Quantcast State of VCR machines in 2021? - digitalFAQ Forum
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04-25-2021, 08:28 PM
VideoTechMan VideoTechMan is offline
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Well, as somewhat of a general rant or just things in general when it comes to having the proper gear to do the VHS transfers. It kinda sucks that in this day and age its much harder to find reputable techs to fix the machines. Many of the older techs have retired and now there are more no-nothing folks who think they know what they're doing when they don't even know how to put in a tape properly. The few techs that still do remain are charging premium prices for sometimes mediocre work. Decent fully operational machines are hard to find and one of these days will no longer be around at all. Parts are becoming harder to find or are nonexistant to repair what's out there. And you have a landfill of junk machines on ebay from sellers who have absolutely no clue what they have or how it even works, much less know what they're even doing.

I sometimes fear that if one or more of my machines break down I would be in trouble. Already have a 5710 that needs service and can't even get it done right now.

Ironically, as much as normal VHS machines are undesirable for transfer work, and makes sense, in my case I simply use them to prescreen tapes that I may plan to transfer and then do the actual transfer with the good machines. At least that would save the wear and tear on the good decks. The ordinary VHS decks won't go to waste in that sense.

Then of course of having spare decks, there's the charge in keeping them running so that they don't end up going bad either. But a good idea to always have spare decks on hand just for those cases. But in reality, how many machines do we really need? Kinda hard to answer to be honest.

The age of digital is going to eventually take over. But analog will still be around in one form or the other. I've yet to see a way where analog material can be properly archived for the future......hard drives can crash, flash drives can get corrupted and become unreadable, and DVD/Bluray is unsuitable for long term storage. And I would never trust a cloud for anything personal, unless its my own cloud I built myself at home with no internet access. I've read articles where some folks make archive masters of stuff that are irreplaceable back onto tape like Digibeta or LTO tape which could last for decades with proper storage. Trouble is, if those machines suddenly die with no way to repair it, what then?

An endless mystery to preservation.
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  #2  
04-25-2021, 10:50 PM
latreche34 latreche34 is online now
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Sad but true, Few machines I owned that they worked fine 10 years ago they started to give up even with the up keep and regular maintenance, It eventually come all down to a halt. But there is hope, machines that are made in recent years can become a target market if they are used with a piece of software and a hardware mod like VHS-decode, Such machines are not good players on their own since they don't have all bells and whistles for a proper capture but for just pulling raw Video/HiFi RF from the video heads they are excellent candidates, surprisingly they are good at playing back audio linear track as well.

The progress of VHS-decode is slow but hopefully soon they can come up with a Beta product that doesn't rely on Linux and coding skills for first adopters who's willing to jump the rope, From there all the kinks will be ironed out for a final working product and hopefully we get to use up the abundance hoard of low end VCR's that cannot be sold right now, Though the dumpsters are eating loads of them, the sooner the better.
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  #3  
04-26-2021, 12:50 AM
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I've yet to see a way where analog material can be properly archived for the future......hard drives can crash, flash drives can get corrupted and become unreadable, and DVD/Bluray is unsuitable for long term storage.
You're getting carried away there. VCRs WILL eventually not exist. Get your digital storage sorted out now. A GB is the cheapest it's ever been and getting cheaper. A set at home, a set in the shed for fire, a set somewhere else in town. Done. it's not that hard.
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  #4  
04-26-2021, 01:55 AM
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Originally Posted by VideoTechMan View Post
somewhat of a general rant or just things in general when it comes to having the proper gear to do the VHS transfers.
It's not really a rant. More of a lament.

Certain necessary analog gear is failing, and we're all scrambling.
- Some of us are hording gear.
- Others are learning DIY repair, and sharing that knowledge online.
- Yet others of us are working to dev new hardware, to replace what will someday be lost.
- And there are still a few of us out there, who know how to properly refurb gear, but that numbers shrank substantially in the 2010s.

