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Thread: Home-made analog cassette tape delay project

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by FALKEN
    congratulations on actually building it.
    Yes, I forgot to say, well done, Dr Zee.

  2. #12
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    I have an old sony 1/4" reel to reel that has tape echo and sound on sound on it. I thought about trying to make a tape loop and using the echo but never got around to trying it. Never made a loop and I don't know if it's possible on that machine.

  3. #13
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    Hi guys, just stoped by at the moment to thank you for reply(ies) .... Hah, glad to see some other people 'cooking the idea'
    I will reply later today with couple details about 'transport problems' etc. I also had real hard time when starting messing with it and almost quit twice! ....'cos it would not work ... I have couple of shots of my starting-out test... it's easy to see what I was doing...but I have to find the pics and beam them up then I'll post links.... when I get a minute. Also, just qick note here: I'd say not every tape deck can be used for this kind of 'project'... there are may meachanical, construstion design and electronics issues there.
    In my case the decks are: Sony TC-W345 double cassette deck and TC-FX170 single cassette deck. Bothe decks have exact the same cassette tray design. The tray A (passive transport , record head) is from single deck in my case, while the tray B (active transport, play head) is from double deck - this is also important, because it has double speed 12V DC motor (double deck with double-speed dubbing option). So I have speed range from 0 -to- Double normal cassette speed. The delay time with maximum speed is about 0.5sec or a bit less. If you have only normal cassette tape speed as max... then you get only something like 1sec shortest delay with similar construction.
    SteveMac, what exactly model of your machine? In general any three-head r-t-r machine with monitor/rec/repro-play selector/switch can be used as tape-delay. Speed control will change delay-time. You can loop/or simply run the tape. The general trick is primitive - send signal from play head through mixer channel (so you can controll level of feedback) back to input of the deck. You gotta try it...
    i'll be back tonight
    thnks again
    /respects
    Knowledge is calculable, Ignorance has no limits.
    Dr ZEE
    MZE | Dr ZEE WORKSHOP

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    Just to clarify, since my first comment may have been misconstrued, I do think it's cool that you've managed to get it to work. I'm just a bit irritated because you managed it and I didn't >:-)

    As for the earlier question about whether tape delays still have a use, I should point out that digital and tape delays have their own unique properties, and thus different niches.

    Digital delays can be locked to a specific tempo, midi clock etc. Tape delays can be abused in strange and terrible ways..

    Most tape delays have multiple heads, some have movable heads. Apparently truly evil effects can be achieved by moving the heads around while the unit is in operation. Sadly I've not had access to such a machine, although this was the rationale behind my attempts to make a disk-echo instead of a tape loop (since the heads are easier to move
    if they are mounted on a ring around the disk).

    Some delays, like the early Watkins Copicats also have a run/stop switch which disables the motor. This too can be abused, varying the tape speed as the echo is laid down.
    As far as I know, there isn't yet a digital delay which can emulate these two effects.

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    dr. zee, that's really, really cool despite the eternal buzzkill syndrome around here. i wish i could do stuff like that

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by jpmorris
    Tape delays can be abused in strange and terrible ways..
    .
    HAH! This is IT! ... that's pretty much sais it all. It may sound like something out of norm and thus only experimental , but when you get your hands on it and start 'experimenting' - then you know.
    The idea about disc-delay .. heh heh! Never even thought of it... sounds mad!
    And yes - moving heads and extra heads - is the way to go...BUT you know where you going with it - it gets more and more complex, sophisticated and you need to deal with electronics ... tough stuff. Speaking of 'moving heads' , I actually was seriously thinking about adding another play head ...somewhere in between trays and maybe making its position adjustable... well, sounds like THE IDEA.... practicly a real hard task... llots of craft work. To add to madness I aslo was thinking about going a 'step ahead' and possabilities of designing moving head, seating on some 'moving table' which is driven by stepper-motor, so you can adjust the position 'electronicly' by adjusting knob or pressing button ... LOL ...but then I've figured it's a bit over my head at the moment
    If I ever get into another project moods, I think I'll into making some sort of machine based on open r-t-r deck... more open space, larger parts, better tape and all that .... more pleasan 'craftsment work' ...
    I am going to post a link to a pics in a moment, which clears up the very starting stage of the project.
    later,
    respects
    Knowledge is calculable, Ignorance has no limits.
    Dr ZEE
    MZE | Dr ZEE WORKSHOP

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr ZEE
    HAH! This is IT! ... that's pretty much sais it all. It may sound like something out of norm and thus only experimental , but when you get your hands on it and start 'experimenting' - then you know.
    The idea about disc-delay .. heh heh! Never even thought of it... sounds mad!
    Here's where I got the original idea from. This is the best picture of the mechanism I can find at the moment:

    http://homepages.enterprise.net/greenworld/

    ..I first heard about these while going through the equipment list on one of Tomita's albums.
    Building a machine using this kind of mechanism is going to require a lot better craftsmanship than I posess (which is why I started to look at the more traditional tape loop).

