Saturday, 19 September 2015

rescuing an ancient video tape

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I've been steadily working through some old video cassettes, rescuing the footage stored.

Eventually it had to happen where I found one that wouldn't play. The tape was all tangled inside the cassette.

"USA-Naples" it said on the case.

I decided to try to attempt a rescue.

There's five long, slender screws on the back of the cassette, which I carefully removed. The tape inside was a complete mess.
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Nothing for it but to use some scissors. I cut out the tangled part of the tape and then re-spliced the remaining tape with some sellotape. It only needed to work once. Refit everything back into the cassette shell and hold breath whilst attempting to play.

Yes, it worked.

Although an outdated format nowadays, I can admire the simple engineering of this video tape format. No complicated pulleys and wheels. It's actually simpler inside than a music cassette tape (and yes they used to regularly get mangled too).

I used the outstretched arms method to estimate the number of minutes I'd lost. About seven stretched arms lengths of tape, which I'd say was about seven minutes if the tape was Video8 or about three and a half minutes if I'd recorded it digitally.

I'm already up to 42 minutes on the recovered tape, so it was worth the effort.

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