Recursive Delete Audio/Visual

Recursive Delete Audio/Visual Cassette multitrack repair service, owned/operated by Jack Saturn. Also: podcast & music production, analog tape transfers, Hackintosh configuration, Mac help. #recdel
(3)

Operating as usual

When Roy brought me this Tascam 238S, the capstan motor had a problem with playing too fast - it’s a common fault caused...
01/25/2021

When Roy brought me this Tascam 238S, the capstan motor had a problem with playing too fast - it’s a common fault caused by leaking surface mount capacitors. I cleaned the surface of the motor PCB, installed new through-hole caps in place of the old SM ones, and replaced a hardened idler tire. The levels for the VU meters and playback were calibrated on all 8 tracks and I adjusted the tape speed to be correct in Fixed and Varispeed modes. At that point the unit was good to go, and was soon on its way back to the Olympic Peninsula. #recdel

It feels great to facilitate other musicians’ creativity by repairing old 4-track machines, but one of my goals for 2021...
01/15/2021

It feels great to facilitate other musicians’ creativity by repairing old 4-track machines, but one of my goals for 2021 is to refocus on more music-making of my own as well. The droid on the right will be my new MIDI host/hub, receiving signal from my wireless Fishman Tripleplay guitar transmitter, as well as handling communication and clocking between my other MIDI devices. #recdel

At the beginning of 2020 I made the decision to narrow my repair focus to only working on cassette-based multitrack devi...
01/11/2021

At the beginning of 2020 I made the decision to narrow my repair focus to only working on cassette-based multitrack devices. I’ve made the occasional exception if I really like a particular unit, like the Library of Congress C-1. It’s not multitrack - heck, it’s technically mono - but I appreciate its design and sonic possibilities. Coincidentally, I’ve worked on two of them just since the beginning of 2021, including this one for Will. I replaced its melted belts, removed the old, failed battery and modified it so it could be powered by a 9V. #recdel

Ran some disassembled fader parts through the ultrasonic cleaner in hopes of removing heavy rust. These are from my coll...
12/29/2020

Ran some disassembled fader parts through the ultrasonic cleaner in hopes of removing heavy rust. These are from my collection of faders that I’ve pulled from Tascam 414’s and Porta02’s because they wouldn’t pass signal. As there’s no direct replacement part currently available, I’m hoping to revive these. I’m also currently experimenting with using resistors to alter linear faders of the same size so they’ll work with something resembling an audio taper. #recdel

Recently worked on this Tascam 424 which has been in the possession of Toby since 1995! It was still functioning great f...
12/04/2020

Recently worked on this Tascam 424 which has been in the possession of Toby since 1995! It was still functioning great for the most part, but I gave it the usual deep cleaning, contact-cleaned all pots and switches, lubricated the cam gears in the tape mechanism, installed a new capstan belt, calibrated all 3 tape speeds, and superglued in some supports for the Play button which had sunken in. #recdel

In the course of working on a Tascam 424mkII for a client, I made a disappointing discovery. The machine was brought to ...
11/26/2020

In the course of working on a Tascam 424mkII for a client, I made a disappointing discovery. The machine was brought to me because it had pitch issues. I wasn’t able to recreate the problem at first, until I tried calibrating the tape speeds. This has to be done with the case cover off, and I discovered once I reassembled the case that the pitch had deviated from where I’d set it.

This lead me to find that even in its centermost, non-varispeed position, the pitch knob had the slightest amount of “give” - enough that, even while the knob remained in that “center” notch, the pitch could change as much as a half-step when nudging it from left to right.

I ordered some replacement potentiometers that had the right 6-pin, dual gang layout, but it ended up that their impedance made them incompatible. This is another case of a proprietary part in an ‘80s/‘90s machine that doesn’t have a present-day equivalent.

As a basis for comparison, I pulled out two other 424mkII’s that I have here, and wouldn’t you know it, they had the same problem.

The lesson learned from all of this? I know now that while the 424mkII is a fine machine for people looking to do live tape manipulation with loops and whatnot, I won’t be recommending it to anyone who wants to record and playback pitch-accurate recordings. I’m not sure if the knob was like this from the factory or if the loose center developed over time, but either way, it’s common enough to be present in all the 424mkII’s I have here.

