Replacing HP3000 Series 928LX SCSI Hard Drive with SCSI2SD SD Card interface

My HP3000/928LX uses a Fast SCSI hard drive. Not only are these are no longer available new, they are getting hard to find and expensive used. Not that I start the HP3000 that often, but every time I do I wince, hoping the hard drive will start.

I replaced a failed hard drive about 4 years ago and realized at that time, some day I would no longer be able to boot this system if something didn’t change. I did buy a used spare SCSI drive at the time, only to learn recently it is missing its terminating resisters, so it is probably useless to me.

A few months ago I stumbled across a SCSI to SD adapter card created by Michael McMaster.

Honestly, I didn’t expect this card would work for me but reviewing the docs, I found that version 6 of the card had been used on an HP3000 917SX and 957RX. The 917SX is not that different from my 928LX. Maybe it would work for me?

Searching the internet, I could find some references in 3000NewsWire that the SCSI2SD card had been used by one person, but no examples anywhere of making it run.

I purchased one of the cards from Inertial Computing:

I also needed to order the optional 4 pin molex to Berg cable as the HP3000 only supplies power using the older molex connectors:

These arrived very quickly.

I decided the smart thing to do was mount this card under the tape drive in a 5.25″ slot so it would be possible to access the SD card and USB port without having to disassemble the HP3000. I ordered a 5.25″ to 3.5″ bay adapter kit:

After a lot of experimenting and some advice from Michael McMaster, I settled on this SD card which is WAY WAY larger than the 4GB drive I wished to replace:

It is recommended that you use an A2 class card. These are optimized for random I/O more than the other cards which are optimized for serial writing as a camera would do.


Rather than blindly try to install this into my system as the primary hard drive, I decided to first install the SCSI2SD card along side my SCSI hard drive and configure it as a private volume. This allowed me to experiment without any time-consuming system reloads.

I won’t go over the details of setting the card up to use as a private volume except for these notes:

  • The steps for creating a private volume exist below when I configure LDEV 3 with the private volume named BIGVOL.
  • When configuring the card I needed to disable the terminator as the real hard drive provides SCSI termination.
  • After booting, use ODE / Mapper to verify the drive is being seen. Using this utility can be seen below as well.


Installing the SCSI2SD card as a private volume also gave me a chance see what type of performance I could expect. I am much more interested in providing data storage that will last another 10-15 years than performance, but performance can’t be dismal.

My performance tests involved 10M random reads and writes into an 80MB file. An 80MG file was still small enough the system could cache it entirely so I took those results with a major grain of salt.

I also did large store/restores to the private volume. These weren’t cached but were sequential and not the fairest test of using an SD.

My non-scientific testing shows I/Os taking about 1.1 times longer when  using SD rather than a physical hard drive.

Once the system was fully converted from hard drive to SD, any delays weren’t significant enough for me to actually notice.

Imaging the SD Card

Once really nice feature about using an SD card for the operating system: I can image the SD card to a file on my PC using Win32Imager (linux dd command would probably work as well).

With a backup SD image, I could create a new SD card quickly and have the system fully running again without all of the trouble of a system INSTALL.

Installing the SCSI2D Card

The SCSI2SD card cannot touch the metal drive tray. There are electrical traces on the bottom of the board. Fortunately I keep have several kits of M2 nylon mounting parts on hand like this:

I scavenged enough parts to mount the board above they tray.

Here is the assembled unit:

The assembly was then inserted into the I/O cage below the tape drive:

I also decided to leave the functional hard drive in the I/O cage. If the SCSI2SD card were to fail, I would only need to move cables to have a functioning system again.

Here is the front side of the I/O cage:

Connecting the Cable

When connecting the SCSI2SD card along side the running hard disc, I put it in the middle of the SCSI ribbon cable.

In the back of head it seems you are not supposed to leave the end of a SCSI cable dangling (it becomes an antenna), so when I replaced the hard drive with the SCSI2SD adapter, I connected the end of the cable into the SCSI2SD card:

Configuring the SCSC2SD Card

I had some trouble with this at first because I had the wrong version of the configuration utility. You must use scsi2sd-util6, not scsi2sd-util.

