I understand these are a dying topic but I recently got one for free and would love to fix it. I have a bunch of new spare parts and the service manual. I just cant seem to figure out why its not working right. I have took great care in opening it and seeing what the problem is. The tape will load in fine and start on the reel, but then it just stops and the tape gets caught in it. I have experience with electronics and don't want to spend too much money on it, but i have not ever worked with vcr's so I am kinda new in this field.
Here is the link to the video
I notice at around 22 seconds into the video on the left side it starts spitting out extra tape. Any help is much appreciated. Thanks in advance!
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I think the tape door is hiding where the problem is.
So I don't think its possible to load a tape without the tape housing, but I took another video of just the main board and me turning it on and off. Theres some wicked noise but im assuming thats just because the tape housing is removed, i also took some pics of the main board maybe there's something off that i just don't notice. let me know if there's something i can take a video of to help identify the problem. It seems like something isn't grabbing to hold the tape right, but im most likely wrong. Well lemme know! Thanks again
Oh and here is a link to the video with the weird noise,,
Our member orsetto has some insight into VCR repair so perhaps he can join and tell you what you're in for. I don't remember specific models, but he's advised us that some highly sought VCR models are actually quite difficult to repair because the manufacturer used a bunch of substandard components and even if you get it repaired, it may just die again in a few more months. I just want to warn you that there's a chance that even if you fix this problem, some months from now you'll have a different problem to fix.
I'm far from an expert on VCRs, but two places I would check are the 'brake bands' that keep tension on the reels and the belts that drive the reels. Both on the underside of the deck. If the belt slips or the brakes don't hold tension, the tape could wad up.
You can also check the rubber tape rollers on top. At least clean them and the guides if needed. The deck may not run with the cover off as the end of tape sensors use light to control the motors and external light may affect them. Don't make any adjustments on anything until you know what you are doing as they can create worse problems!
Have you researched on line for some repair manuals or some general repair guides? Sometimes YouTube will have instructions on similar models that can be very helpful. Most decks of a certain vintage use a similar mechanical system.
Some of the places offering manuals may be a bit of a scam, so beware. The real manuals aren't cheap.
The JVC BR-S378U is quite an old deck, having been introduced just prior to the Panasonic AG-1970. JVCs of any vintage are usually a pain to restore compared to other brands, but the old "mid-period" units like the 378 are even more finicky. Having the service manual and some electronics repair experience will not help you with a VCR unless you also have VCR repair skills: these are electro-mechanical devices, so repairs often involve coordinating an electronic issue with a mechanical issue. Unless you don't really care if you destroy this VCR, I'd recommend you bring it to a specialist tech for repair. You can probably get a bit of a discount if you hand over the repair manual and spare parts to speed things along.
This type of slip-loop post-loading issue can have several causes. Some would be relatively simple fixes, others would be rather difficult. It could be just some old dirty grease hanging up a moving part, resulting in incorrect feedback to a sensor. Or broken/misaligned gears/belts. Or, you could have a bad sensor or failing control circuit. The first two are easy to fix if you're familiar with the unit and such repairs, the last can really defy attempts at DIY service.
The BR-378U has some handy features that are not easy to find on other VCRs (chroma adjustments, circuits to minimize chroma delay, a filter to crop headswitch noise at the bottom of the frame). These are even more useful today in making digital copies than they were in the tape era. So your 378 is well worth the expense of repairing if you need these features for an extensive tape digitizing project. The case against spending the money on repair is that the 378 dates from an era when JVCs would develop fatal flaws that stubbornly resist curing. Chief among these is a tendency to slightly erase or modify tapes during playback: you won't notice the first time you play a tape, but upon replay the next day the tape will exhibit weird distortions that are now permanent and will show no matter what VCR you try them in. There is no way to test for this defect in your 378 unless you first repair the loading issue: Catch-22.
This is the dilemma faced today by everyone who hasn't yet finished digitizing their tapes (or hasn't even begun): all the best premium VCRs have reached an age where they need major restoration to function properly, yet the premium VCRs were also perversely afflicted with issues that can bite you even after standard repairs are done. And the repairs tend to fail again rather quickly, unless you rebuild the entire VCR at once at great cost. Few of us can justify such effort and expense: most of these machines hit the point of no return around 2008 and there's no going back. The only VCRs that can be depended on today are the lowly consumer models of the 1996-2000 era that cost $10-$20 second hand (their PQ may not be great, but they work reliably and don't damage tapes). Getting truly complete restoration of a premium JVC or Panasonic SVHS in 2014 is as difficult as getting proper repairs on a 1960s German leaf-shutter film camera: there's maybe three 80 y/o techs left who understand their quirks and can do the job.
