all kinds of video tapes copied to DVD and computer
This page provides news and updates relating to the
video99.co.uk audio and video transfer
business. Regular customers can come back here to see what is
new. Warts and all, sometimes you get to read of things going
horribly wrong too!
It's a little blog.
There is a very old PC which used to be our main email and office
machine until it was semi-retired back in March 2016. It still
gets used though, especially since it has an interesting selection of
DVD drives, which can sometimes read back from a customer's DVD where
newer models won't. One day the machine refused to boot.
Usually this is because a SATA card has gone off-line, it just needs a
little fiddling about in the BIOS and it will run happily. Now
though it won't see the SSD boot drive at all. It quickly became
apparent that the OCZ Vertex 2 SSD drive had completely failed.
This is bad because, quite apart from having to buy a new SSD drive, it
means re-installing Windows and all the applications, which takes a lot
of time. It will probably mean buying a new Windows license too
because it was running Windows 10 which had been installed when
Microsoft had free upgrades from Windows 7. This is a proper pain.
We're going to do more YouTube
videos as we get time, so do subscribe to our channel there. To
help with this we bought a Neewer NW-700 Microphone Kit. But the
microphone didn't work when connected to either of our professional
Tascam digital audio recorders. It worked (after a fashion, very
quietly) when plugged directly into the PC, but then there was no 48V
phantom power so it was bound to be quiet. After a lot of messing
about, I found that connecting pin 1 (ground) of the XLR connector of
the microphone to the body of the socket, allowed the microphone to
work perfectly with the Tascam recorders. I wonder if this is a
wiring fault in the microphone, or some sort of XLR cabling
issue. I have contacted Neewer, let's see how they respond.
Coming soon: Aiwa Stereo Cassette Deck model XK-007 Excelia.
July 2018. These
days, very few customers take transfers on DVDs, virtually all
are done to video files on a hard disk. If there are just a few
then they can go onto a USB stick, which I keep in stock. But for
one or two short tapes, or for smaller preview files, I can often
upload files to a customer provided they have reasonable broadband,
using the wetransfer.com file
transfer service. Until now, the paid-for version on this has
limited to a 20GB in one file, and 100GB of total storage which was
across all my customer files which I will typically leave on the system
for a week. However we are delighted that the 20GB limit has now
removed and the total storage limit is now 500GB. The most useful
of this is the 500GB storage, which means we no longer have problems
with juggling files for different customers to avoid busting the
limit. The 20GB single file limit removal could come in handy
with out upload speed having wilted down to about 6Mb/s recently, it's
still about as much as is sensible to upload in one go. We would
dearly like FTTP fibre broadband but there's no real prospect of that
being available in the area for some time.
Some years ago I had a TP-Link AV200 / TL-PA211 data powerline
unit go completely dead. It sat in my workshop awaiting one of
those days which never arrives when I get time to fix such
things. However the day did arrive when I had a few minutes, so
after a battle getting it apart, I probed around inside. The fuse
was OK and the high voltage side seemed OK. But there was a
bulging capacitor, 1500uF 6.3V. Clearly it needed replacement but
when removed from the board, it actually read high capacitance, around
2600uF, with zero ESR (effective series resistance). Now in all
my days of electronic servicing, I have never seen a bulging capacitor
go high in value. A second opinion from another tester also read
high value. I found a 1500uF 10V capacitor from a scrap JVC DVD
recorder power supply, this was much bigger than the original but could
be installed in a different orientation to the original. Then the
unit powered up fine. That said, I don't actually run a mains
power network any more, so it probably was a waste of time repairing
it, but sometimes it's useful just for the experience. And that
high value capacitor? Further tests imply that it has gone leaky.
We are delighted to announce that we have moved the video99.co.uk domain from Plusnet to Winserve.
This has allowed us to enable SSL security, so the web site is now
https:// rather than just http://. This prevents warnings of an
insecure web site, which is particularly important since we do have an
order form which takes customer information. This change
ensures that data passed between the web server and customer browser
We run most Beta (Betamax) tapes on a Sony SL-HF100 Beta HiFi deck,
just because it's so good in both picture and sound even for tapes
which are not recorded in Beta HiFi. So we were disappointed one
day when it was switched on, but was completely dead. After
checking a few obvious things, we found that high voltage DC was
present after the mains bridge rectifier, but the switch-mode power
supply was not running. There was only so much time that was
worth spending on this, knowing that in the loft there was a scrap
HF100 (someone had smashed the video heads and it also has other
faults). The power supply ran fine on the scrap machine, and
changing it over is not a terribly big job, so we swapped them.
The target machine now ran fine and was running customer tapes without
too much delay. The power supply on this model is reasonably
reliable, but we have to bear in mind that these things are around 35
I had recently bought a Panasonic AJ-D950 DVCPRO-50 deck which
worked well. However one day we found that it was unreliable when
loading M-sized tapes. These are the ones which are almost
exactly the same physical size as 8mm tapes. The larger "DVCAM"
sized tapes worked reliably. We got it into the workshop and
investigated. During the fault condition, it was clear that the
supply spool was not feeding out tape during lace-up, nor taking it
back in during unlace. The supply spool brake actuator solenoid
could (just about!) be seen to be working properly in all modes, as was
the takeup spool brake actuator. Once however we noticed that the
tape made a loud noise during unlace, and this was the clue: The supply
spool wasn't making proper contact with the cassette itself, because
the spool was not properly located. The spools slide out on rails
and guides to switch between the two tape sizes. Greasing this
mechanism was all that was necessary for reliable operation. This
involved a certain amount of dismantling of the top of the cassette
carriage, but wasn't quite as hard as it looked.
Alas your engineer hurt his back quite badly when shifting some
camping equipment, so I am finding everything a little bit of a
struggle at the moment. But I've done this before and managed to
recover, eventually, so hopefully it will improve shortly.
I picked up another Panasonic AG-4700 recorder, which is my
favourite S-VHS machine. Unlike all the other machines I have of
same model, this one includes the automatic head cleaner mechanism that
is usually fitted to K-series decks. It came in with the usual
split plastic coupling on the loading motor. It's not trivial to
fit, but fortunately I have some spares so was able to get the machine
nicely repaired after about an hour of fairly fiddly work.
had finally recovered from having to do a fresh Windows 10
install on our main PC, due to a problem with the 2017 Fall Update
over. Virtually all apps and documents are fully recovered and we
were basking in the joy of a job well done. For two weeks.
Then it came time for the new 2018 Spring update, and guess what, it
install. So we're looking at re-installing Windows twice a year
on this thing. It would be cheaper to dump the almost new
computer and start again. All very frustrating and there's no
obvious solution right now.... This update was falling over with
a USB fault code, so I tried something: I unplugged all USB devices
except keyboard and mouse during the update and.. It worked! Joy
Your hard working engineer at video99 has been very under
weather for the first few weeks of May. Running a temperature and
so full of pills that I rattle. Furtunately the workload has been
fairly light, which is unusual but couldn't have been better
timed. This was followed by a short break at Alton Towers.
We're now back and catching up on the work.
We've always had a problem with the Tascam SS-R250N
digital audio recorder, in that sometimes it will corrupt an audio
file. This meant running the tape again to re-do the recording,
which was deeply frustrating. Multiple SD cards have been tried
and many conversations with Tascam's UK dealers were not resolving the
problem. They asked me to provide a sample defective recording on
an SD card, and at this point, the real problem came to light: It
wasn't that the recording on the SD card was sometimes defective, it
was that the automated FTP transfer from the Tascam to the PC was
sometimes failing. The file on the SD card was just fine.
So all I have to do in the case of a defective transfer, is manually
FTP the file over again. OK, it's not ideal that the unit doesn't
check that the automatic FTP service has completed properly, but now at
least we have an easy solution when it does go wrong.
We have now bought no less than four different types of Pioneer
Laserdisc player remote controls, yet none of them work either of our
Pioneer laserdisc players. I was under the impression that there
were not many different code sets for these remotes, but clearly there
was! If anyone has a Pioneer laserdisc remote control that they
no longer need, please let me know so I might be able to finally find
the correct remotes for our two machines.
Alas after many hours of work with the Whistlewood SPDIF add-on
for the PCM-701ES, I had to admit defeat. It works only when it
feels like it, which is not very helpful.
We now have a Sony J-H3 HDCAM player for transfer of the HDCAM variant
of Digital Betacam. Transfers will be be via SDI to very large
HD file formats, or to Standard Definition DV-AVI files if
required. Note however that this machine does not support the
HDCAM-SR variant, which will have to wait a little longer for a
suitable machine to turn up for those. After a few technical
problems initially, new professional grade SDI cables have been
purchased to get reliable capture from this format.
One of the weaknesses of the PCM-F1, PCM501ES, PCM701ES digital
audio decoders is that there is no digital output signal. So
audio capture has always had to be via the analogue output sockets,
rather than a pure digital transfer. A company called Whistlewood
did an add-on board to allow for SPDIF digital output, but they closed
down around 2003 and there has been no source since. So we are
delighted to have found one which we had sent from Germany. It
needs a little work and some new connectors, we hope to get that
installed and tested over the next couple of weeks. We started by
making up a test recording on a brand new Betamax tape, and this plays
back beautifully via the analogue outputs so we have a way to fully
test the SPDIF upgrade once it is installed. (Recording made via
PCM-701ES to Sony SL-HF100, playback from Sony SL-C9 back through the
We now use D & D Rubbish Removals of Plymouth
to dispose of our commercial waste, generally video tapes that people
don't want returned (though I do recommend return of tapes), packaging
material etc. We have bought a wheelie bin to make this easy to
transport. Once we have cleared the backlog of tapes which have
been piling up (!) we expect that a monthly collection will
suffice. Customers are charged just 30p per tape for disposal of
tapes except Video8 and miniDV which are light enough not to be charged
for in small quantities. We get a certificate of proper disposal.
FOR SALE: Sony
SL-3000UB portable Beta video recorder in working
order. Includes carry case, shoulder strap, power supply
etc. Tuner/timer, camera, and several (probably dead) batteries
also available for this machine. SL3000 has new loading belt and
capstan belt fitted. Tested for playback only, nice picture and
sound. Offers for this rare machine. SOLD.
One of the machines we sometimes use for domestic VHS tapes is a
JVC HR-S7600EK. I had noticed a problem though with the S-video
output on both the SCART and S-video connectors; it would sometimes
flicker slightly from the SCART output and there was no S-Video from
the S-Video connector. Now this is a later model deck which was
built with absolutely no thought to repair access. The rear panel
with the connectors on it could have been easy to access if a couple of
screws hadn't been covered up by a plastic panel. So the whole
machine had to be completed stripped down with the deck and main PCB
out, in order to access the rear PCB. Once out though, some very
obvious dry joints were seen around the S-Video output socket.
Once resoldered, the whole thing had to be reassembled for testing, but
fortunately it then worked perfectly. My preferred S-VHS decks
are the Panasonic AG-4700 and similar, but sometimes a tape will play
better in another model such as this JVC.
to self: Don't get sentimental about video
recorders. Someone was trying to avoid having to dump their old
Beta camera, portable SL-3000UB recorder, tuner/timer and accessories,
so I agreed to pay for the transport costs and also do a small transfer
job, in return for the equipment. The recorder was supposed to
work. Did it? No, the capstan motor had seized and the
belts need replacing. I got it working after a fashion
eventually, and will need to order belts. But why? I don't
really need this machine. It's soaked up a lot of time already
and I won't make anything from it. Some old machines just aren't
important enough to save. A nice Beta hi-fi or SuperBeta, now
that would have been worth the time and trouble. UPDATE: Fixed
this machine and it is now looking for a new home, perhaps a collector
who likes unusual but working machines.
Things don't always go as smoothly as you might hope when computers are
involved. Our main PC which handles all the emails and billing
etc., is unable to install the Windows 10 Creator update version
1709. This is proving to be a real pain because it is getting
increasingly agressive with reboots and failed installs happening
repeatedly, even in times when it's been told not to do reboots.
This cannot carry on! We have bought a new SSD boot drive and
started a new Windows 10 install on that, swapping the new and existing
boot drive over as time allows for some more work on the new
build. It's time consuming, re-installing dozens of applications,
dealing with licensing inssues etc. I'm hoping we will be able to
go live with the replacement SSD by the end of February or in March,
but we've had
some stability issues too (failed boots due to BUGCODE_USB_DRIVER) so
this is all very stressful.
