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Monster homebrew tapeloopdelay

 
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jevfro



Joined: 12 May 2003
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2003 9:05 am    Post subject: Monster homebrew tapeloopdelay Reply with quote

Looking for anyadvice from those out there re/engineering oldschool electronics.

I have two 1" "dictaphone" reel to reel units (24tracks?) I got'em at a garage sale for free(along with a box of other parts), I believe these came from a 911call center, I would like to make some crazy tape loop delays with them but do not have schematics to figure out what wires will control all the functions and so on...
Anyone have ideas for pinouts on such machines? they're out of a rack or other custom chassis and there's quite a few connections, of which none are aparently labeled. They look like they're from the 70's and if it's any help I have the serial numbers i found on the units (this is the only info i can find).

Thanks in advance,
Jevfro
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Mike Zee



Joined: 20 Mar 2001
Posts: 766
Location: NY, USA

PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2003 4:03 pm    Post subject: Monster homebrew tapeloopdelay Reply with quote

Jevfro,
maybe some mad-heads can help you on this :)... but will need more details on the machines you've got.
what are they exactly - what models?
Then, well, a little chance, but maybe somebody here will know these machines. But even if nobody actually have/had worked with them...then still can be something done.
But tell us some more details:
first of all, do they actually work?
can you record, can you play back?
What are inputs/outputs, how many?
How many heads? What are the heads, i.e. erase, playback, record heads?
Is any special out-put/or switch - source/monitor?
My guess is that these machines designed to be running 24/7 non-stop to record constantly on all the tracks things like telephone line conversations, similar like in police stations etc... Also what tape speed...? any vary speed? These machines maybe designed as low speed/long play - so the sound quality is not the priority - but rather recording time.

In general to make tape delay you need at least two heads - one is record - the next to it - playback... this is basic. Amount of tracks isn;t really an issue here. one track - mono delay , two track - stereo delay ... Dat's it man ..heh heh :) More tracks? well...you know... you can just go crazy with it...but at the end you'll have to mix them somehow...
For crazier delays you need more heads and loop length "control"... well look at it as distance between record head and play-back head. You can built the thing - the idea is to insert a roller in between record and playback head... do you can move it and "pull" the tape to change the "space" between heads. Its a tricky thing... you gotta work on it...
Or you can use tape speed... if there's a "pitch/speed" control option.

/respects,
/Mike Zee, aka Dr. ZEE
zee dub lab

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jevfro



Joined: 12 May 2003
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2003 4:00 am    Post subject: Monster homebrew tapeloopdelay Reply with quote

Thanks Dr. ZEE...

Ok here's all the info on these i can find...
and i'm in the process of taking some photos so i can show you what i'm working with...

"Dictaphone" on the front head covers
It also has a sticker on back says "veritrac"

and..

dictaphone corp. rye n.y. made in usa
ser 918237
model 5205

there are two cards, like pre ISA computer stuff, that plug into the back took one out it's labeled "PB PREAMP" "ASSY420023 rev8 27097"
below these cards are two SCSI plugs that are labeled j202 play and j201 record.

there's also a plug thats labeled j203 looks like a oldschool mac power supply plug, 4x3 pin (some slots for pins are blank)

And another one labeled j204 with 3

there are other plugs which are smaller and not labeled

Three heads, i think.....look like 24 traks or 22?
one only has two leads coming from it (erase head?)

I also have other stuff that came with it but i'm not sure it's part of the dictaphone setup.. none of the cabels have the scsi or power plugs.

Well thanks for responding i hope this is some help

I have two of these machines and would love to use both of them in this 6 foot rack i found and then adjust the distance between the two for adjusting the delay time. Does that sound possible? i think these need a controller or something for these two... maybe plug it into a scsi card with some crazy adapter? run it via a computer?

hope this makes sense..
L8r,
Jevfro

Anyway I dont know it they
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Mike Zee



