idea: Compact Casette as computer module form factor. you’ve got input (spool position, recording head), you’ve got output (read head, visual feedback of spool position), you even have the subtle output of second spool tension.

could you build a videocard with these? screen savers? audio visialisers? what kind of computers could accept these modules in a bank of slots?

Pico C60 fantasy console?

seperately, i had the idea of an NFC or QR code driven audio library system. (not a new idea in itself), but one in which the “cards” are little paper craft machines that fit perfectly in a compact casette mechanism and animate as the spool peg turns to druve them. each album thus becomes a mini animated artwork. ranging from simple album progress indicator to full animals in the circus tape loop madness.

so back to the first idea, a “computer module” is capable of not even having circuitry in it, since valid modules include ordinary audio tapes, or paper craft/plain plastic mechanical objects.

hang on, I kind of remember having one of these? little board games hidden inside casette tape shaped enclosures!? what a thoroughly 1980s idea.

also, if you swallow two of the magnetic game peices in the game, you die in real life!

why on earth? well, as convenient as music streaming and electronic music libraries are, stacks of heterogenous artworks and edge labels are a much better platform for navigation, selection and appreciation- at a certain scale. larger scales than just the stuff you care about and you get a storage issue.

just remembered a few more inputs outputs and affordances for the casette computer module. little things really.

the write protect tab, flipping the tape to side B, but also, tape players have a light sensor that measures the opacity of the tape to detect the end. i wonder, perhaps, that could be expanded to include more metadata than just the end of a tape.

what if you cheated and just stuck 4 conductors on each spool driver? it may be a bit complicated to negotiate pin identity. but the motor can drive a constant contact pressure with the contacts.

where else could you hide sertial comms pins? maybe they’re not pins. maybe you do serial comms over some optical channels? include an lcd shutter or a high speed IRDA module. transmit power over magnetic induction.

since I seem to be on a theme, here’s some cassette shaped transformers. Soundwave just doesn’t have the same conceptual impact in the mp3 age.

@zens If anything, I’m not sure the Transformers as a concept in general have a conceptual impact in the digital age (ignoring for a moment the movies). The entire premise could be summed up as “the digitalization of the real” from an era where things were mostly still analogue and mechanical (cars and trucks, cassette players, guns, and fighter jets) but in which the fluidity and malleability of the early digital age was first beginning to turn people’s heads and imaginations.

@zens positive negative tx rx pads on the edge of the "module" could work if it was standardised (uart or whatever)?

Spring loaded gold plated contacts should be fine, works for game carts and usb.

@maxc SPI would be a good lowest common denominator. then you have pin compatibility with SD cards, and like hubdreds of raspberry pi and arduino hats.

@maxc or, ehg, USB if you want hot swappability and a huge driver hardware and os requirement

@maxc but then, tx, rx negotiation over magnetic read/write heads would be way cooler

@zens if you're using the heads directly for everything then yeah that'd be cool. i was assuming the tape layer was for like, """bulk""" data transfer and the serial was for metadata, commands, etc

@zens (re: usb being a pain - spi is a similar amount of pain if you are supporting fully generic devices - as it doesn't really specify any protocol, so much as a way to send bytes - everything is going to need "drivers" in some form)

@maxc that’s true. I am just thinking in terms of base level hardware support. spi can work with arduino level devices but somehow USB doesn’t work (except as an adaptor to a uart protocol)

@zens yep, spi or i2c or 5v tolerant uart would be most accessible probably. found this too. Back to work for me :)

@zens oh one last note; the raspi has 3v3 uart(s, it has multiple but only some are easy to get at) so you could target that too i guess.

5v vs 3v3 is basically "old easy but crappy tech" or "new hard but better tech" level selection in hobby electronics world; largely 8 bit vs arm divide.

@maxc i suppose casette tapes would be more at home in 5v land. or maybe 12v?

@zens for small electronics 5v is as high as I'd go haha. 12v is common in cars but it's just a factor of the battery using that voltage. 3v is 2x alkaline batteries, so even an 8 bit game boy pocket or colour is 3v input (and it's readily available if that's your expected power source - 3v lithium common too).

Whether the core is running at that depends but it's nice if you're thinking of hobbyists to just be able to bung the power input onto your board without doing any conversion.

@zens i get you, but you need one more conductor for that (chip select) - depends a lot on the planned applications as to which flavour of serial makes sense.

You could probably prototype this with a tape deck, donor casette, aluminium foil contacts, wires, and a (microcontroller board/SBC) for both ends fwiw.

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