Legislation from 13.01.18 makes it illegal to include Paypal fees for
customers using that payment route, unless the fees are added to all
means of payment. That hardly seems fair since most customers pay
by bank transfer / PAYM
anyway. So we've had no choice but to remove Paypal as a payment
option, sorry. This was a very badly thought out piece of
legislation, and Paypal should have pushed against it. Lots of
small (and even large) businesses have come to the same conclusion.
We now have a new barcode scanner, which we will use to scan the
barcodes of nearly all of the outgoing post which can be scanned
(Recorded Delivery, Special Delivery, Parcel Force and international
tracked & signed). This will allow us to easily provide
barcode information to all customers whose packages have barcodes,
rather than just those who specifically request it. Usually when
tapes are returned, after a customer has the transfers, small packages
go by normal 1st Class post for which there is not a barcode of course.
The Alesis AI-1 converter arrived from USA to allow for digital
transfers from the Alesis XT20 to the Tascam SS-R250N. Works a
We now have a Canopus ADVC-1000 which allows for a pure digital
transfer of SDI data to DV
(from Digital Betacam, DVCPRO, DVCPRO-50), for those customers who
require DV-AVI files rather than the very large files available
directly from SDI. Not everyone can use those very large file
formats such as 10-bit YUV, but DV-AVI works with virtually any PC or
Mac video editing software. Of course, the very large file
formats are also available for customers who require them.
I have a specially modified Sony DCR-TRV120E Digital8 camcorder
which I can tweak the head guides on, to match badly aligned 8mm
recordings. It doesn't get a lot of use, but when it does, it's
priceless. So I was very upset when the function buttons all
died, and that included Eject making the unit unusable even via remote
control. The problem was of course caused by a fractured
flexi-cable from the function buttons, which are badly placed on these
units on a hinge-out panel whch has to be opened to operate the eject
mechanism. In use I normally leave this panel open in order to
minimuse wear on this poor design, but anyway this particular one had
failed. I had a scrap unit with a bad deck fault, in my spares
drawer. But could I really change this over? Camcorders are
notoriously hard to work on, I knew it would be a challenge. But
about an hour later, it was all back and working. Well I couldn't
seem to get the zoom switch spring in the right place, but since these
are never used for actual filming any more, I could only spend so long
battling with that before the spring went whizzing off past my left ear
anyway. But despite that tiny setback, the unit was fully
reassembled and able to work reliably again, for those occasions that
customers have Video8, Hi8 and Digital8 recordings which have been
made on a camcorder with a misaligned deck.
The SS-R250N started giving some bad recordings, because I had
chosen the wrong type of SD card. It had to be SDHC (not SDXC),
UHS-1 type by SanDisk. I bought two 16GB ones as recommended by
Tascam and the recording problems went away.
After the success of the DTRS 8-track digital audio equipment, we've
added an Alesis XT20 ADAT type 2 recorder which plays 16-bit and 20-bit
8-track digital audio recordings from S-VHS tapes. I'm also
arranging for equipment to allow for a pure digital transfer from this
We have ordered a new Tascam SS-R250N digital audio recorder,
which will allow for more throughput with some large audio transfers,
and is also very convenient in having a network port for transferring
the files from the recorder to computer, rather than messing about with
a USB cable on the portable Tascam DR-100MKII. The new unit has
various other features which are going to help with some audio
transfers. I've done a review and you can see some of my other
audio kit on Youtube.
The DPS-375SP Digital Timebase
Corrector is now set up and working for Umatic transfers, which can get
the benefit of the Umatic Dub colour system and also the Digital
With all the new audio equipment in, much of it heavy, it was
finally time to remove the last of the plastic shelving units we bought
when we moved back in 2012, and replace it with a much stronger steel
shelving system. However no-one made a unit of the exact size I
required; I needed a fairly short unit but deep. So I bought a
long deep unit and a short narrow one, and mixed the parts up to make a
short deep rack. My father helped by cutting the MDF shelves to
the right size and the whole thing went together very well so it fitted
in the same space as the old plastic unit but can hold far more
equipment. I hope the floor is as strong as it looks.
Sometimes my dear lady wife tells me off for keeping too much
junk. But I keep it anyway just in case it comes in handy one
day. So when I bought a new HP 2605dn colour printer back
on March 2014, I put away the old one which had print quality problems,
just in case. This week I found the laser printer was strangely
acting up. As well as a minor paper handling issue, solved with
new paper pickup roller and pad, the printer would sometimes abort a
job and do a reset. A self-test printout would sometimes generate
a Error 79 (firmware). I suspected a memory fault, so removed the
SIM memory I had added, but the problems remained. Various resets
and a (failed) attempt at a firmware update got me nowhere so I
installed the CPU board from the scrap machine which had been sat in
storage for three years. Instant success, the printer now
functions flawlessly and produces super print quality. The scrap
one was reassembled and goes back into storage, just in case I need
another part one day. However, in a twist to the tale, the old
one also worked even with the dubious CPU board. That's worrying,
I really wanted the defect to go across with the CPU board. Is
the new one fixed or just working today? Only time will tell, but
so far so good.
We've had a lot of trouble with the hosting company which is
supposed to host the order form. Eventually patience ran out with
them and we moved to a new hosting company which seems to be hugely
After a bit of a battle, our new DPS-375SP Digital Timebase
Corrector is now working properly with Umatic machines. The
reason this is such a huge step forward is that it handles conversion
from the Umatic Dub signal to S-Video (or YUV) for capture, and also
adds a Digital Dropout Compensator function. This is the holy
grail of Umatic transfer capability, it's been a long time
coming. The new system is not fully operational just yet, we need
some more cables and to lay out where all some of the equipment will
go, but it should only be a week or two now.
We took a little run to London to collect some equipment we had
purchased, which included a Panasonic AJ-HD1700 DVCPRO-HD deck, and
traded in the AJ-SD955 DVCPro50 against that. The Tascam DA-88
DTRS 8-track digital audio recorder was augmented by Sony PCM-800 and
Tascam DA-98HR machines, and we've now set these up so we can do a pure
digital audio capture from this format in both 16 and 20 bit
modes. Also collected from London was a superb Sony PCM-7040 DAT
We have three items coming in soon: Tascam DA-88 8ch digital multitrack
audio recorder, Panasonic AJ-SD955 DVCPro50 deck, Sony PCM-7040 DAT
recorder. The idea of the DVCPRO-50 and DAT machines is primarly
as backups for existing equipment. The Tascam DA-88 is an
additional format variant: Some recording studios used these to record
up to 8 audio tracks in PCM on 8mm video tapes, it was a fairly
successful format for a while and one I've wanted to add for a
while. This is unrelated to the 6 stereo tracks PCM audio feature
on some Sony decks such as the EV-S800, which we also support.
took a well earned break, thanks to customers for their patience in
August. As nearly always happens, something didn't work when we
A JVC DR-MH200 went down with DVD writer failure. I was
able to swap
in the DVD writer from a scrap DR-MH300 (which refuses to boot despite
a PSU re-build) and it worked. As mentioned further down, there
are two versions of the
DR-MH300, one has a non-standard writer with different connectors and
cannot be readily exchanged. I have two of that non-standard
type, both with defective DVD writers.
We were really pleased to finally source the special remote
control for our Pioneer NTSC CD/DVD/LD player model DVL-700, since
these take a different set of remote codes than the earlier LD-only
Laserdisc players. We were much less happy when it transpired
that there must be at least three sets of codes for Pioneer LD players
because it didn't work. Most functions are accessible by the
machine's front panel, but the linear / digital audio selection
function is not. If anyone has a remote control for this player,
please let me know.
According to the BBC News,
from 1st January 2018, business will no longer be permitted to
calculate the charges applied by Paypal for such payments. The
vast majority of our customers prefer to pay by bank transfer anyway,
but this new rule is unhelpful for customers who would rather pay with
Paypal, especially international customers where bank transfers can be
troublesome. Some businesses will simply increase the costs for
everyone but I don't want to do that considering the very small number
of customers still using Paypal. So in order to comply with this
new rule, I will have to impose a limit of £50 for Paypal
payments. Any job which is billed for more than £50 will have to
be paid by bank transfer or cheque, from 1st January. Up to £50,
we will cover the charges ourselves, and beyond £50 we will not be able
to accept Paypal. As Paypal is less relevant today, try PAYM instead.
June 2017. Sometimes
it's just one of those days where it all goes wrong, and such it was
one Friday morning in June. It started when a JVC DR-MH200 DVD
recorder suddenly started rebooting itself endlessly. I swapped
it out with a brand new spare DR-MH300 machine, which worked for a
couple of hours before the DVD writer failed. Then the Panasonic
AJ-D230 DVCPRO deck failed, but fortunately the new DVCPRO machine came
to the rescue there. The AJ-D230 looks terminal, there's
something horribly wrong with the deck. Then just as if the day
wasn't bad enough, one of the cameras on the CCTV system suddenly went
off, the camera is only 2 months old but had failed. A
replacement was ordered. Once the panic was over, I got the
DR-MH200 DVD recorder into the workshop and went through the power
supply checking capacitors with the ESR meter. Around 8
capacitors were worth changing, though some were still in spec.
Strangely though, one of them, in the primary part of the power supply,
was one I had already changed at some point in the past (5+ years ago),
with a high quality low-ESR component. It would seem that the
power supply design may be stressing that particular component.
With fresh capacitors installed where required, that recorder went back
into service and works fine. Fewer customers than ever are still
requesting DVDs, I always recommend video files instead, but still
these machines do get some use. The new, defective, DR-MH300 may
not be much use since a replacement DVD writer will be impossible to
source (and, annoyingly, seemingly identical MH300 recorders can have
entirely different DVD writers installed within them which are not
May 2017. We
now have a full Umatic PCM digital audio sytem consisting of a Sony
DMR4000 Umatic player connected to PCM1630 decoder which supports RAR
(read after read), to give greatly reduce the chances of tape defects
affecting the sound. It was bought at some expense from an eBay
seller who promised it all worked, well it didn't, but it does now
after some attention to the Umatic machine's front loading
mechanism. The PCM-100 decoder is surplus to requiremenmts and
available for sale.
We've bought in another AG-4700 SVHS deck, this one needed some
work but I fortunately had a scrap deck which provided all the required
cosmetic parts. This model is a firm favourite.
The tape counter failed on the Ferrograph Super-7 open reel tape
deck, but the supplier
was very helpful and provided a replacement which I installed.
Two of our little usedspare BetacamSP UVW1200P players were
dug out of retirement to help with a large job, and neither
worked. One has poor colour (head failure suspected) and one is
giving random error numbers implying reel sensor problems.
Fortunately we have enough alternative BetacamSP capable decks so I was
able to just turf these two out into storage awaitng a very long quiet
weekend when perhaps I can repair one of them.
April 2017. Much
of April was taken off for tax reasons, but there were a number of
background tasks to do. They included: Properly installing the
DVCPRO-50 deck by moving a lesser used Digital Betacam player to an
alternative capture computer. Try (and fail) to fix a Macbook Air
which has being lying around for months. Repair an EVS-9000E Hi8
deck which had been given to me (actually I also repaired on of my
other ones too which had been taken out of service, so that was a
double success). Buy in some new equipment for the workshop,
including a component tester and new soldering equipment. Tidy up
the workshop (only done to some extent, needs more time). Repair
a Sanyo VTC-6500 Beta video recorder which needed new belts, and as it
turned out, also a replacement head preamplifier module (this job took
much longer than expected, but was worth it because this machine has
virtually new heads installed). Install new audio and video
cabling and switching in several systems, to make it quicker to change
over from one source format to another.
The 3TB hard disk in one of my machines suddenly failed.
Now since I have some 0.1 Petabytes of online storage, it's simply
impossible to back up everything, so I was quite lucky that this
particular drive was installed in one of my older and lesser-used
systems, hence the data loss was relatively painless. The failed
drive was a Toshiba DT01ACA300 which was just a few months out of
warranty, it (usually) spins up but appears as "RAW" file fomat, so the
data is probably lost. It's being replaced by a 4TB Seagate drive.
March 2017. We
have had to shut down for a few weeks from the end of March through
towards the end of April, because our overall turnover (which includes
post) was too close to the VAT trigger threshold. We're really
sorry to have to say no to requests, but we absolutely cannot afford to
trigger VAT registration, which would mean effecrtively working for 2
months of next year for less than nothing.
