Tape Project Forum

Tape Machines => Reel to Reel Tape Machines => Topic started by: reelnut on February 20, 2014, 09:08:53 PM

Title: PLL Capstan Light on A810
Post by: reelnut on February 20, 2014, 09:08:53 PM
Hello all,

Yesterday the PLL capstan light on my A810 would blink occasionally after I turned it on. Prior to about 5 days ago the machine had not even been plugged in about a year. (I know, shame on me. ...for not using it, and also for not exercising it during long periods of non-use). By the time I got ready to record it had quit doing it. I've had this machine for 6 years and put 700 hours on it. This has never happened before. In fact, it has always been 100% reliable.

Today I noticed it blinking during a record process. When the light blinks it means the capstan is not up to speed, and of course, this ruins the recording. I normally give the machine time to warm up before recording, but today it only had a few minutes of warm-up time. After the machine had been recording for about 15 minutes it quit doing it completely. It has been on all day, setting next to my computer desk, and it has not blinked at all after it got up to operating temperature.


Does anyone have an idea of what it is that is trying to fail here? Hopefully, it could be something as simple as the capstan motor needs to be lubricated. Any thoughts?
Title: Re: PLL Capstan Light on A810
Post by: docb on February 21, 2014, 02:45:34 PM
It could be due to an aging capacitor in the capstan control circuit that needs extra time to charge or, as you suggest, a moving part that needs CLA. First download the service manual and check the section on capstan service, and then maybe give the machine a fair amount of run time to see if the cap might reform.

Hopefully Ki Choi will be checking in, as he may have some more specific suggestions.
Title: Re: PLL Capstan Light on A810
Post by: reelnut on February 21, 2014, 06:22:20 PM
Doc, thanks for your help. Today I fired up the A810 and it had a couple of hours to warm up while I was doing other things. There was no tape loaded and I did not start the capstan manually, I just let it sit while all the circuits warmed up.  When I did load tape and the capstan was activated there were no problems. I'm not a tech compared to what you or Ki know, but I do readily understand when someone explains, and your remarks about an aging cap that needs extra time to charge and running the machine to reform the cap were quite helpful.

Studer has a service bulletin that says my capstan motor is good for 4,000 hours and up to 10,000 hours if it is re-lubricated. It also says there is a big difference in service requirements between vertically mounted & horizontally mounted machines. That makes a lot of sense and mine is vertical.

I've had the op/serv manual since the day I received the machine and have referred to it a lot over the years. But yesterday all I found in it were schematics and how to remove the assembly. I was unable to find a functional description of the capstan.

Today I found this:
"A capacitive sensor detects the movement of a toothed ring that is rigidly coupled to the capstan shaft, The change in the capacitance of the sensor causes a frequency modulation at the input of the capstan motor control."
I'm guessing if the problem gets worse that finding that sensor would be a really good place to start troubleshooting.
Title: Re: PLL Capstan Light on A810
Post by: Ki Choi on March 02, 2014, 05:06:11 PM
Sorry for being late to the post.

There are simple problem areas to look for quick fix fist:

One is to look at the capacitive techo sensor output from the capstan motor. Its functions are described in the section 3.5.9 in the manual.

Second is as Doc B had suggested - there are three electrolytic caps (c12 100uF 16VDC, C16 10uF 16VDC, C18 2.2uF 16V) in the capstan control board need to be replaced.  Even the youngest A810s with serial numbers >6000 are still more than 30 years old.

However, most likely reason for losing PLL signal that I had been experiencing was due to failure of L1 and L2 variable inductors in the capstan control board from machines with serial numbers older (smaller) than ~4000s region.

One of the things that are less than Studer-like was to use these cheap variable inductors with very questionable quality.  These old inductors used some plastic like material to hold the ferrite core in place after being tuned to 5.5Mhz +/- 500Khz.  I found most of the ferrite cores to be out of place due to the holding material that had gone soft from age and no longer holds.

Since I hadn't been able to locate these variable inductors, the only solution was to temporarily position the ferrite core to its proper position and fix it with epoxy glue.  As it dries, I have to double check with a digital scope with counter capability to make sure it holds 5.5Mhz signal.

Hope it helps.

Title: Re: PLL Capstan Light on A810
Post by: reelnut on March 14, 2014, 12:16:14 AM
Hi Ki,
Excellent! What an amazing post...thanks much.
I've been using the machine every single day for the last 2 weeks, no problems.
Normally the machine warms up before capstan is engaged.
Yesterday I started capstan right after power-up. After the initial spin-up time it blinked a few times then was steady.
Today I did the same thing...no blinking at all, but the room may have been warmer.
So, whatever problem exists is minimal at this time.
Looks like I have a newer machine- serial # is 6143.
I will copy & paste your info into my Studer folder for future reference!!!
Thanks again,
Title: Re: PLL Capstan Light on A810
Post by: Ki Choi on March 17, 2014, 12:31:29 PM
Hi John:

Glad to help. 