Joined: 20 Mar 2001
Posts: 766
Location: NY, USA

PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2003 5:17 pm    Post subject: Monster homebrew tapeloopdelay Reply with quote

wow, this looks, i mean sounds, like it may turn into a hell of a project ...
first I thought you actually have something like sort of 'sand alone' units with control and input/output ...
wait, I missed one part. Do these machines actually have 'drive', I mean play/stop/rew/ff control buttons(or mechanics) ????
If not, then I would really have no idea where to start. If you mean that these units are not really units, but rather a part od some 'system', which maybe controled by some other part/unit/machine or what ever... it maybe even controled by some special 'computer-based' system, which is "noramally" being programmed/set as a part of the whole monitoring/recording system of what ever system it was.... whewww, man, then you may never be able to actually turn it alive, unless you really dig into and build up something... you gotta really know what you are doing, without schematics and testing tools it may be really hard if possible at all.
The other major part it - power source. Man, if it does not have its own power, the you need to know what voltage and where and what you need to supply.
Just from the top of my head. If I had something like this, and had no idea about what this units were part of, then I would look into possability symply to use it's transport by supplying it with power (you have to figure out how) and figure out how to start/stop it. You would not need stuff like pause, rew/ff for delay as I can tell. Just to start/stop running the damn thing :)
I'd say to make it run would be the first thing. If it does not move, then it's useless.
If you get it running, then you can start thinking/looking what you can do next.
I would not try to use both units, but rather would think and look at it to see if it is possible to place heads onto one unit. it depends on how the whole thing is designed. If it does look possible, then you can place head on one unit.
next is preamp/record and output card/or board. Man, I am not good at this part. If you have to start figuring it out from scratch - it's tough. If I see the thing - I may guess, then you gotta test - what you have there with tester-toll.
The last thing - if everything fails... you can try to just get rid of everything, and just use it as tape transport/heads set and build up your own rec/preamp and output, or use other recorder machin's part like some old real-to-real parts, or cassetter decks old parts.

again, man, you gotta love to mess with this, if you are not into making electroninc mad machines ... then don't try ..heh heh. Also may turn into additional expense if you will have to buy parts or tolls ..grrrrrrrrrrr

But I sure would never try to connect those things to my computer - noway in hell , man .... LOL, they may symply suck the whole brain out of my/your computer and not even say "ThankYou", you never know ..hah

if you get picture, post the link..

later,
/Mike Zee

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jevfro



Joined: 12 May 2003
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Wed May 14, 2003 9:56 pm    Post subject: Monster homebrew tapeloopdelay Reply with quote

MR ZEE,

Thanks for the ideas on where to start on this very involved project...

Sorry, I still don't have the images yet (none of my friends or I have a digi cam yet) I might just use my web cam but it sucks. Anyway, yea you guessed it, they are not really standalone units at all... no mechanical or electric play, stop, etc. switches on these at all, just a couple of bigmotors and all the other mechanics.

But I'm the kind of freak who would take this kinda project on... I might never get it working but I've got enuff parts and a lil know how and a lot of patience. So... It'll be one of a kind thats for sure. I've even got some old computers I could plug into them and let the things suck the brains out of those pentium 100MHZ. Now that sounds like fun :) ! And if it made tapedelay at the same time i would be in heaven. It'll take some programing of driver like software to make that work and ive never done much of that kinda stuff, but... or

Do you think Dictaphone would send some info if I could find the right contact info? Now that would really simplify things (maybe). I imagine the 40 or so wires coming from those scsi plugs should contain the transport control and the actual inputs and outs from all the tracks. Or perhaps the transport/play/stop/rec/etc is connected toone of the other jacks. I agree I need to figure out the Power issue first. I'll dig into the box of other assorted goodies that came with these potential tapedelays of death, (at least they look reel cool, sorry bad pun :) ) Hope fully I can find something that'll work as power, and or transport control.

Hope I'm not scaring you away by being so ambitous, but I've had these things for several years now and keep thinking about what kinda sick sounds I might milk from their skeletal remains of something quite advanced and high tech, yet discarded for free. It really makes me want to get them working.

Ok, So heres a hypothetical question. Say they do work, I don't have any 1" tape can I use 1/4"? , If I can make it run straight across say a couple traks on the tape heads? more of a mechanical issue there, I guess... should work right? Or, should I just try'n find some scraps of 1" somewhere, end of a reel or something?

OK, well I guess it's up to me to either get some info on the controllers for these units from dictaphone, or just start reverse engineering the suckas.

Well, thanks again for the help, anything further in the future thanks for too.

Over,
out,
Jev
Fro
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jevfro



Joined: 12 May 2003
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Wed May 14, 2003 10:30 pm    Post subject: Monster homebrew tapeloopdelay Reply with quote

Oops, Thats DR. Zee sorry,

And also what do you mean about the tape heads? put them all on one machine? like 2 play 2 record and 2 erase? now that sounds realy cool 6 headed monster indeed!

