I've been lurking for a while. I have a Panasonic AG1980 that I bought at a thrift shop a while back, and it's showing all the tell-tale signs of needing extensive capacitor replacement.
I noticed this post from Deter from last year:
However, he does not seem to be active on this forum as of the last few months. I sent him a private message a month ago, but never received a response. I'd be really interested in paying him to repair my deck, so I'd really appreciate it if anybody could put me in contact with him.
So far, the only place that has told me that they work on AG1980s is Southern Advantage, and they quoted me $380 plus shipping when I called them up the other day. I understand that it won't be cheap to repair this deck, but that's a little out of my budget.
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If quoted by a known-good tech, $380 is (unfortunately) not an uncommon cost to totally recondition a used AG1980 and bring it back up to full spec. These machines are a nightmare to work on and very very labor intensive. JOTS Electronics in Texas was the "go to" repair facility for dedicated AG1980 enthusiasts, but their VCR techs began to retire recently and there is some uncertainty whether they are still capable of the same high quality of AG1980 repairs. You might want to call or email JOTS for an update on their current service offerings.
I would not use Southern Advantage unless you live in their vicinity and can personally bring the unit to them and get in their face. Reports from AG1980 owners who have mailed their units to Southern Advantage for service are split right down the middle: 50% are happy with what they got back, but 50% say their units were barely touched, fixed incorrectly, came back with worse problems, or had to be sent back two or three times before being fully repaired. Those are not good odds at the prices S.A. is asking.
I tried to contact Deter without any luck either...
That being said, do not send anything to Southern Advantage. I was told before sending them my AG1980 that they are overpriced and their techs are not qualified, but I sent them my unit nonetheless because I couldn't find any other tech to do it. My experience with Southern Advantage was bad. I sent them my AG1980 a first time, with 2 obvious problem : herringbone interference pattern, and distortion in the video (turning to almost black) after the VCR has played for a while. They fixed the herringbone pattern and returned the VCR. Upon reception, I tried it and noticed almost immediately they had not fixed the video turning black problem. Send them back the unit (at my cost), the tech kept it for a while, said they can't reproduce the problem (which happens every time) and sent back the unit, again at my cost. The second time, they didn't return the power cord, and when I advised them that it was missing, they said it's a $3 cable so I can just get it at the Radio Shack. That was on top of not accounting for the initial estimation fee on the cost of repair (so I had to pay the initial $70 estimation fee, and then an additional $400 for repair, all of which didn't include shipping).
The total cost of repair plus shipping back and forth the unit 2 times was insane...knowing before it all started they couldn't fully fix the unit, I would have never done it. Plus, the work that they do is never clearly stated...for me, they said that they changed the video board, whatever that means (they probably just replaced a few bad caps), so they used that to charge $400...
Wow, I'm glad I waited before sending my deck out to SA. I've reached out to a lot of repair shops - most of them have ignored my attempt to contact them via email or their "online quote" option. Those that have responded have said that they either don't work on VCRs anymore or "can't get parts" (== they only want to swap out boards). Members over at the digital FAQ forum suggested Stanton as a shop that would do component-level repair, but they responded saying they could not. I've heard a lot of bad things about Jots since their master VCR tech retired, and they didn't respond to my inquiry anyway.
SA is the only one that actually told me they would be able to repair it, so I was thinking they are the only choice left. Seems like they are not a very good choice after all.
I realize this is a challenging repair due to the surface-mount capacitors that need to be replaced, but do you think we might be able to pool our knowledge to create a repair guide/kit for the AG1980? At a bare minimum, could we come up with a list of all the capacitors that should be replaced (even if it is just the capacitor numbers as given in the service manual)? I would think this would empower us to find someone local who is skilled in surface-mount repair to carry out the repair for us, even if that means we have to procure our own new capacitors through Mouser or Newark etc. Thoughts?
