Video Tape Transfer, Copy to DVD, DV or uncompressed AVI

April 2nd, 2009

Over the last 12 months we’ve seen this side of our business grow and adapt to the range of transfer needs that individuals, businesses and media creation organisations have.

We are able to support a wide range analogue and digital, consumer and professional video formats from the late 1970’s onwards such as: Betamax, VHS, SVHS, VHS-C, Video 2000, 8mm, Hi8, uMatic, Betacam, miniDV, DVCAM, etc.

We offer straight video transfer to DVD and a higher quality transfer service to DV or  uncompressed AVI which can then be supplied on hard drive, edited, encoded to a very high quality DVD or supplied on digital tape.

We pride ourself on our positive, friendly service and are happy to give advice over the phone or by email. When you call us you won’t be stuck in a voicemail system or told we’re an internet company so don’t like speaking on the phone!

Feel free to contact us by phone or email.

Cassette tape, reel to reel and vinyl transfer support Bristol Archive Records

March 5th, 2009
bristolarchiverecords.com website screen grab 

bristolarchiverecords.com website screen grab

We’ve recently been proud to be regularly involved in the transfer of a range of rare and often unique recordings of great but often forgotten Bristol bands from the late 1970’s onwards.

Bristol Archive Records

“… aims to showcase music from the diverse Bristol Music scene and provide a historical account / document of all things Bristol that should never be forgotten. Many of the artists and releases are rare, unknown or never before released. The material has been lovingly digitally remastered from vinyl, ¼ inch tape, dat or cassette. The original vinyl releases would generally have been limited to runs of 1000 copies or less.”

Many of the recordings have survived well over the years and sound great, a testament to the bands and the engineers that recorded them.

Listen to them here…

Focusrite Saffire LE SPDIF problems

February 23rd, 2009
Focusrite Saffire LE

Focusrite Saffire LE

I’ve owned one of these Saffire LE firewire interfaces for a few years now and it’s very useful as a backup to my RME interfaces especially when I need to record and transfer audio at another location as it’s small, light and portable. It’s a very good sounding interface and  it even is reported to work under Linux which I’ve tried but unfortunately not with Audacity as this that doesn’t use the Jack server.

I’ve had an ongoing issue with the SPDIF inputs though. Under Windows XP and MacOS X it refuses to record more than a few mninutes if locked to another digital unit such as DAT machine and the Saffire software reports the firewire interface has lost it’s connection. This has rendered all SPDIF transfers impossible to do correctly.

The support at Focusrite is very good, you can actually speak to someone! We tried using an external power supply unit (PSU), different firewire cables, checking the type of firewire interface in the Windows machine and upgrading the firmware under MacOS X but all to no avail. This is a repeatable issue under several different computers and OS’s.

Acer 1360 laptop motherboard replacement

January 14th, 2009

I recently had a dead Acer 1360 laptop on my hands.

The power supply tested fine so it seemed likely the main board was at fault. This is a one piece board and of course it requires a full dismantling of the laptop to remove and replace.

I took a chance on an eBay board that arrived badly packaged and wrapped in bubblewrap not anti-static packaging. It stank of nicotine too!

acer_1360_motherboard

Acer 1360 bare motherboard

Disassembly was quite easy. Only three types of screws, big and small black and silver, very idiot proof. I didn’t have a service manual or takeapart guide but this is what I did, no pictures I’m afraid:

  1. Connected my ESD wrist strap.
  2. Remove battery, hard drive, ram and wireless cards (easy!)
  3. Remove the four small silver screws in the battery compartment.
  4. Gently prise off the small covers around each screen hinge.
  5. Remove more silver screws and remove button / fan plate, keyboard and top cover (can’t remember the order but it’s quite obvious)
  6. Gently prise up ribbon cable connectors and remove keyboard and trackpad cables.
  7. Time to remove the screen – The power and video connectors on the main board need to be removed, this needs very small fingers but I used a small ceramic screwdriver to help prise it up.
  8. Remove the two black screws each side holding the screen to the main laptop body.
  9. Put screen somewhere safe while feeding the two wireless antenna cables out.
  10. Start removing everything else! All the long black screws from underneath and all the small silver screws inside the laptop some holding metal shielding.
  11. Hopefully now you should be down to the bare motherboard – remove it and put your new one in!
  12. I hope you remembered the order all the bits went back on? It’s got to be right and there’s a few bits that have to be done in the right order on assembly.
  13. I found I had to remove some parts from the old motherboard that were missing on the replacement one.
  14. Have you got ALL the screws?

