Extras for Colin McCormick's Homepages.

Below are small segments of information on various subjects that don't necessarily require a web page of their own.  They are:

Poundland (Signalex) remote control.

In the UK, the Poundland shops have a universal remote control branded Signalex.  This can be hard to set up, and sometimes the code sheets are missing, so I have created a YouTube video about it:
Full scanned in code list now available:
And Poundland were good enough to provide me with the original PDF file which is searchable:

YouTube channel on youtube.com/video99couk
Poundland remote

My Plymouth web page was featured on BBC Radio Devon medium wave during September 2001, in an interview by Gordon Sparks.

This recording is copyright of BBC Radio Devon, but has been given kind permission to be used here.  You will need an MP3 player such as Winamp to play this file, which is 4 minutes in duration.  (Please note the web link mentioned in this audio article is no longer valid.)

My Hillman Avenger web page has become the definitive resource for information on these cars.

Tim Hart, an ex- Steeleye Span member released a song called Hillman Avenger in 1979, on the Chrysalis label.  You didn't know that did you?!  The song is here in MP3 format 

But if your memories of driving Avengers were not good ones, you need to watch a little clip that was recorded in 1991, which I found while transferring some Betamax camcorder tapes to DVD (movie is in Windows .asf format):

Movie (AVI file) of two monster trucks ripping an Avenger apart. The end of an Avenger

My BSB & Squarials page has a great deal of information on BSB satellite receivers, the attractive Squarial antennas that often went with them, and what to do with them now.

Here are some short clips of BSB captions, kindly sent to me by Gary Moorcroft.

BSB News intro
Galaxy Club
Galaxy Club end of evening transmission
Last ever Galaxy opening on 1st December 1992
NOW channel
The Power Station
The Movie Channel
Pre-startup advertisement
Power Station closure announcement

You will need Real Player to play these short video clips.

My Beta video in the UK page shows the story of the great Beta vs VHS battle, as well as many other formats past and present, and discusses the future of video.

Beta (Betamax) video recorders in good working order are now quite valuable, so here is information on keeping one going:   How to replace the reel idlers and drive belts in a Sanyo Beta (Betamax, Betacord) video recorder.  Useful for all Sanyo machines from around 1983 onwards.  Examples shows front loading machines and also top loaders like the VTC5000.  Earlier models such as the VTC5300 are not covered.

I have placed the service manuals for the Philips VR2023 and VR2024 V2000 format video recorders here.  Care, this is a 44MB file download.

How to Convert an HP C4103A Infra red module for use as a PC IrDA port.

Pretty obscure stuff, but the other web pages on the subject are not in English, so I have put some useful information together here.  The C4103A is a little printer add-on you might find in a junk shop, which may save you the cost of a IrDA port for your PC.

DFI Infinity2 Ultra (INF NFII ULTRA) motherboard BIOS for 3Gb/s (SATA-II) drives.

Can't get past SIL3114 boot screen with a modern SATA drive installed on this motherboard?

You will see from the DFI web site that the latest BIOS is here.  However that BIOS still has the obsolete SATA/RAID Sil3114 version 5.0.35, and this will generally not work with modern SATA drives which have a 3Gb/s interface even if those drives have been configured for 1.5Gb/s operation.  For example, a Seagate Barracuda 750GB (ST375084) will cause the SiL3114 SATA/RAID driver to hang during the boot sequence regardless of whether the 1.5Gb/s link has been installed.  There is an updated v5.4.0.3 driver available for the Sil3114 chipset on the motherboard, but it is a bit fiddly to patch this into the motherboard BIOS, and DFI have declined my invitation to do this for their customers.  So to save other owners the time and trouble of doing this, I have provided the patched motherboard BIOS.

You can use the DFI utility to create a bootable floppy drive and then overwrite the N24IDB24.BIN file with the one I have provided (you will need to unzip it first).  Then boot from that floppy drive and the BIOS will be updated.  Alternatively you can use Winflash, though I didn't do it that way since I have a floppy drive on my system, and I was advised that the floppy drive method is more reliable.

After updating, the BIOS screen during bootup will not look any different until it gets to the SATA/RAID driver, where it will show version instead of  5.0.35.  It will now work properly with 3Gb/s SATA drives (sometimes incorrectly called SATA II), though it will still run in 1.5Gb/s mode.  I was able to install two Seagate Barracuda 750GB drives alongside my existing older 200GB and 320GB SATA drives in the system.