If you can't find anyone competent and willing to tackle it, you will need to give up on the AG1980 and settle for a similar JVC or Mitsubishi. Unless you can do the repairs yourself, the AG1980 should be considered an orphaned abandoned product with no possibility of restoration. Mass-market demand for VCR repair just isn't enough to sustain a viable repair business today: 999 out of 1000 people who still use a VCR are content to stockpile the ordinary decent Panasonics they can pick up for $10 on Craig's List. The number of people who desperately need a functional AG1980 is statistically insignificant vs the staggering chore it is to repair them: the payoff just isn't worth it for most techs.
Replacing surface-mount caps is not a casual task: its delicate work, and there are a LOT of caps to replace in an AG1980. When forum members like Deter offer their services, they often don't quite realize what they're letting themselves in for: people are impatient, expect very quick turnaround, and don't want to pay anywhere near what someone's time and labor is worth. Most newbs pick up an AG1980 on eBay for $199 and think they can get it repaired in a week for under $100. That is simply not going to happen, in this or any other universe, unless you connect with a sympathetic enthusiast with nothing better to do than spend three weeks sweating over your AG1980 for nothing. I have read the posts of a couple guys on various forums who swear they have AG1980 repair down to an efficient science, that targeted replacement of approx the same 16 caps in any random AG1980 will bring it completely back to life. That's a joy to read, until you note they aren't willing to provide details or schematics, and are not interested in performing repairs for others at any price. That being the case, with all due respect, I wish they would STFU, because all they're doing is sowing false hopes.
We have lived in a disposable electronics culture for many years now. Even as recently as the 1990s, repair shops had lost most of their highly skilled techs and had begun relying completely on replaceable boards and modules. Five or six years ago, major brands like Sony and Panasonic began selling "unrepairable" gear that couldn't really be serviced: you'd send in yours and get back a new or "comparable" replacement. They stopped supplying replacement parts, and we've now reached a point where there isn't even any such thing as a warranty repair anymore (heaven help you if you've bought a defective new Samsung or Sony television recently: you'd know exactly what I mean). We've been conditioned to accept that our toys, no matter the cost or prestige brand, will fail within five years and we will simply buy a new replacement. Experienced old-school techs have retired, shops have closed up in droves.
There is still a subculture of aging repair gurus who provide service (at significant cost) for classic audio gear, and lots of it is DIY repairable. This gear uses mostly-generic parts that are not surface mounted, so anyone with good eyesight and a steady hand with a soldering iron who can follow instructions can repair most any amplifier, tuner, tape deck or receiver. Post-modern VCRs like the AG1980 are something else altogether, trapped in a badly-dated Catch-22: they were designed for quick service turnover by replacing entire boards and modules, but those parts are no longer available while component-level board repairs are too difficult to be cost effective (and not always reliable).
Since someone over at digitalfaq posted a photo of the infamous Y/C board from a 1980, I sent it over to the guy who did the Amiga motherboard. He stated that he could handle the job, but at a higher cost due to the amount of labor involved (the Y/C board alone has 30+ caps, mostly surface mount). You would have to remove and send the boards out to be recapped. The only issue would be that you are on your own once you get the boards back since he doesn't have any way of testing VCR components like a proper service center would.
And yet, even taking that into account, I do not understand why there is such a defeatist attitude toward this issue. It's not like this repair requires parts that are unobtainable or prohibitively expensive. Yes, the devices are surface mount, and there certainly are a LOT of them, but I fail to see why it is therefore treated as impossible. There are plenty of guides on how to replace surface mount caps (either with equivalent SMD or through hole parts) like here http://console5.com/wiki/Converting_from_Surface_to_Leaded_Capacitors
Yes, it does require some skill, and a lot of patience - but some approaches don't even require specialized tools beyond a soldering iron with a fine point, some thin solder, solder braid, and flux. My research has led me to believe that Southern Advantage is the only place willing to touch these things, and even for the almost $400 they charge, their track record is spotty at best. I think these guys (including the guy on ebay that is offering repairs) have caught wind of the fact that they are the only game left in town for this sort of service. Looking at previous posts, and even at past ebay auctions over the last month, it looks like the price for this repair has increased from $150-$200 (posts about Jots/SA from 2-3 years ago) to $225 (ebay guys a couple months ago) to $325 (ebay guys now) to $380 (Southern Advantage now). Shouldn't this be motivation enough for those of us left with ailing units to figure it out? And if I destroy my $7 AG1980 (Goodwill find) in the process, I'd at least feel better contributing something to the community, as opposed to gambling $400 on a repair that may or may not work.
