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Thread: Home-made analog cassette tape delay project

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    Talking Home-made analog cassette tape delay project

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    Hi, guys, I thought maybe this would be an interesting thing for some of you to check out .. heh . This was my somewhat 'succesful' attempt to convert couple cheapy and useless cassette decks into analog tape delay machine. (in my case, btw, these are (were) sony one single and one double cassette decks... which were about 10 or so years old, the ones which were about $99... plastic and pretty crappy but importantly for the project - they have very simple mechanical transport control and cassette-tray construction.)
    The idea here was to use two identical cassette tape transports, place them one next to the other, build a 'special two-cassette-one-tape' "cartridge" and re-arrange the electronics... so at the end to get one cassette tray act as record... the second as play while the tape runs from second cassette into first and then back into second... okey yada yada ..LOL
    I have to post couple of images here, it's easy to see than to write about it.
    (sorry the images are a bit large, so I post here only three to present the most of the idea here, I have more photos, insides and some streaming mp3s quick sound-bites at this page, if you be interested: ZDL Cassette Tape Delay System )
    So here is the main front image with all main controls and functions:

    as you see the 'machine' is actually two-unit gear: top unit is tape transport with speed control and the bottom unit is where all electronics/rec-play amps, ins/outs and the rest of it. In short to describe: I moved all the electronics from one deck into the other, and tape-transport deck was also cut-in-half and re-craftwed around...
    Now here's the 'heart of the idea'. This shows the two-cassettes converted into one cartridge. This was a pain-in-tha-neck to make ..heh heh , see the photo, you get the idea what the deal here:

    Note, that only one deck is actually active-transport - the 'right'-deck (play head). The left deck (record head) is passive-through.
    The two cassettes are actually joint-together by top plastic clear plate, and there are cut-holes on the sides for the tape to go through from one cassette into the other. You also see here a specially crafted cover-door, which also acts as cassette-cartridge holder (keeps it in place with plastic pins).
    Here's a general view of the machine:

    ********
    Now, hah ... the question is, of course: is it worthy? Is it useful? Depends. This thing turns out to be a one of a kind effect unit ... creates very wicked delays, and, of course, since it's all analog - you can apply some obusive treatments on feedback chain (it woun't freak out or choke on the spot, like digital things do )... so you can get some real mad echos. Arghhh, one thig is for sure - the machine like this is VERY unstable... (nothing is stable - transport, speed, tape itself - all this vary-ing as it goes ..heh heh ) so what ever you get from it - it's all one time (one shot) move - one take ...good or bad - can't recreate it

    anyhow, I would not call it as real-gear. But it is a fun one for sure ...
    /respects
    Knowledge is calculable, Ignorance has no limits.
    Dr ZEE
    MZE | Dr ZEE WORKSHOP

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    While your project looks interesting from a mad scientist's point of view, you are in fact simply re-inventing the wheel and by that I mean to say that tape delay devices were invented and brought to market several decades ago.

    I recall an early one called an Echoplex which consisted of a closed loop of tape that ran in a big loop inside a device that had a series of heads employed along with a speed control and feedback controls to intensify the echo effect.

    http://www.yk.psu.edu/~jmj3/echop.jpg

    While I won't attempt to deeply analyze your contraption, I would dare to say that it wouldn't be as complete and functional a unit as the trusty Echoplex.

    Regardless; if you are having fun building these types of things, who am I to burst your bubble?

    Cheers!

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    heh heh , TGoFM, thanks a bunch for a lil' history lesson, sir

    I am inventing nothing at all.... except maby the way of saving 500 bucks and hours of frustration searching through e-bay hoping to score some roland re-201 or similar (they are going mad-expansive nowdays and going up day-by-day...and then, if you get one you'll still need to treat and fix anyways. You also can get similar result with r-to-r 3-head deck with speed control , if you have one ..dohhhh.
    Did I say 'saving 500 bucks'? ...But if You don't have 500 bucks to begin with, and you don't have 200 bucks or so (plus shipping cost for 50 pound-delievery) to score r-to-r or vintage tape delay unit.... but you have handy-crafty hands and a lil'of a brains and a lil'of basic knowledge and some time on your hands mixed with some patience, then ... you can make this kind of 'non-so-pro' unit, based of near-trash cassette decks ... ...

    It's not about getting delay effect persay neither. It's about getting real TAPE-delay (which simply can not be digitally 'simmulated', just as spring reverb - they've tried and trying , but still not there.... I don't think it ever will be achieved ..but that's another topic )... and about getting it out of 'useless' things - cheap way... So that's what this experimental project was all about.

