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Vintage Television and Video Vintage television and video equipment, programmes, VCRs etc.

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Old 22nd Oct 2015, 1:56 am   #1
Henenen
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Default 3D Printing a Philips N1500/N1700 Player

OK, this is a bit of a concept, but would it be theoretically possible to design and build a player of N1500 or N1700 tapes using 3D printed plastic/metal parts, custom PCBs, and off-the-shelf components?

I'm not thinking of an attempt to replicate an existing model, I mean design a simple bare bones player that any hobbyist could put together themselves, in order to rescue content from old N1500/N1700 cassettes. A bit like the 'Build Your Own Tube Amplifier Kits' that we have now for audio.

Eg, the player wouldn't need a tuner, recorder, timer. Possibly not even a cassette loading mechanism if it really was bare bones. A lift-off lid would allow you to place/retrieve the cassette by hand. The lacing up/delacing could possibly be done with a hand turned lever rather than electronically, in order to keep things simple, etc, etc....

Would the service manuals for the original machines provide enough info to design necessary PCBs and circuitry?

I'm pretty sure the sticking point in this idea is gonna be the heads, but I saw a video of someone 3D printing obsolete 1907 car engine parts the other day! Can replica heads be that impossible by comparison?

So I'd like to throw the idea out there. There will come a day when there's no working machines left at all. The media will outlive the machines.
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Old 22nd Oct 2015, 2:06 am   #2
dj_fivos_sak
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Default Re: 3D Printing a Philips N1500/N1700 Player

I have the service manual for the N1500 if you need it. But it would take sooo much time to build one using a 3D printer!
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Old 22nd Oct 2015, 2:14 am   #3
Henenen
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Default Re: 3D Printing a Philips N1500/N1700 Player

Yup, I realise time and cost would be big factors in such a project, but putting those aside for a moment, is it even possible?
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Old 22nd Oct 2015, 3:16 am   #4
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Default Re: 3D Printing a Philips N1500/N1700 Player

I really don't know. What about the cassette mechanism chassis? I don't know if you can build one yourself. I think it is made of die-cast aluminum.
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Old 22nd Oct 2015, 7:50 am   #5
Henenen
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Default Re: 3D Printing a Philips N1500/N1700 Player

Does it need one?

The tape could just be hand placed on spindles on an open deck, a bit like at 0.28 in this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gG4Jt-VxMpg

Granted this guy had taken the spools out of the cassette, but this is what I was thinking when I say 'bare bones'. A clear perspex lid could go over it like a record deck to keep dust out.
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Old 22nd Oct 2015, 8:26 am   #6
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Default Re: 3D Printing a Philips N1500/N1700 Player

3D printing in metal has been done using laser sintering, but you don't get much choice in metals.

Getting the finish needed for bearings and for the head drum may be beyond what is currently possible. Printing the heads and the coils would be quite a challenge.

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Old 22nd Oct 2015, 10:53 am   #7
Henenen
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Default Re: 3D Printing a Philips N1500/N1700 Player

These guys custom print in 18 different materials, including 7 metals, and even wood!

https://i.materialise.com/materials

I think I saw in another thread on here someone said an ex Broadcast engineer made new heads for an old machine by just hand splicing up a section of the same material and glueing it in place of the old heads.

What are the coils made of BTW?
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Old 22nd Oct 2015, 12:24 pm   #8
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Default Re: 3D Printing a Philips N1500/N1700 Player

It seems pointless to try and re-make the whole machine when the vast bulk of the parts in the existing ones don't wear out, just the heads, the rubber drives and some of the plastic gears do in my experience.

Also the heads make it a complete no-go, I remember being told that a video head gap is the most accurately measured dimension in the domestic environment. It's positioning on the drum is also critical, 'Television' did a feature on the rebuilding line that MCES had, it was amazing to see what was involved. Remember too that they were buying the head chips in, they where just doing the "easy" bit of putting them on the drums.

