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1976 Hacker HCD-1000; Cassette Unit  

 
crustytv
(@crustytv)
Vrat Founder Admin

Adding further to my 1970's audio setup, I was in the market for a 70's cassette deck.  I didn't fancy one of those shiny silver units and certainly not the matt black ones. I was specifically after something with wood and preferably not Sony. I have a Sony TC-131SD and to be honest I didn't like it, in fact I've never much liked anything from Sony be it audio or visual.

Anyway, last week I found this rather pleasing little gem. A Hacker HCD1000, still with its original box, paperwork, allegedly working and at a Buy-it-now price I was comfortable with. Today it arrived, it was unboxed and happily arrived safe, here's some pics. Later I'll get it hooked up to an amp and see if it does indeed work. I'll also scan the brochure and manual for the library.

Still looking for a schematic (see here).

The Actual Unit

 

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Posted : 06/07/2020 12:26 pm
crustytv
(@crustytv)
Vrat Founder Admin

Indeed its working as described 😎 

As a precaution, I'll give the circuit a look over and also clean the heads and tape path. Hmm might have to invest in a head demagnitiser, can you still buy them?

working

Now, perhaps I should look to find a nice period deck. 🤔

Crusty's Collection: Read the repair blogs
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Posted : 06/07/2020 2:28 pm
Cathovisor
(@cathovisor)
Illustrious V-Ratter Registered
Posted by: @crustytv

Hmm might have to invest in a head demagnitiser, can you still buy them?

https://www.analogueseduction.net/de-magnetising/analogue-studio-tape-head-demagnetiser.html

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Posted : 06/07/2020 4:57 pm
crustytv liked
Marconi_MPT4
(@marconi_mpt4)
Reputable V-Ratter Registered
Posted by: @crustytv

Hmm might have to invest in a head demagnitiser, can you still buy them?

Absolutely essential for any service and repair. Allegedly the tape mechanism is an OEM Nakamichi no less.

Rich

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Posted : 06/07/2020 5:04 pm
crustytv liked
crustytv
(@crustytv)
Vrat Founder Admin
Posted by: @marconi_mpt4
Posted by: @crustytv

Hmm might have to invest in a head demagnitiser, can you still buy them?

Absolutely essential for any service and repair. Allegedly the tape mechanism is an OEM Nakamichi no less.

Rich

Hi Rich, I'll pick one up then, though I've got my eye on a period one which I'd prefer. Yes, I had read that about Nakamichi as well, it would be nice to see if this could be confirmed or if it was just a myth.

I really do need to find a circuit though as making sense of the various densely populated, modular circuit boards will be a real chore without one. It would help to know where all the adjustments points are as well. I had hoped Mark H might have spotted this thread, as if I'm not mistaken he's the Hacker guru in these here vintage communities.

I had thought of joining the Hacker group as they allegedly have lots of data. However, that rather goes against the grain of joining a group with the sole intention of just getting data. I don't like or approve of that practice here, therefore I would not inflict it upon others. I'll keep scouring the web and the bay, something will eventually turn up one day.

For those who like circuit board-porn, here's some internal shots of the HCD1000. It appears an exclusive to VRAT as there does not appear to be anything out there covering what would seem to be, a fairly rare Hacker cassette unit.

hackin 01
hackin 02
hackin 03

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Posted : 08/07/2020 3:59 pm
Cathovisor
(@cathovisor)
Illustrious V-Ratter Registered

I wonder if the electronics owe anything to Nakamichi too? Something like the 600 perhaps?

https://zstereo.co.uk/2013/02/03/nakamichi-600/

(got one of these in its box 😊 )

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Posted : 08/07/2020 8:05 pm
crustytv
(@crustytv)
Vrat Founder Admin

Thanks to Frank asking those very knowledgeable and helpful folk over on UKVRRR, I now have the service manual. I'm a member of Hi-fi engine and it was there all along, I just didn't know. It was known in the U.S. as the Fischer RC-80. The data is in the library but equally available here. Oh and another confirmation that its an OEM unit produced by NAKAMICHI  😎 

Just bought myself a 315Hz 333Hz 400Hz 1kHz 3kHz 3.15kHz Test Calibration reference tape, jeez they're not cheap are they!

