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Michael Kukat
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Sony DXC-M3A inside look

And the last arrival for the vintage video camera collection. A Sony DXC-M3A. Just 18€, plus expensive 12€ shipping. Sold for parts only, unknown condition. Without lens and viewfinder, the seller sells those separately for 249 and 59€ buy-now, not an option. I'm sure i'll find a suitable lens some day. And the viewfinder would be only nice for completion, technically, i have hacked a solution already :)

The first 2 or 3 tries, it powered down after some seconds, maybe the capacitors need some wakeup before everything performs great again. But at least i didn't find any leakage and with a provisoric photo lens i could test it. Works great, very sharp picture and with the video output, i also get a color picture (the VF output is monochrome only). It's amazing how good this thing seems to perform for a triple tube camera. They are known to be a bit problematic to get the 3 images of the tubes together correctly, it's completely analog, so no easy to synchronize pixel stream like from a triple CCD camera.

But i wanted at least one triple tube camera in the collection and this one is the last one Sony built, i think. And i wanted a broadcast camera with several boards, a friend who did video products had one open for display in his studio 20 years or so agi and i always liked it. Now i have my own :)
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Great. The BTTF camcorder, black forest edition, is fully operational again. I tried to fix the original battery but it was too dead. New cells would be the simplest option, just 8 AA cells. But charging batteries in this serial configuration is very suboptimal. I want to be able to out them in my intelligent charger which manages every slot separately.

So they need to be removable. The battery holders are a bit larger than the batteries alone, but i think this quick hack is not that bad. 2 4-cell holders glued into the original battry housing with double sided tape and i can even put the cover on too to make it look a bit nicer.

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++toys - Panasonic WV-F250

I decided that i have enough video cameras now and should stop getting more of them. But not without an adequate final addition :)

In fact, i bought this one more by accident, i didn't expect that such a beast goes out as fully working for only 55€. It would have been even greater with the docked S-VHS VCR (yes, fullsize cassettes), but the studio version without camera is also fine, analog video tapes are a little bit obsolete. I can attach a RPi with frame grabber as recorder.

No more tubes, triple CCD camera, outputs composite, Y/C, RGB, YPbPr, if i have seen this correctly.

Okay, i have to admit that this might be the last one i bought, but there is another one on the way to me, the collection also deserves a triple tube camera. Maybe it arrives until the weekend. That sums up to a total of 10 cameras at the end, including my modern full HD camcorder and the miniDV camcorder i got for free 1-2 years ago. No Plumbicons in the colelction, but besides this i have most of the technologies since the early 1980s together now. Looking for a SABA PVR 6083 plus tuner to complete the SABA collection.

Will test this beast later, the 4pin XLR connectors are also in the mail, so maybe it has to wait until tomorrow.

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SABA CVC 74 sl inspection and test

Today was the day. This cute camera i bought in original box, "likely never used" was opened. Because there are capacitors in it. And if it has capacitors, it might have a problem.

Good that i checked it. It really has a problem, there are 2 leaking caps in the viewfinder. The rest of the camera looks okay, but i'm not sure that it really was never used. There are some traces at the focus trimpot that's user-adjustable that don't look like it was only touched during final adjustment before it left the factory. There are also manual solder traces on some of the modules, but i have seen enough Japanese electronics meanwhile that this isn't necessarily a sign of a repair after shipping.

So i checked it without the EVF and the image quality is not that bad. The CVC 76 might deliver the same quality on manual WB, with the 74 i was forced to use fixed WB. Compared with the CVS 76 sl (which is the JVC GX-N7E), the 74 is stripped down, it lacks auto focus, motor zoom, auto WB, manual iris adjustment and fade in/out. And the microphone is mono only.

As i had no viewfinder, i just randomly shot through the landscape, but it's good enough to judge the image quality.

Some days ago, i noticed a focus on one brand in my collection. Okay, i liked SABA in my youth and they were not far away from here, but maybe it's the dark red. Technically, they are all JVC cameras. You can also get them as Nordmende. But they are not red. Okay, the CVC 79 sl also is not red, but it has a large keyboard under the cover for the title generator.

When did you see a CVC 74, 76, 79 and VM 6700 in one place the last time? You can do here:

No, i don't want the other 2 cameras from the 1984-85 catalog. They are ugly compared to the others. Maybe they are Panasonic :)

Update: Viewfinder fixed. The PCB was already damaged a lot by those 2 220µF/10V capacitors (SS type, but i didn't find a hint of a brand), i found a third one of the same type, unsoldered it and it also started leaking.

Replaced them and everything works fine. Time to re-check the EVF of the other one. And re-order those capacitors, only 1 left.
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Sony HVC-3000P Test

Time to post some demo videos of all those tube cameras i collected recently :)

Today, i soldered come connectors to the open cable of this 15€ HVC-3000P. Now, it's a USB camera :) Call it webcam for retro nerds like me. Maybe i should try a Skype call with this one some day.

As posted earlier, i had to remove the completely rotten IR filter, so for this test, i attached my B&W 486 UV/IR cut filter. You see some vignetting in wide angle, that's because my filter is 52mm and the camera has a 58mm filter mount, so i needed to adapt this.

I tested with and without the filter, but the setup involved the computer in the living room and me on the patio out there, with 2 2m extension cords inbetween - the connection was too unstable for the full 10min i had in the first shot, even the second one was truncated, but at least a bit came out for your entertainment. As i prepared my garden furniture yesterday, i might sit out with the tablet later and do some more experiments.

