www.video99.co.uk audio and video transfer specialist
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.
As soon as I put Santa on my web site and mention last dates for
Christmas jobs, the workload always goes mad. So it's about to
get very busy.
We can now handle PAL-M VHS recordings from Brazil as we have a
world wide VHS machine from Samsung. This also help to make SECAM
and MESECAM recordings easier to recover in high quality.
October 2023 One of
our SL-C9 Betamax machines which is used for PCM-F1 digital audio
transfers, broke down with a cassette carriage fault. Fortunately
we have a spare which was used in its place until the original could be
repaired, it required a plastic gear to be replaced.
Keyboards might all be the same to many people, but I really
appreciate the typing speed possible on a semi-mechanical
keyboard. I find these much superior to both mechanical (Cherry
switchs) and cheaper membrane keyboards. There are not many
models to chose of this type, but I bought a GXT 881 ODYSS Trust
gaming keyboard and I absolutely love it.
Alas one of our Sony Digital betacam machines DVW-A500P has expired,
and it looks terminal. We have one more, but we'll have to start
looking for another spare. Pity, it's been a lovely machine.
Note that we have something on for a few weeks, so won't be taking on
work after 19th August and will start accepting work again on 8th
July 2023 Our Sony SL-HF900 NTSC SuperBeta HiFi machine adds BIs high band support, there can't be many of those in the UK.
June 2023 Our Sony SL-HF600 NTSC SuperBeta HiFi machine is now available for transfers of BI, BII and BIII speed NTSC recordings.
May 2023 A Sony SL-HF100 Beta Hifi machine broke down. Very stressful initially, but it's now repaired.
April 2023Wildanet have installed plastic straws into our road ready for blowing fibres into later in the year. We can't wait.
March 2023 At long last it seems that our location will be getting full fibre broadband later this year, with Wildanet. This means we will have to migrate our remaining pages from our previous broadband supplier Plusnet to Winserve
who already host some of our pages. When all completed, this will
make it easier to upload large video files, which some customers these
days prefer over sending USB sticks and hard disks. USB sticks
are still handy especially for playback directly on modern TVs, and
hard disks will always be needed for the much larger sets of tapes
which are impractical to upload.
We splashed out on the license for the full Studio version of DaVinci Resolve
video editor, allowing for faster creation of YouTube videos and
certain other features such as working with 10-bit video files captured
from Digital Betacam.
February 2023 Our
UVW1800P BetacamSP machine gets retired, but this actually allows for a
better connection system especially for U-matic. It is now
possible to capture U-matic via SDI link providing more codec choices
than the default DV-AVI file format.
January 2023 Given a
weird Grundig SVHS machine VS-680 VPT which we get fully working.
It's based on a Panasonic G-mechanism, so it's fairly old, but could be
December 2022 The last
date for arrival of work before Christmas is Saturday 10th
December. This gives us time to complete work and for customers
to be sure they are happy before the big day.
November 2022 The postal strikes are slightly slowing some work, but it's generally not too bad. Send tapes by Special Delivery.
October 2022 A long road
trip to collect some more audio equipment including a DAT computer
drive which apparently can be configured for audio extraction.
Looking forward to working on that.
September 2022 The new PC
arrived but only worked sometimes. It had to go back, but PC
Specialist were pretty good in sorting it out promptly, it appeared to
be transport damage to the power supply. Then another PC quit in
a similar way! For this one we pulled in another HP Z800 server,
which though old, does the job well. We need to buy in some more
new PCs later.
One of our PCs, based on a FX8120 processor and ASUS M5A99X EVO AM3+
motherboard, has died, it will not complete POST. On the
motherboard, the CPU red LED is light which implies that the CPU
failed, though it may have been the motherboard itself. I've
checked the PSU voltages all look right. After some
consideration, it's been decided that the best course of action is to
retire this 11 year old machine and buy in a new powerful system which
we are having built by PCSpecialist.
The only part to be salvaged will be some of the hard disks. This
new machine will give us a good place to install out AJA Kona 4 SDI
card. The new machine will be placed next to the studio formats
(Digital Betacam, HDCAM-SR etc.) and the machine presently in that slot
will move to where the defective PC was. As money permits, in due
course we will need to work around replacing most of the studio PCs.
