Midi Controlled Cassette Sampler

Hi Everyone,

im brand new here and also brand new to Arduino. didnt know what it was until last week.

I am Music Production Degree Student in Windmill Lane Recording Studios, Dublin, Ireland. I am in my final year and have to undertake a large scale project where i have to research and develop a physical product of some sort. it makes up 33% of my final mark and i have till may 2013 to do it.

I have devised plans to develop a cassette tape sampler similar to that of a 1960's mellotron tape sampler but which can be controlled via midi

Cassette tapes can be easily modified to play short 7 second loops rather than 25 or 30 mins of playback. if a single note of a violin for example is recorded onto this tape, this tape now becomes an endless sample of this note.

What i intend to do is replace the motor from a cassette player with a motor controlled via a microcontroller (I ordered a arduino Mega today) which i intend to be able to control via midi messages.

Ideally i want to be able control the speed of this motor so that it moves faster and slower, corespondent to a pitch, so this one not violin sample can now play a melody.

If this works, i then intend to duplicate this process a number of times with other cassette players so i can program them so they play in harmony.

I have literally no experience using electronics or coding but i am eager to learn and have plenty of time to do so.

just wondering right off the mark if anyone has any advice for me.


You might find that a standard cassette player motor can't come up to speed (or change speed) quickly enough (due to a flywheel most players use); plus internally (on some players) they have an electro-mechanical "governor" (of a sort), internal to the motor, which uses centrifugal force to open contacts or force the brushes away from the motor to keep it at a fixed speed. You would either need to bypass all of this, or use a different motor (and ditch the flywheel, etc). If you can byppianopianoass the flywheel (not easy because it's shaft is what the tape passes between - that and the pinch roller), and use a different DC motor (or bypass the governor - not too difficult if you have any experience taking apart and fixing/modding small motors) - that would probably be your best solution. However, if you've never disassembled a cassette player before, you'll be in for an interesting mess on how to do it. As a kid, I used to tear apart many broken cassette players relatives and friends of the family would give me, so I became quite familiar with their internals. The mechanisms are all pretty much alike, but they still tend to be quite complex mechanically, and not too open to modding much.