A Panasonic NV-HS950 S-VHS deck made a nasty groaning noise and
failed to lace, unless or eject a tape. I've had this before, the
cause is a coupling in the loading motor worm drive, which splits, and
I have a few spare couplings. Fitting one is normally a
straightforward task, if a bit time consuming. But this time
there was more to it. The problems were deeper than just a
broken coupling, the deck itself was not well. A broken plastic
cam follower fell out of the deck, and though I never did find where
that came from, it was enough to know that the deck was in a bad
way. So I rummaged around in my spares room and found another
deck of the same type... well almost the same anyway. It was from
a simpler mono machine, not S-VHS or HiFi, so the heads and
pre-amplifier system were completely different. So I swapped over
the heads and preamplifier, then the erase head (not that I'm ever
going to use that, but for completeness) since the connector on that
was different. I then installed the new loading coupler in that
and tested it. It sort-of-ran, but the audio/control head was way
out of alignment for some reason. Rather than mess about with it,
I installed the whole A/C head assembly from the original machine, so
that alignment required very little adjustment. I also selected
the best auto head cleaner roller, pinch roller and reel clutch.
So it was, after several long hours, that the machine was brought back
to full service. This explanation is a simplified version of the
actual battle which also included a third deck which didn't work at all
because it was mistimed or damaged for other reasons.
My seven year old boy and I built a kit oscilloscope (DSO
for simple signal checking in the studio. Great fun, worked first
time. A rather limited bandwidth but you can see if there's an
audio or video signal.
We have bought a professional CD/DV/BD disc
Customers sometimes send CDs or DVDs that they want to recover, and
this machine massively reduces the amount of errors from scratched
discs. It is however quite expensive to buy and run.
February 2017. The
Commodore 1541 from eBay was supposed to be working, but what that
actually meant was it was working when last tried, many years
ago. The green (power) and red (access / error) LEDs both lit and
there was no motor noise. I started by replacing the 6522 chips
since I had spares, but no difference. I then did something
crazy, I swapped over UB3, a ROM chip from my 1540. I hoped the
1540 would then work, but it actually gave me the both LEDs fault of
the 1541. Now the 1541 would boot with this older ROM, so I
connected it up to the VIC-20. Still no motor run. Then
there was a puff of smoke from capacitor C5, 100uF 16V tantalum.
After more experimentation which involved trying the 1540 mechanism on
the 1541, I was convinced that the machine was trying to work. So
I replaced the blown capacitor and re-assembled, still with the 1540
ROM in there. And... it worked! Right, next to
connect this to the old Windows 98 / XP PC that I've set up for floppy
work, for which I had built a Commodore interface from a kit. But
no, now the PC has quit. I think the PSU has failed, so I need to
dig out an obsolete PC power supply from my junk store. This is
all proving to be a battle. But at least the Commodore 1541
floppy seems to work now, and the VIC-20 still works too. I told
my sonScott about the bathtub reliability curve. A brand new
iPhone might well break down in the first few weeks, but once a piece
of electronics is a few moths old, it settles down to probably being
very reliable. But once equipment gets to a certain age,
breakdowns become more likely, so creating the slope of a bathub in
breakdowns. The Commodore kit at around 35 years old, is
certainly rising up the slope of unreliability. All fired up with
this information, my son is going to explain it to his science
A customer sent a SVC4 tape. Usually when one of these
tapes is sent, it actually does contain a SVC recording,
which has to be played back on the one-model-format Grundig SVR4004
machine, so that's what I put it into. The recording played slow
and messy, so it turned out to be an N1700 format recording (it could
also have been N1500). However in testing the SVR4004 machine
before inserting the customer tape, I found that my test tape had no
sound. Oh dear, we have a breakdown, albeit not an urgent one
since the customer tape didn't require the machine. This format
is one of the very few for whieh we have no backup player, though I do
have an untested one which I'm yet to service. I also have a
service manual, but that is quite a low resolution scan, written
entirely in German, and has errors in it. This was the manual I
used when I first got the SVR4004, around 10 years ago now, I remember
there was a defective tantulum capacitor on the head preamplifier PCB
underneath the head drum, and a defective op-amp in the capstan servo,
though how I ever managed to work out that from such a fuzzy and German
manual, is a miracle. I must have had lots of spare time in those
days,and fortunately I have some rudimentary German language skills.
Today however, we just have no sound. I checked with an
oscilloscope for audio at the modulator, and the output of the TON
(audio) panel, it was missing. I then unplugged some cables to
check various signal points including the contact from the A/C
head. When I went to try some more singal tests, the fault had
now vanished and refused to come back. A poor connection seems
likely. Job done? No. The SVC format is very rare, I
get perhaps one tape every two or three years for this obscure variant,
and so I had lived with the problem that this machine had only an
antenna RF output. An A/V output was an optional extra for this
model, and my machines don't have that option. The fuzzy manual
showed a quite complex panel which would be used for input and output
A/V switching, we don't need all that, we just need audio and video
outputs. Time to finally give this machine the connections it
requires. The audio signal to the modulator jsut needed a
decoupling capacitor to the audio output, that was easy. The
video signal however was high impedance. There's a useful A/V
output circuit here
which I've used for the N1700 and N1502 machines in the past so I
breadboarded that and connected to the video input of the
modulator. It basically worked, I just had to add an adjustment
to get the signal level correct and a few diodes to set the required
supply voltage. I then fitted a BNC and phono socket on the
chassis of the machine and removed the blanks on the lower cabinet for
access to these. It sounds simple but from start to finish took a
whole day. On the one hand, it's never worth it in terms of the
money that this machine will earn, but on the other hand it is worth it
to get the best from these tapes, knowing that they are so rare that
there are very few businesses in the world who can run them.
Inspired by all of this, I may try to find some time now to work on the
untested SVR4004 which has been sat in my workshop since July 2014!
My Aiwa F770 cassette deck had been out of action for some time
becuase it would sometimes suffer wow (slowing) at the end of
cassettes. During the fault condition, the capstans could be seen
to be spinning freely (new belts were fitted a while ago) and after
some work I decided that the pinch rollers had to be to blame.
New pinch rollers were shockingly expensive at £55, but I finally went
for it and bought some. Installation was a nightmare job, I got
into a problem with some springs, but eventually they were fitted
properly. The machine was tested and... still slow at the end of
some tapes. I was about to cry, but decided to just crack on and
solve the problem instead. It was caused by excessive back
tension due to the grease inside the supply spool having gone
sticky. Once replaced, the machine worked beatifully again.
We could say the pinch rollers were an expensive waste of money, but
let's instead say that they were preventative maintenance to keep the
machine in tip top condition.
We've bought a little handheld digital oscilloscope kit for use
in the studio. My 7 year old boy is going to help with assembling
that, he's looking forward to it.
January 2017. A
very busy month as is often the case for January with pent up demand
for jobs that didn't need to be done by Christmas.
Plans for a Commodore floppy disk data recovery service were set
back when the 1540 drive broke down, flashing the red error LED four
times which I think may be a ROM failure. So we bought a 1541 on
eBay, let's see how that goes.
December 2016. We're
fully booked for Christmas, as of 6th December we're not taking any
more orders for this year. As well as having over a week's work
already lined up or coming in, we need time to clear tapes from
completed jobs where customers have not already acknowledged that the
tapes can be returned. We also need to tread carefully again such
that we do not hit the VAT threshold.
November 2016. We
now can offer data recovery from PC and Mac 3.5" floppy disks, and
5.25" PC formatted floppies. We have resurected a very old
Windows 95 / Windows XP dual boot machine and serviced a 5.25" 1.2MB
floppy drive for the task. Other disk formats may follow
now have a (fairly small) 3D printer! This will hopefully allow
us to print replacement plastic parts for video recorders, where new
spares are no longer available. Examples may include: Cosmetic
panels and front loading flaps, toothed gears, deck parts and
cams. However we fully understand how the design of these parts
is very time consuming.
We've bought in another Sony J3 DigiBeta player, this time with
SDI connection. We already have DigiBeta decks with SDI, but they
are PAL only, whereas the J3 can handle more formats and also NTSC, so
this allows for a pure digital transfer of a few more variants than
were ottherwise possible. We also have our Sony J3 without SDI,
which will be probably retain as a spare.
We now have SDI output as well as input (capture) capability,
which should allow for recording onto DigiBeta or DVCPRO. However
things didn't go to plan, when the card was installed it "took over"
the audio output from the video editing software, so muting to the
computer's speakers. That won't do, so we need to have a think
about the problem and work on it another time.
Several new UPS units were installed this month due to old ones
generally being underpowered. The mains power in this area is
better than it used to be a few years ago, but still fails several
times most years, from seconds to hours.
October 2016. We
now have our new Daikin air conditioning system installed by Recoair,
which also has a remote control app so we can keep the computers at a
sensible temperature even when we're not in the studio. This is
going to be a huge help all year round since the equipment can generate
more heat than could be removed by simply opening windows. We
also used to suffer from bugs flying in if windows were open in the
evenings! Better temperature control is also much kinder to the
equipment, and the computers run quieter.
Our new 4K Acer S277HK IPS monitor was not going
well, there were intermittant picture flickers and crackles from the
speakers. But the problem was sometimes so intermittant that I
could hardly prove a fault to the supplier / manufacturer. This
was all getting depressing, but the solution was simple: Replace
the DisplayPort cable that came with it, for a new Dell cable.
Problem solved. Strange, that.
Now in, a Panasonic AJ-D950E DVCPRO-50 recorder with SDI
connections, to allow for full quality original DVCPRO (25) and DVCPRO
50 transfers in both NTSC and PAL. We still need to find some
space to mount this machine, but it's available for use now.
We've bought in another Sony DSR-11 DVCAM/DV deck to help with
throughput of large DV transfers, so we now have three fully working
units plus one which is used primarily just as a analogue to digital
One of studio computers which had a win7 to win10 free upgrade
license, got bricked when doing regular updates. So I had to "use
up" a new Windows 10 key and reinstall Windows 10 from DVD, then
reinstall all software. A very stressful day.
I wasn't happy with the print performance from the HP Colour
Laserjet 2605dn printer, a test print showed that the black cartrdige
was giving slightly stripey results despute being and HP original which
is 59% full. A replacement cartridge solved the problem. I
have to say that I've found that branded non-original toner cartridges
such as Xerox are at least as reliable as the HP originals, and
problably better. Several HP colour toner cartridges have failed
before they are empty.
An interesting DAT issue: A customer had recorded audio
onto a computer data DAT tape. The Tascam DA30MKII just spatt he
tape out with an error code, it clearly wasn't happy about a computer
backup tape being used for audio. However my Sony DTC-690 just
ignored the incorrect tape tape and played it quite happily, so saved
the day. It's always worth having a collection of different
models of machines in case there are some oddball problems like this.
September 2016. Heat
management in the studio has become an issue, particularly over this
summer but in general. We're getting some quotes for the
installation of air conditioning, which we plan on having in place
sooner rather than later - now booked for late September.
Having snapped up some of the last Taiyo Yuden DVD-R (silver
printable) DVDs in the UK, we can continue providing DVDs for some
time, probably through 2017. Nontheless, there will come a time
when DVD is not really an option unless we can find a suitable
replacement for the highest quality DVDs ever made.
Coming soon: A Panasonic AJ-D950E deck capable of DVCPRO-50 (and
-25) playback. This machine will also allow for playback of NTSC
as well as PAL recordings, and has a SDI digital output too, so will be
a big step up in capability for the (quite rare) DVCPRO format.
Our previous Panasonic AJ-D230 DVCPRO deck will probably be sold to
help offset the cost.
August 2016. We
took much of August off, mainly for reasons of an impending VAT
threshold. However we also took a break, and were able to keep in
contact with the studio computers, CCTV and various other
We have a very robust setup which includes UPS systems (uninterruptible
power supplies) on all machines. So what could possibly go
wrong? Well while away, the CyberPower UPS responsible for
powering the main router, blew up. So the very thing that was
there to ensure reliable power, had instead caused a major
headache. Though it's under guarantee, we're not putting that
brand of UPS back in that critical function again and have ordered a
new higher capacity model which will auto-restart upon power
restoration even if it runs flat in a long outage. Furtunately
though, even with the router being uncontactable, email was still
accessible via another route, and the studio was checked over by other
During the break, various background tasks could at last be
handled, not least of which was bottoming out a problem with unreliable
capture of certain video file formats from Digital Betacam. The
cause was found to be that the firmware in a SDI capture card needed to
be updated for reliable Windows 10 operation.
July 2016. One
PC has an 8-core AMD processor, and the noise from the CPU cooler on
this thing was getting unbearable in the warm weather. No other
cooling solution would fit the case, and very few cases would fit where
the machine resided. However I eventually found a case which
(just) fitted in the spot, and allowed a water cooled solution to be
installed when the motherboard and all components were transplanted
into the new case. The machine is now much, much quieter!
