I have a Panasonic AG-1980 that has barely been used by me and has been sitting around unplugged for a couple years. The video is now very dark with a bit of shaking. How dark and how much of it is dark fluctuates, usually the top half of the screen is the darkest bit. It's not the brownish dark like with Macrovision, but almost black sometimes. It's the same on my TV and computer. When I fast forward, the video looks as it should. It will barely play at all if I turn off the TBC, only showing a brief image occasionally. It doesn't matter if it's a purchased tape or one I recorded myself. Also, every time the tape starts playing the screen is almost completely covered with static for about 30 seconds, even if I just did a fast forward, rewind, or pause.
Does anyone know what the reason for this might be? Do you think cleaning the machine might help? Thanks.
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Last edited by Dorian; 12th May 2013 at 21:15. Reason: additional information
The AG1980 is a bit of a paradox: amazing performance, more predictable and reliable in tracking and TBC/DNR than other similar VCRs, but incredibly temperamental. While relatively modern, they employ a retrograde circuit topology composed of dozens upon dozens of discrete caps instead of the custom IC chips you would expect. The result is unstable degradation of performance over time if they are not regularly serviced (and by regularly, I mean once a year for the life of the machine). This is the sharp divide that separates the older, similar AG1970 from the AG1980: the AG1970 was practically bulletproof in reliability, but cannot deliver the output quality of the AG1980, which despite its better specs used a much poorer power supply, tape transport, and circuit boards.
Your problem sounds like the typical tale of woe reported by owners who stored their AG1980 unused for months or years, only to have it self destruct upon the next powerup. It probably needs a thorough overhaul, refurbishment of the PSU, and replacement of dead or faulty caps in the video and TBC boards. This is not usually a task for your local repair shop: the AG1980 is a twitchy beast best serviced by techs who know what to look for and how to repair it efficiently. The most highly rated repair service for the AG1980 (or similar JVCs) would be JOTS Electronics in Arlington, TX.
Before shipping it in for repair, you could try some simple troubleshooting. Carefully cleaning the heads with professional chamois swabs might help if the screwy video is caused by clogged heads. Try changing the output cables to a different set of connections: the AG1980 has several SVHS and BNC jacks, any one of which can go wonky from bad solder joints. If using the SVHS connections, try different cables: the pins often go out of alignment and cause weird video problems. Finally, try leaving it powered up for a week: there's a small chance the power supply and video circuits might stabilize with use after sitting dormant for so long.
Thanks for the info. I'll give your suggestions a try, but I'm not holding out much hope.