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I sometimes fear that if one or more of my machines break down I would be in trouble.
You're not alone.

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and DVD/Bluray is unsuitable for long term storage.
This is not accurate.

DVD = yes, archival
BD = no

Not just any random DVD -- also NOT discs that claim "archival", made of gold/whatever -- but certain discs that are known for longevity. Not just in testing, but in properties of the media. Of course, proper storage is also needed (no heat, not humid).

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And I would never trust a cloud for anything personal, unless its my own cloud I built myself at home with no internet access.
Ditto. NAS.

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tape like Digibeta or LTO tape which could last for decades with proper storage.
Overrated, not really better.

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Originally Posted by latreche34 View Post
The progress of VHS-decode is slow
While it would be nice to have, there are still some massive hurdles to it being a true functional solution. I'm still not convinced that it will ever be more than vaporware. This project has too many cheerleaders, and not enough realists. From what I can see, they've not yet reached the hard part, and are simply going after the low-hanging fruit.

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bells and whistles for a proper capture
I really hate that phrase.

A "bell and whistle" is some frilly nonsense/BS "feature" that is not useful, not needed, not wanted. Often times, these are added simply to jack of the sale price of the item.

TBC = not a "bell or whistle"
TBC = essential

And for the record, the lack of TBC is one of the massive hurdles. You almost have to find a way to tap into the VCR TBC pre-D>A, in order to get a truly decent FM signal. Or more accurately, developing a new line TBC that isn't overly forgiving to SD sources by expecting an SD output/viewing. For vhs-decode to ever actually work well, it will need specialized hardware. Using a crummy VHS VCR won't work any better with vhs-decode that it does now.

I've also yet to see how vhs-decode reacts to nth gen stuff. Those signals are so screwed.

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04-26-2021, 02:13 AM
latreche34 latreche34 is online now
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I'm not sure about 9th gen but I've seen comparison videos between normal capture and VHS-decode of first gen TV home recordings and I was stunned on how stable the frame is. The visual quality though is not there yet, a normal capture's visual quality far exceeds that of a VHS-decode.

I can say as an observer a.k.a cheerleader as you've put it the TBC part of it is complete, They improved the DOC a lot for both PAL and NTSC, they need to work on the video quality, and working on two color standards PAL and NTSC at the same time is not helping either, good luck SECAM.
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  #6  
04-26-2021, 02:37 AM
Hushpower Hushpower is online now
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Not only our problem...

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-04-...ding/100095012
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  #7  
04-26-2021, 02:39 AM
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Originally Posted by latreche34 View Post
I'm not sure about 9th gen but I've seen comparison videos between normal capture and VHS-decode of first gen TV home recordings and I was stunned on how stable the frame is. The visual quality though is not there yet, a normal capture's visual quality far exceeds that of a VHS-decode.
the TBC part of it is complete, They improved the DOC a lot for both PAL and NTSC, they need to work on the video quality, and working on two color standards PAL and NTSC at the same time is not helping either, good luck SECAM.
I've not seen any samples that show it to be more stable, nor anything that approaches what TBC can do. Where exactly can I see this?

I don't want to OT this thread too much ... but it is sort-of related (future of VCRs, VHS).

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I can say as an observer a.k.a cheerleader as you've put it
I find you really optimistic, but not a cheerleader. There are idiots online claiming that nobody should bother capturing anymore, and just wait for vhs-decode.

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  #8  
04-26-2021, 10:52 AM
The_Outsider The_Outsider is online now
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And now I'm falling down the rabbit hole that is VHS-Decode.
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  #9  
04-26-2021, 04:41 PM
latreche34 latreche34 is online now
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Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
I've not seen any samples that show it to be more stable, nor anything that approaches what TBC can do. Where exactly can I see this?
Check out Zcooger Youtube channel, There are a lot of samples you may have to watch most of them to make an opinion.
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04-26-2021, 05:11 PM
hodgey hodgey is offline
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Just note that there has been improvements since the last vhs-decode video he posted, the occasional white streaks should be mostly or fully gone. There has been a fair bit of progress the last few months, so don't take the older videos as representative.

