Going through some of my old things I came across a faux-leather ‘Nuby’ carry case for the original GameBoy. Having bought a Tascam DR100 mk3 a few weeks earlier I realised that the GameBoy case was an almost perfect fit for it, and a few simple modifications would make for a very good light carry case for mobile recorders.
This is a very simple project, using only a few tools (scissors and glue mostly). It seems that these Nuby cases are still available second hand, but there probably other cases that will work similarly and although this project uses a Tascam recorder, it’d be easy enough to rework it to fit similar devices such as the Zoom H4N or the Sony PCM D-100.
Given that this is such a simple project there’s not much you can do wrong, so long as you’re careful. Here’s my approach, but like I say, you can probably improvise to your own recorder’s requirements.
1. Measure up the Tascam dimensions including the position of controls and inputs/outputs
2. Make a 1:1 scale diagram on paper showing where new panels will be cut
3. Print out and cut out diagram panels
4. Use cut-outs as a template on the carry-case to pencil in where new cuts will be made.
There will be some obvious compromises here as there are already various holes cut in the case, but you should be able to work around them or incorporate them in such a way that they aren’t a hindrance. In many cases they provide an easy place to start cutting from.
5. Begin cutting out the access holes with scissors. Keep dropping the recorder into the case to check positioning and size.
For the most part I was making existing access holes bigger. If I needed to make a new hole I used a sharp-pointed tool from my soldering kit to punch a hole which could then be made larger. Take care during this process.
6. Pick away the stitches of the velcro and then remove it from the front edge of the case.
It should come away easily as the XLR input holes that are cut here go right through it. Keep the velcro as some of this will be reused later.
7. Cut some clear plastic to use as an additional cover for the screen, making sure the screen is bigger than the hole so there is room for glue.
8. Use all-purpose super-glue to glue the plastic window inside the case, behind the viewing window.
I found this the trickiest part of the whole operation, opting to stick one side at a time before moving onto the next, though this did cause a slight crinkle in the final result.
9. Cut a small tab of the discarded velcro and glue it to the front side of the case, between the two XLR inputs. This should be enough to keep the case closed if need be.
Strap Improvements (optional)
1. Re-glue where the shoulder straps meet the plastic.
These areas are already double stitched, but I noticed that the strap had slightly torn away from away from the case so I used super-glue to fix it.
2. Change the strap to something thicker and more comfortable.
You may notice in the photos that I’ve changed the strap – I had a spare one lying around that was stronger than the original so I swapped it in.
The front of the Nuby case has two pockets, originally designed to fit GameBoy cartridges. I’ve been using these to store a couple of Primo 172 omni mics but I may look into the possibility of cutting and restitching these pockets into a single larger pocket that can fit a battery to plug directly into the Tascam’s USB port.
It’s worth noting that when worn with a strap the orientation of the recorder is actually upside down if you lift it into view. I may purchase another Nuby case and have a go at making modifications so that the Tascam sits inside it the other way around, with the XLR inputs facing up. This would also provide a view of the additional input meter LEDs, which are currently obscured.
Overall I’m pretty pleased with the final case. Whilst it’s not all-weather and perhaps not quite as sturdy as professional porta-cases, it’s entirely usable for the majority of scenarios I need and cost me next-to-nothing. Thanks to the Nuby case my Tascam now has a safe and permanent home in my backpack, perfect for quick, easy field recording.
If you have any questions about this project or you’ve made your own DIY mobile recorder cases, hit me up on Twitter.