Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

The Amazing Lego DAT Tape Changer 217

lizardboy writes: "This is for the Lego loving computer geek with large backup needs. The Lego DAT Tape changer. It can be interfaced with any platform supporting Lego mindstorms. I have used it with OSX and Linux using dump and NQC with some custom shell scripts. It also works under a Mac OS 9 using Retrospect and RCX."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The Amazing Lego DAT Tape Changer

Comments Filter:
  • by J.D. Hogg ( 545364 ) on Friday February 01, 2002 @01:54AM (#2935826) Homepage
    ... the lego Rubik's cube solver [i8.com] : that thing was so cool !
  • by Com2Kid ( 142006 ) <com2kidSPAMLESS@gmail.com> on Friday February 01, 2002 @01:55AM (#2935828) Homepage Journal
    Can it be setup to hit the reboot key on the Lego Webserver [slashdot.org]?

    That'd be mighty spiffy. :)

    Anybody else remember those old computerized Lego sets for the AppleIIs? I wonder if those could be interfaced to the mind storms, I know of a school that has quite a few of those lying around, it is just that all of their AppleII interface boards died.
    • Anybody else remember those old computerized Lego sets for the AppleIIs? I wonder if those could be interfaced to the mind storms, I know of a school that has quite a few of those lying around, it is just that all of their AppleII interface boards died.

      Yes. It's called the 4.5V Lego TC Logo system. It uses 4.5V Technic motors and cannot be used with the Mindstorms RCX system, which uses the newer 9V system-motors, connectors, battery boxes, sensors etc.

      The 4.5V system also has a ISA PC card version that connects to the same breakout box.


    • Those Apple ][ interfaces ruled! I remember playing with them a lot, experimenting with all sorts of things. I had a not-bad little robot driving around. Too bad I wasn't ambitious enough to make it autonomous at the time, or you'd all have something to ph33r!
  • by Agent Green ( 231202 ) on Friday February 01, 2002 @01:55AM (#2935831)
    I wonder how many boxes of legos would be required to emulate the 300+ cartridge loaded in one of the data centers at work.

    At least replacement parts would be inexpensive!
  • by BlueJay465 ( 216717 ) on Friday February 01, 2002 @01:56AM (#2935835)
    Where are the little Lego people? This is cool, but it seems a more effective presentation would include the little lego figures into this contraption. Put some on the lift, some with construction gear, some at the base with the control unit in lab coats working on mini control panels. Some at the local coffee machine or guiding a tour, etc.

    Still a very cool way of setting up a changer, but it would be more fun to add some realism to it :P
  • He needs to build a full Silo out of Legos. Something 6 feet in diameter that will hold several thousand DAT tapes. I wonder just how many bricks that would take...
  • by bastard01 ( 532616 ) on Friday February 01, 2002 @01:58AM (#2935841)
    I don't know why I would think of this, but at where I currently work, there is a very large area between where all of the computers are, and if there is something that could make the tape backup process even more automated, it would be better. Time could be spent on better things, like figuring out how to slowly learn how to not use microsoft products, or actually fixing computers. imagine, this could save 5 minutes at least whenever a tape backup is needed, that really adds up with incrimental backups, or especially if there are regular full backups, more tapes to be changed.
    • "Windows-- For the S&M'ers out there"

      I resent that comment. We use Linux and/or BSD too :P
    • Way back before I used macs, I noticed a backup system very much like this in a magazine (perhaps BYTE), which would store a stack of floppy disks and insert each one after the last was ejected, then drop the ejected disk down. It looked like it could store 20 or more floppies, when attached to the front of a Mac Plus
    • So why don't you invest some money in a DLT-robot? Where I work we have a Compaq TL891 Minilibrary [compaq.com]. It has a magazine which holds 10 DLTs. We have six such magazines which we change once a week. In each magazine we have one DLT for Monday-Thursday,Saturday-Sunday. Then There are three DLTs for Friday (full backup) and one cleaning tape. And it's great when I have to restore files, usually the users report within a week when they've lost a file so the correct tape is probably in the drive. This saves me from the long trip from my office to the server room. If you need more space or speed it's possible to connect several units and add another DLT-tapestreamer inside.
    • The key to implementing this plan is the proper mumbo-jumbo. Write up a formal proposal and fill it with statistisc relating worker proformance to office moral. Cite the benefits of enhanced work enviornment. Explore the possibility that it may generate free publicity, even if it's just word-of mouth. Free publicity = profits. Perhaps this could be used to make a memorable impression on potential clients. People don't always go with the best or cheapest - they go with what they remember.

