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Old 08-27-2018, 07:16 PM   #1
apollo16uvc
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Default Digitized NASA data tapes

Disclaimer: We are not funded and/or endorsed by NASA.
Greetings,

What have we done:

For the last few months I and my team have been working hard to acquire and digitize NASA computer tapes from the 60's to 70's. By now we have been able to pick the fruits of our labor as we have digitized about 6 reels out of 10. We expect to be able to digitize an other one after our drive got upgraded. The tapes so far have been acquired from Ebay.

Here is a photo of one of our tapes from Apollo 16, in its fitting tape drive:


This tape came from General Electric, and is one of our four Switch Action Table tapes. The other Switch Action table tapes came from Skylab. We also got Pioneer 11 tapes, likely with image data. We are still working on decoding the binary data into modern images so you can open it in a modern computer. Any help with this would be great.

The raw binary data is saved in the SIMH .tap format, which is wildly used by museums and computer simulations to mount magtapes. If we know what kind of data it is, we will also convert it to ASCII. Like the Switch Action Table tapes and Pione-QK799H tapes which contained EBCDIC text that we converted to ASCII in a separated file.

What are we working on:
We would love to identify what the Switch Action table tapes were used for at NASA. The tapes were clearly meant for something Saturn-V related as the text file mentions many parts of it. If you know anybody with more info, please ask for their help. They are from early to mid 70's. See tape photos for more info on the labels.

We don't know the image format used in the Pioneer 11 tapes (Pione-) and would love to process the raw data into a modern image file so everybody can see them. The Pione tapes came from NASA and the state uni of Arizona. They are from the mid to late 70's and mention the people "TOMASKO" shows up in the tape header, who turns out to be
Martin G. Tomasko of ASU. And Zellner.

In the tape you'll see LWSA "Long wavelength small aperture" and LWR -
"Long Wavelength Redundant"

A sample from QK7992H:
"530 Vesta, 12 MIN,SM.AP.,LO-DISP
ZELLNER/MAY 21 1978 3
CCAM 2 IMAGE 1530 PROC VERSN 211
PARAM SET NO 8 4 C
NO LAMP-EXP TIME=719 SECS"

Where can you download the tapes?

You can find the data with photos and tape details here: https://archive.org/details/SpaceData

How can you help:
Help us identify what our tapes were used for, help us decode them into a modern format. If you know the location of tapes or any other medium for that matter, contact me to talk about data and info recovery. I can digitize a vast amount of mediums so do not be afraid to ask me!

Contact: apollo16uvc@gmail.com
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Old 08-27-2018, 08:10 PM   #2
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If you have Pioneer "images"*, they aren't easy to assemble (but probably highly valuable... keep reading), as the Pioneers didn't have a camera but only the Imaging PhotoPolarimeter, which only had 1 pixel.
Images were made by slowly moving the IPP and making several observations as the spacecraft rotated, and doing this for the 2 filters it carried. So in the end, the images needed to be processed to takeout the distortion. If you indeed have images, you might want to check this out about what is missing and possibly some help: http://www.planetary.org/blogs/emily...2011/2954.html

*) there's a good chance as UA only had the IPP on the Pioneers

---------- Post added at 09:10 PM ---------- Previous post was at 08:58 PM ----------

Looking at the photos of the tapes, there is indeed a tape with IPP in a label! There seems to be a "9 OCT 1975" on the top of it, so that would be data for Jupiter or there abouts (don't know if the IPP was used between Jupiter and Saturn, like it was used between Earth and Jupiter).
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Old 08-28-2018, 09:32 PM   #3
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The Pioneer 11 Imaging PhotoPolarimeter (IPP) data would be interesting.

The existing image records are printed photos, done with 1970's image processing.
Here's my humble attempt and a Pioneer image gallery and reprocessing:
http://astrosurf.com/nunes/explor_p10_11.html

It's possible to get much better results working from the original raw data and with modern techniques.
The IPP worked somewhat like the current Juno "camera". Software was written to display Juno images, correcting for spacecraft position, orbital motion, etc. So it's theoretically possible to do the same with Pioneer images.

A good simple starting point for the P11 imagery is:
https://history.nasa.gov/SP-349/app2.htm

I'd also suggest contacting / asking for help on the UnmannedSpaceraft Forum:
http://www.unmannedspaceflight.com/i...st=30&start=30
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Old 12-30-2018, 01:34 PM   #4
apollo16uvc
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Default Update

Greetings,

It has been a while since I last posted here. A lot of progress has been made.

For starters, there are 12 files on the tape, of which we have confirmed 6 to be image files, and have decoded them. There are 3 B/W images and 3 duo-colour images. (file1, 2, 6, 7, 11, 12)

Here are the 3 B/W images:


And here is one of the 3 colour images:


As to what is on them... we do not yet know. If you know anybody that could help, tell him about me!

As for the 6 remaining files, we are not sure what those are. Their ASCII metadata is similar to the image files, but the data is different. By processing some of the remaining files anyway, we get weird patterns that could hint to some kind of image format, but we don't know!

