Thursday, March 30, 2006

New life for old VHS tapes

I nabbed a few (dozen) used S-VHS (Fujifilm ST-30 H471S) tapes from the college library, mostly I wanted some blank media to use to record stuff from my PC. One of them was busted (the magnetic tape was cut :\) So I deicded to ressurect it from it's early grave.

On the left you'll see it in it's case, it's disguised as a horrible D-List Cult Classic. It's labeled so professionally isn't it.

Anyway, thats the case, it's whatever came with the tape when it was new (the school buys them in bulk and tapes PBS shows on them, at a capacity of 30 minutes I don't blame them for not re-using them, the tape I happened to defile was World Buissness review, a good vintage, January 2006.

So now that you've seen the case, i'll tell you how to do this at home (kids, get your parents permission before doing this to thier wedding tape or anything in thier underwear drawer, oh, and X-acto knives are sharp, so you might not want to stab yourself with them).

What you'll need:
Old VHS tape (as opposed to new DVD's, I find that DVD's do not work the same way as VHS tapes did, you're suprised i'm sure.) The longer the better, I manged to get about 50 feet into my tape @ 30min, but all VHS tapes are not created equally, nor are all wire, but a longer movie/tape means a smaller spool, meaning you can cram more wire into the case. Oh, and make sure you rewind/fast forward it, it's easier when one spool is empty.

Small Phillips Head Screwdriver (#0 or #1 should do the trick)

X-acto Knife (or razor blade if your too poor, this may be optional, but I needed to knotch out some of the original case just to get the wire to run the route the tape did.

Ok, flip your tape over (so you have nothing to read) there should be 5 screws showing (again, differnt models will have differnt screw setups) unscrew them and place the screws to the side. now flip the tape over (read the label if you are so inclined) and gently (from the left and right sides) pull the top portion of the case from the bottom. If there is any label on the side (bottom) of the tape you'll need to cut that, you should be able to find the groove with your knife, just cut along it.

Next you'll need to dispose of the magnetic tape, this can take a long time (it took me a good fifteen minutes just to do mine) so be patient. There is typicly a small plastic clip holding the tape down on each spool. If you flip the spool over there is a very small hole, poke around in it with your knife and the clip should slide out enough to then be pulled out by hand. Repeat on the other spool. Then just have fun pulling all that tape out, just like a cassette there is no real easy way to do this, but if you start by looping it around your finger and then wrapping it around it like a ball (after it's off your finger) it should stay pretty neat and not come un done.

Once the spools are empty you can wrap whatever wire you want on the spools, I chose speaker wire (since I had alot of it) I wrapped it around both spools and looped them like the tape. If your wire is thick you will need to both knotch the case (where the wire comes out) and remove any plastic or metal bearings around the plastic posts where the wire will come out. Be creative, you can put differnt wire on each spool, one wire on each, or do what I did and connect them (so you can cut them later -_-).

Thats about it, just put it all back and make sure it tracks nicely, there is a mechanism that locks movement that might be an issue for the reciving spool so if that is the case take care of that before you close the case. it'll give you a nice clicking sound too, and if that isn't soothing, I don't know what is.

Oh, and about those clips, you can re-use them, but you'll most likely have to strip your wire, and then you'll have to open it back up to remove the wire, so i would just wrap it without those clips bieng used.

Oh, and Also: remember not to ever put this tape in your VCR, Beta Machine, or whatever the thing is supposed to go into, that would most likely totally jam the machine up. Allthough that means you get to fool around with a VCR, so you might want to do it for fun.

Anyways, thats all I have to write, it's a nifty way to store your wire and defile your old VHS tapes, and thats a good thing.