If you own a Tascam 424mkII, fire up your machine and let me know in the comments if you have the same result. #recdel

I’ve been working on lots of machines lately with complicated problems, so it’s nice to get an “easy” one now and then. ...
10/29/2020

I’ve been working on lots of machines lately with complicated problems, so it’s nice to get an “easy” one now and then. Fixing the Tascam 414mkII that Nathan brought me was a matter of bridging some broken solder joints on the headphone jack, disassembling one of the faders to clean out a bunch of lint, then replacing the belts and pinch roller. I also gave it the spa treatment so it could be picked looking like (close to) new! It was a treat to test, as it was one of the better-sounding 414’s to come through recently. #recdel

In the middle of October, in the refracted mid-afternoon sunlight, Tascam 424 knobs and sliders rest in a canning jar, m...
10/17/2020

In the middle of October, in the refracted mid-afternoon sunlight, Tascam 424 knobs and sliders rest in a canning jar, mid-way between a bath in the ultrasonic cleaner and being blown dry one by one with an electric duster. #recdel

My success rate for repairing failed motors isn’t at 100% yet, but it’s getting better all the time. Brendon from YUVEES...
10/13/2020

My success rate for repairing failed motors isn’t at 100% yet, but it’s getting better all the time. Brendon from YUVEES brought me this Tascam 464 which had a melted belt, hardened lubricant in the tape mechanism and a motor that wouldn’t turn. The surgery on the motor went well, and I gave the machine a toothbrush-cleaning while I was at it, removing 20+ years of grime from a previous owner. #recdel

Sometimes I’m stumped by a particular machine’s problem and afterward the solution becomes part of my regular repair rou...
08/25/2020

Sometimes I’m stumped by a particular machine’s problem and afterward the solution becomes part of my regular repair routine. In the case of Philip’s Yamaha MT100II that I worked on back in the spring, signal wouldn’t come through any of the channels unless I forcefully turned them all the way up to “wake them.” It was almost like there was a noise gate applied. After testing various components, I finally figured out that the input switches were severely dirty inside, and were not making contact when in the Tape position. I disassembled them and sprayed them with contact cleaner — problem solved! Now I clean the switches on every device that comes through here, even if it seems like they don’t need it! #recdel

The machines I work on are 25-40 years old, give or take, so they’re filled with parts that don’t have a contemporary eq...
08/20/2020

The machines I work on are 25-40 years old, give or take, so they’re filled with parts that don’t have a contemporary equivalent, and the manufacturer has long-since stopping carrying them. For example, a potentiometer like this one might be readily available but it’s not the right length or has the wrong end on the shaft. I track down replacements by digging through Google image search, eBay and obscure equipment sellers, cross-referencing part numbers that may have also appeared in keyboards, stereos, etc. Sometimes it takes me months to track down the elusive part I need to complete a repair. It can be a pain, but I’ll admit that I do kind of enjoy this detective work. Pictured is a channel volume knob for a Tascam 234 for which I’m currently seeking a match. The sleuth is on the case! #recdel

Worked on a Tascam 414 for Alex awhile back. A few of the input jacks and the headphone jack were broken, so I replaced ...
08/18/2020

Worked on a Tascam 414 for Alex awhile back. A few of the input jacks and the headphone jack were broken, so I replaced them, and did some general cleaning while I was at it. Keen eyes will note the Goodwill sticker, which was purposely not removed. What is better than a broken but unbowed 4-track found at a thrift store, just begging to be revived? #recdel

Worked on this Tascam 424mkII for Alex from Clawfoot Slumber. Installed new belts, reseated some loose metal clips on th...
06/22/2020

Worked on this Tascam 424mkII for Alex from Clawfoot Slumber. Installed new belts, reseated some loose metal clips on the inside, replaced the fuses, installed 15 new tactile switches, ran all the plastic parts through my ultrasonic cleaner and toothbrush-cleaned the outer case. The tape speeds were adjusted using my calibration cassette and all inputs & outputs were tested before returning it to the client. “It feels like I imagine a brand new machine would!” wrote Alex after getting it home. #recdel

It’s a testament to the whitewashed textbooks I had growing up, and my youth in a barely-integrated southern town, that ...
06/19/2020

It’s a testament to the whitewashed textbooks I had growing up, and my youth in a barely-integrated southern town, that I never even knew about Juneteenth until well into adulthood. I will be spending some time today to educate myself further about its history. Many Portland businesses are commemorating Juneteenth by donating a percentage of their sales to the Black Resilience Fund, and I made a $119 donation on behalf of #recdel . I hope everyone is staying safe, wearing your masks, and telling racist uncles on Facebook to shut it.