In order to celebrate (almost) new year, I have decided to release an alpha-version of the processed data from tape Pione-QK7992H done by Hans. He has seperated the binary data from all 12 files from the SIMH file and put each in their own folder. When applicable he converted them to images. Each folder is supplied with the raw binary data and readable ASCII metadata.

Note this is unfinished, as some non-image files have only their metadata supplied, not the binary data. This will be done later when Hans has the time.

https://archive.org/download/SpaceDa...ssed-Alpha.zip
(File scanned by VirusTotal, no positives: https://www.virustotal.com/#/url/65f...3c63/detection)

For more discoveries in 2019!
Niels

Last edited by apollo16uvc; 12-30-2018 at 01:36 PM.
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Old 12-30-2018, 11:56 PM   #5
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The images seem to have inverted levels.
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Old 12-31-2018, 01:17 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 4throck View Post
 The images seem to have inverted levels.
The file I supplied in my previous message should have multiple processings of each image. Normal, inverted, contrast equalized, normal contrast.
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Old 01-16-2019, 09:08 PM   #7
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Default Update # sat telemetry tapes.

Hello dear readers,

First off, welcome this thread to 2019! we have made so much progress. I hope everyone is doing well.

Unfortunately due to the USA gov shutdown no progress has been made on receiving a NASA document we hope will contain the info we need to process all our recovered Pioneer data. The document we are looking for is as follows: "PN F/G OFF-LINE DATA PROCESSING SYSTEM DESCRIPTION" "NASA/ARC PC-262"

NASA does have the document but we were told it could take a while for it to get scanned. If nothing changes we may have to make a FOIA request which they >HAVE< to answer. Hans is working on this.

In the meantime, feast your eyes on the satellite telemetry tapes I have acquired. I ordered 5 and 4 have arrived thus far. Looking into getting 2 more that may have Vanguard and Explorer telemetry.





These tapes contain the raw signal received from satellites at NASA tracking stations like GFORKS, STIAGO and WINKFIELD.

It seems that there 2 telemetry tracks, 4 misc tracks (Including a reference track) and one voice track.

I do not have have Ampex FR-100 or FR-600, and they are very scarce. Nor do I have a 1/2 inch 8-track recorder.

What now? There are 8-track 1/2 sound recorders. The height difference between 8 and 7-track is so small, I think you can play a 7-track tape on an 8-track recorder.

If you adjust the 8-track head up and down, to align it with one track at a time I think we can pick up a good signal. I have talked with someone, and he says the tracks are just analog waveforms. I once played a 9-track 1/2 tape on a 1/4 4-track recorder, and I received an unusable but stable signal.

Here is a sample of tape 3141/2N003 played back on a 1/4 inch 4-track Akai at 7.5 I.P.S: https://www.dropbox.com/s/k2jbyoka6n...68-2.flac?dl=0

The tape number on the boxes and documentation is 3141/2N003. The number on the reel itself is 10786-16-8.

: 1963-014A & B (ERS5)
Recorder: FR-100
Speed: 15 I.P.S
Station Name: GFORKS

With this we have proven that something is on the tape, and it can be picked up with a sound head.

I am currently talking with someone who has several 1/2 8-track studio tape recorders, and we are looking into getting an Otari MX-5050 8 unit working. This unit is most useful because it can play at both 7.5 I.P.S and 15 I.P.S, which is what we need. All mechanical functions seem to work fine, and the input VU meters register when the build-in tone generator is switched on. But... there is no sound from his tape! (His own audio, not a NASA tape)

Peter will look for an other working unit to try his tape on to rule out a silent tape.

We might have to send the Otari unit off to a company for repairs and calibrations. Depending on the costs I will look into crowdfunding repairs/cal, and getting multi-track digitization equipment.

I will be reaching out to several people and websites for help on decoding the telemetry once we have digitized it. I will also do as much research as possible on the tapes to determine each tape's satellite.

No things are set in stone yet, but to determine interest, would you be interested to contribute your cents to a crowdfund?

Regards,
Niels
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Old 01-29-2019, 04:17 PM   #8
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Update #4

I've got good, and great news.

First the good news, I assembled a small setup to be able to play more of the tapes on my 1/4 inch 4-track recorder. I played the tapes that I previously was afraid had no signals at all, and after some time (8-10 minutes) they too give the expected signals. So far I got 6 tapes, 5 of which hold signals.


The great news i've got, is that I have recorded the reference track briefly by moving the tape up and down. The reference is a 10Khz tone on track 4, as seen on the attached document. Skip to (2:35) on the attached .mp3 file. Its exactly 10Khz on the recording.

314N079 Sample 2 mp3


314N079 documents

Later on when I will make proper scans of all documentation and cases.

It would be useful if we knew the track geometry of the FR-100, FR-600 and Otari MX-5050 8. We should be able to actually see this on the tape by using a magnetic developer solution. They are very expensive to buy and ship, so I have talked with Chuck on how to make it myself. It is quite simple, and he tried it on a floppy disk with good results and no damage to the data. With detailed macro photos we can figure out how well the tracks align.

