[sweetlilmre] is just beginning his adventures in retrocomputing, and after realizing there were places besides eBay to buy old computers, quickly snagged a few of the Amigas he lusted after in his youth. One of the machines that didn’t make it into his collection until recently was a Commodore 64 with Datasette and 1541 drive. With no tapes and a 1541 disk drive that required significant restoration, he looked at other devices to load programs onto his C64.
These devices, clever cartridge implementations of SD cards and Flash memory, cost more than anyone should spend on a C64. Realizing there’s still a cassette port on the C64, [sweetlilmre] created Tapuino, the $20 Commodore tape emulator
The hardware used to load games through the Datasette connector included an Arduino Nano, a microSD breakout board, a 16×2 LCD, some resistors, buttons, and a little bit of wire. The firmware part of the build – available here on the Git – reads the .TAP files off the SD card and loads them into the C64.
[sweetlilmre] posted a very complete build post of the entire device constructed on a piece of protoboard, Pop that thing in a 3D printed case, and he can have the entire C64 library in his pocket.
Professional tape delay units are great fun, but often expensive. You’d think that with so many derelict cassette decks filling the world’s dumpsters someone must have figured out a way to make a cheap tape delay… not only in the interest of saving money (sometimes quality is worth paying for) but also in the interest of re-using otherwise wasted resources.
Forosdeelectronica forum user [Dano] has made just such a device from used cassette decks and miscellaneous parts (translated). First he investigated the operation of the playback, erase, and record mechanisms and broke out the tape heads. The playback head is on a plastic rail so that the delay time can be changed, while the record head is fixed. [Dano] encountered some difficulties in ensuring good quality for the recording and erasure, which is an important consideration when working with magnetic tape.
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We see a lot of comments on shaky video asking why that person didn’t use a tripod. [Aatif Sumar] wants to use one when taking pictures and video with his phone but the threaded mounting hole you’d find in most cameras doesn’t come as a feature on smart phones. That didn’t deter him, he used an old cassette case for this phone tripod. The build started with a cheap flexible camera tripod. [Aatif] used a soldering iron to melt a hole in a plastic cassette case. We’re apprehensive about relying on the plastic’s ability to hold threads so we’re recommend epoxy to reinforce the joint. A bit more melting with the iron and he had a cradle on legs with a hole for the camera lens. It’s nothing fancy, but it also cost him next-to-nothing.
[Dave] pulled the head unit out of his dashboard to add an iPod input. He took a much more invasive route than the other hack we saw a few days ago. He actually patched into the audio lines going from the Dolby reader head chip to the amplifier.
The first step was to trick the deck into thinking it had a cassette inserted. He scoped an enable pin on one of the chips to discover the timing and emulated that signal using a PIC microprocessor. From there he popped off the chip that reads the tape data, patching directly into the audio out traces. This presented some noise issues when charging the iPod but [Dave] fixed that with some decoupling capacitors.
Tape decks in cars? Yes, that used to be quite common before optical media took over road. [Nirav Patel’s] 2004 Toyota Corolla had a deck that he used with a tape adapter in order to listen to music from his iPhone. But one day something happened and, although the adapter still worked, the cassette player started making distracting noises. [Nirav] set out to quiet the noise and install an auxiliary audio input for the sound system. There were some tripping points along the way, like breaking everything and starting a small fire, but perseverance got him to his goal. Because these units are built with compatibility for things like CD changers they have a communications bus called AVC-Lan. This protocol has been sniffed out and documented, and [Nirav] even found an existing audio-input hack that he based his design around. Now he’s able to plug directly into the dash and ditch the cassette adapter.
We’ve seen [Nirav’s] work a few times before. He’s shown us a first person shooter controller and his site was a resource in our Launchpad programming with Linux post.
A bit light on the details, but we enjoyed seeing this video out device for the Nintendo Game Boy. A parallel cable connects to a modified Game Boy and transmits signals to the adapter which is housed in an old VHS cassette. We gather that some Super Game Boy hardware does the signal processing but from there your guess is probably better than ours.
[NeX] mentions that he originally wanted a screen to be included in the cassette. We’ve seen custom portables with small screens before, but he’s also developed a bare bones hand-held without a screen so that’s where the inclusion in the cassette would have been handy. We also wonder how the images will look on a big TV of the 50+ inch size. [NeX] has been pretty busy with the hacking lately, don’t miss the wire porn of his homemade Game Boy project.
The magnetic tape found in audio cassettes can be fun to play with. This installation, called Signal to Noise, relocates the heads from cassette players to the tips of your fingers in the form of a glove. An accompanying wall has vertical strips of tape which you run your fingertips along in order to play back the stored audio. Get the speed right and you can make out what’s on the tapes. Move back and forth and you’ll be scratching like the worst of DJs.
If this were teamed up with a Melloman it would make for quite a performance. See and hear this curious device after the break.
Continue reading “Analog tape playing glove”