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  #1  
01-20-2022, 01:37 PM
MrRom92 MrRom92 is offline
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Hi everyone, new member here, first post… I understand this is a community with some very knowledgable folks who are just as particular as I am, so I think I’ve come to the right place for assistance!

My journey in perfecting VHS transfers has been long, though not particularly successful.

My ultimate goal is to put together a system I can use to digitally archive my VHS tapes as best as possible, no compromise whatsoever. I realize there is no such thing as a silver bullet/one model VCR to rule them all, as that is highly dependent on what tapes you actually intend to transfer. But I do want to get whatever would be the absolute best for the tapes I do need to transfer.

The vast majority of my tapes are VHS-C in camera originals, dating between 1992-1999. I presume that most are recorded in SP mode however I really can’t say for certain that there aren’t some slow speed recordings thrown in the mix. That will have to be determined as I go through them. There are a LOT of these little tapes. 2 big boxes full of ‘em.

There are also some full sized VHS cassettes, also in-camera originals, dating between 1982-1992. But not nearly as many as there are VHS-C.

———————

About 10 years ago when I started taking this all seriously, I took ownership of a JVC BR-S822U. Actually, I took ownership of at least 2 of them… maybe even 3. I remember driving one back to the a-hole who sold it to me. To put it short, they all had problems.

Though it could not transfer any EP/SLP tapes if I were to encounter them, I was after this particular model for several other reasons that seemed perfectly logical at the time:
  • Top of the line professional broadcast/editing unit
  • * Rock solid high quality transport that would be as steady as it was gentle on my tapes.
  • * High quality a/v electronics, highly configurable and adjustable as needed, to provide the best quality picture and sound from my tapes
  • * Accepts VHS-C cassettes without the need for an adapter
  • * Reliable and easily serviceable.
That last bullet point, if not any of the others, turned out to be a complete fallacy.
I tried so hard to find people in my area (LI/NYC) who could service the unit, to no avail. The last unit I kept seemed to be the best of them, with low hour heads, and great picture playback when you could get it working… though it had great difficulty loading tapes.

I do recall getting it to load full-sized cassettes if I popped the top and poked around in there during the loading process. I don’t recall if I ever successfully loaded a VHS-C cassette, but I do remember it being a problem.

I called a local repair person who swore up and down he could fix the VCR, and schlepped this thing all the way to his shop - if you’re familiar with these units you understand this is no small task. I paid a lot of money, waited a lot of time; only for him to resolve absolutely nothing and just offer to sell me some other VCR, or transfer all my tapes for me. Through that world-class totally professional system of his that definitely wasn’t just a dvd-r combo unit. I hope you can detect the sarcasm here.

It was at this point I threw the thing into storage and gave up on the whole venture. Very frustrating experience. I knew I’d pick up on it again eventually, but I got caught up in other personal/professional projects and never really got around to it.

———————

So, that’s been my experience up to this point. I’m getting back into the mindset of “I want my videos digitally archived” again and I’m not really sure what my best route is.

I still have that ship anchor of a VCR sitting there where it’s been for the last decade. I still don’t know anybody who knows how to service them. I don’t know if I should even keep barking up that tree, try to find another BR-S822U that’s actually serviced and functional, or just start looking into other VCRs entirely.

My goals are much the same now as they were back then. I want something that will provide the best possible picture quality from these VHS-C tapes, playing them back with an absolute bare minimum of sharpening or noise reduction, etc. just picking up and transferring as much of whatever is actually on the tapes as possible, for lossless digital archival.

Another welcomed feature would be the ability to simultaneously output the hi-fi and linear audio tracks so they can both be transferred at the same time. This is something I would consider a major plus, however lower in priority to picture quality concerns. I am willing to abandon this idea entirely if it comes down to that.

The aforementioned BR-S822U would be capable of doing this, as it has dedicated stereo linear audio outputs via XLR.

The Panasonic AG-1980 has a dedicated linear audio output, however it is mono only. I’m not sure if any of my tapes actually have stereo linear tracks though, so maybe this is not a real concern.

I don’t believe any of the recommended JVC S-VHS units have dedicated linear audio outputs, however if they would provide better PQ than the Panasonic, maybe there is the possibility of modifying one of these decks to tap the audio from the head and add another RCA jack to the back? Shouldn’t be incredibly difficult as far as I’m aware.

