Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Have you ever wondered what the inside of a VCR looked like?

Well... I found out today. We have a rather large collection of VHS tapes which we are gradually replacing with DVDs. However, my precious Star Wars movies are still on VHS. Our VCR's are starting to expire. They no longer rewind well or in some cases at all. So this morning, I popped open one of the bad boys and fixed it.

Ta da....

I had to take the front panel off at which point I found all sorts of broken plastic bits inside rendering the outside buttons useless. So I'm leaving off the panel and having this rather exposed looking circuit board with buttons.

I went back and labeled them with permanent marker. Looks a bit Steampunk if you squint. I was trying to get into the motor which is located directly underneath where the tape rests. So I took the bottom off too...

A bit of a dead end really. But a rather interesting texture with all that soldering.
So here is the actual problem. You can see in the picture a little bit of a blue mark and a circular rub mark. The rub mark was caused by the driving gear (which is the white gear in the picture and it not engaged) rubbing against the housing. I put some machine oil in there a got it working again.

One of the tapes still wasn't winding well, so I took it apart too. Each tape has 5 screws, and that is really all that is holding the whole thing together. It is really amazing that they last as long as they do.

Once you have everything open, you can't bump anything or it falls out. And there are these hair thin springs, that if you sneeze would go flying. I worked with pair of tweezers to put some springs back in place, and then carefully put the top back on, clamped it in place and screwed it together again.

It worked long enough to get all my Star Wars tapes rewound, but further testing this evening revealed that it was not working again. So I will be removing the entire housing and just letting the whole thing sit open, so I can see if it is actually rewinding or not. If not, it will be open and I can drop in some more oil.

When I was in grade school, Dad brought home an old TV set. My sister and I were set up each with a set of small screwdrivers, wrenches, and soldering irons. We spent an entire day taking the whole thing apart down to the circuit boards, transistors, resistors, and anything else that could come off. We sorted everything into little piles. It was a lot of fun and very interesting. It left quite an impression on me... as to this day, I love to take things apart and see what is going on inside.

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