However it still generates a lot of heat and isn't the fastest
processor in the world, but it gets the job done. As an added
bonus (?) the case looks quite similar to a Stormtrooper! There
was no HDD activity LED on the case though, which is a problem because
I need to check the HDD activity is low before video capture is
started, so I drilled a hole into a blank and installed an LED (pink!),
resistor and wiring to the motherboard.
JVC (Taiyo Yuden) has discontinued production of the very high
quality DVD-R disks that we use, as DVD is becoming obsolete.
Unless we can find a supplier of equally high quality DVDs, this will
mean that we will have to consider the end of supplying DVD as a
medium, sooner rather than later. Very few customers are still
taking DVDs, nearly all customers now take video files on USB stick or
hard disk. Still however DVDs can be required for elderly
relatives who only have an old DVD player and TV.
We've been having a few issues with the Ferrograph tape deck, but
it's back with the supplier getting tweaked and we're hopeful that it
will all come good shortly.
The Sony TDC-690 DAT machine broke down, which was
depressing. Close examination of the problem showed that the reel
motor was intermittently slow to start, and a little Servisol switch
cleaner squirted into that motor completely solved the problem.
Even so, it would be preferable to replace the motor so I'm going to
try to source one. In the mean time, the Tascam DA-30MKII has
earned a great deal of respect from me and some of my regular DAT
customers, so I've re-configured my audio kit so that it's now the
default DAT machine.
By re-arranging some little-used machines, we've been able to
bring on more capacity with Umatic so we can now easily run two Umatic
tapes at once without the need to lug machines around. It also
makes the High band / SP (only) BVU-850P more readily available.
A Sony Beta had poor audio and so hadn't been in service. I
convinced myself that the audio head must be worn and obtained a scrap
machine to donate a head, but upon examination I really couldn't see
any wear on the head. Half a rotation of the audio head azimuth
adjustment made a massive improvement to the audio quality. I've
had audio head azimuth errors on VHS machines before, but (possibly due
to the more complicated tape path settings) have never seen it on an
unmolested Beta before. Playing a pre-recorded music programme
whilst listening to the audio on headphones gave the best possible
adjustment without access to a Beta alignment tape.
wishing to give away too many details, the security
camera system has now been upgraded to high definition. However
spiders still find the outdoor cameras are a great place to build their
webs. My eldest son is now the official "Arachnid Annoyer" and
goes out with a long tickling stick affair most evenings to earn his
pocket money by clearing webs.
June 2016. We
bought in another (making three) Panasonic AG-4700 video recorder,
which is essentially an NV-HS1000 in a different colour and with a
simpler remote. However, though it was supposed to work, it had
mechanical issues which required a lot of attention before it could be
used. While sorting that out, I also swapped
some heads and other parts around between two NV-HS950 machines which
were out of service, and so brought one of those on-line. The
capabilities of the NV-HS950 and NV-HS1000 / AG-4700 are virtually
identical, but I have a slight preference for the latter mainly because
there are more functions available on the front panel rather than by
remote control. I see though that there is no integral head
cleaner in the HS1000/AG4700 models even though they use the same deck
as the HS950.
A Sony DCR-TRV120E Digital8 camcorder was running a customer
tape, when it suddenly stopped, spat the tape out, and refused to ever
work again. It's frustrating when kit breaks down like this, but
it's a fact of life that things wear out. Some equipment I can
repair, but deck faults on camcorders tend to be terminal.
Our landline 'phone was out of action for several days this
month, but thankfully B.T. have now finally sorted the fault.
Since broadband kept going even when the 'phone line was down, it
wasn't the disaster it could have been.
The computer monitor on our main PC was starting to suffer from a
yellow cast, which made it hard to use for some critical
applications. It's been replaced by a Acer S277HK, a 4K
technology display, which is superb but taking a little time to get
used to. The resolution is almost too high.
be closed for most of August 2016.
There are several reasons for this, but the impending doom of the VAT
threshold is the overriding one. Usually when we take a break, we
try hard to get customers work done before and after that break so as
to minimise the amount of customers we don't complete work for, but
unfortunately on this occasion we actually have to turn the work down
for that month. It's frustrating that as a small business, we
work hard to build up a large client base of repeat customers, but now
find ourselves forced to turn down work and to shrink the
business. It's a very bad tax which artificially puts the brakes
on commerce. But having to register for VAT would increase costs
for no business gain.
We support staying
We have some important customers throughout Europe and it is important
that we can deal with those without complications around import and
export duties.... Alas that's not the way things have turned out so now
we can only hope for the best. If we have to pay import duties on
work being sent to and from Europe then it's likely that European
customers will avoid using UK businesses like us.
May 2016. The
Tascam 52 tape deck is being sold off for spares /
repairs. We've bought (at considerable expense!) a specially
modified and fully serviced Ferrograph
Super 7 tape recorder which will
run both 1/4 track and 1/2 track tapes. As well as replacing the
defective Tascam deck, this one should also largely take the place the
1/4 track Akai 1721L. It will aso for the first time allow us to
run 1/4 track recordings on 10.5" NAB spools, a capability we were
previously lacking. We've bought this in from Servicesound, a specialist in
the first time in many years, we've had to go through the site and
adjust pricing for some formats, particularly for transfers to
DVDs. Some combinations of transfers to DVD were just not
economically sensible with present postage rates and other costs, but
we're still great value for money. Some other transfers, such as
miniDV tapes to DV-AVI files remain at the remarkably low price of
£7/hour for 10+ hours, and we've even lowered the cost for HDV tapes to
latest upgrade to Windows 10 didn't work quite as well as
hoped: The machine is an AMD model, and has several settings of
power/noise/performance. The quiet mode we usually used with
Windows 7, is now unstable with Windows 10. The system works fine
in the noisier Turbo mode, but is offending my ears. We will have
to see if there's a fix to that. In the mean time, two more
machines were completed, so now 6 out of 6 of the studio desktop PCs
on Windows 10, leaving just an older ex-studio backup machine to
configure. We do still also have Windows 7 and XP laptops, as
well as a couple of Mac-Mini machines.
Plusnet, our Internet Service
Provider, have been great until a week ago. Then upload speed
fell from 10Mb/s to 2MB/s, along with a small reduction in download
speed, but I could see the link could perform better from the SNR
Margin values reported by the router. After several helpdesk
calls and emails, they eventually worked out that there was no
technical problem at all, but they had deliberately dropped the upload
speeds without telling me, due to a billing inconsistency at their
end. They then agreed to put the service back to the way it
should have been, at no charge, which they did. So on the
one hand they sorted it at no charge, but on the other hand
they caused me lots of problems due to a foul-up at their end and
didn't even tell me what they were doing. So I was a little bit
cross with them.
Finally had a chance to properly test the PCM digital audio
features of the Sony EV-S800 Video8 deck we got in a while ago.
Very impressed. So we can now add this quite obscure format to
our audio offerings.
April 2016. Colin
has been struck down by 'Flu and really needs to be given the first
week of April to recover fully... Better now, thanks.
now have two Windows 10 machines in the studio, both working
well. So we're taking the plunge and doing an upgrade of one of
the existing Windows 7 machines. We already have a license for
MacDrive software to be upgraded since MacDrive version 9 doesn't work
under Windows 10. Other than that, hopefully it will all
work. What could possibly go wrong?..... Well actually,
with MacDrive updated, everything went well and the machine was back in
service within the day. We will do one PC per fortnight to make
sure there are no hidden problems.
March 2016. We're
doing other things for Easter weekend and the following week so will be
unavailable until April.
We've been busy. Replaced the aging desktop PC which
emails, spreadsheets and some video capture and editing work; though
working fine it was dangerously old and too slow for some work.
Bought a monster gaming
from Ebuyer, with Windows 10 pre-installed, plus some extra hard disks,
DVD writer, ports and cables etc. Transferred lots of software
and data over from old Windows 7 machine. What could possibly go
wrong with a plan like that? Well, quite a lot as it
happens. Pinnacle Studio refused to capture from a Canopus
AD-VC55 on this machine, though the same software would capture from a
Sony miniDV or DVCAM deck in E-E mode, and the Canopus works on another
Windows 10 machine, and indeed on this one with WinDV freeware.
Worse though was various bits of Nero didn't work reliably, even when
updated to the latest version (waste of money that was then!), but
freeware burning software works, so still trying to sort that.
Had heaps of problems with the new Epson XP-55 printer but solved that
by using a USB2 rather than USB3 connection. It's been a rocky
couple of weeks, and some of the work-arounds are not pretty.
However the new machine is ferociously fast at editing and processing,
so it will be worth it all in the end. Power supply is
intermittently very noisy but I'm not getting quite the backup from PC Specialist that I
might have hoped for.... got a replacement power supply installed now
so it no longer sounds like a bag of nails.
Solved a problem with another Windows 10 computer: It would
capture DV using WinDV
but would drop frames with Pinnacle Studio. Fitting a new Toshiba
high performance hard disk solved that problem Total disk
capacity across all systems is approaching 100TB, or 0.1 PetaByte.
Our lovely Tascam 52 tape deck broke down. One problem was
the tape lifter not retracting properly, a lubrication issue that I was
able to resolve. However there also appears to be a takeup spool
issue, it's running all the time, which is not right. It may be
unusable as it stands, so that will stop us running any large spool
tapes until it's either fixed or replaced. Tascam service aren't
replying to emails so I guess they can't help - but a reply would have
been nice. Service information seems to be unavailable, and it's
also a big lump to dismantle, so it may be a dead loss. If anyone
has a large reel-reel tape deck for sale which takes NAB spools and
runs 15ips speed, please let me know. Tascam Service are unable
Our local post office is being refurbished from 10th - 21st
March, which is making postage rather difficult for certain types and
sizes of package. Will just have to muddle along.
Bought a spare DSR-11 on eBay in "worked before we lost the adaptor"
condition. Did it heck work, the cassette carriage is all messed
up. Maybe I can fix it, maybe not.... Spent a few hours on it and
now have it working. Most of the time anyway. The mode
switch probably could use replacement, it occasionally doesn't
recognise that it has reached the unlace position, but it's
useable. Just need another power supply or suitable plug.
Had a JVC DR-MH300 go all wonky and strange on me. No time
to fix that for a while, and may not be fixable anyway, so had to swap
it out, but now have no spare units so looking to buy some more
MH200/MH300 DVD recorders. Most customers take video files rather
than DVDs, but still enough do take DVDs that I need to have several
DVD recorders handy.
Bought a scrap DR-MH20, repaired the power supply (capacitors as
usual) and was rewarded with a lovely working machine. Very
pleased with myself for about an hour when the hard disk failed.
They are not replaceble (being a special firmware vaiant) so I at least
was able to put the DVD writer into a DR-MH200 which had burnt out its
writer, so still got a good working machine out of it. And a
spare serviced power supply for another day.
Bought a Sanyo Beta NTSC machine (had been imported from USA) on
eBay in "worked when put away" condition. Well no it didn't
because some fool had plugged this 110V unit into 240V.
Fortunately though, I've been able to recover the situation, though
don't have a BII or BIII NTSC Beta tape with colour recording handy to
complete testing just at the moment. Looks good with an NTSC
PCM-F1 ditigal audio recording though.
of my DSR-11 DVCAM decks was a bit mashed up by a cusomer's tape
last month, the customer had put a sticky label on the wrong part of a
miniDV tape and it jammed the mechanism. I was eventually able to
fix that at the time, but now I find that the Firewire port (which had
become a bit worn over the years) was too unreliable. The
solution was not simple: I dismantled a scrap miniDV camcorder and
raided the Firewire socket, but this had a different footprint from the
original because the socket's "notch" was the other way round. So
I had to mount the socket upside down on the PCB, which was fiddly in
the extreme. One of the pins fell out and had to be very
carefully refitted. After a couple of long hours, the socket was
installed solidly, fitted the cabinet properly, and works with complete
reliability. Not a job I would like to have to do again.
Bought in some new spare Firewire sockets for any similar jobs in the
December 2015. Wow!
That was a busy December. Much as I try to make every customer
happy, there came a point when I had to turn some work down in December
because the workload was getting silly. Most customers now are
taking video transfers as DV-AVI files on hard disk, ideal for all PC
and Mac video editing software. But a few people still need DVDs,
and it's the large sets of tapes to DVDs which eventually became the
bottleneck. I'm expecting fewer and fewer DVD transfer requests
over the next year, and I will need to redesign my main video99 logo to
reflect this. Graphic Designer anyone out there?
Life gets a little complicated for a while now. Each Monday I
will be looking after little Max who is now 1 year old. I'll
still be working on Mondays too, but it may be best to avoid long and
complicated 'phone calls on Mondays, and emails may be a little briefer
than at other times. But we will manage.