I’ve been following the Domesday Duplicator and Ld-decode / vhs-decode projects online, something that didn’t really exist last time I decided to dip my toes into this stuff. I do not have the capture unit just yet, but now it is a consideration for me. I would like whichever VCR I choose to be suitable for DDD captures at some point in the future. I’m not sure if there is anything that would preclude tapping the RF signal in some models versus others.

I do feel this is ultimately the best form of preservation. But I think the software and techniques still do have some maturing to do. So I would still like to do a best-as-possible traditional video capture in the meantime, so I am not left with absolutely nothing should anything happen to the tapes. They certainly aren’t getting any younger.

As far as the video digitization/capture itself, I haven’t done a ton of research into that so I don’t really know what are the best current options as far as that goes. Though I think that is more of a “cross that bridge when I get to it” sort of problem. Right now the hard part will be choosing a suitable VCR that will meet my needs, and then getting a properly functioning example. The rest shouldn’t be too hard to figure out when the time comes.

I apologize for the overly long post I but hope I’ve sufficiently outlined my thoughts and goals for this project, and sincerely thank anyone who took the time to read this. I am a quality conscious person and realize there is only so much one can squeeze out of these tapes to begin with. However if I’m going to do something, I like to do it right. You know what I mean? It’s just who I am. These memories really are precious to me, and I want to make sure they are saved in their finest form. Any insight and guidance would be greatly appreciated!
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  #2  
01-20-2022, 11:03 PM
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"professional" never means what you think it does with VHS. VHS was a consumer formats, and the "professional" decks had narrow special uses. Mostly worthless for transferring tapes.

Lots of "transfer services" are non-video quacks with crap they bought at Best Buy or Walmart. Not professional whatsoever. Buyer beware. Very happy to hear you didn't use the "repair" person's lousy service.

Al you need is a standard workflow
VCR > TBC > capture card
Not any random gear, but specific models. Certain S-VHS VCRs with line TBC, an actual DataVideo/Cypress type frame TBC, and a good capture card (depends on OS, but WinXP/7 best).

VHS-C can be a problem format, Panasonic decks usually suggested, or a few certain EOL JVC decks.

That BR-822 deck is useless. Indeed, a boat anchor.

Dual output of linear + HiFi isn't viable. Why? The capture card. Messy at best, but more likely not work at all.

vhs-decode still doesn't exist in a viable useful form, and may not for many more years, if ever. Don't wait on it. You're tapes are aging already. The "tape aging, transfer now!" thing was BS in the 2000s, but now is the 2020s.

This is a good example of chasing perfection, and doing nothing as a result. Go with a standard workflow, transfer it all. If you want better for select tapes later, and the tech to do it exists then, then redo it. Lots of people are doing that now, for botched work (often to DVD) in the 2000s.

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  #3  
01-21-2022, 05:24 AM
MrRom92 MrRom92 is offline
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Thank you for your help lordsmurf, your reputation precedes you!

Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post

Lots of "transfer services" are non-video quacks with crap they bought at Best Buy or Walmart. Not professional whatsoever. Buyer beware. Very happy to hear you didn't use the "repair" person's lousy service.
Iím all too aware. Same goes for typically available transfer services for audio or photos too! Unfortunately normal people usually donít understand or even necessarily care what a lousy service they are getting from these folks. Fortunately, Iím very far from normal.

Quote:

Al you need is a standard workflow
VCR > TBC > capture card
Not any random gear, but specific models. Certain S-VHS VCRs with line TBC, an actual DataVideo/Cypress type frame TBC, and a good capture card (depends on OS, but WinXP/7 best).

VHS-C can be a problem format, Panasonic decks usually suggested, or a few certain EOL JVC decks.
Itís funny learning how much of a problem VHS-C can be because of the many (functional) VCRs Iíve had over the years, from all across the price spectrum, Iíve never had any deck have trouble with them! Was never hesitant to play them or anything like that. Iíve had a big hulking Sony unit from the 80ís that we used unmaintained into the 2000ís (and trust me, did I ever use it!) Iíve had a bargain bin dvd-r combo unit I bought around 2004, a small TV with a VCR built in, you name itÖ

But if the reality is that some models are better suited to transferring them than others, I think this puts the AG-1980 in the lead for me if itís a Panasonic Iím looking for. But Iím definitely curious about those particular late model JVCs. Which ones would those be, and ultimately what would you choose if there were no other limiting factors such as cost, condition/wear issues, etc.?

