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Cassette (tape recorder) alternatives?

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#1 Divarin OFFLINE  


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Posted Fri Jun 8, 2018 4:34 AM

Hi all.  So I have a TI-99/4A and a Tunnels of Doom cart.  I no longer have the tape but have downloaded the .wav file.  I picked up a new old-stock (unopened) audio cable and have a tape recorder (TI "data recorder") coming in the mail in a few days.  Meanwhile it occurred to me that I should be able to just play the audio out of another computer, my cellphone, an MP3 player, or something like that and it should work.


My first attempt was to simply plug the cable into my Galaxy S9 but strangely it didn't fit.  Next I connected my phone to a bluetooth speaker with a line out jack and plugged the TI's audio cable into that but it wouldn't load.  Next I plugged the TI's audio cable into a notebook computer and played the .WAV from there with the same result (the Tunnels of Doom game said "error - no data found" after about 30 seconds of waiting)


The only things that come to mind are:

1) the audio cable is clearly mono so maybe these stereo jacks aren't going to work correctly with a mono plug

2) maybe the "tone" adjustment on the "data recorder" is more important than I thought and playing out of a cell phone or computer with nothing but a volume control isn't going to work

3) maybe my .wav file is bad (though it sounds good to my ear)


It seems to me that it shouldn't be too picky on the audio quality, after-all the audio quality of a cassette tape can vary greatly depending on the tape, the player, and the age of both. 


Also (and I'm really dusting off old brain cells here) but I seem to remember when the tape was playing I could hear it.  Was it that the tape recorder's speaker would work even while the line-out jack was plugged in or was it that the TI would pipe the audio out to the TV?  Today I am not able to hear it so if the TI is supposed to pipe the audio out to the TV then maybe my new old-stock cable is bad.


Any thoughts?

#2 Divarin OFFLINE  


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Posted Fri Jun 8, 2018 4:47 AM

Update: Okay I did get this to work eventually. I found a phono-plug adapter which let me plug the audio cable into my phone and I was just barely able to hear the audio come out of the TV so I cranked up the audio on the phone to max and even though the audio was very low coming over the TV the TI kept reading it and eventually loaded successfully. 

#3 jrhodes OFFLINE  



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Posted Fri Jun 8, 2018 6:48 AM

I personally find running my audio through a old pc speaker helps.

I have it setup like this:

TI-cassette cable plugs into the line-out on the speaker

The speaker plugs into my headphone port on the tablet.

Tablet volume is up all the way, speaker is adjusted between 80 - 90 % -- too loud and it starts giving read errors.

The actual app i play the audio through is MX Player for android, and has the ability to boost your devices audio output.

Attached File  ti audio.png   630.78KB   4 downloads

Edited by jrhodes, Fri Jun 8, 2018 6:53 AM.



    >OLD CS1█

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Posted Fri Jun 8, 2018 8:50 AM

The console cassette input expects audio to be speaker-level, probably 8ohm* since that is what most speaker outputs are, so line-level and headphone output are generally to low for the console to "hear."


When "mastering" tapes for my game release I put the line-level output of the deck I used through an amplifier from which I ran the speaker output to the console.


* obviously not reflective of the necessary P-P voltage, just the impedance compatibility of the output.

#5 iKarith OFFLINE  



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Posted Wed Jun 13, 2018 1:35 PM

I've seen a couple of very specialized (if somewhat similar) microcontroller-based cassette simulators, but I think it would be very cool to have a proper replacement for the cassette player for retrocomputing.  I said to myself as I was thinking this, "okay, that's a digital voice recorder", except it isn't.  Voice recorders tend to have far too complex an interface for the purpose in some respects and too simple in others.  I think the right interface probably either looks like a shoebox cassette recorder at one end at least, or like an iPod from the appropriate generation with the added ability to record.

What got me thinking about the iPod was how the wheel might be used for scrolling, scrubbing, and relatively quickly naming new recordings.  I continue to believe Apple lost something when they got rid of that wheel interface.


The one thing I'm sure of is that a replacement for the cassette recorder must replace a generic recorder and not be specific to a particular computer.  That's what I've been seeing is a bunch of gadgets that replace a recorder for a specific machine.

#6 Opry99er OFFLINE  



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Posted Wed Jun 13, 2018 1:51 PM

#7 globeron OFFLINE  



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Posted Sun Dec 2, 2018 11:13 AM


Thanks for this advise, I tried many times. Now used a speaker set in between as well.

PC -> line out to speaker --> headset output to TI-Cassette cable - white plug.

* tweak the volume (probably full volume for both PC and the speaker set)

Then the audio can be heard on the TI-99/4A.


It also worked using my headset output of my Android phone

#8 globeron OFFLINE  



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Posted Sun Dec 2, 2018 4:58 PM

Updated PDF and Video files are located here:


Atari Age:

TI-99/4A + 32K + Cassette Player/Recorder - load Assembler programmes


#9 Opry99er OFFLINE  



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Posted Sun Dec 2, 2018 5:16 PM

Excellent!!! So glad it worked for you!

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