Hacked Gadgets Forum

April 20, 2009

VHS Tape Storage Drive

at 10:25 am. Filed under Computer Hacks, Cool Gadgets, DIY Hacks, Electronic Hacks, Funny Hacks

 

This project turns a old VHS Tape into a USB storage drive. It looks like a normal VHS cassette tape except for the USB cable that sticks out of the shell. All of the project guts are hiding in the areas around the clear windows so that when you have a quick look at the front of the tape all seems normal. When plugged into a computer the VHS Tape Storage Drive will act as a normal USB drive except when the drive is accessed the tape reel will turn and the windows will light up. This will keep at least one of my VHS tapes out of the landfill.

The operation is quite simple, the USB cable connects to a thumb drive inside the device. The thumb drive has been cracked open to expose the circuit board, USB power and the drive LED output has been tapped into. These 3 points are wired to a small circuit board, there is a circuit that stretches the drive pulses into an on or off signal that is buffered by a transistor to power the internal motor and LED lights. The pulse stretcher was needed since the USB drive would flash when it was being accessed. This would have caused the motor action to be very jerky and the internal lights would also have flashed.

The cost to purchase all the parts for this project should be between $10 and $15 depending on the deal you can get for the USB thumb drive and assuming that you have a few items in your parts junk box. Construction time should be 3 to 4 hours but it took me longer since I took a ton of pictures along the way and has some belt drive (or should I say rubber band drive) issues.


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Gather the parts you need. (page 2)
Remove the Recycled DC Motor. (page 3)
Prepare the VHS Tape. (page 4)
Open the Thumb Drive and find the LED Drive Circuit. (page 5)
Wire up the Thumb Drive. (page 6)
Construct the Control Circuit. (page 7)
Mount everything in the Tape Shell. (page 8 )
The Device is Finished. (page 9)

 

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78 Responses to “VHS Tape Storage Drive”

  1. jefff Says:

    Hi,
    Why are there 3 diodes in series?
    Could I just use one?

  2. jan-jaap Says:

    properly to lower the voltage to the led, in a cheap way.

  3. mikheil Says:

    this looks nice but i hate such things. things with no purpose like spinning those things. if you want to make indicator for reading or righting use led or something

    but what would be cooler is to right data on actual video Tape
    in old days as i know they were writhing data on thin magnetic Tape so it is possible but it is interesting how much data can be stored on VHS Tape?

    sorry for bad english

  4. Alan Parekh Says:

    Hi Jeff,

    The three diodes are there to drop the voltage to a point that the transistor is not biased until the thumb drive output is actually on. The thumb drive LED output does not go to 0 when off…

  5. Alan Parekh Says:

    Hi Mikheil,

    Actually there are 4 blue LEDs that indicate reading or writing. Spinning the reel is just for fun. But if you are looking for a purpose you sure won’t find that here. :) Tape backups are still used today by large organizations for backup purposes. It has been many years since I have worked with backup tapes but I remember that it was possible to backup a full hard drive onto one back then.

    I actually wanted to have a loop of actual tape running around the reels but as you can see there really would have been no space to add anything and still keep both reels working.

  6. The voice in your head Says:

    Then you’d have to rewind your USB drive. Although it’d be cool to have it still work as a video tape.

    I was expecting data to be stored on the tape itself using a hacked VCR. That’d be a neat project.

    What did you do with the film, anyway?

  7. Alan Parekh Says:

    Hey Voice,

    I still have the film in the corner. I will probably keep 50 or so feet and toss the rest. I hate to throw stuff out but I think I sometimes need to let it go. :)

  8. Tech Blog Says:

    Very cool, can i use a rewinder on it :)

  9. John Says:

    cool hack. it would be nifty for one of the wheels to be able to manually rewind and take up the usb cord so it is out of the way during storage. Then i guess you’d need some type of slip ring connection between the usb cable and the storage card leads… hmm. possibly doable w/ parts from one of those retractable phone-line cords. or maybe just run the usb cord through the center of the vcr tape wheel and all axial-twisting be damned.

  10. Alan Parekh Says:

    Hi John,

    That is a good idea. In a perfect world it would have been nice to have the cable be hidden also. The simplest solution probably would have been not to use an extension cable at all, or use one that was made only 2 or 3 inches long so that it could be hidden under the flap.

  11. Aaron Says:

    I enjoy this site I really do, but I sort of expected a better hack from its founder…

  12. USB tape drive | handmade cards, handmade jewelry, handmade quilts, handmade soap, handmade wedding invitations, handmade paper, handmade gifts, handmade purses, handmade jewellery, handmade handbags Says:

    [...] from Hacked Gadgets has a adroit artefact of repurposing a recording recording tape. This is a enthusiastic project, and he has a pleasant explore setup, too. His video shows what the [...]

  13. Robert Says:

    This is a fun hack. Some hacks do not require a purpose, so much as you have some useless items what can you do with them. What impressed me was the pic’s and documentation. just awesome!! I hope future content providers get that!! I got a clear idea of what I would need to do to duplicate this hack! That is what keeps me coming back for more.
    Thanks Alan Keep up the good work!
    Robert

  14. USB tape drive - machine quotidien Says:

    [...] from Hacked Gadgets has a clever way of repurposing a video cassette tape. This is a great project, and he has a nice cave setup, too. His video shows what the project does, [...]

