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  #1  
03-20-2016, 01:57 PM
msgohan msgohan is offline
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#1: Panasonic AG-DS850 (serial no. I4TC00074)

Don't remember the auction description, but the pictures definitely looked good enough. The main photo showed the front counter, indicators, meters, and Play button lit up and functioning. What I actually received, on the other hand...

The BNC connectors actually punctured the box, and became bent. The power cord was attached during shipping, and the weight of the deck pressed it up against the box, bending the cord and the AC connector. It did power up successfully, though!

AG-DS850 damage #1 - bent BNC + box holes.jpg
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AG-DS850 damage #3 - bent BNC back.jpg

Internally, the card labelled "TBC 2" was bent and the board holding the BNC outputs was cracked. A white plastic piece of the loading mechanism was broken and hanging loose. These are merely the things visible from a quick look.

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AG-DS850 damage #4 - bent AC.jpg

Tape playback fails with the error code "E - 2". The manual identifies this as "Malfunction in elevator section".

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Due to the obvious shipping damage, the seller eventually refunded me. I didn't have to return it.

#2: Panasonic AG-DS840 (serial no. J4TC00031)

Listed with very brief description: "Powers up and worked."

Arrived with small crack on one corner of the plastic shell, but otherwise it looked good externally.

Video output refused to display the picture from any tape. The character generator was fully functional, so it did output a video signal:
AG-DS850 damage #6 - bent TBC 2 card.jpg

^ Merely a black screen showing "CTL" followed by the correct running time code, "PLAY", and a flashing error: "LOW-RF".

The volume and tracking meters both indicated everything was working fine. Nice audio judging from the (mono) headphone output, and the Hi-Fi indicator was lit. I'm not sure whether I actually tested flicking the Audio Monitor over to Hi-Fi, so it's possible I only ever listened to the NORM linear track.
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AG-DS850 damage #7 - cracked BNC-out board.jpg

I agreed to partial refund without returning it. (Pursuing the eBay/PayPal claims process may have necessitated paying for return shipping.)

Took it to local repair shop. They said they could repair it, but the estimate was over $800: mainboard and video board both shot. They offered to "recycle" it after I indicated I didn't want to bother picking it up. Hopefully some parts were actually rescued before it was scrapped.

#3: Panasonic AG-DS555 (serial no. C8TC00104)

Description noted that it powers up but "not tested". Sold in the Used category rather than For parts or not working, so I took the chance.

On the payment page I added a note saying that I received a similar unit with shipping damage, so please pack it with care. This one was actually extremely well-packed! It looks great externally and internally (to my eye).

Unfortunately, it has the same symptoms as the AG-DS840. The one difference is that the TBC in this unit can be turned off, but that typically results in just losing the signal completely (no VSYNC). I don't have a CRT around to see what sort of garbage display I would get with that. When it's flicked back on, the black screen includes some frozen-field artifacts. (For this screenshot it happened to be set to VTCR timecode display, but it doesn't matter.)

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Flicking it on and off rapidly sometimes results in a brief display during the "off" portion, when fed to the DMR-ES25. The only recognizable part of the image is still just the character generator's CTL timecode and "PLAY" display.

AG-DS850 damage #5 - tape playback, Error 2.jpg

Local repair shop said:
  • Video mechanism (Idler. Something else I didn't hear clearly.)
  • Video processing board
  • $400+
Not worth it. But I did decide to bring this one back home.

Out of curiosity, I also took it to another repair place that I've never visited before. The guy there actually needed me to lend him a VHS tape to do the testing! Eventually he called and said the video drum needs to be replaced and it's "too old ... parts discontinued ... too expensive."

In terms of the eBay resolution for this one, the seller refused to admit any fault and I accidentally let the eBay money-back period lapse. I'm used to the longer PayPal period, but when I went to look at filing a claim, I found that I had actually paid by credit card using the new eBay checkout directly.


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  #2  
03-20-2016, 03:59 PM
msgohan msgohan is offline
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Not sure whether it's because it warmed up a bit or because it's a different tape, but I got a more recognizable picture from the AG-DS555 now (TBC off). Still totally useless, of course.

First, JVC BR-S525U for reference.
ReBoot - Talent Night - BR-S525U (EDIT).jpg
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ReBoot - Talent Night - AG-DS555 (-TBC) =CVBS MON= DMR-ES25.jpg
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Yeah...

The Hi-Fi audio is perfect though, and linear plays fine.


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  #3  
03-20-2016, 05:37 PM
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lordsmurf lordsmurf is offline
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eBay is too full of shysters. For some reason, in the past 5-6 years, buying a VCR on eBay has gotten to be a really bad experience more often than not. It's one reason that we push potential VCR buyers to use TGrant, when he has some in stock. Those are verified and come with an actual warranty.