You might not notice at first, but there is not one but three Fostex 160’s in this photo! Brian brought them to me to re...
05/11/2020

You might not notice at first, but there is not one but three Fostex 160’s in this photo! Brian brought them to me to refurbish and now he has backup machines to last him quite awhile! I replaced all the belts in each, a pinch roller in one of ‘em, as well as washing and cleaning all external parts and faceplates. All the potentiometers were contact-cleaned and each machine was fully tested and speed-adjusted. #recdel

In addition to repair, I’m starting to delve further into calibration / alignment of cassette multitrack machines, so it...
05/07/2020

In addition to repair, I’m starting to delve further into calibration / alignment of cassette multitrack machines, so it was time I upgraded my multimeter. Just received this Fluke 187, newly refurbished (and itself calibrated) by DSS Technical Services in North Carolina. I also got this new set of Probe Master probes as the perfect complement. Looking forward to putting this pair to use over the next few days — after they’re done sunbathing, of course! #recdel

I worked on a Tascam 488mkII for Travis which he picked up from me a little over a month ago, right before social distan...
04/21/2020

I worked on a Tascam 488mkII for Travis which he picked up from me a little over a month ago, right before social distancing fully took hold in Oregon. I think he may have been the last client I was able to have come inside to test their machine before taking it away. Ahh, the good old days! The capstan belt in this machine had gone slack, so I replaced it. A few of the channels either didn’t pass signal to tape reliably or were noisy; I ultimately narrowed it down to dirty Bus selector switches, which I cleaned. I also replaced all the tactile switches in the transport section. #recdel

A few weeks before we all quarantined ourselves, I bought a set of brake cables for my bike, fully intending to install ...
03/24/2020

A few weeks before we all quarantined ourselves, I bought a set of brake cables for my bike, fully intending to install them myself. My old ones were frayed and I didn’t want to risk an accident. But with my Bridgestone being my main form of transportation and without the right cutters for the job, I decided to call in a pro. @whatthehellmason made a housecall on Sunday and we kept an appropriate distance(!) while he installed the new cabling and adjusted the brake tension. Mason is super friendly, his rate was extremely reasonable, and he would be glad to help you out if you run into any problems with your bicycle during this rough time!

Isopropyl alcohol is something I use every day at my workbench. Now it’s been called into active duty cleaning not 4-tra...
03/22/2020

Isopropyl alcohol is something I use every day at my workbench. Now it’s been called into active duty cleaning not 4-track recorders, but doorknobs. Other than that, I count myself lucky that the coronavirus closures have not affected my ability to do my work, as my job is solitary and I work from home to begin with. I will be continuing through my backlog of repair projects and for the time being, I’ll be meeting clients in the driveway. Stay safe, everybody. #recdel

Jason brought me his Fostex 280 because it had quit recording and playing back. It also turned out there was no signal i...
03/10/2020

Jason brought me his Fostex 280 because it had quit recording and playing back. It also turned out there was no signal in the left channel of the master output. I replaced the capstan belt and re-lubricated the reels, then finally traced the other issue to a bad op amp, which I sourced and replaced. The machine was returned on a leaf-strewn day in November. #recdel

Removing components with solder wick is time consuming, the removal is never very clean and I always run out of it right...
03/05/2020

Removing components with solder wick is time consuming, the removal is never very clean and I always run out of it right when I’m about to start a project. I finally purchased a desoldering station for myself, so now replacing old capacitors will be a breeze — and dare I say, fun? The photo is from my first work with the desoldering gun, recapping all the playback channels in a Tascam Porta02mkII. The capacitors up top were the originals, and the ones below are the new Nichicon replacements. #recdel

This Tascam 414 has been in Dan's possession since he found it at Trade Up Music 15 years ago, and it’s still so clean! ...
02/14/2020

This Tascam 414 has been in Dan's possession since he found it at Trade Up Music 15 years ago, and it’s still so clean! He brought it to me because it had quit recording to track 4. Turned out the wires for that channel had come loose from the record/playback head. I resoldered them and cleaned/demagnetized the heads while I was at it. This 414 is back in business! #recdel

An “exploded view” of the Tascam Porta One during its spa treatment. I take the whole thing apart and clean every nook a...
02/12/2020

An “exploded view” of the Tascam Porta One during its spa treatment. I take the whole thing apart and clean every nook and cranny. This machine will be for sale soon — DM me your email address if you’re interested! #recdel

Photographer Alin Dragulin needed to replace his old Mac laptop with something more powerful, so he asked me to set up a...
01/13/2020

Photographer Alin Dragulin needed to replace his old Mac laptop with something more powerful, so he asked me to set up a Hackintosh for him. He picked out the parts and I built/configured the machine. It was based around an i9-9900K processor and the Geekbench tests returned great results. I love helping people sort out their computer needs, so let me know if I can lend you a hand! #recdel

I’ve worked on at least three Tascam machines in the past week, all of them different models, which each had some kind o...
01/10/2020

