You can back up your VHS tapes with this digitization kit


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/02/05/you-can-back-up-your-vhs-tapes.html


#2

Aren’t we a decade too late to be digitizing VHS?

Do people still have crates of VHS tapes they would want to digitize?

I had a few movies that I may have wanted to digitize, but the cost and effort to digitize from VHS is just a lost cause.


#3

Better hope you have a working VCR laying around, too.


#4

Astonishingly, just this morning, I found an old video casette labeled as my dad in his shop, and also a video of a family dinnertime. Probably from the early 90s.

I’m still not buying this gadget, but it was a remarkably timely ad for at least one pair of eyeballs.

I don’t, and I won’t be paying 100 bucks on amazon for a used one either - but I’m pretty likely to pick one up for 5 bucks at a flea market before long, just for this one tape.


#5

I just dumped all my VHS tapes last Wednesday, you insensitive clod!


#6

Make sure you clean out out really well before using it.


#7

The signal itself is the easy part. It’s finding the mechanical transports that cost arms and legs - especially for camcorder tapes.


#8

I don’t think that I even own any VHS tapes anymore; but I have sometimes found it helpful to have a device that can ingest composite, S-video, or component video and turn it into something that doesn’t make me feel like a degenerate barbarian. (assuming they don’t add too much latency, they are great for playing old-school consoles in a window on your monitor; handy for interacting with cheap non-IP cameras, good enough for wrangling rPis if you don’t have an extra HDMI input handy; and some surprisingly tiny embedded chips can produce composite video through various hacks even if they don’t have ‘video output’ support by design. Also, if you are into microscopy; you can get some great deals on ‘obsolete’ microscope cameras that either have only analog output; or weren’t classy enough to have Firewire video; and have some now-useless USB video setup that only ever barely worked on 32-bit WinXP with proprietary drivers).

That said; quality can be an issue. I have one device(black plastic stick, looks like a chubby USB drive with vent holes and video cables splaying out one end; branded ‘easierCAP’ that I like because it shows up as a normal USB Video Class device; but I cannot overstate how horrific the quality is. Good analog circuit design isn’t free; and good ADCs cost money; and this device clearly received neither. My other option, which I haven’t been able to get working in Linux, but works even in 64-bit Win10, is an Adaptec AVC-3610(well, technically, I have the HP rebadge, creatively named AVC-3160HP). HP stamped out about a zillion of them back when Windows Media Center was going to be the next hotness; but since Microsoft took Media Center out and shot it; and NTSC broadcasts are no more; you can pick up minimally used units(still perfectly functional for composite, S-Video, and FM) for a song. Plus, the quality doesn’t make you want to gnaw your eyes out.

Using one with VLC is a trifle fiddly; but a little trial and error takes the pain away.


#9

Many of these kind of devices are terrible. Piss poor hardware and crappy codecs. I wouldn’t trust a device this cheap as far as I can throw it.


#10

as a matter of fact i happen to have a collection of tapes which represent a chunk of my art experiments of the early 90s along with sets of home movies which had been transferred to vhs none of which have been digitized and all of which i have kept in order to be able to do so at some future point. this may represent the future point.

and, yes, i have access to at least two functioning vhs players.


#11

It may well mean nothing(Back when I did the time-honored ‘Linux User’s Chipset Grovelling’ before picking up some analog capture interfaces there were at least 5 wholly unrelated devices, a chain of shoddy Chinese clones so confusing that nobody even seemed to know who was cloning who, using a more or less identical plastic housing with 1 green LED); but I can’t say that I’m encouraged by the fact that the pictures of the product closely resemble my ‘easierCAP’; which aside from its refreshingly sane standards compliance is a piece of shit on the analog side of things.

The AVC-3160 probably makes users of professional quality framegrabbers cry; and it doesn’t have UVC support; but (to my untrained eye) it at least produces good enough results that most of the offensive defects can be blamed on the source material. It also cost a great deal more; before the fire sale conditions.


#12

I remember it was a thing in the 90s to convert 8mm home movies to VHS. I hope they saved their originals.

Because if you really want to preserve home videos for the future, the smartest thing would be to convert them to 8mm film.


#13

By this point I suspect the only VHS people still have around that they’d genuinely want to watch again would be stuff like AcerPlatanoides’ tapes of his dad in his shop and family at dinner time - ie small numbers of tapes of high personal value. And for those, rather than trying to find or revive a VHS player in decent condition and screwing around with low quality transfer gadgets, you’re probably better off just going to a professional transfer place. Unless you happen to live in LA or Bombay or somewhere else with a substantial sector of the economy providing ancillary services to the movie industry you’ll probably have to mail the tapes somewhere, but it’ll still be quicker, cheaper, and produce better quality results than a DIY setup. About the only time I’d consider a DIY setup for something like this is if a) I genuinely didn’t care about the end quality (eg I have old research tapes of interviews with people where I really just want audio, and as long as it’s clear enough for a transcriptionist to type up, it’s good enough), or b) I have so many tapes that paying a professional place to do it will be more expensive than buying some decent quality gear myself.


#14

I have years-old home-burned DVDs of conversion from 8mm film home movies–many of those DVDs won’t play now.

The films still work.

Just sayin’


#15

I wonder if it works with Beta machines.


#16

not to mention the quality of video from vhs tapes several decades old.

yeah, i just discarded a couple of spindles worth of burned data dvds that had expired and were no longer readable. dvdrs really don’t last very long unless you paid a ton for an archive grade one.


#17

I don’t need this. I copied all of my VHS tapes onto floppy disk.


#18

Is it Windows 10 compatible?

Compatibility
Windows 8, 7, XP, Vista

Terms
All sales final


#19

And @wisconsinplatt , @TheGreatParis , etc.

There are enough people out there with old 8mm, slides, vhs, beta, etc. to keep transfer companies afloat. In fact, my part-time delivery job is for a company based in San Diego and Lafayette. I even do drop-offs along the way if they’re not miles from my route and don’t mind me swinging by late at night.


#20

I have a hi-fi VHS player sitting in my garage.

I’ve been super tempted lately to get it out and use it to mix down and then re-digitise some music I’m working on. Interested to see if has some pleasing analog effects to offer.