There is also the option of transplanting the spool into full sized shells if that would facilitate a better transfer with a different VCR known more for its PQ than VHS-C handling ability. I recall doing that at some point as a kid with one tape.

Quote:

That BR-822 deck is useless. Indeed, a boat anchor.

Dual output of linear + HiFi isn't viable. Why? The capture card. Messy at best, but more likely not work at all.

vhs-decode still doesn't exist in a viable useful form, and may not for many more years, if ever. Don't wait on it. You're tapes are aging already. The "tape aging, transfer now!" thing was BS in the 2000s, but now is the 2020s.

This is a good example of chasing perfection, and doing nothing as a result. Go with a standard workflow, transfer it all. If you want better for select tapes later, and the tech to do it exists then, then redo it. Lots of people are doing that now, for botched work (often to DVD) in the 2000s.
I will likely be selling the 822 then and forget about using this model entirely.

I do have audio interfaces with multiple channels, which I was planning to use to capture audio anyhow, so I donít think it will be too problematic to capture all tracks simultaneously with video, so long as the deck can output them. My concern is that if audio is captured separately after the fact there will be sync issues due to fluctuations in tape playback.

Youíve hit the nail on the head re: waiting for perfection. Iíve really been putting this off since the early 2000ís since I never felt that the DVD transfers were up to snuff at the time. I donít want to wait anymore, but I do want to make sure whatever model VCR I go with doesnít somehow prevent the future use of DDD/vhs-decode since it seems so promising. I believe there is a known RF output mod for the 1980 so that also keeps it in the lead.
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01-21-2022, 05:50 AM
RobustReviews RobustReviews is offline
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Originally Posted by MrRom92 View Post
Thank you for your help lordsmurf, your reputation precedes you!
You’ve hit the nail on the head re: waiting for perfection. I’ve really been putting this off since the early 2000’s since I never felt that the DVD transfers were up to snuff at the time. I don’t want to wait anymore, but I do want to make sure whatever model VCR I go with doesn’t somehow prevent the future use of DDD/vhs-decode since it seems so promising. I believe there is a known RF output mod for the 1980 so that also keeps it in the lead.
There have been some rather interesting advancements in VHS-decode over the last few months - my own setup is coming to the stage where it's viable to get a good quality transfer.

It's slow at the moment, but things are looking positive. The core project is well in place (now with fairly established code), line and frame look especially good, but it's still very much an enthusiasts plaything.

Signs are positive at the moment though, I've just about dialled in pretty clean unmolested samples from a 'junk' £10 Samsung POS machine from the local Craigslist. It does require a bit of knowledge and time to dedicate to it at the moment though.

If you get lucky, at the moment you can score just about everything to get set-up for under £30 (cables, card, VCR) but if you're looking for especially good quality or don't have time to dedicate to it, it's not ready yet.

Just about any machine should have an accessible RF test point, it's required for initial setup, service and checking of video heads, tracking envelopes amongst other adjustments and checks - for example when adjusting tracking points at service. You can't really do a lot with a machine without it when it comes to assessing a machine or making adjustments without an RF testpoint.

Anyway, your remark was just an aside, but signs are positive and things are advancing quite quickly at the moment. It's not ready for reliable capture though, don't pin your hopes and dreams on being able to use it in the short term!
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01-22-2022, 07:31 AM
MrRom92 MrRom92 is offline
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Originally Posted by RobustReviews View Post
There have been some rather interesting advancements in VHS-decode over the last few months - my own setup is coming to the stage where it's viable to get a good quality transfer.

It's slow at the moment, but things are looking positive. The core project is well in place (now with fairly established code), line and frame look especially good, but it's still very much an enthusiasts plaything.

Signs are positive at the moment though, I've just about dialled in pretty clean unmolested samples from a 'junk' £10 Samsung POS machine from the local Craigslist. It does require a bit of knowledge and time to dedicate to it at the moment though.

If you get lucky, at the moment you can score just about everything to get set-up for under £30 (cables, card, VCR) but if you're looking for especially good quality or don't have time to dedicate to it, it's not ready yet.

