Is my XH A1 dying?? at DVinfo.net

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Canon XH Series HDV Camcorders
Canon XH G1S / G1 (with SDI), Canon XH A1S / A1 (without SDI).


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Old May 7th, 2008, 07:04 PM   #1
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Is my XH A1 dying??

Probably haven't shot but a few hours since getting it. Today while shooting some apple/cherry blossoms outside, I got the "dirty heads" message. Didn't have a cleaning tape w/ me at the time so not much I could do. Next time I turned it on the message was gone, so I shot a bit more... got the same message... quit after just a couple minutes of this.

Turned it on back home and I didn't get the message, but the tape simply won't advance. Tried another tape I captured from and played fine earlier today, same thing. On AC power, in VCR mode, hit Play... sometimes nothing happens. Other times I see a few halting, choppy seconds of video, then blue screen. Like it's clogged up. Ditto with a brand new tape.

Fast forward/rewind seems to work fine, and Record seems to function normally with the tape advancing/recording. But it won't play in VCR mode.

Not sure what even trying to clean would do since it doesn't play at all, plus the only cleaning tape I have on had is one I started to use for the Optura-- a (Maxell Mini DV MDV/HC1). Are all these cleaning tapes similar? Am I risking anything by trying to clean w/ this tape?

Just beginning to get familiar w/ the camera and hoping that somehow I hit something, or changed a setting I'm not aware of that's causing this. But I just can't figure out what's going on. Don't see how, even if the heads were dirty, that it simply would not Play.

Help?! :-(
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Old May 7th, 2008, 07:57 PM   #2
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It sounds like the heads got so clogged it won't play, though that's unusual. When you get a warning, it's not kidding. That would have been the time to use the cleaning tape. I would still try it. Be careful and don't overuse it--only use it according to the directions, and that usually means for 10 seconds. You could have had a tape with crud on it, or stuff flaked off, or you switched brands or reused a tape or something. Try the head cleaning first.
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Old May 7th, 2008, 09:07 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Bill Pryor View Post
It sounds like the heads got so clogged it won't play, though that's unusual. When you get a warning, it's not kidding. That would have been the time to use the cleaning tape. I would still try it. Be careful and don't overuse it--only use it according to the directions, and that usually means for 10 seconds. You could have had a tape with crud on it, or stuff flaked off, or you switched brands or reused a tape or something. Try the head cleaning first.

Thanks for the input, Bill.

Ok, I did try running the cleaning tape through for 10 seconds. It did make a difference. The image stayed up (not going to blue) and it advanced, but still very halting. Runs for a second or two, then freezes... then runs a few more frames...

It's my understanding that one definitely doesn't want to over clean, but I did try one more 10 second pass. I don't think it made that much of a difference. Am I right in thinking that further cleaning might do more harm than good, or is the duration of cleaning cumulative. IOW, several 10 second passes-- but just in one rare circumstance?

On the other hand, if there is some kind physical debris in there, I expect removal would entail a procedure beyond any kind of tape cleaning?
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Old May 7th, 2008, 10:18 PM   #4
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Sounds very similar to a problem I had with my GL2 a few years ago and the solution was a new tape drive mechanism inside. Something to do with the proper pressure not being maintained across the tape path causing the cam to think there are dirty heads. When my GL2 did it I also got an eject message and the cam wouldn't run.

There is a long post buried in the GL2 forum here that chronicles the whole thing. I wouldn't be surprised if much of the tape drive mechanism internally is similar or the same as the old GL2/XL2.
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Old May 8th, 2008, 08:13 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Philip Hinkle View Post
Sounds very similar to a problem I had with my GL2 a few years ago and the solution was a new tape drive mechanism inside. Something to do with the proper pressure not being maintained across the tape path causing the cam to think there are dirty heads. When my GL2 did it I also got an eject message and the cam wouldn't run.

There is a long post buried in the GL2 forum here that chronicles the whole thing. I wouldn't be surprised if much of the tape drive mechanism internally is similar or the same as the old GL2/XL2.
That does make sense. In any event, I've called Canon and arranged for repair. The cam was purchased the first of the year and they're sending instructions w/ UPS label.

Assuming they provide details of the problem/fix, I'll post the findings.
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Old May 8th, 2008, 09:30 AM   #6
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I agree, if the second head cleaning didn't fix it, there may be a mechanical problem. I think in that case it's OK to try the cleaning tape a second time, but you never want to overdo it. If the heads are dirty, you should just have major dropouts, but if the tape seems to be stopping and starting or running irregularly, that's probably a different problem.

I haven't had any problem with my camera, but people who have had warranty work done seem to always say that Canon takes care of them properly and promptly.
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