July 2022 We're really thankful for air conditioning in the studio in the middle of this heatwave.
We added an 18TB drive to one of the computers, this is primarily
for YouTube video material. As our YouTube videos are all shot in
4k, the raw footage takes up a lot of disk space.
Struggling with some of the video recorder repairs on YouTube,
the VR2324 needs unobtainable parts and the SuperBeta smashed up part
of its mechanism.
The YouTube video raw files are taking up a lot of space, so we've
bought a Seagate Exos X18 18TB SATA III 3.5" HDD at £308.45.
That's a lot of money but at about £17 per TB it really represents
fantastic value for money, especially as this is a high performance
long life drive.
There is significant cost inflation on everything we buy today.
However the vast majority of our prices have not changed in the last 15
years! We aim to keep it that way for as long as possible.
For example, miniDV to DV-AVI files (10+ hours) is still £7/hour.
Business has been badly affected in the last few weeks, and I know from
speaking to some of my friendly competitors that it's happening to us
We have been given non-working Philips VR2324 V2000 and Sony J-30SDI
machines, both we will require work so will feature on our YouTube channel later.
New business cards are due in shortly with the USB logo rather than the older DVD based one.
We now have video99 branded USB sticks in stock. They look
very smart. It's been a long wait to find a supplier who will do
all the sizes we required. One day it might be nice to add
video99 branded portable hard drives too.
January-February 2022 A lot of what we do is now best seen on our YouTube channel which we are adding to almost every week.
November 2021 Final date for accepting pre-Christmas work is presently set at Tuesday 14th December but this may change a little.
October 2021 Back in operation and on YouTube as usual.
We spend so much time replacing capacitors on old equipment but
for once had to pay someone else to change some capacitors on a board
for us. The reason was that the board required testing facilities
we don't have, because it was the ECU module for our 1994 Toyota
Celica. Occasionally it's just best to get the people with the
right tools to do a specialised job. Fixed and back on the road.
have had a bereavement in the family, we will still be operational but
would like to avoid taking 'phone calls until 5th October 2021.
Thank you for your understanding.
Did you know
that less than 2% of Wikipedia users donate to their cause? We
are proud to be one of those and would ask that you do the same.
Coming up soon on YouTube: Solar panels and Tesla Powerwall
August 2021 Note that we are
unavailable for the last week of August and first week of September,
partly taking a break and partly catching up on some projects.
Some of our planned YouTube videos require some aerial shots so we
have bought a DJI Mini-2 drone and we're getting the hang of that.
We had a bit of a bang, smoke and power out in the studio! One
of the PCs had fried its power supply, and it certainly wasn't
of Plymouth were brilliant, they had a range of suitable power supplies
in stock (this needed lots of SATA connectors), they were helpful and
knowledgeable. The small extra cost compared to an online purchase was
well worth it. Fortunately the old power supply hadn't done any
damage to the PC when it blew up, so the new one got us up and running
withing 24 hours of failure.
July 2021 Our Sony Beta-I NTSC
machine broke down on the same day as a workstation. So all that
had to be repaired, see it all on YouTube
Our Pure digital PCM1630 route wasn't ideal and we now have a really
good, reliable piece of kit for this.
June 2021 Building works
May 2021 The worst of the
building works are completed but there are still some days of disruption
over the next few weeks.
We have now added a second
MII machine to our capability, which is welcome given that the
format is quite fragile.
April 2021 We are having
building works done from 26th April for several weeks. During this
time we may be slightly limited in what we can handle with very large or
complex jobs, but for the most part business will be pretty much as
normal. Email will be better than 'phone calls due to possible
March 2021 We are having to
take a break for tax reasons and also to clear some outstanding work and
equipment repairs. It's been tough coping with home schooling and
some tasks have fallen behind as a results. Apologies for any
As well as audio and video tapes, we also do some data recovery
work. One of the computers I was given back in November must be
just about the very last type of motherboard to still carry a floppy
disk port (albeit it only supports one drive). This came in handy
because it allowed me to connect a 1.2MB floppy "floopy" drive to a
relatively modern Windows 10 PC which is on my network, making transfer
of data from 1.2MB and 360k floppy drives much simpler than was the case
with a very old Windows XP machine that I was using for the
purpose. I can now get rid of that old PC to make some
space. For 3.5" floppy support, I have a smaller USB connected
drive available which also supports Mac formatted disks.
