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Old 31st March 2002, 08:37 AM   #1
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Default DIY reel-to-reel ?

I had a quick search on the net and couldn't find anything. Just wondering if there are any projects peopel know of to do with DIY reel-to-reel?
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Old 31st March 2002, 11:58 AM   #2
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Default whaddya wanna do?

Modify one for improved performance, or build one from scratch?

The first is certainly possible, and can be done using most of the modification proceedures laid out on the boards here and elsewhere for the electronics. Mechanical mods are an area where you need some expertise, measuring tools, and an alignment tape. They can be fussy beggars.

To build one from scratch is also possible, but it would take all of the above, lots of money and dedication, time and the ability to fabricate a lot of small high precision parts. If you do it, you would be my diy hero.

However, theres no need to build from scratch. Open reels go for very little money, and can be readily modified, but it is the most expensive of DIY projects (I speak from experience). Pick a Studer or Revox or Tascam as they are still supported from the factory, although parts can be expensive. A MINT Teac, Akai GX, Pioneer RT would be an OK second tier choice.

I can answer more, but what do you want to do in detail?
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Old 31st March 2002, 04:26 PM   #3
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I have Pioneer RT-909. It measures really well, much better than Akai GX-747. I was also thinking about modifying that unit. Would be really interested in that thread.
Another deck I own is Nakamichi ZXL 1000. If anyone is interested I have schematics for both.
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Old 31st March 2002, 06:33 PM   #4
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Years ago, Roger Sanders, of DIY ESL fame, had an article in Audio Amateur magazine on building a reel-to-reel recorder. It was a playback-only unit that he used for dubbing, but all the mechanics were there. I have the article somewhere around here.

Personally I'd look for a good used machine to tweak. Something with a good transport and then you could modify the electronics. Brett is right about the effort required and realistically even with access to a machine shop and considerable skill you'll still end up buying a lot of pieces like pinch rollers, etc.

If you poke around likely places like local broadcast stations(assuming they haven't already tossed them years ago) you probably can find Ampex studio machines for cheap or free. These can also be found on Ebay.
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Old 23rd April 2002, 12:28 PM   #5
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Okay, sorry for the delay, back at school as of the other week, but all is well

I tried a search on eBay and found some, but seem rather old, large or are designed for studios (16 or so tracks).

Building my own fom scratch is what i was planning to do. Perhaps not for the highest quality but the learning experience along the way. Of course I would buy things liek the heads etc, but the actual mechanics i guess and the electronics to control it, and output the sound would be my main concern.

As you say Brett, its an extremely costly exercise? Is that building fom scratch of modifying units?

I've never owned or even used an open reel which is why i am extremely interested in building my own. I (from what I see) sense its nothing more than an accurate motor to spin the reel, and the head to read the signal from the tape. Also the circuitry behind the system to output the sound. Of course it's more complicated than this, but the general outline.

I will continue to search and see what I can come up with, but as of yet, I'm pretty stuck! hehe

Mike
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Old 23rd April 2002, 02:36 PM   #6
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I have built several, and it is not something that should be done without special knowledge. Used to be that books on tape deck construction were available, I don't know if you can still get them.

With some knowledge - and access to a good machine shop - it is not too hard. Bits and pieces are readily available on ebay - things like reel motors with breaks from Otari, head blocks, etc.

It is great fun, and perhaps the first trial should be just a reproducer deck.
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Old 23rd April 2002, 03:40 PM   #7
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Default Victor, does your versatility have no bounds?

;-)

I guess the audio asylum is not stimulating for you at all. Apart for the film section that is.

On another note. If you don't mind me asking, how about a BAT-DIY site like NP has?
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Old 23rd April 2002, 03:49 PM   #8
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He-he... we have considered such idea - and are still considering. However, I don't know if every manufacturer must have such forum. Nelson has special recognition that many of us don't... at least yet. So perhaps instead of trying to swamp the net with the multitude of smaller forums, just participating in ones like this one would make more sense? People interested in my input can always find me - I am quite accessible - either at the AA or here.
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Old 23rd April 2002, 03:58 PM   #9
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You're quite right about the prolifiration of the boards. And your presence on these boards is very much appreciated as far as I'm concerned.
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Old 27th April 2002, 11:39 PM   #10
BrianL is offline BrianL  United States
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I still say, buy an existing machine and modify.

Ebay frequently has machines. Search on "ampex"
and you'll find many Ampexes. Also, check for "studer".
Technics RS-1500/1520/1700, etc. was a great series
of machines with fantastic transports. And ther are always
the bigger Teac or tandberg machines. Not to mention
Otari, etc.

If you really still want to build, I'd suggest reading OLD
back issues of the JAES from the 60's where you'll find
many papers on tape machine mechanical design from
the engineers of Ampex and other companies. You'll
see that the design is not exactly trivial.
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