A Halle's Service, Inc.
Phoenix, Arizona
est. 1964

MiniDV SP vs LP
DV Head Cleaning
Preserving Memories
Remote Controls
Auto Focus
Static Discharge
Camcorder Handling
Tapes & Disks
Digital Woes
Video Heads
Mixing Tape Brands
Exchange Policies
Battery Warranties
When Not to Repair

    Video Heads, those little things that make it possible for you to view your favorite movie at your convenience are the topic of this article. What is a video head? It is a tiny piece of Hot Pressed Ferrite, a material similar to glass. It is shaped almost like a closed letter C with wires wrapped around it. It is about the thickness of a human hair and the gap (the part that isn't closed) is only about 25 microns wide. That's too small to see with the human eye! Two, four, or more of these are mounted on the under side of a polished metal drum that spins at 2400 revolutions per minute on a VHS machine, and 9000 RPM on a Mini-DV unit.  The heads extend a few thousandths of an inch past this drum and contact the tape that passes over the drum on a cushion of air.

    Due to the size and shape of these heads, we don't have a problem with "dirt" buildup on them. they press against the tape with enough pressure that they are kept clean. It IS possible for a tiny bit of contamination to "clog" the gap, in which case the head ceases to function, and you have nothing but snow on one or more speeds.

    Now, enter the "CLEANING TAPE". In the case of audio equipment, the heads are cleaned by WIPING the contamination off of them. Someone decided that this was a valid method of cleaning video heads, and the video cleaning tape was born. Since Video heads are not flat, this method is not always effective, and indeed often causes MORE PROBLEMS than it cures. They often wipe contaminants from harmless places INTO the video heads. They can SNAG those tiny heads with the fabric many of them are made of. The cleaning solution can dilute and wash out critical lubricants that can't be replaced. They even cause some mechanisms to JAM. In short, WE DO NOT ADVISE USING A CLEANING TAPE AS PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE in  VCRs. As a matter of fact, here is a quote from Sylvania's warranty that was provided with their VCRs:

Damage to heads resulting from the use
of video head cleaning tapes.

Learn more about Cleaning and Cleaning Tapes


Courtesy: Halle's Service, Inc.


Last modified: March 31, 2007