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Magnetic Developers — Seeing the tracks

Filed under: magnetic record viewing,magnetic tape developing,tools — 2006-03-08 by Richard L. Hess — Last Edit 2015-11-29 by Richard L. Hess

This has been updated 2015-07 and now 2005-11. We ordered a new 1022 viewer from Arnold/Flexmag as the 2007 Sigma finally gave up the ghost and the 2011 Sigma that I had as a spare is not as good a performer for this application. As of the end of November, we are still awaiting a response from Sigma. Overall, I am quite pleased how well the “fresh” Arnold unit works and it appears more sensitive than the older 3M unit I had even when it was working well. This is now my top choice. It is not perfect, but fits the budget better and performs much better than the newer Sigma. It is also faster than the Sigma ever was.
Please look here, but there is still good information, below.
Two ways of seeing tracks on a tape are listed here. We’re collecting more in the comments. (more…)


Filed under: tools — 2006-03-06 by Richard L. Hess — Last Edit 2015-04-23 by Richard L. Hess

High-quality hand tools are a must for working on high-end tape machines. I’ll discuss some of the specifics in other articles.

The tools that Studer supplied (when required) were made by PB Baumann, now PB Swiss Tools in Switzerland.

My preferred supplier (for North America) is Tool Lady. She also sells Wiha tools to complement the PB line. Barbara Christy, the original Tool Lady succumbed to cancer on April 11, 2015 after a four-year battle. Her daughter Rachel Straight has announced that she, in the guise of Tool Lady II, will continue the business.

Mouse alternative … the graphics tablet

Filed under: computer/data,tools — 2013-10-30 by Richard L. Hess — Last Edit 2013-10-30 by Richard L. Hess

When I made a 30th anniversary photo book to give my wife, I nearly killed my mouse hand working in Lightroom. Also, a mouse is a difficult way to do fine adjustments of the cursor. (more…)

Power options for field recording

Filed under: live sound and recording,tools — 2013-03-03 by Richard L. Hess — Last Edit 2013-03-28 by Richard L. Hess

I had the first failure to capture an entire concert in my recording career. I had become complacent and considering that I had new (April 2012) Li-ion batteries for my Sound Devices 722 recorder, did not think twice about recording a concert on the approximately 50 Wh 6-cell packs. Well, one failed, and did so spectacularly without a warning. I did not notice the in-process warnings, because I do not wear my headphones during the whole concert. I try and take in the concert so that I can then see what’s missing in the studio. Here is what the after-the-fact results showed:

batts4a (more…)

Open Source software…and other tools

Filed under: education,software,tools — 2011-01-01 by Richard L. Hess — Last Edit 2013-02-15 by Richard L. Hess

I have been having a lot of fun recently looking for specific software tools that avoid having to purchase multiple licenses of the high-priced programs. Here are a list of my picks of free and low-cost software tools. I am sticking with Samplitude Professional for audio and Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom for photo-graphics. The other alternatives, however, are wide open. (more…)

Source for D5 (Decamethylcyclopentasiloxane)

Filed under: Decamethylcyclopentasiloxane,Tape Aging,tools — 2012-10-09 by Richard L. Hess — Last Edit 2012-10-11 by Richard L. Hess

I have recently been looking to replenish my supply of D5 (Decamethylcyclopentasiloxane) and did not have much luck receiving replies to my email. Others have reported difficulty finding this in quantities smaller than a 55-gallon drum.

I found a promising listing for cyclopentasiloxane and when I queried the supplier, he indicated that the analysis was 97.5% decamethylcyclopentasiloxane and the balance being octomethylcyclopentasiloxane. I suspect that is more than good enough for tape work.


Update (2012-08) Kyread spray-on magnetic viewer fluid

Filed under: magnetic record viewing,magnetic tape developing,tools — 2011-05-30 by Richard L. Hess — Last Edit 2012-08-07 by Richard L. Hess

In several articles on magnetic viewers, we have discussed the spray-on Kyread product.

GOOD NEWS! The company is back! I received a phone call from Ryan Blackwell this afternoon and he pointed me to their new website. The company name is now Kyros Technologies LLC.