Just about any machine should have an accessible RF test point, it's required for initial setup, service and checking of video heads, tracking envelopes amongst other adjustments and checks - for example when adjusting tracking points at service. You can't really do a lot with a machine without it when it comes to assessing a machine or making adjustments without an RF testpoint.

Anyway, your remark was just an aside, but signs are positive and things are advancing quite quickly at the moment. It's not ready for reliable capture though, don't pin your hopes and dreams on being able to use it in the short term!
Totally understood, I check in on the DDD discord from time to time! It’s really exciting stuff, but certainly not what I would consider even “enthusiast friendly” yet. You have to be reaaaaal hardcore to get basically any of that stuff running. Very excited for the future though. I just hope that future comes while there’s still anything meaningful to pull off our tapes.

I wasn’t sure if some of the choice VCRs were unsuitable for RF mods, because I guess you never really know until someone tries. I recall someone in the discord had a look at the BR-s822U which conveniently has the test points accessible right on the front, no mod necessary! On paper, couldn’t be more convenient than that, right? In practice it turned out that the RF test points were heavily filtered in some way and I don’t recall them being able to make suitable DDD captures with that VCR. Guess that’s another strike for that model. But on that note…

Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
"professional" never means what you think it does with VHS. VHS was a consumer formats, and the "professional" decks had narrow special uses. Mostly worthless for transferring tapes.

That BR-822 deck is useless. Indeed, a boat anchor.
If I may ask one more thing of you lordsmurf, would you be able to elaborate on this? I’ve been thinking about this post and I’ve honestly been shocked that you would describe the s822u as worthless/useless for transfers.

Not that it doesn’t have some obvious shortcomings. Size, weight, cost, SP only, lack of a functioning unit in this day and age… but I am genuinely curious what you feel other VCRs do better than this one. Are there issues with the transport or quality of playback?
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01-22-2022, 08:52 AM
RobustReviews RobustReviews is offline
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Originally Posted by MrRom92 View Post
Totally understood, I check in on the DDD discord from time to time! Itís really exciting stuff, but certainly not what I would consider even ďenthusiast friendlyĒ yet. You have to be reaaaaal hardcore to get basically any of that stuff running. Very excited for the future though. I just hope that future comes while thereís still anything meaningful to pull off our tapes.

I wasnít sure if some of the choice VCRs were unsuitable for RF mods, because I guess you never really know until someone tries. I recall someone in the discord had a look at the BR-s822U which conveniently has the test points accessible right on the front, no mod necessary! On paper, couldnít be more convenient than that, right? In practice it turned out that the RF test points were heavily filtered in some way and I donít recall them being able to make suitable DDD captures with that VCR. Guess thatís another strike for that model. But on that noteÖ
I can't speak as to every machine, filtering is a possibility but you can attack pre-filter, or just find another machine. With VHS-Decode the machine becomes just a transport and head, the actual machine, broadly speaking becomes much less of a factor in the quality of the transfer. You're not relying on any machine signal processing beyond the head amp.

VHS-Decode 'works', that's not for debate anymore, it's a settled argument that exquisite line and frame TBC and enhancement can take place on raw RF, there's a lot of fine-tuning to be done and to make it more approachable to those who don't want to start writing shell scripts or poking hardware registers that I seem to have to do to on my setup. The CXADC cards also may need modifications (small, but still modifications) to really perform their best.

In my experiments, it also handles (crunchy) damaged tapes far better than any other method I've tried, including 'full metal' calibrated TBCs.

It's slow, tedious to work with and consumes unholy amounts of storage, so as I said earlier keep an eye on it, it's going somewhere that's for certain. When that will be though, anybody's guess. Conventional capture is still the way to go for results in the short-to-medium term.

My suspicion is that as prices rise on elderly hardware it will become an established method in the next few years, especially once it's Windows friendly (being developed) and good hardware guides are written up.
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01-25-2022, 06:07 AM
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VHS-C tapes thin, fragile, PITA on most decks. Never had an issue? Lucky!

AG-1980, certain JVCs, do wel with -C format. But take heed! AG-1980 is money pit. TGrant was a longtime favorite around here, until he started to cut corners, only recap "bad" caps (not all caps, but ALL eventually go bad!!!), so another $500 fix, pissed a lot of us off. So ... not from him.

Those late JVCs were pro units, sold to edu/gov/sports/studio, so often not in good shape. Not something you can grab off eBay. Units were $1k+ MSRP, not much different now if good condition, or (better yet) refurb'd.