This information is provided as a result of help from this site and its owner, at the nforcersHQ web site, whom I extend my gratitude.  It is provided as-is without any guarantee about suitability for your application and I take no responsibility for any mishap relating to this information.

Alas this motherboard eventually died, continuously rebooting, as some of the capacitors on it had gone low value and/or high ESR.  Due to the long through-plated holes, replacing the capacitors was simply going to take too much time so the motherboard was scrapped.

The CP10-S laptop sold in the UK by Staples.  

I bought a very small sub-notebook computer from the local Staples branch in early 2004.  It is branded both Cyclone and Centerprise, and shows both the CP10-S and CP10V model numbers underneath it, as well as the name "Arima" who are the original manufacturers.  Arima also make laptops for NEC and Compaq, and this model is seems to share batteries etc with the NEC Versa E120.  There is very little information on this model available on the net, so I will put information here as I come across it, and there is now a user forum on Yahoo.  As supplied by Staples, this computer has a 1GHz Nehemiah C3 processor by Via.  Now in 2004 this is a pretty low spec, but it is designed more about low power consumption and minimal cooling requirements than very high performance, and as a result this was probably the smallest and lightest laptop you can buy at at the time.  Supplied with an external USB CD-RW/DVD drive, it was superb value at 599, and I got a year's interest free thrown in too.  I'm particularly impressed with the Compact Flash slot (takes my camera memory card) as well as a PCMCIA slot, and the usual USB2, Firewire, Lan and modem connectors.  As with other sub-notebooks (12.1" screen), it lacks serial and parallel ports, but these are becoming less important today.  I'm using an external USB to serial port adaptor for connecting with my portable GPS.  No floppy drive is supplied, these really being obsolete now.  The computer comes with a 20GB hard disk, which was somewhat the minimum at the time

There are two things I need to point out to owners of this laptop:  Firstly, be sure to keep the air vents underneath clear.  With such a tiny computer, it's easy to use it anywhere, but I managed to upset it once by running it for hours on a pile of magazines which blocked the vents.  It blue-screen crashed and rebooted.  The other thing you may have noticed is that the backslash key "\" to the left of the space bar, does not give you the correct character, instead it duplicates the "`" key to the right of the space bar.  Staples support line can send you a BIOS upgrade CD, which you load into the external CD-RW/DVD drive, plug into the laptop, and then power up.  It will boot, probably complain that it can't see an IDE CD-Rom (press A for abort to go past this error), and will then update the firmware.  The odd thing is that the firmware revision of F06 (shown in the BIOS screen obtained by pressing F1 during boot-up), does not change as a result of this upgrade, but it does cure the keyboard layout problem.  Accepting no liability for disasters of any sorts, I've provided an image of the Staples firmware upgrade CD here.  Burn this to a CD (you could use a CD-RW) with Nero (tell Nero to create a CD from this image, don't just put the file itself on a CD), and you can solve the keyboard layout problem without the trouble of going to Staples support line.

The Staples machine is a 1GHz version of this 933Mhz one sold by Via which also seems to appear as the Prestigio CP10V Lite, the Bliss 2060 and the X-1109.  The processor is a new release for 2004, as shown here, so don't feel that being a mere 1GHz makes it an old model of computer.  VIA claims that Nehemiah is 40% faster, clock-for-clock, than Intel's Pentium 4 Celeron processors.  It's plenty fast enough for most portable computer applications.  

MEMORY:  If you wish to upgrade from the internal 256MB of memory, I would recommend a PC133 144 pin SoDimm SDRAM, CL2, non-parity,  7.5ns, 3.3V, 256MB (32Meg x 64) module which should cost around 30-50.  I bought mine from eBuyer part number 42153, but now get it directly from Crucial with part number CT32M64S4W7E.  It works very reliably though does get a bit warm, this picture shows the memory installed.  Don't fit CL3 or PC100 memory as this will slow down the computer, and you physically can't fit the much cheaper DDR memory.  More memory is useful if you use memory-hungry applications such as manipulating large image files, or creating large and complex projects of various types.  If you are just using basic Office functionality, the increase in speed may be negligible, and not outweigh the cost of the memory plus the extra power it consumes which could shorten battery running time.

