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Max The Magnificent
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I so want one of these!!!
Max The Magnificent   7/30/2013 12:16:26 PM
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All I can say is that I would LOVE to have one of these little beauties here in my office...

Rcurl
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Re: I so want one of these!!!
Rcurl   7/30/2013 5:37:26 PM
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Max, you've simply got to get a bigger office. Maybe something along the lines of Warehouse 13........

Max The Magnificent
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Re: I so want one of these!!!
Max The Magnificent   7/30/2013 5:45:23 PM
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@Rick: Max, you've simply got to get a bigger office. Maybe something along the lines of Warehouse 13..

That is a great program ... but I know you Rick, if you saw one of these little magnetic wire recorder beauties at a flea market, you simply wouldn't be able to resist :-)

Brian@BDH
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Re: I so want one of these!!!
Brian@BDH   7/31/2013 12:49:59 AM
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@Max: Re: I know you Rick, if you saw one of these little magnetic wire recorder beauties at a flea market, you simply wouldn't be able to resist :-)

Um...  Brian thinks that Max is talking about Max!  :-)

The Magnetic recording Book of Wire and Tape 1952

Vintage Webster Chicago 180-1 Tube Wire Recorder In Original Box and Paperwork!

WEBSTER CHICAGO 288-1R WIRE RECORDER

 

Max The Magnificent
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Re: I so want one of these!!!
Max The Magnificent   7/31/2013 9:50:42 AM
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@Brian: ... Brian thinks that ...

Max finds it duisturbing that Brian is talking about himself in the third person

Max The Magnificent
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Re: I so want one of these!!!
Max The Magnificent   7/31/2013 9:52:10 AM
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@Brian: Thise wire recorders you found on eBay do look really tasty -- sad to relate I am somewhat depleted of funds at the moment ... maybe one day...

DrZuhoch
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Re: I so want one of these!!!
DrZuhoch   8/1/2013 5:03:15 PM
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I never throw anything away,and I still have one in my shop somewhere...I'll see if I can find it and send pictures.I don't remember the last thing recorded on it, it was used as an office stenographer.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: I so want one of these!!!
Max The Magnificent   8/1/2013 5:08:31 PM
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@DrZuhoch: I still have one in my shop somewhere...I'll see if I can find it and send pictures.

Please do send the pictures to me at max.maxfield@ubm.com and maybe we can do a follow-up column on this. I'd also love to see some pictures of a wire recorder being used as a form of computer memory as mentioned elsewhere in ths icomment thread.

JGrubbs
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Re: I so want one of these!!!
JGrubbs   9/17/2013 2:03:23 PM
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Here is a link where you can download the book

Magnetic Recording Wire & Tape

http://www.tubebooks.org/Books/TapeWire.pdf

www.tubebooks.org has a lot of 1930 - 1960

technical books and data books available for

free download.

Set Square
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Re: I so want one of these!!!
Set Square   7/31/2013 3:54:32 AM
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Many years ago a company I worked for used the technique that these devices use to measure the length of steel wires.  It worked very well and was sold into the cable/wire making industry for some years.  If you want to see a comercial version of the the science museum in London UK did have one on display.  very impresive with reals about 4ft in diameter.  Roger

Max The Magnificent
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Re: I so want one of these!!!
Max The Magnificent   7/31/2013 9:55:25 AM
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@Set Square: If you want to see a comercial version of the the science museum in London UK did have one on display...


I last visited the London Science Museum in 2010 when I was speaking at the Embedded System Conference (I also got my picture taken standing next to the "Dr Who" style Police Box outside of Earl's Court Tube Station, but that's another story) ... but I don't recall seeing this in the museum ... maybe it' sjust a case of not knowing what I was looking at...  

Set Square
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Re: I so want one of these!!!
Set Square   7/31/2013 10:04:13 AM
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It may be that they have hidden it away again.  They keep doing things like this.

 

If you are into Doctor Who, then if you ever find yourself in Bradford, yorkshire.

The go to the National Media Museium, there you can act with Darlecks, well you could when I visited last year.  Roger

Max The Magnificent
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Re: I so want one of these!!!
Max The Magnificent   7/31/2013 10:10:37 AM
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@Set Square: If you are into Doctor Who, then if you ever find yourself in Bradford, yorkshire...

