Fatal mistake with an IBM 3592 tape drive


Updated: 05/13/2020 - Initial page created

Tape drives, what?

I use tapes for backup. I don't believe in cloud backup and I have a personal interest in storage media (optical, tape, other). I've been using LTO-4 (800GB) tape to backup my server at home. I have approximately 80 tapes. I keep up with the latest tape storage technology, so that means I pay attention to IBM. IBM is the last manufacturer of tape drives, both LTO and their enterprise 3592 drives. Through my constant eBay searches I found a good deal on a used TS1155 tape drive that supports 15TB Type JD tapes. That's a big upgrade! I sent a few messages to get pictures of the front/back of the unit to confirm the find, and it was the right thing. I bought it for about $830 USD after currency conversion (it was from Canada).

IBM TS1155 (3592-55F) arrival, unboxing, immediate regret

It arrived in a few days via UPS and I pulled it out of a fairly poorly packed box. It was not damaged however. What I did immediately realize is that I got too excited and hit the trigger before really paying attention! The back of the unit has a specialized connector and a set of two deep recessed hex screws. Bummed, I tried what I had on hand but none worked. Finally, I got a set from Home Depot that worked. I later found a nice diagram in the 3592 Maintenance Manual specifying their size as 2.5mm hex keys and that under the rear panel is a standard Molex power connector. I powered it up and wired up the FC connections but the link was not coming up on my QLogic HBA whatever settings I tried.

Accessing the Virtual Panel without the Rack Mount Kit

IBM sells a feature addon to the 3592 tape drives called the Rack Mount Kit that includes a redundant PSU and ethernet service ports. I think it costs like $5000 or something crazy. So that wasn't going to happen, but I knew that I could still access the ethernet port if I could figure out the pins. Turns out that they didn't hide it too much and I found the right pins on the first try after making a makeshift ethernet cable. Awesome, it worked and I was able to access the Virtual Panel and the first thing on the page said it was OFFLINE and I knew there was a setting to get it ONLINE, which I tried, but still no FC link...

Fatal mistake

I tried a bunch of different things with the Virtual Panel including setting the FC topology, link speed, hard addresses, etc. I found the CE Offline Mode and CE Online Mode menus and started to look. In CE Offline Mode there was a Drive Features menu that had the words RACK MOUNT, so I enabled that. It changed the drive type to E08 instead of 55F, which I knew was a bad sign... I reset the drive and then it was bricked. It's in a permanent boot loop. Crap! Anyone know a super knowledgable IBM support rep that will unbrick this thing? The error on the front panel:

BOOTING* -> CK1 F001

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