Simply said - from what i've seen to far, the Trinicon cameras are so much better in image quality than the Newvicon/Saticon ones. They use a RGB stripe filter with an index electrode mechanism to know what stripe they are currently looking at, while the others use a white/cyan/green stripe filter and derive the color demux completely from the amplitude. Intelligent approach, but Sony did the better job IMO.
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Cool. In the mail today. And from a quick look, it seems to be the right one for the SABA CVC 76.
I just need to convert it from DeadTreeFormat to PDF, which will take a while, it has a lot of pages...

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SABA CVC 76 sl teardown and test

As mentioned yesterday, this nice little camera has a lens fungus problem. That's annoying, but not really critical, i already fixed this in a photo lens.
As this camera even has an interchangable lens, it was easy to remove and i could take it apart yesterday evening.

Fungus has the nasty property that it's always inside optical system. Never outside, where it's easy to clean. In this case, it was on the second lens from the front and on the inner side of the back lens. It's easy the clean, just scrub it with a soft cloth and some IPA until the glass is clean. After this i always use the Lenspen for a final cleaning. The cleaning procedure a bit difficult because you need to clean both sides of the glass without touching them after cleaning. After you achieved this, the next challenge is to put the optics back together without getting any dust into it.

After several iterations of this incredibly funny proceture, i decided that the current level of dust in the system is acceptable.

Next was the Newvicon tube, i also have seen fungus there, on the IR filter. And i was really impressed how easy it is to remove the tube from this camera. It's an extremely compact construction, but just 4 connectors or so, 3 screws, unsolder the ground connection from the tube and remove the whole electronics module. It's really a pleasure to work on this camera. At least mechanically. I'm not sure if i keep this opinion when it's necessary to measure things on the components of the small boards...

Good thing was that the fungus was not between the filters, which seem to be sealed together. There is some strange visual oddity, but at the moment, i didn't touch this one. The fungus was on both glass surfaces between the front bias lighting and the IR filter. Again, usual procedure, cleaning, putting back together, repeat until dust level acceptable :)

As i have seen a suspicious spot on one of the small modules, i decided to have a closer look. You really need to unsolder those modules. The spot lookes like flux foam, cleaned it, done. While i had the module removed, i checked the SMD capacitors for leakage and also did some rough in-circuit capacity measurement (a very unreliable method, but the readings were good enough).

After i put everything back together, with is really easy with this construction, i used the 10m extension cable and the nice weather for a quick demo video.

The white balance is a bit challenged (i should have used fixed WB, not auto) and the left side of the image doesn't look entirely clean, but basically it works okay, might need some adjustment to fix the last problems.

But this camera seems to be very sensitive to dust in the optical system, there are some ugly spots, especially in bright scenes. So there is some work left for the near future. At least i stopped the fungus from growing.

I found an original JVC GX-N7E service manual in DeadTreeFormat yesterday on eBay, ordered it, so i hope it really is a rebranded version of this model :)
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SABA CVC 76 sl

Nice little camera, very compact. Basically works, but i spotted fungus in the lens system and likely on the IR filter. This needs some more maintenance.
The image shows some stripes in the left area, has some greenish tint, but all in all is quite good. This needs some adjustment, so i need to find more proof that it's really a JVC GX-N7E before buying a service manual. Didn't find a free one out there.

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SABA CVC 76 sl inside

No, that's not the NOS camera, it's the other one that came today. I have to share this. This is so incredibly beautiful. All those small PCBs. Like in a big broadcast camera, just much smaller. This camera even has a detachable lens, there were adapters for many SLR mounts.

Okay, the maintainability suffers, those small PCBs seem to be soldered to the main board. But alone the lack of thousands of cables makes it much cleaner. Amazing how the construction of those things improved between 1982 and 1984.

Okay, caps look good, but i spotted some of those evil SMD aluminum caps. No leakage yet but it makes me worry.

Putting it back together and throwing some power into it. Let's see what happens.

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Breand new old stuff

Yeah, i know, i have too many of those things already. But there was not even the slightest chance to resist getting this cute tube camera. Another Newvicon model, but compared to the others i already have, it's very tiny. Not sure what original model it exactly is, there are 2 very similar SABA models, the CVC 74 and CVC 76, this one is the 74 (the 76 is still in the mail...). They seem to differ in lack of auto focus and some other features on the CVC 74. The CVC 76 looks very similar to the JVC GX-N7E, but there are some differences. The SABA (and also Nordmende and Magnavox, as i found) models have a more slanted rear end, while the JVC seems to be straight. The side cover also differs, the JVC's one is a single color while the SABA has a two-color cover. I wonder if i should get a GX-N7E for a real comparison :)

Okay, the main reason why i wanted this one - it's not just in the original package, it very likely even never has been powered up since it left the factory. There are no visible traces of any use. I now have the hard decision if i put this in the collection as-is, likely unused and never opened, or open it to have a look at the electronics and then power it up after this first check.
Just powering up without a check is not an option. This baby is 34 years old, if it really wan't powered up yet, it might just catch fire when it gets power right now. It's not even unlikely that most of the electrolytic capacitors are completely unusable, rendering the camera a write-off. From this side, the first option would be the safer one. But it's the more boring one...
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