February 2021 We now have
equipment for the JVC professional format Digital S or D9.
We've been unable to find any supplier of custom branded USB sticks
which include the larger sizes of 128GB and 256GB in USB 3.0 type that
Home schooling has made the start of the year difficult with time
pressures particularly on Wednesdays and Fridays.
January 2021 Looking at the
prices for our main supplier of USB sticks, it's clear that Brexit has
had an immediate impact and USB sticks are going to cost more in the
future. We will take this as an opportunity to look at getting
some video99 branded USB sticks manufactured this year, but so far have
not found a supplier that goes up to the required 256GB with USB3.0
sticks. The cost of portable hard disks has risen hugely and
there's nothing we can do but pass that on when our existing stock is
used up. Our main supplier of portable hard disks is now charging
more for some disks than we sell them for.
The weekend of 30th January, through to Monday 1st February, we are
going to strip down and re-rack about a quarter of the equipment in the
studio. This is going to be huge task so we will have to delay
some jobs for a few days, mainly Umatic and Betacam formats. At
the end of it, we should have more capacity and be more efficient at
running some tapes.
December 2020 We were
closed for most of December while we cleared existing jobs and serviced
equipment. But we've been quite busy on YouTube.
November 2020 Before the
latest lockdown we just had time to go and collect some more equipment,
see the YouTube
video on that. We get another DVW-A510P Digital Betacam
recorder, of which a YouTube video will be uploaded shortly.
Our last working Sony EV-S9000E Hi8 deck broke down with a jammed
cassette carriage. Fortunately we had a spare carriage assembly in
the junk pile.
This year we've had to set our cut-off date for Christmas work to be
quite early at 4th December 2020. There are several reasons for
this, partly due to slow postage this year for obvious reasons.
But also we need a few quiet weeks to catch up with clearing out tapes
where customers have been slow to tell me that they can be returned,
time to clear up the studio, store room and workshop. Your hard
working electronic engineer also needs to do some equipment repairs and
get some downtime as migraines have been a bit of a problem lately.
Very few customers still take DVDs, but for the few that need them I
still provide the service. I have a standard DVD design which I
use an Epson XP-55 to print, and so it was I switched it on for the
first time in many months to print another batch. The printer
switched on and started its normal shuffling, then shut down,
dead. The internal power supply had failed. After a huge
amount of stripping down I got to the power supply, to find a blow fuse
and a short circuit chopper transistor P3NK90ZFP, which I've had to
order from China. There's always a risk that it failed due another
component but let's hope that it was just this N-channel Power MOSFET
that was at fault.
October 2020 The MSI
R6670-MD2GD3 graphics card fan has failed again, replacements will
arrive slowly from China. Fortunately I had kept the original fan,
now well oiled up with WD40, so hopefully it can go into service for a
few weeks until replacements arrive.
September 2020. After a
few days away, I came back to use the main PC and found "No Signal" on
the 4K Acer S277HK monitor. This turned out to be really, really
bad. Not only does the monitor now say "No signal" on all inputs,
but the DisplayPort connector on the R9 390 graphics card is dead.
Since the HDMI ports don't seem to output true 4k, it meant buying a new
graphics card and monitor. About £1000 later we have bought a
IIyama ProLite XB3288UHSU-B1 4k monitor and a RTX 2080 SUPER VENTUS XS
card. There were storms while we were away, so perhaps the blow-up
was lightning related. That's an unexpected expense we really
A couple of small faults have arisen on our professional Ferrograph
open reel tape recorder, and additionally we've been considering an
upgrade to the output connections. So it's been sent off to Servicesound,
the specialist in tape recorders where we originally bought the machine
from some 4.5 years ago. We still have the Akai deck which is fine
for most jobs, but we won't be able to run 10.5" spool tapes or 15ips
recordings for probably a couple of weeks.
August 2020. We now have
Digital Timebase Corrector. We've also bought another
Philips N1502 which is a garage find, hopefully it has good heads and
can be repaired. (It was repaired, and no it didn't have good
heads, see YouTube videos part
1 and part
We are unavailable 24th to 29th August.
