Cleaning VHS tape heads?

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Cleaning VHS tape heads?

Postby J_Partyka » Fri Mar 11, 2005 11:11 am

I just made my first successful VHS-to-DVD transfer (I used my aging videotape of the Stones documentary 25 x 5 for the dry run), and I'm pretty excited to get some of my other old tapes onto DVD.

I'd like these to look half-decent, so I was thinking I should clean the heads on my VCR (which I honestly haven't done in ages). Does anyone have any good tips on the best way to do this? Is a manual approach better than buying a cleaning tape?

Or am I the only one still fiddling about with VHS? T'anx.

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Postby Ess Ay Cee Dee » Fri Mar 11, 2005 11:18 am

What are you using between your VCR and PC? I'm looking for something to convert some old LD's to DVD-R.

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Postby J_Partyka » Fri Mar 11, 2005 11:28 am

I'm using the Sony digital (MiniDV) camcorder I bought at the end of last year before my son was born. It came with a cable that allows me to send the VCR's video and audio output (via the standard RCA jacks) into the camera, which I then connect to my computer via a FireWire cable.

So far I've used the light version of Sonic MyDVD that came with my Dell for capturing the video (very intuitive), and then Sonic DVDit for encoding, authoring, menu creation, etc. ...

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Postby Rspaight » Fri Mar 11, 2005 12:50 pm

I spent $50 on one of these: ... USB-2.html

I'm sure a Sony DV camcorder would be better, but this does OK considering the cost. (You'll need a fast processor, though -- on a 1.8GHz P3, it dropped frames like crazy. On a 3.2GHz P4, it never drops a frame.) I've converted a few LDs with it and the results are acceptable, but not jaw-dropping (there's a little A/V sync bugginess from time to time).

This is apparently the best converter you can buy: ... dvc300.asp

But for that kind of money, I'd be tempted to go ahead and just get a DV camcorder.

This might be a good compromise between cost and quality:

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Postby damianm » Fri Mar 11, 2005 1:44 pm

Cleaning VCR heads (my method, which so far has worked many times on several units):

1) Unplug VCR, remove top cover. Locate the rotating head drum (easy to spot)

2) Cut a 1" by 1" piece of clean thin cardboard and moisten it with alcohol. I assume the best choice would be isopropyl alcohol, but I've used rubbing alcohol in the past and had no trouble.

3) Gently rotate the head drum by hand while holding (NOT pressing) the dampened piece of cardboard against the sides. The actual heads (4, 6, however many your model has) are barely sticking out from tiny gaps on the drum, and this should reach them. 2 - 3 revolutions should be enough.

Keep finger contact with the drum as low as you can manage to, do not touch the sides, and keep an eye out for microscopic copper wiring near the top. I suppose you could try and clean tape guides and other elements in the tape path as well, but I don't think I ever have.. it looks like it'd be real easy to whack something out of alignment.

4) Plug in, load a tape, check results. If everything's OK unplug again, replace the top cover and you should be done.

Hope it works for you