Tape Head Module

Hi all!

Lately I’ve been fiddling around with audio amplifiers, like this simple LM386 circuit. It makes the microphone bit super sensitive and fun! :slight_smile:

This week I took apart a broken tape deck someone discarded. :slight_smile: My intention is to use the tape head and some gears to make an analog fire truck that manually plays a tape loop of fire truck sounds when you push it around. It’s a weird idea, I know, but I’m already down the rabbit hole. :rabbit:

My next step is to make a preamp for the tape head. I’m pretty sure it needs a preamp, but I don’t really know and I never made one before. Any suggestions would be appreciated!


Haha, it is weird but I like it!

This reminds me of an old toy that looked like a van which had a record needle and drove in circles while playing the music.

You should be able to use your existing amp to increase the volume of the tape head. A preamp is just an amp with specific functions like raising mic levels to line levels or any number of standards before hitting the power amp. The big difference is that they typically have very low noise characteristics so have elements of the circuit specifically to reduce the noise floor.

On the other hand some funky noise is probably going to add to your creation so try hooking it up to the amp and see what you get :grinning:

Figuring out how to keep the tape in the proper position may be the more difficult engineering problem. I ran across a video with a tape head scratcher where the builder used a type of monorail track to keep everything aligned. You could create a track that the firetruck runs over that would simplify the issue.

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Hi jude @JackANDJude,
in general a tape head generates a very low level signal… so you will need a preamplifier for sure…
Here are some easy example diagrams with LM386 opamps. If you search for “tape head preamp LM386” you will find a zillion more :grinning:

Good luck ! . :sweat_smile:

Look for special tape head amplifier diagrams, they will have less noise and distortion and better frequency characteristics…


Thanks for the great input, @Progenitor & @alexpikkert! I’ll continue sharing as I progress. :slight_smile: