Dennis WIngo: Status early afternoon: The FR-900 tape driveis down for the want of a 2″ long 11/64th ID piece of tubing. This is inside of the head and routes the vacuum from the vacuum pump that pulls the tape up against the female guide on the tape machine. This vacuum keeps the tape in a proper shape for the disk shaped head assembly that is spinning at several thousand RPM to not cut the tape to ribbons. This small part failed after two tapes this morning. Ken Zin is going to Grainger and can hopefully get the piece of hose without having to buy a whole 50′ roll! Seven more tapes to go.
Dennis Wingo: As those who have followed these statuses know I am now running the Scotch tapes from the Lunar Orbiter II archive. Things are going ok so far, here is our status as of the end of the day today. There have been significant overlaps with both Madrid and Goldstone that have cut down the amount of tape we have had to run by at least 40%. We have had to run each tape, but for not as long as we would have had to otherwise. This is good.
Dennis Wingo: We ran two more Goldstone tapes today that we had captured in 2010 but for some reason did not have today. These were G2-093 and G2-095.
We also figured out that some of our images that we did not have in our print out that we actually do have so we have more images complete that we thought. I am going through in detail now and comparing times and dates to see what overlaps there are between Madrid tapes and Woomera and Goldstone so that we can minimize the number of these Scotch tapes we have to run. I will have that done in the morning…
So now I can confidently declare that we have captured all of our Goldstone and Woomera tapes from LOII and just have the 18 Madrid tapes to go or some subset of them.
Dennis Wingo: This is way cool for us. Notice that in the upper left there is a LED readout. That readout is accurately reading the proper date in 1966 for this particular tape. After several years of messing around trying to recreate a NASA time code reader we found one for $50 on Ebay. Jacob Gold and Ken Zin got it to work.
Keith Cowing: We used to tease people and refer to our tape drives as the “Stargate”, the “Reactor”, The “Time Machine”, or the “Warp Drive” on Twitter when we were testing (and also to enhance Pete Worden’s reputation for cutting edge stuff). Now we can show what the Star Date was when a certain tape was recorded. In this case the tape being played back was originally made on day 340 of 1966 – or 6 Dec 1966 – at 11:57:43 GMT. This tape was created when the images from Lunar Orbiter II were being sent back to Earth.
With regard to Stardates and time machines, we were especially happy that William Shatner had these nice words to say about us during our crowdfunding project earlier this year. You see, we at LOIRP and McMoons have a favorite Star Trek Episode: “City on the Edge of Forever”.
As you will recall Kirk, Spock, and McCoy go back in time to the 1930s. At one point Spock has to hack his 23rd century tricorder with early 20th century electronics to get data off of it. In our case, we used early 21st century electronics to hack mid 20th century electronics to gain access to 45 year old data. Like Spock and Kirk, we had to do some dumpster diving to get parts. We like to make old things work to explore space and go back in time.
Of course we also like the episode “Tomorrow is Yesterday” when the Enterprise travels back in time (they do that a lot) and have to grab magnetic tape and film footage that shows the Enterprise (i.e. a UFO) in the skies of the 1960s. They also have a fight in the tape storage room (we don’t).
Thanks to the great support by Tony Korte and his team from Videomagnetics we have our FR-900 tape drive head back and today. We got the machine back up and running after the usual problems in getting a head on the machine and getting things recalibrated. We will be back capturing tapes Monday morning.
Today we mailed the rest of the 8X10 images to people that are due them and we mailed 70 of the microfilm images that people who donated $50 are getting. We will have all of our fulfillment done by the end of this coming week.
We also have had another milestone in that our student Jacob Gold, working with Ken Zin has gotten our tape time code reader quasi working. This is something that we have wanted for a long time to minimize head wear as what we have to do now is spin a tape in to near where we want and then watch for the framelet strip numerical ID’s to determine where we need to start capturing for those tapes that have some overlap with the other ground stations. The time code use is called NASA-36 which is decades obsolete with no modern hardware that reads it. Jacob and Ken got this one working finally today after fixing problems with the time code reader itself and a broken wire on the audio stack on the tape machine.
This picture shows Jacob standing with the time code reader above his head. It mostly works and we will get the final bugs out of it as we run tape next week. We think that this time code reader reads the actual day of the year down to the second when the tape was made. This will save us money and head wear!
Dennis Wingo: We are still on stand down until the tape drive head gets back from the shop. It was delivered to Videomagnetics today so hopefully it will be back here before the end of next week. While we wait, Austin Epps and Jacob Gold (who has joined us as one of our student interns this summer) are catching up on the back end processing of the images. Jacob has over 3,000 framelets to number right now!
The last two tapes that ran on 5-29 before the tae drive head tip broke are listed below.
G2-071, partial capture LOII-2095H (completes image)
G2-072, partial capture LOII-2093M, complete capture 2094H
Dennis Wingo: Its dead Jim…. The new head we just got and have ran about 20 tapes has died. Somehow a tip was broken this morning when we put G2-073 on the machine. We are going to have to send it back to Videomagnetics for repair. We may be able to find one of our other heads with some life left to carry us over until we get this one back but I can’t count on it. We can now catch up on all of the captures we have done of late. We should have several hundred more images now! I will get some statistics from Austin after we have processed the tapes that we have done lately.
Dennis Wingo: Got the new refurbished head working today! Going back and doing one Madrid tape and then instead of doing the 18 scotch tapes we are going to start with the Goldstone tapes which some of them overlap the Scotch tapes. This also preserves the head in case something happens with the Scotch tapes so that we get our LOII stuff done as we promised for our Rockethub donors…