Last updated on November 29th, 2023 at 09:20 am
When making backups of old turbo-tapes to disk, it is important to ensure that the quality of the tapes is good enough to produce accurate backups.
The LOAD-IT datasette with a signal meter is a useful tool for this purpose, but it has its limitations. One of the problems with the LOAD-IT datasette is that you could turn the knob (head alignment) 45 degrees and still have the same two (lousy) bars on the meter. This lack of accuracy can make it difficult to adjust the alignment to get the best signal while reading the tapes.
To solve this problem, an analogue VU-Meter can be implemented to show the signal strength and provide a possibility to listen in on the signal to determine if it’s data or other information (music). This solution provides a more accurate way of adjusting the alignment to get the best signal while reading the tapes.
It is unfortunate that there are no reviews or curiosities about this solution available in the search results. However, it is known that the Commodore 64 had a remarkable lineup of peripherals, including tape drives, floppy disk drives, and streaming tape drives.
The Datasette’s speed was very slow (about 300 baud), and as it lacked any random read-write access, users had to either wait while the tape ran its length or rely on a tape counter number to find the starting location of programs on cassette.
Larger programs could take a while to load, but though it was rather clunky, it was a masterful piece of making the best of what was at hand.
Overall, the implementation of an analogue VU-Meter is a useful solution for adjusting the alignment to get the best signal while reading tapes. It is a must-have tool for anyone who wants to make accurate backups of old turbo-tapes to disk.
Information on how to build a VU-Sette : [Blog.worldofjani.com]
A quick comparison with FinalTAP on two .tap images. Left tape has been read with “VU-Sette” and right tape with LOAD-IT. I tried several reads with LOAD-IT but the result was pretty much the same. There is nothing wrong with LOAD-IT, as long as you got a good signal on the recorded media.
In my case, “VU-Sette” allowed me to adjust the head more precisely and get out a (much)better read of the tape. For you who are not familiar with FinalTAP, its a tool for examining, cleaning and restoring digitized data cassette tapes (TAP files) for the Commodore 64 computer.