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  #4  
03-21-2016, 01:08 AM
VideoTechMan VideoTechMan is offline
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Those units you bought obviously had cap problems. A few years back I had another DS850 that displayed the same LOW-RF message when the signal is too weak to properly display a picture, and that was from bad caps on the video board. I had sold that one for parts and obtained another 850 from a seller based out of CA. That unit worked okay but also had alot of bad caps which displayed no picture.

Thankfully I was able to get my 850 fully serviced in Michigan (Starlit TV) before they stopped working on SVHS decks. I also have an 840 fully serviced that's fully functional as well (had 40+ bad caps and bad power supply). As of now I got it in operation with my Sony FXE-120 edit controller and so far doing well. The problem with these decks is that many of these Panasonic units were plagued with cap problems and very high hours on the drums. Many repairs are often made from parts units. Finding a reliable tech that knows how to work on these machines are either retired, or no longer work on these decks, making them harder to get serviced.

Recently I gotten another AG-1980 that even though there were a few things that needed work, it was fully functional, but I am going to send it to TGrant soon to have it serviced. I also acquired another AG-5710 that needs repairs (which I knew up front) so it will be sent off for repairs soon as well. With two 1980's and 5710's that enables me to use the edit controllers made for them to where I don't have to be in front of the decks when working.

Ebay is really a hit or miss nowadays with this stuff....you really need to question the seller on its condition and ask how many hours are on the heads. Half the sellers that have these units don't have a clue on how to even work them, much less properly test them. And these units must be double-boxed for best protection to prevent damage like on your 850. It helps to buy from certain sellers (for me at least) that tend to have a better idea of what they have and selling.

Thankfully there's a video facility about 3 hours away from me that services pro gear I had my Betacam SP PVW-2800 deck serviced there, and plan to get the BVW-D75 serviced soon as well. When it comes to cost and repairs you have to ask yourself whether its really worth it and if you plan to use it on a regular basis. These decks were often beat up and had alot of hard use in studios and editing facilities. I'm not hard on my gear and don't keep it on 24/7 (major cause of cap failures) so I expect it to last hopefully a long time.
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  #5  
03-21-2016, 07:54 AM
NJRoadfan NJRoadfan is offline
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The AG-DS555/545 had a relatively long life. Panasonic was still selling them new into 2005, so they are least likely to have problems. Working Hi-Fi audio indicates the video heads are likely still ok. Something on one of the cards for video processing is clearly bad though. What happens when the TBC is on? These units have a full frame unit with dropout compensation (also genlockable), so you should at least get a stable OSD even with garbled playback if the TBC is "working".
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03-21-2016, 12:23 PM
msgohan msgohan is offline
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Shortly after I got it, the AG-DS555 hour meters showed drum 181H and capstan 157H. That seems very low to me, to the point where I'm skeptical of the accuracy. An AG-DS850 (K8TC00025) was recently sold for $454 shipped with d170/c109. Mind you, that seller seems to actually know what they're doing unlike the people who sold each of mine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VideoTechMan View Post
That unit worked okay but also had alot of bad caps which displayed no picture.
The second part of that sentence seems to contradict the first?

Anyway, I appreciate all the info you have shared about your units both in this and other threads.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NJRoadfan View Post
The AG-DS555/545 had a relatively long life. Panasonic was still selling them new into 2005, so they are least likely to have problems.
I'm glad to hear that, since they have the switchable TBC rather than always-on like the AG-DS850/840 and AG-DS550/540.

Once upon a time, I saw someone describe how to figure out the date of manufacture from a Panasonic serial number. Anyone happen to know that? Naively, I would guess the one starting with I4 was made in September 1994; J4 = October 1994; C8 = March 1998. But that scheme would sort of go out the window with the 2000s.

Quote:
What happens when the TBC is on? These units have a full frame unit with dropout compensation (also genlockable), so you should at least get a stable OSD even with garbled playback if the TBC is "working".
Yes. Turning the TBC on results in stable:
  • black + OSD, or
  • frozen mostly-black garbage + OSD (the "VTCR" screenshot above), or
  • frozen garbled field + OSD.

YouTube sample: I switched the TBC on/off, over and over. When the timecode display is stable, the TBC was on. When it isn't, the TBC was off.

The effect is similar to someone else's AG-DS840 here, but the TBC in his didn't freeze the output.
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  #7  
03-21-2016, 01:59 PM
NJRoadfan NJRoadfan is offline
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Determining when you Panasonic Pro equipment was built

The AG-DS555/545 line was released sometime in 1997. The serial number pattern should apply to units made in the 2000s. My AG-1980 was made in 2001.
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  #8  
03-21-2016, 02:24 PM
msgohan msgohan is offline
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Aha, thanks! Clearly I asked the right guy. I'm sure yours was the thread I'd read previously.
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04-28-2017, 09:38 AM
msgohan msgohan is offline
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Meant to post an update last year. The 4th attempt went better.