      I suck at mumbo-jumbo. Maybe you can find a marketriod [tuxedo.org] buddy to dress it up and print out some four-color glossies [tuxedo.org]. Make it buzzword-compliant [tuxedo.org], real content-free [tuxedo.org]. Impressive pie charts. Cite several studies. Maybe a few overhead transparencies.
  • by thogard ( 43403 ) on Friday February 01, 2002 @01:59AM (#2935844) Homepage
    The color scheme is something no marketing department will ever agree to. He should have used more beige blocks.

    I also think that it should have some of the littel lego men standing around looking at the thing. Also needs more flashing lights.
  • ...but I'd rather invest 40 bucks [ebay.com] in an autoloader that understands SCSI commands...

    - A.P.
    • by bbh ( 210459 ) on Friday February 01, 2002 @02:16AM (#2935898)
      Yeah, but that one is a DDS-2 and it is limited to a 4 tape cartridge. His is scalable as far as he wishes to go with it. He can change the tape drive (go for a DDS3)or number of tape drives without any concern for the size of a cartridge for tapes, or the type of tape that it takes given it is 4mm and can be hooked the way he's grabbing tapes.

      That said, I know some idiot will probably trip over his autoloader one day and he'll have to answer for the downtime to put the lego system back together. That will be one impressive interoffice memo (yes, our data recovery system is crippled until we can bring in some third graders to reassemble it...).

      • I'd hate to work for a company that relies on people making lego gadgets to maintain backups - one would think A) there idiots, or B) they are really strapped for cash. Of course legos are pretty expensive too.

        Last place I worked we had a 50,000$ ibm ult robot - 600 gigs ready to go.
        • Very true, and what if the cleaning lady came in one morning and sucked up half the autoloader! All that ingenuity (and lego pieces) gone, and I'm not sure insurance would even cover it.

  • /me dives into his closet looking for his old macintosh and his legos with a SPARKLE in his eye.
    • Re:My MAC! (Score:1, Funny)

      by FigBug ( 69370 )
      Always check the depth of your closet before you dive in. You don't want to suffer a neck or back injury.
  • by Nathdot ( 465087 ) on Friday February 01, 2002 @02:04AM (#2935864)
    From the looks of this thing it also loads a DAT tape of the inventor snoring, and waves a fake arm around in the bed, if his Mom turns his bedroom door handle when he's taking a day off...

    ...Oh god how many Matthew Broderick references can slashdot handle in a single day!

  • iTools (Score:1, Redundant)

    by nslu ( 532403 )
    These fscking slideshows made with iTools don't work in mozilla.
    • Ok, so there are some things that can't be built with legos. :(
    • This really is a problem. It would be just amazing if Apple could take the time to construct a linux netscape plugin for thier forsaken quicktime API
    • here here. As if .jpeg files were not cool enough. One more reason not to like Macintosh. I thought maybe it was slashdoted, then I thought I should use the Crossover plugin, and then I thought: the burden is on the presenter to get his point accross, and he failed.
    • Re:iTools (Score:2, Informative)

      by Pope ( 17780 )
      it's the custom JavaScript that gets automagically put into the iTools photo albums. FWIW, they don't work in Opera PPC either.
    • Re:iTools (Score:2, Informative)

      by lizardboy ( 160143 )
      I killed the standard iTools layout and posted my own.

      Lizard Boy

    • Is there anything that works with Mozilla?
  • This thing is truely glorious. I love it. It looks extremely fun to watch and somewhat useful. The only problem is that it was made about 10 years too late. In this decade, we don't use casettes, and some of us rarely use cd's. I use my ipaq for music with mp3's. I think that this would be really big if it would have been done 10 years ago. Anyway, just my 2 cents.



    • Re:Made Too Late (Score:2, Informative)

      by jsprat ( 442568 )
      In this decade, we don't use casettes

      Yeah, but some of us use DAT tapes to back up our hard drives...
    • In this decade, we don't use casettes, and some of us rarely use cd's.

