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A viable alternative?

Discussion in 'Electronic Repair' started by Chris F., Oct 11, 2005.

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  1. Chris F.

    Chris F. Guest

    In many of my recent posts, I've often remarked about the dying state of
    the repair industry. But now I've come up with what I believe may be a
    viable alternative, or at least something to supplement my shrinking income:
    repair broken audio and video cassettes. I started taking audio cassettes
    apart when I was just two years old (almost 25 years ago) and by the time I
    was 10 I was repairing tapes for neighbors and relatives. I believe I'm
    capable of salvaging the majority of damaged cassettes, the question is:
    would there be a good market for this? I was planning to set up an ad on the
    web, advertising my services. I'd probably limit myself to audio, VHS, Beta,
    and perhaps 8-track's - 8mm, mini DV, and (ack) micro-DV are something I'm
    not yet very familiar with.
    A web search turned up a company in NJ doing this kind of work (on video
    cassettes only), and charging big $ for it - up to about $90/hour for some
    repairs. Needless to say I'm not that greedy!
    Thanks for any input.
  2. Arfa Daily

    Arfa Daily Guest

    Having repaired a video tape, I'd feel inclined to then recopy it to a new
    tape, and perhaps archive it to DVD as well. I'd hate you to splice up a
    video tape, only to find that when the owner sticks it back in their
    machine, the crappy dirty heads snag on the splice, and they finish up
    chasing you for the cost of repair to their machine.

    If you're going to get into this, you might want to consider cine to DVD
    conversions. It's fairly easy to do, using a projector, back projecting onto
    a small ground glass screen, and a video camera. You can then edit down on a
    PC, and burn the disc at the same time.

    I understand that there is quite a demand for this type of service, and good
    money can be charged for it.

  3. Clive Tobin

    Clive Tobin Guest

    These nasty little groundglass boxes give a center hot spot, dark
    corners, a fixed grain pattern, poor sharpness, etc. An ordinary
    projector gives an irritating flicker in the video, and speeds up the
    film objectionably if you use a variable speed projector to reduce the

    Shameless plug: we make Tobin Video Transfer machines for doing this
    properly with no screen, mirror, field or closeup lens, second imaging
    lens, or shutter in most models. The running speed for normal film is
    17.126 FPS for NTSC or 16-2/3 FPS for the PAL version. The catalog page
    is at .
  4. James Sweet

    James Sweet Guest

    Cassettes? What are those?

    Seriously, does anybody still use them? I don't think I've owned an audio
    tape player in close to 10 years, my nice Sony VCR has been collecting dust
    for over a year since the last time I remember using it, and I regularly see
    boxes of audio and VHS tapes up for grabs on craigslist. The technology is
    even closer to extinction than consumer electronics repair.
  5. Arfa Daily

    Arfa Daily Guest

    Whilst this technology is seriously on the decline, it's not quite true that
    nobody uses them any more. There's lots of material archived on these media
    and, whilst owners should transfer them to CD and DVD, they don't get round
    to it until they come to watch little Jimmy who died's third birthday party,
    and the tape breaks, or listen to that rare bootleg live tape of George and
    the Mudflingers at the Lower Bumstead Rock Festival of 1971, and it chews up
    in their machine ...

    The OP is never gonna make a living at doing this, but if he gets known as a
    ' specialist ', it would likely bring in a bit more cash to add to his
    declining income.

    I take the point that Clive makes about speed and flicker etc when
    transferring cine to DVD, and if you were going to do a lot of it, one of
    his products would be the way to go. However, I would also say that
    acceptable results can be achieved, with a little care, using basic cheap
    equipment that you may already have laying around. Most home cine films that
    I've seen, shot on standard or super 8, are a bit " Charlie Chaplin "
    anyway, so altering the speed a little to minimise flicker, is not that

  6. I'd say they'd likely try and fix the tape for maximum recovery of the
    data - not for re-use. Tapes are so cheap there's little point in fixing
    them apart for this.

    And I'd *never* use a spliced tape in a VCR - the risk of head damage is
    too great to make it even remotely worth doing.
  7. Chris F.

    Chris F. Guest

    The trick is to leave a bit of overlap (say, 1/16") facing in the
    direction of tape travel, that way the rotary head cannot get snagged. But I
    agree with another poster, spliced tapes are not wise to use and are best
    copied onto something else.
  8. Fine until you do a reverse slo-mo. ;-)
  9. kaboom

    kaboom Guest


    **I agree with Arfa. I have a lot of VHS tapes that I'm archiving and
    burning to DVD (though I wonder about burned DVD longevity). So, I
    think there are still reasons for VCRs to stick around. On this past
    trip back home to my parents, I found a cassette tape in the basement
    from 1976. I know my sister and I are on it but I'm not sure I should
    attempt to play it. I think we're singing "You Light Up My Life." :)
    Maybe I should burn it ;)

  10. clifto

    clifto Guest

    Any transfer tips? I just took the plunge and bought DVD-RAM drives for
    all the computers here, still haven't burned one yet but have several
    old videotapes I want to transfer. (Wish I had a TBC. Can't justify
    buying one for this, though.)
  11. John

    John Guest

    If you backup to CD / DVD write 2 copy's and copy annually
    The dyes fade and any damage to the TOC makes the disk scrap.
    Remember a damaged tape can be spliced a damaged disk can be binned!
  12. kaboom

    kaboom Guest

    **Hi Clifto. I have a standalone recorder, a Panasonic e85. It has a
    hard drive. I have a Sony Vaio that can also burn DVDs but I don't use
    it. After much research, I decided that PC burning would be such a
    time-consuming pain in the butt that I bought the standalone.

    I'm not dissing using the PC in any way, it offers you many more
    options than standalone burning. It's just that I don't have enough
    time and using the Panny is pretty easy and it doubles as a DVR. I'm
    only on the Vaio for a few hours everyday and I don't want it to be
    hung up encoding or some other option like running the vid thru

    Do you have a good capture card and software? Good capture methods
    will save you time. Here's some info to make sure that your computer
    can handle it and that you eventually turn out a nice DVD:

    Poke around the site for more info on all things digital.

    As to the TBC: Are the tapes in such bad shape that you think you need

    John is right where he writes that dyes fade. Be careful with the
    storage (most importantly, keep out of the light). If you are
    archiving some truly precious stuff, continue to save your VCR tapes!
    I look at burning to disc this way: Now I can view the
    program/event/etc as many times as I want without worrying about
    wearing out the original. And I can copy it more easily.

  13. Chris F.

    Chris F. Guest

    Do the dyes still fade even if the discs are stored properly?
    I plan to archive some old family tape recordings to CD; some of the
    (plastic-based) tapes are over 40 years old, and I would hope a CD would
    last at least as long.....
    Seems to me TDK once had a CD-R that they claimed had an archival life of
    about 100 years (hence the slogan: "Which will last longer: you, or your
    data?". But maybe that's not true for every brand.....
  14. clifto

    clifto Guest

    Looks kewl, thanks!
    No, but having worked with one in the past I know it always provides at
    least a little improvement.
  15. fireater

    fireater Guest

    check this out
    now as the real test how do you go to the store and request one of these
    long life products....The sales clerk would only give you a blank stare
    and say "what?"
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