You can find the scsi2sd-util6 utility here:

I have successfully used both the 32 and 64 bit windows version of this utility. The Linux version failed for me (I believe the error had to do with missing the correct version of clib – which surprised me as I was running it on a laptop with a very new version of Linux mint).

Once you run the utility you will see:

At the bottom it will indicating it is searching for the card. Connect the USB cable and it should find it.

As I recall Windows wanted to install a driver, but I did not install one. I believe you only need to install drivers if you decide to update the firmware on the SCSI2SD card.

My SCSI2SD card came with firmware version 6.3.1. The changes in the latest, 6.3.2, were not applicable to me so I skipped the update and saved myself some trouble.

If you do want to install drivers, there is an .MSI install that came in the install directory as well.

To start, I suggest doing file | load defaults just to make sure all settings are at a good starting point.

On the General Settings tab, there are only 2 settings that are applicable to the HP3000:

  • Enable SCSI terminator
  • Enable parity

Parity should always be enabled.

Enabling parity depends on your system. When I was using SCSI2SD with the old hard drive in place, I had this disabled as the hard drive provided it. Once I removed the old drive, I then enabled the SCSI terminator.

Click on the device1 tab:

These are the settings that I used to replace my LDEV 1 hard drive with SCSI2SD being LDEV1.

SCSI ID matches the SCSI ID of the hard drive which is 6. This will be LDEV 1. When I was testing the card I used an unused SCSI ID of 5.

SD card start sector will be 0 if this is the first device on the SD card, which it is.

Sector Size MUST BE 512. I started with 256 which is ‘logically’ how many bytes are in an HP3000 sector, but it turns out that is wrong. Using 256 reduced the amount of space I had available on the SD card. 512 works fine.

Device Size requires a little thought. MPE/iX version 7.5 allows you to fully use hard drives > 4GB. My 928LX wasn’t supported under MPE/iX 7.5, so I’m running version 6.5 which does NOT allow LDEV 1 to be larger than 4GB. So I selected 4GB for device 1 and will have a much larger device 2.

Vendor and Product ID the default settings have leading spaces such as ”  codesrc”. These leading spaces cause problems for the HP3000 so remove them.

I changed the Product ID from SCSI2SD to SCSI2SDn where n matches each LDEV I’m setting up. That will make it easier to verify in the O/S I have the proper SCSI ID assigned to the LDEV I’m configuring.

Device2 Tab:

Auto: When you first go into this tab there will be an error about overlapping disc space. Click on the Auto box and the SD card start sector will be automatically set to follow the prior device’s partition.

Device Size: Since I have oodles of space on this SD card and LDEV 1 is limited to 4GB, I setup LDEV 2 to be 32GB. MPE i/X 6.5 can access up to 128G as I recall. I don’t use all remaining space because I want a big private volume I will use for system backups.

Device 3 tab:

LDEV 3 will be my private volume and I assign most of the remaining space to it. I left some unused just in case there are some issues with Win32Imager hitting the end of media too soon.

There is some weird problem I’ve seen occasionally when copying one SD card to another. Even though they are both the same size (e.g. a 64GB SD card), one may have a few less sectors than the other.

At this point I do a File | Save to Device to write the configuration to the SCSI2SD device. I also do a File | Save to File to create an XML file of the settings.

You are now ready to configure the SCSI2SD adapter in MPE/iX.

Create the INSTALL Tape

Most of my time spent in HP3000 Operations were during the reign of MPE/III, IV, and V. 40 years later I can do  a SYSDUMP/RELOAD in my sleep. By the time we got MPE i/X systems, I rarely did operations, so everytime I have to do a SYSGEN/INSTALL I have to find documentation on exactly what needs to be done.

First Verify the Running Config is Clean

F1-Open Config
F3-Go to Validate
F2-Validate DTS/Link
return to exit validate screen
F8 repeatedly until program is exited.

SYSGEN version E.03.01 : catalog version E.03.01    MON, DEC  7, 2020, 10:18 AM
Copyright 1987 Hewlett-Packard Co. All Rights Reserved.