I've been into it ever since i saw the very first episode back in 1q963 when I was 6 years old!!! I'm from Sheffield, Yorkshire -- I occasionally get back to see my mom and little bro' -- the next time I'm over I will definately try to get over to Bradford to the National Media Museum (after which you can expect to see a follow-up blog) -- thanks for the suggestion!!!

luceleaf
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Signal Corps Wire Recorder
luceleaf   8/3/2013 7:39:00 PM
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In the summer of 1953 I received a one month appointment as an Engineering Aid (GS-4, $3175.00 per annum) at one of the three Signal Corps Engineering Labs at Fort Monmouth, NJ following Signal Corps ROTC Summer Camp at Camp Gordon GA. My assignment was to run tests on a prototype wire recorder for field use built by General Electric. The wire was very springy like piano wire and had a tendancy to pop off the spools. If you had the missfortune to drop a spool, it took an hour or more to untangle and rewind the wire, not something that could  be done in the field. The other problem I recall had to do with the variation in read signal as the wire twisted and the read head saw the side of the wire the record head had seen and then the other side.

A tape recorder was being evaluate at the same time and was vastly superior. In fact the wire recorder had already been rejected. In retrospect that may be reason I was given this task. Nevertheless it was a good experiance.

Davd W. Luce

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Signal Corps Wire Recorder
Max The Magnificent   8/7/2013 10:12:43 AM
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@luceleaf: In the summer of 1953 I received a one month appointment as an Engineering Aid...


Hi David -- thank you for sharing this story -- I must admit I hadn't considered either of these problems (untangling the wire and the read head seeing the other side of the wire to the write head).

Having said this, I think the concept of the wire recorder is really clever and it makes a lot of sense ... all the way up to someone working out how to fabricate good magnetic tape :-)

wbeaty
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Re: I so want one of these!!!
wbeaty   9/6/2013 2:26:18 PM
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No mention of where these things came from?  The first I've seen wasn't a recorder, it was a radio detector: a loop of moving wire with two coils touching, antenna on the first coil and headphones on the second, and a magnet to restore the wire afterwards.  "Marconi Magnetic Detector."   Nonlinear effects presumably demodulated the RF.    I guess it was a Coherer with a single giant iron filing.

Hmm.  Was this the origin, or did wire recorders predate 1910 or so?  Firesign Theater of course insists that they were invented by native americans who recorded civil-war era theater dramas...

Max The Magnificent
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Re: I so want one of these!!!
Max The Magnificent   9/6/2013 2:34:16 PM
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@wbeaty: No mention of where these things came from?

Actually, I mentioned this in an earlier column in which I wrote:

The first magnetic wire recorder was created in 1899 by a Danish Engineer called Valdemar Poulsen (1869 – 1942). Commercial magnetic wire recorders for dictation and telephone recording were made almost continuously from the 1920s onwards, but the real heyday of wire recording was in the 1940s through to the mid-1950s.

rick merritt
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Old and new
rick merritt   7/30/2013 4:35:37 PM
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Fascinating retro tech. But this Luddite still prefers to be on the other end of the microphone.

Today's ProTools jockeys are equally facinating with what they can do as they speed through menus manipulating digital audio

Tom Murphy
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I've Got One of Those Suckers
Tom Murphy   7/30/2013 6:08:59 PM
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Not only do I have a actual working wire recorder but it came with what I think is a historic recording of Father Devine leading his congregatin in a refrain of "If It Had Not Been For Jesus, I Would Not Be Here Today." '

I've been wondering for years what to do with this machine.  Perhaps I should contact Mr. Woods?

Max The Magnificent
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Re: I've Got One of Those Suckers
Max The Magnificent   7/31/2013 9:43:02 AM
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@Tom: ...it came with what I think is a historic recording of Father Devine leading his congregatin in a refrain of "If It Had Not Been For Jesus, I Would Not Be Here Today."'


Oh no! Now I'll be tapping my foot and humming that tune all day!

Max The Magnificent
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Re: I've Got One of Those Suckers
Max The Magnificent   7/31/2013 9:47:09 AM
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@Tom: I've been wondering for years what to do with this machine.  Perhaps I should contact Mr. Woods?

Mr Woods is building his own ... I on the other hand am sitting here with a little reat rolling down my cheek because I do not own a magnetic wire recorde (sad face).

Have you seen the video in my Welcome to the Pleasure Dome blog about my office? I would be DELIGHTED to make room for a wire recorder ... quite apart from anything else I already have a boxed spool of recording wire here in the office with a note on the back that seems to indicate it contains a recording -- I've long wondered what is on that wire...

Susan Rambo
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The isle is full of noises
Susan Rambo   7/30/2013 9:08:44 PM
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Max The Magnificent
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Re: The isle is full of noises
Max The Magnificent   7/31/2013 9:48:59 AM
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@Susan: Here's the next model up....


