At least one blog post per month to write I have set myself the goal, even if it is not always easy to implement this temporally. Anyone who has small children himself can perhaps imagine that. But in the evening and in between, I can collect material and edit it. -> it just takes everything much longer. This time I organized a Sony DAT recorder for retro audio. It is a Sony TCD-D3 from 1990-91, a so-called DAT Walkman.
DAT (Digital Audio Tape) is an audio magnetic tape recorded digitally. The recording format and the sound quality are essentially similar to those of the audio CD. The recording takes place on small cassettes, which were also used in the storage area in the EDP (DDS tapes). The DAT format was intended as the successor of the audio cassette, could not prevail in the broad market. It is also discussed here that the music industry did not want to see the format in the consumer world, as it was possible with the system to produce digital, lossless copies.
The technical structure of the cassette drive corresponds to that of a video recorder. The tape is pulled out of the cassette with loading arms and passed around a rotating head (DAT-R). The recording is done in helical scan. The copy, which I acquired this time as „defective“, was with the defect: Cassette shaft does not open, described. After dismantling, I noticed that I was not the first to look at the inside of the device after the factory. Someone was already messing around. All (tantalum) capacitors were soldered, the lead wires to the battery pole contacts were „pinched off“ and the wires were missing. The Flexiprint, which connects the front panel to the mainboard, had a broken track when looked at closely.
The broken wire could be repaired by carefully scraping off the insulation and brazing a stranded wire. The capacitors I have all newly soldered and of course checked before. Here I noticed that some were not soldered properly and had a cold loosening at a pole or were not connected to the pad. The battery contacts were also provided with new wires. On the mainboard there is also a DC / DC converter, which makes the supply voltages for the logic and the audio components from the 9V input voltage. (5V +/- 7V). This converter is housed in a completely soldered tinplate box. Of course, nobody was inside and checked the Elkos inside. That was done quite quickly and the small box was overtaken. Now I was able to provisionally reassemble the boards and drive and put them into operation. As data carrier I used a DDS (storage) cassette. So tension on it and „Eject“ pressed and lo and behold, the cassette compartment opens immediately. From my Handyaudioplayer as a music source, I made a trial recording. And what can I say, a wonderful sound quality!
The next issue to fix is more of a visual nature. These are the side casings, which are coated with a rubber coating and this begins to seem to change chemically and becomes sticky. So I washed this gum carefully with isopropanol and tried not to replace the white printed lettering with. That worked quite well. With acrylic clearcoat I then painted the parts.
After curing the clearcoat I was able to assemble everything again and start the final test. The following pictures show the inside of the TCD-D3.
The Sony RX100 digital still camera with its 20.2 megapixel EXMOR CMOS sensor impresses with its excellent image quality and compact design. The sensor size of one inch and the front Zeiss Vario Sonnar F1.8 lens are also responsible for the good image results. With 10x6cm and a thickness of 3.6cm, the camera is still suitable for pockets. (Although I would not recommend it). The 3.6x optical zoom lens is retracted when it is switched off and extended when in use.
But after some time and a number of in´s and outs of the optics, it may – or better – it will come to a situation where the optics refuse to serve. This manifests itself in different ways. Either nothing happens after switching on, the optics do not move and only the message („Power Off and on again“) appears on the display, or the lens moves out a bit and then back in again. Now you could assume that the camera has mechanical damage, the sliding surfaces inside the optics are dirty, or something is bent or warped and jammed by a possible fall. But that’s usually not the case. In this case, the camera has never been subjected to strong mechanical, thermal, etc. stresses and there is still an error. If you do a little research on the Internet, you will find some repair tutorials where you try to clean with some paper strips between the slide rings of the optics etc. No reasonable information was found. So I have no choice but to look for the cause of the problem myself. And it was found quickly. After opening the device and slightly lifting the rear housing cover, the object suddenly extended again. If the lid was replaced, the problem was there again. So there had to be a contact error somewhere. In the following lines I present my way to a functioning camera:
After loosening the screws and removing the plastic base plate, the rear cover can be removed with the control panel and the monitor.
The Flexprint for the screen and the one for the control unit can be released, the small speaker can simply be hung up. Now the battery can be inserted and the camera can be switched on again. In this case the lens opened and extended again correctly. So it’s really a contact problem. But where? I tried to put light pressure on the Flexiprint, which supplies the mechanical part of the optics. (Not the one that leads from the sensor to the mainboard.) With this slight pressure on the Flexprint, the device was switched on again and lo and behold -> hit. The optics didn’t move. That could also be understood. So this Flexprint seems to have a line break at the kinks. Apparently, this print is mechanically stressed due to the construction and retraction of the lens and thus yields and breaks at some point. (Perhaps also planned obsolescence). Anyway, I looked for a replacement on the net, found it and after a week of waiting the new Flexiprint was already delivered.
The new print for the optics is sold without any components. This means that from here a little experience in handling soldering tools, SMD components and flexible circuit boards is required.
