What’s Inside a Crappy JVC Camcorder?

January 9th, 2006

When I say I gave up on my JVC camcorder, I mean I truly gave up on its ever being useful in any form at all. When it pops up the dreaded Condensation warning, the camera locks up and will not function in any way whatsoever. The only thing it will do in this state is to eject any cassette that happens to be loaded. With my camera permanently in Condensation mode, I had no choice but consider it a total loss.

So what to do with it? Anyone who knew me as a child will tell you that I love to take things apart to see what’s inside. When I wrote earlier that I had taken my camera apart to try to correct its problem, what I really meant was that I loosened enough screws to be able to separate a few of its major subassemblies. After I had ordered my new camcorder, I decided it was time to truly disassemble the old one. I took apart everything that could be taken apart without bending metal or breaking plastic. I unscrewed every screw. I disconnected every connector. I left no gear enmeshed with its neighbor.

By the way, anyone out there care to hazard a guess as to how many little, tiny screws it takes to hold together a camcorder? I’ve counted them, and it’s a bunch. Take your best guess, post it in the comments, and I’ll reveal the answer tomorrow.

And now, on to the junk:

The camera’s innards include a half-dozen circuit boards. The one in the top center is the heftiest, with surface-mount integrated circuits on both sides of the board. This board includes the IEEE1394 and USB2 connectors.

Below are the camera’s two displays. The smaller one at the top is the black-and-white display that you see when you look through the viewfinder. The larger one on the bottom is the LCD display that swings out from the side of the camera.

This is the stereo microphone out of the front of the camera.

By my count, the camera had six motors inside it. These three come from the cassette assembly. The one on the left is the video record/playback head; the motor is inside it. In the center is the little motor that pulls the cassette into the carriage and pulls the tape around the various capstans and rollers; the troublesome condensation sensor is mounted on the outside of this motor. On the far left is the motor that moves the tape through the camera.

The dozen gears that came out of the cassette assembly.

The lens/sensor assembly.

This is the image sensor that captures the video image thirty times a second. It comes out of the lens/sensor assembly.

The lens/sensor assembly includes three of the motors in the camera; they’re all attached by this wiring harness, and they are tiny. Here you can see two of them: the one on the top adjusts the zoom level; the one on the bottom adjusts the camera’s focus.

This is the same wiring harness, turned to show the third motor, which adjusts the camera aperature. That’s the motor beneath my thumb; the black thing contains the aperature mechanism.

And when you put it all together, it’s just a pile of junk.

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