P.S I sent dictaphones electronic help desk a message about the 5205's. I sure hope they have a schematic or some kinda info, cross your fingers for me...

L8r,
fro
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Mike Zee



Joined: 20 Mar 2001
Posts: 766
Location: NY, USA

PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2003 2:12 am    Post subject: Monster homebrew tapeloopdelay Reply with quote

lol, man... really this is something :)
OK, first of if you will be able to mange to get some 'support' from Dictaphone company - this would be the best. It's kind of hard to belive that anyone would really spend much time helping you out, but sure try it. My geas is also, that you may get some sort of 'answer' that you can not use these part/units as stand alone machines :(, I mean it looks like they are a part of a some sort large 'cetralized' call minitoring system. Also those scsi - lookins like connectors may have nothing to do with computer (as we consummers know it :)), it may be simply the same type of connectors, but what's going through - who knows... can be anything - connection between functional blocks of the whole system?... like for example these units could be connected to some 'central' transport control, and there let's say there's like start/record/stop/play for all machines or selectively by track number, while there maybe the whole line of actuall recording units like you have. Who knows it maybe was a monitoring system of 100s lines at the same time...
Well, man, good luck :), post anything in progress .. it's just interesting to know if you get them running.

About heads.
I was just thinking, that you could take heads from one of the machines and place/maunt them all on the other... so you have more play heads (more delay repetitions) through one path and then you can pan or what ever output on your mixer - so there you have - crazy delays :)
Now, but the whole thing is, again...first you've gotta make the transport working (or at least showing signs of life - like motor running). Forget about everything else. Cos if you don't get it running, then there's not much in these beasts.
If you get it go, then you may try to figure out in/out signal, what are cards there, are they preamp/record/play ... can you get the signal in/out. If not... hmmmmmmm then what . You'll need it as a separate part? From where? Other recorder? I don't know....
The problem also maybe, that there's is the whole line of different separat POWER "ins", like for motors, for preamp and you name it, actually. Or even (depending on the design) it may have all separate remote electo signal for all the electro/magneto/mechanics there... all comming from other part(s) of the original system through these multi-line connectors... so man... without schematics, pin-marks... I'd say forget it... or almost forget it. You can try experimenting around. I use to do this kind of stuff... trying to use parts of dead trashy machines when I was a kid.... 99% of the times it all was ending up with smoke, sometimes sparkles and going back to trash ..heh heh :)

About 1/4 inch tape. Well, it can work if you can allign it. If the heads are actually 24 track - this may be a trick to do. Some machanical work man...

will check later

/Mike Zee

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jevfro



Joined: 12 May 2003
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2003 10:02 am    Post subject: Monster homebrew tapeloopdelay Reply with quote

UPDATE...

Well it works, kind of.
I found out I had a lot more of the parts that go with the dictaphone than I thought.

Opened a box that I thought had just cables and there was three rack mount dictaphone devices.

One is a monitor selector, it shows 20 tracks w/ toggle switches, recA and recB and a db meter.

Then ther's this activity monitor. Little leds labeled 1-20

and then theres this other device for time coding or something, has a battery backup too.

Gotta get some images together so I can show of this sweet machine. Lots of wires... lots

most are labeled but it gets real confusing and I haven't gotten the transport controls quite working. But, with the wires that I could clearly see markings on plugged in the reel to reel spins and two lamps light up.

I'm stoked. Hope I get some info from dictaphone, then I might have it rolling soon. Thanks for being supportive in my endevor I think I might just make some real headway now.

Peace,
Jevfro
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Mike Zee



Joined: 20 Mar 2001
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PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2003 3:29 pm    Post subject: Monster homebrew tapeloopdelay Reply with quote

sounds good. more parts - bigger puzzle :)

keep up,
/later,
/Mike Zee

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Mike Zee



Joined: 20 Mar 2001
Posts: 766
Location: NY, USA

PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2003 4:35 pm    Post subject: Monster homebrew tapeloopdelay Reply with quote

couple of links...just some basic and general info in case you need it:
analog tape recorders
record speeds - historical
cassette and some real basics of analog tape
analog recording of sound basic ideas
Overhauling a Revox G36 - this is just interesting stuff

...
later,
/Mike Zee aka Dr.ZEE

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