The Turkey Lab

A project log for DCC Hacking

Reverse-engineering Digital Compact Cassette recorders

Jac GoudsmitJac Goudsmit 12/25/2018 at 05:110 Comments

A quick update to show off the "Turkey Lab", so named because I attached all the parts of the project to the bottom side of our turkey cutting board. I used double-sided adhesive tape so that I can eventually detach everything again. At least I hope so: when I used the same tape to put blacklights on the wall for a Halloween party, it took parts of the wall with it when I tried to take the blacklights down again. Because of that, we now refer to this particular type of tape as Evil Tape in my house. So I suppose this must be a picture of the Evil Turkey Lab then ;-) .

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With all the components together in one place, it will be a lot easier to set up the hardware whenever I want to work on the project, and quickly take everything down again when the parking permit on the coffee table expires.

Interestingly (or not), both the DCC-175 and the Dell Latitude CPi-A 300 were made for use in 220 Volt Land (now known as 230 Volt Land). The computer is okay with 120V (I got an American power cable for it many years ago when it was still my main computer), Unfortunately the wall wart power supply for the DCC-175 is linear, so it's strictly 220V only and doesn't fit in an American wall socket. I previously used an American wall wart for it but unfortunately it has given the ghost. Rest in piece you crappy multi-transformer-tap non-stabilized linear piece of Chinesium with questionable parts. You've been useful but it's time for a replacement.

I ordered a switch-mode power supply that will replace it, but it won't arrive until later this week. Until then, I'll have to use the original DCC-175 supply from the Netherlands, and my step-up transformer which weighs almost as much as the entire Evil Turkey Lab.

I hope to find lots of time to work on the project this week and next week because I took days off from work, but with Christmas and New Year it's possible that this is going to get pre-empted again too. 

Oh, one more thing: My friend Ralf "Dr. DCC" from the DCC Museum found an interesting document on the Worldwide Web with lots of low-level information about how DCC works. At first glance it looked like "more of the same" but it actually contains a lot of details that were previously unknown to us, such as how tape is formatted and what's inside the AUXINFO channel. That document will really help move things along with this project too. Thanks Ralf!