Who Me? A VCR Repairman?

Estimated reading time: 4 minute(s)

Perhaps one of the strangest things I’ve done of late is a bit of repair man work on my office VCR! Who knew I could fix those? 🙂

One of the services I offer as part of my web/graphic design business* is analog-to-digital conversion. So, you bring me your old audio cassette tapes and I’ll convert them to CD, or just any digital audio format you’d like and deliver them back to you electronically. Or, you bring me your analog video in any format and I’ll convert it to a digital format of your choosing (DVD or otherwise). It’s pretty fun, and the projects range from a simple dump of the old-version content (no editing) onto the new-version media, to a full-on, shiny, professional end product.

While in the midst of one such project the past couple weeks, I found multiple issues with this antiquated technology. Fun!

I was converting old VHS-C tapes. That’s where the fun began. First, neither of the two VCRs we use would accept the adapter that the customer provided. My main VCR even refused to eject the cassette for many minutes. (I’m not even sure what made it change its mind… but the cassette finally popped out.)

So, attempting to be resourceful, I called up the owner of the cassettes to be converted and asked for their camera, thinking I could likely dump the data from there. All seemed good when I got the camera. Battery, check. Charger, check. Video out, check. We’re set!

However, working with old technology almost never goes as you’d expect. 🙂

The battery charged overnight, but didn’t hold a charge. At all. No power to the camera at all. So, I tried again. Still a “no go”. Then I noticed a tiny round battery slot on the underside of the camera. It wasn’t clear what this was for, but I figured it couldn’t hurt trying to replace it.

Off to Radio Shack I went!

Thankfully the folks at “The Shack” were quite helpful and I left the store with a new tiny round battery, as well as a new VHS-C cassette adapter as a backup plan. (I was quite glad I remembered to have a backup plan!)

The battery replacement did not work. Still no sign of life from the camera. Time to implement the backup plan!

I popped one of the small VHS-C cassettes in the new adapter, loaded in a fresh battery and slid the whole device into the VCR. I was quite relieved when the VCR accepted it, and loaded the video, ready to play it.

All went smoothly until I rewound the tape.

After successfully loading the video into the computer, and then the tape automatically rewinding once it reached the end, I hit eject, thinking all the techno-trouble was behind me.

Unfortunately, I was very wrong.

At this point, the VCR got even more stubborn than before! It would not only not relinquish the cassette, it kept powering down with every attempt to remove it. (And I was not liking the sounds that were coming from its attempts to dislodge the adapter cassette!)

Not knowing what else to do, I grabbed my screwdriver. (I’ve taken stuff apart before… this couldn’t be that much different, right?)

Thankfully… it actually was a tad easier than working with the insides of the various computers I’ve disassembled, modified, and reassembled.

After removing several parts, and fiddling with many do-hickeys … the cassette came free! I reassembled the VCR—crossed my fingers—and tried to load the next cassette.

I was somewhat surprised to discover that … it worked! And, even more surprisingly, I think it worked better than before!

Who knew I could repair VCRs?

So, it would seem I have found a new calling in life: VCR Repairman. I can’t imagine how much business must be out there just waiting for someone like me to grab it by the horns! There must be so many opportunities to fix these very current, super modern, ubiquitous video devices. Right?

Maybe not. But, if you do need your ancient technology repaired… now you know where to go!


* – Speaking of ancient technology, sorry in advance for the never-updated appearance and condition of my web design website! The saying is true, the cobbler’s family never has shoes! At least I have a website, but, again… sorry. 🙂

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