Remember getting that selection of songs with lightly veiled meanings from that guy in highschool who would become your temporary soulmate? Or when you crafted tapes for hours, sometimes days, with the perfect "top 10" list á-la-High Fidelity?  Makerbot has resurrected this old art with a new product: Mixtape.

The MakerBot Mixtape kicks off a new series of MakerBot Projects designed by the MakerBot Applications team in Brooklyn, NY. This 3D design team explores the limitless possibilities of home manufacturing by developing MakerBot Projects – DIY Kits consisting of design files fit for 3D printing plus electronic components available for purchase in the MakerBot store.

Mixtape is a 2GB drive MP3 player with 4 hours of battery life. It comes with the USB cable through which it charges. For 25$ you can buy the DIY kit that consists of the memory chip and functional buttons. Download the instructable from Thingverse, print the cassette and assemble it. The pre-made tape costs 39$.

A reasonable price point, though if it cost 15$ for the heart of the mechanism we could imagine this really taking off as a trend again: when making a mix tape costs less than going out to the movies, kids might start giving them as gifts. Other cheap MP3 players are available online at a similar price point but lack the cute retro look and most importantly, the almost disposable concept encouraged here.

Now is time to recall the rules of the good mix tape. In Nick Hornby's High Fidelity (1995 and subsequent excellent movie), the music-obsessed protagonist says in a memorable rant:

To me, making a tape is like writing a letter — there's a lot of erasing and rethinking and starting again. A good compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do. You've got to kick off with a corker, to hold the attention (I started with "Got to Get You Off My Mind", but then realized that she might not get any further than track one, side one if I delivered what she wanted straightaway, so I buried it in the middle of side two), and then you've got to up it a notch, or cool it a notch, and you can't have white music and black music together, unless the white music sounds like black music, and you can't have two tracks by the same artist side by side, unless you've done the whole thing in pairs and... oh, there are loads of rules.


It was less than 20 years ago but another era. One that has potential for rebirth. But do we still have the patience to think through songs' meanings, come up with a theme, find (or download) the songs, put it all in the right order? At least we don't have to rewind and erase the tape!

What will be your rules for making the perfect mix tape in 2012?

All photos courtesy of Makerbot (press photos)


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