As you mention, even if someone does not feel skilled enough to do the desoldering/resoldering themselves, there are people who are skilled and can complete the task, even if they don't know anything in particular about VCRs (and should be able to do it for less than $380, even if it takes a good deal of time).
Even this "fixya" post contains more useful information than most forum posts I have seen (and I think it is a pretty good description in a nutshell about what needs to be done):
I have already started to figure out how to obtain suitable replacement capacitors from Digikey by cross referencing the markings on the caps to the service manual's part numbers to the Panasonic caps available from Digikey (no, the part numbers usually do not match exactly, but from the couple I have looked at, it is possible without too much detective work to find an equivalent replacement, or even one with higher temperature specs, longer life etc).
With a few young kids at home, I don't have a ton of spare time, but I'd like to at least kick off the effort to pool our knowledge, and then contribute info as I have time to work on my own unit. Perhaps a google doc or wiki (even a dedicated thread?) of some sort would be good for this? I'm envisioning a spreadsheet with existing cap numbers, capacitance, voltage, form factor (series), which board they are located on, and replacement part numbers. Pictures of the boards with the caps highlighted/circled would be a nice feature if we want to be fancy. Perhaps some links to the existing guides/videos on how to replace surface mount caps.
As a newer member here, I don't want to step on anyone's toes or violate and protocol here, so any suggestions on what to do to get this started would be very helpful!
It's been awhile. Hope this finds you well.
Gee, this is fairly disturbing news, though I guess I should not be at all surprised. A couple years back, I bought an AG-1980 from SA (at this point I don't recall whether it was reconditioned, or some sort of leftover stock -- probably a lesser chance re the latter, although I think they may have had some left at that time), and, believe it or not, I am only now about to deploy and attempt to use it. Various factors including the passage of time may have rendered this a real crap shoot, but I guess I should have some idea about that in due course. As a way of hedging my bets, not long after buying the AG I picked up what was supposedly a leftover NIB Mitsubishi HD2000 from a dealer on eBay who had a long and very good feedback history. (Some of these may still continue to turn up there. Haven't checked about that in some time.) I don't know how much of a potential problem it may be for these things to sit in the box for a long time without being used. That could also be a factor for the various other VCRs I've had in storage for a good while now. But it's not damp there or subject to temperature extremes, nor is dust much of a consideration.
Let me wander a bit afield here for a moment. The parts / repair situation may not be much better for the top Beta models ? (I have a lot of rare content in that format.) There are a couple of Beta decks I might still like to have repaired. There used to be a top guy for that somewhere in Northern Calif., and a specialist company in Maryland, but these may be long gone by now. And it may not be much better for primo hi-fi gear either. Has Linn gone the way of Pioneer ? (Well, outside of the U.K., anyway.)
This may sound a bit off the wall, but contrast this situation with another very niche market: it is no picnic trying to have quality repairs done for pinball machines, either. But if one needs this done and can spare the coin, this is still relatively findable. Many bigger cities still have some qualified repair people, and parts are often still available, even for some of the older tables. (There are even some repair guys who travel around certain regions, doing this on a mobile basis.) Where there has been sufficient demand, there has even been a fair amount of replacement parts, remanufactured decades later by others. We're still decidedly in the realm of esoterica, but the economics seem to be quite different. And the enthusiast factor is very different.
