Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 36 / MAY 1983 / PAGE 12

Cassette Drive Risk

I have set my VIC on a timer. The PLAY key on the tape drive is left depressed. When the system powers up I would like for it to load and run the program on the tape. How do I do this?

T. H. Homer III

It would be better to avoid leaving any of the tape-moving keys (REW, F.FWD, or PLAY) down while the unit is turned off. This can cause significant damage to a tape machine.

The tape is pulled through your drive at a uniform rate. The computer would not be able to load your programs from the tape drive if the rate deviated much from the norm. Inside the tape player are a capstan and a pinch roller (see illustration). When the PLAY button is pressed, the capstan revolves and the pinch roller holds the tape firmly against the capstan. The roller is made of hard rubber, but left pressed against a motionless capstan, it can be deformed.

From time to time you'll get a shopping cart at the market with a wheel that has been similarly damaged. In that situation, you're in for a noisy, bumpy trip through the store. A bad pinch roller would have far more serious effects: you would begin to have frequent load errors.

If you want a program to start running at a certain time, just set the internal clock. You don't need to involve the tape player at all. For example, to start a program that wakes you up with VIC music in eight hours:

10 TI$ = "000000" : REM 00 HOURS/ 00M
20 IF VAL(TI$) = 80000 THEN 40
30 GOTO 20

The VIC uses about a nickel's worth of electricity every 24 hours if you leave it on continuously. It's probably its own best timer.