July 2020. Our spare DVCPRO-50 deck
is now repaired, after many capacitor replacements. We've also
bought a new
microscope to help with this kind of work. Alas the Sony
DSR-20 DVCAM we had repaired earlier in the year, has now broken down
with a new fault (keeps locking up the CPU), and may not be recoverable
We now have another DPS-375SP Digital Timebase Corrector.
June 2020. We bought a pre-heater to
assist with Surface Mount desoldering work, but it was damaged in
transit so I had to repair it before I could use it.
Digital Compact Cassette deck was repaired.
May 2020. We are still
operating reasonably as normal, but we are going to be busy for the week
25th to 30th June so please do not send any material during that week.
We've had a number of breakdowns, but on the plus side, the repairs
will hopefully make interesting YouTube videos. We're working on a
Sony DSR-20 DVCAM deck, a Philips DCC900 DCC cassette deck and a Tascam
DA-98HR DTRS professional 8-track, as well as other equipment.
April 2020. No special
difficulties here, we're still operating as usual but very busy on
Mondays and Tuesdays. At the moment we can only send work out
again on Thursdays due to our local Post Office being closed, but we
hope that will improve shortly. We are making good use of
wetransfer.com to upload content to customers.
March 2020. We're still
operating despite all restrictions in place at the moment. Due to
childcare arrangements though, we would prefer if possible that if you
need to call, try to avoid Mondays and Tuesdays. It's quite safe
to send work here by Special Delivery as normal.
February 2020. All of
our YouTube videos
are now shot and edited in 4k resolution. To achieve this, we've
had to learn how to work with new video editing software since the old
Pinnacle Studio version 15 we use with standard definition and 1080 HD
video work, doesn't support 4k properly. We have newer versions of
Pinnacle Studio but have found them to be hard to work with.
Anyway, if having to learn a new package, it's best to go with something
which is very popular in the industry, so we've selected DaVinci
Resolve. The first few hours with this were very hard work, but
we've kept at it and now can do everything we want to do, and still keep
the same video style as we had with the old software.
We've bought in another DVCPRO-50 deck, the AJ-SD965. This takes
all the tape sizes including XL, it has SDI and DV outputs, and it fully
January 2020. Much of
the repair work we do is now covered on YouTube, but not every repair makes it to
YouTube. For example we were given an HP G61-401SA laptop
recently, which the owner had given up on because the display kept going
off. Once the screen bezel was taken apart (some very hard to
reach screws), the fault was no more than a loose connector on the
backlight driver input socket. Now fixed, we will install Windows
10 afresh on a SSD drive. Another off-YouTube repair was
replacement of the lead-acid batteries in two of our UPS units
(un-interruptible power supplies). We have about 10 of UPS
units. Another step forward has been the installation of a desktop
PC in the workshop which makes it much easier to view schematics during
repairs, and is also useful for downloading data from the Sony camcorder
which we use for YouTube.
We now have no less than three fully working N1700 (VCR-LP format) machines, all fitted with
audio/video outputs for connection to Digital Timebase Correctors.
December 2019. We can
record all 8 tracks simultaneously for both Alesis ADAT and Sony/Tascam
DTRS professional audio recording formats with an Alesis HD24 multitrack
recorder, and we also support 24 bit professional DAT recordings with
our Tascam DA-45HR recorder. Much of this has been featured on our
November 2019. The
Christmas rush has started but we're still looking for for completing
work by Christmas which arrives by 13th December 2019. This date
could move slightly either way as we get closer.
We plan to have some interesting audio formats coming in such as
Grundig Stenocassette and Sony NT.
October 2019. The whole
web site has had a tidy up, removing errors, obsolete links and
formatting problems. If you see any more though, please let me
We are very proud to have been involved in the short film Ralph Styles Ultra
which starts as a 1970s cigarette commercial, but when the
commercial ends, no one yells cut, and the actors continue to inhabit
the world of the ad. To gain the real 1970s look, the film was
copied to and then from a real, slightly damaged Umatic tape! In
the end credits you will see my name Colin McCormick and also the
business name of video99.co.uk.