Staples CP-10S laptop It's difficult not to like this little computer, shown here with a Buffalo wireless access card fitted to it for network and internet connection anywhere around the home or garden!  Beside it is a normal brick-sized Dell for comparison.  Yes, that is snow.

BATTERIES: The standard battery running time is around 1 hour 45 minutes, probably less with extra memory and a wireless access card.  I'm yet to find an alternative UK supplier of  the larger high-capacity CP1130 batteries but the NEC PC-VP-BP23/OP-570-75302 fits, though is silver (see picture of it installed), I bought one in Europe.  If you call the support number which comes on the Windows installation (01256 378060) they will quote a staggering 199 for a standard battery (who are they kidding?!) and probably won't quote for the hig one.  The standard battery is available in Hungary for less than half this price, so if you know someone who visits Hungary, get one from there like I did.  If you find anywhere else who stocks either kind of battery, or any other useful information on this computer, please let me know so I can share it with other owners.  Another possibility is the OP-570-75303 battery which was available from the USA quite cheaply but may be discontinued, or in the USA at $107.  Sites show "FEDCO OP-570-75303 replacement battery for NEC VERSA_PRO B VA73J/BH/VA73J/BL LI-ION BATTERY, 14.8 Volt 2200mAH" and "NEC Lavie LJ500 / LJ700 Versa Pro B VA73J and Versa Pro B VA93J series" or "PC-VP-BP25 for NEC LaVie J Model LJ500/E3, LJ500/4D, LJ700/E3, LJ700/4F NEC Versa Pro B Model VA73J/BH, VA73J/BL, VA93J/BH, VA93J/BL series".  The OP-570-75303 battery is a suitable replacement for the CP1022L though it is cosmetically the wrong colour.  I told this to mdsbattery.co.uk and they have now listed it as such.  They have offered a discount it we were to purchase 10 units, so contact me if you would like to join the list of 6 confirmed interested buyers to get this discount.  Since both the CP1022L and OP-570-75303 are branded Arima, why do they have different part numbers?  I believe this is just down to the colour of the case, the Staples machine should have a black battery but the MDS one is light grey.

JANUARY 2006.  "OP-570-75303 batteries are now available cheaply!  The eBay seller hot-laptop is advertising these at $47.99 (white) and $49.99 (black but not quite the same shade of black as the Staples machine), plus $15 shipping to UK. They are sent from Shenzhen in China (a horrible hot smelly city near Hong Kong).  You might find it easiest to simply drop OP-570-75303 into the eBay search tool.  Mine arrived in about 10 days.  It's a very slightly tight fit on the laptop but seems to work.

I asked about a bulk purchase deal so we could get a load in and save on postage, but the seller was not interested. Also, he said he does not stock the big flat OP-570-75302 battery alas.  You will only find one or two batteries for sale at once, so give the seller a moment to put new auctions up as they sell.  You will of course need an eBay account and a Paypal account. Total cost in UK pounds for mine was 38.33, which is a fraction of the cost of buying them in the UK. There's a risk that customs may slap import duty on the package, mine was OK.  I should say that I am not getting anything from mentioning this on the website, it is purely done for the good of owners of these laptops.

After 10 months my original battery quit, giving a running time of around 15 minutes and no warning before the laptop would shut off.  Since then I've had at least two other people telling me of the same problem.  If you have one of these laptops which is coming up for a year old, is your battery still in working order?  Please let me know, because if we find they have a stock fault, we may be able to negotiate an extension to the guarantee of replacement batteries.  Staples replaced mine under guarantee.  Then the long life battery I bought from Hungary quit too, which will hopefully be sorted soon.  So, these batteries do not seem to be the best!

POWER: I've been asked about 12V car adaptors for this laptop.  Universal ones are easy enough to get, though you need to obtain one which has 19V as an option, which a few don't.  The mains supply is rated as 2.64A at 19V, so ideally a 12V adaptor should be capable of at least 2.64A output current.  I picked up a Proton SPN-145CA adaptor from eBay, for practically nothing, which has a 19V 2.4A rating.  This has the correct connector fitted for the laptop and works fine, although spookily it does inject some computer hash noise into my car's bass canon!  Two people have complained of mild electric shocks when using the machine on mains.  This sounds wrong to me, investigations are in progress.