We now have upgraded the wetransfer.com account to
the Plus service which allows for uploading files of up to 20GB.
hard working engineer has suffered a bout of Man Flu in mid-November,
so throughput has been very slightly slower than normal.
The Epson R285 we use for printing CDs and DVDs is getting worn
out. It needs a lot of cleaning and attention, or it dumps ink
onto the internal rollers and then smudges it onto the CDs /
DVDs. It also has a full waste ink tank so has a "Printer Potty"
hanging out the back (very attractive!). Soon it will require
another special release code because it will think the waste tanks are
full for a second time. So we have a new Epson XP-55
printer to replace it, which works well.
Good days, bad days... I had to give up a planned weekend
away due to overwork. Then, perhaps due to tiredness, I
accidentally plugged a Firewire cable in the wrong way round - which is
something that certain combinations of large Firewire connectors will
do (due to poor design and socket wear). The Digital8 camcorder
at the end of the cable wasn't even switched on, but still the Firewire
port was fried in an instant. OK, thought I, make the best of a
bad job and "borrow" the pinch roller from this camcorder to put into
another Digital8 camcorder which has a worn, shiny pinch roller.
That I managed to do, but in removing the good pinch roller I managed
to cause a tape guide to fall out of the mechanism, thereby wrecking
it. On the one hand, at the end of the day I had the same amount
of working machines as I did at the start, on the other hand I had
utterly devastated a perfectly good Digital8 machine, which was
valuable and useful.
We'll not give out too much detail on the fact that the security camera
system has had some worthwhile maintenance and upgrades, with more
planned shortly. It transpires that a defective power cable
causing glitchy power to a camera, can cause failure of the camera's
Infra Red filter, and so result in a pink colour cast on the
pictures. It's a fairly common fault apparently. A replaced
cable and upgraded camera were therefore just part of the work we
The main computer used for emails, billing, spreadsheets etc., has now
been treated with a CMStorm Trigger-Z high grade keyboard. These
are sold primarily as gaming keyboards, but the Cherry Brown type key
switches are excellent for typists. Your engineer Colin is a rare
breed, a male who actually learned to properly touch-type, and wife
Jane is also a trained typist, so we both really appreciate this high
quality keyboard. However mechanical keyboards are a little
noiser than cheap keyboards, so I've retained the old Microsoft one for
occasional use when noise may be a problem.
The old Mac Mini was starting to act up, with spinning
colourwheels and a general lack of success. It's not been needed
quite so much now we use MacDrive software on our PCs for Mac disk
access, but it was still useful to have a real Mac sometimes. An
attempt at re-installing the operating system caused it to completely
brick. A brief visit to the local Apple Store (not a
place I tend to hang out!) and we left with a brand new Mac Mini.
This did not go well.... After a few minutes of use, the mouse
and keyboard would stall momentarily on the new Mac Mini, until
rebooted. This cycle kept repeating. So back it went for a
swap out for another new Mac Mini. And guess what... Just the
same! In the process of trying to debug the problem, I had cause
to connect up an alternative monitor to the new Mac Mini, and... fault
gone! The problem was that the monitor we had used was the same
as used on our old Mac Mini, which had a DVI socket. We had
connected the new Mac Mini to the monitor via a DVI to HDMI adaptor
cable, and I suspect that the problem lay here, the new Mac Mini was
handshaking with the monitor regarding resolution and during this time
the mouse stalled. I bought in a new HDMI equipped monitor for
the new Mac Mini. The story goes on just a little further: Some
experiments implied that the old Mac Mini had a memory problem, and
removing half the memory allowed it to work. I then re-fitted the
memory with the modules swapped into each other's slots and the unit
now worked reliably. So that is now in operation as a media
server and backup Mac.
The new broadband service from Plusnet
was supplied with a separate modem and router, neither of which seemed
particularly inspiring pieces of kit - especially the router which was
just pitiful. So having been in place for less than 2 weeks, they
were turfed out and replaced with a much more sophisticated combined
router and VDSL modem. These are powered from a UPS
(Uninterruptible Power Supply) so that broadband (and telephones) will
continue to function for a considerable time in the event of a power
failure. The new router no longer resides in the studio, but is
placed right next to the incoming line for the best possible signal
quality. The Gigabit LAN switch however remains in the studio for
high speed data transfer between the computers.
Trying to prove to my long sufferring wife that we don't just
acquire more and more kit, I've sold a Sony Betacam UVW1200P BetacamSP
player since we had more than we need. I may regret it one day of
We now have a Sony DVW-A500P Digital Betacam recorder which, when
paired with our DVW-A510P will allow for duplication of Digital Betacam
tapes, or for transfer of analogue BetacamSP to Digital Betacam.
The next part of this setup will be the purchase an SDI digital output
card so that we can record digital video clips onto Digital Betacam for
use by TV studios (planned for later this year).
New high speed broadband installed, in particular the upload
speed is around 10 times the old broadband, which is particularly
helpful when uploading large files via wetransfer.com.
Really delighted to add a Sanyo TRC-6010 Microcassette dicatation
machine to join the Sanyo TRC-7060 Minicassette one. It's strange
that Sanyo backed both formats, but they're excellent machines.
The Microcassette model will mean we don't have to use an Olympus
Pearlcorder so much (since it gave best results on batteries so was
expensive to run), but the latter is still helpful for being easy to
adjust to suit tapes which have been recorded with incorrect head
azimuth. Incorrect head azimuth is depressingly common on the
We have the capability to recover data from PC and Mac 3.5"
floppy disks. We may also be able to set up 5.25" PC formatted
floppy disks, and I'm working towards also being able to offer data
recovery from Commodore 1541 floppies too. I have a Commodore
VIC20 set up now. The 1541 has broken down but parts are on
order. I also have a Parallel to Commodore serial interface
device somewhere, but need to find it or build another. Update:
Fixed the 1541, needed a new 6522 PIO chip.
July 2015. A Tascam
DA-30MKII DAT deck was purchased to replace the ailing DTC1000-ES
machine, but it didn't go very well initially. A tiny drive belt,
the smallest I've ever seen, sits on the underside of the deck and
works the lace up / unlace mechanism, it had stretched and so operation
was unreliable. A replacement was hard to source but well worth
it. Better still I was able to source the cable-connected remote
control for this machine. After some cosmetic work, the machine
is now lovely, and works every bit as well as the Sony DTC-690.
My big Panasonic AU-750 MII deck broke down, it was failing to eject
tapes. However it turned out to be a lubrication problem with the
"Heath Robinson" style tape guides which should move out of the way
during unlace. Some silicone grease and wiggling was all that was
required, but from start to finish was over an hour and quite a bit of
stress. A customer was struggling a little with some 10bit YUV
files from MII (the same 100GB/hour files as can be supplied from
DigiBeta). Some software was causing visible interlacing breakup
during movement. I was about to re-run the tapes as DV-AVI files,
when he found the solution at his end; he downloaded Adobe Premier
(professional) and it worked well with these large 10bit YUV files.
Sometimes things die. My Sony dtc1000-es (backup) DAT deck
expired today. Initially it had loading problems, and I was able
to resolve those with a new belt and some lubricant. However then
the sound was (and still is) intermittent. There seems to be no
way forward on that given the huge complexity of this elderly deck, so
I'm having to retire it, at least for now. So I'm in the market
for another DAT deck. In the mean time, I still have a very nice
Sony DTC-690 DAT machine so we've not lost any capabililty. The
deck which died was only my backup machine.
My main N1502 machine was starting to get fussy about which tapes
it would play properly. Some were great, others seemed a little
fiddly to set up. I have another N1502 in which is on my "to be
fixed one day" pile, but the heads are certainly good, so I swapped
them over and any playback issues were completely resolved. I
also have a working backup N1502 deck too, useful with machines of this
sort of vintage. I'm always looking for spare N1500/N1502 video
Some of the shelving in the studio had been bought in a hurry when we
moved in a little over two years ago. Those black plastic shelves
had sagged badly under load and were now unstable. But it wasn't
straightforward finding replacement shelves of the right strength,
design and dimensions to replace them. A large replacement unit
having been obtained (though a less than ideal design in terms of
material and finish), it sat in its box until I had a whole free day,
to clear all the equipment from the old shelves, labelling cables as I
went, removed the plastic shelves, build the new shelving unit, refit
equipment in an improved layout and cable it all up. Such it was
that I had a very exhausting Monday! In the end, though I don't
like the cosmetics of the shelves very much, we do now have something
safe, solid, and giving more useful equipment space than before.
With the move away from DVDs towards video files that we've seen over
the last few years (now only about 20% of work is to DVD), I've made
space to install another video capture computer which I plan to build
in the autumn. There's just one more plastic shelving unit left
to replace, when I have time.
Alas sometimes even we have to write off a piece of equipment, and such
it was that one of our Sony EV-S9000E Hi8 decks has had to be
scrapped. There was an insurmountable problem with the FM audio
when playing mono recordings, the fault lay on the main board which is
virtually impossible to fault-find, additionally there were mechanical
problems and a TBC failure. However we still have plenty of these
machines in service for those jobs which require them.
March 2015. Having
trouble with the Epson R285
CD/DVD printer. A new disc tray helped significantly, but it's
still less than perfect. Another printing solution may be
required longer term.
February 2015. Sometimes
even an experienced engineer can miss the obvious, and so it was when I
had trouble with a Philips N1502
machine taking an increasingly long time to stabilise the head servo
when switched on. I spent lots of time worrying about and testing
servo circuits, before finding that the head drum belt was slipping
slightly. Silly me. New belts ordered from Cricklewood Electronics.
January 2015. We now are
now using MacDrive
software, with two licenses, which helps to turn around work on Mac
formatted (HFS+) hard disks quicker. We still have a Mac too, but
the MacDrive software speeds up data transfer since all our video
capture is done on a suite of custom built and tweaked Windows
PCs. Most video capture to video files is done as DV-AVI files,
ideal for all PC and Mac video editing software, but professional
formats such as Digital Betacam can be supplied as even larger file
December 2014. We now
have a G2 MSTC Ultima Multi
Standard Timebase Corrector, which provided motion compensation
PAL/NTSC standards conversion for studio quality results.
November 2014. The
PCM1610 is in and briefly tested, that seems to be working but there
will be more testing to do. There is also a PCM100 though I
understand that the PCM1610 will play everything and more than the
PCM100, so it's probably fairly useless. A huge amount of work
has come in towards the end of November, nearly all transfers to DV-AVI
files rather than DVDs. I always recommend taking video files for
larger collections of tapes in particular, they are higher quality,
easier to edit, back up, share and upload than are DVDs.
October 2014. The
latest member of our family arrived on 26th October, a happy baby boy
called Max, weighing 7 pounds 9 ounces. He seems to love
listening to Acker Bilk "Stranger On The Shore" when he needs settling.
We've bought in a Sony PCM1610
digital audio processor for Umatic digital audio tapes. However
this is presently stored some miles away so it will likely be around
the middle of November before we can get it in and try it out.
It's been supplied as untested but from a working studio, so we're
hopeful it will work or can be repaired. I've been looking for
one of these for years.
We were having print quality issues with HP Laserjet P3015 laser
printer some months ago, it would create spotty printouts. It's
generally only used for printing address labels but it was still not
ideal. HP were quite helpful, they told me that since the problem
would clear for a while when doing a cleaning page, that the fault was
in the fuser. I ordered a (cheap) fuser film sleeve via Chinese
eBay seller, installed that (fiddly job), and the spottiness problem
was much better. But now the printer suffered from ghosting from
the top of the page downwards. Another eBay seller, this one in
USA, informed me that cheap fuser films cause this sort of problem, and
was able to supply another fuser film. Installed that (still a
fiddly job!) but now the prints look spectacularly good. I'm just
hoping they stay that way. Meanwhile colour prints for DVD boxes
come from the HP Laserjet 2605dn
I bought in March, which works very well.
Any web site which carries Google adverts should have a list of
blocked sites that you don't want to carry, typically one's
competitors! Such it is that video99 and colin99 websites had a
list of around 100 competitor's web sites entered on Google as sites
not to advertise, built up over the past three or four years.
Recently I went through that list to see how many of them are still
operating. To even my surprise, almost a third of them have
vanished. Doesn't that say something about these dozens of
fly-by-night little outfits who pop up and then vanish? Here at
video99 we've been in our ever-expanding business since 2006. We
expect to be here for at least another 20 years, as we continue to
expand our huge range of audio and video formats.
