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  1. Member
    Join Date: May 2014
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    Greetings everyone,
    Last week I purchased a Panasonic AG-1980. It came in cosmetically good shape, but it doesn't work properly. It loads and plays the vhs audio fine, even locks into stereo sound. The video output is the problem.... It is greenish and heavily sheared diagonally. I have tested all 3 (S-vid, composite, and VHF) outputs, all of which output the same sheared video. I also tried two different TVs. See attached photos.

    My question is - should I send it back? Im tech savvy, and if it's as simple as cracking it open and adjusting a knob or aligning it that wouldn't be a problem. I can even solder and replace faulty passive components if need be. Is there an easy way to fix this? The video tape I played is a known good one.

    Thanks to everyone in advance!!
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    Last edited by hfrazier; 23rd May 2014 at 20:36.
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  2. Member
    Join Date: Oct 2004
    Location: Freedonia
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    We have experts who can help you, but you posted on a (US) holiday weekend. Some of the experts may not be around to see your post for a few days.

    Generally speaking, the advice of "Must... buy... AG-1980..." is pretty old and dated. That advice was good TEN years ago, but maybe not today. Our experts have pointed out that this model was never designed or intended to be used until the end of time. It was made with inferior components and it's not a case of just replace a few bad components with good ones and you're good to go. The model is problematic under the best of conditions and constant repairs is the reality you are facing. If you have literally hundreds of dollars to throw at this you can keep getting yours repaired, but the repairs may not last. These models are now "rode hard and put up wet" and you're dealing with them at the end of their realistic lifespan at this point.

    Some sellers are simply dishonest. It's also possible that the seller never bothered to test it and just assumed it still worked after last using it years ago. I doubt that there's any setting or repair you can do yourself to fix this. At this point, you are REALLY late to the party to be deciding to buy this kind of VCR and try to save your precious tapes. You'd probably be better served to just buy a decent, usable VCR and prioritize your tapes, starting with what is truly most important to preserve. We got a post just last week or so from a guy who said he had TWO HUNDRED personal VHS tapes of camcorder crap he had shot that he wants to save and that is just nuts. It makes no damn sense at all to spend hundreds of dollars per VCR and all the time necessary to capture the videotapes for 200 tapes when honestly nobody, not even him, is ever going to watch all those tapes again. Prioritize what is really important and start there. And please don't be a moron and decide that you just have to copy all those videotapes you bought of Star Trek The Next Generation (or some other TV show) 20+ years ago because you paid a fortune for the set back in the day. Just buy the DVDs or BluRays for that kind of thing and get on with your life. The idea that you can actually get DVD quality from your tapes is highly unlikely. It's much more likely that in the end you're going to hate VHS and realize what an absolute piece of crap it was. It was all we had at the time, but it really really sucks for quality as you'll find out when you start capturing tapes.
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  3. Member
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    Originally Posted by jman98 View Post
    And please don't be a moron and decide that you just have to copy all those videotapes you bought of Star Trek The Next Generation (or some other TV show) 20+ years ago because you paid a fortune for the set back in the day.
    Haha, thanks for the help. It's a shame that the thing didn't work right.

    I am digitizing old family videos, just thought that it would be nice to have a good VCR. I'd like to get a 'prosumer' unit though.... Is there any model you would suggest then??
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  4. Member
    Join Date: Mar 2011
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    There haven't been any 'prosumer' vcrs made in ages to my knowledge.

    The new ones that I've seen ... not lately though, not for a couple of years ... were dvd/vcr combos and the vcr part was actually just reconditioned old ones, I think.

    With an old one condition matters a lot more than original performance at this point. More than the model.

    Many if not most vcr problems are mechanical in nature, not electronic.
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  5. Member Deter's Avatar
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    Hoser Bob, these machines have more electronic problems than mechanical. DVD VHS combo's, just ask Lord Smurf about using those....You know what the old JVC combos MV1 or 5, record great, it is just u can't use the VCR part.

    1st thing try another s-video cable and tape also try to clean out the s-video port in the back. Kind of make sure u have no splintered fragments in the s-video port. Than try to clean the heads.

    More than likely send this one back. No picture on these units are a nightmare to fix, you can use it as a project to try to learn how to fix these VCR's. However when I first started working with these units, the 7 or 8 techs I sent these AG units to, could not fix them. It took me a year to learn how to rebuilt these.

    If what I wrote above doesn't work, I can fix this, but no picture usually means it is going to cost a lot and a few months or a long time to repair.
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  6. Member
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    Originally Posted by hfrazier View Post
    I am digitizing old family videos, just thought that it would be nice to have a good VCR. I'd like to get a 'prosumer' unit though.... Is there any model you would suggest then??
    Maybe our veteran member orsetto will join the thread and make a suggestion. At this point the "prosumer" advice is really old and it's probably safer to ignore it. The best current advice is to avoid DVD recorder/VCR combos and go for a standalone VCR only because some old tapes may require the help of a TBC (time base corrector) to get them recorded correctly and you can't use a TBC if you have a combo unit.

