For a recent Teardown Tuesday, we dug into an 80’s-era Sharp audio cassette player. This was of particular interest to our students, since many of them weren’t familiar with the technology. To finish up, the various bits and bobs were knolled, just for the fun of it.
Some interesting notes from the project. Folks were surprised to learn that the coils used in the recording and playback heads aren’t dissimilar to the coils used in hard drive motors. Heck, you can even make a hard drive into a speaker! Also, even allowing for the age difference between this deck and the projector we deconstructed earlier, the contrast in build quality was stark. Where the projector was designed for easy service and component replacement, the cassette deck was clearly not designed to be serviced except at a very basic level (such as replacing entire assemblies, rather than individual parts. Basically, the tape deck was built to be disposable.
Even the build quality of the individual pieces was distinctly different. Where the projector used good quality cast metal parts, solid-soldered RF shielding, and high-grade plastics, the tape deck was all cheap stamped steel and flimsy plastic. Truly, you get what pay for. Interestingly, where the project used a number of circuit boards, the tape deck used far more direct-wire connections. That can probably be chalked up to when it was made (before PCBs were so common in even low-end gear).
Sadly, aside from the coils, there wasn’t much reusable kit in this unit, but the chance to revisit an older technology was well worth the invested time.