September 2014. The
offsite store room is now vacated, a great step forward in tidying up
our spare parts and scrap machines. We now also have the bulk
eraser configured for easy disposal of used tapes, for those customers
who don't want them back after transfer (though I generally do
recommend taking tapes back, just in case!). All kinds of
interesting things turned up during the move from the offsite store, so
if you have an interest in old video equipment and need to buy a scrap
machine such as a Sanyo Beta or Philips V2000 model, just ask in case I
have what you need. There's also a depressingly large collection
of recent VHS models, many of which probably work Other items
include a Umatic edit controller, Industrial equipment like Weller Hot
Plate controllers, GPIB cables, new-old stock laser printer drums,
August 2014. We
started construction of a new storage space so that we could clear out
our offsite store room and keep all the spare equipment in one
place. A time consuming job which was (more or less) completed in
time for our summer holiday.
July 2014. I've
been given a second Grundig SVR4004 SVR/SVC
machine by a kind customer. Though I have a fully working example
of this exceptionally rare machine already, I'm only too happy to have
another one lined up to be serviced as soon as I get a few hours to get
my head into it. I repaired the customer's Panasonic NV-HS950 for
him, not something I make a habit of: It looked like a
straightforward mechanical fault for which I keep the spare parts in
stock, it actually turned into a nightmare because a transistor had
failed deep in the main PCB, which gave odd symptoms and took many
hours to trace. That just reminds me why I don't like to take on
June 2014. Two
recent additions to my systems include a BVU-850P SP/High Band Umatic
deck, and a Pioneer LD-V4300D Laserdisc player. The family
enjoyed watching Independence Day on Laserdisc! This is an NTSC /
PAL model with integral timebase corrector so it's a machine I'm
particularly pleased to have available. I've also been given a
Philps N1520 VCR format machine, this is a particularly rare model
which supports stereo sound, so I'm looking forward to working on that
later in the year.
May 2014. Back
in March I bought a PhilipsN1700
machine via eBay. I fitted
belts and lubricated the deck, had to replace the heads (I think
possibly N1500 heads were installed, I will have to check that later),
and generally encouraged it to work. Then, suddenly the whole
machine expired. Fortunately I do have the diagrams, albeit these
machines had lots of production variants, but I was able to isolate a
defective I.C. in the power supply. I don't know, where's the
quality control, a component made in 1978 fails in 2014! A new
I.C. was obtained easily and the machine sprang into life. Of
course I had to also install audio and video connectors and build a
video buffer circuit, but at the end of all that I was rewarded with a
lovely working machine, which means I now have a backup player for this
pretty old format. -- Updated in August: This N1700 turned out to
be so good that it's now my primary machine and my previous one is the
April 2014. Bought
a JVC DR-MH300 DVD recorder on
eBay at an excellent price. I was
very pleased until it arrived. The seller thought it was fully
working but either through lack of use or transport, the power supply
would not start up. The PSU on this model is on the main PCB
which makes access very poor, you have to strip everything down to get
to it. Replaced a selection of bad capacitors including the 27uF
35V one right next to the heatsink, reassembled it, switched on, boot
screen came up... sitting back happily watching the fruits of my
labours... then the timer incdication started flickering and the
machine would just sit there. After another 2 hours of trying
different things, had to finally admit defeat. Even I have to
give up sometimes, but after the HDV camcorder a few weeks back, I hope
this isn't turning into a trend.
March 2014. The
solution to the HDV camcorder failure was to buy in a Sony HVR-M15AE
deck, which not only provides capacity for small and large HDV tapes,
but now at last means I can handle 1080p including 24p frame rate
tapes. Not a cheap machine, but it means we won't get caught out
with tapes we can't play. Sold the HDR-HC3E HDV camcorder
Bought an untested Philips VCR-LP N1700 machine. Drive belts ordered
in, looking forward to working on it shortly.
February 2014. Sometimes
even I can't fix a fault, and such it was when I started getting error
messages from the Sony HDR-HC3E
camcorder which I use as an extra
HDV player sometimes to augment the full size Sony HVR-M15E deck.
Not wishing to have a single point of failure, something will have to
done! I've also had one of my fleet of JVC DR-MH200 DVD recorders
fail, with a worn out DVD writer for which spares are not readily
available. Fortunately I had a reserve machine to put into its
place. What with several power cuts this month, I do wonder what
else could be sent to try me!
January 2014. If
using a Mac with the latest Mavericks operating sytem, since Apple have
managed to break Quicktime support for DV-AVI files, you may wish to
install the earlier Quicktime 7 and one of its vital components called
Perian. These will allow easy playback and importing into
iMovie: QT 7.6.6. http://support.apple.com/kb/DL923
Perian http://perian.org These
steps are only necessary if you are running Mavericks, and hopefully
Apple will fix the bug before too long anyway.
After a mad Christmas rush, the last week before Christmas has fewer
rush jobs and I can get on with some background tasks: I replaced
the reel motor in a Sony VO-9850Umatic
recorder, and the pinch roller in a Digital8
obtained an NTSC Digital8 player which will make DV-AVI
video capture from that format much easier. Most PAL Digital8
players will play NTSC but each time there is a gap in the recording,
the capture process would abort. Using an NTSC deck solves
that. It also overcomes a limitation of a previous analogue NTSC
player I have which is mono, so until now I've not been able to obtain
stereo sound from NTSC 8mm tapes recorded in Long Play.
November 2013. We
now have a Blackmagic
Design Intensity Shuttle video capture unit for Component Video
capture, mainly for MII.
I have to say though it's not a unit I would recommend, it's very hard
to get it to work reliably. I tried four of my machines, all of
which have the necessary NEC USB3 chipsets, but only one of them works
without dropping frames, hanging or ortherwise going haywire.
Even then it only works with the manufacturer's supplied capture
software, not within my preferred Pinnacle Studio.
Finally completed the 1000-tape job! Added another lovely Sony SL-HF100Beta
Hifi stereo video recorder to the collection. Two JVC DR-MH200
DVD recorders broke down this month, one of which has been repaired but
the other may be terminal due to lack of available spare parts.
September 2013. We
had a few very busy weeks with a large job of almost 1000 tapes of
various formats. Built another high performance PC for video
capture, along with plenty of 3TB hard disks.
August 2013. Took a
couple of weeks off, now back to face the backlog of work!
Now we have a Blackmagic SDI capture card installed, so we have
the ability to capture Digital Betacam in a purely digital route, even
uncompressed 10 bit video files if required but they are a shocking
94GB per hour.
We bought in a Sony Digital Betacam
player DVW-A510P which acts as a backup for the Sony J3.
We bought in a Black Magic component video capture unit for use with
MII and BetacamSP decks, but alas it was dead and had to be
returned. The plan is to buy another one later in the year.
For sale: BVW-35 Portable BetacamSP NTSC recorder. I tested
this a couple of years ago, it played fine provided the TBC function
was switched off. Can test again before sale. Offers around
Not video related but I wanted to tell the story: My
beloved 1994 Toyota Celica died because the immobiliser's computer quit
and the manufacturer can't support it any more. I was having
nightmares about car crushers. Fortunately the manufacturer
were able to give me enough information to bypass the defective unit
initially to get the car going again, and then also the wiring details
so I was able to fit a more modern equivalent. Joy all round, and
the car crusher goes hungry.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-22824840 According to the Daily Telegraph,
almost half of British men still have a hoard of music cassettes or
records from their youth - despite no longer having the equipment to
play them. And 40%
still have a library of films on VHS or Betamax tapes despite upgrading
to DVD, Blu-ray and streaming via the internet. ....and, in a survey,
two thirds said they'd like to transfer all this old material to
up-to-date formats - but lacked time and know-how. Well they can all come to video99.co.uk and
we will help.
June 2013. We now
have a lovely addition to our MII equipment, the Panasonic
AU-750 deck. It does seem quite strongly attracted to the
centre of the Earth though (it takes two people to lift it!).
May 2013. The
studio has been redecorated, carpeted and rewired.
Just a few details left to sort out, but I can start refitting the
equipment now.... Now fully refitted with all equipment, it's a tidier
place to work with much better electrical wiring. Electrics by Chapman Electrical, carpets by A.R.Jenkins, decoration by Ivan Langford of
Another Sony EV-S9000E failed, after being left unpowered for a
while during redecoration. The playback picture had squiggling
patterning when cold due to capacitors failing in the Digital Timebase
Corrector. While there I replaced all the capacitors in the
secondary of the power supply. The main display had segments
playing up, a capacitor had leaked gunge onto the PCB behind the
display, replaced capacitor (under screening can) and all cleaned up
for a perfect machine. These machines are getting old now and
capacitor failure is a common problem.
Sony HC14E camcorder failed, it died completely after a capacitor
dried out in the mains adaptor. Repaired the adaptor but the
camcorder was lost. But I had another of the same model which had
a burnt out firewire port and failed CCD, so stripped them both down
and swapped over the parts from one to another to get one perfect
unit. Dismantling camcorders is not for faint-hearted, there are
dozens of screws to remove before you start to get anywhere, they are
The Epson Photo R285 inkjet
printer complained that internal parts need replacement. This
means that the waste ink tank pads are full. Some software is
available, but the key to work it costs a little bit, which allows the
counter to be reset. Then I've ordered a waste ink tank add-on.
in several non-working JVC DR-MH200 DVD recorders, got one fully
working and another provided spares to repair one I had already.
Remaining set of three to work on later, I should be able to get one
more going but hard disks are the problem, they can't readily be
A Sony EV-S9000E went down with a strange jagged picture until it
had been left on for a while. In the non-working state, the
picture could be restored by deselecting the Digital Timebase Corrector
from the menus. A sure sign that it had capacitor failure in the
TBC circuit, so I popped it into the workshop ready to do a long
afternoon's work of replacing all the surface mount electrolytic
capacitors. However to my surprise, I found that I had done this
already, it must have been the first machine I did that to some years
ago. However there are also two through-mounted 1uF non-polarised
capacitors in there and these didn't look very good on my Peak
Electronics ESR meter. Replaced, and machine now works fine.
been busy with all three of our printers: The Epson Photo R285
inkjet printer is used exclusively for printing on DVDs, but the disk
tray was not working reliably. After some investigations, the
cause was found to be that the tray was "drooping" slightly and so was
colliding with the rollers when the disk loaded. By propping up
the tray's guide with a box of staples (!), the disk loading is now
100% reliable. The HP Laserjet
has been a solid workhorse monochrome laser printer used for all labels
and business printing for many years. However it was heading
towards needing another set of pickup rollers and separator pads, so I
decided instead to invest in a slightly used HP Laserjet P3015, which is much
faster and uses less power in standby. For sale: One HP Laserjet 2100tn with extra tray,
memory upgrade and network port installed. The colour printed
boxes option for DVDs uses an HP
Color Laserjet 2605dn
to print the inserts. These printers have a well known weakness
in that they tend to such paper dust into the optical assembly, which
causes print quality problems. It's also a right pain to get
to. I had previously twice stripped down and cleaned the optical
block, the last time in September 2012, but I had a feeling something
still wasn't quite right with this printer. Prints were darker
than they should have been and it didn't print properly at the far
right edge of the paper. Closer inspection showed that the block
had not been refitted in exactly the correct way last time, which is
apparently a very common problem when cleaning it. I stripped it
down again, cleaning it while it was apart, then very carefully
locating the optical block and checking it by looking at it from the
front where the toner carts are installed. After reassembly and
recalibration, the printer is now producing fantastic results right to
the edge of the paper.--- Update, no the print is faint. Partly
caused by a bad black toner cart, but to get things moving quickly I
replaced the printer with a refurbished one, £43 inc delivery.
Now I can work on the old one in my spare time.
One of my incredibly rare CVC
Showcase machines kept shedding a drive belt when being used last
week. The drive belts on these are just absurdly hard to get to
and replace, but after an hour or so of struggling, a replacement was
installed and it now works perfectly.
Replaced all the surface mount capacitors in the Digital Timebase
Corrector circuit of a Sony EVS-9000E Hi8 deck, because it was
producing strange results when the TBC function was enabled. Now
it works perfectly. It's a very big and painstaking job, there
are over 30 capacitors to replace and some are quite fiddly, but I've
now done this to three of my machines with 100% success.
power supply rebuild of the JVC DR-MH200 was a complete success.
In the mean time I've bought another of these machines and I'm working
on replacing the hard disk (not as easy as it sounds). A DR-MH300
however had to be taken out of service since the DVD writer became
increasingly fussy with which disks it could write to, so that requires
a new DVD writer drive which could be hard to source. I do now
have the service manuals for these machines which helps.
