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  1. Member
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    reviving that thread again... so i cleaned first and am asking questions later! i did the worst case scenario - i used cotton swabs and rubbed them up and down on the drum. this was the second time i did that, i might add. the first time the results were actually fine - playback improved, now i get no video signal. after reading these posts i think i may have damaged my video head.

    ok tough luck. what i still don't understand though, is why that damages the heads. if lint was caught, why doesn't it come off when using, say pressured air. what makes that damage permanent?

    more specifically, i hear audio, but video out shows some static and bits of the image for an instant, maybe for a second or so, then there's nothing. i can repeat that any number of times on any number of tapes.

    thanks,
    stefan
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    It's my understanding that the head is very fragile. Causing it to move slightly up and down due to your cleaning motion
    may have actually broken it inside.
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  3. I'm a Super Moderator johns0's Avatar
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    The heads are very brittle and need to be cleaned side to side,move up and down on the head will cause it to break since it's mounted vertically.
    I think,therefore i am a hamster.
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    Dave is right. Whilst the head DRUM is metal and hard to damage, the heads themselves are protruding from the drum by just a tiny bit. They are made from ferrite (a fragile ceramic like material) and are very thin. Therefore when you put pressure on them they will likely crack off altogether.

    This is a (Beta) head disk http://static.photo.net/attachments/bboard/00Z/00ZTdw-407193684.JPG and this is the head itself http://static.photo.net/attachments/bboard/00Z/00ZTdx-407195684.JPG and you can see the windings and the tip clearly. VHS is the same but the head disk is replaced by the metal head drum. I took these photos when I was studying head design.

    I have noted that as heads wear down, they become more fragile so that is why they may have broken this time.
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  5. I clean everything literally ( VHS video heads, DVD head, keyboard, mouse, car indoor, my phone, remote and from recently even my VHS tapes themselves with 98% ethanol from drug store, I even tried once to clean my HAF 922 case but I ruin the black color and I had to repaint it with spray (black blue combination looks awesome .


    I usually clean the heads with plain white copier paper ( sliced in to chamois tips shape pen long and narrow as two fingers) and then gently from side to side not up and down keep firmly with fingers the paper and rotate the drum, then with q tips and alcohol clean all the rest including the pinch roller ( although somebody says that it will make it hard because of the alcohol and suggest water on rubber, but even on my ( in my possession) 10 years vcr it still no rubber hardening effect it is in great shape with no changing It as I can see so far tapes play smooth. Maybe it is scientifically incorrect but did it more than hundred times and the vcr plays perfectly after cleaning.

    LS just of curiosity with respect to your knowledge why you are suggesting on your site no paper ( when I heard that all of the old school vcr mechanics use it with decades )
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  6. Preservationist davideck's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by stefangs View Post
    more specifically, i hear audio, but video out shows some static and bits of the image for an instant, maybe for a second or so, then there's nothing. i can repeat that any number of times on any number of tapes.
    If you still see image, then your heads may still be OK. Try cleaning them again, and again if you notice improvement. No improvement might mean that you misaligned the heads. I had to repeat cleaning at least five times on a VCR that I thought was gone. Don't give up yet!
    Life is better when you focus on the signals instead of the noise.
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    Originally Posted by davideck View Post
    If you still see image, then your heads may still be OK. Try cleaning them again, and again if you notice improvement. No improvement might mean that you misaligned the heads. I had to repeat cleaning at least five times on a VCR that I thought was gone. Don't give up yet!
    i will give that a try, thanks. if it's broken, at least i can't break it any more., just got to refrain from up/down action i'm so used to from my audio gear!

    i imagine head alignment is not something you can do yourself without a shop full of special gear, right?

    stefan
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    Originally Posted by stefangs View Post
    Originally Posted by davideck View Post
    If you still see image, then your heads may still be OK. Try cleaning them again, and again if you notice improvement. No improvement might mean that you misaligned the heads. I had to repeat cleaning at least five times on a VCR that I thought was gone. Don't give up yet!
    i will give that a try, thanks. if it's broken, at least i can't break it any more., just got to refrain from up/down action i'm so used to from my audio gear!

    i imagine head alignment is not something you can do yourself without a shop full of special gear, right?

    stefan
    It may have been mentioned earlier (see added comment), but there are special swabs made to clean video tape heads. There are a chamois type material wrapped around a plastic strip of about 1/4" x 2". I dip them in 91% isopropyl alcohol (higher % would be better if available) then hold it up against the drum with the large flat part in contact with the drum and rotate the drum around manually, be sure to avoid up and down motion with the swab. NEVER use a cotton swab or Q-tip on video heads, you will either bend them because the cotton will snag on gap in the head, or get material from the cotton swab stuck in the head gap.