Last edited by orsetto; 20th Mar 2014 at 11:21.
@Rented_Sperry: In my opinion, free is not always good when it gives you headaches. I do hope you fix it with minimal cost. Then hopefully you finish your tapes before it (most likely) breaks down again.
@Orsetto: Another great post, but I feel for you having to console folks today on such matters. Something from your posts should be a sticky for VHS capture/repair/choices/etc for 2014 and beyond.I hate VHS. I always did.
Originally Posted by redwudzI hate VHS. I always did.
The problem with some of the decks is the capstan pulley breaks and the belt falls offI think,therefore i am a hamster.
I do have the official service manual,
Thanks first off for the detailed reply, Clearly you got some experience with VCR's. So this is probably one thing I should not attempt to DIY, though reading through the manual there is alot of aligned gears you have to have in place or it wont operate right. I made sure all those are correct and in place. As for the belts i am not too sure on this but the timing belt on the bottom seems intact, and i know theres one for the loading mechanism and its intact and its gears are properly aligned ( I believe). As for the sensors and control circuit I will not attempt because it sounds like something I shouldn't mess around with.
I really like the BR-S378U for all its features and I have tons of home movies that I need to fix up, and wouldn't mind putting some money into it as long as it wouldn't cost me an arm and leg.. But like you said I have to figure out the loading issue first which is the biggest concern.
As for rebuilding the whole thing, This machine was barely used and then sat in a garage for a couple years. So i am not sure if dust or moisture would do this sort of thing, but its possible?.
I'm sure there isn't too many people who know how to work on this as it is an older machine and not very common so i found out. I'm not even sure where I would find a specialist tech for this unless I had to send it to a company/tech?. Yeah i just don't see the people with the knowledge to work on these passing down the info to their younger generation. Its a dying feild.
Is there any way I can help you to find out the problem on this? I noticed one of the tensioners is kind of loose, but not sure if it would be the problem
Also the guy who gave me it has another one, so if he can hes going to send it my way for an extra. Maybe that one won't eat tapes. Either way I'd love to get this one fixed up and working( unless price is crazy high)
Thanks again orsetto! I appreciate you taking time out to help me!
If I remember correctly, people pay over $1000 for a complete rebuild. I've got a feeling that's more than you're going to want to pay.
I've said this before and I'll say it again. We get posts like yours all the time here from people who are now YEARS, yes YEARS, late to the "I want to save my precious VHS tapes!" party. You've gone to all this trouble to get two VCRs, neither of which may even be useable in the end, and we don't know anything about your planned work flow, capture devices, etc. For all we know your plan is to simply hook up one of these VCRs to a DVD recorder, which would make your adamant demand for this VCR a bit unnecessary. I guess it's better to start this great plan now than 2 or more years from now, but the ship has long sailed on the idea of copying tapes using the best VCRs and at this point the only realistic option for most people is to just use the best VCR they can get that works and be glad that they can still copy the tapes at all rather than freaking out that the captures won't be made on specific JVC (or other) models LONG past their expiration date. You should really describe exactly what you plan to do as I've got a feeling that your planning has gone no further than "Must... get... JVC... VCR" but it would be nice to be proven wrong. If you're using a $10 capture device, I can assure you that your belief that this JVC VCR is going to make a huge difference is quite sadly mistaken.
Originally Posted by Rented_Sperry
All were new and smelled new, but none of them worked well. I went through several of them in returns - tracking problems, spotty images, clean your vcr messages, etc. Finally, I decided to do the guy a bit for his hard time and keep one as an abuse box for rewinding, forwarding, cueing, scanning, etc, to save wear and tear on my other units that capture.
He swears they were new and sitting in a warehouse somewhere for years, at least to his knowledge. I feel bad for him.
At any rate, it's highly likely that the units just sitting and being inactive had lots to do with the problem. I do believe they were brand new. Humidity? Dust collection in sensitive parts? "Invisible dirt" in obscure areas? When I opened and cleaned mine, by hand, it played better, so maybe there's hope for yours. YouTube has tutorials on this. They actually do work.
I guess that's life buying VCR tech in the modern era...
Speaking of local, if you find a good VCR repair shop in our province please PM me.
Good luck.I hate VHS. I always did.
I want this to work because yes I have home movies that I would like to get a digital copy of. As for gone through all this trouble, They were given to me by a friend so all that trouble isn't there. Oh wait I paid 20$ for a service manual and a ton of extra parts. So right now i am running about 20 dollars plus maybe 50 cents for fuel. I have 2 Camcorders that use mini-dv tapes ( Canon Gl2 - Sony Vx1000 ) and a few 8mm to vhs adapters, And don't feel like running the tapes through my camera and burning out the tape deck in it.... I really like Vintage Stuff , Sorry i'm new to the scene. And no my plan isn't just get this to work, I just would rather run them through this then my expensive camera seeing as I got these for free.
