Author Topic: Digitizing NASA data tapes  (Read 3779 times)

Offline apollo16uvc

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Re: Digitizing NASA data tapes
« Reply #15 on: August 06, 2018, 05:49:42 AM »
Replaced .rar with .zip to comply with standard:
https://archive.org/download/SpaceData/SwitchActionTP1179.zip
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Offline molesworth

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Re: Digitizing NASA data tapes
« Reply #16 on: August 06, 2018, 04:32:26 PM »
Fascinating stuff!  I admire your persistence in digging through all of these - a real labour of love, so to speak  :)

It's real industrial archaeology, and with the 50th anniversary coming up next year, of real significance.
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Offline apollo16uvc

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Re: Digitizing NASA data tapes
« Reply #17 on: August 29, 2018, 03:43:32 PM »
greetings! I got great news: We have processed the first image from one of my Pioneer tapes.

All thanks go to Leo for processing the first image on Pione-QK7992H tape. Thanks a lot for your work Leo!

Some info:
The image data should contain two colour channels, blue and red, but for now we have just processed everything as grayscale. We are not sure yet how to process the colour channels. The image data is 6-bit with 64 intensity values. It has been processed into a PNG.

RAW image:


Contrast equalized:


https://imgur.com/a/i6l8RUO

Update: A GIF with three images recovered so far:

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Offline nickrulercreator

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Re: Digitizing NASA data tapes
« Reply #18 on: August 29, 2018, 04:32:34 PM »
How much are the tapes you're buying on eBay?
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Offline apollo16uvc

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Re: Digitizing NASA data tapes
« Reply #19 on: August 30, 2018, 01:57:53 PM »
How much are the tapes you're buying on eBay?


between 25 and 80 dollars a piece.
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Offline apollo16uvc

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Re: Digitizing NASA data tapes
« Reply #20 on: September 16, 2018, 02:37:08 PM »
Hans and Daschmid have been doing some great work on deciphering the Switch Action tapes. Here is some information we found recently.

Here are some more educated guesses about the format:

Example of header:
R/L 40M67790-6 E/O 2T-0038 REV AS D/I 11/10/72 ECP 10-3205 E

  - The headers at the top of each file imply this is controlled
  engineering data.  The strings starting with '40M' look like NASA
  part numbers, and the E/O (Engineering Order), REV (Revision) and
  ECP (Engineering Change Proposal) fields are familiar from other
  NASA documents.

Example of other lines:
S 04 11 M DI 0083 SIB THRUST FAILURE IND L DO 0083 ON C H

  - Columns 7-12: incrementing ID?

  - Columns 13-22: appear to describe the primary hardware operation
    associated with the measurement.  There are a few different
    formats, but I think:

            {L,M} DI #### = Get Digital Input ####
            {L,M} DO #### = Set Digital Ouput ####
            D EE #### = Discrete Event Evaluator ####

The 'L'- and' M'-tags stand for the  'Launch Control Computer Complex' and 'Mobile Launcher'.

  - The three character field starting at column 24 is the systems
    area/responsible position for the measurement/command:

            SIC  - Saturn V 1st Stage
            SIB  - Saturn IB
            SII  - Saturn V 2nd Stage
            IVB  - Saturn V 3rd Stage
            IU   - Saturn Instrumentation Unit
            INT  - Integration
            EDS  - Emergency Detection System
            LSE  - Launch Support Equipment
            NAV  - Navigation
            PL   - Propellant Loading
            PWR  - Power
            OAT  - Overall Acceptance Test?
            EDV  - ?

  - Colums 28-52: Measurement Nomenclature

  - Colums 54-67: (sometimes) hardware operation to execute command
            e.g, if "SIC TERM COUNTDOWN SEQ RESET  L DO 0131 ON"
            writing "ON" to Digital Output #131 would execute
            "TERM COUNTDOWN SEQ RESET"

I think this is a reasonable guess at the formatting.

Lets look at some tapes from Apollo 16 and Skylab 2:

Looking at the headers from each:

Tape 2909, Block 3:
R/L 40M17360-11   E/O 8S-0405    REV D    D/I 06/15/71   ECP 10-3148   E   511 BASELINE

Tape 1179, Block 12:
R/L 40M17360-11   E/O 8S-0413    REV M    D/I 10/28/71   ECP 10-3206   E   511 FRT-1

'511' is AS-511, the launch vehicle for Apollo 16.  'FRT' is 'Flight Readiness Test'.