I certainly agree with this, and perhaps my experience in the pinball community is what causes me to be so surprised by the different attitude here. My brother has a fairly large collection of pinball machines, and I have helped him to maintain and repair/restore many of his machines over the last 10 years or so (and arcade machines for about 5 years before that). Granted, VCRs tend to have more precision-critical parts than do pinball machines, but I do find the difference in "DIY repair spirit" quite astonishing.
jczarn, I'm sorry if my replies to you seem "defeatist," but my experience with multiple AG1980 vcrs over the past nine years has not been one to foster a positive attitude. The repair situation is what it is: I understand your frustration, because I share it, myself sitting on no less than six AG1980 and AG5710 vcrs with various (and constantly decaying) states of useless signal output. I live in NYC, where we still do have a couple of supposed "pro" repair shops handling all kinds of AV gear. I've had three of them completely screw me over on AG1980 repairs, holding them hostage for months, charging close to $300 apiece and finally returning them to me in worse condition than when I brought them in. Reports from Southern Advantage clients tell much the same story. If I didn't already have many years experience with other neurotic, prima-dona electronics devices that were hell on wheels to service, I would not believe how intractable the AG1980 is to repair. But its close to impossible now, and the future outlook is grim. JOTS was the last port in the storm: those, like me, who kept stalling because we hated the idea of finding a big shipping box and mailing our 1980 to JOTS, missed our last best chance: apparently all their vcr specialists have gone and they are now no better than Southern Advantage.
The problem with the AG1980 is poor execution of a brilliant video circuit. Panasonic was feeling pressure from JVC to offer their own top SVHS vcr with TBC/DNR. JVC had evolved their circuit thru multiple models over several years, while Panasonic stubbornly stuck its head in the sand and chose not to compete. When they finally did, they offered an amazing TBC/DNR which was unfortunately constructed of a zillion discrete parts in the manner of a 1969 stereo FM circuit. It didn't matter when the 1980 was new, because it was a semi-pro vcr that was never marketed to consumers. The pros who bought them either followed the maintenance schedule for periodic servicing, or beat on them until they wore them out and replaced them. When the intricate circuit boards proved unstable, repair shops just swapped in new ones. It never occurred to Panasonic that these VCRs would fall into the hands of consumers 20+ years later who would expect them to still work perfectly: they weren't designed for that, and we're paying for it now with our collective disappointment.
It is telling that Panasonic only offered their convoluted high-performance TBC/DNR in the one AG1980/5710 model, which remained unchanged for many years, while JVC had put it in so many VCRs they got it down to a couple of integrated chips. Today, while old JVCs tend to be a trainwreck mechanically, their TBC/DNR almost always still works flawlessly. A JVC svhs or dvhs, or Mitsubishi dvhs, is far more reliable electronically than an AG1980 because of these integrated chips. The boards in the 1980 were designed for simple modular swap-out servicing, not for some poor tech to hunch over them with a soldering iron. The video board in particular was never, ever meant to be serviced: just swapped out in its entirety. The assortment of discrete caps were all assembled and tested as a unit during board mfr, when you replace these individual bits now you don't have access to the testing gear and algorithms Panasonic used. This can result in chasing your tail, because one slightly off-spec replacement part can blow the others on the board to hell, in a thrilling game of russian roulette with the soldering station.
Another "fun fact" about the 1980 is the countless service bulletin updates that were issued for it over the years, compared to the previous very similar AG1970. The 1970 went thru one or two minor mechanical revisions over its production run, but its electronics were solid, steady and remarkably durable. The 1980 was revised over and over and over in a futile attempt to make it more reliable, and to correct several glaring defects it had from the start. None of that bodes well for the random tech with no proprietary knowledge of the 1980 trying to repair it today. It used an incredibly fussy video board and power supply, which ages quickly (and poorly). The only rational way to fix it is to rip out every damn cap at the same time and replace them, the trouble with that approach is even Panasonic couldn't decide month to month what the proper specs should be. Apparently some geeks on various AV forums have figured out workarounds, but until they produce them for us to try I call B.S.
