Thursday, 10 January 2013

Getting antique video cameras working – Part 1

I acquired a two old early 80's video cameras to play with recently. An Hitachi VK-C600 and a Sony HVC4000P. These are the old type that use a tube as an image sensor. These cameras required to be connected to an external VCR to be used. As well as recording video from the camera, these also provided the power supply to run them.

While the cameras on there own are fairly common, the recording units are quite rare and expensive to find in working condition. (From my experience anyway) Each manufacturer uses a proprietary multi-pin connector on the camera cable and recording unit. I just acquired the two cameras on their own.

So lets start with the Hitachi VK-C600. Its a colour video camera from around 1980-82. It uses a “saticon” tube as the image pick-up. Has a built-in b/w viewfinder and a microphone.

I cut the connector off to see what wires are in the cable. I then striped the out cable to reveal each individual wires. The cable has 8 wires with 3 of them coaxial type.

After a few minutes checking the wires with the multimeter and a few searches online I was able to figure out which wires do what.

Hitachi VK-C600 Camera cable pinout:

Yellow: DC 12V Power
Orange: GND

Black Coax #1
Red: Composite video from camera (goes to your TV/monitor or recording unit)
Screen: GND

Black Coax #2
White: Composite video to Viewfinder in VTR mode
Screen: GND

Grey Mini Coax
White: Audio from camera microphone (standard audio “line” level)
Screen: GND

There are three other small wires that are used for VCR command signals. But I’ve yet to figure these out. I've just left these wires on disconnected for now.

Thin wires:

The camera connected up, powered up and displaying an image via composite video. On my 10" TV:

In part 2 I’ll discuss a cable pinout and powering up the Sony HVC4000P and fiting some proper connectors to the cameras cable's. 


  1. Thank you for your detailed reference pinout, I got mine back to life after 25 years.
    Please note: the pickup tube it's a Vidicon Hitachi HS-256.

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    2. Thanks for the comment, Yes you're correct it does use a vidicon tube. That explains why this camera needs a fair amount of light to get a good picture compared to my other tube cameras.

  2. Dude I need your help, I have the same model camera. When I turn on the camera, the viewfinder just shows a white screen.

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  4. I still have a complete system, VK-C600 with carry case, recorder unit and Tuner unit, all original boxes as well, The battery is totally dead that goes into the recorder so a 12volt external power source is required to power it, otherwise its complete.