Transplant can work. Need lots of sheels, be careful.

822 was surely fine for intended use, but this wasn't it.

Audio doesn't fluctuate unless the capture is bad. Use frame TBC, problem solved.

DVD transfers were always battle between decent and crappy. Not really good. Most peolpe did crappy, some of us tried to teach and do decent. But now, just capture lossless, HDD space cheap. At most, MPEG-2 @ 15mbit, maybe even 4:2:2 from the lossless.

vhs-decode is still a nothingburger. Someday, maybe, not now. PAL is a nothing burger with cheese, NTSC doesn't even have a bun. It's probably a redo for next decade, 2030s. Keep important tapes for then, redo. That's what I'm doing. Hoping that still hold up then. Transfer now, worry about later later.

I don't see how prices on used gear could rise much more, it's about all the market can bear. There's already been some reversion from top stupid levels. It has pricing support levels right now. I don't se how gear costs will do much, if anything, to the decode project.

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01-31-2022, 07:20 AM
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Originally Posted by MrRom92 View Post
The vast majority of my tapes are VHS-C in camera originals, dating between 1992-1999. I presume that most are recorded in SP mode however I really can’t say for certain that there aren’t some slow speed recordings thrown in the mix. That will have to be determined as I go through them. There are a LOT of these little tapes. 2 big boxes full of ‘em...
It so happens I'm in the middle of transferring about 20 VHS-C in camera cassettes. Mostly they are transferring fine, but I have a decent JVC VHS-C adaptor (very important I feel) and am playing them on a VCR in top condition. I'm glad to have the luxury of having the skills to service my own VCR's.

I avoid winding VHS-C tapes in a VCR with super fast (Jet) wind. It seems too much of a risk. So I avoid even playing them in such a deck as often such decks automatically wind the tapes very fast when you're not prepared for it. For me the actual condition of the VCR right now especially its gentle handling of irreplaceable tapes, is more important than whether it was the top model in its day with every bell and whistle.

So far most tapes are recorded in SP but the first one I tried was mostly LP. That was extra work. Both entry and exit guides needed one careful adjustment for a solid, stable image.

The original camera was probably a modest affair if the limited zoom lens power is an indication, but picture and sound are fine for the format. Little to no noise from the tape mechanism was picked up by the camera mic. That's been my general experience with VHS-C tapes recorded in reasonable cameras.
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01-31-2022, 08:00 AM
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For me the actual condition of the VCR right now especially its gentle handling of irreplaceable tapes, is more important than whether it was the top model in its day with every bell and whistle.
Your statement is accurate, but it allows for misinterpretation. Too many people think that "bell and whistle" (a really stupid term that I hate) is anything they don't understand, or are not familiar with. A so-called "fancy" feature. But that's false. You have essential features, and frilly (now often useless) features. For example, lots of JVC decks came with "cable eyes", analog cable era worthless items. That could be a "bell and whistle". Or the ability to "scan audio while FF/REW playback", totally silly and worthless. But a line TBC? TBC is an essential feature.

Quote:
but the first one I tried was mostly LP. That was extra work. Both entry and exit guides needed one careful adjustment for a solid, stable image.
The problem happens when the heads are worn, and no amount if guide realignment will help. So again, it comes down to deck condition, not how popular/good it was 15-25 years ago. Too many people focus on "the best" decks (ie, once the JVC 9600-9911 models), but time hasn't been kind to those models, and others can be better now.

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01-31-2022, 11:38 AM
RobustReviews RobustReviews is offline
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The problem happens when the heads are worn, and no amount if guide realignment will help. So again, it comes down to deck condition, not how popuular/good it was 15-25 years ago. Too many people focus on "the best" decks (ie, once the JVC 9600-9911 models), but time hasn't been kind to those models, and others can be better now.
I disagree for LP.

There were many strategies for recording Long Play mode in PAL land at least, not all machines used the same strategies and no assurance was made that brand-x would be compatible with brand-y's machines when replaying LP cassettes. With VHS-C this was even made clear in many of the manuals for the cameras due to inconsistencies in head design or compromised transports.

We routinely have to tweak machines to get the very best out of LP cassettes due to this, or even keep machines of different recording strategies handy in case we get them in. I've alluded to this recently with certain PAL market budget machines that used hybrid heads.

