In the days before CD, MP3 or iTunes, when Sony's Walkman was just about the only mobile music player worth having, hip young music lovers engaged in the painstakingly intricate process of recording a 45-minute-per-side compilation of favorite tunes onto an audio cassette tape. A kind of forefather to today's MP3 playlist, the mix tape was about creating a unique musical identity, an expression of personality that could be shared with those near and dear. Technology marches relentlessly on and tapes are now all-but extinct, replaced by digital files on smartphones and media players. The essence of the compact cassette mix tape has now been given a modern update by the folks from the MakerBot Industries Applications team in Brooklyn, New York, with the launch of the 3D-printed Mixtape do-it-yourself music player kit.
The first in a new series of DIY Projects, the Mixtape is available in two distinct flavors - the choice depending on whether you own something like a MakerBot Replicator or not. A DIY kit containing the electronics (including a Li-ion battery that's good for four hours of playback between charges), a USB cable and instructions is available for US$25. The design files needed for 3D printing are available for download from Thingiverse.com.
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Once the components have been created with a 3D printer, the Mixtape just snaps together with the electronic board housed inside. The 3.5mm headphone jack should be available at the bottom (where the pressure pad would be on a cassette) and three buttons positioned on the front of the Mixtape control play/pause, skip forward or backward, equalizer, volume and reset. MP3 music files can be dragged and dropped onto the 2GB of built-in solid state storage from a Mac/PC via USB.
For those not lucky enough to own a 3D printer, MakerBot has also made a ready-to-go Mixtape available for $39 (like the one-off Gizmag edition shown above), which is printed, assembled and shipped from the Brooklyn workshop.
As you can see from the following promo video, creating and sharing a personalized collection of tunes with a loved one continues into the digital age with the MakerBot Mixtape.