Planning to make some samples myself when I have time, including multi-gen tests.
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  #11  
04-26-2021, 10:58 PM
timtape timtape is offline
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I wasnt aware of the VHS decode idea. What are the reasons for pursuing this? Upsides? Downsides? Hard to find a clear summary.

I've seen a b/w example but no A/B comparison with a traditional VCR playback (b/w) of the same recording.
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  #12  
04-27-2021, 12:14 AM
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Originally Posted by timtape View Post
I wasnt aware of the VHS decode idea. What are the reasons for pursuing this? Upsides? Downsides? Hard to find a clear summary.
It's the old A>D>A theory. The more you process a signal, the more it can degrade. So the theory is that extraction of the modulated tape data, rather than latter outputs, will yield higher quality. Whether that's what actually happening with vhs-decode is debatable.

It was very obviously true with ld-decode (Laserdisc), since that format was composited, with all the warts that format can entail (not due to composite itself, but the way in which it is used in various equipment). Most LD players seemed very subpar.

VHS is a mature format, playback hardware advanced into the 2000s at EOL, taps into the signal quite well.
LD never really was, early/mid 90s only. So room for extraction improvement.

ld-decode can tap into the signal better.
vhs-decode is seemingly just another plausible idea, but not really any better than mid-end playback gear. It will remove the variable of cheap capture cards, but decks still matter, and TBC still matters. (While an above comments says TBC was sorted, I've seen no evidence of this, and again that's big hurdle. LD didn't have the instabilities of VHS.) To some degree, vhs-decode is reinventing the VCR wheel.

I want to see where that project goes, but it won't get there for years (if ever). In the meantime, it won't replace what's being done now, or any time in the foreseeable future.

While some may think I'm a pessimist, you need to realize I've been around for a long time. Decades. I've seen lots of vaporware, hype, and broken promises, when it comes to video capture/ingest and hardware. So I no longer get giddy at new ideas, and something doesn't exist until it does. Some may even call that cantankerous, but it's just realism.

That said, I do support this research, and ever reached out to a few folks to try and house all vhs-decode at a single sub-site here at The Digital FAQ. None of them wanted to do that, and are instead satisfied with broken info at Youtube (and degraded/compressed), VH threads, Github, etc -- and that does NOT bode well for projects. Disorganized, too many disagreements among dev/participants. Again, been there, seen that, didn't end well.

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04-27-2021, 06:50 AM
timtape timtape is offline
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Thanks LS.

It's hard to know where they are coming from if it's not spelled out. I come from a background of seeking out the weakest link(s) in a signal chain and if possible upgrading those weakest performing links to be on a par with the rest of the signal chain. So I'd like the experimenters to identify the specific weaknesses in the analog video playback processing chain, as after all it is a complex chain. Maybe digital is better at doing some of the processing in certain aspects. I'd like to hear which particular processing tasks in the playback chain they see as better done digitally, and why.
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05-02-2021, 02:49 PM
cygnals cygnals is offline
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I haven't dug into the project, but if I'm getting the gist of it right from what I'm reading in the thread, I think it's potentially an exciting idea.

I think of what's happened with audio. For decades, the way to record an electric guitar was to put a microphone in front of the amplifier and record the signal from the microphone. Post-process that signal how you like, but everything that came before that electrical signal from the microphone is now baked in and out of your control.

Consider instead, recording the direct output of the electric guitar. Sample it. Now, use digital processing to replicate everything else: effects pedals, the preamp, the power amp, the speaker cones, the speaker cabinet, the microphone, the air between the microphone and the speaker, the room size and composition .... all in the box, all in software, after capturing the closest signal to source instead of what we're used to hearing.

