While these days we’re blessed with the magic of always-on internet connections and cloud services, back in the day software was delivered on physical media. Some of the most reviled media were data tapes, much maligned for their glacial loading times. However, the tangibility did give them some charm, and [JamHamster] decided to recreate this with his self-contained virtual tape loader.
The guts of the loader is a TZXDuino, a Spectrum tape emulator related to the Arduitape. It uses an Arduino Nano to store tape data files and replay them to load software on the retro platform. [JamHamster] combined this with a cassette tape shell and the head from a cassette audio adapter to make a digital tape emulator. The TZXDuino is crammed in the shell with a few mods, including a sensor that detects the play head moving inside the cassette to trigger playback. This stemmed from an earlier mod that did the same, just without an onboard battery.
It’s a tidy hack, and a very cool way to load games on your retro computer. With a firmware flash, it should be compatible with other systems too, thanks to the various computers supported by the wider Arduitape project. Tape emulators are popular with the community, thanks to eliminating the hassles of working with a now-obsolete format. Video after the break.
Source: SELF-CONTAINED TAPE LOADER FOR THE ZX SPECTRUM