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Cleaning heads on a VX-1000

The cleaning tape that comes with a VX-1000 will not clear a head clog bad enough to make the visible quantizing / blocking artifacts that are the sign of a severe clog. In fact, the cleaning tape is high abrasive and will shorten head life. Head should be cleaned before any critical or long shoot. Also, it's been rumored that switching between stock from different manufacturers, can cause more clogging problems as the protection/lubrication layer is different between manufacturers and they don't mix well. I have heard that it's best to either stick with Sony, or stay away from it altogether, but don't mix Sony stock with Panasonic, for example. It would seem that a good head cleaning would eliminate this problem if you do it when switching stocks.

Head cleaning instructions:

(note: this may possibly void your warranty if you leave visible signs of entry, but it really is an essential procedure in order to use the VX-1000 for anything serious.)

5 screws hold the left side of the camera on. Each has a little arrow pointing to it. One is inside the tape compartment door nearest the back of the camera. (Don't remove the silver screw under the door near the front) One is on the back of the camera just above the upper left corner of the LCD display. One is on the top adjacent to the edit search rocker switch, and two are on the bottom of the camera. (Another screw on the bottom right on the centerline of the camera at the back edge does not need to be removed) Make sure you have the power disconnected and no battery in when you take the side off. I found out the hard way that when you disconnect the wire harness, the inner tape holder can eject. It's a real pain to get everything back together when this happens. If all power is disconnected, the assembly will stay retracted and it's easy to get the side off and back on. Of course, make sure there is no tape loaded.

Use a jeweler's philips screwdriver to remove the 5 screws. Store them in a safe place - they are very tiny and easy to loose. Double check for no tape, no external power, and no internal battery. Ease the side straight off until it just clears. Then you will have to flip the side over as if it was hinged at the front in order to get to the ribbon cable connector. Carefully work this loose. It's small and would be easy to break. Once it's loose, the camera side can be set aside.

You now have access to the head drum and tape guides. Using lintless head cleaning swabs or Tex-Wipe pad and head cleaning solution (not drug store alchahol which may have oils which will leave residue), wet the swab and then shake it to make sure it's not oversaturated. Hold the damp swab against the head drum with light pressure, but don't move the swab. Rotate the drum against the swab. This will ensure that only linear motion of the head against the swab will occur. If you move the swab against the head, you may introduce some lateral motion which may cause the very brittle heads to break. Clean the entire drum as well as the heads. Then clean the tape guides and anything the tape touches that you can get at.

Re-attach the ribbon cable, set the side into place carefully, not forcing it. You may have to jiggle it around a bit to get it to go home. It will be a very positive feel once it sets in place. If it feels mushy, it's not in right. Replace the 5 screws, being careful not to overtighten. They will strip out easily. If you can, give the unit a few minutes to make sure the solvent is completely dried out before inserting a tape. Make sure to do a test recording to see if everything is back the way it's supposed to be.

If you happen to get into a situation where the ejection mechanism opens up with the side off, this is a problem. It's like a puzzle to get it back together. Gently work it until you can get it retracted. The pieces are very light and easy to bend. Take extreme care not to force anything.