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Camcorder Repairs Guidance for Dealers & Sales Staff

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Author: Steve Beeching I.Eng. M.R.T.S.

1. Ensure that the owner gives a full description of the problem plus any information apertaining to the actions being taken when the problem occurs.

2. Determine if the problem is a record or playback defect, does the product play previously recorded tapes?

3. In the case of a picture defect, ask for a sample tape illustrating the problem.

4. Quite a number of problems are tape based, has the owner tried a different size tape or brand.

5. Long Play speed and Long play tapes are for convenience NOT performance and often give rise to problems.

6. The error codes given below can often be traced to tape based problems or adverse environmental conditions.

. Error Codes
Panasonic JVC Description
F01 . No Take-Up reel rotation
F02 E03 No Supply Reel rotation
F03 E02 Mechanism has not unloaded to the Eject position
F04 E01 Mechanism has not fully loaded up to the stop position
F05 E04 Rotation of the video head has stalled or too fast
. E06 Tape drive motor is not rotating or stalled
F31 . Data Transmission error
F51 . Focus drive motor is not functioning, no focus. Color
F52 . Zoom drive motor is not functioning, no zoom
U10 . Dew Sensor has detected condensation or failed
U11 . Video Heads have been detected as clogged failed

Digital Camcorders

Due to the very small, lightweight mechanisms and very thin tape used, digital camcorders are more susceptible to adverse conditions of temperature change and humidity.Particularly when taken from cold conditions into a hot or humid climate or room.

The video heads are in fact digital data heads.The limits of the digital compression system are coping with high definition, fast moving scenes. Something in the picture with lots of detail moving fast stretches the system to its limits.

Therefore when the heads are partially clogged or dirty with loose tape oxide dust and the efficiency of the heads are impaired then small error blocks occur in playback. These are called MACRO blocks.

The video (data) heads record and playback alternately in bands across the screen, ten bands in total, five each.

During playback the picture viewed is NOT directly off of the tape, it is the output of a memory chip (IC). If the data from a head is corrupted then it does not refresh the memory chip.

If one of the heads is clogged picture defects vary from small Macro blocks scattered in bands and only visible on movement, up to complete bands. Sometimes black, mostly with fragments of other pictures remaining in the memory because it has not been updated.

If both heads are clogged there is no picture at all, black for Panasonic, perhaps with an odd message ?Unplayable Format? and blue screen for JVC.

Cleaning tapes may not be fully effective in serious cases of clogged heads but it is worth a couple of tries.

clogged or dirty digital video head clogged or dirty digital video head

Examples of a clogged or dirty digital video head

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