The optics must be exposed and removed. To do this, the mainboard must be detached. (three screws in total). Then carefully remove the black film from the back of the optics. (Be careful with all flexible cables) Once the film is off, the flexprint to the sensor can be unplugged.
Next, the motor unit is released and the motor is separated from the lens housing.
There are some components on the print, such as plug connections and small fork light barriers, which are installed in the lens (lens position) and in the motor unit (two pieces as incremental encoders and for determining the direction of rotation). These are held in place with small metal brackets and must be released before removing the lens unit.
The lens, drive unit and mainboard are removed. All plug connections between the optics and the drive motor must be disconnected.
The motor unit can now be separated from the lens. The Flexiprint is attached to the lens housing with tape and small hooks. These have to be solved.
Now disassembly of the motor unit continues. As previously mentioned, there are two fork light barriers in the plastic housing of the motor gearbox, which are also held in place with a clamp. This can simply be clipped out. To complete the removal, the motor must be unsoldered. Now the Flexiprint is free and the delicate step can begin.
The small SMD connectors must be unsoldered from the old print and reattached to the new print. This work requires cleanest hand towels, as the small plastic housings can be easily destroyed when unsoldering. I recommend here to heat the print only from the bottom, and then lift the plug off with tweezers. Otherwise you run the risk of deforming the plastic of the connector too much heat. If this is successful, the plugs can be soldered onto the new Flexprint.
The same work is also to be done with the fork light barriers. Then only the contacts of the motor have to be soldered to the designated positions in the flex board.
If that worked, the assembly can be done in reverse order. When bending the flex board into the correct position, you can orient yourself on the old board. Then the installation should not be a problem. A function test should be carried out before attaching the rear wall of the camera (rear cover). The lens must extend and retract without a monitor or control panel. If that also works, then it can be finalized. In my case, the repair was successful. Let’s see how long it takes for another conductor to break in the flexible PCB …
Occasionally I browse flea market websites for vintage and retro devices from the 70s, 80s and 90s. If an absolute bargain is in sight, then I strike and sacrifice a few euros. This time I found a whole box of Sony portable media players. The whole thing just cost me the equivalent of a pack of Cafe. However, the state of the devices in terms of function is also unknown. A particularly beautiful piece (yes – that’s always in the eye of the beholder) from this box is the Videowalkman GV-8E from Sony. This is a portable, analog video player / recorder that has a VHF / UHF television tuner and an LCD monitor integrated in one device. While that may not be anything exciting today, the GV8E was a very nice and expensive piece of technology when it was launched in 1988. So the portable lands on my table and gets its 6V DC supply from the power supply. The disillusionment comes as quickly as the initial euphoria. The device shows no function despite the power supply being upright. It does not react to any key press, no LED lights up. (Somehow I was expecting this or something similar)
But the ambition is too great not to look inside the device and to look for the problem. I quickly started disassembling and roughly dividing the device into its components. The service documents can be found online, which are very helpful here.
After examining the block diagram of the entire system, the start of the troubleshooting was the DC / DC converter board. This board, covered by a shield plate, produces all the voltages required for the supply of the individual components from the 6V input voltage. A measurement on the test pins on the board showed that some voltages were missing. So there must be a problem here.
After removing the shield plate and inspecting the components, I noticed a defective 1.6A fuse (F103). This fuse protects the primary circuit of the switching converter. It can be seen from the plan that transistor Q114 was low-resistance and thus caused the fuse to trip.
The transistor is a 2SB1121 bipolar PNP transistor. Of course I didn’t have that in my collection. So thinned the component boxes for a suitable replacement …
Then I found a PBSS5250Z, which has a slightly larger housing, but should do its job in the circuit.
Due to the larger design and the limited space available, I could only solder the replacement transistor upright.
Now a new fuse is still missing in the board. After installing and checking the other components in the affected circuits, the next function test was started. All boards electrically connected again and 6V connected to the battery terminals – and look – the Powersupply board starts up and the voltages are there. Now the GV8E can be switched on again with the power button, the LED also lights up and a quiet noise can be heard from the loudspeaker. However, none of the drive motors are running and the LCD monitor remains dark. The LED lights up briefly when the „Ejekt“ button is pressed, but the motor responsible for ejecting the cassette compartment does not start. That means -> continue searching for errors. First of all I will take a look at the LCD monitor. It is quickly removed and dismantled. All the less pleasing is the condition of the board. Here the „decaying“ electrolytic capacitors raged with their „body fluids“. (Of course this means the electrolytes)
The liquid electrolytes of the electrolytic capacitors have leaked over the years and have attacked the conductor tracks and also the solder joints. Sometimes it is so bad that small components, such as SMD transistors and resistors, fall off the board as soon as they are touched. At the latest now it is absolutely necessary to have the circuit diagram of the device at hand. Otherwise it will be difficult afterwards to correctly refill the missing parts. But first the old electrolytic capacitors had to be removed.