    There's another lengthy thread going on now about the AG-1980 if you want to look. orsetto, who I mentioned earlier, has posted lengthy responses in numerous threads about how the AG-1980 advice is outdated and how problematic these units are. A lot depends on how fussy you are and whether "just want to get it done" is a higher factor than "will spends months or years on a single tape if necessary to improve quality". My suggestion would be to lean towards the "just get it done" camp. Every year you wait to do this, the more difficult it becomes as good quality VCRs start vanishing because other people are waking up to the idea that maybe they should start to copy those tapes now and they are buying those good quality VCRs before you can. "Good quality" no longer means models like the AG-1980 but maybe something like a JVC that hasn't been put through the wringer already by someone else.

    If you stick around here you'll see that VHS tape capturing is a religious issue to many. One of our long term members who cared way too much about this subject got pissed off and left because a few members criticized him for insisting that his way of doing this was the only way possible and giving a lot of impractical advice. The real truth is that most people just want it done and aren't that fussy about quality. Let's be honest - most of your tapes may only get watched one more time after you save them, maybe not even that one time. It really doesn't make sense for you to spend inordinate amounts of time and money on this to "save" these tapes only to find out that your wife, kids and friends and relatives have no interest in watching them. Some of our members push for very time consuming processes that provide really marginal improvements in quality, like maybe 5% or less better than doing it quickly. We don't know what you're doing with the AG-1980 any way, so it could be that buying that is a complete waste of money because the rest of your workflow can't even take advantage of it if you had a good one to use.
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  7. Member orsetto's Avatar
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    Send this AG1980 back for refund, then proceed in life as if you'd never heard the AG1980 existed. Today, in 2014, it is a complete dead-end: a money-sucking, life-draining PITA that drives most of us up the wall, thru the ceiling, until we smash thru the roof shingles. Truly, do yourself a ginormous favor and just forget it.

    You can read more of the same on this current thread and many others. The AG1980 was a dream machine in its day, but it has design flaws one can drive a truck through and simply was not built to survive past Panasonic supporting it with factory trained service and parts. Don't get me wrong: it is nice to have as a backup option for tapes that aren't compatible with the similar JVC deluxe VCRs. But as Deter mentioned, they vary wildly in baseline performance and you could spend a king's ransom repairing one that turns out to be mediocre. If you have money and time to burn, then sure, why not have at it: there are worse addictions. But if you are like most of us here, with normal budgets and actual offline lives, run far away from the AG1980. If you need built-in TBC/DNR, pick up one of the much more plentiful JVCs, the newer the better. Or the DVHS Mitsubishi HS-HD2000.

    Do be aware that opinion is sharply divided on whether a "prosumer" VCR with TBC/DNR offers any real advantage when digitizing family tapes (personal camcorder videos). Camcorder tapes are usually original first-generation, which TBC/DNR does not do a whole heck of a lot to improve and may in fact make worse. It depends on the camcorder and whether the person making the videos had a clue how to operate it. So if you chase down a "prosumer" VCR, be sure you get it from a cool seller with no-questions-asked return policy. You run a 50/50 chance of buyers remorse on these VCRs, despite all the praise from ten years ago there's no guarantee they'll blow YOUR socks off. You may wonder what all the hype was about after you get one.
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  8. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
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    It's just a simple capacitor issue. It costs about $300 to fix (50+ caps inside need to be replaced), but it's worth it. Even many "okay" units need repairs. Panasonic AG-1980 decks are all hitting the 10+ year mark, so they all needs servicing.

    It's a good VCR. Just have it fixed.

    Remember that this is pro gear that was about $2k new.

    This idea that it's "too old" or "not worth it" is horseshit.

    The alternative is just live with bad quality, using a crappy consumer VCR from Walmart or Best Buy. For many of us, that's not an option.
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  9. Member orsetto's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
    It's just a simple capacitor issue.
    No, it isn't: the AG1980 isn't a vintage piece with caps the size of your thumb attached with big wires in big mounting holes. It is littered with small caps that are practically surface mount: hell on wheels to work on for techs without a very fancy workstation. Even then, it isn't a simple whistle-while-you-work job.

    Remember that this is pro gear that was about $2k new.
    Original price new 20 years ago doesn't mean jack re the 1980 today. Landfills are full of overpriced "pro" gear that was built far worse than consumer gear: the AG1980 was made for shit. The previous lookalike AG1970 is practically indestructible, I have three running around the clock because they excel with a specific type of tape. Of my nine AG1980s, one works (barely) while the other eight died within weeks or months of purchase (and tenaciously resist all repair attempts).

    This idea that it's "too old" or "not worth it" is horseshit.
    Its horseshit to YOU, because you use them professionally and can justify the cost/inconvenience. You also apparently have command of a magic genie who repairs your 1980s perfectly within days for only $300, and seals them with another magic spell to keep them from self-destructing ever again. Thats wonderful for you, but nobody else here has that luck. If you know a solid, professional repair tech (under 80 y/o) that welcomes any number of AG1980s for repair, and happily overhauls them speedily for a mere $300 with a year guarantee, by all means post it here and the 100 people sitting on these turkeys following this thread will flood that shop with them. At $300 the AG1980 just barely manages to be worth the repair investment, beyond that is effing ridiculous when a newer JVC or Mitsu with "TBC/DNR on indestructible microchip" can be bought for the same money. The AG1980 was good as an alternative player for tapes that didn't "like" the JVCs, but it isn't a life or death issue. It sucks that the 1980 isn't reliable and workarounds to emulate it are difficult/impossible, but it is what it is.