Good to have the two communities helping one another, hopefully we may be of similar assistance one day. 👍 

Now I can get on with servicing

Crusty's Collection: Read the repair blogs
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Posted : 08/07/2020 8:59 pm
Cathovisor
(@cathovisor)
Illustrious V-Ratter Registered

Proper line-up tapes produced to very specific flux levels were horrendously expensive in the past (and still are): you would be hung, drawn and quartered if you brought one anywhere near a tape machine without first degaussing the heads and then at the very least making sure that every channel had the 'SAFE' button pressed (this disabled the record circuitry). If it was possible, I used to pull the bias oscillator board out too.

The BASF tapes we used were 320 nWeber/m - and I think there's a dance track where the German woman who tells you about the levels on the tape has been sampled!

https://www.canford.co.uk/Products/25-254_MRL-TEST-TAPE-21T204

Look at the price... trust me, you only wanted to line an A800 up fully once.

The BBC also produced its own line-up tapes for 1/4" machines at 7.5 and 15 ips.

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Posted : 08/07/2020 9:54 pm
crustytv
(@crustytv)
Vrat Founder Admin
Posted by: @cathovisor

Look at the price...

😲

OK at £35.00, mine was cheap by comparison.

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Posted : 08/07/2020 10:02 pm
Cathovisor
(@cathovisor)
Illustrious V-Ratter Registered

Very reasonable, I'd say!

Azimuth on 1/4" machines was done by using a full-width recorded tape at 10kHz and putting the two channels into an oscilloscope in X-Y and then adjusting to get the resulting Lissajous figure as a diagonal line, working on the premise that you couldn't get the replay head that wrong that it'd end up one cycle out.

On a cassette machine you adjusted for maximum HF response (that'll be what the 3150Hz section is for, I'd wager). It's very unlikely you'll need to touch the azimuth on your machine.

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Posted : 08/07/2020 10:08 pm
Nuvistor
(@nuvistor)
Famed V-Ratter Registered

Most consumer decks had no alignment for equalisation, two checks were speed and azimuth, if the components were within spec that was all that usually required.

Appreciate for broadcast, recording studio etc equipment was a lot more complicated and many more checks would be required.

I had a Philips test tape, it did the job and at today’s prices would probably equal £35.

Just thinking about the azimuth on many cassette decks the adjustment screw very often had a coarse thread, not good for accurate setting.

Frank

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Posted : 08/07/2020 10:15 pm
Marconi_MPT4
(@marconi_mpt4)
Reputable V-Ratter Registered
Posted by: @crustytv

Hi Rich, I'll pick one up then, though I've got my eye on a period one which I'd prefer. Yes, I had read that about Nakamichi as well, it would be nice to see if this could be confirmed or if it was just a myth.

I am still using my vintage Eagle International head demagnetiser, purchased in 1978 from a shop in Tottenham Court Road. It was found in a box of surplus (junk) odds and ends, all for a sum of £0.20.

Overall from the photos your HCD-1000 appears to be in fairly good condition, how does the record/replay head wear profile check out?

£35 for any type of calibration tape is reasonable when compared with those very expensive tapes supplied by Revox and others, at least cassettes operate at one speed!

Rich

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Posted : 09/07/2020 12:17 am
crustytv
(@crustytv)
Vrat Founder Admin

Calibration tapes arrived, I'll get the hacker hooked up to the scope and counter to see if it requires any adjustments made.

calib

 

Crusty's Collection: Read the repair blogs
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Posted : 13/07/2020 3:11 pm
Cathovisor
(@cathovisor)
Illustrious V-Ratter Registered
Posted by: @marconi_mpt4

I am still using my vintage Eagle International head demagnetiser, purchased in 1978 from a shop in Tottenham Court Road. It was found in a box of surplus (junk) odds and ends, all for a sum of £0.20.

