Tascam 38 head issues

Discussion in 'TASCAM Analog Forum' started by Richard N, Jul 5, 2015.

  1. Richard N

    Richard N New Member

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    From:
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    38, M2524, M30, DA30
    Tascam 38

    Purchased new by me in 1983. Original and only owner.

    I got my 38 out of mothballs about two years ago and set my home studio back up to finish some songs put on hold when life got in the way. Installed new belt and new rubber pinch roller. All worked fine until about 6 weeks ago.
    Issues:

    1. When using the sync head, channel 1 does not work. The channel 1 VU meter shows no activity and there is no output.

    2. When using the repro head, channel 7 does not work. The channel 7 VU meter shows no activity and there is no output.


    I checked the tape and there is information on both channels 1 and 7.

    I keep the heads meticulously clean (since it is old tape it will tend to shed) and have demaged also.
    I’ve done a lot of reading here and many have talked about the sound cards, relays and caps. I’ve found sound cards on the web for the 38 for around $30. Should I get a couple, replace 1 & 7 and try that approach? Help!!

    Thanks!
  2. Richard N

    Richard N New Member

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    Anyone out there to help with this?
    Help.
  3. cmaffia

    cmaffia Moderator Staff Member

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    Your best bet is to take it to a tascam service center. There are plenty that still fix these old machines (at least here in NY there are). You're equipment is 23 years old. Even if you could fix it, what's next to go unless you spend a chunk of change giving it a complete recap? This could end up being a money pit and huge source frustration, and for what?

    My 2nd recommendation (personally this would be my first course of action) is to dive head first into the digital realm and don't look back...In fact I guarantee you won't want to look back. You don't even have to get into computer based recording. Pick up a Tascam Dp24SD for $400 which is probably cheaper than what you originally paid for your existing setup and possibly more than half what you'll pay a qualified technician to refurbish your Tascam 38. Why wouldn't you want to enjoy 24 tracks at 24bit 48khz with all the other bells and whistles you're currently missing out on in one complete unit?
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2015
  4. Richard N

    Richard N New Member

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    Hi cmaffia,
    Hey thanks for your reply. Your advice is great. I downloaded Reaper a few months ago and it is working well. Not too much of a learning curve and is logical. I had considered the Tascam DP24 or DP32 and still may go that route.

    I wanted to get my equipment up to snuff and sell it after I transcribe all of my masters to the Tascam DP32 or to the DAW.

    I have a lot of other equipment from the studio days of the '70s, '80s and '90s. All purchased new by me and all works great except for the head issue on the Tascam 38. (And that problem with the 38 heads and the output only started this April.)

    Anyway, your advice is on the money and much appreciated.
    Thanks,
    Richard
  5. bobadrew

    bobadrew New Member

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    Captain Obvious here.....Are you sure that the heads are aligned back properly? Could a wire have come undone from a multi pin connector during the belt chaning? Are your cables all properly seated? If I remember right, there's a good bit of pieces that have to be removed in order to change the belt.

    I have gone the way of digital with an MX-2424. I miss the analog sometimes but I have to admit it's a lot easier to work with in a home studio environment. Good luck.

    -andrew
  6. Richard N

    Richard N New Member

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    Hi Andrew,
    Thanks for your input - much appreciated.
    I changed the belt about a year ago (March '14) and all channels worked fine up until this April. Crazy - one day it worked and then the next day the problem with the heads showed up. - same reel of tape, nothing else has changed. That is what makes me think it may be a cap or relay that gave way.

    Belt change is not too difficult at all. And it is a procedure I've done with this deck 4 or 5 times since I've had the unit (1983). Head block is not moved - just the face plate is unscrewed, moved to the side, and the belt replaced. No aligning issues involved.

    Thanks again for your help. Hope I can get this narrowed down and fixed. I still like analog also - rather romantic with all the lights, reels moving and meters.