    The alternative is just live with bad quality, using a crappy consumer VCR from Walmart or Best Buy. For many of us, that's not an option.
    No one is recommending that as the sole option. A JVC or Mitsubishi with TBC/DNR will do most of what the AG1980 did, in some cases better, in some cases worse. They will work for most tapes and be reasonably reliable. There are ways to fudge some of the AG1980-specific benefits, but most home users are unlikely to need that if they have a JVC or Mitsu on hand. Again, its individual priority: if money and time are not a problem, the 1980 can be repaired if it proves absolutely indispensable to a project. That isn't the situation for most of the new people asking about the 1980: they wouldn't know what TBC/DNR was if it dropped a safe on their heads, much less tell the slight TBC/DNR performance difference between AG1980 and JVC/Mitsu.

    You have a pro techs understanding of the AG1980 and know exactly where/when to exploit it. You've also owned most of yours for quite some time and have a good grasp of their individual specific history and performance. Someone just grabbing one today off eBay, however, is opening a Pandora's box of- yes- "horsehit". They should know what they're getting themselves into, and not set their expectations by posts you and I and others made a decade ago when functional 1980s (and local repairs for them) were still fairly easy to come by. Most of them today are the walking dead. I loved my 1980s when they worked, but I've spent enough on repairs to buy myself a used car and 8 out of 9 STILL sit in my rack with video problems (mind you, eight different problems).
    Last edited by orsetto; 24th May 2014 at 15:37.
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  10. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
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    I was mostly gone from VH for 2 years, and I've come back to a Bizarro World version of the site. This "oh, too hard! give up now!" attitude didn't exist for most of the life of this site. I've gotten disgusted by this lately. This idea that home users cannot achieve high quality -- as if some sort expensive magic is needed -- is exactly why I started to post here in 10+ years ago. It's not an impossible task, but simply one that requires knowledge and money.

    I/we give my/our knowledge here at VH, so all you need is money.

    So yes, it costs money. I'm not disputing that. If the DIY investment isn't worth it (and often it is not for small projects, I agree!), then use a service. But DO NOT simply give up and use a POS VCR. That advice sucks.
    Last edited by lordsmurf; 24th May 2014 at 16:25.
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  11. Member
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    Hey everyone,
    Thanks for all the replies!

    After some gentle percussive maintenance (tapping) with a small plastic screwdriver I narrowed the issue down to a certain area of the main circuit board assembly. A clear video signal would come and go... In past projects I've had luck with moving the pots back and forth, so I tried it....

    It turns out that the 'EE Y Level Adjust' was dusty. A little de-oxit and some movement got it back into working order!


    ..I wonder how long it'll last...

    Click image for larger version

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    PS- I know that some of you said to send it back. Yeah, I know, the things damn old and no telling how much longer it'll last but its pretty cool looking... and at least now I can get some of those precious home movies on the computer!
    Last edited by hfrazier; 24th May 2014 at 19:21.
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  12. Well that was unexpected.
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  13. Member
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    Originally Posted by vaporeon800 View Post
    Well that was unexpected.
    I know, I was pleasantly surprised! The only problem now is that the stereo locks on only when I manually adjust the tracking, but not automatically. If I press both tracking up and down buttons, to preform an auto-tracking, the stereo will lock on only for a few seconds. Is there any way I can align the audio head(s)??
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  14. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
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    The audio issue may be the tape tracking - not the VCR.
    This is common.
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  15. Member
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    Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
    The audio issue may be the tape tracking - not the VCR.
    This is common.
    Oh ok. I guess I'll try some other tapes. The one I used was a brand new, freshly removed from its shrink wrap, so I figured that it would be good... Never know might still be..


    Thanks!
    Last edited by hfrazier; 25th May 2014 at 09:28.
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  16. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by hfrazier View Post
    brand new, freshly removed from its shrink wrap,
    That doesn't mean anything when it comes to VHS tapes.
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  17. Member
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    Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
    Originally Posted by hfrazier View Post
    brand new, freshly removed from its shrink wrap,
    That doesn't mean anything when it comes to VHS tapes.
    Gotta love analog tech.
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  18. Member PuzZLeR's Avatar
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    BTW, just curious, did your 1980 come up with a new problem by now? I remember cleaning both of mine out, each, quite thoroughly. And they worked - for a bit, or maybe it was just wishful thinking.

    One of them is dead now anyway. The other still has many issues.

    Good luck.

    Originally Posted by hfrazier View Post
    Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
    Originally Posted by hfrazier View Post
    brand new, freshly removed from its shrink wrap,
    That doesn't mean anything when it comes to VHS tapes.
    Gotta love analog tech.
    I hate VHS. I always did.
    Last edited by PuzZLeR; 31st May 2014 at 10:45.
    I hate VHS. I always did.
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