Station wagon full of tapes vs cigarette pack (was Re: thinking of the "ultimate" retro x86 PCs - what bits to seek/keep)

Swift Griggs swiftgriggs at
Fri Jun 3 17:29:13 CDT 2016

New info, then commentary:

Station Wagon full of tapes =  302.64 GB
Cigarette pack full of microSD = 880 GB 

* Corrected volume calcs (least I think I did)
* Switched to 2400 ft tapes with 3M cases (thanks Chuck) 
* Switched to MicroSD (but no SDHC) so.. 2G only

Okay, now the commentary and updated logic. :-)

On Fri, 3 Jun 2016, Fred Cisin wrote:
> That should be 130.9 ft^3 CUBIC feet, not square feet.

Ah, quite right. Typo there. However, I got the specs from Ford and the 
units were ft^3. 

> > multiple sources, but hey, spot check me. Now that reel should be a 10.5"
> > wide by 5/8" thick. If my math is right, that's 6.56 cubic inches. If I
> How are you calculating that??
> If it were "square", then it would be length * width * height
> quite a bit more than you came up with.
> If round, then PI * R * R

Hmm, yes, but I don't think we could pack them in there in any clever way 
that might make use of the round edges. So, I kinda figured them square. I 
used the dimensions from here, but you are still right. I only got in^2 
not in^3, so we are talking 10.5 * 10.5 * .6250 = 68.9062 in^3. 

> However, round objects waste some space.  So, assume the square or 
> hexagon that circumscribes that circle (that they would fit in).

Yes, my thinking exactly, I just have bad execution on the arithmetic. 

> I would not leave the back seats in.  If we pack the tapes in tightly, 
> then there is no need for any seat except driver.

I wonder if that Focus Wagon has folding seats we could just fold down. 
That's going to be a lot easier, but still packing is going to be a lot 
easier with the seats out, granted.

> (Shall we assume that we do not have convenient access to an autonomous 
> car?) I'd try to avoid that tub on the roof - gas mileage is already 
> pretty poor.

Hmm, true. However, I haven't figured out what all this is going to cost 
us, yet, anyway. :-)

> > take the space in the wagon (130.9 ft^3) and try to get my units
> aligned, that means 1570.8 in^3.
> 130.9 cubic feet (if correct) is most certainly not 1570.8 cubic inches.
> There are not 12 cubic inches in a cubic foot, there are 12 * 12 * 12
> (1728)
> Therefore, 130.9 cubic feet would be 226195.2 cubic inches.

Ah, yes, I had a niggly feeling about that, okay, totally correct, of 
course. I'll adjust accordingly. It'll be a huge delta from my original 

> > Now for the cigarette box. I'm going to assume you mean the dimensions of
> > a *pack* of cigarettes, and since we are all really cool enlightened
> > smoker-people, we don't smoke 100s.
> I was unaware of that.

I'm hetero; so we stay away from 100's or 101's. If other folks aren't 
we'll need to make adjustments since the pack is probably going to hold a 
few more SD's. 

> > So, we'll go with the standard size.
> > That's @ 6.51 cubic inches, methinks (2 1/8th wide x 3.5" tall x 7/8ths
> > thick). A standard SD card is 32mm x 24mm x 1mm.
> BUT, the original was MICRO-SD.  Those will pack into the cigarette pack with
> far less wasted space.

Yes, true. I intentionally went to SD cards because the damn micro SDs 
have a fiddly shape and will be a horror trying to pack in there. However, 
since there is an audience, I'll adjust. (I didn't think anyone would 
actually read/check).

> > can't really afford the fancy schmancy 128G cards, plus we aren't sure if
> > our destination drive can read that huge size card, so let's stick with
> > cheap-az 32G cards.
> agreed.  Those are currently at a good price point. BUT, we will go with 
> MICRO-SD[HC], which has more than 4 times the data capacity to physical 
> volume, at least whe considering the more efficient packing.

Okay, but I'm going to count them as square, even if it's just the little 
notch sticking out. 

> BUT, if we hold tightly to the original wording, Micro-SD (V Micro-SDHC) 
> tops out at 2G each.

Well, he did originally say MicroSD, not SDHC, and when we get to Rhode 
Island, I don't want to have to wonder if our client has an SDHC capable 
reader, so I'm going to go ahead and standardize on the 2G units.

> Seagate makes a 2.5" 2TB (1.81TiB) SATA hard drive.  They're a little 
> hard to find right now, but readily available (and cheaper) if you buy 
> their Backup-Plus-Slim, and throw away the external drive housing.  Two 
> of those is about a cigarette pack in size.  I sometimes carry two of 
> those in my shirt pocket.

I use those too. Love them. 

> But, further considerations:
> Is this going to be a one shot transfer, or an ongoing operation?

I'm going to add to the narrative and we'll say it's our first time to 
establish the process, but after that it'll be ongoing if we don't smell 
too much like a chain smoker when we arrive to the client and get fired. 

> Where are the endpoints?

We'll start at King Discount Cigarettes in LA. That's:

10662 Riverside Dr, North Hollywood, CA 91602

The client is Rhode Island Hospital. It's: 

593 Eddy St, Providence, RI 02903

Distance = 2971 miles on I-40, but I'd rather take I-80 so we can swing by 
my place in Colorado on the way. So, that's actually 2998 miles. Sorry, 
but hey, Colorado is more scenic and we have legal, uh, stuff there! I did 
warn this was a Hunter S. Thompson sort of trip. We just have to be sober 
when we get to RI, that's it.

> If we assume about 50 hours to drive cross the USA, that provides a long 
> data transfer time,

Google says 45h on the trip, but I'm game for using 50 since I need to 
stop and, uhm, pee a lot. Plus, there are some really great retro computer 
sites along the way! So, yeah, 50h.

> whereas a cigarette pack of Micro-SDs could be in your pocket on a plane 
> (if TSA will let you through)  How many cigarette packs can you fit into 
> an accepted carry-on bag? (Nobody wants to pay excess for baggage!)

Some notes for folks really checking:

130.9 ft^3 == 226195.2 in^3 == Space in the Ford Focus SE Wagon

10.5 * 10.5 * 1.125 = 124.03 in^3 for the 9-track tapes

(thanks to Chuck Guzis we've updated, we are definitely using the 3M 
wraparounds, protectors on our 9-tracks now - we gotta do this right, har 

We are ditching the crappy 3000 ft+ tapes and going back to the 2400 foot
tapes. So, we are down to 170MB per tape.

226195.2 / 124.03 = 1823.something tapes!
1823 * 170MB = 302.64 GB

-- the cigarette pack --

One Micro SD card
15mm x 11mm x 1mm = 165 mm^3

Cigarette pack
3.5" * 2 1/8 wide * 7/8" thick
88.9mm * 53.975mm * 22.31mm = 107051.79 mm^3

Rows == 53.9 / 11 = 4.9 (so that's 4) 
Columns == 88.9 / 15 = 5.9266 (so that's 5)
So, that's 20 stacks of 1mm cards, we can get 22 in one stack. So that's 
440 of them! They only go up to 2G (without SDHC) so that's 880GB!

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