Tape Hack - 2007 (aka the Sony Sharpie Crap Tape Delay)

I've wanted to do a cassette deck hack for a while, so when a friend threw out his 80's ghetto blaster just before BurningDork 2007 it seemed too good an opportunity to miss.

First mod was to setup one deck to allow scratching. To do this I originally removed the pinch roller so that the tape could run free. Later on I realised I could modify the pause button to retract the pinch roller without actually pausing the player.

One thing that isn't obvious (and is hard to explain) is that the scratch wheel should be on the spool that is unwinding - not the one that the tape is winding on to. Just take my word for this.

The photo shows an early version with just the scratch mod. In the final machine I added a pitch control for this deck as well.

Here is a short sample of the scratch mode from a jam session at BurningDork. A little of this goes a long way!

The second mod was to make a tape delay out of the two decks. The key point here was making a double cassette which allows one tape to be looped through both mechanisms. I then reversed the decks so that the machine recorded one one deck and then played back on the other a moment later.
The original version just used audio feedback via the built in microphone to create a tape reverb effect. Later I modified this to use an electronic feedback that mixed the input and playback signals. Loop
Finally I added pitch controls and level controls for the mixers. Do you like the arty photo with the plaster arm?

The net effect is quite interesting. The low quality of the tape adds lots of noise for the "almost dead walkman" sound.

Here is a sample of the kind of impact you can have with the tape delay.
The hack went down a storm at BurningDork. One funny thing was that two other people bought classic tape delay systems with them. Here is the tape hack alongside a Watkins Copyicat and a Roland Space Echo. Delay
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