Since you only paid $7 for yours at Goodwill, and it doesn't work, you truly have absolutely nothing whatever to lose by taking NJRoadfan up on his offer to use it as a guinea pig. Heck, if I can find a big enough shipping box, I should probably send him one of mine, too (they aren't doing me any good sitting in a corner, quietly rotting).
Seeker47, I am well, thank you- hope you are, too! I took a ton of pictures at the Asbury Park Silverball Pinball Museum a few weeks ago that I've been meaning to send you- I'll let you know when get 'em out to ya. I'm also in agreement with the "can do" enthusiasm of pinball enthusiasts: I perform a *lot* of intricate repairs to all kinds of things. As you already know, I'm good at repairing all the Pioneer DVD/HDD recorders. I also service vintage Nakamichi and Kyocera CD players, Thorens and Pioneer turntables, vintage Harman Kardon receivers, mechanical-based Hasselblad and Nikon cameras and lenses, and Apple laptops. Some of these items, like the AG1980, contain one-off replaceable parts that are no longer available. Unlike the AG1980 boards, those parts can be substituted, restored, or fabricated without access to their original multimilliondollar factory. That is the key difference: those of us who have stopped banging our heads bloody against the brick wall that is the AG1980 are not defeatest. We're realists, at long last.
Regarding your AG1980 thats been sitting unused, it could go either way. They don't age particularly well in storage, and they don't do much better plugged in. They start decomposing the minute they leave the factory, so its a roll of the dice how any specific 1980 will function from a cold start. I suggest you pull it out of the closet and give it a try: if it works well, great: I hope you get lucky. If not, better to know now when you can still sell it to someone who thinks they can fix it: they're still a hot item on eBay. You should be totally fine with your Mitsubishi HS-HD2000U DVHS: these are very durable and do not deteriorate in storage. I too bought several from that eBay liquidator back in 2007 when he was blowing them out @ $159. One I've used every day for the past six years without a hiccup, two I have in storage work perfectly whenever I test them, and two I sold for a tidy profit to DVHS fanatics. The only thing you need to watch with the Mitsu is it gets very hot: make sure to give it some breathing room, and avoid using it in a closed AV cabinet.
I've got more old vcrs than I'd care to count sitting around that I swap in and out of my system. None of them has the ticking time bomb syndrome of the AG1980. My dozen other Panasonic AG, Panasonic consumer, Quasar, and GE vcrs have proven quite reliable, despite some being 20 years old. A couple of my JVCs act up now and then, but I've always had aggravation with JVCs. My mid-90s svhs Mitsus all died of the notorious loading slot self-destruct problem, which MGA finally cured in their DVHS models.
After dubbing 1800 vhs tapes (so far) to digital, I've come to realize the most important feature of the 1980 in my workflow is its ability to tame the oversaturated colors found in 30% of my tapes. In all other respects, I prefer the video rendition (and reliability) of the older AG1970 most of the time. Given the difficulty, expense, and uncertain durability of AG1980 repairs, I think I'm going to start auditioning proc amps again to see if I can find one that will dial down the chroma in similar fashion to a functional AG1980.
Last edited by orsetto; 3rd Oct 2013 at 00:18.
, I am well, thank you- hope you are, too! I took a ton of pictures at the Asbury Park Silverball Pinball Museum a few weeks ago that I've been meaning to send you- I'll let you know when get 'em out to ya. I'm also in agreement with the "can do" enthusiasm of pinball enthusiasts:
I wouldn't necessarily be scared away from using Southern Advantage. Most shops have some kind of negative feedback, and often it's somewhat unfair. At the root of the issue if the units themselves -- some are a huge PITA and cannot be fixed properly. It's the unit, not the tech. Yet people blame the shop, not the deck.
Note that you ALWAYS need to send an example tape (NOT an important one!) with the unit. That would have helped rds11.
