Special mono tape recorders for Micro owners of the early 1980s

2

Comments

  • edited August 2019
    Reply to Spider

    Does this mean a Speccy owner can use an Acorn ANF03? (Well I have never heard of that!)

    You seem to be saying these two are pretty much the same. So what extent are they "special" (ie adapted specially for micro users)? Are they robust ? Are many example still around ?
    ANF03 is a TR30 , well almost. The ports are a bit different and the former as I say lacks a mic. Bear in mind here the TR30 usually does *not* have a DIN output socket only the 3.5's , whereas the ANF has the DIN socket.

    I do think the circuitry is slightly different, mainly as the former was likely a 'play muzak!' thing whereas the latter was aimed solely at BBC Micro owners (or slightly richer Electron owners) , but I cannot prove the latter comment about differences as I cannot find a circuit diagram for each of them. Also I bet there was likely a revision or two of them anyway just to make it more 'fun' lols.

    The Alba model I mentioned until I can find some erm 'interior pics' I can't be sure one way or the other on that! The port layout is about identical though. The mech is different or part of it is as the counter is in a different place.


    ALF03 , it looks a bit like a Commodore tape unit (think C64 thing) but in beige. In theory it should work but again I did not have any luck when I tried BITD, but I am slightly convinced the unit I had was not very well anyway. It does contain (unlike the CBM units) actual amplifier circuitry for sure. How do I know this ? Simply as it uses the standard BBC/Elk connectors to plug to the unit, if it needed 'more' then it would of not worked.

    To be honest I was thinking about all this earlier today and think that the TR30 would look awesome if painted/sprayed in Sinclair Black :D , the ALF (the cut down unit) would also look very good in Black too, possibly better than the larger units given its tiny footprint.

    I'm going to attach four pics I've erm borrowed (and aligned/trimmed a bit so they are more relevant) to avoid any confusion here:

    Dixons: TR-30
    XjQi5cc.jpg

    Acorn: ANF-03
    NJbu12W.jpg

    Alba: R-170
    ER2Ghxu.jpg

    Acorn: ALF-03
    tG59xsT.jpg

    Sorry if I'm using anyone's pic without perms, its is for educational non-profit etc etc etc purposes though!

    EDIT...
    So the question is : Is DATA MODE (applied generically if poss) sound control or a tweaking of the signal or both?
    Was not aimed at me, but I'd like to know the answer too.

    If I had to take some wild speculation/guess: I'd say it probably modulated the signal to turn sine into square, or almost into perhaps. Something along those lines maybe. Just thinking here data/binary = 0 or 1 not 'halfway' as you might get with a sine whereas a square is usually there or not ? :) As I say purely speculative!

    EDIT2... Fixed a broken pic. All sorted now.
    Post edited by spider on

  • So the question is : Is DATA MODE (applied generically if poss) sound control or a tweaking of the signal or both?

    As far as I can tell it tweaks the signal because it is audible the difference in sound when the button is pushed.
    I don't think the spectrum needs it but I suppose it can be of some help.
    However, many of the Sanyo data recorders I have seen seem to be made for use with the MSX, so perhaps it was a requirement for it?
  • Thanks Renegade
  • Yes I think I started OK with this thread but I should have steered it more towards identifying the key or important (for us as micro users) features of these machines rather than trying to identify the actual tape recorders . If the BEST features or essential features of this type can be identified comprehensively then the actual examples can be looked at later.Without a FEATURES LIST it is difficult to get to this point of being able to pick out good new stuff. These highly specified to micro recorders are all bust now mostly as they were very well used a the time.The main use of this thread is in maybe trying to pick out where the new machines are now in relation to this ideal feature list.
  • The question of what effect the DATA MODE switch has has been answered before, but I can’t find the thread where it was talked about.

    IIRC it changes the filtering, a bit like a specialised tone control.

    The auto/manual switch found on some decks, that also have a 2.5mm socket labelled REM, is to enable the unit to play/record while connected to the remote device (switch in the manual position), but without the remove device requesting playback/recording.

    The remote device can be a microphone (with suitable switch) or a computer (with suitable control facilities, e.g. a Acorn BBC Micro).

    Mark
  • edited August 2019
    Hi Mark

    I think it was here Aug 19th:-

    https://worldofspectrum.org/forums/discussion/57117/what-of-wossers-use-old-school-tape-loading-when-playing-their-speccy-games#latest

    I think col 32 said here that there were some You Tube videos on it .
    Post edited by harriusherbartio on
  • I think col 32 said here that there were some You Tube videos on it .

    Thanks for reminding me! JoulesperCoulomb’s Schmitt trigger circuit is here:



    From about 19:00 until the end of the video.
    Robin Verhagen-Guest
    SevenFFF / Threetwosevensixseven / colonel32
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  • 1024MAK wrote: »
    The question of what effect the DATA MODE switch has has been answered before, but I can’t find the thread where it was talked about.

    IIRC it changes the filtering, a bit like a specialised tone control.


    Mark


    Here. :D

    Yes, I would say it boosts some frequencies of the recording making it, in the case of the spectrum, perhaps more ULA-friendly. :-?

