Wear Your Fave Cassette Tapes As A Necklace With This 3D Printed Adapter

While packing merch for a recent gig, I realised I had the opportunity to do something a little fun. I’d released an album on tape, and spent a little extra to ensure the cassette itself was a thing of beauty. It deserved to be seen, rather than hidden away in a case on a shelf. I wanted to turn this piece of musical media into a necklace.

Of course, cassette tapes aren’t meant to be used in this way. Simply throwing a chain through the cassette would lead to tape reeling out everywhere. Thus, I fired up some CAD software and engineered a solution to do the job! Here’s how I built an adapter to turn any cassette tape into a cool necklace.

Find the design on Thingiverse, and more details below!

Wear it Proud

My plan was simple. I would create a plastic device that would insert into the two reels of the cassette tape, holding them in place. A pair of caps would then be screwed on from the other side to hold the plastic device in the cassette tape. This device would then have a hole in the top, to which I could attach a necklace chain via an intermediate metal jump ring. Straightforward enough, and a perfect application for 3D printing.

The original design. Note the metal split jump ring to mount connect the bead chain, and the screw-on caps to hold the adapter to the cassette.

My first stop was to find an engineering drawing of the Compact Cassette format, designed by Phillips back in 1963. I could always measure the tapes in front of me, but for something like this, it’s generally easier and simpler to rely on the standard. Keying “compact cassette dimensions” into Google Image Search was enough to get me started.

I quickly whipped up a design that would hold both cassette reels in place. It relied on a pair of locating bosses mounted on a simple backing plate. The bosses would insert into the cassette’s reels, locking them in place. This would prevent the tape unwinding itself while being worn as a necklace. The backing plate had a hole on top for attaching a chain. A jump ring would be used, as is typical in pendant-type necklaces, to allow the cassette to lay flat upon the chest without twisting the chain. To create the necklace, one would simply need to insert the locating bosses through the tape. Then, the two 3D-printed caps could be attached from the other side with a pair of screws.

I ran a few test prints to figure out the dimensions. My initial attempts didn’t get the boss size right. This let the cassette reels turn freely. After a few redesigns and reprints, I got things nicely fettled. Much to my surprise, my third or fourth attempt actually ended up working as a snap fit. Thus, there would be no need to use screws and caps to hold the device to the cassette. Instead, the bosses could be snapped into the tape reels with a little pressure. With this method, the necklace adapter managed to hang on to the cassette quite well!

I assembled a series of necklaces and gave them a little product testing. By and large, the concept worked. The only issue was that boisterous activity would cause the jump rings to fail. This was largely due to the fact that the jump rings were intended for fastening small, lightweight pendants to a chain. A cassette tape, by comparison, was far too heavy.

I eventually realised a simple redesign would solve this problem. I eliminated the fussy jump ring entirely. Instead, I simply included a perpendicular hole for the chain as part of the necklace adapter itself. This does complicate the 3D printing process slighly, in that it may require some support material. However, removing that material is only a minor complication. The new design is much tougher, as a bonus. The integrated chain hole means that the cassette is far less likely to fall off the chain when the wearer is running and jumping around.

I have uploaded the designs to Thingiverse for anyone that wishes to print their own. It bears noting that snap fits are a finicky, precise thing. You may need to finesse the design slightly to get it to properly fit when printed on your own hardware. The print itself is fairly basic, and shouldn’t pose any issues on even the simplest equipment. I used ABS, but any rigid plastic should perform ably in this role.

The final design. Note the integrated chain hole that eliminates the need for a jump ring.

As Compact Cassettes are a standard design, the adapter can be used with most any cassette you appreciate. I myself have a penchant for the brightest and most colorful designs. Of course, if your cassette is very precious or rare, perhaps don’t go fitting it with this adapter. Damage is unlikely, but not impossible. Overall though, it’s a fun way to show off your music collection. Plus, there’s something inherently cool about being able to pop a tape off your necklace and pump some tunes!

46 thoughts on “Wear Your Fave Cassette Tapes As A Necklace With This 3D Printed Adapter

    1. I seem to recall albums on tape coming with those on in the 1970s, but they seemed to phase out.

      I guess some of it might have been that when they loaded tape side facing you it was easy to see and remember to take off, and hard to damage, but when tape side down loading mechanisms and auto mechanisms came in, there was more damage potential and more leverage to break things.

    2. That’s a great idea.

      I spilled a beer on one of these necklaces and it ruined the tape. A dust cover wouldn’t have prevented that, but some extra protection couldn’t hurt.

  1. Back in my day we used cassette tapes, CDs, tacos and fries as currency to upgrade our skateboards and bribe teenage employees of fast food chains to give us more food than we paid for. Mr. T pities this thing, and Flava Flav is offended.

        1. I am semi regretting not getting a player and ~20 movies for $20 at a sale a decade plus back…. I probably would have got it if the movie selection offered in that deal was more appealing. Would probably have only needed one sci-fi or bond film in there to tip me.

          1. Yah, that would have been nice… the foggy impressions in my head of the movies is a bunch of period dramas and musicals. I knew then though that single specific movies on that format could be $$$ and I was likely too much of a cheapskate to expand the selection to stuff I’d enjoy.

          2. I have seen exactly one movie on laserdisc. I was a junior in high school (11th grade) when I went to visit my sister during her first semester of college. She had never seen Pink Floyd’s “The Wall,” and we were amused that that the library had movies on laserdisc.

            Unrelatedly, we also saw the Nicole Kidman/Alec Baldwin movie “Malice,” because it was shot in our hometown, esp during the opening credits.

            It’s a terrible movie. Oh, memories. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  2. Hm. I used to often use cassettes/datasettes, video tapes and corded phones with pulse-dial in the 90s.. I used to have a pager, too. Surfed the early internet, visited CompuServe..

    It feels kind of strange that the cassette got such an iconic status. It still was an everyday item in the 90s, like a calculator or an incandescent lamp.

    No idea why people have such strong feelings for it. I mean, sure, I had a walkman and a cassette recorder, too. I listened to music, to bed-time stories, to audio books (such as Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five)..

    But if you told someone in the 90s that the cassette is causing you feelings of nostalgia, you’d get irritated looks by him/her.

    1. The last remaining producer of Compact Cassettes in the USA has seen their business grow over the past 30 years. Much of that came from buying up the equipment and contracts from all the other companies that went out of business or decided to stop making tapes. They haven’t stopped innovating. They claim to have developed a ferric oxide tape that equals the performance of chromium dioxide.

  3. You can get rid of the keeborkin post easily with an entry in your “uBlock Origin” ad blocker “My Filter” list:
    hackaday.com##.series_of_posts-keebin-with-kristina

    I love that feature of uBlock – got a website with annoying elements like cookie banner when uMatrix blocks them anyway or a space wasting sidebar or something – just get rid of it with uBlock.
    Temporarily with the “Zapper” or permanently and configurable with the “Picker”.

    ———-
    On topic:
    Why is this article “Featured”? And what exactly does that mean?
    Like sponsored content or something?

  4. Y’know…. While a regular cassette would obviously be bulky (and admittedly a little ugly), it would be amusing to mock up a mini cassette to look like your favorite tape of yesteryear…

  5. You really want to have fun with this? Bust open an old tape head and attack the “play” head to a speaker. Then you can manually play your cassette on the go. Bonus: also produces annoyng/clever noises when you swipe credit cards too. Classic Nic Collins hack.

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