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    Quote Originally Posted by jpmorris
    Here's where I got the original idea from. This is the best picture of the mechanism I can find at the moment:

    http://homepages.enterprise.net/greenworld/

    ..I first heard about these while going through the equipment list on one of Tomita's albums.
    Building a machine using this kind of mechanism is going to require a lot better craftsmanship than I posess (which is why I started to look at the more traditional tape loop).
    wow! thnx for the link. never seen this one before. geeeeeeeeee ...beautiful
    well, craftsmanship. Yeah... what I know from experience, you have to start and take breaks when things don't go the way you may expect... just dont hammer'n trush the thing ..heh heh, . You keep going and take time-outs at the rate your patience can provide ..sorta'speak

    /respects
    Knowledge is calculable, Ignorance has no limits.
    Dr ZEE
    MZE | Dr ZEE WORKSHOP

  9. #19
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    here it is, glad I've saved some photos.
    I had the idea for couple years or so... but never practicly got into it... no time, lazyness etc,,,
    I had few tape decks in my studio ...those cheapies, I've used in the past to make/copy demos etc...., the decks (yeah, being in 'great working condition..heh heh) but were collecting dust. So I tried to sell them on ebay, sold JVCs and Fisher, but listed Sonys two-three time ... $9.99 - nobody wants them ... LOL hah hah . so I was going to trash them, then have decided to take them a part, save boxes and some 'useful(s)' ... and there it kicked me again, when I actually took out looked at the tape-tray-transport blocks. It was a simple thing - place them one next to the other and power the motor with 12VDC. What the heck? So I've tried to place two cassettes and get the tape running from one to the other, by simply cutting holes on the sides of the cassettes, then I placed extra rollers (tape guides).
    Here's the photo of it:

    BTW, if anybody gets into making something like this, I'd advise you to start with something similar. If you get two cassette transport units of the same design, then get tham completely out, place on some wood-block or something, aligning the up, and then you may try to create cassettes(cartridge) or what ever you may come out with. What ever kind of deck(s) you have, but first you need to manage this main block working. If you manage the tape running from head A to head B ... then you've got it...the rest can be designed in various ways, you can build your own case/box for the whole machine etc...
    Now, as it is on that photo, the tape was running ok at full 'double' speed and full motor power, but later I had problems with this design, when slowing down the tape, so I re-designed the tape path plus most importantly I had to make sure that all the roller actually smoothly spin (I had to 'shave them, to reduce the hight a bit), also each extra roller is seating on metal pins , which are heat-mounted on the cassette box-surface. (some cassettes have plastic pins, you need to find cassettes which have metal roller pins and take them from there).
    So this design actually did work (you can see the difference in rollers position: , and later I did add connecting plate to join two cassettes into one unit, but that was done at the end, after all work on transport unit box was done, so I knew the exact location/space between the cassettes.
    At the end I've added the cover... not for cosmetics only, but most importantly, so it keeps the cassette(s) in its place. I've made the cover out of cassette-organizer plastic box and parts of original cassette tray doors. Here are photos, silly stuff:


    *******
    Now, there are some electronics issues on the way, but of course.... if anybody have some specific questions, drop a note or something... mostly boring stuff 'bout electronics
    I have the inside shots here, so you can see how I places the electronics plates/blocks were placed inside the unit. btw, it was a luck, because of specifics of these two cassette decks... in TC-FX170 - all the electronics and controls are placed in the front (face), while the rest of box is emty ..hah (so much for the deck, btw ..lol)! ... so it was perfect to move TC-W345's electronics plate into TC-FX170's 'body', and the TC-W345's front control block took the TC-FX170's tape-transpot space - almost perfect match , since the design of the box is identical. So at the end, there are two tape deck's electronics in one box, they only share body, the power cord and power on/off switch.

    /respects
    Knowledge is calculable, Ignorance has no limits.
    Dr ZEE
    MZE | Dr ZEE WORKSHOP

  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by FALKEN
    dude ive thought about this idea before - i think its rad. but I think you need to make it the size of a walkman, and just add in a 2nd head from another deck. then you would use a looping cassette. congratulations on actually building it.
    Yeah... would be nice to 'mini-me' it.
    Now, as been noted, there's no place/slot for adding another head in a single cassette mechanism. So called three head cassettes are 'actually two heads' ... rec/play head is a speacial 'double headed-head' ... btw, three head cassette deck can be "sort of used" as tape delay... but the delay time is super-short. You can "digitally extend" the delay time by inserting into feedback line a programmable digital delay with no "dry" signal present and only 'one delay repetition (no feedback), but that means you must have digi-deay unit/processor/soft etc plus you get a 'hybrid' system... which is cool too
    Also, there are record/play heads which are designed as 'all in one', they have erase head/and record/play head as one piece. With such head, it is theoreticly possible to have erase/record head in the position of 'regular location' of the erase head, and just play-head in the center-slot position. It may be a hard work to practicly achive .... you'd nee to do some craft work to place the head.... all depends on what exactly construction of the deck you have.

    and , yes, it is possible to have a loop in cassette(s). just need to splice/connect, which is pain in tha'neck ... the cassette tape is so painful to handle , I did not make it as loop, simply because I did not... no specific reasons, except maybe , I though that the loop will get worn very soon, so then I'll need to replace the loop-tape too often.... which I don't know. I may to make up another cartridge some day with loop, when I get time and mood for this ...

    ohhh, also another thing, why I actually have it as a roll of tape, instead of loop IS, because I've found it useful for some special effect. I can for example record something on the tape and then play it back with vary speed adjusting while playing from 0 (full stop) to double speed.... well, it does make some interesting takes for some specific type of production, also I can rewind the tape with vary speed while play head on the left(passive) tray is ingaged, so I can get that specific accellerating tape rewind sound or vary speed like-backward play etc.... messy effects stuff, this is all useful in dub-music production for example, or some other ...
    /respects

    /respects
    Knowledge is calculable, Ignorance has no limits.
    Dr ZEE
    MZE | Dr ZEE WORKSHOP

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