Veteran's Day - My Adventure in Converting Casettes to mp3s

I spent Veteran’s Day doing something veteran-related for my family that could also be loosely considered an activity in the “Use Less Stuff” category... or it would be, if I use my newfound knowledge to preserve my old music collection rather than replacing it with a new set of audio CDs. So here's my tale.

I have never been a member of any of the armed forces, but I have a large extended family with relatives in every branch of the military. Most notable to me is my paternal grandfather, who was a WWII marine. I was fortunate enough to have been close to my grandpa and granny, and one summer my Dad set me the task of recording their many stories. This was a memorable experience for me, but the point is that for the past 10-15 years I’ve had a stack of preciously guarded cassettes filled with their voices and memories. The stories span an approximate set of years from 1925 -1995, and contain all of my grandpa’s favorite war stories (among these included meeting and marrying my grandma, having his first baby, how bananas helped him enlist, and a humorous tale involving coconuts).  My grandparents are both gone now, and I don’t listen to the cassettes for fear of ruining them. Somedays I miss their turn of phrase and thick southern drawl and I think to pull the casettes out, then stop myself short. Better to miss their voice than lose the tapes!

Yesterday I finally sat down and figured out how to convert these cassettes to digital formats so I can better preserve them, enjoy them, and share them. I’m not tech savvy. This was a time consuming adventure for me.

This is how I did it.  I’m going to cut out all the steps where I was bumbling around aimlessly, futilely downloading random things, and rearrange the steps until they make sense!

1)     First, I bought this doo-hicky:  Behringer UFO202 

2)      Then I had to buy a cord that allowed me to connect said doo-hicky to my boombox, with a headphone plug on one end and red/white audio jacks on the other.
3)     Download Audacity.
4)     Download LAME for Windows.
5)     Connect cord from step 2 from the boombox headphone jack to the input plugs on doo-hicky.
6)     Connect a pair of earbuds to doo-hicky’s headphone jack.
7)     Connect doo-hicky to computer via USB.
8)     Open audacity and select under the Project tab “New Stereo Project”
9)     Press play on boombox
10) Press record on Audacity
11)  After the allotted length of time, press stop on boombox
12) Press stop on Audacity
13) To save it, do one or both of these:
14)  Click file, click Export as .WAV, select location.
15) Click File, click Export as .mp3, select location. (If this is the first time you are saving as an mp3, you have to show Audacity where LAME is saved. It should be under “C/Program Files/Lame for Audacity/lame_enc.dll  Select the file and tell it to open.)

Happy Veteran’s Day! Whether or not you believe in war or patriotism, it is always good to remember your loved ones and your history.

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