And I have Vegas Pro on my computer for editing my films, but like I said I probably got around 30 home videos and about 50 mini dv tapes lying around and don't want to run them through my cameras...
Like I said I'm new to this scene so yeah, I'm not exactly sure what to expect as costs or problems. Sorry IF I offended you or something? I'm just trying to find a solution for this,
If you can get the second BR-S378U very inexpensively, take it and see if it works any better. Troubleshooting a funky 378 is no picnic, so if you can get another that works without futzing its worth risking $50 (given how uncommon it is to find a 378 in any condition).
I agree with PuzZLeR about "sitting around unused" being part of the problem. That goes double for sitting around in a garage: worst possible place to stash a high-end high-strung VCR that you ever plan to use again. Remember this model is more than 20 years old: odds are it sat in that garage for more than just "a couple" of years: figure a decade. Very very few of this vintage of JVC lasted much beyond three years (from new) before needing a major overhaul. Ask your friend if he ever had them serviced in the past: if he says "no," both units are almost certain to need significant work (recalibration, transport aligned, electronics replaced). You can do some of this yourself with help from the service manual, but there are aspects that only an experienced JVC tech would instinctively know to test and repair. Servicing a top-of-the-line JVC requires clairvoyance and the presence of a voodoo priestess: the repair centers I worked with back in the day dreaded a customer coming in with one. Especially if it was a weird one-off like the BR-S378U: JVC, like Sony, had a knack for tossing out model after model that was unique to itself with no family connection to anything made before or after.
The higher up you go in the early-90s JVC line, the more touchy, exotic and fragile they become. When compared to more downmarket models like a Panasonic PV-S4670, units like the JVC BR-S378U, Sony SLV-R5UC and Panasonic AG-1980 seem much better built, with all-steel chassis and elaborate discrete electronics. But looks are deceiving, and after 20 years those "well-built" designs are a bucket of snakes to to keep functional. While the mass-market models with plastic chassis and their entire complement of electronics on a single board the size of your palm just keep going and going (because nothing is exclusive to that model or made of a hundred custom bits, nothing drifts or decays).
Beyond what you can glean from the service manual, which you are fortunate to own, you can get a basic overview of VCR repairs here (a lot of the info is dated but you may recognize a few symptoms and cures). And as PuzZLeR mentioned, there are tons of VCR repair tutorials on youTube. Start here, then branch out looking for other JVC models for additional tips. Good luck to you!
Last edited by orsetto; 20th Mar 2014 at 19:38.
As for the tutorials, oh there's lots on YouTube. I saw several and I don't remember which, but the common denominator info was clear:
Use these (easy-to-find) products:
-chamois tipped swabs
-99% isopropyl alcohol
-compressed air (in a can)
-blast with compressed air
-gentle no-pressure (mostly vertical) movements
Clean these parts mostly:
-edges of the rotating video head drum (the big round one)
I honestly don't remember which I saw, but, like I said, they're all similar. Once you see a few, like I did, they will start to sound like a repeat show. You can identify the parts to your unit from the videos, or even this diagram from Wikipedia may help:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:VHS_diagram.svgI hate VHS. I always did.
Originally Posted by orsetto
Oh, the excitement never ends with this transfer project. I've made a commitment to - finally - finish it this year, and move on after one too many decades with this horrid format.
I hate VHS. I always did.I hate VHS. I always did.
- BD players
- dvd players
- lcd tv's
- digital cameras
- gaming consoles.
Many thanksStatus - Attacked by mold spores. - Pour out a lil liquor for all the homies lost in the format wars. Sanlyn will live again, a Sanlyn v2.0 if you will
Originally Posted by VideoChunksterI hate VHS. I always did.
Seems like a crapshoot where manufacturers will save a dollar using crap components or was i just unlucky?Status - Attacked by mold spores. - Pour out a lil liquor for all the homies lost in the format wars. Sanlyn will live again, a Sanlyn v2.0 if you will
Moving parts have many variables, but, if there's one curve on this, much of the reliability of electronics depends on their position in the product lifecycle, just how willing companies are to improve their wares, or how profitable it is to maintain a certain level of reliability, or the feasibility of costs and/or R&D, market supply and demand, etc. Using something like chaos theory, you can converge on an "average answer" as per product and year, and market interest, etc. However, maybe someone can come up with a better answer.I hate VHS. I always did.
Status - Attacked by mold spores. - Pour out a lil liquor for all the homies lost in the format wars. Sanlyn will live again, a Sanlyn v2.0 if you will
Originally Posted by VideoChunkster
I'm sure you can imagine the PS2 is much further along in this declining curve. (Do they still make it?)
