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(UPDATED) How To Guide - Commodore 64 Tape Reproduction

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  • (UPDATED) How To Guide - Commodore 64 Tape Reproduction

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    ---C64 Tape Reproduction---

    What’s needed?

    Hardware


    -Blank cassette tapes ( I used the TDK 60min type). Brand new is BEST.
    -Tape recorder, any old tape deck (Stereo/HiFi system) that works will do.
    -A cable to connect the PC sound output (headphones output 3.5mm) to your tape recorder AUX or input socket. I used a 3.5mm cable to 2 x RCA.
    -Isopropyl (To clean the tape heads).
    -Cotton tips (To clean the tape heads).

    Software

    -C64 .tap files (http://tapes.c64.no/main_tapelist.php)
    -AudioTap (http://wav-prg.sourceforge.net/audiotap.html

    Guide

    1)

    Before starting to recreate the C64 tapes I recommend a cleaning of the tape heads. Using the Isopropyl and the cotton tip carefully wet one side of the cotton tip with isopropyl and give the tape head a good scrub on your tape recorder. You might see some dirt and other gunk on the cotton tip. Then using the other end of the cotton tip wide the tape head so any leftover residue or dirt is removed.

    This process above can be repeated until you feel confident with the cleaning process.
    Now that your tape recorder is clean, I recommend the same procedure above be performed on the Commodore C64 Dataset unit.

    Connect your tape recorder to your PC via the sound cards audio out/ headphone socket.
    Perform a ‘TEST’ by playing some music on your PC and recording it to a tape in your tape recorder. Make sure it is a nice and clean recording, no ‘Static’ or ‘hum’ should be heard. Any interference will render your tape useless. It will not work!
    If you do hear ‘static’ or ‘hum’ check the cables are inserted all the way (secure) and that they are not damaged. Even try cleaning the contacts on the cable or try different cables!

    Next adjust the volume output on your PC to 85%, I used Windows 7 to do all my recording and have had the best results using the volume level set at 85%. Though it does vary tape to tape, the lowest I have gone is 75% and the highest is 90%. Its all about finding the sweet spot that works for you, don’t give up easily!

    2)

    Load Audiotap and use the following program settings –

    • Convert from a TAP file
    o To a sound

    Note: I found that my reproduction tapes only worked when I checked the box for ‘Inverted waveform’. I also did not have to modify any of the ‘Advanced settings’, I did try but had mixed results and found it best when set to the default settings.

    3)

    Grab your blank tape and make sure to rewind it, insert it into your tape recorder. Now you need to find where the start of the tape begins, you can do this manually by winding the tape or just keep hitting play and stop till you find the start of the tape. I generally leave about a CM of the lead in tape prior to recoding.

    On your PC click [OK] in Audiotap and navigate to the tap file you want to record, before clicking [OK] again to the selected .tap file hit the record button then quickly click [OK] to start the recording.

    Sit back and relax, try not to use your PC! Any sounds made on the PC will be recorded to the tape, which will render it useless.

    4)

    Once the recording is done, stop the tape, rewind and have a listen. It should be a nice clear recording free from any interference.
    Now pop it into the C64 dataset drive and type ‘LOAD’, hit return and press play. Hopefully the game loader is found after about 10 secs and then the game continues to load. Note, some games will require you to type ‘RUN’ if the command prompt is returned with just ‘READY’ on the screen.

    If this didn’t work just keep trying, eventually you will find the right combination of settings and volume that need to be adjusted. Not all my recordings work every time, I still adjust my volume within the 75% - 90% range. Every .tap file seems to be different for me and everyone has a different tape recorder.

    If you read this and can share any advice on the above please feel free to make a comment below.
    I've just written this in one sitting and will revise the document over the next few days, so please ignore any grammer errors!

    I will be adding pictures to this guide over the next few days!

    Enjoy, Eliminat3r!

    UPDATE - 26/7/2012

    Facts

    * On a 60 minute cassette tape you can roughly fit around 3.2Mb of data onto one side of the cassette.
    * You can record to both sides of the cassette, you could have one game on side A and another on side B.
    * If your tape recorder has a counter, you could fit many games on the one side, just make a note as to where about the games start on the cassette.
    * I find that powering my tape recorder off and then on after each recording ensures that any further recordings have an increased chance of working.

    Games that I have currently reproduced and confirmed working:
    • Beamrider
    • Bubble Bobble
    • Rick Dangerous
    • Dizzy!
    • Salamander
    • Toobin
    • H.E.R.O
    • Chips Challenge
    • Wonder Boy
    • The Last Ninja 2
    • River Raid
    • Scramble 64
    • Parallax
    • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Coin-op), requires code sheet to play, dont have codes. Dont bother on this one.