        **note** Retrieving NMMGR configuration data...

        ** First level command **

        io                log (lo)       misc (mi)        spu (sp)
        sysfile (sy)

        basegroup (ba)    keep(ke)       permyes (pe)     show (sh)
        tape (ta)

        clear (cl)(c)     exit (ex)(e)   help (he)(h)     oclose (oc)
 sysgen> io

        ** IO configurator commands **

        aclass (ac)      adev (ad)       apath (ap)      avol (av)
        dclass (dc)      ddev (dd)       dpath (dp)      dvol (dv)
        lclass (lc)      ldev (ld)       lpath (lp)      lvol (lv)
        maddress(ma)     mclass (mc)     mdev (md)       mpath (mp)
        mvol (mv)        hautil (ha)

        clear (cl)(c)    exit (ex)(e)    help (he)(h)    hold (ho)
        oclose (oc)      redo
     io> hold
     io> exit
 sysgen> keep
        keeping to group CONFIG.SYS
        Purge old configuration (yes/no)?y
        ** configuration files successfully saved **
 sysgen> exit

The above process should produce no errors. If it does, correct them before proceeding.

Configure the Disc Drive(s)

LDEV 1 for me is a SCSI drive. I have found that the existing configuration for the physical drive works just fine for the SCSI2SD card. Here is what  I already have for LDEV 1

SYSGEN version E.03.01 : catalog version E.03.01    MON, DEC 14, 2020,  9:26 AM
Copyright 1987 Hewlett-Packard Co. All Rights Reserved.

 sysgen> io

     io> ld 1
 LDEV:     1  DEVNAME:                    OUTDEV:        0   MODE:             
   ID: ST34573N                           RSIZE:       128   DEVTYPE: DISC     
 PATH: 56/52.6.0                          MPETYPE:       4   MPESUBTYPE:  2    
CLASS: DISC     SPOOL                                                          

Because LDEV 1 is already a SCSI drive, I didn’t have to modify the configuration of LDEV 1 to replace the hard drive with the SCSI2SD card.

Because non-system SCSI drives don’t have to be present for the system to boot, I suggest creating the configuration for any additional drives before building the Install tape. Then you know the I/O config is fine before doing the INSTALL.

I needed to configure in LDEV 2 and LDEV 3, so in sysgen I did the following:

io> ad 2 56/52.5.0 id=ST34573N class=disc,spool
  • The .5 in 52.5.0 is the SCSI ID of device 2 of the SCSI2SD card.
io> ad 3 56/52.4.0 id=ST34573N class=pvol
  • Class for the private column can’t be DISC so I use pvol for private volume.

Here is the ‘ld’ of my disc drives at this point:

  LDEV:     1  DEVNAME:                    OUTDEV:        0   MODE:             
   ID: ST34573N                           RSIZE:       128   DEVTYPE: DISC     
 PATH: 56/52.6.0                          MPETYPE:       4   MPESUBTYPE:  2    
CLASS: DISC     SPOOL                                                          
 LDEV:     2  DEVNAME:                    OUTDEV:        0   MODE:             
   ID: ST34573N                           RSIZE:       128   DEVTYPE: DISC     
 PATH: 56/52.5.0                          MPETYPE:       4   MPESUBTYPE:  2    
CLASS: DISC     SPOOL                                                          
 LDEV:     3  DEVNAME:                    OUTDEV:        0   MODE:             
   ID: ST34573N                           RSIZE:       128   DEVTYPE: DISC     
 PATH: 56/52.4.0                          MPETYPE:       4   MPESUBTYPE:  2    
CLASS: PVOL                                                                                                                                                   

Hold / Exit / Keep / Exit and reboot the system to verify.

Build the INSTALL Tape

I logged in as manager.sys:

:hello manager.sys,tmp

First, I did a dump of the entire system. I needed to create sysdump.tmp with contents:

:type sysdump.tmp


then do the sysgen:

:x loadtape 7
>ta dest=offline store=^sysdump.tmp.sys

Verify the tape was built correctly:

:x loadtape 7
:vstore *t;@.@.@;directory;progress

:x loadtape 7
:run checkslt.mpexl.telesup

I selected option 1 for checkslt, and checked it for errors.

