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  1. Paper is best when cleaning video heads but with small camcorders video heads, this is hard or impossible. Chamois swab's surface is too smooth and I have a hard time cleaning camcorder video heads. I could apply more pressure but am afraid of damaging the video heads. I'm using 91% isopropyl alcohol. Maybe there is a better cleaning liquid that will dissolve tape oxides. If nothing better exists, I'll probably wrap paper around a stick and clean camcorder video heads with it.
    Last edited by digicube; 2nd Nov 2017 at 16:00.
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  2. Member Bernix's Avatar
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    Here https://www.videomaker.com/article/d10/2375-using-alcohol-to-clean-video-heads
    check first Question and Answer. I used always "pure" alcohol, so dont know advantages or disadvantages of isopropyl alcohol.

    Bernix
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  3. Was hoping something not hazardous or flammable but OK, I'll try it.
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    Acetone works on difficult deposits. Keep it away from plastic.
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    Originally Posted by Bernix View Post
    Here https://www.videomaker.com/article/d10/2375-using-alcohol-to-clean-video-heads
    check first Question and Answer. I used always "pure" alcohol, so dont know advantages or disadvantages of isopropyl alcohol.

    Bernix
    I find the linked article to be of questionable veracity. First of all, 99% isopropanol does contain 1% water but no oil. Secondly, denatured alcohol contains additives such as pyridine, methyl ethyl ketone, and methyl violet, so it is hardly pure.
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  6. Member Bernix's Avatar
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    in our country we have medical alcohol too. It is bit expensive but clean enough.
    And OP has 91% alcohol isosomething
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  7. Member solarfox's Avatar
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    Yeah, that answer from Videomaker is crap. Like JVRaines says, denatured alcohol contains more additives and impurities than "99% isopropanol" would -- specifically, denatured alcohol is ethanol (grain alcohol) which has had additives put in it to make it undrinkable (and thus not subject to the same liquor taxes and regulations as alcoholic beverages).

    91% isopropanol is about as pure as you're going to find outside of a chemical supply house, I think. You can get 95% pure ethanol (190 proof) which has not been denatured, under the brand "Everclear", assuming (A) you're in the US, and (B) you live in a state where the 190-proof version is legal for sale. (Some states don't allow it, and you can only find the 151-proof version there, so check the label.)

    I seem to recall that some video-head cleaners back in the day (the 80s and 90s) used some kind of freon liquid compound, rather than alcohol, but I don't remember the specific formula or if you can still get it. (Probably not, 'cause fluorocarbons are, like, evil and stuff, dude. )
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  8. Member Bernix's Avatar
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    Actually there is 96% alcohol. In Pharmacy <- that is right word for this shop in english. Called Ethanolum 96%. I think you will find more about it.
    But of course it is very dangerous!
    Bernix
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  9. Interesting discussion. I agree that I found simple paper to clean VHS video heads. As for my old digital camcorder, I used a sony cleaning cassette. I just looked on ebay and they are still available. I've recently started transferring some +20 year old 8 mm and Hi 8 analogue cassettes via my sony which can play analogue and record and play digital and was concerned about the heads. So I used the sony cleaning cassette and then recorded and played back some test video. There were no apparent faults in the video so I assume the heads are clean. Something to consider if you believe your heads are dirty.
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  10. I do have dry cleaning tapes but sometimes it doesn't work which means manual/deep cleaning is needed.
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  11. try spraying the heads with electronic contact cleaner ..

    Wouldn't recommend anyththing too strong might wreck the non metal components of the head
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  12. Member n8tvm's Avatar
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    I have always used denatured alcohol and a crisp dollar bill, roll it up small to reach hard to get places.
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    Originally Posted by solarfox View Post
    91% isopropanol is about as pure as you're going to find outside of a chemical supply house, I think.
    It used to be fairly easy to buy 99% even at my local grocery store. But that concentration is highly inflammable and the carriers/insurers don't want to be bothered with it. So everything is 91% in the stores these days. Sometimes it's behind the counter. Or you can buy it on Amazon.
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  14. Member solarfox's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Bernix View Post
    Actually there is 96% alcohol. In Pharmacy <- that is right word for this shop in english. Called Ethanolum 96%. I think you will find more about it.
    But of course it is very dangerous!
    Bernix
    Like I said, it depends on where you live. Here in the USA, you don't generally find anything higher than 91% isopropanol in pharmacies or drugstores, at least not on the general-merchandise shelves -- not that I've ever seen, anyway. Other countries may be different, of course. (And even within the USA, it may vary depending on local and state regulations, which is why that 190-proof Everclear liquor I mentioned isn't available for sale in every state.)
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  15. IPA 100% (optical grade) is easy to buy - one of most common industry solvent - safe for electronic - food grade alcohols, denatured etc are bad, IPA 91% is bad (water and impurities may be bad - medical IPA may have germicidal impurities). Acetone and or Xylene can be used if IPA not works but with precaution as JVRaines suggest.

    For those complaining for problems with buying IPA i recommend to search for solutions to clean PCB, Acetone, Xylene are available in shops with materials for screen printing (serigraphy).
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  16. I'm really happy you brought this topic up.

    As I indicated before, in the past, I used a Sony cleaning tape which worked fine for my old digital recordings. But I started converting my old 8mm and Hi8 analogue tapes. A number of them had artefacts which I attributed to age since some of these tapes are 27 years old. Anyway, based on your post, I decided to manually clean the internals of my old camcorder. In Australia, we are able to source 100% isopropyl alcohol produced by a company called "Diggers". I couldn't source chamois swabs but was able to purchase camera frame sensor cleaning swabs. I unscrewed the plastic side panel of the camcorder to get easy access to the head and rollers. I cleaned everything and recaptured my video - the results were remarkable. I'm now in the process of recapturing all my old 8mm home videos which didn't come out so well the first time around.

    I'm not an expert but I suspect the camcorder is more forgiving capturing digital vs analogue; meaning that may be easier for the camera to capture a series of zero's and ones (digital) recorded on tape rather than an analogue signal which then has to be converted to digital. So while a cleaning tape is adequate for digital, a very clean head is necessary for analogue capture (based on my experience).

    Thanks again
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    Consider also that digital tape formats employ error correction and concealment. When the data stream drops out, the player will insert instructions to repeat the same line or part of a line from the preceding frame. The image on the left shows white blocks where data could not be read from tape and the image on the right shows the result of concealment:



    Chamois swabs are really only needed for cleaning the video heads. You can use ordinary cotton swabs everywhere else; just be sure to blow out any lint that they shed.
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    I've got this stuff CRC QD Electronic Cleaner. In it's description it says it's good for head cleaning. Any opinions on using it to clean my Mini-DV camcorders head?
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    "Quick-drying" = alcohol. Sure, spend twice as much if you like the sound of something that can't be sold to Catalina Island.
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    Originally Posted by JVRaines View Post
    "Quick-drying" = alcohol. Sure, spend twice as much if you like the sound of something that can't be sold to Catalina Island.
    Not sure if I understand your reply. Are you saying the stuff is only alcohol? I already have it and the only other alcohol in the house is just 50% so I guess I'll give it a shot.
    Last edited by hpcampr; 18th Dec 2017 at 00:59.
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  21. Too bad that error correction doesn't work with audio, so what you get is high pitched beep noise which can choke a software player/encoder.
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