In digital, if I'm understanding this correctly, closest to source is the RF signal read from the helical scan of the tape. Until now, we've fed that signal to all the analog hardware that turns it, for better or worse, into an NTSC video signal that can be sent over a wire to a display or our capture device.

Consider instead, recording the direct output of the heads. Sample it. Now, use digital processing to replicate everything else: every capacitor, resistor, potentiometer, solder, ribbon cable, dusty jack, circuit board trace, and so on, can be replaced by software instead. If we want to tweak all the bibs and bobs to be real instead of perfect, maybe that's what we want, and we can. If we want the signal path to be as straightwire and optimal as possible, we can. Mechanical wow and flutter is no longer baked into a signal coming down the wire... timing errors can be smoothed out...

GIGO still applies, but it's easier to polish a turd that hasn't already been flushed.

Knowing what magic has been accomplished in the audio realm makes me optimistic that digital handling of video could be handled in a new way.

But, yeah, I'm largely in the "show me when it's ready" camp. Unless someone smells money, I don't see it getting very far. Amateurs have done great things, but this kind of leap is most likely to be made in an institution with funding, engineering, and a deadline.
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05-02-2021, 04:52 PM
latreche34 latreche34 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cygnals View Post
Consider instead, recording the direct output of the heads. Sample it. Now, use digital processing to replicate everything else: every capacitor, resistor, potentiometer, solder, ribbon cable, dusty jack, circuit board trace, and so on, can be replaced by software instead. If we want to tweak all the bibs and bobs to be real instead of perfect, maybe that's what we want, and we can. If we want the signal path to be as straightwire and optimal as possible, we can. Mechanical wow and flutter is no longer baked into a signal coming down the wire... timing errors can be smoothed out...
Well, You can't entirely replace all electronics, The head motor servo, The capstan motor servo, the mechanism functions electronics governed by the mode switch, the buttons controls and display IC's, the linear audio pre-amp, the head pre-amp all has to work properly, What's being bypassed is the HiFi audio and video FM signal processing after the RF pre-amp, such as the video and HiFi demodulators, H and V signal timing circuits, DNR and chroma processing, And the comb circuit if using composite output.

The project itself is not really hard to accomplish, we've seen projects done before on Arduinos and PC where software replaced circuit boards, like the Sony PCM audio adapter, Nakamichi Audio analyzer, Wow and Flutter meters, Oscilloscopes, Teletext and caption decoders ... etc just to name few. The question is are those volunteers up to the challenge or they will give up at a certain point of time when personal life matters get in the way?
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  #16  
05-03-2021, 08:48 AM
themaster1 themaster1 is offline
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Originally Posted by timtape View Post
Thanks LS.

It's hard to know where they are coming from if it's not spelled out. I come from a background of seeking out the weakest link(s) in a signal chain and if possible upgrading those weakest performing links to be on a par with the rest of the signal chain. So I'd like the experimenters to identify the specific weaknesses in the analog video playback processing chain, as after all it is a complex chain. Maybe digital is better at doing some of the processing in certain aspects. I'd like to hear which particular processing tasks in the playback chain they see as better done digitally, and why.
One can program and algorithm to fit many shortcomings / situations unlike say a quality japanese capacitor or a pre amp that will treat one (maybe 2) in particular and fail otherwise.
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  #17  
05-03-2021, 05:27 PM
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Originally Posted by themaster1 View Post
One can program and algorithm
Some things cannot be solved by software, hardware is sometimes required. That's very true in the world of video.

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  #18  
05-25-2021, 02:39 AM
VideoTechMan VideoTechMan is offline
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I finally found the repair order after some searching...the repair was made on my other 5710 in 2016. On there he only did the caps to the Y/C board and the display. It would have been nice if all the caps were replaced though I know it would raise the cost. But for that amount though more on those caps could have been done. I shouldn't even have a problem with it 5 years later with very light use.....


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