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Things to watch out for on an used Aaton XTR


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#1 Boris Belay

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Posted 31 January 2006 - 11:07 AM

Still looking for a silent camera, I came across wat sounds like a good deal : several XTR's formerly owned by the Belgian National TV -- apparently, the last few they had ! They're just out, so there's a chance they had kept the best ones for last... And hopefully, they've been maintained. The price sounds very good, but it's a camera I am not familiar with first hand.
So what should I watch out for ?
1) what are the possible problems on XTRs that have been used in the field ? What are the external signs of abuse or issues ? What would you test on the camera to be reasonably sure it's ok (perhaps due for a tune-up, but nothing major), besides the obvious functions : are there tricks, for instance ?
2) What are the accessories that make the camera even better ? (Or those to avoid, if any?) This is an XTR, not an XTR prod.
I haven't seen the camera yet, so I can't say anything specific about it, not even the serial #. Are there many variations in XTR's ? I may have a choice between a few cameras, mag, etc., so any pointers would be good !

Thanks !
-B

Edited by bobolex, 31 January 2006 - 11:09 AM.

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#2 lluis

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Posted 31 January 2006 - 08:58 PM

Still looking for a silent camera, I came across wat sounds like a good deal : several XTR's formerly owned by the Belgian National TV -- apparently, the last few they had ! They're just out, so there's a chance they had kept the best ones for last... And hopefully, they've been maintained. The price sounds very good, but it's a camera I am not familiar with first hand.
So what should I watch out for ?
1) what are the possible problems on XTRs that have been used in the field ? What are the external signs of abuse or issues ? What would you test on the camera to be reasonably sure it's ok (perhaps due for a tune-up, but nothing major), besides the obvious functions : are there tricks, for instance ?
2) What are the accessories that make the camera even better ? (Or those to avoid, if any?) This is an XTR, not an XTR prod.
I haven't seen the camera yet, so I can't say anything specific about it, not even the serial #. Are there many variations in XTR's ? I may have a choice between a few cameras, mag, etc., so any pointers would be good !

Thanks !
-B


XTRs are simple and reliable cameras, but it must to be had a good maintenance. The main (and expensive) fault is the wear away of the main unit axis, where the claw system, due a many milles of a lack of lubrication. Better is to take the camera to Grenoble factory for inspection.
Each Aaton camera are subtle mechanical different. Incredible but they were constantly improvement.
Your XTR must to be until 54 fps, Aaton code (better with reed leds, not yellow) and internal photometer (64-800 or 50-640 ASA). Camera can be prepared for the old (and not desirable) B/W video assist, with the internal beamsplitter and video optics (there are differents -and expensive- recent options for that).
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#3 Boris Belay

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Posted 05 February 2006 - 01:09 PM

Thanks, Are there more or less obvious signs of wear to look out for ? Sounds to listen for while it's running ? What about for the mags?
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#4 Nathan Milford

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Posted 05 February 2006 - 03:02 PM

General advice:

First you should get the serial number and check it out with some repair shops to see its service history. The factory suggests that it recieves and overhaul every four years, regardless of use. This can be a $1500 to $2000 service.

Make sure the lens port is solid and isn't loose.

Make sure the tie-downs for the battery and possibly the square rod (wooden handle) aren't damaged.

Make sure the mirror, gate and groundglass aren't scratched.

Make sure the magazines engage and release properly from the body and any catch posts aren't bent on the magazines.

Make sure (with a lens you trust) that screen focus and lens focus match (tape-to-eye). If it's off you're flange focal distance is off or your screen focus is off.

If the camera is equiped with AatonCode, try jamming it with both SMPTE and ASCII (Aaton) code.

Flip the camera into test and the AatonCode LED's should display a test pattern, make sure all seven (7) of them fire.

Make sure the light meter is functioning by shining some light in (with the back agte covered) and watching the LEDs in the viewfinder move.

Make sure the side display displays mags coded for A, B and C.

Make sure the side display displays voltage and footage and that all of the buttons work properly with and without a magazine attached.

If you've a crystal speed checker make sure the speed is crystal.

You should absolutly check out the current draw of the camera. Without a mag the mechanism should pull between 400 and 600 milliamps nominally.

