My Hitachi 8mm seems to have a tracking problem, when I play back old tapes, there is no sound and there is a horizontal bar across the screen. When I playback newly recorded tapes it looks great. How can I adjust the tracking so I can play back all my library. I was hoping to convert all the tapes into DVDs with my Mac, but it seems useless now, unless I can set the tracking.
I have had the same problem. There is no way to manually adjust the tracking on this Hitachi, or on most 8mm cameras, for that matter. I copied all of my more recent tapes to DVD first (2 copies of each) and then I went to the oldest tapes, which for some reason were OK. When I got to one tape that gave me trouble, I just let it play in the camcorder for about an hour. It adjusted its own tracking so that the picture was OK. Then, I rewound the tape and copied that one. I still have 2 tapes that will not adjust. I am going to send those out to a copying service. I hope they can adjust the tracking and make the copies I need.
By the way, I used this camera and a Panasonic DMR-E55 to make the DVD copies.
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It's a 4-head reversable deck where the Forward tracks are arranged across the physical tape surface, front-to-back as follows:
ForwardLeft ReverseRight ForwardRight ReverseLeft
...so it sounds like the Reverse playback heads are engaged at the same time you play Forward, so you would hear those adjacent tracks backward. If you play the tape in the Reverse direction, is the Forward program audible (but backward)?
If so and in otherwise high fidelity, something in the Forward/Reverse head selection may be hosed.
Or, if the out-of-phase tracks are mushy and low volume, the physical tracking of the tape across the heads could be WA-A-A-A-Y bad. That would probably be visible as sideways distortion in the tape path. Shine a high-intensity light on the tape where is passes over the heads, then reverse it while watching where it sets up on the heads. It should be centered on the heads and not change its orientation when reversed. Compare where it tracks in motion with the probable visible wear marks (shiny bars across the heads perpendicular to the travel) where the tape has polished the heads over the years.
Or, the heads are so worn the coils pick up signals from their neighboring tracks.
This sounds like it is the Tape recording function that is at fault. Unfortunately, it's also one of the most difficult to correct without a scope and test jig.
If it is more than 5 years old, it may be suffering from component failure.
In particular the Electrolytic capacitors in these small cams seem to fail first due to temperature and humidity changes. They can leak, dry up or corrode, so it may be worth looking inside at the control boards to spot any physical signs of deterioration.
This shows typical surface mount capacitors - silver cylinders with black segment denoting negative -
Yes, this sounds like dirty heads, typical symptom for analogue 8mm.
Yes you can clean the heads. It's a delicate procedure, but, requires
no disassembly. To clean your heads, I would run to Radio
Shack and buy cleaning fluid refils. Take a Qtip and dampen it with the
cleaning fluid. Open the camera, remove the tape and look for the video
drum. Lightly rub the Qtip along the drum horizontal to the spin
direction (not across the grain). Turn the drum and clean until you
have swept the entire circumference.
Have the same problem. This is what I have found in trying to solve the problem. It appears that it is a tracking problem and it appears that either your new "used" camera has the problem or your original camera had the problem.
A simple test would be to take another camcorder and see if the tapes play. If they do, and a recently recorded tape DOES NOT, you may just need to get another camera. Or, see if the camera can be re-tracked at a repair shop. However, be sure you have copies of your most recent tapes recorded with the bad tracking
It seems you are having a tracking problem. When the tracking is out of sync, you will notice digitized drop out then even audio distorts. It is caused possibly by shift in mechanical system or changed value of electronic components in tracking circuit. It is standard repair cost to remedy this kind of problem. Probably cost you around $125-200 in US repair shops.