#4: Panasonic AG-DS555 #2 (serial no. C9TC00043)

The eBay description was a single line, saying something like "tested to project a tape." Username was renaissancegirl2002, so I guess some bizarre terminology is to be expected. Used category, not For Parts, so I would get Buyer Protection if it didn't work.

Opened the box and was terrified:
20160411_122700.jpg
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Unorthodox packing material, but this one actually made it from FL to WA intact. For some reason, she shipped it with the top cover screws unsecured.
20160411_122758.jpg

Before doing anything else, I snapped photos of the internals, in case some packing materials got lodged inside.
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20160411_122929.jpg
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This one can actually output video from tapes! But it's got issues.

When the TBC is turned on, the colors go crazy until the unit warms up. In this case I let it play with TBC enabled for about 30 mins, rewound and replayed the tape from counter position 0.
20160411_123016.jpg
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Having used it a bit myself over the past year (with TBC off), hours are currently at drum 1751H and capstan 897H. This site says, "Anything above 1000 hours should only be bought cheaply, as the heads may be very worn, and the machine is very old. Whether it'll survive thousands of hours well, or badly, really depends on how the machine was treated (tape quality, being cleaning, being cleaned gently or roughly, coming from a smoke-free environment). The ability to replay the FM Hi-Fi sound tracks, at all, will diminish with worn out heads, and how well it records video."

I don't like the video quality, but I guess the amount of use could be largely to blame.



Last edited by msgohan; 04-28-2017 at 09:50 AM.
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  #10  
04-28-2017, 01:58 PM
Quasipal Quasipal is offline
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That looks identical to the PAL AG8700 which I bought before Easter. Got mine locally and no image and just a corrupt frame store when TBC enabmed. I replaced all the SMD capacitors and now the machine works superb. Hopefully will be the same for your machine.

I may soon offer AG card SMD capacitor replacement service.
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  #11  
04-28-2017, 09:15 PM
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lordsmurf lordsmurf is offline
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If you do, let me know.
I need a good referral for Europe (or even just UK) repairs services.

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  #12  
05-03-2017, 05:05 AM
Quasipal Quasipal is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
If you do, let me know.
I need a good referral for Europe (or even just UK) repairs services.
Will do. I'm just looking into what I can do for those wanting this service. I worked out that I can do each card (AG) for 75 including high quality capacitors, but not including postage. Each card takes about 5 hours, some a bit more (awkward capacitor placement is a real time sink). Not sure if anyone will pay this, but it is a lot less than the 900 I was quoted (180 per card). Does that sound fair?

I won't be able to take on whole VCR's sadly due to the parts availability and possible damage in transit breaking the PSU, mech etc.
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  #13  
09-25-2018, 08:54 PM
digicube digicube is offline
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Has anyone successfully replaced all the caps on the video and TBC boards and got it to work? Even 12voltvids from youtube hasn't done it yet lol. I got a DS850 unit with only working audio. Judging by how hard it is to replace all the caps, I might as well send it to the landfill.

Last edited by digicube; 09-25-2018 at 09:07 PM.
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  #14  
09-25-2018, 08:58 PM
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lordsmurf lordsmurf is offline
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Again, as I stated earlier in the thread, send Panasonics to TGrant. He'll do an amazing job with them.

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  #15  
09-25-2018, 09:01 PM
sanlyn sanlyn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by digicube View Post
I might as well send it to the landfill.
Send an AG-1980 to a land fill when shops are looking to buy them for parts? T. Grant's shop pays $$ for old pro vcr's: https://www.tgrantphoto.com/sales/in...-1980-vcrs-925.
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  #16  
09-26-2018, 01:36 AM
Quasipal Quasipal is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by digicube View Post
Has anyone successfully replaced all the caps on the video and TBC boards and got it to work? Even 12voltvids from youtube hasn't done it yet lol. I got a DS850 unit with only working audio. Judging by how hard it is to replace all the caps, I might as well send it to the landfill.

I did the PAL version. All failed SM caps replaced and the machine is still working SUPERBLY. It wasn't that hard. I did it with a standard mains powered iron and no problem to do. Just takes time.
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  #17  
09-26-2018, 10:06 AM
digicube digicube is offline
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@Quasipal Can you tell me the kind of SMD caps I need to purchase for DS850 boards? Is there a service manual I can download?

https://www.mouser.com/Panasonic/Pas...5hqx?P=1yzvjj0

Last edited by digicube; 09-26-2018 at 10:27 AM.
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