Detailed info on AS-511: https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19730025090.pdf

There's a table of prelaunch milestones on page 3-2 (46).  AS-511 had its Flight Readiness Test on 3/7/1972 and was launched 4/16/1972.  Considering the long lead times for checkout and configuring hardware (AS-511's S-IVB arrived at the Cape in July 1970), the dates on the tape seem reasonable.  Note also that Tape 2909 has headers for revisions 'A'-'D' and 1179 has revisions 'E'-'M'

Tape 2090, Block 0:
R/L 40M67790-6    E/O 2T-000000  REV      D/I            ECP 10-
                     Block 2 ends with:
40M67790-6  206 BASELINE

Tape 1820, Block 54:

R/L 40M67790-6    E/O 2T-0038    REV AS   D/I 11/10/72   ECP 10-3205   E
                     Block 56 ends with:
40M67790-6  206 BASELINE

Here '206' is SA-206, the launch vehicle for Skylab 2.

SA-206 flight manual: https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19740021163.pdf
SA-206 postlaunch evaluation: https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19730025087.pdf

Again the dates line up(With our tapes)

In the SA-206 postlaunch evaluation there's some discussion of an anomaly at launch, where the ground Digital Events Evaluator (DEE-6), recorded a momentary "thrust failure indication and cutoff start indication".  These two discretes are present on the tape, although unfortunately the evaluation doesn't say which discretes they were:

D           D EE 0083  SIB THRUST FAILURE IND
D           D EE 0085  SIB CUTOFF START IND


I doubt now that this file was associated with the LVOS.  Based on IBM's paper describing the system, it appears that it was first used on ASTP and wouldn't have been in use at the time the tapes were created:

https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19750051202.pdf
 
Very detailed information about the RCA-110A's and their interfacing equipment: https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19690001882.pdf

The 'L' and 'M' tags in the file are 'Launch Control Computer Complex' and 'Mobile Launcher'.  So:

S     04 11 M DI 0083  SIB THRUST FAILURE IND        L DO 0083 ON  C H

Defines Switch Action #0411:
   Mobile Launcher Digital Input #0083
       name=SIB THRUST FAILURE IND
       on receipt: SET LCC Digital Output #0083 to ON

There's a matching entry for L DO 0083:

S     04 11 L DO 0083  SIB THRUST FAILURE IND             NONE     C H

Which would correspond to a light or other indicator on a Firing Room Console.

There's also a DEE entry, which I'm guessing tells the Digital Event Evaluator to log changes associated with that Digital Out:

D           D EE 0083  SIB THRUST FAILURE IND                     


Check out these two extremely detailed docs:

Saturn Launch Computer Complex Programmer's Manual: http://www.ibiblio.org/apollo/Documents/SLCC_Programmers_Reference_Manual.pdf

AS-503 Verification Test Programs, 73V1201: http://www.ibiblio.org/apollo/Documents/AS-503VerificationProcedures.pdf

You won't find a definition of the the actual Switch Action Table tape format, but the tape is clearly describing the configuration information for the SLCC system.

On page 3-9/3-10 (56 in the PDF) of the programmer's manual, it mentions the "Discrete Executive":
"The Discrete Executive initiates logging at both computers. There are a number of different types of discrete tables each containing specific data. These tables are:
   * LDO and MDO Profile table
   * LCCC and MLC Discrete Status tables for IODC's 5 and 7
   * General Discrete Log table (LDI, LDO, and MDI Changes)
   * MDO Issue table"

Section 4.1.1 on 4-3 (p.66) describes "Launch Vehicle Input/Output, Discrete Input/Output" and give details on LDI/LDO's and MDI's/MDO's, which as suspected are LCCC/MLP Digital Input/Outputs.

73V1201 contains the test procedures for verifying the LCC computer software and interface to the launch vehicle are operating correctly.  There's a lot of interesting details here, but first check out "Discrete Initialization and Modification (NT98/NT99)" (p.24).  Section 5.2.2 (p.27) says:
"5.2.2 Place cards in the card reader to perform the following action table modification:
     MDI 0010 0N - LDO 1200 issued ON
     MDI 1200 0N - LDO 0010 issued 0N
     LDI 0033 0N - MDO 0619 issued 0N
     LDI 0619 0N - MDO 0033 issued ON"

That sounds an awful lot like our tapes.  My guess is they're the input data for the NT98 Discrete Initialization Program, which unfortunately isn't described in detail.  If anyone can locate the following documents, I bet we'd find what we need there:

Specification for the Operating System for the Saturn V Launch Computer Complex, Volume 1, Revision 1.
MSFC No. III-4-440-4

Operator Reference Manual for SLCC Progranrning System,
MSFC No. lII-4-440-5, IBM No. 68-F11-0003, dated 15 June 1968.

