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Old February 9th, 2008, 01:50 PM   #1
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Constant "Heads Need Cleaning" Message on HD100

Yesterday, as I was trying to batch re-capture some clips from my HD100 to FCP 5 I encountered a couple of problems. I’d like to know if anyone else had had these problems and what they might have been able to do about them. Let me go into the second problem first, as that is the main subject of this thread.

After about 5 minutes of attempting to capture, I got a "Heads Need Cleaning" message So, I dutifully took the tape out and put in my Panasonic head cleaning tape (AY-DVMCLA) [Note: I could not find a JVC cleaning tape and I was told somewhere—perhaps inaccurately—that the Panasonic cleaners were essentially the same as the JVC tapes—same manufacturer, perhaps].

I ran the cleaner once, went back to the capturing (which was unsuccessful-- see below) and soon I was getting the warning message again. "Weird," I thought, but went ahead and ran the cleaner again since my instructions say you can run it up to 3 times per cleaning "session". I almost immediately received the message again, performed the compulsory ranting and cursing to myself, then decided I wasn't going to clean a third time but that I would try some shooting and capturing tests instead.

I shot a couple minutes on a new tape (same stock) with no warnings (does the same warning come up when you are in camera mode as it does in VTR mode?). Then, I tested capturing some video (using “Capture Now”) and I once again got the message but continued to capture maybe 40 seconds. The clips looked fine in playback through FCP.

Some further information: I have tried to be very careful about following tape suggestions from this board and other places.

The first 5 tapes I shot as tests on this camera were some Sony HD tapes I already had. I figured I would burn them as tests and then switch to JVC. I never had any problems with them.

Then I switched to JVC DVM60 but used my new Panasonic cleaning tape for the first time, cleaning the heads before I switched tape stock. I was still in experimental mode so I didn't spring for the ProHD tapes just yet. At that point, I had never had any problems with the DVM60's either.

Then I bought some JVC ProHD DVM63's, but our next shoot was a short that was mostly about testing some production workflows so we used our DVM60 stock to finish it up before again switching stocks. Again-- never any problems at all-- all through the shoot (4 tapes) and the capturing into FCP, about 10 months ago. Nary a dropout, either. The first problems with the head cleaning messages were yesterday when I had to re-capture.

Those 5 Sony's plus the 4 project JVC tapes and about 3 other tapes from the same JVC stock are the only tapes that have ever been run through our HD100 (the camera has also been used as a deck for capturing but to minimize head use, we capture everything as soon a possible and do all viewing from the digitized clips).


The other problem, which happened before the head cleaning messages (also yesterday) was during the same attempt to batch re-capture some clips into FCP 5 that I had lost in a recent hard drive crash (that's another story!).

On the first clip I tried the camera tried to cue the tape, got very close, went into single-frame steps, apparently cued and started playing for capture but immediately stopped and repeated the cuing process. It did this for 3 or 4 times until it gave up and aborted saying it couldn't find the timecode in-point. Reading TC was apparently not a problem as it was able to cue up to the right place on the tape, just not accurately enough it seems.

This particular clip was successfully captured before about 3 months ago under all the same conditions. I tried again a few times but with the same results. I wasn't able to attempt the other clips because they were on another tape that is with someone else right now.

At that point, I loaded another tape (all of these are the same batch of JVC DVM60's) just to view it to see if it had some other clips I may need. That is when the repeated "Heads need cleaning" message problem started.

Panos Bournias brought up a similar problem he was having in post #24 in the following thread in June of last year but it doesn't look like it was responded to:

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthrea...ght=head+clean

Any suggestions as to what I can do about this? I have some, but not much (maybe 3 or 4 minutes total) tape I need to capture, as well as the original 4 minutes or so I need to re-capture for a important project that I must finish within a week or so. If the "clean tape heads" warning problem can't be fixed should I go ahead and capture anyway? I can’t believe the heads are actually clogged and they don’t look to be judging by the captured video.

