Few months back I picked up a Sony Handycam Video 8 camera (CCD-TR333 circa 1993) cheaply off ebay. I brought it to transfer a load of family videos to the computer, for archiving to DVD. The camera was working but only in playback mode. It was very temperamental and would only play tapes ok after a few minutes of power on. The camera side was working but it would not record very well, only a wobbly picture with varying amount of static. Thankfully I was able to capture all our tapes ok with out the camera dying completely.
A common fault with these 1990's era camcorders are that the electrolytic capacitors fail. Causing a multitude of problems, from bad record and playback to the camera not powering up at all. The miniature surface mount type capacitors used are not as reliable as the big brothers used in desktop equipment. And are only usually rated for about 8-10 years of use before they start to fail. You've probably heard about same fault that happens to Sega Game Gears, they also use the same miniature capacitors most nineties camcorders do.
So I though I’d take a look inside the camera see if I could repair it...
After carefully opening up the case of the camera, I noticed there was a strange smell on the DC-DC power board. Looking carefully at all of the caps on the board, I could see that all of them where leaking their electrolyte. (Its not that evident from this picture but trust me they were!)
This DC-DC board regulates the 6V DC from the battery pack to all the required voltages, and is crucial that the capacitors are functional. This board also drives the head drum motor, so faulty caps would cause it to spin a the wrong speeds in turn causing the problems I was getting. So I decided I would replace all the electrolytic caps on the board. I marked out the bad caps with red marker and de-soldered them from the board. I cleaned up the spilled electrolyte with a cotton swap and video head cleaning fluid. Did the job nicely, though in some cases the electrolyte can eat way at PCB tracks causing damage to board.
Rather than using replacement SMT parts I just used new caps that I had in my spares box. You should always use the same (uF) value but it doesn't matter if you use a slightly higher voltage replacement cap. For example to replace the 10v 33uF caps I used 16v 33uF. With some thoughtful positioning I was able replace all the faulty capacitors.
With all the caps replaced on the power board, I re-fitted it back to the camera:
I thought while I had the camera open, I'd may aswell replace all the capacitors on the main board:
I also replaced a few caps on the CCD board of the camera. There was a cap value on there that I did not have in my spares so I had to leave it.
I then re-assembled the camera boards then the sides of case. At the front of the camera is the audio board. All the caps on this board appeared to be ok. No smell or leakage, so I left them for now. Though its likely I will replace them in future, if I get audio issues.
The audio board:
The camera powered up fine. Everything works much better now, It records and plays flawlessly!
So my capacitor replacement went well, and the camera is now back in to a usable condition again.
I've got lots of spare video 8 tapes that can be erased so I can take this camera out for a test.