Archiving data from old storage media can be a highly complex process. It can be as simple as putting a disk in an old drive and reading out the contents. These days, though, the state of the art is more complex, with advanced techniques helping to recover the most data possible. The VHS-Decode project is an effort to improve the archiving of old analog video tapes.
The project is a fork of the LaserDisc-focused ld-decode, started by [Chad Page] back in 2013, which readers may recall was used for the Domesday Duplicator — a device aimed to recover data from the BBC’s ancient Domesday LaserDiscs. VHS-Decode is designed to capture the raw RF signals straight out of a tape head, which are the most direct representation of the signals on the physical media. From there, these signals can be processed in various ways to best recover the original audio and video tracks. It’s much the same technique as is used by floppy disk recovery tools like the FluxEngine.
Despite the VHS name, the code currently works with several tape formats. VHS, S-VHS and U-Matic are supported in PAL and NTSC formats, while Betamax, Video8 and High8 tape capture remains a work in progress. Using the code requires a video tape player with test points or traces that make signals from the head accessible. Capturing those signals is achieved via a Domesday Duplicator hardware device, or alternatively a Conexant CX2388x analog-to-digital converter, often found in many old PCI TV tuner cards. Various techniques can then be used to turn the captured signals into watchable video files.
We love a good archival project, and VHS-Decode is clearly a useful tool when it comes to salvaging old video tapes. Continue reading “VHS-Decode Project Could Help Archival Efforts” →
Floppy disks are rapidly aging, and archivists are working hard to preserve what data is left. This has led to the development of advanced floppy controllers capable of capturing the raw flux data from disks. [bzotto] was experimenting with the Applesauce archival hardware, and had some fun with the tools.
The result is a highly esoteric Easter egg. [bzotto]’s Picturedsk tool takes a bitmap image as input, and imprints that image into the magnetic flux of the disk. Thus, when viewing a dump of the disk’s magnetic flux on an archival program, the hidden image will be revealed. As an extra treat, it also writes a 1-bit version of the image to track 0, along with a barebones Apple ][ program to display the image and implore the user to investigate further.
It’s a fun hack that we could imagine being used as part of a game at a retro computing con, when we get to go back to those of course. We’ve seen Applesauce used before, too. If you’ve got your own archival projects on the go, be sure to let us know!
Google+ is dead. Granted people have been saying that much for years now, but this time it’s really true. As of April, Google’s social media experiment will officially go the way of Reader, Buzz, Wave, Notebook, and all the other products that the search giant decided they were no longer interested in maintaining. Unfortunately in the case of Google+, the shutdown means losing a lot of valuable content that was buried in the “Communities” section of the service. Or at least that’s what we all thought.
Thanks to the efforts of [Michael Johnson], many of those Google+ communities now have a second chance at life. After taking a deep dive into the data from his own personal Google+ account, he realized it should be possible to write some code that would allow pulling the content out of Google’s service and transplanting it into a Discourse instance. With some more work, he was even able to figure out how to preserve the ownership of the comments and posts. This is no simple web archive; you can actually log into Discourse with your Google account and have all of your old content attributed to you. Continue reading “Google+ Communities Won’t Go Down Without A Fight” →
Archiving data from old floppy disks can be a tedious process at best. Poorly labeled disks combined with slow transfer speeds put it high on the list of things we would rather not do, and it turns out that [Dweller] was of the same opinion. With an estimated 5,000 floppies in his collection, he finally decided it was time to clean house.
With no idea of what was stored where, he decided the best way to go about the process was to read all of the disks, archiving everything, saving the sorting process for later. He originally started by building a floppy autoloader out of Lego Mindstorm parts, which looked good on paper, but performed pretty poorly.
He came across an old floppy duplicator on eBay and figured that since the machine was built for handling gobs of disks, that it was the perfect base for his autoloader. He pulled the mechanical bits from the machine, incorporating them into the rig you see above. He swapped out the duplicator’s brains for an Arduino, which allows him to batch copy his disks and save a picture of each label with little effort.
He says that the system works great, making his life a lot easier (and less cluttered!)
Check out the video below to see his floppy autoloader in action.
Continue reading “Floppy Autoloader Takes The Pain Out Of Archiving 5000 Amiga Disks” →