You've probably got very lucky if you've never had to tweak tape alignment for maximum (and consistent) RF envelope on some odd VHS-C LP tapes. We even have a bench with one machine that has permanent 'scope attached to it due to this as some tapes are a pain in the 'arris.

I can't speak as to NTSC, but with PAL at least there wasn't really even a defined standard of LP recordings, it was all very 'wooly'.

I don't think it's really an indicator of headwear with some of these tapes, not a tape with 'tiny' tracks, played back in an adaptor generated on machines notorious for poor transports to begin with.
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01-31-2022, 12:40 PM
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I disagree for LP.
But you're not disagreeing.

Yes, tweaks can be needed. I actually have decks specifically for misalignment to tapes.

But again, the issue is when the heads and so worn that tweaks make no difference anymore. So deck condition matters.

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01-31-2022, 04:12 PM
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The problem with VHS-C recordings is the head wrap design due to smaller video drum, In the VCR it is 180 degrees and in the camcorder it is something like 270 degrees, So for SP tapes it isn't much of a problem, but in low speeds and a faulty recording due to miss alignement it is almost certain that you will never get a perfect playback by re-aligning a 180 degree wrap VCR, You will be better off with re-aligning a camcorder. That's the reason some people say it is always better to playback a VHS-C tape in the camcorder that recorded it but they never really understood the technicality behind it. So it is NOT always best to playback a VHS-C tape in the camcorder that recorded it but when you encounter a miss tracked tape that's the only time that it is better to playback a VHS-C tape in the camcorder that recorded it, if not re-align another camcorder.

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01-31-2022, 05:18 PM
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I believe there is a known RF output mod for the 1980 so that also keeps it in the lead.
If you find this info let me know. I asked about it in the videohelp thread and didn't get anything back. Would love to mod one of my 1980s for RF capture to play around. I already have a duplicator.

I posted this same message in another thread, but the AG1980s are amazing when rebuilt. I have a tgrant rebuild and also deter rebuilds. I switch between them both without any difference.

Deter is still rebuilding these if you send him a deck. Or he may have some available.
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01-31-2022, 08:20 PM
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Originally Posted by latreche34 View Post
The problem with VHS-C recordings is the head wrap design due to smaller video drum, In the VCR it is 180 degrees and in the camcorder it is something like 270 degrees, So for SP tapes it isn't much of a problem, but in low speeds and a faulty recording due to miss alignement it is almost certain that you will never get a perfect playback by re-aligning a 180 degree wrap VCR, You will be better off with re-aligning a camcorder. That's the reason some people say it is always better to playback a VHS-C tape in the camcorder that recorded it but they never really understood the technicality behind it. So it is NOT always best to playback a VHS-C tape in the camcorder that recorded it but when you encounter a miss tracked tape that's the only time that it is better to playback a VHS-C tape in the camcorder that recorded it, if not re-align another camcorder.
I can understand the need to play a tape back in a deck with the same physical alignment but I dont understand the need to playback say a VHS-C tape in a VHS-C camera. Apart from allowing the smaller drum to write the full continuous field stripe, how does the 270 deg wrap in the smaller drum change the recording?

With the VHS-C LP tape I transferred the other day I wasnt surprised it at first mistracked. For in LP, the track stripe is narrower, making it harder for the read head to stay centred on the stripe from beginning to end. I also wasnt surprised when after adjusting the entry and exit guides, it tracked well. The only difference was the expected overall weaker, noisier LP picture and of course the poorer fidelity linear audio track, which is also even more sensitive to A/C head alignment than an SP recorded tape.
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01-31-2022, 09:52 PM
latreche34 latreche34 is offline
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It has to do with the number of heads the camcorder uses which is I believe 4 ( 2 for each field), So when the recording is miss aligned the mess it creates is harder to retrace using a 2 head system with 180 degree head wrap, At least that's how it was explained to me by technicians over the years in public forums. I've never encountered such a problematic VHS-C tape but I've read complaints about not being able to recover the tape using the adapter in a full size VCR trying to miss align it, If I can dig up those threads I will post links.