  15. Ian Says:

    What a clever idea. When I first saw the article headline I thought it was actually saving data on to the VHS tape! Not sure much data that would have been able to save ;)

  16. Checkerbarn Says:

    Quite a few years ago I used a VHS tape to back up my Amiga. It would store about 10 gb in SP mode. (never got to prove that though)

  17. VHS USB flash drive | Geek stuff Says:

    [...] a great little hack by Alan Parekh at Hacked Gadgets. It involves using a USB flash drive and tapping into the LED activity light to add a mechanical [...]

  18. Sanctus Says:

    Well, It’s a nice hack. I would like to have the front lid closed completely and have the cable stacked there, there should be enough place for that. And I also have my Amiga tape backup on VHS somewhere in my old home. These days you may use DV cameras as streamer. I’ve made some calculations and it is cheaper and faster to use a TB disks now and plug in them just for backups. Of course as a ghetto (=crisis) solution, VHS streamer could work, if you can manage to get the stream back to PC (on Amiga it was easily done, as it was number one home and multimedia computer of that time, when (IBM) PCs were still with green or amber alphanumerical screens :P )

  19. VHS Hack - How to Make a VHS USB Flash Drive! | zedomax.com - The DIY, HOW TO, Hacks, Gadgets, and Tech Blog/Search Engine! Says:

    [...] via hackedgadgets This project turns a old VHS Tape into a USB storage drive. It looks like a normal VHS cassette tape except for the USB cable that sticks out of the shell. All of the project guts are hiding in the areas around the clear windows so that when you have a quick look at the front of the tape all seems normal. When plugged into a computer the VHS Tape Storage Drive will act as a normal USB drive except when the drive is accessed the tape reel will turn and the windows will light up. This will keep at least one of my VHS tapes out of the landfill. [...]

  20. Alan Parekh Says:

    Hi Checkerbarn and Sanctus,

    I never had the pleasure of having an Amiga growing up (I did drool over them though). How fast were those units at backing up on VHS? I had a audio cassette drive for my Timex Sinclare 1000 and Commodore 64. All I can say about those was they were slowwwwwwww.

  21. NatureTM Says:

    I have to agree a retractable cable would be nice. What would make this thing really amazing is if it could play/fast-forward/rewind depending on its activity, or even semi-randomly when accessed just to give the effect. That would make me want to build one.

  22. Everything Old Is New Again | Honk if you love justice! Says:

    [...] a head-scratch inducing addition to your desktop PC setup – an old VHS tape modded to act as a USB flash drive, complete with LED light and spinning reels.  I don’t have the skills for this, but if I [...]

  23. Cool Mods - The VHS USB Drive | Geeky Gadgets Says:

    [...] Cool Mods – The VHS USB Drive Posted 22 Apr. 2009 in Gadgets, Mods by Fatgadget Who said USB tapes were dead? The guys over at Hacked Gadgets have come up with the ultimate solution to recycle all your old VHS tapes and turn them into this cool VHS USB Drive. [...]

  24. VHS casette hacked into USB drive? Yes, please | RSS For Gadgets Says:

    [...] Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments [...]

  25. VHS casette hacked into USB drive? Yes, please | My Blog Channel Says:

    [...] Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments ENGADGET [...]

  26. Tom Says:

    Alan, it was the Video Backup System (VBS) on the Amiga. You can read about it at http://www.hugolyppens.com/VBS.html or http://www.lysator.liu.se/amiga/al/guide/al104/vbs30.HTML, you can also find some pictures at http://www.amiga-hardware.com :)

  27. Gadgetsteria » VHS/USB storage drive puts the present in the past Says:

    [...] Engadget, Hacked Gadgets [...]

  28. VHS casette hacked into USB drive? Yes, please | Technolocus Says:

    [...] appeared on Engadget on Wed, 22 Apr 2009 11:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Read | Permalink | Email [...]

  29. VHS casette hacked into USB drive? Yes, please | enjoi the brain drippings Says:

    [...] appeared on Engadget on Wed, 22 Apr 2009 11:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Read | Permalink | Email [...]

  30. VHS casette hacked into USB drive? Yes, please | a wish in the category Gadget news from KrazyWISH Says:

    [...] appeared on Engadget on Wed, 22 Apr 2009 11:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments Tags: Gadget [...]

  31. ZEITGEIST / VHS casette hacked into USB drive? Yes, please Says:

    [...] appeared on Engadget on Wed, 22 Apr 2009 11:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Read | Permalink | Email [...]

  32. VHS casette hacked into USB drive? Yes, please | Nero | neromix.com Says:

    [...] appeared on Engadget on Wed, 22 Apr 2009 11:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Read | Permalink | Email [...]

  33. VHS casette hacked into USB drive? Yes, please | Fresh Random News Says:

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  34.   VHS casette hacked into USB drive? Yes, please by Techno News Feed Says:

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  35. VHS casette hacked into USB drive? Yes, please | News Fu Says:

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  36. VHS casette hacked into USB drive? Yes, please » Developages - Development and Technology Blog Says:

    [...] &#82ead | Pe&#114mali&#110k | Em&#97i&#108 &#116&#104is&nb&#115p;|&nb&#115p;Comments [...]

