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Hello, Thatcher,

I am equipped to do the carts in the following manner:

I remove the tape from the shell and return it to you on a reel. In 
this case, if there are several carts, I will place the tapes on one 
reel with leader between them, identifying in handwriting which tape 
is which on the white tape box. Alternatively, each tape can be 
returned on a separate reel. I use large-hub 7-inch reels for this. I 
return the shells. Most carts are stopped at their cue tone, so I 
would cut the tape there. I would, of course, adjust azimuth for each 
tape as azimuth consistency is not one of the strong points of this 
format. The ITC Series 99 attempted to compensate for this in their 
ELSA system which would, Erase, Locate Splice, and Azimuth (the 
record head) automatically.

It would be good to know if these are stereo or mono (although if 
unknown, that can be determined).

I use one of my Sony APR-5000 machines to digitize the carts. We can 
digitize the cue tones, if necessary as well.

The mono NAB cartridges conform to the NAB 2-track head 
specification, with channel 1 being the audio and channel 2 being the 
cue. These are 82 mil tracks. That's the easy one.

The stereo NAB cartridges have three tracks of the same width (but 
not in the same location) as 1/4-track stereo. The three 43 mil 
tracks are evenly spread out across the tape. The top one is left, 
the middle one is right, and the bottom one is cue.

In addition, there was the Pacific Recorders MaxTrax format which had 
two 82 mil tracks with a narrow guard band between them and one 
narrow track at the bottom for cue.

I had John French make me a special head assembly that has one each 
of the stereo NAB and the MaxTrax heads in it for just this purpose.

I think you will find this approach produces a far better result than 
any still-living cartridge playback machine. The only downside is 
that I am not equipped to re-load the tapes into the cartridges.

If you are interested, please contact me off-list, but I thought I'd 
post this to the list to let people know what the issues are and also 
to let people know how I approach this.

Links of possible interest:
    email:  mailto:[log in to unmask]

    my web page relating to this and other formats using 0.25" wide 
tape in cartridges.
http://richardhess.com/notes/formats/magnetic-media/magnetic-tapes/analog-audio/025-cartridges/
     or if the above is corrupted or split into two lines here's a 
short version
              http://is.gd/bK00i

    the NAB standards on cartridge tape (and also on reel tape and discs)
              http://richardhess.com/tape/history/NAB/

     here are two links (via Google) of people far more into Carts than I am.
              http://www.jimprice.com/prosound/carts.htm
              http://www.cartguys.com/  (appear to still sell NEW machines!)

I hope that helps (and satisfies the curiosity of those who were 
wondering about this format).

With that said, in almost every instance, the NAB cartridge was an 
inferior quality (but more convenient) copy of something else. If you 
have the something else, it would most likely be better to digitize 
that for preservation.

At 09:58 AM 2010-04-27, Thatcher Graham wrote:
>Does anyone on the list know someone who can digitize Fidelipac 
>recordings.  aka carts. or NAB cartridges?
>I have a few I'd like to archive before the tape disintegrates.
>
>-- Thatcher

Richard L. Hess                   email: [log in to unmask]
Aurora, Ontario, Canada       (905) 713 6733     1-877-TAPE-FIX
Detailed contact information: http://www.richardhess.com/tape/contact.htm
Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.