I’ve worked on at least three Tascam machines in the past week, all of them different models, which each had some kind of problem in the headphone amplifier section. The Line Out signal would be fine, but the headphones would either have an unbalanced stereo spread or crackle. I’m beginning to think it’s an epidemic! This Record/Playback PCB from a Porta One is the latest to go under the knife...err, soldering iron. #recdel

Sold this Tascam Porta03mkII to Zach from Dark Fjord and you can tell how thrilled he is about it! I replaced the belts,...
01/08/2020

Sold this Tascam Porta03mkII to Zach from Dark Fjord and you can tell how thrilled he is about it! I replaced the belts, installed a new voltage regulator, and included a new power supply with the sale. Zach didn’t need a machine with a bunch of EQ options, as he’ll be running the output “through a bunch of pedals.” I’ll be curious to hear the results! Are you looking for a 4-track for your own projects? #recdel

I've recently transferred a few 1/4" audio tapes for @bluechalkmedia , including this Vietnam War-era reel made by Scotc...
01/06/2020

I've recently transferred a few 1/4" audio tapes for @bluechalkmedia , including this Vietnam War-era reel made by Scotch. The reverse side of the plastic box was fitted with a postcard which allowed the "Living Letter" to be mailed to a loved one immediately after the recording was finished. This tape was particularly crisp — like it could have been recorded yesterday. If you have any old family recordings that you'd like preserved, please get in touch — I'd be glad to help! #recdel

This Yamaha MT120 was brought to me by @quiet____time and was not playing tapes. Turned out it had a nylon bushing in th...
12/12/2019

This Yamaha MT120 was brought to me by @quiet____time and was not playing tapes. Turned out it had a nylon bushing in the clutch that had developed a hairline crack and fallen off. Through the miracle of modern technology I was able to replace it with a 3D-printed part — success! I also replaced the belts, as well as some capacitors that helped minimize the radio interference from the motor that I was hearing in channel 4. #recdel

I have an old MacBook Pro 2011 that I’ve been using for most of my productivity apps over the past year or so, to leave ...
12/09/2019

I have an old MacBook Pro 2011 that I’ve been using for most of my productivity apps over the past year or so, to leave my main Hackintosh freed up for audio work and gaming. This weekend I finally got around to installing MacOS Mojave on a Dell Optiplex 7010 that I picked up for $75. Once I’ve upgraded the RAM and added an SSD, this will be a pretty decent machine for under $250! If you’re interested in having me configure a Hackintosh for you — either a simple one like this or a souped-up model — get in touch and let’s discuss! #recdel

The AMR MCR-4 was a rackmount cassette 4-track released in 1989; Peavey was AMR’s parent company. The MCR-4 was availabl...
11/05/2019

The AMR MCR-4 was a rackmount cassette 4-track released in 1989; Peavey was AMR’s parent company. The MCR-4 was available in a wooden frame, coupled with the AMR 42 mixer. That’s the combo that was brought to me by a client, and it’s the first one I’ve seen in person. I’m currently inside the deck dismantling the tape mechanism so I can measure the belts for future reference. #recdel

Jared had me fix his Tascam 488mkII and mentioned that he was interested in upgrading to a 688. Well it just so happened...
10/29/2019

Jared had me fix his Tascam 488mkII and mentioned that he was interested in upgrading to a 688. Well it just so happened that I had three of them in my stock of non-functional machines. I took the cleanest parts from each and made a near-perfect 688 for Jared, cleaning the thing inside and out, replacing the belt and all 58(!) tactile switches. He’s thrilled with the results! Maybe you too are looking for a new multitrack cassette machine? Drop me a DM and let me know which one! #recdel

A client brought me his Tascam 488mkII to repair and one of the issues he described was an intermittent headphone jack c...
10/25/2019

A client brought me his Tascam 488mkII to repair and one of the issues he described was an intermittent headphone jack connection. It had always been that way since he purchased the machine from its previous owner; so long as he angled the headphone cable just the right way, the connection worked fine. When I opened it up...well, you can see for yourself. 😂 Looks like the broken-off tip of an old headphone jack had been living in there the whole time. #recdel

Back in 2014, I mixed & mastered an EP for John’s project Acid The Bear, which he recorded on his Tascam 424mkII. Who wo...
10/21/2019

Back in 2014, I mixed & mastered an EP for John’s project Acid The Bear, which he recorded on his Tascam 424mkII. Who would’ve known that 5 years later I’d have a thriving 4-track repair business and John would bring me that very same machine to refurbish? I gave the faceplate and knobs a bath, replaced all 15 tactile switches, corrected both tape speeds, contact-cleaned all the potentiometers to get rid of crackle, and finished up by cleaning and demagnetizing the heads. It’s looking like new! #recdel

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