We still have not been able to tie down the carpet fitters and
decorators so that we can get the studio tidied up after the water
ingress in December. When we do get them sorted, it will mean
we're going to be unable to do any work for about a week, probably
around late March. We wanted to get the studio power sockets
re-wired at the same time but it looks like the costs are prohibitive
so that will have to wait until next year.
The Sony DCT-690 DAT machine broke down, almost immediately
followed by the old DAT deck, leaving us struggling for a few
hours! The DCT-690 deck had a wobbly internal gear because a
retaining clip had popped off, causing the tape guides to fall out of
alignment with each other. Really a DAT deck is very similar to a
small video deck. Having fixed that, the older Sony deck was also
persuaded back into life, getting us back to having a good machine and
a spare. But it was stressful for a while. Proved that the
Tascam DR-100MKII is capable of lossless digital capture from 48kHz DAT
tapes, very impressive (superior to CD quality).
of the PCs used for video capture, bombed out with an
impossible-to-recover Windows 7 installation. Even re-installing
Windows didn't work, in fact the Solid State (SSD) boot drive couldn't
even be reformatted. This is the second Kingston 64GB SSD drive
to fail, the other one the SATA data connector disintegrated.
I'll not be using Kingston drives again. Fortunately I had a new
SSD drive in for a new studio computer I was about to build, so I was
able to install Windows and all my required software on that in a day
and get the machine back on-line.
A JVC DVD recorder DR-MH200 went out with a bang. The power
supplies on these are known for capacitor failure, but in this case the
STRG6653 regulator chip exploded, taking out with it a surface mount
resistor beneath it, the mains fuse, and I suspect the rectifier
too. Parts on order, hopefully it will all work when rebuilt and
not just go bang again.
Thanks to Richer Sounds
for a good deal on some sweet little Sharp LC-19LE510K 19" TV monitors,
two cost £99 each and a third in the sales at just £80.
December 2012 Flood damaged studio!
Technically an "escape of water" and we're very lucky that it's
generally only cosmetic damage, very little equipment was
so, it's a proper pain and consuming lots of time.
October - November 2012. We have moved! Now
we have a proper studio dedicated to audio and video transfers and
editing. The studio is now almost completely set up and is being
equipped with some new equipment to increase capacity. Joy all
We now have a Tascam DR-100MKII digital audio recorder from
Richersounds (they ordered it in especially). This will simplify
audio recordings, especially very long ones, and provide studio quality
results. It also has a digital input for lossless digital copies
from MD and DAT. Thanks to Richer
Sounds for supplying that at a good price, even though it wasn't
one of their normal stock items.
Replaced an elderly DAT deck with a nice
clean low-mileage Sony DCT-690 machine. But the cassette
compartment seemed a bit gloomy so I couldn't resist a minor modication
and added a diffuse LED so that the cassette is easier to see during
use. Purchased a new UPS
so that each of our three main desktop PCs are UPS protected.
Had a breakdown: JVC DR-MH300 DVD recorder refused to start up
after a power outage, just a quiet ticking sound. This is not the
easiest model to work on because there is no separate power supply
board, but dismantled it, replaced the 27uF 35V capacitor in the power
supply section (a common fault on JVC DVD recorders of various models),
tested other electrolytic capacitors with an ESR meter, reassembled and
had the machine back in service within the hour.
September 2012. Slightly poor colour performance
the HP Laserjet 2605dn printer traced to paper dust on the optical
assembly mirrors. A real pain to get to but this
helped, as did HP's technical support people. Unreliable
operation of a JVC DR-MH200 DVD recorder resolved by going through the
power supply with an Effective
Series Resistance (ESR) meter and replacing no less than nine
capacitors which were high resistance and/or low capacitance.
August 2012. A couple of weeks off in the sunshine,
thanks for patience from those customers whose jobs had to work around
July 2012. A hazard of running some antique formats
that the machines can a little quirky. Such it was that the mains
filter capacitor of a Grundig 2x4 Super V2000
1984 vintage video recorder caught fire, fortunately when I was in the
same room as the machine so was able to dive for the power switch
before any damage was done. The video recorder was actually quite
simple to repair, but the frayed nerves may take longer.
June 2012. Latest acquisition is a Panasonic AG-7650
player, actually two of them. These machines allow for completely
variable linear and hifi audio mixing, which is a feature unavailable
on virtually any other model of S-VHS machine, and they also include
very nice integral Digital Timebase Corrector. Had a Panasonic
NV-HS1000 break down on me, the plastic drive spiggot on the loading
motor had developed a hairline crack, fortunately I was able to obtain
one from a scrap machine of a similar model, but it was quite fiddly to
fit since you can't easily get the deck out when a tape is stuck in
it. More of these drive components, part number VDP1434, are on
order. They are prone also to failure in the NV-HS900 and
NV-HS950 models as well as others.
Bought in another Canopus ADVC55 DV capture converter, now we
have fourt of these. Also we now have a Sanyo VTC-NX100 Sanyo Beta
machine which I've serviced and is in particularly nice condition.
May 2012. Latest equipment in includes another Sony
edit deck (late model version with better firmware), and
another Sony SL-T50 multistandard Beta
machine. Perhaps more
importantly though we have another high performance computer built
which helps with video capture when there is a lot of work in.
Less good was that due to human error, a Philips N1502 machine was
dropped and damaged, a mistake that cost several hours to put right.
April 2012. Now we have the second (rare) CVC Showcase
machine up and running, and also a JVC SR-DVM70EU minidv/DVD/hard disk
recorder which was kindy donated to me in non-working order and I
repaired it. I'm never happier than having my head in a piece of
kit that other people can't seem to fix.
Business is still very brisk, but a couple of days off over
Easter was very welcome.
March 2012. We now have bought in a second,
incredibly rare CVC
machine, which is undergoing repair now. Bought in two more of
our favourite DVD recorder, the JVC DR-MH300, one in full working order
the other which will have to be repaired.
This month's disaster (!): Lost some data on a very important
spreadsheet when the boot drive ran out of space. Lessons
learned: Regular backups, regular backups and then regular backups.
February 2012. Just to prove to my long-suffering
wife that I don't just keep collecting more and more kit, I actually
sold a spare UVW1200P BetacamSP
player this month, to one of my competitors! Well I do work for
competitors too, several of them send me jobs they can't handle.
Another disaster: Boot drive failure on one of my most important
computers. Reinstalled everything, it lasted a week and went
again! The problem? The SATA data cable on solid state boot
drives (SSD) can be quite critical, it was a bit sloppy at one end,
replaced it and also took an image of the boot drive onto a spare hard
disk to make it easier to recover from this sort of thing in the
future. Descovered that the backup and restore feature in
Windows7 is next to useless if you are trying to restore to a different
drive than the one the backup was made from, how hopeless is that!
January 2012. Now we have yet another of our
favourite Digital Timebase Corrector,
these things are really hard to obtain but the manufacturer still
supports them and so I'm able to get each one "tweaked" to operate just
how I like them.
A disaster: Plugged a Firewire cable the wrong way round into a
socket (this isn't supposed to be possible but with some plug/socket
combinations is an easy mistake), blew up a Canopus
video capture unit.
It might have been nice if the unit was a bit more robust and so didn't
just blow up, but then the manufacturer woudn't have had the pleasure
of charging me over £100 to repair it.
December 2011. Now have a Tascam 52 tape deck which
means we can handle up to 10.5" audio spools with/without NAB hubs at
up to 15 IPS running speed. Exactly where we will store this 35kg
monster we are yet to work out!
November 2011. November was hideously busy at
video99, and your engineer did rather burn himself out a bit.
Also "burnt out" several pieces of equipment which will have to be
serviced or replaced over Christmas.
October 2011. Another Grundig 2x4 Super V2000 format
machine now added to our collection, which is our favourite model for
this format. Now that we have two of these, I'm happy to clear
out the older Philips VR2023 and similar machines (so if you want to
buy one, let me know).
We now also have another Sony EV-S9000E Hi8 edit deck, taking the collection up to five of
A seemingly simple upgrade to a computer system went hideously
wrong, as these things can! We our main computer system was not
fully operating for over a week. But at the end of it, we now have
another machine running Windows 7, and a Solid State boot drive with
HD5570 graphics card.
I've had a customer job for a data transfer from 3.5" floppy
disks (Mac formatted in this case). This has prompted setting up
equipment to also retrieve data from 5.25" 1.2MB floppy disks, which I
am now setting up, let's see if there's an interest in this.
September 2011. A very busy time for us!
Secam Umatic capability has now been restored with a
August 2011. We
now have a BluRay writer so we
will in due course be able to make up BluRay HD films with that. In the
mean time, it already allows for a useful way to provide BDRom
disks of large DV-AVI files for customers who don't want to provide a
Oh dear, a breakdown: We have temporarily lost Umatic
SECAM capability since our Sony VP-5040 multistandard Umatic player has
developed a dead spot on its capstan motor. A replacement part,
or more likely whole machine, is actively being sought.
Our off-site storage space has moved and there is now more space
to allow for easier access to equipment as required. Actually
there is too much stuff there, so if someone is interested in a
collection of Philips VR2021/2/3 etc. machines for spares, and spares
for them, just let me know. Other scrap machines I have too many
of may include various Beta (Betamax) machines from Sanyo and Sony,
GPIB test equipment cables and ancillaries, certain BetacamSP players
July 2011. We now have a Twitter account and will
be blogging information there in due course. As they say: Follow
us on Twitter.
After a bit of a disaster at the printers (to be fair, they sorted it
out), we now have some lovely new business cards and will send them out
with DVDs. If you could use extra ones for your friends and
colleagues, just ask.
June 2011. Another Canopus ADVC-55
video capture unit purchased, which helps with setting up tricky and
non-standard capture configurations such as certain NTSC tapes to
DV-AVI files. Our UVW1800P BetacamSP recorder is now in place and
working nicely. Bought in some service kits so I now have added
another Panasonic NV-HS950 S-VHS deck to the collection, these are
amazing machines with an integral Digital Timebase Corrector, and along
with the similar NV-HS1000 make up most of the machines I use for VHS
and S-VHS transfers.
May 2011. Now a JVC DR-MH300 recorder
added, this is particularly useful for some of my casting agents
customers who require off-air programmes to be captured for
actors. Also new in, a UVW1800P which will allow us to record
onto (as well as from) BetacamSP tapes for studio use.
April 2011. Yet another JVC DR-MH200
Hard Disk / DVD recorder added to the collection, we really like these
machines and also know how to service the power supplies to get the
best from them. They offer more flexibility than other brands but
it's a shame JVC have pulled out of the DVD recorder market. One
more Panasonic S-VHS deck in place too.
March 2011. We now have a new Digital
Compact Cassette deck to get the very best from this quite obscure audio
format. Added a new PCM-701 decoder for (usually Betamax) PCM
audio, which is addition to the PCM-F1 unit we already had.
Repaired a Sony SL-T50 so we now have extra multistandard Beta
equipment available, just in case.
February 2011. PCM-701 and PCM-601 digital audio
on video cassettes (usually Betamax)
can now be handled.
January 2011. Oddly enough January is always a
busy time, this year is no exception.
No VAT rise here, since video99 quite deliberately works under
the VAT threshold.
Bought in a replacement NV-HS950 S-VHS video recorder since I
was concerned that one of these was getting tired, and I'm only happy
when I'm providing the very best results for my customers.
Web form problem experienced in December is completely resolved,
it was caused by a well-intentioned change made by my ISP.
Off-site local storage finally filling up with about a ton of
obsolete machines, spares, cables and other "will come in handy one
December 2010. A very busy time, I had to limit
the amount of work coming in so that I could keep all my promises,
which I did, to complete work in time for Christmas. A few
customers experienced a delay in my responding to requests on my
automatic web form, apologies for that, it was a technical failure
outside my control, which is now being worked on.
November 2010. Work overload! Having to
limit incoming work for this year now.
Offsite storage available at last, for storing spare parts for
older video formats such as N1500. Our loft can breathe a sigh of
relief as a ton of equipment has been moved out!
October 2010. The Christmas work is starting to
arrive already, so if you have a job to be done in time for Christmas
then please get it in as soon as possible before the big
More DVD recorder units (which include internal hard disks) are
now on-line and helping to get work done more efficiently.
Did you know: If you plug a miniDV camcorder into a PC via the
firewire cable for video capture, that if you manage to accidentally
fit the larger (6-pin) firewire plug in upside down, that it will fry
the firewire port of your camcorder, possibly with a burning smell and
a small puff of smoke? You do now. Guess how we found that
To help with uploading video files for customers, we now have a
very large upload/download bandwidth allowance with our broadband
September 2010. I've built a new and super-fast
computer specifically for video capture in my small studio, which
particularly helps with video capture from Umatic and BetacamSP
sources. Now, unless there is a good reason to do otherwise, all
Umatic and BetacamSP transfers to DVD will be Deluxe Menu.