Just like today, any "new VCR" (do they still make them?), would be built with low costs on the assembly line. The learning curve has peaked, they certainly know what works or doesn't, and know how to cut corners at this point. Reliability isn't as big a factor as it was when they sold for, like $800US (I think) at some point in the 80s.
As per your investment in a PS3, you can get one built during the 2009-2011 era, which should have higher reliability, but there's an aging to consider. Or you can get a new one with zero aging, but likely built with less reliability in mind. Another roll of the die.
Keep in mind, such theories can be a whole thesis, but hopefully it sheds some insight as to why I believe that, ceteris paribus, a product's reliability has much to do with its position in the product lifecycle at the time of its manufacturing.I hate VHS. I always did.
Originally Posted by Rented_Sperry
What I found strange was that one person was using a business card (soaked with the alcohol) to clean the video head drum's edges - maybe not to leave residual on it? That to me sounds like a good way to scratch them. I think a lint free cloth would be fine here if you don't want to use the smaller swabs.
Originally Posted by Rented_Sperry
Originally Posted by Rented_SperryI hate VHS. I always did.
BluRay players are a trainwreck, mostly due to Hollywood nonsense utterly contaminating the format. Earlier models were solid but often had nagging incompatibilities: some still work well and are preferable to newer flimsier crap for some purposes, but just as often the new chintzy units work better and are more forgiving of format issues. Its a tossup. The DVD rollout wasn't quite as bad: aside from early players having big problems with dual layer commercial movies, DVD hit the ground running. I bought the first ever 1997 Sony DVD player, model DVP-S7000, second hand from eBay a couple years ago for $50. This was a $999 unit when new, beautifully made, even the gimmicky robotic front panel still works on mine. Internal build quality is just about perfect. PQ via analog component is unbeaten even by a modern Oppo. But, it has trouble with DL movies, can't play burned DVD of any kind, can't play PC video files, and lacks HDMI. Newer DVD players are more practical, until you hit a wall with the final ones now that are as junky as a 2005 vcr.
DVD and BD standalone recorders tend to have annoyingly brief lifespans. Panasonics can last forever if you're geek enough to disassemble their drives for cleaning, every other brand is afflicted with quirky proprietary unstable burners (that are rarely DIY-replaceable). Disc recorders also seem to have the highest percentage of faulty power supply designs than any other CE item
LCD televisions with CFL backlights were expected to last 4-8 years tops: once the backlight dies, you throw the set away (CFL replacement costs more than a new TV). Current LCD with LED backlight should fare better, but there is more to a TV than the screen: we've seen an alarming increase in electronics failure (a disturbing number of Samsungs, Sonys and LGs crap out at the two or three year mark). I owned a Proton CRT monitor TV for 26 years, until its picture tube finally faded. Such longevity was not uncommon, but we will never see that with our flat panel HDTVs: if the parts don't give out, the broadcast paradigm will change again within a decade. Things move fast now.
Digital cameras mostly rely on proprietary batteries: once battery availability for a particular camera stops, the camera becomes a doorstop. And we can thank the nanny states of the EU for gifting us with the worldwide curse of "lead free solder" - this idiocy practically guarantees todays Nikon D4 will die and be unrepairable long before the 1971 F2 film camera gives out. Don't even ask about lens electronics: those $2000 "pro" zooms relentlessly flogged by Nikon and Canon will be unrepairable hulks way sooner than their owners expect. The old bromide "lenses are the best long-term investment in camera gear" no longer applies, unless you're talking manual-focus Leica and Zeiss with physical aperture rings. Anyone who's had the misfortune to deal with Nikon's service facility in Melville NY knows "AF lens repair" is the dirtiest word in digital photography.
On the flip side, theres a thriving subculture of vintage stereo component aficionados. Receivers, amps, preamps, and tuners from the 1970s were built like tanks with parts that are durable and mostly replaceable. I'm still using the Nakamichi CD player that cost me two weeks pay back in 1987: I've never heard anything to better it. Other than replacing a rubber belt, its never needed a repair, although I imagine some of the caps will need replacement soon. Even there, its hard to say: general wisdom is caps dry up and go bad after 25 years, yet the 1976 Harman Kardon receiver in my garage is still chugging along perfectly (and I know plenty of Marantz, Sansui and Pioneer owners who say the same). The issue of rapidly decaying caps didn't become a "thing" until the mid-90s, when parts quality seems to have flatlined (and every consumer electronics product developed a web thread titled "how to replace the crappy short-lived caps in this unit").
Last edited by orsetto; 21st Mar 2014 at 21:30.