And if I can't remedy the "almost-but-not-quite" cuing problem for a batch re-capture, can I do a "Capture Now" and rough capture that portion of the tape and then have the offline clip reconnect to that as if it were the properly re-captured clip? Maybe by renaming it the exact same thing as the offline clip?
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Old February 9th, 2008, 09:14 PM   #2
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Is a little "bumping" of one's own thread considered Kosher here? As long as it doesn't get out hand? I am doing so because I am in a little bit of a jam with a fairly important project that I need to get out in a week or so.

I realize that perhaps no one really knew how to deal with the problem and that's why no one replied. I know that I certainly can't offer useful help on here very often. I wish I could.
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Old February 9th, 2008, 11:08 PM   #3
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mixing sony tapes with anything else is the first part of the problem. the "head cleaning" error can be caused by things not related to a clogged head. this error is generated because the camera ( or deck ) is perceiving too many errors in the data stream. bad heads, bad tape path / transport can generate this error.

if you have a kona or BM card, capture analog manually, then never use the sony tape again. its also possible your camera is in need of being serviced. send in the problem tapes if you do as this will help diagnose the problem. another possible problem I've had with sony ( consumer grade ) tape is that is can shed like crazy and you have to run it thru the machine a few times to know the crud off. worse is changing the tapes out and contaminating a clean tape. just play the tapes a few times, then try again, and GO EASY ON THE HEAD CLEANER !
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Old February 10th, 2008, 12:10 AM   #4
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Steve-- thanks for the reply. I guess I thought I would be OK if I only used the Sony tapes back in the very beginning for tests; didn't use them again once I had didged them, and then used the head cleaner between using them for the last time and the new (JVC) stock for the first time.

It was a JVC tape that generated the error messages. It is from stock that has never given me any trouble until now. I sure hope I don't have to have it serviced-- I really find it hard to believe the heads are actually dirty since I've used the camera a relatively small amount and have been careful about not mixing stock.

Do you think it's OK to continue to play tapes in the camera (for capturing) even if the message continues? I'm on a bit of a tight deadline right now.
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Old February 10th, 2008, 12:17 AM   #5
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well the error means you aren't getting the bits off the tape right. if you can capture via any method and get in back into the machine, sure. You aren't hurting the machine per se.

once you are clear of the project, forget those sony tapes. try just running some panasonic or JVC/(maxell !) tape thru for a couple of hours to wipe the tape transport clean. A real JVC head cleaner wouldn't hurt in the process. then do some test captures and see if the errors are still there. if they are, you may have a tape transport problem. if they are gone, they're gone.
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Old February 10th, 2008, 12:32 AM   #6
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Hi Maat...........

You're quite correct, not many people have JVC stuff so would be loath to venture an opinion.

I don't either, so am going to be quite circumspect with this.

I really don't buy into this tape type hypochondria (whilst at the same time not provoking the dragon either) so wonder if it can be something as simple as wear on the the entire tape path that is the culprit.

That any tape stock will have different transport qualities is not in dispute (I refer to the pressure of pinch wheels affecting tape path alignement etc), there is also the case where simple "bedding in" of tape transport mechanismes can cause the tape to be run either "high" or "low" beyond what the system can compensate for.

My immediate suggestion is to have the camera serviced to ascertain if the tape mechanism is within spec (providing sample tapes, of course) and take it from there.

That the camera has worked admirably with gawd knows what different types of tape suggests "tape path wear" (albeit premature - hey, it's JVC) would seem to back that up.

It did work fine, wear is the only consistant message from your post.


CS
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Old February 10th, 2008, 12:41 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Oakley View Post
once you are clear of the project, forget those sony tapes. try just running some panasonic or JVC/(maxell !) tape thru for a couple of hours to wipe the tape transport clean. A real JVC head cleaner wouldn't hurt in the process. then do some test captures and see if the errors are still there. if they are, you may have a tape transport problem. if they are gone, they're gone.
Hi Steve. Actually, I haven't had any Sony tapes in the camera for over a year, and I cleaned the heads once I used the Sony's for the final time. The tapes I'm dealing with on this project are JVC.

