Operating a 60s/70s portable camera without it's required portable reel-reel videotape recorder!
I have recently learned of a way to operate a 60s/70s portable VTR camera and output a video signal without the need of the camera's associated portable VTR through a brilliant genius method by my mate Richard Diehl of Labguy's World. Earlier this year Richard uploaded a video to YouTube called "The Eight Dollar TV Camera" which was a video demonstration of operating a Sony DVC-2400 without the need of it's associated DV-2400 1/2" reel-reel VTR by supplying the camera's required power/signals from individual sources. For these type of cameras to operate, they require 12VDC power, horizontal and vertical sync drive pulses and video signal output, so Richard built up a sync pulse generator to supply the horizontal and vertical sync to the camera and got a lead acid battery for the 12VDC source, and he hooked them to the camera's 10 pin socket individually to their appropriate pins and hooked up a video output lead to output the picture to a monitor and it worked like a charm!!!:D Here below is his video:
"The Eight Dollar TV Camera" by Richard Diehl
After watching this video, I was dead set inspired to try this method out with my two vintage Sony portapack B&W vidicon tube cameras, my 1969 AVC-3400 and my 1967 VCK-2400ACE (European version of DVC-2400) as I had no way of testing those cameras to see if they worked and really wanted to know if they worked or not and having recently acquired a UTEL 2004 sync pulse generator, I was all set ready to go with this project!:D
So I cut me some wires and made makeshift connectors to connect each individual wire from SPG and power source to the socket pins of the camera which was simply single core wire links with heatshrink wrapped around them which made great for pin plugs, and made the connections from camera to SPG and power supply and video output to monitor. For the pin layout I looked at the AVC-3400 pin layout and compared it to the DVC-2400 pin layout in Richard's video and found they are exactly the same so I used that universal layout for my two cameras to be tested. So after cutting the wires and making the connectors and rigging it all up starting with the VCK-2400ACE, I fired that camera up and to my pleasant surprise I got a beautiful crisp perfectly stable B&W picture!!!:D Then I rigged it up to my AVC-3400 and it powered up and I too got a nice picture though a bit blurry but after some electronic focus adjustment the picture was nice and crisp as well!!!:D So I was finally able to test those two cameras and am so glad to know they both work!!!:D Here below are pictures of the cameras rigged up and in operation along with some video demonstrations I made on the spot:
Universal pin layout for the Sony portable cameras of the 60s and 70s
Makeshift pin plug connector consisting of wire link (leg of a component) soldered to the wire with heatshrink wrapped around it
Sony VCK-2400ACE rigged up to power supply, SPG and monitor ready to be fired up (upside down of course lol)
Nice crisp image coming from the Sony VCK-2400ACE!!!:D (Upside down)
Sony AVC-3400 mounted on tripod and rigged up to power supply, SPG and monitor ready to be fired up
Blurry image from AVC-3400 but that was fixed after some tweaking with the electronic focus pots
Sony AVC-3400 on tripod and monitor displaying its picture
Sony AVC-2400ACE (right way up this time) on tripod and monitor displaying its picture
1967 Sony VCK-2400ACE B&W camera powered from SPG & 12V power supply (Part 1)
1967 Sony VCK-2400ACE B&W camera powered from SPG & 12V power supply (Part 2)
1967 Sony VCK-2400ACE B&W camera powered from SPG & 12V power supply (direct video feed)
1969 Sony AVC-3400 B&W camera powered from SPG & 12V power supply
1969 Sony AVC-3400 B&W camera powered from SPG & 12V power supply (direct video feed)
After being successful with rigging my two cameras up to the SPG, power supply and monitor using Richard's method, I decided for my own convenience to make a multi cable adapter lead with plugs and a couple of socket lead adapters for the SPG and for my cameras. So I went ahead and did just that.
Firstly I made the socket adapters for the SPG and camera as I had no 10 pin plugs to plug straight into them. For the SPG I made a 3 pin socket adapter using a 5 pin socket (3 pins used) and 3 leads with thick pins at the ends for the male plugs that individually plug into the female socket holes of the SPG for the horizontal, vertical and ground. Then I made a 7 pin socket adapter for the camera's socket using a 7 pin socket and 7 leads with wire links with heat shrink wrapped around them at the ends for the female plugs to grip onto the camera's male socket pins. The 7 leads are for video output, video output ground, horizontal, vertical, ground, +12VDC and 0V ground. Then finally I made the adapter lead with on one end the 3 pin SPG plug, the 12V jack socket for a 12V power jack to plug into and a RCA video ouput plug with socket adapter for a video lead to connect to, and at the other end a 7 pin plug for the camera's socket adapter. And there I have it a good adapter lead to easily run my two cameras from at my convenience!:D Here below are the pictures of the construction of the adapter leads:
SPG 10 pin socket, only 3 pins are used for this camera, horizontal drive, ground and vertical drive
SPG adapter socket lead and it's adapter cable
Camera adapter socket and its adapter cable
+12VDC power socket and it's 12DC jack
Video output plug with adapter and video lead connected
Plug/socket ends of the adapter lead, 3 pin plug for SPG, 7 pin plug for camera, socket for 12VDC jack and RCA plug for video output
So I am now all set to easily do video productions using those cameras and many other portapack VTR cameras I may come across in future acquisitions!
Now forgot to mention earlier, not only does this method work well with making these cameras operate, the video signal out is perfectly stable and can easily be recorded to VHS, DVD and any other medium with a nice perfectly stable picture without the effect of double vision, pulsing brightness in picture and any other artifacts and most importantly in the case of digital recording no frame drops whatsoever!!!:D The reason why I've been having those problems with my other vidicon cameras was because they used their own internal horizontal/vertical sync pulses and the vertical sync drive pulse is derived from the mains 50/60Hz AC power sine wave which results in random fields which is perfectly okay to display the picture on a monitor but upsets the stability of the video signal being recorded to videotape or DVD or other digital mediums resulting in those artifacts and frame droppage in the case of digital recording! With the use of external sync from a sync pulse generator it perfectly stabilizes the picture perfectly with correct field order to be recorded to videotape/DVD/digital and be played back the same way as the picture looked on monitor!
Now that I am getting beautiful stable pictures I can easily make good B&W vidicon tube camera productions with the Sony VCK-2400ACE and AVC-3400 and have since made quite a number of videos on those cameras, most particularly the VCK-2400ACE, most of the videos can be seen on my VCK-2400ACE and AVC-3400 pages and on my troysvisualarts YouTube channel. I have also been extensively using my VCK-2400ACE on remote location with all the gear powered from my car battery and even set it up as a car cam and made a couple of retro car cam videos from it which turned out well. I also rigged up the SPG to my homemade vidicon camera and it has made the pictures a bit more stable but there is still some instability but hopefully I will sort it out sometime in the future.
Lastly Richard has kindly made me a sync pulse generator to run CCIR 625 line 50Hz standard video, so far in testing there have been some teething problems, main one the picture vertically vibrates but will eventually get that issue sorted, otherwise it is close to working good and once it works perfectly, I will be using it more so than the UTEL 2004 SPG as it is so much more compact.