[Attachment 59611 - Click to enlarge]
"SingMai are currently developing an improved VHS player which will allow faster than real time, higher quality transfer of valuable VHS tapes to a more modern digital medium."
Overview from this post:
For the VHS project we are also replacing all the electronics and are processing the head signal directly to produce better image quality. [...]
One of the incentives to doing this is to produce faster than real time archiving of the tapes. At present a 3 hour tape takes 3 hours to archive - faster playback corrupts the image. We are hoping to enable faster than real time playback without corruption - essential when you have tens of thousands of tapes to archive.
Email copied with permission:
Thank you for your interest in our company.
There are two stages to this project. The first is take the mechanism of an existing VCR (we are using a commonly available Panasonic VCR) and add remote control to it. Our partner is building an automatic loader for the tapes, so the two things together allow automatic loading of the tape and recording of the video. Also, we are taking the video head signal directly and processing it to improve the image quality over what is usually offered, even in higher end players.
This part of the project is almost complete.
The second part of the project is to replace the mechanism with our design. The mechanical aspects of the project will be done by our partner – we will design the servos and related electronics. At this stage we hope to then increase the playback speed for archiving.
I hope to detail some of this work on our website and I will send you a link when this is done. The player will be available for purchase and we will endeavour to keep the cost to something affordable.
I learned about SingMai through the LDDB Forum thread, in which you posted.
Regarding the VHS solution you're working on, is it likely to be affordable for consumers, or only institutions/professionals with large libraries to transfer?
There is an open-source project called "vhs-decode" being slowly developed by a few contributors in their spare time. The goals aren't quite the same as yours, as decoding is performed after acquisition is complete, and the speed is nowhere near realtime at this point -- let alone faster than normal playback.
My understanding was that this faster archiving couldn't be done. If there are any details about your process you don't mind sharing, I'd love to read about them.
All the best,
The image at the top of the page is from Daniel's personal blog. At the bottom of one entry, he posted an image of an FPGA board wired to what looks like the guts of a '00s Panasonic VCR inside of a black box; the power supply is silk-screened as "PSU 0.1 Digital Video Cassette Player" and the board hooked up between the VCR section and the FPGA is "Head Amplifier v0.1".
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Last edited by Brad; 28th Jun 2021 at 11:37.(Formerly vaporeon800)
It is not impossible to make a VCR go faster but it will involve a lot of engineering and design and tons of cash, Even if they achieve the final product they have to find some 500ich early adopters to recoupe their expenses of a price unit say $5000, Unfortunatly I don't think anyone would pay that much for a VCR.
I like the concept of RF capturing, If they can come up with a hardware solution to the VHSdecode that works with any VCR I'm all in, but not the high speed thing.
Edit: I just learned that they own their IP cores which is a chunk of money saving but they still have to contract it out for manufacturing.
Besides his VCR project I will be interested to see how well it performs his current FPGA SM03 module compared to the BrighEye 75 from Ensemble Designs.
Last edited by dellsam34; 28th Jun 2021 at 18:55.
Yeah the SM03 seems interesting as well, and looks to be a bit closer to a release. The author just posted a draft user manual on the lddb forums. As it works on composite/s-video it should work with any VCR.
The FPGA VHS also seems interesting, but I echo dellsam34's concerns. One would think maybe an easier start would be to develop just an rf capture module that could ideally be adapted to multiple models and leaving the speed stuff for later.
?the document i saw had several inputs
s-vid (y/c mini-din (rf))--
"a lot of people are better dead" - prisoner KSC2-303
Hm yeah the blurb on their website shows Y/C in, while the draft manual only shows a single input. The design may not be finalized yet. Still, if it's something with full TBC functionality as it's at least hinting at it would be pretty interesting even if there was only composite input.
My assumption is that he has 3 different devices/boards, One with Y/C and composite inputs for external VCR capture, one with RF IN that goes inside a VCR from the picture in the first post and a third one that is composite only for Laser Disc capture after he was asked if he can look into it in that lddb forum.
This is so dumb. They apparently don't realize that "PLAY+FF" is abusive, and what ruins so many tapes -- especially now that tapes have begun to badly age.
Anyway, <yawn>. Developing hardware isn't an easy task. Too many developers talk about stuff before being 100% certain their R&D will be fruitful. Hence so much vaporware.
Sometimes these discussion need a cold douse of reality. Too optimistic.
The composite version of the SM03 is for sale now for over $800. It still requires a SDI to USB3 or SDI/PCI interface to store the SDI video data to computer. I'll pass but if they offer a Y/C version for around $200 I may consider it, I just got two S&W boxes that do the exact same thing from the 80's/90's for a fraction of that cost.
Daniel Ogilvie the director of the company will be on board soon to talk about the SM03, I've just learned that the SM03 is built in a 3D comb filter instead of just a line comb filter if capturing composite is important such as laser discs.
Thanks for chiming in, Off course there is going to be questions, My most important question is, does the RF workflow works with other VCR's such as JVC with readily available service manuals and schematics? Is it going to be provided as a separate kit or sold only as a complete VCR? My question pretend to individuals and DIY's not production houses that offer digitizing services.
There is this VHSdecode project but it's still in its baby steps, but if you can get better results and sooner that will be the way to go.
At the moment the final product will be the 'new' VHS player (mechanism and electronics) plus the automated tape handler system and the software to control it all.
I am sure there will side products, such as a standalone VHS player, but I think only when we have our own design of mechanism.
How about a RF capture kit for any VCR, Most of the folks here will not be interested in an automated VCR or a modified VCR due to higher price tag, I will be suprised if you actually find a market for it. What we want here is a capture hardware that can be attached to our VCR's like the VHS-Decode, or at least an advanced capture device like the SM03 with Y/C input and USB 3.0 out to avoid getting a SDI to USB 3.0 adapter.