Here’s The Norwegian Tape Deck Teardown You’ve Been Waiting For

“They just don’t build ’em like they used to” is a truer statement every year. Whether your vice is CRTs, film cameras, or tape decks, you’ll know that the very best gear simply isn’t manufactured anymore. Even the day-to-day stuff from 60 years ago is often a cut above a lot of today’s equipment. [Anthony Kouttron] shows us this with his teardown of a Tandberg TCD301 from many decades ago.

The Tandberg unit is beautifully finished in wood and metal, a style of construction that’s fairly rare these days. It’s got big, chunky controls, and a certain level of heft that is out of vogue in modern electronics. Heavy used to mean good — these days, it means old. That’s not to say it’s indestructible, though. It’s full of lots of old plastic pulleys and fasteners that have aged over the decades, so it’s a little fragile inside.

Still, [Anthony] gives us a great look at the aluminium chassis and buttons and the electromechanical parts inside. It’s a rats-nest design with lots of discrete components and wires flying between boards. You couldn’t economically produce this and sell it to anyone today, but this is how it was done so many years ago.

This non-functional unit ended up being little more than a salvage job, but we’re still glad that [Anthony] gave us a look inside. Still, if you long for more cassette-themed teardowns, we’ve got the goodness you’re looking for!

2023 Cyberdeck Challenge: CyberTapeDeck

There seem to be two schools of thought when it comes to picking an enclosure for your cyberdeck project: you either repurpose the carcass of some commercially produced gadget, or you build a new case yourself. The former can lead to some very impressive results, especially if your donor device is suitably vintage, but the latter is far more flexible as the design will be based on your specific parameters.

But for the CyberTapeDeck, [Matthew] decided to take a hybrid approach. The final product certainly looks like it’s built into a 1980s portable tape deck, but on closer inspection, you’ll note that the whole thing is actually 3D printed. The replica doesn’t just nail the aesthetics — it also includes the features you’d expect from the real thing, including an extendable handle and functional buttons which the internal Raspberry Pi 3 sees as a macropad thanks to an Arduino Pro Micro.

A seven inch LCD stands in for the tape door, and while it unfortunately doesn’t look like [Matthew] was able to replicate the opening mechanism to angle the display, you can at least stand the whole thing on its end to provide a more comfortable viewing experience.

[Matthew] says one of the intended purposes for this cyberdeck is to get his son excited about working with electronics and programming, so in a particularly nice touch, he’s mounted a terminal block over the “speaker” that ties into the Pi’s GPIO pins. This provides a convenient interface for experimenting on the go, without getting tangled up in exposed wiring.

We appreciate that [Matthew] has released the STL files for all of the printed parts, because even though it makes a great cyberdeck, the design is begging to house a faux-retro media player.

There’s Not A Cassingle Thing Missing From This Cassette Deck Masterclass

For [ke4mcl], this whole cassette craze of late is not a new discovery so much as it is a personal nostalgia machine. Since [ke4mcl] sees a lot of basic questions go unanswered, they made an incredible beginner’s guide to all things cassette deck. This concise wealth of information covers everything from terminology to operation, basic maintenance like repairing the belt and lubricating the motor, and appropriate cleaning methods for the various parts. Yep, we’re pretty sure this covers everything but the pencil winding technique, which you probably already knew about.

You don’t need a lot of tools and supplies to maintain a cassette deck or twelve (apparently they’re addictive) — mostly just head cleaning fluid, isopropyl, window cleaner, and a bunch of cotton swabs. And given this guide, you’ll enter the enclosure confidently, armed with knowledge about everything from the belts to the capstan to the head. This is valuable information, the kind of stuff your older brother wouldn’t take the time to explain to you in the 80s. But maybe he didn’t know reverse bias from the holes in the top of the tape.

Don’t care for the quality of audio cassettes? Tapes are good for lots of stuff, like data storage and decoration.