If you can look at the underside of the claw tip with a 10x jewelers loupe and look for any pock marks. You want to look at the claw movement and make sure it is absolutly vertical and centered. If it isn't, the camera may have lost a teflon washer on the crankshaft asdd ing play to the horizontal placement of the claw in relation to the gate. This is a sure sign the camera has gone too long without service as the bearings heated up and the friction killed the washer. This probably means that the camera also needs new bearings installed... possibly the most expensive service we can offer.

Run the camera and listen to the magazine drive gears (the intermediary), make sure it doesn;t have a 'lopsided' sound. Probably manifest in a running 'tick' noise out of phase with the claw stroke.

If you're feeling bold, pop off the two M3 screws under the base and the M2.5 screw in the throat and slowly pry open the base (from the side with out the motor). Be mindful of the fragile socapex connectors and the base electronics. Take a gander at the ammount of grease on the gear engaging the intermediary and the motor. It should have a clearish vasoline type lube (syntalube) or a peanut buttery lube (anderol). If the lube looks laiden with debris, greenish, blackish or well.. non-existent... that's a sure sign that the camera need service.

On the mags make sure the doors settle nicely and the hinges are not warped from a drop. Also make sure the spindle isn't bent, causing endless dishing (happens with the mag is loaded when it has been dropped).

Make sure all of the rubber gasket on the magazines is in good shape and that the plastic caps on the core retainer aren't splitting on the sides.

Make sure the footage counter arm moves freely.

Scratch test the magazines and also note which ones sound louder or quieter.

Look through the viewfinder with one eye and look out the other and choose a horizontal line and make sure the prisms and your bare eye agree on the correctness of the horizon.

You should shoot a registration test and if, for whatever reason, it fails, submit it to a shop with the camera. I've explained elsewhere on the forum how to do this properly, you can search for it.

Probably you're looking at a Bi-Phase XTR, which goes to 54fps. It might be an XTRplus or a plain jane XTR. Does it have threaded holes for rods or a square hole for the hand grip? If it has the square hole do you have a 3-4mm pin for LWS rods? What sort of modifications have previous owners done?

The variations of the XTR and XTRplus series are not that great, mechanically. But you should definetly gather serial numbers and get the service histories.

I'm sure there is more... but Firefly is on... and that is more important!
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#5 Boris Belay

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Posted 05 February 2006 - 06:30 PM

Wow ! Nathan, Thanks for a great answer !
Somehow, I thought you may be the guy with the answer...wonder why ?

I'll definitely look up your post on the registration test.

By the way, what this board needs is an 'Ultimate Answer' category, with definitive posts on typical questions, like mine, I suppose.
Where do I sent sugestions ?

Thanks again... the best part about your answer is that I may get to chose among several cameras -- it'll take a long time with your check-list but what a help this is !

-B
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#6 Stephen Williams

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 04:55 AM

Wow ! Nathan, Thanks for a great answer !
Somehow, I thought you may be the guy with the answer...wonder why ?

I'll definitely look up your post on the registration test.

By the way, what this board needs is an 'Ultimate Answer' category, with definitive posts on typical questions, like mine, I suppose.
Where do I sent sugestions ?

Thanks again... the best part about your answer is that I may get to chose among several cameras -- it'll take a long time with your check-list but what a help this is !

-B


Hi,

I would send any camera your interested in for evaluation at an Aaton dealer near you. It will be well worth, it as you can get the seller to pay for any repairs.

Stephen
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#7 Boris Belay

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 07:03 AM

Hi,

I would send any camera your interested in for evaluation at an Aaton dealer near you. It will be well worth, it as you can get the seller to pay for any repairs.

Stephen

Unfortunately, this is not really a possibility here : basically the seller has picked these up from the TV company and is not really the owner in that sense... That is why I was asking for these 'outward signs' tips : I have to appraise them for myself, but the good side of this is that I can choose from several units (if I'm fast enough...).
The other good thing is that I know who the Aaton dealer in Belgium is, and if they haven't dealt with the cameras themselves (maintenance records with serial numbers), they'll surely know who does that for the national TV company.
Thanks !
-B
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