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Replacement of Dectape II dual drive

The TU-58 Emulator device was developed in order to replace Dectape II tape drives for minicomputers based on PDP-11 architecture. The emulator replaces two tape drives including original electronics board. Mechanical parts and unreliable and unavailable old magnetic tape cartridges are replaced by FLASH type of semiconductor memory which provides data retention for at least 10 years. Communication with PDP-11 mainframe is ensured by standard serial line configured as RS-423 by default. The TU-58 Emulator’s standard firmware supports subset of Radial Serial Protocol (RSP) message packets necessary for working of RT-11 operating system. Implementation of further functions is under consideration, so that TU-58 Emulator could be used also with other types of operating systems.

     The TU-58 Emulator is equiped with external RS-232C serial interface which serves for downloading and archivation of “tape” contents. Software for IBM compatible PC and communication cable is included. The software makes possible to transfer complete tape images between personal computer and an emulator (in both directions). The TU-58 Emulator board can be built into device instead of one original tape drive. Original data and power cables will be used for interconnection.

     The Emulator TU-58 is built on microcomputer AT89C52 which serves as a controller for 2 x 256 kB memory media located in FLASH memory of the type AT29C040. Standard drivers and receivers for lines RS-423, RS-422 and RS-232C are used as communication circuits.


  • replacement of TU-58 Dectape II dual tape drive including two tape cartridges
  • communication protocol: RSP subset
  • interface with respect to PDP-11: RS-423 (default), RS-422 or RS-232C
  • external interface for communication with PC: RS-232C
  • baud rate 38 400 Bd (default) or 9 600 Bd
  • possibility to use write protect function for individual “cartridges”
  • LED indication of activity on each “tape drive”
  • data retention in FLASH memory for at least ten years
  • information in FLASH memory is possible to be rewritten at least 10 000 times
  • power supply voltage +5V and +12V or just +5V for emulator version TU-58A

     The TU-58 Emulator was developed as replacement of magnetic tape units Dectape II for sputtering system Balzers LLS801 which is based on MCS-111 minicomputer. In fact it is VT103 terminal with built in processing unit LSI-11. Two tape drives Dectape II are also included: one works as system tape for operating system RT-11 (incl. LLS801 application) and the other is working tape which contains files with definitions of sputtering processes. Installation of TU-58 emulator into MCS-111 rack is described here.

Key features:

  • reliability
  • much better loading speed of all programs compared to original tape drive (loading of the LLS 801 system takes less than one minute)
  • easy assembly into system
  • state of the art


  • ON Semiconductor (Czech Republic)
  • Bloesch AG (Czech Republic)
  • Vakuum Servis (Czech Republic)
  • Maxim Integrated Products, Inc. (U.S.A.)
  • Lion Microelectronics (China)
TU-58 Electronics
Front Panel
Front panel of TU-58 Emulator

In case you find this solution interesting but are not sure if it is suitable for your purpose, you can try it by yourself. Do not hesitate to contact us and ask for availability of evaluation sample to borrow.

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