If there are any complaints, it might be that the keyboard and touchpad layout is such that it is very easy to touch the pad whilst typing, and then suddenly find the text is not being typed in at the wrong part of the document.  If  you go to the Windows Control Panel, select Mouse, then the tab Tapping, you will find a tickbox called "Tap off when typing", and a delay option for how long after typing the touchpad tap is allowed.  Select this option, and you will find the computer much easier to use.

The supplied StarOffice went straight in the bin, and the 5V adaptor supplied for the DVD/CD-RW combo drive is of no real use since it can take its power from the computer via USB.  The Tab key is a bit small and the number 1 key is a bit large.  It's not surprising with such a compact computer, that the keyboard feels a bit flimsy, but it's the price you pay for the ultimate in portability.  Not much to criticise really.  

HARD DISK, November 2008: I've just installed the 120GB drive into the Cyclone, with absolutely no problems. This is the drive:  Seagate Momentus 5400.3 ST9120822A - 120 GB - ATA-100.  The BIOS recognised it and I then went through the recovery disk procedure followed by all necessary Windows and software updates. The new drive consumes less power, is quieter, cooler and faster than the original, and of course upgrades disk space from 20GB to 120GB, all for around 40. A highly recommended upgrade, which requires no more tools than a decent small screwdriver. I was forced into this upgrade when the old drive quit, but I would recommend this to anyone who finds the original drive space a bit limiting. It's a great way to extend the useful working life of these lovely little laptops.

Oddly, no laptops appear on the Stables web site.

A reader informs me:  "It runs Linux tolerably well. A stock install of Debian worked (screen, ethernet, keyboard etc), except that the battery monitor interfered with the trackpad. Turning off power monitoring solved this. I'm guessing a bit if tweaking and twiddling could get it working better."  Another says :"..happy running Linux Mandrake 10.1 (powerpack) on a 802.11g wireless network, only one niggly problem the mouse pad scroll button doesn't!"

In 2013 the laptop finally showed its age when my son found that some web games won't install on it because they are incompatible with the old Via C3 processor.  That has finally made the laptop rather obsolete after almost 10 years of solid service.

HP Compaq 6715b Hard Disk upgrade  

If you have a HP Compaq 6715b sold around 2007 - 2008, you may find that the only thing letting the laptop down is the rather small hard disk.  Can I recommend replacing it with a Western Digital Scorpio Blue 500GB SATA 8MB Cache 2.5 inch drive at around 85.  Not only is this drive a decent capacity, it is much quieter than the original, has a much higher data rate and I find that it is better for video capture due to a quicker seek time.  Installation is easy, though I use Norton Ghost to first copy the partitions from the old drive (using a desktop machine holding both drives) and so re-installing Windows Vista was quicker.  You should be able to install from the DVD-Rom disks you will hopefully have made when you first received the laptop, but I didn't risk that since one of them had reported an error at the time.

Early in 2013 the above hard disk failed.  That wasn't very good!  So I installed a ST750LX003 Momentus XT 750GB Hybrid Hard Drive instead.  This was done by cloaning the original hard disk partitions, and then the unused space became the data area.  This way the original recovery options still work.  Being a hybrid drive, this gave a significant performance boost.  You can now get a 1TB drive from the same range.

The Firewire port died but a second-hand port was readily available on eBay for almost nothing and wasn't too hard to install.

Pioneer TS-WX105A subwoofer

A friend donated a Pioneer TS-WX105A subwoofer to me, which he had removed from his old Mondeo before sending it to the crusher.  Alas, he failed to remove the cable and connector.  Pioneer wanted almost as much for a replacement cable as the subwoofer cost, so I had to figure out the wiring and make my own connector.  The rough wiring diagram is given here, and a picture of the assembled plug here.  Left and right channels may be transposed, it makes no difference, but their phasing (+ and -) connections are important.

I installed it into my wife's Ford Ka. I couldn't buy a connector, so I had to work out the wiring myself, with the aid of a signal generator.  I then built a connector using some 0.156" pitch stripboard (not the normal 0.1" pitch type), and I used some receptacles from a wirewrap IC socket to mate with the pins on the subwoofer's socket.  After wiring up the connector, I then ran the cables to a 9-way D-type connector which allows my wife to unplug the subwoofer and remove it from the car when not needed, I didn't think my home-made connector would have taken the abuse of being repeatedly unplugged and reconnected.  I used a 3A antisurge fuse where it was connected to the back of the car's 12V outlet.

