GETTNG YOUR HEAD TOGETHER
Following on from OPERATION CARETAKER - a complete computer cassette recorder care kit containing a head cleaning tape and alignment routine, Global have just released OPERATION ALIGNMENT for the Spectrum at £5.95.
Without doubt, faulty alignment of tape recorder heads is the major cause of tape loading problems - particularly if the program which is being loaded features one of the fancy hyper, mega or giga loaders favoured by software houses in the drive against piracy. Usually all that is needed is a tweak or two on the azimuth alignment screw that adjusts the playback head and all is well when the angle is restored to ninety degrees.
Getting that correct angle can be a tricky business - the only really accurate way to do it involves an oscilloscope, but then not many folks have one of those lying around the front room at home. With experience, it's possible to play a program tape and twiddle with the adjusting screw, getting a reasonable alignment by listening to the sounds emanating from the tape recorder's speaker, but the nervous or unskilled can make a total botch of things using this rather ham-fisted method.
Global come to the rescue with a program (that you might have to load in with a friend's tape recorder if your head is realty wonky) that comes in a box with a dinky little screwdriver ideal for head twiddling. Once the program has loaded, sample data can be played into the computer and the tape head adjusted while you watch the effects of your twiddles displayed in the form of dynamic barcharts that give a readout of the status of the tape player in real time.
Technobabble aside, the package represents good value if you are having problems with tape loading errors and is worth keeping with the computer. After at while, you may find that using the package has trained your ear and the software can be dispensed with - don't lose that dinky screwdriver though!
OPERATION ALIGNMENT had better not be checking out Cameron, our photographer, rather than the tape deck. Status: UGLY, no successes, lots of errors and a very dodgy speed of operation? No, that's not our Cam...