      And what do you use to back up your machines?

      I use my ipaq for music with mp3's.

      That is great if all you care about are your mp3s.

      This machine is for changing tapes in a computer backup system, not some kind of fancy jukebox.

    • DAT tapes are used for backups.

      Christ do they let just *anyone* in here?
  • Legos Rock (Score:5, Interesting)

    by iomud ( 241310 ) on Friday February 01, 2002 @02:18AM (#2935906) Homepage Journal
    Wouldnt it be cool if lego made actual tools that werent marketed towards kids. Such that they would be designed to do things of this nature, all purpose reusable engineering kits. Not that I'm too cool for lego's or anything...
    • Not a big enough market. :(
      • thier bulk orders was a great first step

        I know I plan on investing a few k in bulk legos, I've already dumped 400 into them.

        It dosen't really need to have alot of R&D go into it, it just needs to be convenient to get everything planned and built (some upgraded lego graphing paper couldn't hurt anyone.. I can't use the stuff they sponsor at all)

        (ponders what it means to be trolling /. lego posts at 2am in the morning...)
    • Well people who want to use them as engineering kits do so - if you search the net you'll find some amazing LEGO creations!

      There's another construction kit sold in Germany (but you can buy it here too) called Fischertechnik that's a bit more MEANT for more technical projects, but it's more expensive and harder to get hold of. It uses more beams than bricks.
  • Then I'd actually be able to use my CD-R/RW burner for back-ups. (I know - not the ideal device, it's just what I have available)
  • by No_Slacks ( 466101 ) on Friday February 01, 2002 @02:33AM (#2935947)
  • >

    Ahh yes, and here's where we have our fully redundant Linux cluster with an uptime of 2 years. If anything does ever go wrong, we have a Lego Mindstorms backup system in place. I think we can trust that the database will never be lost.

    And here we have...
    • That's a pretty apt comment, I must say. Whenever I try to float any kind of Linux idea across the suits in my office they look at me like I'm suggesting building computers out of Legos. If it doesn't say Compaq on it, they won't buy it.

      The funny thing is, we've had so many problems with our mega-buck Compaq setup perhaps a Mindstorm/Beowulf cluster is exactly what we need!

  • links to the images (Score:5, Informative)

    by rehannan ( 98364 ) on Friday February 01, 2002 @02:38AM (#2935967) Homepage
    For those that can't view the crappy iTools slideshow...

    The Loader [mac.com]
    From the right [mac.com]
    Load and unload slides [mac.com]
    Tape being unloaded [mac.com]
    Arm loader from the rear [mac.com]
    system to eject tape [mac.com]
    Back of loader [mac.com]
    Lifting system [mac.com]

  • Six Nines? (Score:3, Funny)

    by shoemakc ( 448730 ) on Friday February 01, 2002 @02:43AM (#2935979) Homepage

    Ahh....but does it sport a six nines availability rating? From the looks of it, more like 4,5 tops. Maybe it just needs a little hot glue...
    • ...yeah but their technical support is aweful.

      I had to listen to 15 minutes or so of baby gurgling on the phone before speaking to a tech they call "mother". Maybe some obscure Dan Aykroyd reference.

      Then, finaly, when a tech arrived at my office, all he did was cry and suck on ejector mechanism.

      I'm never buying from this company again.
  • My son is two. He plays with Lego, and Duplos (which I believe _can_ be pluralized.) Dan, my son, does _not_ have a job. He goes to school, but, he plays with Lego bricks when he's there (note how I neatly avoided pluralizing Lego!) so that doesn't count.

    I think if you are playing with a product like Lego to accomplish something you might have too much time on your hands.

    My son certainly does. And this guy... a Mac loading up to iTools (s/b sTools for SLOW) he must be sick with all the free time he's enjoying.
    • Well lego (and duplo) sound latinish.
      So the correct pluralisation would be legi and dupli.
      • Re:Free Time :: Lego (Score:4, Informative)

        by radish ( 98371 ) on Friday February 01, 2002 @09:01AM (#2936592) Homepage
        Except their not latin. Lego is danish (I belive it translate's as "play well"). Don't know about Duplo, could be danish as well. There is no plural of Lego:

        I play with Lego.
        He plays with Lego.
        Look at all that Lego.
        Look at all those Lego bricks.
        Eeek! There's a load of Lego in my server room!
        • Please step aside, gentlemen, I am a Dane. I know what I'm talking about. (Well, I don't but ...)
          Lego is danish (I belive it translate's as "play well").
          Well, it's actually an acronym consisting of LEg GOdt, which is indeed Danish and translates to "play well".
          Don't know about Duplo, could be danish as well.
          Don't think so, though. Just sounds neat, I guess.
          There is no plural of Lego
          Right you are again. We say "LEGO-klodser" ("LEGO bricks") or just LEGO.
  • I'll only be happy with Legos when they can brew me up a perfect cup of coffee.....

