Vintage Computing Paper Tape Reader


Several builders have designed handy accessories for the paper tape reader. Using mostly 3D-printed parts, they make tape handling more convenient. This page shows photos and provides the CAD files for download. Many thanks to Lars, Nicolas, Walt and Tony for sharing their designs and photos!

External tape guides

Lars Wind has designed two external paper tape guides which let you switch quickly between 5-bit Baudot and the wider 7 or 8 bit tape. Mount the internal spacers (tape guides) inside the reader at the position for the wider tape: 1", or even further apart with some tolerance if you prefer. Set the reader into the appropriate tape guide frame and insert the tape – presto!

Two paper tape guides with readers installed

Two frames to guide 5-bit and 7 or 8-bit paper tape. Photo courtesy of Tony Rogvall.

Manual tape winder

A manual tape winder and reel make it easier to rewind and store long tapes after reading them. Lars Wind has modelled this one after a Zuse crank winder. With a 1:3 transmission ratio, the crank moves the tape quite efficiently!

Here’s a .zip archive with all STL files and additional photos. Assembly should be straightforward with a few hints:

3D-printed tape winder next to original Zuse winder

3D-printed tape winder next to original Zuse winder

Tape winder explosion drawing

Here's how the printed parts for the tape winder come together

Hand-cranked tape transport

Nicolas Mailloux designed and made this manual tape transport solution. A great way to keep the tape organized while you read it, and transport it gently via manual cranks.

Nicolas' design files are hosted on TinkerCAD (which requires a free account registration).

Tape reader with two hand-cranked reels

Two identical reels and supports keep the tape organized. Transport and re-wind the tape via manual cranks.

Motorized tape transport

Walt Perko has taken things a step further and has built a motorized reader. It uses two continuous-rotation servos (Feetech FS90R Micro) to drive the reels.

Walt’s design files, as well as more pictures, are hosted on PinShape. (Free registration required to download the STL files.)

Tape reader with two motorized spools

Motorized tape transport. Both reels are driven by continuous-rotation servos.