P.E.Jukebox your selections please

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Zelandeth
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The Pickled Egg-Vinyl month-There's a Hacker in the Snug!

Post by Zelandeth » 05 Jan 2017, 22:17

8-track is actually and endless loop tape system. There are indeed eight tracks (usually arranged as four stereo channels (or programme) on a stereo cartridge, or two quad channels on a quad example). The tape itself is 1/4" as you would often find used on a reel-to-reel machine. The loop is usually around ten or fifteen minutes I believe, with a metal foil stuck to the tape splice at the end of the loop to allow the machine to detect the end of the loop, and the head to "clonk" its way to the next program.

Headaches however we're down to the fact that reproduction often isn't great. Reasons include...

Foam pads in the carts which press the tape against the heads disintegrate resulting in muffled audio. Easily repaired though, takes about ten mins.

Tracking requires periodic adjustment - unsurprising given the head moves four times each time you play a tape...If it's not spot on you'll get muffled audio of crosstalk from adjacent channels.

Heads need cleaning more often than on cassette or reel-to-reel systems. This is because of the endless loop setup, the tape needs to be able to slide in the reel...So it has a lubricating backing (usually graphite), which obviously sheds a bit over time.

So they're a bit of a maintenance liability (ironically given they were designed to overcome the fiddly nature of reel-to-reel!), but if looked after can work well. More than happy to bring it over for a demo someday Jim!

Sadly a lot of people saw that they used 1/4" tape like a reel-to-reel machine and expected the same quality...But with 8 rather than 4 tracks on it and only playing at 3.75ips, that was a doomed expectation from the start...

I like it as a format because it's a bit strange and forgotten and the whole experience is quite fun, but for overall fidelity while it's not bad - vinyl, CD or even a decently mastered cassette (especially with some of the later Dolby systems used properly) are ahead.

There's a video by one of the folks I follow on Youtube over here (Jim, I warn you now...this could lose you as much time as it did me when I first found it!) which gives a bit of a look into the format, and from memory actually goes over some of its flaws in quite a balanced way.



...He's entirely right as well I might add about what an exercise in complete frustration it is trying to re-coil an 8-track which has gone "sproing!"

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Re: The Pickled Egg-Vinyl month-There's a Hacker in the Snug!

Post by elma » 05 Jan 2017, 23:40

So its a 4 lane stereo tape that changes lane automatically at the end of each loop. Zel you've explained that far better than the entire internet.

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Re: The Pickled Egg-Vinyl month-There's a Hacker in the Snug!

Post by CitroJim » 06 Jan 2017, 06:33

James, that's a fair description of 8-Track and Zel, indeed, reproduction from them was good... Arguably better than the compact cassette in the early days...

The big problem was head alignment and tracking across all 8 tracks - the head physically moved up and down to select which two of the 8 tracks were to be played... The mechanism was not unlike a Strowger 2-motion selector in a telephone exchange...

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Re: The Pickled Egg-Vinyl month-There's a Hacker in the Snug!

Post by Gibbo2286 » 06 Jan 2017, 11:43

I recently sold a couple of 8 track players and boxes of cartridges on Ebay. Quite a big selection of cartridges with everything from classics to blues.
Anyone interested in stocking up should watch the Ebay listings they come along often.

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Re: The Pickled Egg-Vinyl month-There's a Hacker in the Snug!

Post by elma » 06 Jan 2017, 13:48

I'm really enjoying all the non car learning in this thread. Lots of familiar words are starting to actually mean something.

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Re: The Pickled Egg-Vinyl month-There's a Hacker in the Snug!

Post by NewcastleFalcon » 06 Jan 2017, 14:28

elma wrote:I'm really enjoying all the non car learning in this thread. Lots of familiar words are starting to actually mean something.
Its good to inject a bit of collateral knowledge aquisition into a conversation eg this chap

Never heard of him? Don't know his face? A forgotten man?

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Not likely when a Sandan name-drops him in a post on the FCF.... :-D :!:

Regards Neil

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Re: The Pickled Egg-Vinyl month-There's a Hacker in the Snug!

Post by elma » 06 Jan 2017, 15:40

I was going to look up Strowger this evening, the pioneers of electromagnetics are some of my heros. I'm surprised I don't recall the name but truly don't believe I've come across it before.

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Re: The Pickled Egg-Vinyl month-There's a Hacker in the Snug!

Post by CitroJim » 06 Jan 2017, 16:24

NewcastleFalcon wrote:
elma wrote:I'm really enjoying all the non car learning in this thread. Lots of familiar words are starting to actually mean something.
Its good to inject a bit of collateral knowledge aquisition into a conversation eg this chap

Never heard of him? Don't know his face? A forgotten man?