Note their jump into the 21st century with a real website and great domain name: — they even have a shopping cart for online ordering. This is apparently the same product I’ve been using for the last eight years.

File backup strategy and utilities

Filed under: data storage,infrastructure,tools — 2008-07-25 by Richard L. Hess — Last Edit 2012-05-19 by Richard L. Hess

My storage systems have grown to keep up with storage needs. I am currently running two NAS units in RAID-5:

Unit #1 for client audio projects is a Netgear ReadyNAS NV+ with four 1500 GB drives, providing about 4.3 TiB of storage.

Unit #2 for personal projects and general data is a Thecus N5200 Pro with five 1000 GB drives, providing about 3.6 TiB of storage.

These two units are then duplicated off-site and connected by a fibre optic link (currently running at 100 Mb/s while the rest of the network is running at 1000 Mb/s).


CD-DVD printing revisited

Filed under: archive operations,tools — 2008-05-22 by Richard L. Hess — Last Edit 2011-06-30 by Richard L. Hess

For many years, I had been in favour of the Primera Z1 small optical disc printer. When Primera discontinued this several years ago, I was not pleased and purchased two as spares, hoping at least the ribbons would continue.

It appears that I am not alone in thinking this is a good product as it has resurfaced as the U-Print CDP78, now in black, and available from many online distributors. The cartridges appear to be interchangeable with the Primera. I can now suggest that this is a good alternative for safe, long-lasting, and reasonably attractive text labeling of CDs and DVDs. It appears that the Teac P11 is also similar. The last time I checked, the Casio required manual rotation of the disk, rather than the Primera’s automatic rotation.

Please provide me with any feedback pro or con—preferably as comments to this post.

Open Source software…and other tools II

Filed under: education,software,tools — 2011-03-01 by Richard L. Hess — Last Edit 2011-06-30 by Richard L. Hess

This is the second installment of my open-ended quest for great software. The previous (and inaugural) article is here.

The excitement is that the current version of LibreOffice has removed a good deal of the startup sluggishness. While still not as fast as MS Office 2003, remember with LibreOffice, you are starting the whole suite essentially. There is an option to load it at startup, which I do not use. (more…)

Seeing the tracks II — An improved magnetic viewing system

Filed under: magnetic record viewing,magnetic tape developing,tools — 2007-06-20 by Richard L. Hess — Last Edit 2011-05-30 by Richard L. Hess

I first wrote about seeing the tracks here in March of 2006. While these solutions work, the Plastiform viewer needs to be kept in a humidor and the Kyread spray is a bit of mess to use and the results are variable. One result of the Kyread treatment can be seen here (please wait for the pictures to load, it’s a big page).

Here is what appears to be a vastly improved solution:

Closeup of the viewer (more…)

Update to magnetic viewer accessories

Filed under: magnetic record viewing,magnetic tape developing,tools — 2011-04-14 by Richard L. Hess — Last Edit 2011-05-30 by Richard L. Hess

I remain a fan of the Sigma MV-95 magnetic viewer despite its slowness at times. I discussed it at length here in June of 2007. It has helped analyze many problematic tapes and has helped me understand the issues enough to apply the correct solution to transfer damaged tapes.

An example is here. (more…)

Is it really a Phillips screw or is it a Pozidriv screw?

Filed under: Nakamichi Dragon,tools — 2006-03-06 by Richard L. Hess — Last Edit 2010-10-20 by Richard L. Hess

Many pieces of equipment with cross-headed screws actually have Pozidriv screws rather than Phillips screws in them. This is especially true of Japanese equipment. [EDIT 2007-11-26] Or are these yet different JIS screws? See the updated post about this here.

I bought a set of Hozan [JIS] drivers, but now that I’ve learned that PB makes them [maybe] (see tools article) I’ll buy any additional ones from them. Pozidrive screws have “tick” marks between the slots–or should.

Here is an interesting explanation of the different screw heads in the context of cabinet/furniture making.

After some testing with both Phillips and Pozidrive drivers, it seems that some/many of the inexpensive screws that come packaged with home hardware-type items are non-descript and perhaps don’t meet either standard!

