Digitizing audio cassettes and extracting the contents of digital cartridges.

Linux for blind general discussion blinux-list at redhat.com
Thu Sep 7 16:51:25 UTC 2017

Okay, this isn't strictly Linux related and is more a hardware issue,
but I'll be using a Linux PC in text-mode for anything in the solution
the requires my PC.

Okay, so I want to rip my collection of 4-track audio cassettes, but
none of them are the standard format used for Music back in the days
before CDs. Some of them are Library for the Blind/Free Matter for the
Blind format(i.e. half-speed and mono, playback in a regular tape
player would result in doubled speed and different parts of the
program overlapping), and some are 2-XL format(i.e. normal speed,
mono, with tracks 2/4 reversed. Playback in a normal player results in
program overlap on side 1 and reversed playback on side 2). I have the
means to play these tapes properly(a library for the blind tape deck
and a Tiger 2XL Robot) as well as a portable media player with line-in
recording(a blaze ET) and the right kind of cable to connect cassette
player's earphone jack to recorder's line-in jack, but it seems rather
tedius to rely on a method that takes the full run time of the
source(or 4 times the run time for the 2XL tapes) to make a digital
copy, and I would assume such is far from being the least lossy means
of ripping cassette tapes not to mention that the resulting rips of a
2XL tape might not be in sync. Ideally, I'd like a method that would
be able to capture all 4 tracks from a cassette in a single pass and
at an accelerated pace and account for the oddities of format in the
tapes I'm working with(i.e. extra speed correction on the LFB/FMB
tapes and joining the tracks as single mono stream instead of pairwise
into a stereo stream, composing the 2XL tapes into a single quad
channel stream while accomodating two of the tracks being reversed on
tape), and with minimum loss of fidelity. Also, if anyone knows a
command line program that, given a multi-channel stream, can play one
channel at the time and switch between them on the fly with a single
keypress, that  would be useful.

Also, perhaps the easier problem, since its dealing with current tech
rather than tech from 25+ years ago, I recieve several audio magazine
subscriptions on digital cartridge, and depending on what else is on
my plate, I sometimes struggle to find enough time to listen to a
cartridge's contents within the window I have before I need to mail
the cartridge back. I would like to extract the content of the
cartridges so I can listen at my leisure and put them on my Blaze ET,
which is far more portable than the digital cartridge player I
have(it's nice for home listening, but completely unwieldy for
listening on the go). The cartridges are basically just flash drives,
but the casing is shaped in a way that prevents plugging them into a
USB port on a desktop computer, and while a USB extension cable seems
like the obvious solution, every such cable I've ever owned has a
guard around the connector on the end the cartridge would plug in to,
again preventing the connection. Assuming there's no proprietary
filesystem on the cartridge, the solution should be as simple as
finding a USB extension cable with unguarded connectors, mounting the
cartridge on my PC and copying files, but I'm not sure how to find
such a cable, and my attempts to remove the guard from a cable myself
resulted in ruined cables.

Any assistance with either of these issues would be greatly appreciated.

Jeffery Wright
President Emeritus, Nu Nu Chapter, Phi Theta Kappa.
Former Secretary, Student Government Association, College of the Albemarle.

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