Image

Not likely when a Sandan name-drops him in a post on the FCF.... :-D :!:
Indeed it is. I love this thread hugely so let's keep it going. I love how one subject links to another in such an interesting way :D
elma wrote:I was going to look up Strowger this evening, the pioneers of electromagnetics are some of my heros. I'm surprised I don't recall the name but truly don't believe I've come across it before.
Almon Strowger was an undertaker and he invented the automatic telephone exchange because the manual exchange were diverting the bereaved to his rival undertaker in the town and he was loosing trade. His business was dying (sorry, couldn't resist that one ;))...

That's how the story goes, it may be apocryphal but it's a good one...

I learned all about Strowger exchanges in the 70s as an apprentice and was really taken by their electro-mechanical complexity. I was in shock and awe at my first visit to a real big one. It was at Bicester and the noise was deafening...

Most of my training was at the old GPO training centre at Bletchley Park...

I still love them now... Some Strowger exchanges were still in use in the 1990s...

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Re: The Pickled Egg-Vinyl month-There's a Hacker in the Snug!

Post by elma » 06 Jan 2017, 16:43

So there's a good chance the old telephone exchange I remember from the science museum from childhood is one of those. Really looking forward to finishing work today and having a good read up.

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Re: The Pickled Egg-Vinyl month-There's a Hacker in the Snug!

Post by CitroJim » 06 Jan 2017, 16:52

Very possibly James although there was a rival technology that ran in parallel with Strowger Exchanges called the Crossbar Exchange.

Next time you're up here I can take you to a real, working Strowger exchange in our local museum. It worked in one of our outlying villages until the 1990s... You'll be fascinated watching a call progress through it...

One reason some survived so long is they were impervious to destructive EMP (ElectroMagnetic Pulse) radiation resulting from a nuclear strike. Once the cold war ended they were all then replaced by electronic exchanges with great savings in space, power and the need for very skilled maintenance...

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Re: The Pickled Egg-Vinyl month-There's a Hacker in the Snug!

Post by CitroJim » 06 Jan 2017, 16:55

One lovely aspect of a Strowger exchange was the lovely warm burring dial tone and ringing tone returned to the calling subscriber... It had character, unlike the electronically generated tones of today...

In a Strowger exchange the tones were generated by small motor-alternators...

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Re: The Pickled Egg-Vinyl month-There's a Hacker in the Snug!

Post by Zelandeth » 06 Jan 2017, 17:37

The program change mechanism in an 8-track is indeed very reminiscent of a uniselector...and quite fascinating to watch. I know I've got a photo of that bit of my Panasonic from when I had it apart for cleaning, but can't remember where I've put it for the life of me...

My grandfather was a GPO engineer for many years, and was also an unstoppable tinkerer. After his service in WWII, his household had the first TV on the road built of parts he sourced from a combination of his military contacts (he was a tank driver during the War) and discarded bits and pieces he had laying around from his GPO work. Just sorry that he passed away when I was so young, as I'm pretty sure that us both together would be a truly dangerous combination! ...Especially if you combined his mind with the ease of access to information that the internet allows these days, and my tendency to collect and hoard bits and pieces "because they'll be handy for something someday".

...it's downright alarming how many of those random bits and pieces in the last couple of years however that I have actually found uses for.

Suppose the other logical crossover between uniselectors and musical equipment must have been jukeboxes back in the electromechanical era...surely they must have used quite similar devices to manage track selection...

While I have the pool table here, I don't sadly have any jukeboxes! I also value my life too much to suggest that I start looking at collecting them!

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Re: The Pickled Egg-Vinyl month-There's a Hacker in the Snug!

Post by elma » 06 Jan 2017, 17:39

One wouldn't hurt, I love the dramatics of a Jukebox.

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Re: The Pickled Egg-Vinyl month-There's a Hacker in the Snug!

Post by Zelandeth » 06 Jan 2017, 18:08

Oh don't get me wrong, I'd love one!

I mean, it would fit absolutely perfectly in here wouldn't it?

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Sadly I think that most of the rest of the household reckon that we already have more than enough ancient technology about the place...Probably for the best really, let's face it...unlike quite a few things that I collect, vintage jukeboxes are something for which there is quite a following for, so they do fetch a pretty penny!

I did toy with the idea of one of the later wall mounted CD era 'boxes, as they're what I grew up with on the wall in the pub, so I have quite an attraction to those as well - especially the NSM Firebird or the floor-shaking NSM Galaxy...Until I looked what they went for on eBay!
Last edited by Zelandeth on 06 Jan 2017, 18:24, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Pickled Egg-Vinyl month-There's a Hacker in the Snug!

Post by elma » 06 Jan 2017, 18:19

I just had a look too, I'd rather have an Activa. Some of them are DS and SM money!