USB tape drive

Computers & Mobile Craft & Design Technology

From the MAKE Flickr pool

Alan from Hacked Gadgets has a clever way of repurposing a video cassette tape. This is a pretty good project, and he has a nice cave setup, too. His video shows what the project does, and he does a decent job explaining the reasons and theory behind the build.

This project turns a old VHS Tape into a USB storage drive. It looks like a normal VHS cassette tape except for the USB cable that sticks out of the shell. All of the project guts are hiding in the areas around the clear windows so that when you have a quick look at the front of the tape all seems normal. When plugged into a computer the VHS Tape Storage Drive will act as a normal USB drive except when the drive is accessed the tape reel will turn and the windows will light up. This will keep at least one of my VHS tapes out of the landfill.

In his Flickr set, you can see lots of the details and steps.

After you have converted your VCR into a cat feeder like John Park or James Larsson in MAKE, Volume 03, you might have a few extra tapes on your hands, so this is just one of the zillions of ideas we will need for all those surplus video cassettes.

18 thoughts on “USB tape drive

  1. Josh says:

    So, you come here thinking “neat someone put in a circuit to read and write data from a VHS mag tape and turn it into a tape drive.” And then you watch the video and find out someone hot glued a thumb drive into a VHS tape and put some LEDs in it.

    Stupid project, big waste of time & space, and big letdown on what could (and should since it’s on MAKE) be a nice project.

    1. ehrichweiss says:

      There’s too much of this “cute hack” thing going on these days. I was entirely let down on this one.

      1. Chris Connors says:

        Too cute? not an authentic tape drive mod? Ok sure. Show us what you are working on. Show us the best project you have seen done recently. Frankly, I thought the design and concept was pretty clever. It takes advantage of the connectivity and communication between the thumb drive and the computer to activate another circuit. Ok, so it uses some hot glue, but if you were going to mass produce 10 or 100 or 1000 of these, what would you use? If you wanted to make it do something more functional, what would it be?

        You can do better? Show us your best! Make something and share it.

        1. neuroclast says:

          The hot glue isn’t the issue, I think the issue is the concept which is far from clever or useful. I guess I just expect better quality from a maker site. You could have effectively posted a 10 minute video of how to hook a LED up to a USB power pin and have the same thing here.

          This “hack” is basically the ricer of the electronic hobby world, all show and no go. And I think the title is a bit misleading. Maybe “Thumb drive glued in random objects” would be more fitting.

    2. japroach says:

      That would be interesting (albeit still being basically useless):

  2. jammit says:

    Let’s see…
    There are USB sound cards with built in amps, old magnetic tape heads lying around, and arduinos with USB support for motor control. This could get interesting.

  3. selfSilent says:

    just putting a thumb drive into something else is getting weak.
    Putting a thumb drive into something enormous is pointless.
    Making 1 side of the video spin around, big wow.

    The barrel has been well and truly scraped.

    If I chiseled out a bit of cement from between the bricks of my house and re-cemented a thumb drive in and made the door bell go off when it’s being used, would it appear on Make:? Yes it probably would, BUT IT SHOULDN’T.

    Make:, you need to aim your sites higher than this crap.

  4. Wilson! says:

    Yo, don’t criticize someone’s critical blog post unless you can do better. Go ahead, post up a link to your most critical blog post and let us judge whether you’re critical enough to criticize someone else for being critical.

    See where I’m going with this? Why does someone have to have built something better before they’re allowed to have an opinion? And who the eff are you to decide who gets to criticize someone’s post or not? Alan from Hacked Gadgets put it out there for the world to see — if he doesn’t like criticism, let him stand up for himself.

    1. Norm says:

      Hey hey, enough of this “Don’t criticize a blog post unless you can do better”.

      I am not a novelist. Does that mean I don’t have the right to write a bad book review? I’m not a chef. Does that mean I can’t yell to the kitchen when my soup tastes like mud?

      You people at make should welcome criticism, even bad criticism. We commenters are only trying to tell you how to make your blog better.

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