lift, the centre motor is a stepper, which operates the main transmission for the cards. The right motor drives the ribbon take up spindle through an O-Ring belt.

Feeder Drive Motor
Feeder Drive Motor

 

 

 

Card feeder drive motor, this connects to the belt assembly through a timing belt identical to the roller drive system.
All these DC geared motors are 18v DC, of varying torque ratings.

Power Supply
Power Supply

 

 

 

Here is the main power supply, a universal input switch-mode unit, outputting 24v DC at 3.3A.

PSU Label
PSU Label

 

 
PSU info. This is obviously an off the shelf unit, manufactured by Hitek. Model number FUEA240.

Print Engine Rear
Print Engine Rear

 

 

 

The PSU has been removed from the back of the print engine, here is shown the remaining mechanical systems of the printer.

Print Engine Components
Print Engine Components

 

 
A further closeup of the print engine mechanical bay, the main stepper motor is bottom centre, driving the brass flywheel through another timing belt drive. The O-Ring drive on the right is for the ribbon take up reel, with the final motor driving the plastic cam on the left to raise/lower the print head assembly.
The brass disc at the top is connected through a friction clutch to the ribbon supply reel, which provides tension to keep it taut. The slots in the disc are to sense the speed of the ribbon during printing, which allows the printer to tell if there is no ribbon present or if it has broken.

RFID PCB
RFID PCB

Here is a further closeup, showing the RFID PCB behind the main transmission. This allows the printer to identify the ribbon fitted as a colour or monochrome.
The antenna is under the brass interrupter disc on the left.

I/O Daughterboard
I/O Daughterboard

 

 

 

 

 

The I/O daughterboard connects to the main CPU board & interfaces all the motors & sensors in the printer.

Main PCB
Main PCB

Here is the main CPU board, which contains all the logic & processing power in the printer.

CPU
CPU

 

 

 
Main CPU. This is a Freescale Semiconductor part, model number MCF5206FT33A, a ColdFire based 32-bit CPU. Also the system ROM & RAM can be seen on the right hand side of this picture.

Ethernet Interface
Ethernet Interface

 

Bottom of the Ethernet interface card, this clearly has it’s own RAM, ROM & FPGA. This is due to this component being a full Parallel interface print server.

Ethernet Interface Top
Ethernet Interface Top

 

 

 

 
Top of the PCB, showing the main processor of the print server. This has a ferrite sheet glued to the top, for interference protection.