A skilled machinist with a toolroom lathe and mill (and near infinite time and patience) could probably make most of it bar the head drum but 3D printing is kid's stuff by comparison, no chance!
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Old 22nd Oct 2015, 1:55 pm   #9
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Default Re: 3D Printing a Philips N1500/N1700 Player

The point of making a machine from scratch means there's no donor machine needed. So no testing of the parts that do and don't work, and no having to source a machine, which as years go on will be less and less easy, and possibly more and more expensive.

Each VCR from what I've read has its flaws, from 'things that always break' to being a pain to work on due to the way its constructed. This would be a chance to make something that is more easily serviceable, and also broken parts can be reprinted rather than looking for yet another donor machine.

As I guessed, the heads seem to be the fly in the ointment. What sort of precision are we talking here? There's already a printing that can go as fine as 6 micron (0.0006") in plastic: http://www.incept3d.com/high-resolution--objet.html

Remember I'm not expecting this could be achieved today or even next year, but we seem to be getting quite close.
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Old 23rd Oct 2015, 10:01 am   #10
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Default Re: 3D Printing a Philips N1500/N1700 Player

My guess would be that the supply of "donor" machines will always at least match the demand (which is very small). In fact at the moment it seems to be greatly in excess, judging by the hoards of stuff that some people have. These aren't difficult machines to find.

However hard it is to debug an existing machine it's always going to be easier than making one from scratch, an error-prone process since most of it would need to be done by hand.

We have a 3D printing machine here, a proper one that cost more than a decent new car. The results are still disappointing, the resolution is poor and the things it makes are fragile. Machining from solid is still the way to (if you have the gear and the skills) if you want to make anything useful. Machining new parts to repair the existing stock of VCR machines is clearly the easist way to solve this problem, but that still leaves the issue of the heads...
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Old 23rd Oct 2015, 11:14 am   #11
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Default Re: 3D Printing a Philips N1500/N1700 Player

If you're 3d printing you will need to test and reject far more parts than buying a few old machines and cannibalising! The comparison with printing earl 20th century car parts and a video player is like comparing flint tools with an iPhone. This may be possible at some point but I doubt it would be worth your while unless you were going to make hundreds of them. Just capturing and testing a single circuit board would probably take weeks and then you would have the problem of sourcing all the individual components.
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Old 23rd Oct 2015, 11:13 pm   #12
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Default Re: 3D Printing a Philips N1500/N1700 Player

For the exact dimensions of the micro world (that was how it was called in the later VCC machines) you would need either a donor machine and a micrometer, or the original plans that are not in the service manuals and probably scrapped around 2002 when the Vienna factory closed down (or possibly even years before that).

In any case, it doesn't make sense to me when you have the choice between re-engineering a few parts that break down too often or re-engineering the whole thing, you would choose to do the latter. I agree the number of machines far outwheigh the number of people who want to keep one running (which will get even lower over the years). The owners of such machines that I know, invariably own between 3 and 20 machines each and often numerous spare parts as well.

Video heads would be a problem as well, I would say conceptually the biggest problem a.k.a. showstopper. Why engineer a new machine that will run out of original spare heads while running out of original parts was the reason to engineer something new in the first place?

Also, you would need subtractive techniques (machining) in addition to additive techniques (printing) to manufacture it.

Last edited by Maarten; 23rd Oct 2015 at 11:20 pm.
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Old 24th Oct 2015, 7:52 am   #13
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Default Re: 3D Printing a Philips N1500/N1700 Player

I heard unconfirmed reports during the USSR era that people there had made their own VCRs from scratch, using whatever parts were available. Not the same thing, I know, but astonishingly resourceful at the time.
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Old 24th Oct 2015, 5:30 pm   #14
Henenen
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Default Re: 3D Printing a Philips N1500/N1700 Player

Forgive my ignorance but what are the differences between the heads in a N1500/N1700, and VHS, Betamax and V2000?

How does each differ from the other?

I ask because this thread proposes transplaning the head-chip from a VHS machine.
https://www.vintage-radio.net/forum/...ad.php?t=61977
...but doesn't follow up on it.
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