Tape man Out of retirement
Ian Barlow (EITB) taking second-generation V2000 video recorders out of retirement

Down to business

First things first. If you are not confident and competent in the field of electronics, please don't put your life at risk by poking around inside your video recorder. High voltages are present within it and touching them would be, at the least painful, and possibly fatal. I will not be held responsible for the health of those who choose to ignore this warning!

Where has your machine been stored?

If it's been stored in a shed at the bottom of the garden, give up unless you are very determined and have LOTS of spare time on your hands. I was given a first-generation machine that had been stored under these circumstances and never did get it working entirely satisfactorily.

The head drum was very badly corroded, as were all the connectors. Moisture also has a tendency to rot the pinch roller and lift the chrome from the capstan. You can kiss goodbye to any tapes that are run through a machine in a state like this.

Now for the good news! If your machine was stored indoors, you're laughing!

Firstly, give the unit a quick wipe with a damp cloth to remove as much dust from its case as possible. To remove the dust from the cooling slots in the machines lid, stand it up on its left-hand side and use a soft paintbrush or shoe brush. This method helps to prevent dust from being pushed into the machine either through its vents or beside the loading tray. Don't go overboard with the cleaning at this stage as the machine may need more pressing attention elsewhere.

Check the wiring inside the mains plug and fit a new 3 Amp fuse if you have one. This fuse is the machines last line of defence under fault conditions, and a 13 Amp fuse will provide little or no protection.

Now, power up the unit and listen closely for any unusual noises. The mechanism should go through a reset routine, "TICK-WHIRR-SQUEAK", followed by silence. The clock may or may not start to flash at this point. Loud humming or hissing should be taken as an immediate warning to switch off. If this does happen and you are unfamiliar with the electronics inside a video recorder, now would be a good time to consult someone who is. Otherwise, if everything seems OK, leave the machine on. Don't leave it alone in case it does start to smoke. Unlikely, but possible.

Note:If there is a tape inside the machine already and you hear a frantic flapping noise on power up, then the tape is broken. We'll deal with that problem later. Never leave a tape inside a machine when putting it into storage. Glitching on initial power-up can snap the tape.

Don't attempt to place a tape inside the machine yet. The backup batteries in these machines only hold a charge for a few months. If it's been longer than this since the machine was last used, it may be suffering from amnesia. Yes, amnesia! With a flat backup battery, the microprocessor that supervises the logic control functions for the mechanism can forget what state the machine was in at power down. Chewed tapes are a common result of impatience at this stage. Leave the machine on for AT LEAST ONE HOUR before pressing anything.

Note: If a broken tape has been left in the machine, a fault condition is detected and the machine drops into standby. To remove the tape, unplug the unit from the mains for 5 seconds. Now hold the 'EJECT' button down whilst reconnecting the power. The tape will make frantic flapping noises and the loading tray will lift. This is a fail-safe feature built into the machines software. If you have acquired the machine from someone else who left it in storage and didn't follow the guidelines laid out here for 'waking one up', this may be the reason for the tape having broken in the first place. Another common reason for chew-ups is just a lack of regular servicing.

If the clock hasn't come to life by now, unplug the unit from the mains for 5 seconds and reconnect. If the clock still doesn't light, you may have a dead backup battery. Check it with a multimeter. You may not be able to source an exact replacement but a little ingenuity with cable-ties and link-wires should provide a means of successfully attaching it.

If there has been no activity from the mechanism AND the clock doesn't light up, you probably have a power supply fault. Check the fuse in the mains plug first. If it has blown, you probably have dried out capacitors near the transformer. Change the large electrolytics and check the rectifier diodes. Check the rows of internal fuses near the front of the main board. If any of these have blown, they MUST be replaced with fuses of the same type and rating. If you need access to the bottom of the power supply board, the whole sub-chassis can be removed by taking out three small internal screws and easing the sub-chassis forwards and up. To gain easier access to the front of the main-board whilst in-situ, the front panel can be flopped forward by applying slight outward pressure to the case sides. This machine was designed to be worked on!

Assuming that all is well, press the 'EJECT' button. The machine will come out of standby, and the loading tray should lift with a healthy "TICK-SQUEAK-WHIRR". The 'STOP' LED will light up. The message 'CASS' should appear in the tape counter window. If '0' appears, press the 'COUNTER' button to the right of the tape counter window.

Now for the moment you've been waiting for! Let's stop that damned clock from flashing. Press the small round 'SET CLOCK' button, type in the time (24hr format) on the keypad, followed by 'END'. Ah, bliss!

Try pressing the various transport buttons. All buttons should put the mechanism into its various modes cleanly and quickly and their associated LEDs (if your model has them) should illuminate. Pressing the 'RECORD' button will lift the loading tray and return the transport to 'STOP' mode as the machine knows that it has no tape in it. Press 'STOP' to lower the loading tray.

You could try connecting the V2000 to a television and aerial at this point to ensure that the RF modulator is functioning correctly. The tuner stage should provide normal pass-through mode as any modern VCR does.

To tune your television into your machine, press 'PLAY' and a test signal will be transmitted somewhere between channels 30 and 40. Once you've tuned in your television, press 'STOP' and the keypad can now be used to select viewing channels. If no channels are stored, press 'SEARCH'. Be patient as the scanning can take a minute or so. When a channel is found, press the keypad number key where you want it to be stored and press 'STORE'. Note that '0' is reserved for AV input from the SCART socket.

With a SCART lead attached, the output from your machine should also appear on your televisions AV input. This method will give slightly better picture performance than using the RF output.

Now is a possible time to try playing a tape. I would strongly recommend a thorough cleaning of all the heads, tape guides, pinch roller and capstan first, but if you feel that this is beyond your abilities, you can bypass this at the risk of a 'chew-up' and/or poor picture quality. If you're not confident enough to do it yourself, try to find someone trustworthy who can.

Cleaning Up

For those brave enough to try, here is the routine for cleaning your machine:-

Once again, I can accept no responsibility for any damage you do to the machine or yourself during this procedure. Follow the text carefully and mishaps are extremely unlikely to occur.

Now is a good time to remove the machines top cover (3 screws along the back top edge), stand the machine on its left-hand end, and gently brush out any loose dust you can find. Always brush away from the mechanism so as to avoid excessive dust contamination. A vacuum cleaner can be used with extreme caution. Be careful not to bend any components or pull out any connectors. A camera lens puffer-brush is preferable although not everyone will have access to one of these. If it's a fine day, take the machine outside for this cleaning procedure. The dust will blow away rather than hanging around in clouds.

Replace the top cover and give the machine a few minutes for the residual dust to settle before operation.