2013 Retrochallenge Summer Event, Retrochallenge

2013 Retrochallenge Summer Event – Post 03

(This is part three of the chronicle of my 2013 Retrochallenge Summer Event submission. Challenge #1 = Learn Italian using an Atari 400. Challenge #2 = Interface a Wii controller to an Apple IIe. The mediocrity starts here.)

Challenge #1, Snag #2

Several nights ago, I ran the first side of tape number one of the Atari Conversational Italian program without any problems. I thought the interleaving of recorded audio with the program was pretty dang cool.

Then I made a big mistake. I hit the rewind button and since it seemed like it was going to take a bit, I stepped outside the room. When I returned I found the tape had fully rewound but the drive motor was still spinning away. I assumed it would automatically click off when it ran out of tape.

I didn’t think much of it until I tried loading lesson two a few days later. The take-up spindle would rotate about half a turn then stop, struggle, rotate, and stop. I could imagine the tape getting tangled under the door. Again, I disassembled the tape drive. It appears to be a problem on the side of the drive I couldn’t access due to the stubborn philips screw I mentioned in a previous post.

So using the best fitting screwdriver I could find, I ended up mangling and stripping the screw. Hmm. My friend suggested using a Dremel tool to fashion a flathead notch on the screw head. Sounded like a good idea, however, I was worried about tiny metal filaments flying everywhere, so I grabbed a large refrigerator magnet and positioned it to catch the debris.

The magnet worked well. But the notch I made ended up getting stripped, too. Using the last bit of metal left on the screwhead, I cut a much deeper channel, praying there would be enough material to hold everything together. Finally it moved and I was able to gain access to the opposite side where the take-up spindle resides.

Atari 410 Part
Philips-to-Flathead Conversion using Dremel

After some inspection and spinning the pulleys around, I discovered I had flat-spotted a rubber cylinder that transfers rotation from the large flywheel to the take-up spindle. I thought about applying some sort of rubber or glue to the flat-spot to add some roundness but it seemed risky.

Atari 410 Part
That little flat-spot may not seem like much but it has Tourette’s and a drinking problem.

My solution was to wedge something small under the flat-spot, between the plastic spool and the rubber, hoping it would increase the radius just at that location. The “something small” ended up being a lead from a resistor that I’ve been flicking and spinning like a propeller instead of letting it live its life as intended, converting current to heat and such.

Atari 410 Part
Resistor: “I just don’t think you understand me.”
Atari 410 Part
Don’t laugh. It worked.

Thankfully I was able to get everything back together with no broken parts. Tested and it’s working again. Well, rewind doesn’t but I can flip the cassette over and fast-forward instead. I’ll live with that. Whew. Back in business. But I’ve lost a lot of time.