If you do find final fix for the loss of PLL, let us know here.

Title: Re: PLL Capstan Light on A810
Post by: Waltzingbear on March 18, 2014, 11:06:22 AM
I have found that usually the thing that gets ignored is the already mentioned activity of lube!

you noted the 4000 vs 10000 hr difference noted in the manual, the motor is meant to have a drop of oil added each year. The type of oil is important and is noted on the bottom of the capstan motor on a red tag. Usually for this type of machine its PDP65, which is available from ebay or maybe amazon in small quantities (which is all you will ever need).

Procedure is in the manual

Title: Re: PLL Capstan Light on A810
Post by: reelnut on March 18, 2014, 03:22:41 PM
Hi Waltzingbear,

You have a good point and one would expect to have a need to apply a drop of oil a year to a bearing. However, in a pdf I have entitled Capstan Motor Lubrication, Technical Protocol No. 174, Studer says sintered bearings are used exclusively for the capstan shafts in their tape recorders. They say the porous structure of the bearing is saturated with lubricant under vacuum and the pores amount to 15-30% of the bearing volume! They go on to say "Depending on load and operating conditions, the amount of lubricant thus stored may last for the life of a motor. In contrast to a solid bearing bearing design, the lubricant in sintered bearings is not applied to the face of the bearing via a few central lubricating points but is instead available through the capillaries of the porous sintered material. In this way, a minimal oil film around the shaft is maintained even at standstill of the motor".

There is quite a bit more (5 pages total). For instance, loss of lubricant due to seepage in vertically mounted capstan shafts (particularly A80) versus horizontal capstan shafts. (My capstan is horizontal). I was unable to find this paper anywhere on the Studer ftp site ftp.studer.ch/Public/Products/ (http://ftp.studer.ch/Public/Products/), and I don't remember where I got it from. Anyone wishing to have a look at it can PM me and I will send it to them!
Title: Re: PLL Capstan Light on A810
Post by: SonusBonum on June 10, 2016, 03:20:09 AM
I experienced the same thing the other day. The PLL light goes on and off in a regular fashion. I am still in the "fault detection phase" but after reading this post I would like to add something that caught my eye.

In the A810 manual it says: "CAUTION Ensure that proper electrical insulation and excellent thermal contact with the heatsink bracket is achieved WHEN REPLACING THE POWER TRANSISTORS (Q1, Q2)..."

What puzzles me is why they added this caution. There are no other similar warnings like that at all.

In other words: since one transistor does the spinning and the other the braking, could it be that this may be my (and your) problem...?
Title: Re: PLL Capstan Light on A810
Post by: Waltzingbear on July 19, 2016, 06:28:02 PM
unlikely, more likely is that they saw failures in the field from improper repair and said, HEY! pay attention, which is a translation of that tech note :-)

All the items mentioned previously apply, replace the caps, lubricate the capstan once a year, have someone with a scope check the servo if needed. Pay attention to Ki's warning about the inductor, don't touch unless you have to. "Unless you have to" can only be determined by someone who understands this circuit and is qualified at component level repair.

Repairing capstan servo systems is not for the daubler, find some one with the skills needed.

Title: Re: PLL Capstan Light on A810
Post by: 337alant on January 07, 2020, 06:48:10 AM
I know this is an old thread but I had the same problem with a blinking PLL light and I solved it so this is just for information 
After removing the Motor control board I found that one of the transistor BU522 was loose on the heat sink and it had failed.
So I replaced the BU522 with new insulating washer and heat sink compound.
Leaving the motor and control board out of the machine I ran through the check's in sec 3.5.9 of the service manual using an oscilloscope and multi meter and adjusted the pots to give the required readings, they were a little out of spec so good job I checked.
Reinstalled the capstan and control board into the A810 and its working perfectly now and sounding superb :D happy days !

I believe the cause of this problem could be that the transistors were not tightly fastened to the heat sink and Q1 has overheated or shorted on the heat sink?.
I replaced this with the BU-522B which is a higher voltage rating than the original which may be beneficial as they do get hot in use I noted after the testing.

(https://live.staticflickr.com/4177/34317971470_06d430d228_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/Uhyzih)20170516_175555 (https://flic.kr/p/Uhyzih) by Alan Towell (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr