Saturday, January 26, 2008

AN: Designing Akai R2R decks

Imagine an Akai GX-635 with the metallic front in red color, a reels cover in silver with a small window to see the reels spinning.

All this and more was thought by the Akai's designers somewhere in the past.

To view the picture with more detail, click here to access a high resolution image.

TV: Stargate SG-1

Release date: October 1997

Episode 1x11: Fire and Water

Nagra 4.2

Internet Movie Database Link

Monday, January 21, 2008

DOC: Ampex Tape List

I found this list in 2002 in Internet while looking for some info about the type of tapes.

Here is an exact reproduction of the one that I downloaded about six years ago:

Ampex tape list -- Compiled by Scott Dorsey, NASA Langley Research Center

This list started out as a response to the huge number of people asking
questions about surplus instrumentation tape, developed into a short
description on identifying Ampex tapes, and then developed into an attempt
at categorizing all Ampex tapes made. This list is far from complete but
is a good beginning:

All tapes backcoated unless otherwise indicated (NB= Non-Backcoated)
021-- 1 mil rejected NB acetate tape (sold as Shamrock) (early 60s)
031-- 1.5 mil rejected mastering tape (maybe 406, 456, etc. depending on batch)
(Was available in 2500' pancakes as well as 7" reels in 1983)
041-- 1 mil version of 031 in 7" only
051-- 0.5 mil rejected NB acetate tape (sold as Shamrock) (early 60s)

101-- Betamax half-inch videocassette (intro before 1978)
102-- VHS videocassette (late seventies)
142-- Helical 2" format video tape for VR-660/1500 (1962-?)
144-- Transverse scan video tape (1964-?) for quad-format machines
145-- Helical 2" formulated for VR-660/1500 video recorders (1966-?) backcoated
147-- A-format tape formulated for VR-7000 video recorders (1965-?)
161-- 1" videotape (1968-?)
163-- 1/2" helical scan industrial videotape (1968-?)
164-- 1/2" helical scan videotape for color use
167-- U-Matic videocassette (replaced by 187/197) (late seventies, sold in 83)
(Sometimes this is labelled KCA-xx where xx indicates running time)
174-- 1/2" helical scan industrial videotape (1970s?)
175-- 2" Quad tape (backcoated) replacing 144 (sold until 1990)
187-- U-Matic videocassette
(Sometimes this is labelled KCA-xx where xx indicates running time)
188-- Older Beta videocassette
189-- VHS videocassette, NB (discontinued 199x?)
190-- 1" IVC/Sony format videotape (1983)
192-- 1" videotape (1970s) (replaced by 196)
194-- 1/2" helical scan industrial videotape (1970s through 1983)
196-- 1" B-format helical videotape (comes in two versions, earlier chrome
later cobalt oxide), wound oxide out.
197-- U-Matic 3/4" videocassette (coexists with 187, better quality tape)
198-- Beta videocassette (oxide) (replaced by 208) (1987-??)
199-- VHS videocassette, NB (? to some time between 1990 and 1995)

208-- Betacam 1/2" broadcast videocassette (oxide, not metal) (changed to BC in 1998)
211-- 1.5 mil NB Irish ??? (1963 sample)
219-- D-1 digital videocassette (replaced by 229) (1990)
220-- Degaussing and head cleaning cartridge for cassettes (not real tape)
228-- Degaussing and head cleaning cartridge for 8-track tape (not real tape)
229-- D-1 digital videocassette (renamed D1V in 1998)
288-- Hi-8mm videocassette
289-- S-VHS videocassette
292-- 1.0 mil polyester 1/4" audio backcoated on 7" reel, black oxide.
296-- 1" C-format helical videotape
297-- U-Matic SP videocassette
298-- Betacam SP 1/2" videocassette (metal) (replaced by 398) (1990)

301-- General purpose audio NB tape available on reel or cassette (1968-?)
304-- Tape optimized for low speed logging use (1968-?)
311-- Irish version of 511 (1962)
319-- D-2 digital videocassette (replaced by 329) (1988)
321-- Irish version of 521 (1962)
329-- D-2 digital videocassette
331-- Irish version of 531 (1962)
341-- Irish version of 541 (1962)
342-- 1.5 mil "Plus Series" NB consumer 1/4" tape (185 nWb/m) (1970s-1980s)
344-- 1 mil PE, low noise, non-backcoated 1/4" tape. (available in 1973)
345-- 1.5 mil red oxide tape (recommended for B&K 7004 recorder) (av in 1976)
351-- Irish version of 551 (1962)
352-- LO-NOISE compact cassette (lowest grade) (1978)
361-- Compact cassette tape (1969-?)
364-- 20/20 Plus cassette tape (mid grade) (pre-1978 to 1983)
365-- Grand Master type I cassette tape (pre-1978 to 1983)
366-- Grand Master type II cassette tape (pre-1978 to 1983)
370-- HOLN cassette tape lowest-grade (discontinued 1983)
371-- Plus Series cassette tape (lower grade) (1978)
372-- Ampex 406 on 7" reels for consumer use (mid/late 70s). "20-20 series"
373-- 1 mil version of 372
381-- Low grade 8-track cartridge (1976)
382-- Plus Series 8-track cartridge (1978)
388-- 20/20 Plus Series 8-track cartridge (1978)
389-- Grand Master 8-track cartridge (1978)
398-- Betacam SP videocassette (metal) (renamed BSP in 1998)

401-- 1.5 mil mastering tape.... probably pre-1965
404-- low-noise NB mastering tape (1965-?)
406-- 1.5 mil mastering tape (260 nWb/m)
407-- 1 mil version of 406
408-- 406 wound slightly differently for Nagra recorders. (Intro 1997)
411-- 1.5 mil NB (sample dated 1964)
434-- 1.5 mil non-backcoated high-output brown-oxide consumer tape (1960s)
444-- 1 mil version of 434
456-- 1.5 mil mastering tape (370 nWb/m)
457-- 1 mil version of 456 (available only in 7" 1/4" reel)
460-- Digital audio tape (backcoated) for 3M machines (deleted 1982)
467-- 4mm DAT tape backcoated, now called DAT (1998)
467-- U-Matic oxide tape for digital audio, now called DAU (1998)
467-- oxide 1/4" NAGRA-D, 1" for Pro-Digit, 1/2" for DASH tape for digital audio
472-- Stereo audio cassettes (CrO2, NB) (250 nW/m)
478-- 1.5 mil low-print mastering tape (250 nWb/m)
480-- 1.5 mil Quantegy equiv. of 3M 908, modified 478 coat w/ smoother B (1997) for Nagra
488-- 8mm tape designed for DTRS (Tascam DA-88) use, backcoated. (now DA8 in 98)
489-- S-VHS tape designed for Alesis ADAT use, backcoated. (now ADAT in 98)
499-- 1.5 mil mastering tape (520 nWb/m)

511-- 1.5 mil acetate version of 531 (1962)
521-- 1 mil acetate version of 531 (1962)
531-- "premium tape for semi-professional and home use" 1.5 mil NB Mylar 5", 7" (1962). Red oxide
541-- 1.0 mil mylar base version of 531 (1962) Looks like later 641 tape.
551-- 0.5 mil mylar base version of 531 (1962)

601-- .66 mil Cassette duplicating pancakes (NB) (1978)
602-- .44 mil version of 601
603-- .66 mil High performance cassette pancake (NB) (1979)
604-- .44 mil version of 603
607-- Thick standard bias cassette loads (NB) (1983)
608-- Thin standard bias cassette loads (NB) (1983)
609-- Thick chrome casssette loads (NB) (1983)
610-- Thin chrome casssette loads (NB) (1983)
611-- 1.5 mil brown oxide NB acetate (7" samples dated to 1963-1971)
617-- 0.5 mil FeO2 cassette bulk-load pancake
618-- 0.3 mil version of 617
619-- .62 mil cassette duplication pancake (pre-1988-1993)
620-- .46 mil version of 619 (pre-1988-1993)
621-- 1 mil version of 611
631-- 1.5 mil non-backcoated "red oxide" voice-grade audio tape (185 nW/m)
632-- 1.5 mil non-backcoated "brown oxide" LNHO duplicating tape (185 nW/m)
638-- Empty 7" 1/4" accessory reel (not tape)
641-- 1 mil version of 631 (1960s-present)
642-- 1 mil equivalent of 632
651-- 0.5 mil version of 641
660-- HOLN black shell bulk cassettes (discontinued 1983)
661-- 0.5 mil version of 641 with thinner oxide (1968-present) (cassette or 1/4)
671-- 0.75 mil LNER non-backcoated extended-length tape (cassette or 1/4)
672-- FeO2 audio cassette (discontinued 1993)
674-- Cassette, low noise for high speed duplication. (existed in 1978, not now)
675-- 8-track cartridge pancakes, back-lubricated
678-- Cassette (discontinued)

700-- 1 mil NB low speed logging with very thick coating (1978)
701-- 1 mil NB low speed logging tape (replaced by 704) (1978)
702-- 1 mil backcoated tape with same coating as 701 (1978)
703-- 0.5 mil version of 702 (1978)
704-- 1 mil non-backcoated low speed logging tape
705-- 1 mil backcoated low speed logging tape (same coating as 704)
706-- 0.5 mil backcoated low speed logging tape (same coating as 704)
721-- 1 mil Digital PCM instrumentation tape (cobalt)
722-- 0.8 mil Double Density digital PCM instrumentation tape (cobalt)
731-- Data cartridge for Ampex Digital Cassette Recorder (lower error rate)
733-- Data cartridge for Ampex Digital Cassette Recorder
738-- ?? NB instrumentation-
741-- ?? NB instrumentation- (circa 1962)
756-- 1 mil Intermediate band NB instrumentation- replaced by 766 in 1984
760-- Wideband instrumentation tape, NB (1966)
761-- 1 mil standard coat 1" or 1/2" NB low band FM instrumentation (1965)
762-- 1 mil thin coating 1" or 1/2" NB low band FM instrumentation (1965)
763-- 1.5 mil standard coat 1" or 1/2" NB low band FM instrumentation (1965)
764-- 1.5 mil thin coating 1" or 1/2" NB low band FM instrumentation (1965)
766-- 1 mil Intermediate band NB instrumentation- replaced by 767 in 1986
767-- 1 mil Intermediate band instrumentation tape
770-- Wideband instrumentation tape, NB (1966)
771-- Tape for FR-1800 instrumentation recorder (1965)
775-- 2" transverse scan instrumentation tape (probably selected 175)
782-- 1 mil wideband NB instrument tape (1972 or so) (replaced by 787)
786-- 1 mil NB High Resolution (1978)
787-- 1 mil backcoated High Resolution (1978) (replaced by 797)
795-- High Resolution (intermediate band with low drop-outs) instrumentation
79A-- Variant of 797 made for government use only
797-- 1 mil wideband instrumentation tape
799-- 1 mil High bit density digital PCM tape

831-- computer tape (1966)
832-- 1/2" computer tape (1965-?)
834-- computer tape (1966)
836-- 1/2" 1600 bpi computer tape (1965-late 70s?)
837-- computer tape (1966)
838-- 1/2" computer tape (1965-?)
836-- computer tape (1966)
870-- 1/2" IBM-compatible computer tape (CATT) with new binder (1968)

8206-- 1 mil backcoated low speed logging tape (a 3M design), similar to 705.

ADAT- Formerly part 489 (1998)
BC -- Formerly part 208 (1998)
BSP-- Formerly part 398 (1998)
CDR-- Compact Disc Recordable (1994)
CDR1- Data tape cartridge (1968)
DA8-- Formerly part 488 (1998)
DAU-- Formerly part 467 in U-Matic (1998)
DAT-- Formerly part 467 in DAT (1998)
DBC-- Digital Betacam cartridge, metal particle tape (1998)
DDS-- 4mm DAT tape tested to DDS standards (1995)
DD1-- 19mm oxide tape for D-1 video format
DD8-- 8mm data cartridge (Exabyte style) (1995)
D1V-- Formerly part 229 (1998)
DV -- Tape for Ampex DCT recorder, 19mm metal D2-type cartridge (1998)
GP9-- 1/2", and 2" backcoated 320 nW/m high output mastering tape (1998)
HG -- A VHS videocassette offered until 1997.
ID2-- 19mm metal D-2 videotape.
MDR-- Recordable Minidisc (1998)
MOD-- Rewritable magneto-optical disk (1995)


Ampex Plus-Series is a non-backcoated tape sold for consumer recording
into the early 1980s. 1 mil, dark color, on 7" reels with leaders only.