Ah, the 1930s version of an MP3 player ... I wonder why it never caught on :-)

 

Susan Rambo
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Re: The isle is full of noises
Susan Rambo   8/1/2013 8:58:02 PM
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@Max, Put wheels on this recorder and it would be a smart car.

Tom Murphy
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Re: The isle is full of noises
Tom Murphy   8/1/2013 9:52:11 PM
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Susan: ROTFLMAO!

Max The Magnificent
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Re: The isle is full of noises
Max The Magnificent   8/7/2013 10:09:29 AM
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@Susan: Put wheels on this recorder and it would be a smart car.

By some strange quirk of fate, my 83-year-old mothe rjust bought herself a Smart Car ... be afraid ... be very afraid ... :-)

Susan Rambo
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Re: The isle is full of noises
Susan Rambo   8/7/2013 10:11:19 AM
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Luckily she lives a couple states away from me. Thanks for the warning. 

Max The Magnificent
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Re: The isle is full of noises
Max The Magnificent   8/7/2013 10:16:14 AM
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@Susan: Luckily she lives a couple states away from me...

(a) She lives in England

(b) You're still not safe :-)

Susan Rambo
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Re: The isle is full of noises
Susan Rambo   8/7/2013 10:21:16 AM
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LOL. Oh, that's right. At least she will be driving on the other side of the road. ;-)

Max The Magnificent
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Re: The isle is full of noises
Max The Magnificent   8/7/2013 10:45:09 AM
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@Susan: At least she will be driving on the other side of the road. ;-)


You sweet, innocent child ... you've obviously never seen my mother drive :-)

DataBass
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Wire Recorders
DataBass   7/31/2013 5:31:08 PM
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I had heard of wire recorders several decades ago when I've watched some of the old WWII movies.  When they wanted to record something (surreptitiously) they always used a "wire recorder" complete with a bobbin of "wire".  One advantage of wire over tape would be the environmental "extremes" that the wire could survive versus a tape.

Tom Murphy
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Re: Wire Recorders
Tom Murphy   7/31/2013 5:43:31 PM
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My favorite episode of Patrick MacGoohan's Secret Agent (aka Danger Man, in the UK) was the one in which the secret message was recorded on the twisted wire used to hang a picture in the spy's apartment.  Can't do that with magnetic tape! Fortunately, MacGoohan was carrying a tiny wire playback machine so he could hear it.  (I never leave home without mine).

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Wire Recorders
Max The Magnificent   8/1/2013 11:52:52 AM
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@Tom: Fortunately, MacGoohan was carrying a tiny wire playback machine so he could hear it.

That reminds me of the old "Batman & Robin" film where batman is hanging from a rope ladder under the Bat Copter when a shark jumps out of the sea and attaches itself to Batman's leg ... and Batman shouts up to Robin "Pass me the Shark-Repellent Spray" -- and you see Robin in the cockpit reach for a rack containing four cans of sprak ... and sure enough one is marked "Shark Repellent" ... what are the odds?

betajet
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Be Prepared
betajet   8/1/2013 8:12:40 PM
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It's called "being prepared" :-)

My favorite bit from the Adam West / Burt Ward series:

Batman: Haven't you noticed how we always escape the vicious ensnarements of our enemies?

Robin: Yeah, because we're smarter than they are!

Batman: I like to think it's because... our hearts are pure.

 

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Be Prepared
Max The Magnificent   8/7/2013 10:03:50 AM
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@betajet: Batman: I like to think it's because... our hearts are pure.

LOL It was so sappy -- I loved it as a kid. I remember whenever the Riddler created a riddle and they solved it and the solutuion was so wild and wacky ("... and what eats an unripe banana at three o'clock in the afternoon Robin...") but it all seemed to make perfect sense when you were a kid... you just thought they were really clever to sort out the clues :-)

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Wire Recorders
Max The Magnificent   8/1/2013 11:54:09 AM
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@Bob74: One advantage of wire over tape would be the environmental "extremes" that the wire could survive versus a tape.

True -- also you could hide it in the lining of your jacket or the brim of your hat...

DrZuhoch
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Re: Wire Recorders
DrZuhoch   8/1/2013 5:05:50 PM
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Some of the first aircraft Black Boxes used wire recorders because of their durability.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Wire Recorders
Max The Magnificent   8/1/2013 5:09:28 PM
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@DrZuhock: Some of the first aircraft Black Boxes used wire recorders because of their durability.

Wow -- thank you for sharing this -- I learn something new every day!

Inquire8
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Wire Memories
Inquire8   8/1/2013 4:44:49 PM
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I seem to recall that some computer mfgs were experimenting with wire memories back in the early 70s.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Wire Memories
Max The Magnificent   8/1/2013 5:06:14 PM
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@Inquire8: I seem to recall that some computer mfgs were experimenting with wire memories back in the early 70s.