Rechargeable battery solutions: AA and AAA

Filed under: live sound and recording,parts,photography,tools — 2009-10-16 by Richard L. Hess — Last Edit 2010-01-24 by Richard L. Hess

I wrote about rechargeable batteries back in April 2009 and while I have expanded the installation of the iPowerUS 9V batteries to three chargers and twelve batteries at the church and one charger and four batteries in my facility, I have adopted a different approach to AA and AAA cells from that outlined previously.


Rechargeable battery solutions 9V, AA, AAA

Filed under: live sound and recording,parts,photography,tools — 2009-04-27 by Richard L. Hess — Last Edit 2009-10-16 by Richard L. Hess

Battery technology continues to improve. In 2007, I bought some Sony fast-charge nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH) AA cells and charger. They have worked well for digital cameras, electronic flashes, and a portable audio recorder. NiMH cells are available in major stores and some offer long-shelf-life-per-charge and come pre-charged.

Recently, I did a thorough search for 9 V rechargeable batteries for wireless microphones at church. I was pleased to discover that iPowerUS (they have a Toronto office) was able to provide lithium polymer 9 V batteries that far outperformed the available NiMH offerings. We bought one DC9V charger and eight DC9V-520mAh batteries for alternate use in four wireless transmitters that we use regularly. We expect this system to pay off in a year or less.

I also bought their GC-60 tester/charger for my NiMH AA and AAA cells which, so far, looks excellent. Both chargers come with a “wall wart” and a car cord.

See updates in this article.

Hard disk formats for interchange

Filed under: data storage,storage-care-handling,tools — 2008-02-03 by Richard L. Hess — Last Edit 2008-06-03 by

The question of how to format hard disks (i.e. what file system to use on them) for easy interchange is another FAQ. A recent experience brought home the fact that it is more complex than one might hope. The computer industry is headed towards universal readability, but it is not there yet. The most-able-to-be-read-and-written format appears to be FAT32, although my friend Eric Jacobs makes the point that NTFS is a more robust hard disk file system, and I have to agree. (more…)

Cross-point screws take two: JIS vs. PoziDriv

Filed under: Nakamichi Dragon,tools — 2007-11-26 by Richard L. Hess — Last Edit 2007-11-26 by

I received the following in an email from a person only identified as Ross. I thank him. He sent me the following in reference to this post. concerning Philips and PoziDriv screws as used on Nakamichi Dragons and other Japanese equipment. I, too, have a set of Hozen drivers which I obtained from (more…)


Filed under: archive operations,audio,computer/data,digital,infrastructure,reels,tools — 2006-03-06 by Richard L. Hess — Last Edit 2006-03-20 by

I have made a variety of static pages for my tape restoration Web site, but thought it was time to add a more user-friendly, article-based location to discuss various topics, tools, tricks, and techniques that I have come across in various ways.

What is easier to use than ready-made BLOG software, so I guess Richard is finally Blogging!

I hope you like this and find it of interest. Please let me know of any changes or topics you might like addressed.


Note: This post has been put in every top-level category because it appears that a post is needed in each top-level category if the sub-categories are to be visible.

Note 2: The Tips  & Notes blog and the  Formats & Resources  static pages of this  sub-site replace the Tips and Resources static pages on the Web site. And, there is integrated searching across both the blog articles and the static pages.

Stripped hex head screws

Filed under: Studer A810,tools — Richard L. Hess — Last Edit 2006-03-06 by

The 2 mm hex head screws that hold panel modules and blanks on Studer A810s are easily stripped by slightly worn hex drivers. Studer used 2.5 mm hex head screws in the later A807, perhaps aware of this issue. Using PB drivers from the start will reduce the possiblity of this happening.

There are essentially two choices when this happens:

  • Slot the screw with a Dremel rotary tool and a small cutoff blade and use a slotted screwdriver to remove the screw.
  • Use some sort of Ez-Out screw extractor.

When I was confronted with this situation recently and I didn’t have an EZ-out of the correct size to bite into  the screw  without drilling,  I grabbed a T10 Torx driver and gently tapped it into the screw head. I pushed in hard while starting to turn and the screw came out.

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