All items without dates listed are current production items as far as
this writing (1998).

Note that many instrumentation tapes come on rugged Precision reels rather
than normal NAB reels; they will fit on the same hubs but you cannot
exchange flanges.

LNER= Low Noise Extended Range
LNHO= Low Noise High Output
NB= Non-Backcoated

Many thanks to George LaForgia from Quantegy/Ampex and Howard Sanner
at the Library of Congress for assistance in compiling parts of this list.

Sept. 1963: "'A' and 'B' oxide instrumentation tapes, two new
heavy duty tapes offering higher performance and longer life than
previously available Ampex tapes, offered at standard prices."

July 1965: "Ampex 770 series tapes for extended bandwidth
instrumentation recording."

Revised 25 Mar 2002.

DOC: Capitol Catalogue, October 1964

Scanned from the original insert catalogue that came inside "Soviet Army Chorus & Band" tape.
Click on each one to get a high resolution image.

Page 1/4:

Page 2/4:

Page 3/4:

Page 4/4:

Sunday, January 20, 2008

REP: Restoring Pioneer RT-707 VU meters

Although it's rare that the red color turn into a discolored orange, I found it in a deck that has been lot of years exposed to direct sunshine in a sunny area somewhere in the south of France.

When I bought this deck thru eBay, I ditn't realized in the discolored meters. Really I bought it to restore, since it was announced as a not working unit.

More than one year has passed from that moment. I asked other people for ideas to restore the color again and, after thinking all purposes, finally decided to make a new scale using a computer paint program. The idea was to make the new ones just exactly the original ones.

I worked with high resolution images with several layers, put over a pic of the original scale to ensure that new scale is in the same place. One problem was the original font used for "PIONEER ELECTRONIC CORP.". After searching for more than one hour, I found a very similar but not identical, but close enough to pass the test of anyone.

After opening the deck and get the meters accesible, I disoldered both so that I can work with them safelly and more confortable.

To open the meter is very easy. Like most cases, it only has a few pieces of adhesive tape, in this case, three. After cutting them, the cover of the meter can be removed:

The scale is printed over a fine metallic piece, so I used a cutter between it and the plastic base of the meter to cut the glue that join both. It must be done very slow and carefully.

I decided to print the new scales into stikers so that I can adhesive them in the other side of the original metallic piece where was the old scale.

One problem is to find the adecuate mosts similar background color to the original one. Although I took different shots, I were sure that after printing it would be different.

In a DIN A4 paper I printed 16 stickers, 4 left and 4 right, one time with a darker background that the original one, and one time with a lighter background.

After printing it in a laser color printer, none of them had the same background tone color than the original one, so I decided to use the lighter one although it was mostly identical to the white color.

Before put the cover of the meters, I tried to reduce the scratches in the transparent plastic cover, so I used toothpaste bacause is a good polish that respects well the transparent plastics.

Isn't easy to put the sticker perfectly over the metallic part so that the scale be perfectly where was the original.

And here is the final result:

And a closed pics of the meters, before and after restoring:

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

TIP: How to pack a reel to reel deck for shipping

Each time I've bought a open reel deck, always describe how I want to be packed the deck so that it arrives alive and intact.

Although these machines are heavy, they are also delicate and they don't like hits during shipping. You must to think about this issue very seriously. If you think that a box will be enough for a safe travel, you are wrong.

Look how must NOT be packed a reel to reel deck:

Now I'll try to describe the process to pack one of this machines correctly.
  1. Protect the spindles of the reel tables, they are very delicate. If your deck has NAB hub adapters, put them, if not, cut a square piece of packaging material and make it a hole where will be hidden the spindle. Do the same with the other spindle.

  2. If the deck has more delicate parts like spindles (switches, tension arms, knobs) that are suitable to break, protect them as said in point 1.

  3. Buy transparent film, the one used for food and cover te entire deck with it. Put lots of layers, it will convert into 'not-so-transparent'.