Stay tuned!
Niels
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Old 02-16-2019, 08:36 PM   #9
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Working on several update that should be a substantial resource of new information. An update on the Satellite tapes and Pioneer tapes.

Here is a preview of visualizing the magnetic tracks of an FR-100 and FR-600 tape:



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Old 02-16-2019, 10:10 PM   #10
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I used to work in TV broadcasting, and just as I was starting, this technology was just coming to and end.


The physical editing of videotapes gave way to electronic editing.
It was never a good idea to physically cut a 2" video tape, the tape/head dynamics were quite stressful.

The "developing fluid" was called EDI-VUE, and a tradename I think.

Did do a few physical edits when I was in archive, occasionally tapes would catch an edge and had to be put back together. Never did any artistic edits!

Friend of mine did use that equipment in anger, I can ask for more info if you want.

EDIT: just for info a quite good explanation of the Ampex 2" Quadruplex system:


N.

Last edited by Notebook; 02-16-2019 at 11:40 PM.
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Old 02-21-2019, 09:12 PM   #11
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Thank you notebook.

I would be interested if it is possible to calculate the signal frequency on the track by using the scans of the (Home made by the way.) magnetic viewing solution.

I do have higher resolution scans.
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Old 02-21-2019, 09:26 PM   #12
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You are welcome.

I'll have an ask.

N.
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Old 02-24-2019, 10:19 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by apollo16uvc View Post
 Thank you notebook.

I would be interested if it is possible to calculate the signal frequency on the track by using the scans of the (Home made by the way.) magnetic viewing solution.

I do have higher resolution scans.
Waiting for my freind to get back to me.

If you want to measure a frequency on the tape, thats fairly straight forward. You know the linear tape speed(15" p/s), a given frequency will give a regular pattern on your developed tape. You can measure the distance between similar peaks or troughs to find the period of the signal. From that you can find the frequency.


To get an idea of distances on your tape, we will do it the other way round.

You know there is a 10Khz frequency on track 4. The tape is running at 15" p/s, so there are 10000 peaks and troughs per inch on the tape.WRONG! there are ten thousand cycles per second.


So you are trying to measure 1/10,000 of an inch. WRONG See below
If you looked at the physical-editor we used in the videos above, it had a microscope fitted. I think it was x20 magnification.

Not sure if any of the above helps, but it made my brain hurt!

EDIT reason my brain hurts is because the above is wrong! forgot to multiply by 15 somewhere. I'll have a think.

Yes, running at 15 ips gives a "wavelength" of .0015" on the tape. Still difficult to see without magnification.

N.

Last edited by Notebook; 02-24-2019 at 10:35 AM.
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Old 02-24-2019, 11:13 AM   #14
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Got a reply from my old colleague:

Quote:
Subject: Re: Edi-Vue

Morning George,
Interesting subject, but not sure I can add very much. You are correct the magnetic tape developer we used was Ampex "Edivue". This was a fine dispersion of iron particles in a solvent, but I think Apollo16uvc has already made his own version of this. One thing that should be bourn in mind is that the 'brown oxide tape' he is looking at is on a precision spool. Given the content of the recorded material it might well have been recorded on an 'Instrumentation' machine.The type I used to work on was made by Honeywell, and had speeds ranging from 1 7/8 IPS to 120 IPS, they could also record in either 'direct mode' (with bias) or FM mode. To determine any signal frequencies, you would of course need to to know the original record speed.
Nice morning, Ha wa fan chu.
Toodle pip,
I think you have reached the level of our information! However if we can answer any questions we will.

N.
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Old 02-24-2019, 07:53 PM   #15
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Got some more comments from my friend:

Quote:
Evening George,
I have been trying to remember the model number, but so far no joy might come to me when I'm not thinking of it. It was quite a big monster mounted in a 19" rack, one reel above the other. The heads were mounted horizontally next to the rubber coated capstan drive roller, no pinch, but short vacuum bins for tape tension / control. The bins were interchangeable for 1" or 1/2" tape. Why do I keep thinking Honeywell 7600? Searched the web but cannot find a picture, will search my old Zonal papers, certain I have a picture there. We had one of these for the development of the "Concorde" 1" data recorder tape. We were so impressed with the tape handling we bought another 10 transports, and built our own record replay electronics for the IBM 1/2" "Industry Compatible" computer tape production line. Full track record, 7 & 9 track replay for dropout error checking. Coo long time ago.
Toodle pip,
Quote:
That's fine George, sorry I didn't answer your comments regarding the tape record sheet, one seems to say 71/2"ips the other says 15 ips. Both sheets suggest that the recordings are FM rather than direct, although there is mention that one track is BCD? If the material required is FM then an instrumentation recorder with suitable cards would be needed.
BCD to me is Binary Coded Decimal, but with 40+ year old instrumentation recorder, it probably is something else.

EDIT:

This is the machine:
https://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k...psvxlyyvze.jpg

N.

Last edited by Notebook; 02-25-2019 at 05:54 PM.
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