These FAQs also apply to the very similar Panasonic AG-5710
About the Panasonic AG-1980 "DETAIL-NORM-EDIT" switch
This three-way switch, located on the AG-1980's flip-down control panel, controls several options.
The "edit" switch on the Panasonic AG-1980 operates differently from the "edit" selection found on many JVC VCRs. On a JVC VCR the "edit" position provides a relatively "unretouched" playback image. The "edit" position of a JVC doesn't apply any artificial filters or sharpening to the picture. However, the Panasonic AG1980 "edit" switch is used for a different function.
On the Panasonic AG-1980 there's an "edit" connection on the back of the unit. This connection is used to join two AG-1980s together for editing, or when the AG1980 is recording from a source such as a camcorder. When they're connected like this, you place the DETAIL/NORM/EDIT switch on the front panel in the EDIT position. For normal playback the DETAIL/NORM/EDIT switch should be in the NORM position, per page 28 of the AG1980 instruction manual.
If you playback a tape on an AG-1980 in the "edit" position, it's normal to see some noise and a somewhat blurrier picture. You'll see this on all AG1980's when in the "edit" mode. On the AG1980 schematic, the "edit" position bypasses several important parts of the chroma-video circuits to allow it to "mate" with another AG1980. If you view the "edit" video output on a waveform monitor, you'll see that resolution is reduced in a bad way. Again, use "norm" for regular playback as suggested in the instructions, "edit" position only your AG1980 is recording from another source.
The "Detail" position of the switch actually shows a bit more detail, but you'll only notice the difference if you're viewing a high resolution S-VHS (super VHS) tape. S-VHS recordings have a resolution approaching 400 horizontal lines, compared to a standard VHS tape which has about 230 lines.
Can I stack other equipment on top of my AG-1980?
No. The added weight is just enough to distort the metal plate above the tape loading mechanism. Any slight distortion to this metal will hang up the loading process. For optimum operation, keep at least a 2" airspace above and behind your AG-1980.
How can I prolong the life of my Panasonic AG-1980 VCR?
Unplug your VCR when it's not being used. We have all our equipment on power strips so we can switch it all off at night. If you can get at the power plug easily, unplugging is even better. One of the reasons for unplugging is that you protect the VCR against any power surges coming through the AC line. Another reason is that most VCRs use what's called a Vacuum Fluorescent Display (VFD). These displays operate in similar fashion to the old-style TV picture tubes, there's a filament that glows to activate phosphors. Over time the emissions decrease and the phosphor efficiency is reduced. If your VCR has a VFD display and it constantly stays plugged in, you may notice that the clock just doesn't look as bright as it used to.
All that being said, capacitors in your VCR benefit from having some voltage applied to them from time to time. There's electrolyte inside the capacitor. When a capacitor has voltage applied to it, this keeps the electrolyte from changing or "forgetting" it's characteristics. This doesn't require much attention, maybe just turn the VCR on for 15 minutes every few weeks. This is one reason why someone that's stored a VCR for a couple of years is surprised when they plug it in and find it's not working! Rubber belts also develop a "set" from being in one position for too long. So as with everything in life, a little exercise is always good!
The Hi-Fi sound crackles, or no Hi-Fi sound, even when the tracking is adjusted
When the Panasonic AG-1980 is in HI-FI mode it utilizes four video heads. One pair of video heads are used for the video image, and another pair of video heads for the HI-FI sound. A special "head switching" circuit controls the timing of when these heads are active. If the head switching timing is wrong it can affect the HI-FI sound, and/or the vertical sync.
Clogged or damaged video heads can seriously affect the HI-FI sound. The Hi-Fi sound can be completely gone, and you may be fooled because the video picture will still display properly. If there's no Hi-Fi sound available the AG-1980 switches to the alternate linear sound track. First, check the "audio select" button to make sure you have the Hi-Fi sound enabled. If that doesn't work, try carefully cleaning the video heads, following our instructions. If problems continue, please contact us for repair services.
When I go from REW to PLAY the AG-1980 shuts down with an error code
This often indicates bad brakes in the transport mechanism. Just like your car, the brake pads ensure that the tape stops quickly and promptly. If they slip or fail, tape starts unspooling inside the mechanism. This requires professional service.
After my tape rewinds, it automatically starts to play again
A sensor switch in the mechanism is bad and needs repaired. Professional repair is indicated.
I see a small white felt roller near the video heads, what is it for?
This is the automatic head cleaner mechanism. When a tape is threaded or unthreaded, it quickly (and gently) dabs against the video heads.
All my tapes play fine except for one. I'm thinking of adjusting the tape guide rollers.
Please don't do that! Back in the heyday of VCRs, people often tried to "improve" the playback quality of their tapes by tinkering with the tape guide rollers. This resulted in entire batches of tapes that wouldn't play correctly on other VCRs. Sure, they'd play fine on the VCR that was "tinkered" with, but they were outside standard VHS specifications.
When you purchase a Panasonic AG-1980 from TGrant Photo, it has been aligned and peaked to known standards that allow it to play a wide variety of tapes. Adjusting the tape guide rollers without monitoring the waveform envelope will ultimately give you mediocre performance and will void your warranty.
If you have just one VHS tape that seems to be "off track" your best bet is to buy a VCR at a thrift store and try to adjust it's tape guides to accommodate your "off track" tape.
The tracking changes, or drifts. This is especially noticeable when I eject, then re-insert and replay the same portion of the tape.
This usually indicates loose or worn tape guides. This is something we carefully look for when you send in a AG-1980 for repair.
Will adding a cooling fan help prolong the life of the AG-1980?
In our experience, no it won't. The Panasonic AG-1980 is well designed with cooling slots on the power supply. Adding a fan often has the undesired effect of bringing additional dust and contaminants inside the machine.
Please don't smoke!
There's a good reason that VCRs at broadcast facilities were often housed in "clean rooms". Particles in the air end up inside a VCR. If you're a habitual smoker, the cigarette residue is all over the circuit boards. We often have to bathe heavily contaminated circuit boards in a cleaning solution. What's good for your lungs is good for your VCR :)
Why does a Panasonic AG-1980 from TGrantPhoto cost more than the ones I see on eBay?
There's a big difference; several days of refurbishing several circuit boards, time spent electronically aligning and testing, careful packaging and shipping plus a 90 day warranty. We can't speak about how other sellers repair their VCRs, but at TGrant Photo we stand proudly behind our work!
My Panasonic AG-1980 VCR is showing the picture in black & white only
1.) check the VCR's COLOR/B-W switch. It may be set to B/W
2.) check and/or change the output S-video cable. Sometimes if the S-video connector isn't pushed in properly it will show an image, but the color is missing or messed up. A bad S-video cable might also be the culprit. Also try using the RCA video output.
3.) Try different VHS tapes of known quality.
4.) If you're running through a capture device, try connecting the output of the VCR directly to a TV/monitor and see if the problem continues.
If none of these suggestions fixes the problem, your Panasonic AG1980 might have a problem in the color-video circuit board. Give us a call, we can repair this type of problem.
The playback picture is really bad. The picture jumps up and down. When I look at my tape it's wrinkled all along the edges!
Stop using your VCR immediately! There's something out of alignment and your VCR is crinkling the tape edge as it plays. Your tape is getting irreparably damaged! This usually indicates that there may be some sort of mechanical or alignment problems, either inside the VCR or your tape may be sticky or moldy. We offer alignment & cleaning on several VCR models, so give us a call.
I love the jog dial on my AG-1980. I like to pause the picture and look at the details.
Be careful! Even though the tape is "paused", the video heads are constantly spinning to produce an image. We don't recommend pausing for longer than 60 seconds, since the tape can get "scalped". The magnetic oxide gets worn off the portion of the tape that is paused, this can cause a diagonal line on the actual tape surface.
What about Panasonic AG-1980 capacitor related problems?
The AG-1980's VCRs have a video board that has about 25 surface mount capacitors (SMDs) they're nearly always bad when we get them in for repair; the picture is either black, messed up with color bars or showing some other color problem related to the bad capacitors. Every Panasonic AG-1980 that we sell has its entire Y-C circuit board rebuilt. It takes us about 2-3 hours of intensive work to replace the bad SMD caps on a Panasonic AG1980. The replacement capacitors have improved chemical composition, and will last a very long time.
After the capacitors have been replaced, it's important to have the VCR realigned as a whole unit. Video levels and other values change with the addition of the new parts. Other circuit boards that interact with the Y-C board may also need adjustments or repair.
We often receive AG-1980s that, in addition to having bad capacitors, are badly aligned. This is often caused by technicians trying to compensate for the aging capacitors.
If you plan on purchasing a Panasonic AG-1980 elsewhere, you want to be sure that the color Y-C capacitors have been changed and that the unit has been mechanically and electrically aligned. If the AG-1980 still has the original capacitors (i.e. "new in-original-box"), it may work for a while, but after a few months you'll start seeing color worms, or worse.
Important note: Some customers have asked if we sell rebuilt Y-C boards for a D.I.Y. repair. We don't offer this service for several reasons. Unless you're very familiar with the AG-1980, there's the chance of damaging the mainboard and cables when you remove the Y-C board. Also, just replacing the bad capacitors on one board does not give optimal results. Several circuit boards on the AG-1980 interact, so problems in other circuit boards show up as video problems even though the Y-C board has been replaced. At TGrantPhoto, after we replace capacitors, the whole VCR is re-tested and aligned as a complete working unit. This is the only way to return it to factory specifications.
Why do I see a snowy picture in SP speed, but my EP (SLP) tapes play fine?
The Panasonic AG-1980 has four video heads. Two heads are used for SP speed, and the other two heads are used for EP (a.k.a. SLP). It's entirely possible for one head to be clogged (or broken) while tapes in EP mode can be viewed normally. More information about clogged video heads is here
My VCR's video head drum has a small bump in it, just below where the video heads spin
This is purposely put there by the manufacturer. The "bump" allows a little bit of air to get underneath the tape so it doesn't stick to the video head drum. Without this "bump", the video head drum would become highly polished, and so smooth, in fact, that the tape would actually stick and drag as it travels around the drum.
I hear a high pitched squeal when I play back any VHS tape
This usually indicates a problem with the "skew" adjustment. There's too much back tension on the tape as it leaves the video cassette and feeds into the machine. Unfortunately this is a complicated adjustment, requiring realignment of the mechanism. If you have a Panasonic AG-1980 or AG-1970, give us a call, we can perform the adjustment. Note: This could also be related to mold or stickiness on the tape. Try a tape that's known to be good and see how it plays.
Several of my VHS tapes screech like a banshee when I rewind them
There's a couple of possibilities:
Back in the 1980's, VHS T-120 tapes cost about $15, but there were overseas "knockoff" brands like Certron. You could buy these for $5 or $6 a tape. Guess what? They weren't made as well as the" Big Name" brands and certain shortcuts were taken in manufacture. It's usually these "off brands" that get very noisy during rewind. To make matters worse, off-brand tapes often had uneven oxide coatings that shed more than the "Big Name" brands.
However, if your Panasonic AG-1980 has never been properly serviced, it's very possible that all of the drive parts are dried out and require proper lubrication. This will create a loud screeching sound as your tapes rewind or fast-forward. Lubricating the parts correctly involves disassembly of the gear train. Special care must be taken not to get lubrication on the clutch mechanism and brake surfaces. The clutch is the heart of the tape transport, if it ever gets oil in it, you'll have a world of trouble! Panasonic recommends cleaning and lubrication every 500 hours of use, this prevents needless replacement of worn drive parts. If you need our help, we offer cleaning and lubrication services for the AG1980.
What's the difference between off-brand videotape and expensive name brands?
Videotape (and also audiotape) was manufactured on large mylar rolls, about 4 ft wide by about 1000 ft long. Onto this mylar base, magnetic oxide was sprayed and adhered with a special binding agent. Towards the end of the process the large roll is slit into the various widths for different uses. The best quality recording tape would come from the middle, where the oxide particles were distributed evenly. The outer parts of the tape had mediocre oxide distribution, this went to the budget tape sellers. Obviously, if you used high-quality, brand name VHS tape, you have a much better chance of retrieving good images from your archived recordings. Cheaper tapes didn't record as well, and after all these years they'll probably shed oxide much more easily.
I hear an echo from the audio playback!
Check the front panel HIFI/NORM MIX switch. When this is turned "on" the Hi-Fi audio is combined with the linear audio track. This often produces a strange echo effect. For most applications, leave this switch in the "off" position.
The power supply is hissing at me!
The power supply is located in a silver box at the left rear of the mechanism. It supplies various voltages to all the boards inside the VCR. Any hissing noise coming from the power supply indicates that some circuits inside the AG1980 are overloading. This indicates the need for professional repair.
Tape piles up inside the VCR when it comes out of rewind
Sometimes you won't even know this is happening unless you operate your AG-1980 with the cover removed. In other situations, the AG-1980 will go into STOP mode to protect itself. This indicates failure of the braking mechanism. It's especially noticeable when coming out of rewind while the tape is near the end, with very little tape on the left spool of the cassette. The braking mechanism is unable to stop the right tape spool in time, and the excess tape spools out behind the pinch roller. This is one of the problems that we test for and repair when you send your AG-1980 in for a Y/C board repair.
The front panel display is black or very dim
The Panasonic AG-1980 uses a VFD display (Vacuum Florescent Display). It works in a similar fashion to old style TV cathode ray picture tubes. Inside the vacuum sealed display panel, there's a heated element that discharges electrons. Segments of the display are coated with phosphors. The electrons hit the phosphors and induce them to emit light.
Unfortunately, over the years, the phosphors wear out causing a dim display. This is especially noticeable on the AG-1980's time display. It's always "on" all the time the machine is plugged in, and it's usually dimmer than other segments of the front panel display. When you send your AG-1980 in for repair, we rebuild many electronic parts in the display panel. Additionally, we employ proprietary methods that rejuvenate the brightness of your VFD display. The repaired VCR that you receive will have at least 85-90% of it's original brightness!
My AG1980 won't turn on, even the power LED is off
This could indicate a bad component inside the AG-1980, but first there's a couple of things you should try:
First, unplug the unit (remove the power plug from behind the unit) leave it unplugged for five minutes. This gives any instructions in the memory a chance to clear.
You should also check the power strip or a.c. outlet that's feeding the VCR. If you're getting power to the VCR, the clock on the front display should light up (dimmer than when it's turned on). Also suspect the power cable. You might want to try substituting another one (it takes the same type as mainframe computers).
The cause of the "power off" condition might be an anomaly from a power line spike during an electrical storm. The AG1980 does have internal spike protection in the power supply, but a voltage spike still might have rattled it's brains, so to speak. Also, large appliances, like heat pumps or electric furnaces in your home can create voltage spikes when they turn on!
It's safer if you can power the AG-1980 through a power strip that has an on/off switch and a spike protector. Then you can shut down the power to it when it's not needed. The best thing, of course, is to completely unplug it when not in use.
How do I remove a jammed tape from inside the AG-1980?
Please follow our instructions here
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