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Thread: Another Ampex Analog Recorder...Technically Speaking

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    Another Ampex Analog Recorder...Technically Speaking

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    Video deck? That looks like the same transport they used for the rare MM-800 1" 8-track recorder. The MM-800 used AG-440 electronics mated to a modded video transport I believe. I'm not sure any of these decks made it beyond the marketing stage. I always wondered what the niche was for this deck ... I think they were trying to replace the AG-300 8-track, and they were afraid the AG-440 transport would not pull 1" tape well enough.

    More info here:

    AMPEX MM-800 Tape Machine

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    Looks more like a computer drive/data recorder?

    But either way, more pictures please

    Cheers!

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    Logging recorder, I'd imagine. Not least because there seems to be a shedload of I/O at the top.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lonewhitefly View Post
    Video deck? That looks like the same transport they used for the rare MM-800 1" 8-track recorder. The MM-800 used AG-440 electronics mated to a modded video transport I believe. I'm not sure any of these decks made it beyond the marketing stage. I always wondered what the niche was for this deck ... I think they were trying to replace the AG-300 8-track, and they were afraid the AG-440 transport would not pull 1" tape well enough.

    More info here:

    AMPEX MM-800 Tape Machine
    Data recorder...FR-1300, and yes it is the transport used for the MM-800 which, according to all sources with which I've interacted, indeed never made it past mock-up. Ampex decided to kludge the 1/4" ~ 1/2" AG-440 transport for 1" tape allegedly because the FR-1300 transport would put the 1" 8-track way beyond the price-point of the competition, but it is a FAR superior transport...good gracious...those instrumentation boys knew how to build a transport.

    14-track IRIG format on 1" tape, servo capstan with 6 speeds from 1 7/8 IPS to 60 IPS front panel selectable...more detail and pics to follow.

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    So I know this is a bit of a stretch for this forum since the FR-1300 isn't an audio-band analog tape recorder/reproducer, but I had to share...and as Donny pointed out, the FR-1300 transport *was* nearly an audio-band machine in the MM-800 project.

    I don't know what I'm going to do with this thing. Probably nothing. There are two kinds of amplifier modules fitted to these machines, "Direct" mode type and "FM" type. The "Direct" type have been used with some marginal success for audio use but the results are just that: marginal, and only 7 tracks can be used, and noise reduction is necessary, and the LF response isn't that great...and 30ips is pretty much necessary (so you end up getting less mileage out of a reel of tape). And you have to build up a sync relay module if you plan on doing any overdubbing. Major kludge. And a non-option for me anyway because my FR-1300 is fitted with FM modules.

    The alternative is to try and fit audio heads to the headblock. Upon initial investigation this may be possible. I have a partial set of quarter track 1" heads built for an MM-1000...I'd been thinking about using these for essentially 1/2" mastering on 1" tape...could flip the tape over and get over an hour of 1/2" halftrack mastering on a reel of 1" tape...but it wouldn't work to setup the MM-1000 for this because I'd want to master multitrack projects off the same machine. Maybe this is what the FR-1300 will become.

    The FR-1300 was produced in a racked version and the "portable" version like mine...portable because it's in a self-contained case. That's really where portable ends. It's about 24" x 18" x 12", and weighs 110lbs.

    Built like a tank.

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    At least there are some very robust flip-up handles:

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    As jpmorris pointed out, there is a busy I/O panel on the top primarily via BNC connectors:

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    At the back is a hinged panel...access to the amplifier modules is behind the louvered section at the too, transport electronics, motors, power supplies accessible through the bottom half:

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    Taking a closer look at the transport/tape path:

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    I'll spare the details but there are more pics of the guts...a preamp cage with little plug-in amplifier PCBs, plug-in servo electronics card bay, 12V bipolar power supply for the ES100 series FM record/reproduce amps, etc.

    I pulled the dress panel off...a lot of complicated linkages for the various solenoid functions, but effective. Very heavy webbed cast transport plate...note the reel tables are belt driven. I assume this is to dampen any mechanical cogging "noise" in the tape path considering this machine's intended application. And the headblock is 100% plug-in, and a *substantial* build...wow.

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    Here are a couple YouTube videos showing the initial power-up, and then one of the operation of the transport and a brief tour of features:






    Pinch roller is a little firm but in okay shape...belts are functional but need replaced. I'm sure the transport needs a tune up. Reel idler bearings are good. Capstan bearings sound like they could stand to be replaced which is not a job I can do on a servo capstan motor. FFWD doesn't work. I suspect a relay issue. Otherwise? It works! It's not been run in a long time methinks. I believe it was original sold to Boeing in 1966. I got the full manual set with it...it's huge and very comprehensive. Excellent manuals. The binders were filthy but I already cleaned them up and good news every last page is there and in overall excellent condition. Only one out of hundreds of pages had any marking on it.

    Price of admission? Free.
    Last edited by sweetbeats; 06-13-2019 at 17:07.

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    First off, thanks for posting the additional pics! That is quite the beast and love how they consider a 110 pound unit portable by putting a handle on it!

    Prior to you posting those images I did a quick image search for additional pics and there's virtually nothing out there except one other pic from a concluded ebay sale in England where it sold for 300 bucks. Your deal is eminently better!

    But more to the point, these images serve as a new record in the history books and as such are extremely important and valuable!

    My search also brought up pics of the 900 model which NASA used during the Apollo program and a restoration project that was being conducted to retrieve some lost imagery from that mission. So Ampex has a real place in the history books of space exploration which I believe TEAC later stepped inro the role as head data recorder contractor with NASA.

    Anyway, very glad to see this beast in your trusty hands and know it will have no better owner to perhaps keep it from the scrap heaps and possibly restore it to some state of usability!

    Cheers!

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    Exclamation ...

    I hope you got it for free.
    Quote Originally Posted by Lt. Bob
    ... subtleties of sound make a difference to those who really listen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by A Reel Person View Post
    I hope you got it for free.
    Read the very end of my last post...

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    Its worth every dollar you paid for it. My favorite electronic surplus warehouse had a half dozen of those on the floor for years. Last year they busted them up for the aluminum.
    Why would you record music on a device designed to do word processing?

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