  4. Get a box about 8 or 10 inches bigger than the deck in each dimension.

  5. Buy packing peanuts and throw them inside the box, until you make a 4 or 5 inches deep layer.

  6. Put the deck in the center of the box, over the bed of packing peanuts. You must have enough space in the left, right, top and bottom.

  7. Add packing peanuts to fill the sides of the deck, so that all free space is covered by them. Left, right, bottom, top and over the deck. The deck must be hidden with packing peanuts.

  8. The deck is now protected by the six sides with packing peanuts, so close the box.

  9. The job isn't finished... we need to pack the box too!, yes, the box must be packed inside another bigger box, so:

  10. Get a box 8 or 10 inches bigger than the "small" box.

  11. Throw packing peanuts inside the big box, until you make a 4 or 5 inches deep layer.

  12. Put the small box inside the big box, centered and refill all spaces in the top, bottom, left, right and over with packing peanuts too.

  13. Close the big box.

I know this can seem exaggerated, but isn't. At the beginning of this entry is showed a box that I pictured as an example of how NOT to pack a reel to reel deck.

Maybe you thought it arrived in good shape. I bought it maybe four or five years ago in Italy. I paid extra money so that the deck would packed following my instructions and the seller got the money and did what he wanted. The result was more than 420 euros converted into garbage.

Look carefully at the next pictures:

An open reel deck must be always double boxed.

AN: Find the differences

Today I've sat in the bench two identical decks to check why one seemed to be faster than the other one.

After doing some electrical measurements, the voltage is more or less the same, even the slowest deck gets more volts in the reel motors and they rotate "without" friction, the same as the other compared deck.

In a first time I thought that there were some electrical problem in the deck, but after doing the measures into the two decks, all doubts were resolved: they both are in good state.

However, one is faster than the other one during RWD and the back tension has been revised.

Do you like to find differences between two images?. Look carefully, they seem identical, but there are differences:

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

DES: ReVox 7" metal blue reel

ReVox is a brand well-knowned in the reel to reel recorders world. Most of the ReVox material is legendary, from machines to accesories.

But there is one object not so popular, the hard to find 7" metal blue reel.

It has 3 holes "in line" with 3 philips screws. It's very width, so it's very difficult that the tape touch the flanges. It has no slots where to hold the tape.

The design is almost identical to the AGFA-GEVAERT 7" metal reel, except in one detail: the hub. If you look carefully to the pic, the hub where the spindle gets the reel isn't part of the blue reel, it's part of the hub and it's made of (I think) a very hard plastic which doesn't get marked in spite of the use.

It's made of a hard aluminium that won't bend easily. It looks nice with a Pioneer RT-707 and even in bigger decks like the Pioneer RT-909.

Monday, January 7, 2008

DES: Dokorder 7" metal reel

Sometime ago I discovered the interesting look of the Dokorder metal reels, however I didn't think about getting one until this past month, where a paranormal force told me that I had to buy one of those beauties ;)

So I did. After lost a few auctions I finally got one at the price of $57 + shipping... $77 was the total price for me to pay.

In spite of being one of the more expensive prices than I have paid for an empty 7" reel, it worths the money.

I've just taken some shots of the reel in a Pioneer RT-707.

In pause.

Running at 19 cm/s.

Two closer shots.

As can be watched in the pics, the reel has six rounded holes "in line" with the other side of the reel. The flanges of the reel are fatter than the ones of a Maxell MR-7. It's made of a strong aluminium. Three philips screws by side that are screwed into the hub and provided with three slots to hold the tape.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

MOV: Das Leben der Anderen

Release date: February 2007

Uher 4000

Unknown (possibly it's a german machine because has DIN output speakers connectors in the bottom face of the machine)

MOV: Dreamgirls

Release date: January 2007

Pioneer T-6600

3M M79

Akai M7

Ampex 350

Internet Movie Database Link

MOV: Where is the old site "Reel to reel in movies"?

It's closed. However, I've uploaded it again to another address as historic information:

MOV: Zodiac

Release date: May 2007

Ampex AG440

Internet Movie Database Link

MOV: Un franco, 14 pesetas

Release date: May 2006

Grundig TK-145 deluxe

Internet Movie Database Link

MOV: Music and lyrics

Release date: April 2007

Tascam MSR 16

Internet Movie Database Link

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy new year 2008

With reels, of course.