I found that my new motherboard worked perfectly first time all apart from the Trackpad and buttons! We just used an external mouse instead!

acer_1360_damage_detail

Damaged inductor

I did find out later that the original damage had been caused by a heavy fist slamming into the trackpad in frustration with Windows. Inside the case there were some plastic parts that had broken off one of these inductors. This would also likely explain the broken trackpad……

how not to pack a reel to reel

January 13th, 2009

I use eBay alot. I have to, nobody makes new tape machine anymore and about two or three years ago it took over from the local freeads papers as a way to sell things you didn’t want.

I recently bought an old Teac X7 4 track 1/4″ reel to reel. Seemed like a good deal and I took a chance. With large heavy items I always ask politely if they can ensure it’s packed with lots of bubble wrap in preferably two boxes. I even offer to send the packagin myself if they haven’t budgeted for that or can’t be bothered to wrap that well!

This is what I received after a few days of waiting. The seller seemed excited, saying he’d specially bought a box that cost over £10…

reel_to_reel_packaging_bottom

Reel to Reel packaging bottom

The whole of the bottom of the box had cracked and fallen away. If it hadn’t of been for the nice Parcelforce people who lined it with a bit of cardboard I wouldn’t have got anything.

There was a Teac X7 in it but it didn’t look pretty and is a perfect example of how heavy items can destroy themselves and the packaging if not packed correctly.

reel_to_reel_packing_side

Reel to Reel packaging destroyed

service manuals on eBay

December 12th, 2008

Are you fed up of sifting through all the, often Public Domain, PDF Service Manuals listed on eBay?

Apart from the fact that as many of them are public domain they are freely available to download they get in my way on searches for interesting old stuff. Take a search on Studer tonight, over 500 results and over 400 of these for service manuals or Studer documents for their reel to reel and other audio products from the past all of which can be downloaded from Studer’s public FTP server!!

I know some may call it legitimate business but I feel sorry for anyone who’s paid over a tenner (£10 GBP) for one even if it’s supplied on a nice shiny CDR or printed on laser paper and bound in a plastic wallet!

So, for everyone who likes to understand how things work and fix their own old equipment and not just throw it away, here’s some of my ‘favourite’ manuals that aren’t so easily available on the internet – for FREE!:

Tascam 112 Mk 1 Service Manual

Tascam 238 8 track Service Manual

Tascam DA88 DTRS 8 track service manual

Teac C-3x Service Manual

Nakamichi 610 Preamp Service Manual

Arcam Delta 70 CD player Service Manual

Philips CD104 Service Manual

NAD 3020 Service Manual

reel to reel transfer

November 15th, 2008
studer_nab_reel_spinning

Studer A80 RC reel spinning

Over the last few years we’ve gradually built up our equipment inventory so we can now offer a wide range of audio and video transfers.

We’re very happy to offer all track formats and speeds of 1/4 inch reel to reel tape transfer.

15 inches per second (ips) and 7.5 ips speeds are normally transferred on, our pride and joy, one of two Studer A80’s. We also have a Tascam BR20 and several Revox A77’s for backup. The slower speeds and 4 track stereo formats are catered for by Teac and Sony machines.

30 ips, 15, 7.5 and 3.75 can also be transferred on our Sony APR 5003.

We take pride in making sure these machines are calibrated and cleaned before each transfer.

Quite often we receive tape in poor condition this is very often a result of splicing tape ‘drying out’ as it’s a bit like sellotape and the splices breaking as the tape is played.

We are able to splice and repair tape before transfer.

Prices are competitive but not published here as we’ve found each job is different and needs certain attentions that need to be quoted for on an individual basis. We are happy though to offer a assess / listen service as many customers don’t know what’s on their tapes and either don’t have a machine or their old machine is broken.

Recent work has included many valuable family history 5 inch reels. Remember tape is fragile, very susceptible to magnetic fields and doesn’t last forever. It’s worth transferring it or getting it transferred now to keep your memories safe.

Tascam 234 4 track cassette capstan belt replacement

November 8th, 2008

I’ve had these belts sitting around for a few months now and they’ve finally come around on my to do list. Thinking this would be nice and easy like the Teac C-3x belts I whipped the cover off my 234 eager to put it back to work transferring those thousands of undiscovered bedroom gems that must be around in peoples’ cupboards.

Tascam 234 4 track tape transport

Tascam 234 4 track tape transport

Looked nicely laid out and well constructed as all this old Tascam equipment seems to be. I thought I’d just take the transport out and it’d be easy. There are just two belts in the 234, the capstan belt and the belt that moves the transport up and down. This cam mode belt had stretched and come off and the capstan belt had pretty much disintegrated. Once I start I find it hard to stop and this isn’t a quick job the first time, you need to be methodical and patient, good screwdrivers help too.

Well here comes the process, it seems pretty daunting at first when you see how many boards, cables and bits you have to remove and disassemble to replace the belts.