    Absolutely not suitable to voice or music. %-(
  • edited August 2019
    colonel32 wrote: »
    I think col 32 said here that there were some You Tube videos on it .

    Thanks for reminding me! JoulesperCoulomb’s Schmitt trigger circuit is here:



    From about 19:00 until the end of the video.

    So, if I understood right, the circuitry in the tape recorder from the spectrum +2 does some signal processing changing the wave to almost a square wave?
    But that seems to be the ideal, isn't it?
    Not that bad for an integrated computer program player/recorder then!
    (But why is it then that these tape players don't seem to have such a great reputation? They should have been great at loading tapes. :-? )

    When is someone going to cut the tape player part from a +2 and make it a standalone unit capable of connecting to any spectrum...? :P
    Post edited by Renegade on
  • Yes sometimes you get a mixture of good and bad and because of this mixture of features it is hard to work out the good examples with good specialized features from this "micro" era.

    Features that can probably be dumped 1) REM . This is pretty useless for Speccy users I think . Am I right this feature can be dumped from the list of good features?

    And the other problem is that the "best featured" example is not the "best made" , In this case most of the "best featured" ones cracked up pretty soon so there are few surviving examples , For instance who still has a working "WH Sniths" or similar with a "best in house" feature list that is still working . I would guess very few unless someone kept an unused one wrapped up all these years! (come on own up , there must be somebody!)
  • I have a vague memory of seeing a tape recorder which had a knob for adjusting the azimuth, rather than a hole for a screwdriver. (I didn't see it in real life, just a picture in a magazine.) I can't remember anything else about it, though.
  • edited August 2019
    I have a vague memory of seeing a tape recorder which had a knob for adjusting the azimuth, rather than a hole for a screwdriver. (I didn't see it in real life, just a picture in a magazine.) I can't remember anything else about it, though.
    Probably thinking of this, as I thought about that a while ago actually...

    Infoseek Link > Load-It Azimuth Adjuster

    Crash advertisement > March 1987 - Page 11

    Could probably make one reasonably easily, although a bit of thought would be needed*** to stop it falling out.

    *** Cutting a small groove into the shank and a 'c' clip would likely fix most issues, then a case of a tiny location tube to ensure it stayed in contact with the adjustment screw, or replacing the screw with a suitable machine bolt instead perhaps. I may be overthinking it all here being in an engineering mind-frame today.

    Unless you don't mind it moving about in which case it does not matter! :D Given its general purpose it was sold for other platforms too.

    EDIT... Tidied up URL's a bit and added hardware advert link from live.worldofspectrum etc
    Post edited by spider on
  • I have a vague memory of seeing a tape recorder which had a knob for adjusting the azimuth, rather than a hole for a screwdriver. (I didn't see it in real life, just a picture in a magazine.) I can't remember anything else about it, though.

    Wot, like this you mean

    1c00c5be2a6f51cd0976daab81b20321

    =))
    Might be worth a visit to luny.co.uk.
  • edited August 2019
    Very funny ( really I am trying to write a serious piece!)

    Anyway where is the knob head ( you would not be able to adjust it without knowing that)?
    Post edited by harriusherbartio on

  • Maybe a conclusion to this thread could be that the extra features that these mono cassette micro "specials" offered were not that great and the machines themselves were not that durable . So arguably ,most of us know that it is of no use looking here for a decent second hand mono cassette tape recorder! .
  • Maybe a conclusion to this thread could be that the extra features that these mono cassette micro "specials" offered were not that great and the machines themselves were not that durable . So arguably ,most of us know that it is of no use looking here for a decent second hand mono cassette tape recorder! .

    Yes and no. Its age and wear/tear really as well as previous owners mis-use and bodging that are the primary concerns.

    Having said that I would if needed look to get a (used) Sony TCM-939 or a Dixons TR30. I'd not want an Acorn ANF03, at a push I'd have an Acorn ALF03 (based on the TR30 but with some tweaks afaik) , I'd probably realistically not want another Fergie 3T31 and certainly not a Smiths CPD8300 unit nor the Alba R170. The latter three really "look the part" but that's not the problem really. Having had personal experience of the 3T31 and the CPD8300 that's why I'd not want any more of them.

    In order of preference if I -had- to buy right now:

    TR30
    TCM-939
    ALF03
    3T31
    ANF03
    CPD8300
    R170
  • So a Sony is looking good as a second hand purchase.
  • So a Sony is looking good as a second hand purchase.
    Yes. Try to get the power brick with it if possible as its got a 6VDC input not an AC mains input. Its nothing special though.

    Check it works OK as the drivebelt seems to have a shortish life and I had to 'find something nearly right' for my other one, as I was not able to locate a service kit or belt on its own, I did not really try too hard though but it was not to be found in the more usual places. To be fair a decent electroncis shop could probably locate something no doubt.

  • Reply to Spider

    Thanks for that . I had not thought about the belt replacement aspect . I will bear it in mind.
    Thanked by 1spider
  • Reply to Spider

    Thanks for that . I had not thought about the belt replacement aspect . I will bear it in mind.
    You're welcome. It may not be that much of an issue if you did search properly, just that a regular search did not reveal anything. Its quite possible the mech part number is going to be helpful (I don't have it) as that could well be more practical to search by for such parts.