Furthermore, I have bought in a second Sony DSR-11 DVCAM deck to help
with video domestic format video capture, DV and DVCAM transfers - this
is also connected to the new computer system. All topped off with
a new faster network system between computers, the new systems really
help to get larger jobs done quickly and efficiently. (If you're
interested, new PC has solid state boot drive, 2TB data drive and
6-core processor, hooked up to two monitors. Nice. But not
forgetting our Apple Mac customers, the Mac Mini now has an internal
600GB hard disk which helps to speed up data transfers to HFS+ hard
disks.) The effect on our electricity bill may be less good, and
the gadget budget is well and truly blown for this month.
August 2010. Still house hunting! In the
mean time, I have put together another N1700
format machine since I had a large amount of these tapes come in.
It has brand new heads and gives super results.
22nd July 2010. The best laid plans.... Our
hopes for a move to larger premises came to nothing (apart from a great
deal of expense) when the seller changed his mind just as we were ready
to exchange contracts. So we are staying right here for the
July 2010. We expect to be unavailable for a few
days around 12th - 16th July, while we start moving equipment out ready
for the move to larger premises. Email will still be answered but
we may not be able to tackle much transfer work during this time.
Please bear with us and this time, it will all be worth it in the end.
June 2010. Well you know what it's like buying a
new place, it takes forever, but things are moving along. We
still have full capability here but we're asking a few large commercial
contract jobs to wait until later in the year where that is convenient
for the customers.
New in, an extra CD recorder system helps with larger audio
transfer jobs. On the other hand, with a move imminent, we're
selling off lots of spare equipment on eBay, see user name video99_co_uk
May 2010. Watch this space.... We may be
able to announce a move to larger studios shortly...
April 2010. A little set-back. You hard
working engineer Colin has hurt his back. But there's no delay
for customers' work which carries on as usual. Some very obscure
formats may be just a little harder due to the need to move heavy
March 2010. Now in: DVCPRO (DVCPRO25) support,
this format is not easy to find transfer services for. That will
complete our portfolio of video cassette formats; we now cover
essentially every known format in the consumer and semi-pro arenas, as
well as the popular studio formats. So we can say now with some
pride: video99.co.uk covers the widest range of video cassette
formats in the UK. Well you have to be a bit of a video
enthusiast to get excited about that.
February 2010. Well we had a very stressful time
when one of our most important computers (server) died horribly.
Fortunately we were able to get a replacement motherboard in and
working the next day and so no work was delayed. We also
increased our storage capacity to over 4.5TB. Furthermore the
extra processing power allows us to turn around edited and Deluxe Menu
DVDs even quicker, so perhaps it was a blessing in disguise.
January 2010. Happy New Year to all of my
customers, new and old. There's plenty of work on already but I'm
still turning short jobs around next day, even the snow and ice doesn't
slow us down.
HDV (High Definition) miniDV tape capability for 1080i, the most
popular High Def resolution is now available. This will be added
to the miniDV
December 2009. It's been very, very busy over the
last few weeks with the build-up to Christmas. We're now taking
on work for delivery in the New Year and have plenty lined up.
Thanks to all my customers over the last year, especially those who
have even sent us Christmas cards, it's nice to be appreciated.
November 2009. We have gained two new pieces of
equipment this month. Firstly we have a Sony J3 Digital Betacam
player, so we can now run Digital
Betacam, BetacamSX and MPEG IMX studio tapes at last. This
was a major investment, being much and away the most expensive piece of
kit we have ever had to buy, but already it has been busy running tapes
for several customers. Next we have now imported and serviced a CVC
format machine suitable for NTSC tapes from USA. Video99 is
probably the only transfer business in the world to support both PAL
and NTSC recordings in the very rare CVC format. We can now also
tapes of the NTSC system for both small and large tape sizes, as well
as PAL of course. In other words, we really do have one of the
widest range of video cassette formats available in the UK. Other
formats planned are at least the most popular HDV High-Def formats on
DV tape, and perhaps the more popular DVCPRO tape sizes, though users
of both of these formats usually are aware that it's usually easier to
play the tape on the original recorder than try to find someone to run
October 2009. The postal strikes are not
causing us any particular problem. I always recommend people send
their tapes by Special Delivery, and this service is working as normal
throughout the disruption. I've had three customers tell me that
their disks did not arrive promptly, so I sent out replacements (free
of charge) and in both cases those replacements arrived next day.
So far, then, so good.
From December 2009 we plan to support all Digital Betacam and
Betacam SX formats as a result of the purchase of a very expensive Sony
September 2009. We now have an extra two High Band
/ SP capable Umatic
machines available as well as the original one we've had for some
time. This gives us more backup and capacity for this important
format. Many transfer businesses say they run Umatic but will let
you down with High Band or SP recordings. We also cover
SECAM and NTSC Umatic recordings, and perhaps uniquely in the UK can
handle NTSC SP (High Band) tapes too. We love Umatic!
We are delighted to announce that we now have capability for the
obscure professional format called MII (or
M2, M11) and this will be added to the web order form
shortly. There are very few other UK businesses offering this
We have increased capacity by adding a fourth Digital Timebase
Corrector / Standards Converter to our systems. These are
expensive units, and most small transfer businesses don't have them.
28th June 2009. Ours is a family run business, and
we're pleased to announce that the latest addition to the McCormick
A healthy little boy called Scott arrived at 06:02 on 28.06.09,
weight 8lb 1oz. Mother and baby doing fine.
June 2009. Expected at the end of 2009, we plan
to offer the obsolete MII (M2) professional video cassette format, we
have a Panasonic AU-65H machine coming in for this, but it will need
servicing. Very rare.
May 2009. We have a new CD and DVD printer in for
improved print quality and to make custom DVD prints more
quickly. A spare BVW-22P has been purchased which is particularly
helpful for low band Betacam
April 2009. We have a Sony SL-T30 multistandard
Betamax machine now in which helps particularly with foreign NTSC and
Secam Betamax recordings.
March 2009. We now have a third Digital Timebase
Corrector available to help throughput for larger jobs of many
formats. Also now available for use is our third BetacamSP
player and the fourth EVS9000E Hi8 edit deck.
Regarding the purchase in of hard disks for my customers:
I'm sorry to say that the discount shipping of hard disks for my
customers from SVPis no
longer available due to a change in their shipping systems. They
are still however very competitive and you can order a drive from them
for any DV-AVI hard disk transfer I may do for you, and have the drive
shipped directly to me. Other suppliers such as Ebuyer, DABS and
Amazon can often also accept an alternative shipping address in the
February 2009. We now have a brand new Apple Mac
Mini. This will help us to format hard disks for Apple customers
who have previously had to put up with the NTFS file format, which Macs
can read but not write to.
More S-VHS decks with built-in Digital Timebase Correctors have
been purchased, and these will be on-line soon and available to help
with "wobbly" VHS and S-VHS recordings.
January 2009. We now have a backup working CVC
deck. Not many transfer businesses have one of these ultra-rare
machines, let alone two!
/ BetacamSP NTSC capability now available and tested, for the small
video cassette size. PAL tapes can be accepted in both small and
A new Digital Timebase Corrector has been installed which
significantly increases our capacity for SVHS/VHS
December 2008. We had a very busy Christmas
workload, but completed all work in time for Christmas that was
promised, and quite a few which were not promised too. We still
have plenty of work on, going into the New Year.
New equipment in to be serviced includes: Another Sony EVS9000E
edit deck which when serviced will take to four the number of these
highly capable units available to us. Also we have a V2000 deck
capable of Long Play (XP) recordings, which hopefully will be ready
next year. Also in to be serviced is a third BetacamSP
player. We now also have an NTSC compatible DVD recorder in,
which makes it much easier to create DVDs for viewing in
USA/Canada. Another DAT player has been purchased for more
capacity on this audio format.
The web site has a new
look, much trimmed down for a cleaner appearance, but all the
information is still available. Next year (?) it will get a
redesign with tabs for easy navigation.
November 2008. The Christmas rush has most
certainly started, and we're very busy. We aim to guarantee that
all work received by 12th December will be completed in time for
Christmas. Work received later than that, we'll do what we
can. Turnaround for smaller jobs is still just a few days to a
We are proud to announce that now have the exquisitely rare
format online at last. There may only be a dozen or so of these
machines left working in Europe.
The main video99 web
page has undergone a major overhaul to reduce its size and
complexity. If you find any bugs, please let me know.
October 2008. You would think that video99 never
gets caught out with a tape we can't run. But occasionally even
we get a tricky one! In this case, we discovered that Digital8
equipment, whilst capable of playing both PAL and NTSC analogue Video8
and Hi8 tapes, is not capable of playing NTSC Long Play
recordings. Not to be outdone though, we bought in suitable
equipment just for a single job (so effectively made a loss on the
transfer), but still were able to complete the work promptly for the
customer. He was delighted, and so then were we. Also this
month we have bought in more minidisc equipment so we can carry out
pure digital transfers of LP2 and LP4 minidiscs.
Sept 2008. We are now back from our well earned
break, and clearing a backlog of tasks over the next week or so.
Thanks to my customers for their patience over the last couple of weeks.
Aug 2008. Now with more BetacamSP equipment
available for even faster turnarounds on this format.
July 2008. The ComputerActive magazine
this month carried an item on video transfers, and included a mention
of the video99.co.uk web site under the Betamax format. Of
course, we do all formats, but the recommendation was nice and we are
getting in lots of Beta tapes lately as a result!
June 2008. We can now handle Betamax tapes recorded on very early NTSC equipment which ran
at the BetaI or Beta 1 speed (1 hour on an L500 tape), as well as the
more common BetaII and BetaIII speeds. We are probably the only
UK transfer outfit with NTSC Beta1 capability, and even in NTSC
countries it will be pretty rare. We are using a professional
Sony SLO-320 machine which is in excellent condition.
We presently have on loan a CVC format machine, but may have to
return this to its rightful owner (depending on being able to source
spares for a second machine). So now is a good time to ask about
CVC format tapes from the Technicolor portables of the early 1980's.
Your video transfer engineer Colin is recovering well from a
Wisdom Tooth extraction and has now caught up with all transfers so
there is no significant backlog. Short jobs are often turned
around same day.
We now can cover both the mini cassette and microcassette
dictation / answering machine formats. as well of course as regular
Compact Cassette and other audio
May 2008. We try to have backup equipment for all
important formats so that you will not be let down in the unlikely
event that equipment requires service. We are pleased to say that
we now have duplicate video equipment online for Digital8 and micromv formats, which joins the duplicates we
already have available for VHS, SVHS, Betamax, Betacam, Umatic, V2000,
Video8, Hi8 and miniDV.
We also now have in a DCC (Digital Compact Cassette) machine for
audio transfers, but require a cassette to fully test this
facility. If you have a DCC tape, let us know.
April 2008. We now have an arrangement set up
with the excellent supplier of computer equipment and consumables, www.svp.co.uk who
provide hard drives directly to us for customers. You can select
any Freecom external hard disk from their web site, and have it sent
straight to video99 for your video transfers, at just 99p
shipping. This is ideal for customers who require tapes put onto
hard disk in DV-AVI format but don't have a suitable drive
already. Just contact us
for details on the necessary shipping address and coupon code with SVP.
March 2008. For a long time we have been able to
handle video tapes from any part of the world. The only exception
has been the studio BetacamSP format, where only PAL equipment has been
available since very little NTSC equipment was ever sold in the
UK. However we now have in a BetacamSP portable player BVW35 in
NTSC format. This takes the smaller Betacam tapes only, the ones
of the same physical size as domestic Betamax. However we do not
yet have an NTSC BetacamSP tape to fully test this equipment. If
you have a small BetacamSP tape with an NTSC recording on it, we will
do a free transfer for you (provided the equipment proves to be fully
working of course)
February 2008. After a short break due to
difficulty in obtaining spares, the N1500 (Philips VCR) format is now
back and fully available. We have also obtained sufficient spare
parts that we hope to be able to continue with this format
January 2008. We are pleased to add the exquisitely
rare Grundig SVR format to our portfolio, Grundig model SVR4004.
This is useful because recordings on VCR tapes could be any of the
N1500, N1700 or SVR formats, and you can't tell which until the tape is
played. We believe that video99 is the only transfer company in
the world capable of handling all three of these variants. See
the VCR format transfer page.