When you suggest running a JVC tape through for a while, you mean a fresh,unused tape I assume? Wouldn't that just be trying to accomplish what a head cleaner does?

I'd love to get a JVC head cleaner but I couldn't find one and I'm in San Francisco! I was under the impression that the Panasonic cleaning tapes were the same as the JVC tapes but I don't remember where I learned that and I could be wrong.
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Old February 10th, 2008, 03:18 AM   #8
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Hi Maat,

I've had the exact same problem and I only use JVC ProHD tape. The head cleaner didn't fix it but a quick blast of compressed air did. You're not supposed to use compressed air on the head, but desperate times cal for desperate measures.

BTW, never mix 'wet' Sony tape with 'dry' JVC or Panasonic tape. Never.

Hope that helps,

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Old February 10th, 2008, 11:34 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maat Vansloot View Post
Hi Steve. Actually, I haven't had any Sony tapes in the camera for over a year, and I cleaned the heads once I used the Sony's for the final time. The tapes I'm dealing with on this project are JVC.

When you suggest running a JVC tape through for a while, you mean a fresh,unused tape I assume? Wouldn't that just be trying to accomplish what a head cleaner does?

I'd love to get a JVC head cleaner but I couldn't find one and I'm in San Francisco! I was under the impression that the Panasonic cleaning tapes were the same as the JVC tapes but I don't remember where I learned that and I could be wrong.
Ok, I thought you had mixed tapes pretty much back to back.that why I was suggesting to run a pana or JVC tape thru a few times, basically to clean the tape path. given this, I say it needs servicing for head replacement or tape transport :( as for a JVC head cleaner, I got one from B&H
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Old February 12th, 2008, 05:32 AM   #10
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My dropouts are out of control now. every 5 seconds. Anyone else used the "compressed air" trick?
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Old February 12th, 2008, 09:50 AM   #11
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DO NOT USE COMPRESSED AIR - EVER !

the heads are fragile and a blast of compressed air can litterally snap them off. the heads themselves are really very small little bits of material screwed onto the main aluminum cylinder. don't do it.

you can try a foam cleaning pad with alcohol as long as you are sure the heads travel horizontally across and you put no up or down force on them. they are fragile and easy enough to damage.

Time to get the unit serviced, hopefully under warranty.
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Old February 12th, 2008, 12:18 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Oakley View Post
DO NOT USE COMPRESSED AIR - EVER !

the heads are fragile and a blast of compressed air can litterally snap them off. the heads themselves are really very small little bits of material screwed onto the main aluminum cylinder. don't do it.

you can try a foam cleaning pad with alcohol as long as you are sure the heads travel horizontally across and you put no up or down force on them. they are fragile and easy enough to damage.

Time to get the unit serviced, hopefully under warranty.
Sound advice. I should point out that I was on location 10,000 miles from home when I gave my camera a quick blast:)
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Old February 12th, 2008, 03:06 PM   #13
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DO NOT USE COMPRESSED AIR - EVER !
OKay, I guess you're probably against the bath tub dunk method too.

I'll try a different brand head cleaner and tape stock.

I get that constant "Head clean" message too. and dropout all over the place.
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Old February 20th, 2008, 01:36 PM   #14
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For anyone curious or for those of us that do buy in to the "tape swinging" theories, you can buy a JVC HeadCleaner at www.BHPhotoVideo.com for about $16 I think.
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Old August 11th, 2009, 06:49 AM   #15
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Maxell head cleaner

I've got a brand new unopened Maxell mini DV Head Cleaner (dry type) - it's a $30 cartridge. Should I be apprehensive to use it on my HD 110u?
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