With PCB cleaner I was able to remove the remains of the electrolytes and only then could I see the damage to the circuit board. Corroded areas had to be sanded with a glass brush and burned components had to be replaced. After cleaning again, the new capacitors (this time ceramic multilayer capacitors instead of the electrolytic capacitors) have found their place.
After this procedure the time had come. The next function test started. After reconnecting all plug connections and the power supply, there were further signs of life. The backlight (CCFL) started again and in the upper left corner it was „00:00“ to see the flashing clock of the on-screen display … Unfortunately, that was all. The OSD display was very blurry and the rest of the picture was white. The brightness controls did not respond. So the board had to be examined „big“.
The board of the LCD monitor still had many broken conductor tracks, which had to be laboriously repaired with individual strands and enamelled copper wire. There were also some SMD components (resistors and transistors) so corroded at their connections that only an exchange helped. The result looks a bit wild, but another function test was finally positive.
After I reassembled the monitor, I went to the drive. Here, too, I first checked or renewed all SMD electrolytic capacitors, as ALL of them had really leaked out. Fortunately, the circuit boards here were not so severely etched and can be easily cleaned. Then the function test came. And unfortunately there were still problems here. There was no cassette ejection and no reaction from any of the drives. After studying the service manual and measuring many supply voltages, I was able to identify a processor as a source of errors. It is a SONY CXP80116.
This chip controls all drives, leds, queries sensors, etc. It is also responsible for ejecting the cassette compartment. It controls a driver IC (bridge) via pins 20 and 21, which in turn supplies the charging motor. And exactly the two outputs remained at 0V. When the „Eject“ button was pressed, only a few millivolts were measured instead of the 5V. So at first there was a suspicion that the driver IC has an error and is pulling down the outputs of the controller. So the outputs from the controller to the motor driver were separated and 5V directly connected to the motor driver input – and lo and behold, the loading motor was activated. So the problem is with the 80116. After some back and forth I was able to find one of these and exchanged it. Another test pleased me, because the cassette could be loaded again and the head drum started.
And the next problem already appeared. One of the two loading arms only drove half off and then got stuck. That means I also have to disassemble the mechanics of the drive. Said and done. Fortunately, it was only a small bolt that holds a drive lever. This had loosened and slipped out. So the problem was quickly resolved. Now I was finally able to do a function test again. And this time everything worked. The cassette was loaded, the head disk started, the tape was threaded and finally it could be played. After I had tested all functions, the GV-8E can be reassembled. Now he can go to the showcase as a „museum piece“;)
Technical data of the GV-8E:
Video recording System: Rotierendes Zweikopf-Helical-Scan-FM System
Audio recording System: Rotierender Kopf, FM System
The Sony TC-150 is the newest, old member of the collection. Once again purchased as a defect device, this baby found a place in the workshop. After a quick inspection, it was immediately clear that the ravages of time were gnawing and, as is often the case, the drive belts became brittle or decomposed. Otherwise, the device is in perfect condition, hardly any scratches and damage to the case. The battery compartment was also clean. There are four belts of different lengths in the device.
Suitable replacement belts can be obtained, for example, from a large electronics store that is represented in Austria by six megastores. You will quickly find what you are looking for under the name „drive belt range“ and „1.1mm edge length“. Replacing the straps is less quick. Here you should take at least half an hour and carefully take the drive apart.
The main circuit board must be removed in order to access the pulleys or to be able to unscrew them further. However, this is only possible if some lines are unsoldered. Only then you can fold up the board. Once that’s done, you can unscrew the retaining plates above the pulleys. They form the backing of the flywheels (capstan shaft). On this occasion, it is advisable to check the capstan shaft for dirt (due to belt wear) and damage, or it should be cleaned. The pressure roller must not be neglected either. In this model, both were in great condition. The pinch roller was neither glazed and brittle, nor contaminated with tape wear or shrinked. So I could put on the new straps. The main belt from the engine is put on with a rotation of 90 °. Here you should note the installation position of the old belt, if it still exists, or at least do a short test run after fitting the new belt.
If everything turns again (and especially in the right direction) then the assembly can be done. Solder the wires again, screw the circuit board and the repair is done. To have this man a test cassette, here are some parameters, such as tape speed or the tracking of the tape head, which are given and adjusted if necessary.
Technical data of the SONY TC-150:
Type: TC-150 (Europa) bzw. BT-50 USA
year of production: ca. 1977 – 1982 (according to various sources)
Modell kind: portable Cassette Corder
tape speed: 4.8cm/s
heads: 1 recording-/playback head
1 earase head (Permanentmagnet)
semiconductors: 8 tranistors, 5 diodes, 2IC´s, 1 FET
Power : Outputpower: max 360mW
Powerconsumption : max 9W
Supplyvoltage: battery 4×1.5V AA, or accupack BP28
12V Caradapter bzw. 6V 4W wallplug
operationtime: 2.5h at continous recording
Speaker: dynamic 5cm Lautsprecher
Abmessungen: 174 x 29.5 x 113 mm (BxHxT)
weight: ca. 769g