However, the SA tech did a lousy job for rds11. No excuse for that. I'd leave SA on the list, but below better services. Jots my still be in the repair game, so give them a call. We've used them for at least 20 years.
Just called Jots this morning to see what the story is. I specifically asked if they still service the AG1980, since I heard that their VCR tech retired. The gentleman who I spoke with confirmed that he is in fact retired. However, he said that this particular tech does still come in about one day per week to work on VCRs. So he said they still definitely repair them, it just might take a little while for the work to get done (he didn't give any definite figure for how long it would take).
I asked for a rough estimate on repair costs. He said the tech usually has to replace between 25-40 caps on these units, and that the cost is usually $250-$300 plus return shipping.So it looks like there is still some hope. As I posted on the digital FAQ forum, the curious/adventurous/cheap side of me wants to crack open the unit and replace the caps myself, but the practical side of me says to just send it into Jots.
Going into the future, a DIY repair of 25-40 caps does not sound THAT BAD assuming one knows which of the 100+ those are. Not that he owes us anything, but it would be a nice gift of this tech to share his knowledge with the community if/when he retires completely. For now, I am still grateful to here that he is still around to repair these, even if on a limited basis. $250-$300 sounds reasonable to me for the labor involved and the experience required here, since it seems Jots has a much better track record than SA when it comes to actually fixing these units.
If you do send your AG1980 to JOTS, jczarn, be sure to post back here on how things work out for you. AFAIK, no one on an AV forum has reported any recent experience with JOTS since that tech retired. The info JOTS gave you clashes with what they have told others: previously they said this specialist tech was positively, absolutely gone. If he decided to come back in on a part-time basis, thats great news: anyone who is even thinking of having their VCR fixed had better send it JOTS before this guy changes his mind again.
All of the caveats I posted earlier in regards to repairing an AG1980 still apply, however. This fellow at JOTS is pretty much the *only* person one should consider paying this kind of money to. If you have a specific, pressing need for the exclusive AG1980 TBC, it might be worth paying such a pro $300+ to restore it. DIY is a waste of time unless you have some experience with this model (and even then, long-term durability of DIY repairs has not been good). I know I'm wasting my breath with some of you who think all thats required is replacing a lot of caps: the caps are the least of it. Getting the video working right involves some expertise, and this vcr was designed to burn itself out: replacing caps is an ongoing requirement. Because of this, paying a fortune to Joe Blow Random Electronics Repair is also a poor idea. Send it to JOTS, right now, and dub every tape you need to digitize within a year or 18 months before the caps go out again. Otherwise, don't bother.
For those who do not yet own an AG1980, but are considering the purchase of one based on its reputation, think twice: then its best to probably forget it. The performance rep of the AG1980 was earned entirely during its life as a current model in the '90s. They do not offer this performance once worn out, and they are ALL worn out now. For the average $200 cost of an eBay 1980 plus the $400 in repair/shipping costs from JOTS, you could buy *two* functional late-model JVC or Mitsubishi DVHS vcrs of equivalent performance (or three comparable JVC SR-V101 SVHS vcrs). Any of these will be a far better long-term investment in reliability than an AG1980. The only thing that differentiates the AG1980 TBC/DNR from JVC's version is its "full frame" operation as opposed to JVC's "line" operation. In practice, with most tapes, there is little difference to see. The TBC is of much less importance in these VCRs than the DNR, which is roughly the same on all of them. The likelihood of the special 1980 TBC being the "only cure" for a particular tape issue is vanishingly small (and can be addressed with other gear). I did love the results of my dead 1980s when they worked, which is why I haven't scrapped them yet, but even I need to pause and reflect whether I really want to risk $350 on a repair that might last only a year before it needs to be redone. The AG1980 makes the electrical system in a 1974 Jaguar XK seem low maintenance.
Last edited by orsetto; 4th Oct 2013 at 17:24.