  37. Dan’s Web » Blog Archive » VHS casette hacked into USB drive? Yes, please Says:

    [...] appeared on Engadget on Wed, 22 Apr 2009 11:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Read | Permalink | Email [...]

  38. wouldbecool.com » Blog Archive » VHS casette hacked into USB drive? Yes, please Says:

    [...] appeared on Engadget on Wed, 22 Apr 2009 11:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Read | Permalink | Email [...]

  39. VHS casette hacked into USB drive? Yes, please | Are you reading? Says:

    [...] Don’t bother asking questions, just admit to yourself that you really might want one (if not several) of these. Using very few materials, you can make yourself a USB storage device which looks just like a VHS tape with a giant wire sticking out of it! It’s not a terribly complicated affair — connecting the USB cable to a thumb drive inside the tape, some simple circuit board wiring — and presto! If you’re willing to spend three or four hours and around $10-15 a pop, you could finally make use of your lonely, disused 227 collection. Check out an informative, educational video of the process after the break. Source [...]

  40. VHS casette hacked into USB drive? Yes, please « Bauer Dummy Site Says:

    [...] appeared on Engadget on Wed, 22 Apr 2009 11:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Read | Permalink | Email [...]

  41. VHS casette hacked into USB drive? Yes, please | Technology Blog Says:

    [...] Read a2a_linkname=”VHS casette hacked into USB drive? Yes, please”;a2a_linkurl=”http://www.frenzytech.info/2009/04/22/vhs-casette-hacked-into-usb-drive-yes-please/”; This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009 at 4:02 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. [...]

  42. Scott Says:

    Have to love a hack that works in any language.
    http://www.journaldugeek.com/2009/04/22/une-nouvelle-vie-pour-vos-vhs/

  43. coren.us » Blog Archive » VHS casette hacked into USB drive? Yes, please Says:

    [...] appeared on Engadget on Wed, 22 Apr 2009 11:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Read | Permalink | Email [...]

  44. Homemade VHS Tape USB Storage Drive · TechBlogger Says:

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  45. VHS cassette turned into a USB drive - SlipperyBrick.com Says:

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  46. Cinta VHS convertida en retro-memoria USB - THEBLUEBULB.COM En Español: Viaje, Tecnología y Película Says:

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  47. InfoChaos Digital » Cinta VHS convertida en retro-memoria USB Says:

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  48. Cinta VHS convertida en retro-memoria USB | Gtecnologia.net Says:

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  49. Cinta VHS convertida en retro-memoria USB | llamadas gratis Says:

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  50. ITM » Archivo » Cinta VHS convertida en retro-memoria USB Says:

    [...] el vídeo a continuación.Continue reading Cinta VHS convertida en retro-memoria USBRead | Permalink | Email [...]

  51. Qui a dit la cassette VHS c’est Old school? | w3sh magazine Says:

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  54. VHS casette hacked into USB drive? Yes, please | Gadget-Daily | Gadget-Daily Says:

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  55. Convirtiendo una cinta de VHS en una memoria USB Says:

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  67. Kathy Says:

    Does anyone have info on retrieving recorded over video on vhs?

  68. VHS casette hacked into USB drive? Yes, please | e-Smart Tech Gadgets Says:

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  69. VHS USB Drive | e-Smart Tech Gadgets Says:

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  71. Clonick news » Blog Archive » Cinta VHS convertida en retro-memoria USB Says:

    [...] Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments [...]

  72. DSL & Co'ler Says:

    Really Cool – like these old car radio adapter for portable CD-Players :-)

  73. منتدى Says:

    this looks nice but i hate such things. things with no purpose like spinning those things. if you want to make indicator for reading or righting use led or something

    but what would be cooler is to right data on actual video Tape
    in old days as i know they were writhing data on thin magnetic Tape so it is possible but it is interesting how much data can be stored on VHS Tape?

    sorry for bad english

  74. تحميل مسنجر Says:

    indicator for reading or righting use led or something

    but what would be cooler is to right data on actual video Tape

  75. Checkerbarn Says:

    That’s what I used to back up my Amiga, a few years ago…

  76. Hand Soldering an LGA Surface Mount Chip - Hacked Gadgets - DIY Tech Blog Says:

    [...] soldered to the project board. The soldering looks simple when it is magnified this much but after soldering these wires onto a thumb drive for the VHS Tape Storage Drive Project I know first hand how hard it [...]

  77. VHSr Says:

    ArVid can store 4-5gb on a VHS tape without compression. It was popular in Russia.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ArVid

    Some say you can get up to 20gb on a vhs tape.

  78. CavanhaMan Says:

    I found your project and it is very cool in my opinion! Was looking for information to make a VHS with a 1TB HD instead of pendrive and use it plugged into a smart TV.
    In my case, I think about doing without rotating disks (lack of space) and static LEDs (LEDs flashing will disrupt watch the movies with the lights off).

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