A reader tells me: "You may find it useful, that a CTX power connector cut down to 8 pins fits the socket on the back of the bass tube beautifully. I bought one from maplins already with a full set of wires in place for a couple of quid."

Epson R200 or R300 printer CD/DVD printer tray not working?

If you have an Epson R200 or R300, and you use it lot for printing CDs or DVDs (like I do for www.video99.co.uk), then you may have noticed that it can be very unreliable.  The tray doesn't go in properly when you load the disk, you either need to push it a bit or it just rejects the disk time after time.  Very frustrating.  It can also keep driving the motor continuously when it does eject the disk because it fails to get out far enough, and you have to pull the tray or nudge it.

I've had this problem and found a partial solution by squirting the rollers on the bar beneath the CD/DVD tray with a rubber roller enhancer which takes the shine off the rubber.  This can be obtained from RS, Maplin etc.  But the results may not be long lasting.  Another cure was found by putting two strips of masking tape on the underside of the CD/DVD tray, to line up with the rollers.  However the permanent fix was to buy a new tray.  The new ones are solid plastic all the way to the front edge, whereas the originals have a flexible clear plastic strip at the front edge.  On eBay, expect to pay around 6 including UK shipping.  If the problem comes back after printing a few hundred disks, a little masking tape put on the front black plastic protrusions may extend the life of the tray some more.

Another hint is that when changing disks in multiple print runs, pull the tray back or remove it, before pressing the paper feed button on the printer to launch the next disk.  If the tray is still too far forwards, it sometimes just spit the tray out.  You can tell when it's going to do this because it doesn't make a shuffle sound at the moment you press the paper feed button.

The printer can give annoying messages telling you to close the CD/DVD tray when you are trying to print on a disk.  How silly!  There are two reasons: You may have switched the printer on with the drawer open, or cancelled a print job with the drawer open which performs a reset.  The printer must be reset with the drawer closed.  If you get into this state, cancel any print jobs, close the drawer (up position), unplug the printer and re-connect it with the drawer still closed.  After it has finished its start up cycle, then send it the print job for printing onto disks.  That little bit of information can save a great deal of stress.

Onkyo TX-DS575 forgetting settings

If your Onkyo TX-DS575 receiver forgets its settings when powered off, the cause is a 5V 0.1F backup capacitor. This is mounted on the front PCB, just below the right hand side of the display. It is a right pain to get to. Here briefly is what to do:
1: Unplug (really important!), remove top cover.
2: Undo three screws underneath front panel edge, pull off volume and tone knobs, and gently pull off metal front panel from the bottom, which is held with sticky tape inside.
3: Undo five screws from plastic front panel and free it. You will now have limited access to the front panel PCB and audio processor PCB.
4: Cut a few black cable ties as required to gain better access to front PCBs, and unplug ribbon cable from right hand side. It may be helpful to undo the nut and so release the volume control encoder.
5: Still struggling with poor access, release the standoffs from the audio processor PCB and unplug its ribbon cable. You have to remove the audio processor PCB in order to get to the screws under it. You may want to remove the PCB for holding the mains switch.
6: Now with some kind of access to the whole of the front panel PCB, undo 10,000 screws which secure it to the black plastic front panel.
7: Now with limited access to the front side of the front panel PCB, locate the capacitor, towards the right hand side of the display, just beneath it. Note the polarity; the negative terminal goes to the left pcb land, positive to the right. Desolder and replace this component. HINT: Make life easier for next time and mount the new part on the REAR of the PCB. Care with polarity!
8: Reassemble carefully. Make sure that the volume control encoder metal clasps are tight as they come apart easily. Fit new cable ties in original locations (important to prevent hum pickup).

The parts you will require then are about 6 nylon cable ties, and a 0.1F 5.5V capacitor. I had to make do with a 0.047F part because it was all I had to hand and I didn't want the machine in bits while I ordered one, I later fitted a 0.2F capacitor instead (Maplin) to be really sure the settings would survive a power loss. Many of these components today are radial PCB mounting, which are not an ideal fit but could be used at a push. If you can get a vertically mounted one, that would be better. The nearest I can readily find is from RS Components item 377-350 (Panasonic EECS0HD104V), and the leads on this could doubtless be re-jigged to fit.

Other faults:

In June 2003, having just got through the 3 year guarantee, the Onkyo quit.  It would switch on, and switch off a second later.  I didn't have diagrams for this unit (at that time anyway), so had to send it to repair at Onkyo's UK service agent, who at that time were very helpful.  Ron there turned the repair around in less than a week and it cost around 52 including return shipping.  The more common failures, I believe, are in the output stages, in which case the display will show the word "PROTECT".  

In September 2010 the TX-DS575 failed again with the same fault as in 2003: When switching on, it would switch off after a moment with the Standby red LED flashing. If you get this fault, check resistors R659 and R660 on Rear Speakers amplifier board. These are located near the rear speaker terminals and are in the power supply feeds to the board. They are 2.2 Ohm (bands red, red, gold, gold), 1/2W metal film resistors, normal (not fusible) type. They can possibly be replaced by snipping the old one(s) off and fitting new parts on the wires, since access to the solder side of the PCB is a bit of a dismantling job.  I worked this out by being careful, methodical, and a little bit lucky with my fault investigations.

Another widely reported problem can be the soldering around ICs Q708,Q709,Q710 on the Dolby board which is fairly accessibly mounted near the front of the unit.  The effect can be intermittent muting, sometimes this can be cleared by switching off/on or selecting alternative inputs.  I have found another problem, in that the analogue inputs can develop a "digital" sounding crackling noise.  Changing input can make this fault go for a while too.  I believe the cause of this was also on the same board, I found that nearly all of the 10uF 16V surface mounted electrolytic capacitors had developed high ESR readings.  I replaced all 9 of them.  Other value capacitors on the board did not seem to suffer from high ESR.  (For ESR meter information, read item below this).

Another common failure is in the output stages, in which case the display will show the word "PROTECT".  At the moment I have no further details on the cause of this fault and if you have more detail please  Email me so I can share it.  Please don't email asking for help regarding other faults not listed here since I won't have any more information than I've shared already.

JVC DR-M1 DVD recorder keeps crashing with "loading" on display?  (DR-M10 is essentially the same).

If your DR-M1 DVD recorder used to work OK, but now keeps crashing (especially in record) then the power supply capacitors may have failed.  In this case the picture went scrambled for a few seconds before the crash, but this may not occur in your case.  The power supply capacitors have a finite life and the high temperature of the PSU causes them to lose capacitance and/or gain Effective Series Resistance (ESR).  Here is the list of 105 degree rated capacitors in the Power Supply of a UK DR-M1:

C5206 18uF 50V
C5103 27uF 35V
C5201 220uF 6.3V
C5202 1200uF 6.3V
C5209 680uF 16V
C5210 680uF 6.3V
C5207 1500uF 10V
C5204 2200uF 16V
C5208 2200uF 10V
C5203 2200uF 10V

I replaced these with high temperature, low ESR where possible, components sourced from Farnell.  So here was my shopping list:

Line No. Order Code Qty Description Mftr. & Part No. RoHS Unit Price   Line Price
1 9692088 3 CAPACITOR, 2200UF 16V PANASONIC - EEUFC1C222 YES 0.6   1.8
2 1144684 1 CAPACITOR, 1500UF 10V RUBYCON - 10ZL1500M10X23 YES 0.53   0.53
3 1144681 1 CAPACITOR, 680UF 10V RUBYCON - 10ZL680M8X16 YES 0.27   0.27
4 1144691 1 CAPACITOR, 680UF 16V RUBYCON - 16ZL680M10X16 YES 0.39   0.39
5 1144645 1 CAPACITOR, 220UF 6.3V RUBYCON - 6.3ZA220M6.3X11 YES 0.68   0.68
6 9692371 1 CAPACITOR, 18UF 50V PANASONIC - EEUFC1H180 YES 0.075   0.08
7 9692398 1 CAPACITOR, 27UF 50V PANASONIC - EEUFC1H270 YES 0.132   0.13
8 9691863 1 CAPACITOR, 1200UF 6.3V PANASONIC - EEUFC0J122 YES 0.32   0.32

            Goods Total: 10.35

            VAT: 1.81

            Total: 12.16

The following information is for persons skilled in electronic soldering and aware of normal safety procedures.  The information is provided as-is and I take no responsibility for any consequences as a result of attempting to repair your equipment.  If you are not capable of electronic repairs, then leave this to someone who is.

See the pictures with further information: Connectors to undo, replacing capacitors, optional: ESR meter, reassembly.

Unplug the unit and leave it unplugged for several minutes before commencing.  The power supply is easy to remove once you have taken the lid off the machine.  There are two screws and three plastic supports to release.  Gently pull off the two black multiway connectors, the power to the DVD writer and fan, and also the mains cable.  The board lifts out easily.  Be very, very careful to insert the capacitors in the same places and with the same polarity as the originals.  The PCB is marked with a white blob on the top to indicate the -ve terminal, and a + on the underside on the +ve terminal.  But you check each one as you remove it.  Hint: Do one capacitor at a time so you don't get confused.  You will see that I ordered all 16V capacitors for the 2200uF locations, replacing the 10V ones with 16V, which is fine.  I checked all the components which came off my power supply, only for capacitance since I didn't at that time have an ESR meter.  To my surprise, I found that C5103 had dropped from 27uF to 11uF, so this was likely to have been at least part of the problem.  When refitting the PSU, be sure that the board sits on top of the metal supports towards the back, where the screws are fitted, not underneath them.  Refit all connectors carefully, and refit the lid (at least loosely).  Then power up, and all being well your DVD recorder will run for another 3 years before you have to do the same again.  If you've fitted a capacitor the wrong way round, there is likely to be an ugly exposion.  Check that the fan is running when the unit is powered up, though it doesn't run in standby.

Further to this, I obtained an ESR meter (Peak Electronics ESR60, around 89).  I found that as well as C5103 having gone very high ESR (see picture), C5206 had also gone low capacitance and slightly high ESR, showing that the small value capacitors are at least as likely to cause problems as the larger ones.  I then went through the 85C rated (black) capacitors on the secondary part of the PSU and found to my horror that they were in terrible condition too.  Some of the 100uF 10V/16V capacitors were showing slightly poor performance, but much worse were the 22uF 50V capacitors, and I would recommend replacing all of these.  These won't need to be high temperature rated low ESR components unless you want to, so they will be very cheap to replace.  Here is the list of 85C temperature rated components, and whether I found they needed replacement.  If you don't have an ESR meter, I would recommend you replace the whole lot except perhaps C5205 and the large mains smoothing capacitor.  Some of these components had an ESR of over 10 Ohms (for most values an ESR of around 1 Ohm or less would be expected.

C5135 50V 22uF replaced
C5205 100V 4.7uF OK
C5304 10V 100uF replaced with 16V
C5305 10V 100uF replaced with 16V
C5306 16V 100uF replaced
C5307 10V 100uF replaced with 16V
C5308 16V 100uF replaced
C5309 16V 100uF replaced
C5310 50V 22uF replaced
C5311 50V 22uF replaced
C5316 16V 10uF replaced
C5317 10V 100uF replaced with 16V
C5318 10V 100uF replaced with 16V
C5321 50V 22uF OK
C5322 10V 100uF OK
C5323 50V 2.2uF OK
These capacitors can also be obtained from Farnell but I purchased standard grade (not low ESR) parts from grandata, replacing these 85C temperature rated parts with 105C, the cost was less than 2 for packs of 10 of each of 22uF 50V and 100uF 16V.  I now fully expect a very long life from this machine.

JVC DR-MH20 / DR-MH200 / DR-MH300 Hard Disk / DVD recorders

These machines suffer power supply capacitor failure too, and it's worth checking right the way through the power supply.  But one part which will certainly be worth changing is the 27uF 35V capacitor in the primary part of the power supply.  These go low value and cause intermittent failure to start up, or open circuit and cause the whole machine front to flicker and power supply buzz.  Access to the power supply is much harder on this model because it is on the main PCB.