Now I was ready to shutdown the operating system and power off the system.

Final Setup of SCSI2SD Card

If you had been testing the SCSI2SD card along side the original hard drive, now it the time to disconnect it.

The SCSI2SD card should now be physically installed at the end of the SCSI cable as shown in the Connecting the Cable section above.

Also, if you were testing the SCSI2SD card and the terminator box is unchecked, you probably need to check it now as the old hard drive most likely was terminated.

INSTALL the System on to the SD Card

I powered the system on. When it got to the main menu, I entered the search command:

Path P0 is the tape drive, so I booted from that path:

At this point I used the commands ODE then MAPPER, run RUN to display the hardware configuration (not shown). It does take quite a while for ODE to load from the tape drive.

This results in this display which shows SCSI IDs 6, 5, and 4 correctly assigned to the SCSI2SD devices 1, 2, and 3:

I then exited ODE/MAPPER, and typed INSTALL to begin the O/S installation.

At this point, INSTALL began copying system files from tape to LDEV 1:

Once all of the files were restored, and the system automatically rebooted. The reboot took a lot longer than I would have expected and there was no disc I/O but it did finally reboot:

Once the boot completed, I typed a PATH command to verify the disc/tape paths were correct. I then booted the system:


The system booted as normal although some files were missing and various subsystems did not start since much of the O/S is still missing. The marked errors are normal the first time you boot with an undefined disk.

I logged in as manager.sys and did a :dstat to verify all of the volumes exist.

In this example, LDEV 2 and 3 are listed as LONER and MASTER because I was experimenting with the SD card before doing this final install. On a fresh SD card you would expect the STATUS to be UNKNOWN.

As you can see, LDEV 1 was defined properly, but LDEVs 2 & 3 still need to be configured in VOLUTIL.

Next, I ran volutil and formatted drives 2 & 3. Normally SCRATCHVOL and FORMATVOL will suffice. Because I already had a private volume on LDEV 3, I also need to use VSCLOSE to close it can be scratched and formatted.

volutil: scratchvol 2
volutil: formatvol 2
volutil: vsclose bigvol
volutil: scratchvol 3
volutil: formatvol 3

Then I added LDEV 2 to the system volume set as Member2:

volutil: newvol MPEXL_SYSTEM_VOLUME_SET:MEMBER2 2 100 100
volutil: :dstat all

Finally, I created volume set BIGVOL on LDEV 3.

volutil: newset BIGVOL master=MEMBER1 ldev=3 perm=100
volutil: :dstat all

I rebooted the system again and then did a :showdev disc then :showdev spool to make sure they looked good:

Here is the result of a discfree c on the empty system:

To restore the rest of the files, (logged in as manager.sys), I typed:

:startspool lp       <<DO NO FORGET THIS!>>
:file t;dev=tape
:restore *t;@.@.@;keep;directory;olddate;show=offline

It is normal for files to fail to restore if they already exist. I examined the output spool file for any other possible error before continuing.

Once the files were restored, I rebooted the system one last time. Verified it came up correctly and all subsystems and standard jobs are running.

Here is a discfree done after the restore:

Converting sectors to bytes, the drives are the appropriate size:

LDEV       Sect                Bytes
   1    16,777,200     4,294,963,200                
   2   134,217,712    34,359,734,272
   3   335,544,304    85,899,341,824
 ALL   486,539,216   124,554,039,296

The system has been running for about 5 days as of this writing w/o any glitches. I’ve moved big file sets around, done backups to the private volume, and just let the system sit running.

Performance-wise, I can’t tell any difference. It is a little strange not to hear that old SCSI drive click on and make noise while it is in use.


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1 Response to Replacing HP3000 Series 928LX SCSI Hard Drive with SCSI2SD SD Card interface

  1. John Zoltak says:

    I’m probably the one you are referring to. I think I was first to get the V6 card running. It has been running on the SD for 2 years now as least. But there is a back story. The V6 card did not actually work, out of the box. Michael McMaster added the two HP3000 entries as per my success.

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