I volunteer at a Dutch public observatory, mostly concerning myself with digitizing their archive consisting of reel to reel audio tapes, slides, 8/16mm film and news papers.
This month, one of the other volunteers has done an interesting discovery at his basement: A Philips N1700 VCR with a ton of VC cassettes. He recorded these at the time.
[Attachment 55946 - Click to enlarge]
[Attachment 55947 - Click to enlarge]
This collection is interesting because it contains early 80s home recordings of Dutch, Belgium and German broadcasts related to space exploration during this time. Including the Space Shuttle, Soyuz, Voyager probes and other such projects.
Very fitting for the observatory archives and YouTube channels. A project I am really looking forward to digitizing...
Currently I have not yet looked at the items in person, though I hope to soon.
Here are some things I am going to check out and expecting to see:
1. Condition of the tapes, has the binder remained intact, the base flexible. Is there mold, dust or dirt inside?
2. Is the VCR in functioning condition? What is the condition of the video and audio heads?
3. How to go about digitizing the tapes in the best achievable quality?
I do not know in what condition the tapes and VCR were stored. Hopefully in a good, consistent climate...
As for the VCR, in all likelihood, the belts have perished, the tape path needs cleaning, mechanism needs relubrication and deteriorated components need to be replaced. I believe as long as the audio, video heads and motors that drive all the mechanisms are good, repair by component replacement is possible.
That brings us to the digitization process. I do have a little experience with capturing VHS tapes, but not much.
I do not have a capture card with analog RF TV input, which is what the N1700 outputs.
Are there any cards you can recommend? I would prefer something that uses PCI-E, so I can put it in my modern PC.
What are the opinions on the Hauppauge WinTV HVR-5525HD? I already have a Hauppauge USB2 with S-video, so it would work with the WinTV software I already have installed, a plus!
With tapes and equipment this old, is a TBC importand for good quality captures? What are good starter-units?
Any idea what TV signal format this VCR outputs? What should I capture the signal as? Recommended resolutions? and is it interlaced
Eventually these films will be put on my YT channel, and perhaps we can find something for them at the observatory.
Thanks a bunch
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Last edited by Dutchsteammachine; 22nd Nov 2020 at 17:31.
Walk before running.
Inspect the tapes, inspect the deck. Then get back to me.
Capture card and TBC need careful planning here, not random advice. Something like this is too important.
You can add composite out to the unit as demonstrated in this video:
Alternatively, if you are in the UK you can send the tapes to him and he will transfer them for you, He is an old school though still using DV for capturing but you can ask him to use lossless AVI I'm pretty sure he a way to do it.
Will take this step by step and keep the topic updated.
These tapes have the potential to contain material that has not been archived officially. I am going to get a bunch of known good tapes elsewhere that I can use for testing, 'scratch' tapes.
When the recorder works and doesn't damage the scratch tapes, I will try with one of the space tapes (:
The owner brought the VCR and tapes. Together with a reel to reel audio tape and a small flatscreen TV monitor with analog in. Useful, because I don't have a TV with analog RF in. Flatscreen TV seems pretty old, with component and composite in also. Hopefull it works.
VCL tapes all look good. Clean and shiny. No dust, dirt or mold inside any of them.
Two belts have gotten hard, replaced them, one to the video head and one to the capstan. Counter belt seemed to still be OK, it counts so....
Video head looks clean, heads still shiny. Cleaned them carefully with a chamois swab. Left a few streaks on the swab but that was it.
Audio head looks slightly corroded, some green/blue spots on the front. Should be able to polish this off carefully.
A clean machine overall, mechanism and electronics.
First power on, clock works so at least those electronics and the PSU works.
Without a tape it seems to sound OK. No inconsistent whirring or strange noises. Everything appears to work as it should.
Tried one of the tapes I got already for testing purposes. The VCR opens the cassette up at the front and right parts.
Wraps front tape around the drum. Top reels turns a bit to give slack for tape wrap up. So far so good...
Pressing play pushes the pinch roller on the right against the capstan with the tape in-between, and the tape starts spooling on the top reel consistently. No weird noises, tape seems to run through the mechanism and around the head with ease. Audio head also gets pushed against the tape.
Connected the RF out to the flatscreen TV and set the TV to search through the entire Mhz range.
Alas... nothing. Just keeps on searching in a cycle. No signal.
I tried connecting RF out of the Philips VCR to my S-VHS VCR and then S-Video out to my PC capture card. Nothing, either.
What is the best course of action? I do have a Tektronix 2225 2-channel 50Mhz scope, I should be able to use this to measure the RF signal right? Don't know what settings to use.
Does the N1700 have a set output channel, or was this user adjustable?
Shoot an e-mail to video99.co.uk he works on this stuff and he should be able to at least give you a hint on where to start, Alternatively since you have an oscilloscope try probing the RF point inside the PCB to see if there is signal, here is the service manual attached:
It has been a while. I have been talking on other forums on repairing some problems with the machine, and to build an AV amp circuit to circumvent the broken RF modulator. Installing AV is something commonly done with Philips VCR N units.
Some weeks and component shopping later, sound, video, colour!
Excuse the mess:
And some quick captures, the first:
Yes, they suck. I really need to get a TBC, a proper capture card and capture software.
What are your recommendations for analog video tape capture equipment?
did you try playing the tapes in your svhs machine directly to your capture card using the svid out?--
"a lot of people are better dead" - prisoner KSC2-303
I probably didn't make this clear enough.
Philips first released the VC system, then VLC, then Video 2000, and after that went with VHS like everybody else.
See here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Video_Cassette_Recording
Oh wow, you had the mod done quicker than I thought, At least now you get a working machine. For composite capture there are some pro capture devices designed for low quality signals such as Video2000, VCR, Betamax and VHS but finding them for a reasonable price may take some time since you want to get it done now. Aja, Ensemble Designs and Black Magic made great devices back in the 2000's, they do require an SDI PCI card since they have SDI digital out only. Otherwise a consumer capture card or device should work fine but in most cases they require an additional external TBC and those are not cheap, like $1500. If you go that route just don't buy non brand Chinese stuff.
a Panasonic DVD-recorder from the series DMR-EH50 to EH60
(they have a great built-in TBC) - but the recorder should be used for loop-through; capturing can be done with a card (more about that later)
one of the best capture cards are still the older ones with either a BT8x8 or CX2388x chipset.
buy one of those and use the Panasonic only as a TBC.
every Windows PC will work with a PCI(!) slot for the capture card. I reccomend Windows 7 or XP.
One tends to forget the 'fun' one had in tuning in a CRT tv to the RF output of a vcr (which changes in whatever country you are in). Twas only when European vcrs had a euro-scart output that things got a way bit easier.
And here we see a classic situation of a home tape standard totally ignored by anyone other than Phillips - including their last foray ie v2000
Now I might simplify things here but I would have thought there is hardware that converts a pure RF signal to a composite one that is receivable by standard video capture hardware/software. That being so, back in the day I would visit computer exhibitions that promoted the 'latest' hardware and if my memory serves there were cards that one could install in your PC (certainly pre-WinXP) to see and ,possibly, record a direct RF stream. These cards would NEVER work in current systems and one would effectively have to turn the clock back and create a compatable system pre 2000. Windows 3x anyone