We are proud to make a £30 donation to the Hearts Together (was Heartswell) charity.
August 2019. One
of my Windows 10 PCs would not install the latest 1903 updates.
Looking at Microsoft suggestions for the error code, it said I should
unplug all the USB devices and try again. Like that would make any
difference, but let's try it.... Oh yes, the update worked just
May 2019. One of
our PCs was getting intermittently noisy, which turned out to be the fan
on the graphics card. Graphics cards fans are not usually
available, but I got lucky. I replaced the low profile 75mm
diameter fan on the MSI R6670-MD2GD3 graphics card with one from eBay
for less than £3. Required just two small adjustments: the three screw
holes needed slotting out slightly, and the connector polarity had to be
It's been difficult to do as much in the workshop and for YouTube as
normal, because we've had builders in all month with the
extension. Hopefully this will be almost completed by the first
week of June. But it's not really affected the audio/video
transfer work which is carried out in a studio.
April 2019. An
extension to the home starts this month so there may be times it is
quite noisy. Email could be better than 'phone calls at times, but
the studio is otherwise unaffacted so it's business as usual.
Though the extension is purely to the family home, one good consequence
will be that the workshop (that's not the studio, but the much smaller
room where equipment is serviced), will be moved into a slightly larger
room. The move will allow me to make the new workshop much more
YouTube friendly so we can do YouTube videos about more of the equipment
January 2019. The worst
possible thing that can happen to a N1502 or similar machine, is to
damage the heads, since they are virtually impossible to obtain.
So when the head cleaner stick snagged on and split a head tip on our
main N1502, this made for a seriously bad day. Fortunately when
making the YouTube
video about the VCR format a while ago, I came across a scrap
N1500 machine which seemed to have an intact video head. So I
pulled this out of my store room, extracted the head drum and installed
it into the N1502. Despite the disaster then, within a few hours
we had the N1502 machine up and running again. If anyone has a
scrap N1500, N1501 or N1502 Philips VCR format machine with intact
heads, that they don't require, please
do let me know.
December 2018. We have
now completed all work for Christmas, but will be working between
Christmas and New Year, which can be a great time to get jobs turned
The next YouTube video will be about the DVCPRO format. When
working on this I pulled back a AJ-D230 machine which I had considered
to be a write off some time ago. Having looked at it again, I've
found a workaround which makes it serviceable, but I'm hoping to
complete a full repair on it at some point.
October 2018. The back
started peeling off my Samsing S8+ 'phone. I use this quite a lot
for business related work, so a fault was not welcome. I suspect
the problem may be that the battery has swelled up and is pushing the
back off. It's been sent back for repair and my loan 'phone is a
horrible old Apple S5. This doesn't have any of my usual apps and
features so I'm really going to struggle for a week or two until my
'phone comes back.
Please do not call me on my mobile number unless absolutely vital,
until I report that the proper 'phone is back. I can't
easily do text messages, and the sound quality on this Apple device is
quite poor too. There is no wireless charging either and I don't
want to go through pairing it with my car's Bluetooth system, nor will
allow remote operation from Windows 10. ** Update: Samsung 'phone
is back and I've happily returned the nasty Apple 'phone to
Vodafone. Total job only a few days, but the 'phone came back with
a factory reset applied so I've had to go through some work to set it
all up again.
I have (had) a Samsung miniDV camcorder which I would put out of
alignment to match badly recorded miniDV tapes. On one such job, I
had set it up to play the bad recordings (quite well too), but then alas
tripped over one of the connecting cables. Because the Samsung was
semi-dismantled in order to access the deck alignment in this mode, the
drop was not protected by the case, and the camcorder is now damaged
beyond repair. While this is all bad, it did cause me to have to
set up another unit for "misaligned" jobs, this time a Panasonic.
Actually it seems to do the job better than the Samsung did, partly
because access to the deck is a bit easier once I had removed one of the
exterior parts. I also have a Digital8 camcorder which I put out
of alignment to match bad 8mm recordings in the same way.