    I had tried to clean the heads (on a Beta VCR) at one time with Q-tips and bent the heads. Had to have them replaced, a lot more expensive than the special swabs. My local electronics hobby supply store carries them, and they typically come in packs of 10 or so.

    Good luck on the cleaning retry maybe you will luck out - meant in a good way.

    rcubed

    Note I just searched the thread and would agree with the advice given by BrainStorm69
    Last edited by rcubed; 29th Feb 2012 at 04:41.
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    Do you have a 50mm SLR lens? Using that (at wide open aperture) as an eyeglass gives the perfect magnification to physically check VCR heads for wear/damage. By using in conjunction with a small LED torch and looking at each head slot closely you can soon see if one is snapped or missing. You need to get close in on the head so disconnect the VCR from the mains. Each head should look like the very tip of the second photo I posted - any sharp angles or copper wire hanging out means damage.
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  10. Preservationist davideck's Avatar
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    stefangs -

    You could also try to make a short recording to see if the VCR can playback its own recording. If it can, then the heads may be clean but out of alignment. If it can't, then the heads might still be dirty or damaged. Just a guess...
    Life is better when you focus on the signals instead of the noise.
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    Originally Posted by Quasipal View Post
    Do you have a 50mm SLR lens? Using that (at wide open aperture) as an eyeglass gives the perfect magnification to physically check VCR heads for wear/damage.
    that's a good idea... i actually took a picture of all four heads. they look pretty much the same to me. i can't imagine that i would have broken all 4 heads at the same time! i see if i can upload these images - perhaps you see if they look good. it's difficult to get this tiny thing in focus but i think it is good enough.

    stefan
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    Originally Posted by davideck View Post
    stefangs -

    You could also try to make a short recording to see if the VCR can playback its own recording. If it can, then the heads may be clean but out of alignment. If it can't, then the heads might still be dirty or damaged. Just a guess...
    good idea - i remember back in school we had an otari 8-channel multitrack deck that could only play back its own recordings with any kind of quality! i'll report what i find.

    very helpful forum here folks. thanks very much!

    stefan
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  13. I use a coffee filter.
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    Originally Posted by davideck View Post
    stefangs -

    You could also try to make a short recording to see if the VCR can playback its own recording. If it can, then the heads may be clean but out of alignment. If it can't, then the heads might still be dirty or damaged. Just a guess...
    i did what you suggested and the picture is there! i'm not sure if that's better than broken heads, though. having the heads aligned will also likely cost more than a new VCR, i imagine.

    anyway, that was a very interesting experiment!

    stefan
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  15. Preservationist davideck's Avatar
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    That makes me wonder if it is your Control Track head that is dirty. Did you clean it, too?

    Your video heads may be OK. I don't see any obvious damage in your photos. I do notice a bit of residual dirt on the upper drum in #1 and #3.

    Does the tracking control make any difference during playback?
    Life is better when you focus on the signals instead of the noise.
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    Just wanted to say I successfully cleaned the heads on two VCRs yesterday using techniques I read about on this site. I used a coffee filter (on the head drum), 91% alcohol, and eye shadow applicators on the erase and audio heads.

    I'm not a technical person, but the procedure was easy and the results so worth it. The heads were seriously clogged after I recently played a tape that unbeknownst to me at the time was shedding oxide particles. Dry cleaning tapes didn't help at all. I couldn't believe all the gunk that came off during the cleaning process.

    Incidentally, here is a YT video I found that helped a lot...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ccjt5C4NJKY
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  17. Preservationist davideck's Avatar
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    stefangs -

    Do you have access to a second VCR? Another interesting experiment would be to see if the recording you made can be played on another VCR.
    Life is better when you focus on the signals instead of the noise.
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    Originally Posted by davideck View Post
    stefangs -

    Do you have access to a second VCR? Another interesting experiment would be to see if the recording you made can be played on another VCR.
    that's what i want to try. i have a chance to borrow one next week and i'm very curious as to what will happen! in the meantime, since my unit is of no use to me, i'm going to attempt cleaning again with my newly gained knowledge. who knows what can happen... i'll keep you posted.

    stefan
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    Originally Posted by davideck View Post
    That makes me wonder if it is your Control Track head that is dirty. Did you clean it, too?

    Your video heads may be OK. I don't see any obvious damage in your photos. I do notice a bit of residual dirt on the upper drum in #1 and #3.