    Nate Tobik
  • Cool... (Score:2, Funny)

    by mlk ( 18543 )
    if I replaced the "tape drive" with a crayon, and the set of tapes with Index Cards, I could use it as a redunt "CowboyNeal w/Index Cards and a Crayon"...
  • Lego (Score:3, Funny)

    by jchawk ( 127686 ) on Friday February 01, 2002 @03:26AM (#2936073) Homepage Journal
    I want to build a lego robot that does nothing but hit refresh in my web browser and check slashdot for new stories, and then submits first post! w00t

    -I'll Bash you in the forhead.
  • Sorry about iTools (Score:4, Interesting)

    by lizardboy ( 160143 ) on Friday February 01, 2002 @03:43AM (#2936097)
    I was in a hurry to post the pictures. I have changed the page. Hope it helps. I will now go back to my bucket of legos and work on the CD changer/ duplicator.

    Lizard Boy

    • Ever see those old LP, Jukeboxes? Could use to model a CD changer.

      If seen from above:
      • Noon - tape drive and a lifter - ths lifter would push up under cd when tray was ejected to put cd in position to grab.
      • 2 O'clock - stack of blank CDs
      • 4 O'clock - output stack - dupped
      • 6 O'clock - stack of originals
      • 8 O'clock - output stack - originals
      • 10 O'clock - CD labeler - a pen with lifter(up/down) then X/Y plotter to actaully label CD
      • Center - a 'CLAW' - rotates 360, up down with angled rubber grippers. Sorta like a crane.

      I think that dupping a cd is easy - but labeling it after is the time consuming part. You could also handle multiple CD drives at a time.
    • It seems someone has already done this and put the building plan in some Dutch magazine. I'm looking it up as I write this but haven't found it yet. I'll keep looking though. A 'friend of a friend' managed to get his illegal CD-R copyshop running without him at incredible output so at least we know it works... :D
    • by Night0wl ( 251522 )
      Don't suppose you could send me an email to discuss things? :)

      I've been wondering about how to make a duplication machine via. lego's for some time now. (the @neversleeps.org addy will reach my inbox)

      I've figured out how you could off load burnt cd's. It would take some warranty voiding but could be done. Just simply cut the end of a tray loading drive out, giving you an open U shape.

      then it's just a matter of flipping the cd up and over to what ever you want, I was thinking a dowel rod would work.

      the only thing I haven't figured out is how you could load in a new blank cd with out needing to pre-load them into something to make it easy enough. Just right off the spindle.
      • Best way would be to get a slot loading CD-RW drive - then it would be just a case of sliding the CD into the drive, and gripping it on the way out.
        • by Night0wl ( 251522 )
          There's still the issue of loading a new CD.
          I think it would be easiest to load from a spindle, i.e. take off the wrapper, open the lid, bingo! all set for your next batch of 100.

          Suction could be a possability. But without having lego's around to tinker and toy with I'm stuck thinking. That and I can see them getting suctioned on, but not off. Nothing quite like getting sucked off and it never ending :-\

          If you wanted to avoid cutting your burner's tray, I can think of a few other methods for offloading the finished cd. But this is simple. :)

          Drive's open, flip, and we're done.

          I don't mind cutting it either ;) i'm nutty like that..
      • by Pfhor ( 40220 )
        If you look at a CD tray, you will notice two notches on both sides. My school just got a bulk cd copier, and it has two little flappers that pick up the cd from there, then has the tray retract, and just drops them onto a moving sled, to be shot out one side (burn successful) or the other (burn failure). Really quite cool, cause it uses standard CDR drive.
  • Very cool; I can now say we are a nation with too much time on our hands....it is damn cool though.