September 2018. The Aiwa
Stereo Cassette Deck model XK-007 Excelia arrived. There was a
small mechanical problem with the tape/source monitor switch which I was
able to repair. It's a superbly built piece of kit. I plan
on replacing the Aiwa AD-F770 with this new deck, and will keep the
AD-F770 to one side for occasions when I need to run multiple cassettes
at once. There are a couple of useful features on the F770 which
are lacking in the XK-007, which I will miss, but you can't deny the
technical quality of this XK-007. It is, however, heavy. A
new audio shelving unit will be constructed soon to better allow good
access to this equipment.
One of the JVC DR-MH200 DVD recorders would not boot. I last
went through the power supply replacing capacitors on this unit a little
over 2 years ago. A collection of around 8 capacitors were
performing badly, some were open circuit. Mostly they were 22uF
and 100uF values. Once replaced the machine worked perfectly
We are continuing to do new YouTube videos every week or two. Please do
subscribe to see some of the things we get up to.
August 2018. 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.
There's a new YouTube video on how I repaired phase locked loop
timing jitter on the S/PDIF output modification board used on PCM
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. Neewer replaced the microphone
and I did a YouTube video on how I repaired the defective one.
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 tapes then
they can go onto a USB stick, which I keep in stock. But for just
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 been 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 been
removed and the total storage limit is now 500GB. The most useful
part 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
too, but 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 remains private.
June 2018. 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 years old.
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.
May 2018. I picked up
another Panasonic AG-4700 recorder, which is my favourite S-VHS
machine. Unlike all the other machines I have of the 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.
We 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 falling
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
won't 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 all
Your hard working engineer at video99 has been very under the 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.
April 2018. 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.
March 2018. 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 video
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 PCM-701ES.)
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.
Reminer 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
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.
December 2017. The
Alesis AI-1 converter arrived from USA to allow for digital transfers
from the Alesis XT20 to the Tascam SS-R250N. Works a treat.
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
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 Dropout Compensator.
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 better.
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
September 2017. 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.
August 2017. We
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
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 readily interchangeable).
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 Shell DSO15001K) 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
We have bought a professional CD/DV/BD disc polishing machine. 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 teacher.
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
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 including Commodore.
We 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
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 systems.
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 people.
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
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
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.
Without 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 resolution
IPS technology display, which is superb but taking a little time to get
used to. The resolution is almost too high.
We will 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
Europe. 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 tape recorders.
For 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
The 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 are
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
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.
We 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
handles 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
PC 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 to assist.
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.
February 2016. 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
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
January 2016.One 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 future.
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?
November 2015. 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
Your 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
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
October 2015. 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 carried out.
September 2015. 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 course.
August 2015. 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.
June 2015. 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 heads.
May 2015. 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 all the 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.
April 2015. 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
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
January 2015. We now are now
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
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, fusers etc.
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
July 2014. I've been
given a second Grundig SVR4004 SVR/SVC
format 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 backup.
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 for scrap.
Bought an untested Philips VCR-LP N1700 machine. Drive belts ordered
in, looking forward to working on it shortly.
February 2014. Sometimes
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 be 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
http://perian.org These steps are
only necessary if you are running Mavericks, and hopefully Apple will
fix the bug before too long anyway.
December 2013. 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
We've 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
Intensity Shuttle video capture unit for Component Video capture,
mainly for MII.
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.
October 2013. 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
August 2013. We bought
in a Sony Digital Betacam player DVW-A510P which acts as a
backup for the Sony J3.
July 2013. 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 £50.
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
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.
April 2013Bought 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 replaced.
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.
March 2013We've 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 2100tn 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).
January 2013One 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 affected. Even 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 from Ebuyer
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 from
the HP Laserjet 2605dn printer traced to paper dust on the optical
assembly mirrors. A real pain to get to but this
site 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
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 is
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 S-VHS
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
March 2012. We now have bought in a second, incredibly
rare CVC Showcase
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
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 replacement machine.
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 hard disk.
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 and more.
July 2011. We now have a Twitter account and will be
blogging information there in due course. As they say: Follow us
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
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-501 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
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 day"
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 rush.
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 provider.
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
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
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 run Betacam
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 them
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 J3
September 2009. We now have an extra two High Band / SP
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 format.
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
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 same
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
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 week.
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
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
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 for 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
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 will 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
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 indefinitely.
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
format transfer page.