https://www.youtube.com/user/latoak34/videos
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  #16  
02-01-2022, 02:49 AM
timtape timtape is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by latreche34 View Post
It has to do with the number of heads the camcorder uses which is I believe 4 ( 2 for each field), So when the recording is miss aligned the mess it creates is harder to retrace using a 2 head system with 180 degree head wrap, At least that's how it was explained to me by technicians over the years in public forums. I've never encountered such a problematic VHS-C tape but I've read complaints about not being able to recover the tape using the adapter in a full size VCR trying to miss align it, If I can dig up those threads I will post links.
Thanks Latreche. Will be interested in what they said.
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02-01-2022, 11:17 AM
BW37 BW37 is offline
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I've always wondered about the exact "shape" of a video stripe. I'm not mathematician enough to figure it out . In diagrams and tech descriptions the stripes are shown as straight lines at a shallow angle to the tape axis (edge). But are they in fact not straight, but actually a large radius arc? If the latter, that could explain why VHS-C tapes track differently. Since the geometry of the heads are different, is that large radius also different? If the stripes are truly straight then VHS-C should track the same as std. VHS. Correct?

Do we have any real mathematicians on board who can solve the puzzle?

BW
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02-01-2022, 12:58 PM
latreche34 latreche34 is offline
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No, video tracks are all straight, The use of 2 heads per field vs one head per field what makes the difference.

https://www.youtube.com/user/latoak34/videos
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  #19  
02-01-2022, 03:58 PM
RobustReviews RobustReviews is offline
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Yes as @latreche34 has said, the tracks are straight, intermittently switching between fields A and B, hence two heads are used in conventional playback on standard VHS. This I think might be causing the confusion with an arc, remember one head whips up the tape in a straight diagonal line, the next head switches in and does the same.

The VHS-C head-wrap is much larger than conventional VHS to employs a double-head system whereby there are 4 video heads, two for field A (or field A-part 1, A-part 2, B-part 1, B-part 2 if you will), coupled with a smaller drum this just about equals exactly the same path as laid down by conventional VHS. The drum spins faster so all the maths works.

However, there's a catch when it comes to Long Play.

With conventional VHS a machine (unless of it's impressively low quality*) will use two SP heads for SP recording and reproduction, then another pair of heads of LP recording and reproduction. This is fine in a domestic full size machine, where two head gaps mean they can be tuned to their respective track widths. Not so with VHS-C where the SP heads have to sit somewhere between the two systems and perform double duty. Loss of bandwidth in SP is tolerable (and broadly unnoticeable), but LP turns into a severe compromise and due to the funky method of recording LP a machine with conventional heads is left reading an LP track which falls without the bounds of its head gap. This usually results in poor quality playback, often better on the machine that made the tape, but still hampered.

Tweaking the tape guides gives a bit more signal, but it's never going to be great, the whole system is severely compromised straight out of the camera. There's not a lot that can be done.

Video heads were the single most expensive component in a video machine, adding another four heads (considering they're already 'miniaturised' over standard VHS) would have cost the machines out of the race with Video8 in my opinion. There may have been eight-head camcorders for all I know, but I'm yet to see one.

Also, factor in HiFi machines would need another quad-head setup, so they already had eight heads, so a set of LP heads would have created a 12-head behemoth, on a format that was already a bit of a joke to start with.

TLDR; VHS-C is a joke, VHS-C LP is a true belly laugh. However, that's easy to say with hindsight, it's not a sleight on the people that purchased them. Simply, a lot of people didn't know.


*There were some very budget low-end UK market domestic machines that employed this trick with 'somewhere in the middle' heads.

Last edited by RobustReviews; 02-01-2022 at 04:06 PM. Reason: Complete arithmetic failure!
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  #20  
02-01-2022, 04:55 PM
BW37 BW37 is offline
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Thanks for the explanations guys. As I often do, I'm making it harder than it is. The head count vs. head width explanation is enlightening and the ensuing cost/complexity issues all make sense. Is there any "head switching noise" visible on VHS-C due to the mid-field head transition?

Sorry to muck up the discussion by throwing in a bit of a "curve ball" question... On further thought, I agree that the tracks should be straight, the angle depending only on the relative surface speed of the head vs. the tape.

Thankfully, I only have a few VHS-C tapes to capture and they are all SP. Since I got the recorded tapes, the (still working) camcorder and some blank tapes, I'll have to play around and make some EP recordings just to see what they look like.

Even more thankfully, I opted for Video8 for my home movies back in the day!

BW
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