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Tape stuck in DVX - Help!


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#1 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 22 May 2009 - 02:04 AM

Hey guys,

So I shot a short on a friend's DVX about a week ago, and at the end of the last day the tape got stuck in the camera. The camera owner and I have been doing everything we can think of to get it out since, but now he's talking about sending it out to have it fixed. So before he drops a load of money to fix it, I'd like some other opinions.

What happened: I pushed the blue tape eject button on the top of the camera. The camera was on (not recording, just on). The outer tape door opened, and I could see that the tape heads were still spinning. WTF, I know. They then stopped spinning and a blue screen popped up on the LCD with an error message saying, "Auto turn off, tape error" or something very similar. The camera then shuts off on it's own after several seconds.

I've tried power cycling the camera, removing the battery and power cycling, opening the tape door with the battery off, pressing the record button, but I just get the same blue screen of death when the camera is turned on. My friend the camera owner tried to take apart the tape transport but couldn't get the tape out. He reports that the tape is not broken or mangled in any way. There's 10 minutes of footage on this tape and we did not roll a safety at the end. The tape was a Panasonic brand (as was the previous tape we used).

Does anyone have any ideas? Has this happened to anyone before?
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#2 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 22 May 2009 - 11:48 PM

Does it let you fast forward and rewind on the tape? I know back in the old S-VHS days, if there were similar issues, we'd just FFWD to the end of the tape, then rewind back to the beginning. Perhaps it'll reset any weird glitch the camera is having.

In the meantime, were you able to at least playback the footage and capture it?
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#3 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 23 May 2009 - 01:58 AM

Thanks for responding Jon.

No, the camera won't let us do anything like that - a few seconds after the camera turns on, the blue screen of death (henceforth BSD) pops up with the flashing error message for about 20-30 seconds, and then the camera shuts down on its own. I've tried beating the BSD by pressing play immediately, but the camera is still "booting up" and won't respond. So the camera can't play back, can't record, can't shuttle forward or reverse, and can't stay on for more than a few seconds.

I was hoping there was a secret mechanical latch inside the tape mechanism that would allow us to disengage the tape heads and pop the tape out. I'll forward this to Ben and see if he has any better luck though. Thanks dude!
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#4 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 26 May 2009 - 12:22 AM

Yeah, Panasonic thought to do that with the Varicam and other DVCPRO tape based cameras, making it easy to unscrew the deck and eject the tape if there's an error...but I guess they figured it wasn't worth it on the prosumer models.

If Ben's camera isn't covered by its warranty anymore, he could take it to this little Mom & Pop shop that I've gone to in the past. They fixed a Digital8 camera of mine YEARS ago that had a similar problem, and they could probably do the same for Ben's. It's "A Plus Electronics" on Van Ness & Pacific. Really nice Russian people in a small junky shop, but they're good and guaranteed.
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#5 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 26 May 2009 - 02:32 AM

Cool, thanks Jon.

Also, just wanted to revise: The actual error message is: "Auto Off, Unloading Lock." Just in case anyone's seen it before.
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#6 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 31 May 2009 - 12:31 AM

Hey guys,

So I shot a short on a friend's DVX about a week ago, and at the end of the last day the tape got stuck in the camera. The camera owner and I have been doing everything we can think of to get it out since, but now he's talking about sending it out to have it fixed. So before he drops a load of money to fix it, I'd like some other opinions.

What happened: I pushed the blue tape eject button on the top of the camera. The camera was on (not recording, just on). The outer tape door opened, and I could see that the tape heads were still spinning. WTF, I know. They then stopped spinning and a blue screen popped up on the LCD with an error message saying, "Auto turn off, tape error" or something very similar. The camera then shuts off on it's own after several seconds.

I've tried power cycling the camera, removing the battery and power cycling, opening the tape door with the battery off, pressing the record button, but I just get the same blue screen of death when the camera is turned on. My friend the camera owner tried to take apart the tape transport but couldn't get the tape out. He reports that the tape is not broken or mangled in any way. There's 10 minutes of footage on this tape and we did not roll a safety at the end. The tape was a Panasonic brand (as was the previous tape we used).

Does anyone have any ideas? Has this happened to anyone before?



This has happened to me a couple of times before out of hundreds of hours of shooting, usually when I've been tired or rushed and inserted a tape too quickly. It seems to be a reaction of the camera to not being treated politely. I don't have the manual in front of me but there is barely anything about it in there, just a one line definition that is sort of circular. The putting the tape in too quickly part isn't even mentioned; I've just noticed that as a common denominator. (Incidentally, I say too quickly as a relative term. It's more like popping a tape in to catch something happening, like anybody would do, not any brutal loading, but sometimes it just must be a bit too fast and the camera says no.)

It has mostly happened to me when inserting a tape, I've been able to rectify it by the things that you did, powering down and removing the battery, then putting the battery back and powering up. Why removing the battery makes a difference I don't know but it does. This problem with the same error message in red letters on a blue screen happens also on other Panasonic Mini-DV cameras, such as the DVC-30s, again with little help in the manual.

Seems like you've made valiant efforts. All I can think to add is to maybe post on DVXuser.com, if you have time, because there are people on there with
thousands of hours spent with these cameras.

It also seems to me that many Panasonic Mini-DV cameras, such as the DVC-30 series and I think the DVX-100s, have a reset button on the panel where the
switches are when you open the LCD. It's a button that is recessed to protect from being hit inadvertently and is supposed to reset everything back to day one. It's more of an emergency button I think than simply a way to ditch scene files and go back to default settings. I've never used it but it might work, although if you have time to post on the DVXuser forum, maybe you could ask there first.

Good luck.
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#7 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 31 May 2009 - 02:02 AM

It also seems to me that many Panasonic Mini-DV cameras, such as the DVC-30 series and I think the DVX-100s, have a reset button on the panel where the
switches are when you open the LCD. It's a button that is recessed to protect from being hit inadvertently and is supposed to reset everything back to day one. It's more of an emergency button I think than simply a way to ditch scene files and go back to default settings.

Awesome, that's what I was looking for! Thanks a lot Tim, I'll check it out!
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#8 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 01 June 2009 - 12:25 AM

Here are a couple pictures of reset button on DVX-100B (got it last fall.) Haven't had a chance to look/find manual but as I recall, it's a back to the way
it came out of the box reset.

Attached Images

  • DVX_100B_wider.jpg
  • DVX_100B_reset.jpg

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