    Does the tracking control make any difference during playback?
    the tracking controls make no difference. how do i identify the control track head? i know where the audio head is, but not the control track head. i thought that's part of the video head. i will also search some more.

    stefan
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    well... what do you know!? today i started the machine just because and... it worked perfectly well!

    before you yell 'bad cables', let me say that all on-screen menus that travel through the same line, were visible all the time. so if any connection is flaky, it must be inside the recorder. i'm now digitizing tapes and hope it will hold until i'm done!

    i can't believe it. thanks to everyone who responded and made me stick it out!

    stefan
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  21. Preservationist davideck's Avatar
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    Just as a word of caution, your VCR might be encountering tape threading issues when it does not playback properly, possibly damaging the tape. If you can now playback the segments that you could not before, then things are probably fine.
    Life is better when you focus on the signals instead of the noise.
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    Originally Posted by davideck View Post
    Just as a word of caution, your VCR might be encountering tape threading issues when it does not playback properly, possibly damaging the tape. If you can now playback the segments that you could not before, then things are probably fine.
    yes, it is playing back the stuff it didn't before. just to be sure, i opened the shell flap on several tapes and they all look fine, as far as i can tell. so i think it's working ok. i'm having a different image problem though, but that would be hijacking thei thread and may or may not be VCR related, so i'm continuing over here:

    https://forum.videohelp.com/threads/344165-problem-on-captured-VHS-frames

    would be great if you could check that out.

    thanks again,
    stefan
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    Hello all VCR enthusiasts,
    Let me revive this thread...
    I am attaching the screen capture during playback.
    I think one or more video heads will not work.
    Because when I tried to clean the video heads, some stick out and some don't (I don't feel the resistance/thump when I run the paper over the video head).
    I assume that some video heads are already worn out a lot from long playback (they protrude very a little) and therefore do not have contact with the tape and the image is not visible in the lower part.
    Do you agree?
    Or is it possible that the problem is elsewhere?
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    It certainly looks like a worn head. Do you have an old 50mm manual SLR lens kicking about? Using this (look from front to back with aperture wide open) with a small bright LED light such as an AAA one, you can visually check each head chip for larger damage and wear. By moving the light source and your viewing angles you can see the amount of flattening across the rounded head chip. Look at a known good head if you have one and you can soon distinguish a worn down head.

    But getting back to your picture this looks like a worn head sadly.
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    Quasipal:
    OK and Thank you for confirming my assumption.
    Is it possible to determine which coil (head) processes which part of the picture for six-head VCR?
    I looked on the Internet and could not find anywhere how the resulting picture is transmitted from individual heads (coils)...
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    Wow, this is taking me back a bit (although I still have a VHS recorder for recording tape to PC). Cleaning tapes were absolute crap. But, for those who were frightened of getting their hands dirty and opening up the box, the only solution. This is my advice from years of experience. Never ever use cotton buds, etc. Video heads are fairly robust, but can be easily broken (they are essentially thin slivers of glass). Use a tiny piece of lint free cloth, failing that, and some will gasp in horror here, but it has always worked for me, a small piece/wad of toilet paper folded into a small 1/2" square a few times. Soak it in IPA (Isopropyl alcohol). Gain access to the heads on the drum (you may have to remove some metal shielding). Place the wad on a head gently (do not exert pressure) and gently rotate the head back and forth so the wad is passed over the head a few times. Repeat with any other heads on the drum. Keep the wad static, use the rotating of the head to do the cleaning. For the audio head, you can be a bit more aggressive. Wait until IPA is dry (you can blow on it a bit to help). Reassemble. That's it.

    The next lesson would be replacing heads, but that's another story lol.

    Somebody asked when should you clean heads. Easy, when the picture becomes noisy.
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    Originally Posted by deccavox View Post
    a small piece/wad of toilet paper
    Never do that. Random materials in TP.
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  28. "Toilet paper???" That must be a joke.

    Cleaning tapes were not a joke, and compared to having people poke around inside their VCR, not knowing what they were doing, they were relatively safe if used for only a few seconds.

    The cleaning tapes which used chamois and cleaning solution (rather than abrasive tape) were actually not only safe but reasonably effective. They provided a very good approximation of how cleaning should be done (with a flat chamois stick wetted with pure isopropyl).
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    Originally Posted by johnmeyer View Post
    The cleaning tapes which used chamois and cleaning solution (rather than abrasive tape) were actually not only safe but reasonably effective.
    Which cleaning tapes used chamois?
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    Originally Posted by johnmeyer View Post
    Cleaning tapes were not a joke,
    I'm sure some were quality, but most were crap that actually made matters worse. At best, push around dirt (not clean), at worst, damage the heads.

    They provided a very good approximation of how cleaning should be done (with a flat chamois stick wetted with pure isopropyl).
    Chamois, closed-cel foam, SLR swabs, 20 lb copy/printer paper.
    91%+ IPA
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