    UPDATE - 1/8/2012


    Additional confirmed working games:
    • Rick Dangerous 2
    • Xevious
    • Night Shift
    • Aliens
    • Ghouls'n Ghosts
    • Ghost Busters 2


    As I mentioned above, I find that powering my tape recorder off after every recording and then back on again, for some strange reason makes all my repro tapes work on the first go!
    Attached Files
    Last edited by Eliminat3r; 1st August 2012, 06:24 PM. Reason: Updated on 01/08/2012

  • #2
    Good stuff Eliminat3r. Awesome guide. Where did you find new blank audio tapes from?
    I am wanting to make a C64 tape drive emulator to load TAP files using the PC as a tape drive and scream it directly to the C64

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by mamejay View Post
      Good stuff Eliminat3r. Awesome guide. Where did you find new blank audio tapes from?
      I am wanting to make a C64 tape drive emulator to load TAP files using the PC as a tape drive and scream it directly to the C64
      I found a stack of tapes at my local '2 dollar' style store.

      I considered emulating the TAP files, but it gets pretty tricky when you need to pause the 'tape', and when knowing the tape needs to be paused..... Though I did find some information on how this can be achieved.

      I even found methods where you could use an iPod or a compact CD player (Discman) and a cassette adaptor (Click image for larger version

Name:	83838205-260x260-0-0_Philips+PHILIPS+CASSETTE+ADAPTER.jpg
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ID:	1792192). But still the problem of when to actually pause the tape arises.

      I might look into these methods and work on a guide at some point if i can get them working reliably.



      Its much easier to just reporduce the tapes!

      Comment


      • #4
        I will be giving this a crack on the weekend. Will let you know how it goes. Thanks for the handy guide!

        Comment


        • #5
          Cheers let me know.

          Comment


          • #6
            Good guide mate, reminds me of when I had a c64 when I was a kid except ours had a floppy drive

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            • #7
              Ghouls'N Ghosts looking amazing on the C64!

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              Comment


              • #8
                Nice! I used to play that game on the C64 back in the day, loved it.
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                • #9
                  I love this idea of using one of these with an ipod. That is perfect!!

                  Originally posted by Eliminat3r View Post
                  I found a stack of tapes at my local '2 dollar' style store.

                  I considered emulating the TAP files, but it gets pretty tricky when you need to pause the 'tape', and when knowing the tape needs to be paused..... Though I did find some information on how this can be achieved.

                  I even found methods where you could use an iPod or a compact CD player (Discman) and a cassette adaptor ([ATTACH=CONFIG]41322[/ATTACH]). But still the problem of when to actually pause the tape arises.

                  I might look into these methods and work on a guide at some point if i can get them working reliably.



                  Its much easier to just reporduce the tapes!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I use an MP3 player to load/save tape images on the SC3000 and Famicom, works perfectly and is much less hassle free than using a tape player.
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                    • #11
                      Frank, how does the .mp3 player interface to those consoles??

                      Also, do they load the games in one attempt or do they load a bit then pause and so on?

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                      • #12
                        The consoles have two 3.5mm headphone style connectors, one for saving and one for loading. So you record/save to an MP3 player/dictaphone device via its mic input and the save output of the console, then load via the headphone output of the MP3 player/dictaphone device and load input of the console.

                        No pausing or anything, you just type load "programName" on the console then hit play on the MP3 player to load and type save "programName" then hit record on the MP3 player to save.

                        This is the type of device you want, around $20 landed from eBay Hong Kong:



                        Sure beats messing around with tape players and it's easier to store/categorise your programs.
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                        • #13
                          Thanks Frank, sounds like a fantastic way to get the games onto your consoles!

                          Only problem is though, the C64 will pause a game during loading or when its in between loading etc... so you would need to know when to pause the voice recorder... practice would make perfect though, but it would be a steep learning curve!

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                          • #14
                            Ah, that sucks re the C64 pausing during loading, I didn't know that. Works great on the Famicom and SC3000 though.
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                            • #15
                              Yeah, I think the C64 can be a bit tricky because the interface back to the keyboard has more logic than just an audio input/out cycle.

                              What would probably work is to use one of those cassettes that have the headphone socket coming out that plugs into your MP3 player. I remember that's what I used to use on my previous car that only had a tape deck and I wanted to listen to podcasts when driving to/from work (the car was from 1992 ), and I swear I've heard of the same technique being used on the C64.

                              BTW, excellent idea on that device - sounds like it'd be perfect for the SC3000 and Famicom!
                              - my nerdy gaming blog...

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