Channel Master 'Lodestar' Micro Pack 35 Tape Recorder  
Written by AnubisTTP on 2022-05-26  



The Sanyo Micro Pack 35 is a compact audio recording machine which uses small magnetic tape reels fitted in a removable cartridge format. Originally released in 1964, Sanyo licensed the technology to other manufacturers, as well as providing the internal mechanism for the tape transport to third parties. In the United States, Sanyo units were re-branded by Channel Master and sold under the "Lodestar" trademark, the example shown here is one such unit. The most notable feature of the Micro Pack 35, other than its size, is it's tape cartridge system. Recordings are stored in removable modules which contain two magnetic tape reels stacked vertically, similar to the arrangement used in many flight recorders. Each tape can hold approximately 25 minutes of audio per side, a foil tag is located at each end of the tape, which is read by a conductivity sensor to trigger the recorder's auto-stop feature. The build quality of the Micro Pack 35 recorder is extremely high, Sanyo marketed the device as a 'sound camera' and manufactured the recorder to look and feel like a high end camera of the era. As with most cameras, all of the Micro Pack 35's controls are located on the top of the device, with knobs for speed and transport control, as well as a moving needle level gauge.

Unfortunately, while compact, the Micro Pack 35 delivers relatively poor sound quality for the era. The lack of a capstan and pinch roller, along with a clumsy friction drive system, result in far too much pitch and speed variation for music recording. Micro Pack 35 recorders are mainly useful for voice recording; the example shown here was used in a county morgue, and was found with several tapes of cancer patient autopsies. Other manufacturers leaned heavily into the use of voice recording to replace written letters; the Westinghouse version of this recorder even came prepackaged with cardboard mailers sized to hold a single Micro Pack 35 cartridge.


Channel Master Micro Pack 35 Tape Recorder
Channel Master 'Lodestar' Micro Pack 35 Tape Recorder.

Channel Master Lodestar Micro Pack 35 Tape Recorder
Marketed as a 'camera of sound', Micro Pack 35 recorders were built to resemble cameras of the era.

Sanyo Micro Pack 35 Tape Recorder
The internal mechanism for the Lodestar was invented and produced by Sanyo.

Micro-Pack 35 Tape Cartridges
Micro-Pack 35 cartridges were produced by several different manufacturers. From left to right, Westinghouse, Channel Master, and Sanyo versions.

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