I know it may seem like you're wasting your breath on folks like me, but I really am trying to understand what is involved here - I certainly appreciate your wisdom/input on these issues. When I question what is being said, I am not necessarily doubting but trying to gain a better understanding.
Is it really the case that these units needed all of their capacitors replaced (or at the time, boards swapped out) within the first 2 years of use? When you say the caps are the least of it - what else is there that wears out? Do you mean it is difficult to align the heads?
For the sake of argument, if one replaced every single electrolytic cap in the whole machine (and yes, I've been going through the parts list in the service manual... there are a lot!), and had it cleaned and re-aligned... should it not then work as well as it did when it was brand new - or is there something else I'm missing?
This is possible.
In the mean time, I decided to bite the bullet and send my unit in to Jots while I still have the chance. I sent it double-boxed and tried to pack it well, so hopefully it will do well in the round trip between Chicago and Arlington, TX! Sounds like it might take a while, but hopefully it will be worth the wait.
For those considering doing the same, the total weight of my package came to a bit over 20 lbs and cost about $21 to ship via UPS ground.
And much the same "Are Repairs Still Possible" issues likely would apply to this rare and pricey model, lauded here in a few threads:
Looks like a fair amount of scratch being asked for an iffy fixer-upper . . . .
Yep, those JVC "WVHS" models were an order of magnitude better than any JVC or Panasonic SVHS. Really astonishing playback when fully operational.
Unfortunately, they're also a minefield of potential repair problems that dwarf even the Panasonic AG1980. The 1980 is a morass of capacitor nonsense, but can be repaired by someone deft with a soldering iron and some clue to adjusting the video parameters. The JVC WVHS are more difficult, as they were extremely limited production with minute market penetration in North America. The WVHS chassis houses a number of modular circuit boards that were meant to be replaced in their entirety, not serviced, much like the AG1980 design. When they were current models, only two JVC techs on this side of the world were factory trained to repair them, one of whom was reputedly incompetent. No independent USA/Canada techs were trained, and no spare parts are in circulation. This is complicated by the fact none of the JVC WVHS were originally intended for sale outside of the Japanese home market: all the units in North America came from a deal JVC struck with satellite services, with Japanese-spec units merely re-labeled for USA. It was a last-ditch effort by JVC to unload its stockpile of unsold WVHS.
The biggest risk with the WVHS units is shipping damage. Several of the circuits are incredibly fragile and easily wrecked by ordinary shipping jolts. Restoring these connections varies in difficulty: some merely require reseating the boards or connectors, others require very fine soldering work thats beyond most DIY benches. A good number require total replacement of a part.
Last edited by orsetto; 4th Nov 2013 at 13:48.
Wow this is a big thread, yea I am back at the request of rds11.
Like 5 years ago was told to get an AG 1980, bought it on ebay, she basically had no picture. Took it to a repair shop. They wanted $90 to look at it. I paid it. So the guy calls me up on the phone and tells me the video drum is worn out and the electronics are bad. The cost to repair are like $700 with tax + $90. He says the machine will never work unless I get it fixed. Started drumming him with questions. He couldn't answer them. Was like you know you are full of it, I want my machine back I am fixing it myself. So I get the unit back, was like oh great what now. Spent a lot of time with it, finally got a picture and pretty good video. So I call the repair shop up and say I want my $90 back because the video drum is perfect and your tech was full of it. (The machine was not fully fixed it was just working)
I needed these machines to do video restoration work and needed them in perfect working order, because of the flaws in VHS. So I went out and purchased 4 more AG 1980 units. Now I have 5 units every single one of them has problems, some are the same, some are different. In my mind have a goal what I wanted to be able to get out of the unit. My crazy detail to things and search for perfection helped in the end. I am no different than you, I knew nothing about VCR's however repaired and re-built a computer before knowing nothing about how a computer works. That was my drive.