Replacing belts in an Aiwa AD-F770 cassette deck

Aiwa AD-F770 cassette deck (dual capstan) deck is still a top quality unit and worth maintaining.  Back in 2007 I replaced the belts in this, and a number of people have asked for details so I've included them here.  Some possible UK suppliers are:
http://www.connect-distribution.co.uk/cgi-bin/home.pl  (Used to be Willow Vale)

In USA there is a supplier which sells the belt kit: http://www.vintage-electronics.cc/aiwakits.html

The "BELT6" and "BELT7" were taken from another web site (http://www.gbaudio.co.uk/data/belts.htm), I ordered them from CPC via a local electronics shop.  CPCs part numbers were AVBELT6 and AVBELT7: http://cpc.farnell.com/jsp/level5/module.jsp?moduleId=cpc/253574.xml  These may not be the exact dimensions of the original belts but do fit and work.

Aiwa AD-F770 cassette deck belts. Details of suitable replacement (not original parts)
Original belt measurements Order code Diameter Circumference Width
circumference 236mm (stretched), width <4mm BELT6 / AVBELT6  72mm          226mm          3.5mm
circumference 252mm (stretched), width 4.5mm BELT7 / AVBELT7       77mm          242mm          4.1mm

Access is very poor, it's an absurdly fiddly job to replace these.  Don't take it apart, then leave it apart for a few days and try to reassemble it because you will never get all the screws back in.  Try to develop a system for remembering which screws fit where.  When I removed them, I put them down in little groups which represented where they came from.  Take some digital photos of the back of the deck before you start, to refer to later.

You need to partly remove the deck from the cabinet.  Things I remember are: Remove the power switch bracket from the back.  Undo the cable ties and clips to the deck so you can partly lift it out.  Take off the cassette front door before you start, this just lifts out from the front for head cleaning.  There are screws underneath which secure the deck.  Look carefully at these from underneath the cabinet, I seem to remember that not all of the screws there actually are associated with the deck and you don't want to remove more than you need to. When you have managed to lift the deck out a bit, you need to undo the screws which hold the back plate of the deck on.  I don't remember now whether it was necessary to completely remove this plate, but I think I just undid it enough to insert the belts rather than risk taking the whole plate off. When reassembling, don't necessarily refit all the screws before you've had a chance to test the deck.  I seem to remember mine didn't work first time, because I had the head mechanism fouled by a cable when I refitted it.

What bus company would you trust to take your kids to school?

Back in 2006, there I was driving my elderly but treasured  Toyota Celica home through a very narrow road (it has a 7.5T weight limit).  Coming the other way were two large buses from the Girling Coach company.  They don't need to use this very narrow road, but do so as a shortcut as the school buses return to their depot, and I'm informed that the bus would have been over the permitted weight limit.  I pulled in and stopped to let the buses pass.  The first one went by, the second had to stop but still hit my car with the catch securing a rear luggage door panel.  I attracted the attention of the driver with my horn, but off he drove anyway.  I called Girlings as soon as I got home and reported the number plate FDZ3014 to them, and they said they would call me back shortly.

No call was ever received, and when my insurance company contacted them, they denied all knowledge.  At the very least they acted dishonourably, and it would appear to be dishonestly.  So, would you trust a company like Girlings to take your kids to school?  I certainly never will.  You might also like to avoid a company which acts in this way too.  The company referred to is:

Girling Coaches, Clock Tower Business Park, Central Avenue, Ivybridge Devon PL21 9PE.


Please do return to Colin's Homepages. for Hillman Avengers, BSB & Squarials, Beta (Betamax) video, Plymouth Pictures, Virtual Loft full of stuff, Dolby Digital HiFi (extra info on Sony TV's).

Also see my site about the Devon Village of Yealmpton.

For drainage services in the South West of England, see www.abledrain.co.uk, for a used car or servicing do see my friend Roy at www.lakeycars.co.uk, and for driving tuition in the Torbay area, see Rogerio's School of Motoring.

Also see our YouTube videos
See us on YouTube
Some useful ones to start with include:
A tour of the studio
Review of Tascam SS-R250N audio recorder

Total site visitors since Jan 2005:

See my video to DVD copy service, offering transfers of  Betamax, VHS, S-VHS, Video2000,Video8, Hi8, Digital8, miniDV, micromv, Betacam, N1500, N1700 and more: www.video99.co.uk   

The most affordable and flexible video tape to DVD transfer service in the UK.  A personal service by an engineer with years of video experience.

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