Read the rest of this entry »

Teac C-3x capstan belt

November 8th, 2008

I recently ordered and replaced the capstan and counter belt on this cassette deck. These parts are easily available from Fred Marrs who sells a huge range of correctly sized replacement belts through his eBay shop. He has even gone to the lengths of remanufacturing the Nakamichi OC 8096 capstan belt to the correct specs.

This Teac machine is a really nice 3 head cassette deck, built like a tank, and very similar if not identical to the original Tascam 122. I don’t use this deck for normal cassette transfers as I feel my Nakamichi decks generally sound better but this is one of the few decks that can record and playback at double the normal speed so it’s reserved for these transfers and as a backup.

The transport is quick and easy to remove and the belt was easy once the capstan had been removed – this was also greased and oiled a little too.

Teac C-3x transport removed

Teac C-3x transport removed

Teac C-3x capstan motor with new belt

Everything went well until  I tested it with an old tape – It would play for a few seconds then the take up reel would stop letting tape get pulled around the pinch wheel, well and truly chewed!  It looked like the rubber drive wheel that the reel motor works against has perished at one point or slips. I also noticed that the little rubber sleeves that act as brakes on the reels have perished too. I’m going to have to get it all apart again to fix this – see below for more soon..

Oh and here’s a the service manual for free, so you don’t have to get fleeced by an eBay seller who’s downloaded a load of free manuals.

Teac C-3x Service Manual

PC World terrible customer service and support

July 8th, 2008

altered pc world logo

A customer recently came to me after an unhelpful, incorrect and ultimately expensive experience at PC World.

Their Dell Inspiron laptop had stopped working, after initially refusing to look at it, the ‘tech’ person grudgingly agreed after a complaint to his manager. After being told it was thought the power supply had stopped working, he took it away and ultimately concluded the motherboard needed replacing.

Of course it didn’t and just needed another power supply which was less than £20.00 for a recycled one on eBay!

Unfortunately the customer had already bought another laptop on this expert’s advice which she didn’t need. Please don’t go to PC World for advice!

www.healthdesigns.org.uk goes live

June 24th, 2008

www.healthdesigns.org.uk homepage screenshot

Health Designs, a local business offering:

… a supportive and down to earth approach to health and wellbeing which can be applied to individuals, therapists, organisations and schools.

is finally live, proudly designed and hosted by us.

This is a standards compliant site powered by the open source content management system, Drupal.

A lot of hard work went into the theme design that’s based on the blank canvas Zen theme. I think we’re all happy with it now, I hope..

Advent 7055 laptop overheating repair

May 8th, 2008

Advent 7055 running Ubuntu 8.04Just recently I’d been asked to repair what seems to be a common problem with PC type laptops over a couple of years old. Dust gets trapped in the copper fins and the fan of the CPU heatsink and reduces the efficiency of the cooling resulting in regular power off’s by the laptop as it gets over it’s upper temperature setting.

The fix is relatively easy, remove the heatsink unit, blow it clean with compressed air, clean the old CPU heatsink paste off with isopropyl alcohol (IPA) and spread a thin but even film of good quality heatsink paste on the CPU. Put it all back together, keep your fingers crossed and it should be fine!

This has fixed several laptops permanently and with this Advent I could go ahead and wipe the old Windows XP Home from it and install Ubuntu 8.04 that’s fantastic and  installs perfectly without any ‘geeking around’ necessary. My only problem is the fan control from linux, but that’s another story……

moisture damaged vhs tape

April 15th, 2008

Moisture damaged VHS tape

Recently a customer sent me a VHS tape for transfer which looked like this:

I didn’t even attempt to play it in my machines as I didn’t want to be cleaning the transport all day but I did find an interesting U.S. based company that specialises in restoration of very damaged video tape.

http://www.videointerchange.com/video_recovery.htm

I have no direct experience of this company but from their site they seem very knowledgeable and can transfer some very, very obscure formats from the past.

blank tapes….

April 15th, 2008

Growing up in the 1970’s and 80’s I had a lot of these and still do but they’re covered in my scrawly handwriting unlike the fine collection here:

http://zabava.septem.cz/Blbustky/obrazky/kazety/

I think this is originally form a Japanese site that ‘disappeared’ from the web some time ago – it’s nice to see it back anyway! I’m tempted to do my own version with the huge piles of tapes I own and love and have collected recently.

green and blue

April 15th, 2008

I don’t know where it came from but the green and blue style is everywhere at the moment. You must have seen it – a bright lime green and a clean ultramarine type blue. 

Here’s a good example of it – http://www.joomlashack.com/

I’m not even sure if I like it anymore, it’s almost become a ‘blue and red’ type design but not as blunt and common in the Tesco, Screwfix, National Express kind of way.


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