Someone else mentioned that -- it'sa logical development, but certainly someting of which I was unaware until now.

betajet
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Plated why a memory?
betajet   8/1/2013 8:04:26 PM
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It was usually called plated wire memory and was used by the Univac 1100 series and other computers.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Plated why a memory?
Max The Magnificent   8/7/2013 10:00:38 AM
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@betajet: It was usually called plated wire memory and was used by the Univac 1100 series and other computers.

It amazes me how much arcane knowledge we have between all of us... It would be such a shame to lose it all ... which leads us right back to my Are We Losing the Secrets of the Masters? column (LOL)

Bellhop
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Recording quality
Bellhop   8/1/2013 4:51:25 PM
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As "high fidelity", I'm somewhat underwhelmed, but it's certainly the best wire recorder ever built!

kendallcp
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try a switching amplifier to drive the record head
kendallcp   8/1/2013 8:15:21 PM
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This is heartwarmingly retro stuff!

I messed around with primitive PWM amplifiers a little in the 80s, and always wanted to - but never got around to - replace the conventional HF bias + audio drive scheme in my home-made cassette deck with a straight square wave drive width-modulated with the audio.

In those days you had to roll your own, but these days there are some - already long in the tooth - PWM power amplifier configurations that can run at around 50kHz.  Stick the audio signal into that and drive the resulting current into the head - should produce a myuch broader dip in the distortion curve and be less critical of bias level versus metal formulation.  Simpler circuitry too - no separate bias power amp and record driver.

When (not if, Max!) this gets published in EET, I'd like to get hold of a table of the frequency response data, pre-equalization.  I'm the first person to get excited about doing special filters, but this is a case where a digitally-implemented equalizer could probably do a super job.  Implemented on the replay side, you could use a reel of calibration wire to give standardized excitation, and then everyone's wire recorder can be calibrated to have a super-flat frequency response!  If that's what floats your boat, anyway.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: try a switching amplifier to drive the record head
Max The Magnificent   8/7/2013 10:06:19 AM
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@kendallcp: When (not if, Max!) this gets published in EET...

I am quivering in anticipation myself ... as soon as Jim finishes thsi project and writes it ut, you can bet I'll be writing about it here on EE Times!!!

Electrojim
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Re: try a switching amplifier to drive the record head
Electrojim   8/7/2013 10:43:10 AM
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In response to kendallcp: it works!  I did it with tape back in the early '70s, and unknown to me at the time, Joe Dundovic of Nortronics (tape heads) was experimenting with it too.  Tape goes "gracefully" into distortion when overdriven, and the only thing you have to watch out for with PWM is reaching the point when your duty cycle disappears and audio peaks slam the supply rails into the head.  This can be obviated with some form of limiter ahead of the PWM circuit, or by comparing your audio waveform with a 'peaky' clock, rather than a triangle, to generate the PWM. 

Another neat trick that works, sort-of, is to get rid of the AC bias altogether.  It's possible to predistort the audio waveform in a manner opposite to the hysteresis-loop function of the recording process, although this requires fancy phase compensation as well as the nonlinear transfer.  This gets rid of the "biased-tape noise," and really improves the high-frequency performance.  The tradeoff is 'modulation noise,' which can be eliminated by applying a sort of 'dithering,' which puts the biased-tape noise right back.  Such fun!

Max The Magnificent
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Re: try a switching amplifier to drive the record head
Max The Magnificent   8/7/2013 10:46:33 AM
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@Electrojim: ...The tradeoff is 'modulation noise,' which can be eliminated by applying a sort of 'dithering,' which puts the biased-tape noise right back.

You are making my brain hurt :-)

 

Navelpluis
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Miniature wire recorders
Navelpluis   8/4/2013 5:30:43 AM
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Lots of security agencies used wire recorders during spy activities. There was a brand in Austria creating extremely small types of wire recorders, called 'Miniphone'. Have a look at our website http://www.cryptomuseum.com/covert/minifon/mi51/index.htm to see one of those Miniphone recorders and also note the wrist-watch where a microphone is hidden inside. There was once a spy captured on an airport. Because he wore 2 watches, since this watch was not able to run on time (no watch mechanics inside this silly thing ;-)

Other examples are wire recorders to record in flight information. The Russians had a beautiful designed tiny wire recorder in their MIG airplanes. One advantage is that wire can withold high temperatures. the 'pack of wires' isolate those inside the 'pack', hence, big chance of signals recovery once a plane has been crashed...