    Cheers,
    Richard
  7. wkrbee

    wkrbee Active Member

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    The 30 series decks 32,34,38,had problems with the soldering on the motherboard degrading.Your problems are consistent with flaky solder-I fixed a lot of them with this problem.
  8. SkywaveTDR

    SkywaveTDR Active Member

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    Hi Richard,
    I am an ex-Teac Lead Technician from the Chicago Facility and still work on those decks even today. The item you seem to be having trouble with is either card edge connections or the DIP relays they used on the cards. I have had to change a lot of them due to a nicked coil as they used to call it. They are still possible to be replaced with a Coto relay. This is still a guess but if you look at the schematics of these which I have many times this relay between sync and repro sticks out. The test is to place a jumper across the correct poles of the relay while it is in that mode. If it work then it is the relay. Of course a Technician could take the relay out and test it in a wireless breadboard with a 24 Vdc supply.
    You could also number the cards- top is one, and switch cards around to see if it followed the card.If it does not then it might be dirty connectors on the motherboard or a bad feed through solder in. If you want to deal with me direct, I am Skywave Tape Deck Repair out in Chicago.
  9. Richard N

    Richard N New Member

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    Hi Wrkrbee and Skywave,
    Hey guys, thanks so much for your replies - so appreciated.
    From all of my reading and searching around on the web, I've come to the same places you both have suggested.

    I think my first plan will be to remove a card from a working place, say track 3 or 4, and switch it out with track 1. If the problem goes with the card, then that helps identify the issue. If the problems exhibit on the same track, then the problems must be somewhere else. Is my logic correct on this?

    As you can see, I'm a musician and not a engineer or tech. Yikes!

    Again, thanks and I apologize for the tardy response.
    Richard
  10. SkywaveTDR

    SkywaveTDR Active Member

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    Yes, this is one of the first steps to troubleshooting this problem. it is basically to determine if the card is at fault or not. I have plenty of clients that are back to tape because they do not like the results had with digital equipment. If Digital was so superior why do people still use tape in conjunction with it or abandon it altogether. It is true that these older machines can have trouble but what do you think the digital stuff will be like at 25 years age?
    Be careful in taking out and putting in the cards as a lot of people bend over pins. They should be taken out with the power off and if you grab the board with pliers- do so where n foil patterns are on the board otherwise you may break them. There are holes in the board to allow you to pull them out.
  11. Richard N

    Richard N New Member

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    Hey Skywave,
    Yes, straight out with the cards - I've read that. Don't want to bend the pins at all. Is there a cleaner or lub (or other housekeeping) I should do to the pins and socket since I have the card out?

    Thanks,
    Richard
  12. Gravity Jim

    Gravity Jim Well-Known Member

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    Caig DeOxIt 5 never hurts on any electrical contact, and often helps.
  13. SkywaveTDR

    SkywaveTDR Active Member

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    Yes, some Deoxit is good to treat those contacts with. It is about $9.00 a can at MCM until Nov 1.
  14. cmaffia

    cmaffia Moderator Staff Member

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    What is MCM? Is there a website? That's a bargain!
  15. SkywaveTDR

    SkywaveTDR Active Member

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  16. Richard N

    Richard N New Member

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    Hey guys,
    So cool - Thanks! I'll definitely try that.
    Cheers,
    Richard
  17. Richard N

    Richard N New Member

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    Hey Guys,
    Much thanks! I'll try the deoxit.
  18. SkywaveTDR

    SkywaveTDR Active Member

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    Yes, Us old timers use it a lot. I bought 8 cans at the time on my last order. Once you order from MCM which is owned by Newarrk and Farnell you will get their flyers and then see all the stuff they sell. It was originally set up to supply service technicians but now they sell security stuff and the yuppy Ardino trinkets. Still they have some belts, Transistors and other service type items like solder suckers and soldering iron/stations. They have some good audio connectors that if you repair or make your own cables is helpful.
  19. Richard N

    Richard N New Member

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    OK, here I am again. Got the Tascam 38 checked out (Jan 2016) and on the bench it worked fine. Got it home and it worked for about 3 months (but used rarely in that 3 months). Last week, channel 1 on the sync head did not pick up audio from the tape (channel 2-8 worked fine). The repro head picked up channels 1-8 just fine.
    Tape heads are clean, guides clean, alignment is fine.
    Cap problem in channel 1 card? Maybe?? Relay?

    Other than that, my 38 works like a charm!! I've owned it since 1983 - purchased new with a M-30 board. I now use a Tascam 2524 board (purchased new in 1991). Help!!!!
  20. Richard N

    Richard N New Member

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    Me again.
    One more question:
    On the tap heads where is channel 1? Next to the deck or on the outside?