User Instructions for Saturn V Launch Computer Complex Operating System and Test Programs
MSFC No. III-4-462-1


There are numerous references to specific LDI/LDO/MDI/MDO numbers in the test procedures and while all of them don't match up with the data in the file, many do.  On page 39 while testing the $DMON display monitor program, LDI0346 and MDI0459 are associated with the "ground camera arm switch" on the vehicle camera networks panel.  Sure enough:

S     15 10 L DI 0346  INT GND CAMERAS ARM COMD      M DO 0346 ON  C B
S     15 10 M DO 0346  INT GND CAMERAS ARM COMD           NONE     C B
S     20 03 M DI 0459  INT GND CAMERA ARMED          L DO 0459 ON  C B


Another interesting example is the Launch Vehicle Data Adapter communication interfaces.  See the "LVDA STATUS CODE CONVERSION CHART" on p.146.   The LVDA sends back binary words on MDI0733-MDI0738:

S     31 13 M DI 0733  IU  MODE CODE 1 IND           L DO 0733 ON  C G
S     31 14 M DI 0734  IU  MODE CODE 2 IND           L DO 0734 ON  C G
S     31 15 M DI 0735  IU  MODE CODE 3 IND           L DO 0735 ON  C G
S     31 16 M DI 0736  IU  MODE CODE 4 IND           L DO 0736 ON  C G
S     31 17 M DI 0737  IU  MODE CODE 5 IND           L DO 0737 ON  C G
S     31 18 M DI 0738  IU  MODE CODE 6 IND           L DO 0738 ON  C G


For example, if MDI0736 and MDI0734 are ON that indicates "PREPARE TO LAUNCH WITH A PLATFORM"

My current thinking is that the tapes are describing the discrete I/O configuration of the two RCA-110A computers used to interface between the Launch Control Center and the Mobile Launcher.  Switches and indicators on consoles in the Firing Room were wired into an RCA-110A computer (The "Saturn Launch Control Computer Complex"), and from there commands could be sent across a serial link to another RCA-110A in the Mobile Launcher.  The Mobile Launcher computer communicated with relay racks and other equipment on the pad and LV, including the Saturn LVDC.
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Offline apollo16uvc

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Re: Digitizing NASA data tapes
« Reply #21 on: September 16, 2018, 02:48:55 PM »
Three different processings of duo-colour images from one of the three (RED)-(BLUE) channel images:



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Offline apollo16uvc

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Re: Digitizing NASA data tapes
« Reply #22 on: December 29, 2018, 07:15:03 PM »
Since last week I have bought 4 NASA tapes from Ebay. It is 1/2 inch tape on a 10.5 inch reel and has 7 tracks. The tapes are recorded with Ampex FR-100 and Ampex FR-600 instrumental recorders. On the tapes are analog telemetry signals from satellites, recorded at NASA stations in 1963.





It seems that there are 6 telemetry tracks, and 1 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 1 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.

It would be best to use an Ampex FR-100 and FR-600, but I think it's unlikely that we will encounter them.

Hopefully the satellite tapes will arrive in the next two weeks, then I will be able to judge their condition, and if they need to be baked or not. But because the SSS might be in the middle or end, and not at the start, its going to be difficult as I can't unspool all of the tape.

I am talking with somebody in the Netherlands who has several 8-track 1/2 machines, but has not used them for years and doesn't know if they work correctly or not. If none work, one may have to be repaired. I'll then loan the machine for my tapes. I will also work out if I can buy the repaired recorder or not, that would be great for future projects!

If I setup a crowdfund for the repair would anybody be willing to help fund it?

Currently I am digitizing two 1/4 inch home recordings of Mercury and Gemini news coverage, including John Glen's flight! will be up soon. My Akai X-201D and Revox A77 MK 4 need repairs too but thats an other matter. The Akai X-201D gets a noisy channel after a while (Especially when you turn it off and on) and the Revox A77 has mechanical and relay problems.

Will keep you guys updated!

Happy Holidays,
Niels
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Offline apollo16uvc

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Re: Digitizing NASA data tapes
« Reply #23 on: December 30, 2018, 08:12:41 AM »
Is there anybody who can try and identify the satellites? this are the sat identifications on the documentation and tapes:

1963 30B

1963 14B & 14C

?? 63 14A & B

6330213
(or)
63302|3

In order to celebrate (almost) New year, I have decided to release an unfinished version of the processed data from Pione-QK7992H done by Hans.

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)

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!

Hans has separated 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/SpaceData/Pione-QK7992H-Processed-Alpha.zip
(File scanned by VirusTotal, no positives: https://www.virustotal.com/#/url/65fdc7a34fb300a82fb02bcaaebdcaf06befbcb89a9013625ef191a69ccc3c63/detection)

For more discoveries in 2019!
Niels
« Last Edit: December 30, 2018, 08:40:08 AM by apollo16uvc »
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Offline apollo16uvc

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An update on the satellite telemetry tapes #2
« Reply #24 on: January 03, 2019, 04:14:26 PM »
Hello everyone,

Two of the four satellite tapes have arrived, the other two are coming later.

I have good and bad news; first we look at the good:

As you can see in the photos, the reels and tape are in good condition. All reels were carefully packed with original documentation in an aluminum holder. This holder was in two layers of cardboard. The cardboard seems to have a bit of water damage, but the tape has remained protected in the holder, which also has no rust. The reel has no scratches and dents.

The tape does not smell and looks good. I do not notice any mold or rotting. Optically, the tape is clean with little scratching on the playback side.

I have unspooled part of the tape and I do not notice any Sticky Shed Syndrome, although of course I could only check the beginning.

Now then, I dared to attempt to play the tape on my Akai X201D 1/4 4-track tape recorder. I did this by unwinding a piece of the tape and guiding the tape through the tape path guides and capstan. The tape gets pulled through the capstan in another box. With clean gloves, I make sure that the tape runs over the heads at the right pressure.

This was a success in itself because I received a number of signals. By carefully moving the tape up and down, I can try to focus on 1 track. Further than this I did not come.

I am talking to p.lankhaar about borrowing an 8-track tape recorder. He is testing his recorders to see if they are still working properly. Hopefully we can play the tapes better with one of those.

The bottom sound file are the interesting pieces from a few minutes of play on 7-1/2 I.P.S

https://www.dropbox.com/s/k2jbyoka6n50yhh/314N003-10786168-2.flac?dl=0

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

And now the bad news: Tape 10678-159-29 / 330p001 I also tried to play, and I get no signal, just as if there was no tape at all. Maybe this tape has been erased, or recorded with another recorder that does not play on my Akai. Anyway, I do not have a sample of it at this moment.

There are two other tapes on their way, I will give an update as soon as I have tried to play those.

Regards,
Niels
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Offline apollo16uvc

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Update #3
« Reply #25 on: January 13, 2019, 05:20:04 PM »
Update #3


The other two tapes have arrived. One with audio like the last one, second one without audio. Again I suspect i'm just not able to unspool it far enough. Luckly again no evidence of SSS and tapes are in excellent condition. A fifth tape is on the way and I am looking into buying a sixth one that might have audio from the Vanguard satellite.

I've been talking with a dutch reel to reel recorder enthusiast, and he has several 8-track 1/2 inch recorders. He has Teac 80-8, Tascam 38 and Otari units. Unfortunately, he is very busy with work and doesn't have much free time.

His Otari MX-5050 8 unit is most interesting to me since it can play two speeds, 7/1-2 and 15 I.P.S which is what I need.

After taking a look, all mechanical functions appear to be working. Playback, fastforward/rewind. When he sends a sound from the build-in tone generator to the recording input, all VU meters register correctly and there is sound.

But...there is no sound on playback! its possible there is nothing on the tape, he will try and find an other one to test once he has the time.

Neither of us have the parts, equipment and time to repair and calibrate such a machine. So its likely we have to hand it over to a company for repairs and calibration.

All the best.
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Offline Obviousman

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Re: Digitizing NASA data tapes
« Reply #26 on: January 13, 2019, 07:50:45 PM »
Great work. If you set up a crowd-funding account, I'll certainly contribute a little to help things out.

Offline apollo16uvc

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Re: Digitizing NASA data tapes
« Reply #27 on: January 29, 2019, 11:09:34 AM »
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
« Last Edit: January 29, 2019, 11:15:36 AM by apollo16uvc »
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Offline apollo16uvc

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Re: Digitizing NASA data tapes
« Reply #28 on: February 02, 2019, 06:42:52 PM »
I scored a dual channel 50Mhz Tektronix scope from school. They got digital scopes now and have been giving away their old analog ones to students.

That is going to be really cool for video's.
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Offline nickrulercreator

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Re: Digitizing NASA data tapes
« Reply #29 on: February 09, 2019, 06:15:03 AM »
Where on eBay do you find these? Like what to search?
This end should point toward the ground if you want to go to space. If it starts pointing toward space you are having a bad problem and you will not go to space today.