The first two units took a really long time and I went out and found a great repair tech who was gifted in his craft. We would go in and make an adjustment, than the video would start to have white drop outs like oxidized betamax tapes. Than the picture had random noise, and we had no display. The pictured turned B&W. The TBC caused flaws in the picture, the color was terrible. No display on the front panel. The machine would hum. Interference like when you play ATARI when you were a kid, well if you are as old as me. Yikes this is too much! Lets break it down, lets figure out what causes the picture to go to B&W, now lets try to fix it. Keep working on the flaws over and over. Granted if you have no clue about anything or how stuff works, you are going to wreck the VCR. Started to repair a broadcast deck, replaced 93 faulty caps. Did a lot of work other than that and still found a flaw in the TBC. Was like what the hell. Got in a DS545, which was basically never used and the TBC had the same flaws. It was a defect or a design flaw on Panasonics end. You know you jumped a level when you are changing or improving something the machine was built with. Ended up fixing that flaw, it is too much to write the details of the problem.
Let do a time warp back to college, I had my dad's quadraphonic pioneer receiver from the early 1970ties with a ton of watts per channel, which was sitting in my attic. . My roommate was a big stereo guy and had the new receiver and these high end speakers and he would blast me out with Metallica. Over break, decided, I was going to bring this old school machine and blow away his stuff. The problem was my receiver would short out. Went in and replaced a fuse and the thing played perfect. So I show up with this ancient thing, he is the like what the hell is that. I start pulling out his reciever and hooking up mine. What are you doing? Was like watch. Not only did I blast him out with Metallica but the entire dorm as well.
The point is in the old days some of the electronics were built really well and stand the test of time. These AG units were not built to last, they go bad. These were $2,400 machines back in the day, now they are $100 on ebay. Nobody wants to pay $1,200 for an AG1980 VCR's. Which is fine. However to get these units fully working and in playing shape you need to put money in to it. Nobody, unless you work with these units a lot, really understands what causes what in these machines.
Back to the Pioneer receiver, this thing was built like a truck, the AG unit for a VCR for its time is a pretty complex unit. Now lets take the JVC 9800, which is an awesome VCR, this thing is so simple it is not even funny. The one problem with that VCR is a few plastic gears which tend to break or go bad right under the heads of the VCR. This will cause the machine to short an go in to AUTO mode. However replacing or fixing those 2 cent gears is a nightmare and a few hundred dollar job, kind of like a headgasket in your car. That is a few thousand dollar job for replacing a $40 part.
You have to pay money to get these things fixed, with the AG units you may spend $500 or $600 and your problems are not fixed. That is the problem with paying techs who don't repair AG units to fix these VCR's. Even with my own personal unit, with in 1 year, new problems started showing up. I put about $400 in to this machine and that is with free labor and a year later put in another $100 in repairs. In the end you are basically re-building theses machines.
Personally I need a good working AG-1980 unit for some of the features it has and the detailed work that I do. If you are doing anything with video and a lot of it. You need a 9800 JVC deck, less problems and on many tapes you will get a better picture. At the end of the day you want the best results you need both...Your AG unit at some point is going to need to be tuned up and fixed.
Last edited by Deter; 24th Nov 2013 at 14:40.
Deter, since you alluded to this earlier, I wanted to ask you about the high-end Beta decks. I have a couple of them that need repairs. Their problems -- when they were last in use, a good while back -- involved an obscure "EE" error on the display panel, and unwanted stops of the tape during recording or playback. The latter would seem to be some transport problem -- maybe some sensor getting tripped, initiating a shutdown of the deck. I'm not sure now, but in some instances it may have required turning the deck Off and then back On, before the controls would function again ?
I know there used to be at least one Beta specialist outfit on the East Coast, but I don't know if they are still around. Parts are likely to be a big problem by now.
Mr. Zeppelin IV, aka Seeker47,
It sounds like the tape is getting stuck, it may be an easy fix. The guide post and pinch rollers would be the start. Yes Betamax can be hard to get parts for. What decks do you have? I only have two, one I never use and the 860D.
LordSmurf was my teacher in these forums, and still is the video Jedi Master.