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Sony Handycam Video 8mm - Tape Alignment/Tracking Issue

Discussion in 'Electronic Repair' started by Bob Shuman, Apr 22, 2005.

  1. Bob Shuman

    Bob Shuman Guest

    I have a 10 year old Sony Handycam Video 8mm - Model #CCD-TR91 that has
    served us well. The unit is on it's 4th battery, but still works, kind
    of... I suspect the trouble is with tape alignment/tracking since some
    previously recorded events and sometimes new events as well do not display
    properly. Usually I lose half the picture with tracking lines and at times
    it also is in Black and White only.

    I do not see any electronic tracking adjustments similar to similar vintage
    VHS VCRs. Can anyone provide a reference to a service manual or a tracking
    adjustment procedure? At this point I am inclined to replace the unit with
    another since price has come down so much over the years, but before I did,
    I wanted to take a shot at aligning it myself.

    Thanks in advance for your help.

  2. Ken Weitzel

    Ken Weitzel Guest

    Hi Bob...

    I'd urge you to forget all about electronic adjustment and
    instead focus on mechanical problems...

    Start with a good thorough cleaning... the tracking head,
    the pressure idler, the video heads, the capstan and idler,
    and the audio head. A little isopropyl alcohol and a bunch
    of q-tips. A little - moist q-tips, *not* wet.

    Pay particular attention to the capstan idler. No flat spots,
    indents from the idler? Does it line up perfectly with the

    Look at the audio head - it's spring loaded for azimuth
    adjustment. Still sitting normally?

    Check the supply hub, clean it well.

    Then, after completely absolutely dry, I'd watch it play
    a tape. Supply side feeding tape smoothly, not jerking.
    Nothing skewing the tape.

    If still no luck, look at one of the failing tapes. Edges
    not "rippled"? If so, invest in one brand new one to try.

    Hope this helps... take care.

  3. These cameras had a common problem with the tape guides. The guides
    immediately before and after the video head have a tiny allen key set
    screw near the bottom which loosens, then the guide moves out of
    alignment one way when the tape is moving forward, and the other way
    when it's moving in reverse.
    Aligning the guides is a complex process. It involves playing back an
    alignment tape while connecting an oscilloscope to a test point on the
    circuit board. The point is in a different place on each camera.
    The problem is that if any tapes were recorded while the machine was OUT
    of alignment, they will no longer play when the machine IS properly aligned.
    When the guides are aligned, the set-screws are tightened and it usually
    never goes out of alignment again.
    Now here's the bigger problem - Sony camcorders of this age have a
    serious problem with capacitors going bad, leaking, burning traces off
    the circuit board with their acid, etc.
    Not two or three caps, more like 100 of them. The amount of labor
    involved with replacing all of these capacitors makes the camera not
    economical to repair.
  4. Bob Shuman

    Bob Shuman Guest

    Ken & JJ,

    Thanks for the feedback and advice. I will take a closer look to see what I
    can do. Ken, Although I did not mention this, I had already attempted a
    cleaning with 99% isopropyl alcohol and some Q-Tips and cleaning pads, but
    had not yet opened the case so could not do as thorough a job as I could so
    this is a good next step. JJ, yes, I was aware of the capacitor aging
    problems and have observed occasional evidence of this over the last three
    or so years with strange behavior, especially when the battery was not
    completely fully charged. This is pretty much why I have resigned myself to
    ultimate replacement, but I still would like to get it working if this can
    be done very cheaply because I will likely choose to change tape formats (go
    still smaller) and would like to be able to use it long enough to recover
    tapes already made to other media.

    Is there a service manual available anywhere on the web that would help me?
    I have never worked on an 8mm unit before, although I pretty much try to fix
    anything I can (TVs, various household appliacances, computers, automobiles,
    etc.) and have been successful fixing several standard VHS VCRs (panel micro
    switches, tape alignment issues, aging rubber parts, switching PSU
    electrolytics/transistors) and even an old VHS camcorder as well.

    The basic message here is I don't believe it is worth enough to send it off
    for refurbishing and I have little to lose by attempting to repair it


  5. Bob Shuman

    Bob Shuman Guest


    I took the unit apart and checked tape threading and alignment and
    everything looked good to me. I also checked and everything seemed pretty
    tight so I performed the thorough cleaning you recommended (I had cleaned it
    previously, but could only get at it through the top cassette loader).
    While I was in there I also degaussed the heads. When I was done I checked
    it out and it seems to be much improved. Unfortunately, some of the
    recently recorded stuff is still not 100%, but is at least watchable. I
    will have to use it for some non-critical stuff over the next few weeks to
    make sure it is working well again and trust it for an upcoming graduation
    ceremony. Thanks for your assistance. I'd still appreciate getting a copy
    of the service manual if anyone can point me to where one can be found.

  6. Ken Weitzel

    Ken Weitzel Guest

    Hi Bob...

    Here's some Sony camcorder manuals... hopefully yours
    might be available (free, btw)

  7. Bob Shuman

    Bob Shuman Guest

    Looks like the schematic and signal diagrams are there for my camera, but
    not the full service manual.
  8. spudnuty

    spudnuty Guest

    The tape path adjustment is as JJ discribed and without the "adjustment
    remote commander" and a scope you won't be able to perform the
    adjustment. I have the manual for the TR88,98 and 99 and the adjustment
    procedures are pretty similar in all the manuals I've seen. They are
    contained in "Tape Path Adjustment" of the "8mm Video Mechanism Section
    Adjustment Manual VII [B Mechanism]'. I think the "A" was the one that
    ejected out the back. This was a seperate manual that Sony put out to
    cover these mechanisms. In my experience I've only seen it at Joseph
    electronics in Niles, Il. and when I worked at Helix, Ltd, Chicago.
    However as JJ suggested you can check the tape guides listed as TG-2
    and TG-3 in my manual. Sometimes only one of these has gotten loose and
    you can fly it in while playing a tape that you want to recover. Be
    careful it's a good way to mess up a tape.
    As to the fish caps you can search this forum for many discussions of
    this problem. Usually if you're having this problem you've got video
    problems as the CCD-TRxx cameras that I've looked at have those bad
    caps only on the video boards on the back of the lens. I have never
    seen them on the controller boards for the player/recorder. ESR meters
    are great for this.
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