Anyway, lots of excamples to be found and big fun to play with.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Miniature wire recorders
Max The Magnificent   8/7/2013 10:15:17 AM
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@Navelpluis: There was a brand in Austria creating extremely small types of wire recorders, called 'Miniphone'. Have a look at our website http://www.cryptomuseum.com/covert/minifon/mi51/index.htm to see one of those Miniphone recorders...

WOW Thsi is amazing (I want one!!! :-)

alzie
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Wire Recorder
alzie   9/20/2013 2:21:48 PM
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Yeah, not bad!

Now, how do we get stereo on that wire?!

 

I started out with tape recording half a century ago,

learned a whole lot.

A good place for budding engineers.

 

Although i begrudgingly use MP3 do to my distaste for compression,

at least we have gotten rid of distortion, noise, and wow n flutter.

Beats the crap out of those old cassettes!

They were compact and convenient, but

ive got most of my music collection on one 16GB player.

The plusses out weigh the minusses.

 

rich.pell
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Re: Wire Recorder
rich.pell   9/20/2013 2:55:12 PM
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Agreed, well-encoded MP3s are a big step up from cassette tape (like well-recorded CDs were over vinyl)!  However the bulk of my music library is stored as FLAC files.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Wire Recorder
Max The Magnificent   9/20/2013 2:59:23 PM
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@alzie: I started out with tape recording half a century ago...

Doesn't it feel strange saying stuff like that? It's like when I'm talking about my friend Brian Bailey and I say: "I attended a class Brian gave on SCAN technology around 30 years ago and I still have the notes."

But I refuse to get any older -- I'm going to hold at my current age for the next 100 years or so -- good grief, I'm only just starting my third chaildhood!

alzie
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Re: Wire Recorder
alzie   9/20/2013 3:22:52 PM
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Right Max,
I still dont know what i want to be when i grow up!
 
 
Re: Wire Recorder 
Max The Magnificent   9/20/2013 2:59:23 PM
 
 
"But I refuse to get any older -- I'm going to hold at my current age for the next 100 years or so -- good grief, I'm only just starting my third chaildhood!"
 


careerEE
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It's still in the basement...
careerEE   10/1/2013 5:21:52 PM
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Being the only EE in my extended family, I inherited my grandparent's broken console-model wire recorder.  In a burst of energy in my 30's, I pulled the electronics out, replaced a broken tube or two, then got it working.  Because the motor bearings and transmission were worn out, it ran under-speed, and all the voices were low and slow.  Powering it from a variac transformer, dialed up above 110Vac, I was able to 'tune' the speed, so that Grampa's voice sounded right.  But it took about 5 muffin fans aimed at the electronics and motor, to keep it from thermal meltdown.

I discovered recordings of my Grampa's barbershop group singing on the radio, and also found a recording of my dad teaching my youngest uncle to talk.

Dubbed over to cassette tape, those copies made great Christmas gifts for the extended family that year.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: It's still in the basement...
Max The Magnificent   6/23/2014 9:45:02 AM
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@careerEE: I discovered recordings of my Grampa's barbershop group singing on the radio, and also found a recording of my dad teaching my youngest uncle to talk.

Sorry for the delay in my response -- I just now saw this comment -- I can only imagine how wonderful it was when you brought these sounds back from the past.

tig1
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YESS!!!
tig1   6/22/2014 12:09:05 AM
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I just picked one of these up and the first thing i wondered was how good these could be made with todays technology. Different head design, record mp3"s, record video?? 

  Has he finished this , does anyone know?

Max The Magnificent
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Re: YESS!!!
Max The Magnificent   6/23/2014 9:46:13 AM
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@tig1: Has he finished this , does anyone know?

I've not heard -- do you have photos of the one you picked up? Where did you find it?

tig1
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Re: YESS!!!
tig1   6/24/2014 7:52:56 PM
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Hi, i got it off of Ebay. Here's a pic of it,

 

webster 80-1

  I hope when he's done he posts a copy of the schematics, because i'd love to do a conversion like that. I just mentioned it to ppl at work and they're just as excited as i am about finding audio treasures from the past.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: YESS!!!
Max The Magnificent   6/25/2014 10:14:27 AM
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@tig1: Hi, i got it off of Ebay. Here's a pic of it...

Ooohhhh, Tasty!!!

Max The Magnificent
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Re: YESS!!!
Max The Magnificent   6/25/2014 10:16:34 AM
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@tig1: I hope when he's done he posts a copy of the schematics, because i'd love to do a conversion like that.

I am up to my armpits in alligators fighting fires without a paddle at the moment (I never metaphor I didn't like :-)   But I'll try to remember to get back in touch with him and ask him how it's going and if he will share the results of his work with the rest of us.



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