  • edited September 2019
    I have been digging a bit more on this subject and found one that really caught my attention!
    (Apologies for this heresy but I am really getting fascinated with the tape data recorders of the msx era. :-O )

    Never heard of this one before, it's the SciSys SV-1400 (or perhaps also Spectravideo SV-1400 ?), a multi-system-compatible data recorder which had a switch that allowed it to be used with the various computer models available at the time.

    It even had a 3 led VU-meter!

    How much more special can it get? :P


    2d012308b.jpg

    eb66a927b.jpg

    http://www.zonadepruebas.com/viewtopic.php?t=1442
    Post edited by Renegade on
  • edited September 2019
    Reply to Renegade

    Well that one looks really special .I have learned about the evolution of the SLIM LINE tape mono cassette recorders:-

    https://reddit.com/r/cassetteculture/comments/5mj8un/questions_about_panasonic_slimline_cassette/

    And where you combine a "slimline" with extra computer style features you get a COMPUTONE type model :-

    https://google.com/search?q=computone+mono+cassette+recorder&client=firefox-b-d&channel=crow&tbm=isch&source=iu&ictx=1&fir=WZN_fqqxNU-4EM%253A%252CBtwGihqZM30osM%252C_&vet=1&usg=AI4_-kTn-MUZ9-wXn2ELLmke_qmy9XgQBQ&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj-_sDm7b7kAhUPRxUIHbVrCsQQ9QEwAHoECAYQBg#imgrc=WZN_fqqxNU-4EM:

    There were loads of this type under other brand names - they were all pretty similar and had a brittle plastic cassette lid which usually cracked up after a while (apart from that they were pretty good)

    So now there are two sizes of "computer adapted" ones 1) The Slimline 2) WH Smith style size -which was not Slimline sized!
    Post edited by harriusherbartio on
  • :D That SV1400 looks the part very much. Will read up on it generally later.

    The Smiths unit looked the part too but it did not impress (back then, even more now, well not that long ago) compared to the Ferg unit at least (that had its quirks but worked)
  • Yes it is interesting that it had a meter
  • Yes it is interesting that it had a meter
    Looked at the manual and ports on it. Its got the usual pair of 3.5mm for I/O and the 2.5mm for remote motor control.

    Interestingly (or not) there is also a 9way 'D' connector fitted alongside those ports, says its for CBM and SpectraVideo machines. There are 'drawn' pics of the cable for those machines.

    The switch to the left of the deck is for the computer type. The volume slider is on the side.

    External power brick or 4AA batteries for power. Interestingly the power jack is centre -negative- rather than positive @ 6V

  • Back in the 1980s there was (and still is) no standard for the polarity of mini power connectors like 2.1mm (ID) or 2.5mm (ID).

    Mark
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  • 1024MAK wrote: »
    Back in the 1980s there was (and still is) no standard for the polarity of mini power connectors like 2.1mm (ID) or 2.5mm (ID).

    Mark
    Now you say that I think you mentioned it before, sorry. :D , I think I was wrong to (as previous a few months back) to assume the majority were positive centre.

    Having said that "in my defence m'laud" etc etc ;) most things I see these days, as in more modern do appear central positive, so I think it was probably worth the mention. :)

    But your point *does* remain perfectly valid and pleased to have my memory jogged on this (honest) :) < extra smile to indicate this a genuine comment not a 'being funny' one. :)
  • edited September 2019
    The Types and Eras of the Mono Cassette Recorder

    1)1960s-1970s . "The Big Un" era . A lot of big expensive and often Japanese mono cassette recorder

    2) 1970s. The emergence of the "slimline" mono cassette recorder

    3) 1980s . The development of several types of "micro dedicated" and computer oriented mono cassette recorders. For example , the dedicated slimline types like the Computone , Then there were the WH Smith sized ones . Then there were the more specialist ones like the SCiSys SV-1400.

    4) 1990 Back to the Slimline types . Some of these had separate power supplies.

    5) 2010 to present . Slimline models with additional features like USB .Fewer models available .
    Post edited by harriusherbartio on
  • I think '1' was when the Japanese were starting to get to grips with electronics properly perhaps ? Similar in a way to how they took ahold in the late 60's and 70's with reliable motorcycles. :)

    2. Miniaturisation I would say was one of the keywords here as the integrated circuit took hold and separate components such as transistors / capacitors became both smaller and cheaper to produce.

    3. Ah, I would (without meaning to sound cynical as its not meant that way) suspect some manufacturers took a look at the rapidly expanding home computer market, saw consumers using wobbly audio tape decks and thought "we can make and sell a computer data recorder"

    4. I'm not sure if it was a space issue or perhaps some possible safety regulation (water splashes and things?) where more / modern ones usually had only a low voltage DC input, in that there were not 'dangerous' voltages present in the actual unit, only in the power brick.

    5. Can't really comment on that. The most modern unit I've ever owned was the TCM939! :)

    All the above is posted in a positive, hopefully helpful manner. :) Nothing cynical meant. :D
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