  • I go to the site and all I see is a bunch of pics which link to larger versions of said pics. With text at the bottom, being w/o a linux drive working all I can do is look through XP. Is the site changed or is it not really a slide show??? If I had my linux drive not die would i be able to boot that up and see an error, or was there a neat slide show taken down???
  • A Lego compiler (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Polaris ( 9232 ) on Friday February 01, 2002 @05:37AM (#2936302) Homepage Journal
    Lego is obviously good for prototyping these sorts of products, but it would be cool if there was a Lego compiler that would scan the completed model and produce parts by eliminating all but the minimum number of inter-connections required for efficient assembly, and replacing the Lego connectors with more permanent ones.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ..is a lego DAT tape changer, which can not only change DAT tapes, but build more copies of itself, given the appropriate lego blocks required. These in turn would create more..
  • ...to think that some people say Macs are just toys!
  • by Kindred Spirit ( 544663 ) on Friday February 01, 2002 @06:38AM (#2936398) Homepage
    So, this would mean that now I have actual justification to submit a purchase order for Lego.
    Superb :)
  • Radars, space guns, rockets, blinking coloured lights, and a little dude in a visored helmet with a spanner at a console... Ian
  • How does OSX handle tape backup? Is it more like Windows, Linux, or Mac OS 9?
  • Tape media is by far the cheapest media, the problem with it is that you usually need many tapes.

    This means that you have to swap tapes in and out of the tape drives. There's two ways of doing this:

    1: Manually.
    2: Robotic tape library or autoloader.

    No1: Is a pain in the arse and unreliable.
    No2: Is very expensive, making it cheaper to use other methods of backup, like cheap disks.

    So there *is* a case and a market for cheap tape libraries which you can plug your existing drives into.
  • Think of anything else that a Mindstorm can help you to change... ah... toilet papers.
  • This is the coolest geek project I have seen in awhile, now I need to dust off my old dat drive and find some legos cheap. Is there any chance for detail instructions on some of the more intricate parts of the system? I would love to be able to build one on my own. Anyother pictures available or instructions?
  • Since they always want to do things on a budget, I told him I could build a Lego tape changer for a mere pittance. He wouldn't go for it though.

    Something about not being fault tolerant...
  • another tape library without a bar code reader in it. ;)

    Still, I'll bet it's fun to watch! The site needs some .mpgs to illustrate this doohickey in motion...

    • I have some of those cue cat devices. Various projects exist on freshmeat to print bar codes.

      I'd feel half inclined to do it myself, but I have too many hobby projects needing attention already. Also, I'd use CDs rather than tapes.
  • I have noticed a direct correlation between the unemployment rates in the tech sector, and these type of creative (although of limited practical use) technical devices.

    After two years of research, crunching numbers on dozens of computers using parallel processing, I have discovered the reason for this phenomena.

    Result: They have too much time on their hands.

  • I believe the title of the page says "The LEGO Date Tape Loader".

    Wasn't there a segment about that in the 1957 classic Amazon Women on the Moon [imdb.com]? You know, the one with Andrew Dice Clay.

  • lego this and lego that...what the hell. why not use real parts instead of stupid plastic bricks. tcp/ip enabled lego bricks, now back up in a lego WHY!!!
  • by dinotrac ( 18304 ) on Friday February 01, 2002 @11:01AM (#2937139) Journal
    These Mindstorms things are amazing, but not half so amazing as the people who come up with ways to show them off. There are some real bright and creative folks out there.

    When I was a kid, I was proud to make something looked kinda sorta like an airplane.

    It sure as hell didn't fly or do anything spectacular.

    Well, it did come apart if I dropped it.

  • First, like so many others in this thread, let me say that the force is strong in this one.

    From what I can figure from the pictures, it does ejection the same way that it does picking -- counting on the little lip on the bottom of the cartridge to stick out far enough that the matching hump on the end of the spatula can grab it.

    The problem is that since I have an HP DDS-3 drive, I won't be able to count on that mechanism because unfortunately when it ejects the cartrdige, the bottom slide is still in the open position. Actually pulling the cartridge out is what closes it. So the "lip" isn't there. One would have to give the picker some sort of horizontal tweezers to pinch the cartridge and back it out. That sounds rather difficult, unfortunately.

May all your PUSHes be POPped.