    On the other hand, (this maybe has to be mentioned here) - , speaking of usefulness ingeneral: IS REAL analog tape delay/echo effect useful? Meaning, Is it needed/wanted by today's producers to feed today's market? so, sure .... from this point .. the whole thing is waste of time

    For me personally it was like : "Hmmm??? would this work?" ...let's try... and that's about it.

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

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    IS REAL analog tape delay/echo effect useful? Meaning, Is it needed/wanted by today's producers to feed today's market?
    I'm not the one standing on street corners looking for the next Brittany Spears so who's to say what today's top producers are looking for?

    All of our electronic goodies are tools and they are all as useful or useless as the talent and imagination of the users of them.

    If you can get a pleasing or unique sound out of it and it helps you to maintain a creative spark, its useful indeed.

    Cheers!

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    Holy crap! You weren't kidding. Those babies go for big bucks now. I wonder if I could get $50 apiece for my NOS Roland tapes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by boingoman
    Holy crap! You weren't kidding. Those babies go for big bucks now. I wonder if I could get $50 apiece for my NOS Roland tapes.
    yeah... and it's getting MAD-er every minute ... or maybe it's a good thing. depends on how you look at it. You may have hard time selling your 'state of the art digital all in one multitrack workstation' , but if you get hold of re-201 (or similar) - you are a rich man . People list 'em with starting bid of $400-600 and it's totally OK ... it's just the begining of a 'ride' ..heh heh , and then you can read the list of 'lil' inperfections on the unit
    if you got original nos roland loops - you may think of keeping them ... think of it as investment into Gold Market ... well, maby better than that ... hah..
    /respects
    Knowledge is calculable, Ignorance has no limits.
    Dr ZEE
    MZE | Dr ZEE WORKSHOP

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Ghost of FM

    All of our electronic goodies are tools and they are all as useful or useless as the talent and imagination of the users of them.

    If you can get a pleasing or unique sound out of it and it helps you to maintain a creative spark, its useful indeed.

    Cheers!
    Yeah, well... we all agree on that. Sure, any gear in recording studio ..what ever it may be - is just another 'chisel in the box'.
    I gues, what I was trying to point out here in reference to 'today's producers and entertainment market' was that there's gazillions of ways to get 'creative' in production. So the original idea of tape delay - was delay/echo .... nowdays the goal can be achieved 'better' and cheaper and sure easier, but it does not do what tape delay does (or better say how EXACTLY it does it).... but the question is "Who Cares?" ... very few. BUT! it looks like the amount of 'very few(s)' is way hiegher than the amount of surviving old units ... plus invite all the freakin' collectors with their fat socks of cash into the room... heh heh ... and you get the situation we are in ...

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

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr ZEE
    Hi, guys, I thought maybe this would be an interesting thing for some of you to check out .. heh . This was my somewhat 'succesful' attempt to convert couple cheapy and useless cassette decks into analog tape delay machine.

    The idea here was to use two identical cassette tape transports, place them one next to the other, build a 'special two-cassette-one-tape' "cartridge" and re-arrange the electronics... so at the end to get one cassette tray act as record... the second as play while the tape runs from second cassette into first and then back into second... okey yada yada ..LOL/respects
    Interesting. Also very annoying, since I tried to do this three years ago and failed miserably.
    I notice you threaded the cassettes so that the tape ran into the left cassette and back out again. That may solve some of the funny tension problems I was having because I threaded the left spool of the left cassette into the right-hand spool of the right cassette.

    Mine died though, and I lost heart. It stopped being able to record, and I don't know why. The creepiest thing was that the record button was totally mechanical. I never found an electrical connection, which obviously precluded all attempts to repair it. I still have the machine (a cheap 17 quid thing from Asda). The other problem (when it was working) was that the delay was very long, even with the machine running at doublespeed.

    My original plan involved trying to build a Binson disk echo, using either floppy disk or an old ferric oxide hard disk platter. I later tried to glue three cdroms together and ran a loop of cassette tape around the rim, but the cds warped and it became unusable.

    I just bought a copicat off ebay, so I probably won't bother with this again.

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    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.

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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.
    The cassette shell only has a single pressure pad in the middle, where the R/P head goes.
    I don't know how the 3-head decks from Teac etc work. Either they don't care about the pressure pad, or the R+P heads are integrated into a single, central block.

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