My head demagnetiser came from AudioVision, of 8 Cowgate in Peterborough in about 1977. Happy days. And yes, I still have it and it still gets used as needed.

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Posted : 13/07/2020 5:49 pm
crustytv
(@crustytv)
Vrat Founder Admin

When years ago you got rid of all your LP's and cassettes and regret it, what do you do. Find a bargain bundle of cassettes (150) and the problem sort of goes away. This lot should keep me entertained, something for everyone. From Englebert to wham. 60's, 70's, 80's and 90's.

casscol

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Posted : 15/07/2020 12:35 pm
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Cathovisor
(@cathovisor)
Illustrious V-Ratter Registered

I still have all my cassettes, and all my LPs.

One day, I will just sit back and play the lot.

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Posted : 15/07/2020 9:37 pm
Cathovisor
(@cathovisor)
Illustrious V-Ratter Registered

Just looking at that pile, 10cc's How Dare You was one of the first albums I bought in my teens. The last one with the original line-up.

There's also a superb compilation in there: Joan Armatrading's Track Record.

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Posted : 15/07/2020 11:00 pm
Katie Bush
(@katie-bush)
Famed V-Ratter Moderator
Posted by: @cathovisor

I still have all my cassettes, and all my LPs.

One day, I will just sit back and play the lot.

I still have all of my vinyl, but some of it was "done to death" in my younger years. I never really did buy much on cassette, simply because I bought the vinyl, and if I wanted a cassette for the car, I just copied it across. There were occasions when I might have bought an occasional cassette whilst away from home - say, an excursion over to Blackpool! but that very much the exception to the rule.

As you may recall me mentioning, I bought my Steinberg audio processing software with the intention of digitising and restoring all that ageing vinyl, though I never got beyond a few specially selected recordings, but now, with the likes of BMG/Sony Music/UMO etc. grabbing up the rights to all those old recordings, it sort of makes my efforts somewhat redundant.

Some years back, when I visited a local 'Civic Amenities' centre, (affectionately known as "The Skip Yard") I espied a mountain of vinyl in a corner of the yard (this was when you could actually buy and save things from destruction). I bought/saved as much as I could afford, and a friend bought a load more for her car boot stall - there were thousands of records there, far more than anyone could possibly have rescued.

The sad part for vinyl is that it is now just another raw material for 'upcycling' - at best, it survives as a clock on someone's kitchen wall, and at worst, 'drooled' over an upturned pot in a hot oven, and turned into some hideous flowerpot.

 

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Posted : 16/07/2020 9:51 pm
Alex728 liked
Ferrographman
(@ferrographman)
New V-Ratter Registered

@katie-bush I have just recently 'found' approximately 130 78's in my fathers garage in an old red battered tin chest. The chest  was something I remember seeing a a child, but never knew what was in it. 54yrs later I opened it, and, to my surprise found all this vinyl, untouched for so many years. It has now gone to a collector, who hopefully is enjoying the music. 

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Posted : 01/08/2020 9:42 pm
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Mark Hennessy
(@markh)
Reputable V-Ratter Registered

Hi All,

First, my apologies for the mis-spelling of Nakamichi that caused confusion in the service-data request thread. Most embarrassing! In my defence, I do get it right most of the time, as a quick search confirmed, much to my relief!

Having just seen that request thread, I logged in to provide a link to Franks thread on UKVRRR, but then read the rest of this thread and saw that has now been covered here a few weeks back. Plus you've got the confirmation of who the OEM was (they did a lot of OEM stuff, as this link shows, at the bottom: http://www.naks.com/products/ - that might come as a surprise if you're used to their later high-end activities. Well, it did to me ;)). Anyway, I'm bit late to the party, as usual 😉

Looking at the Fisher manual, I think there might be a few differences. It's been several years since I examined my HCD1000, so I'm going by memory, plus some photos I took at the time.

Those photos were uploaded to the Hacker group, which has now moved to groups.io: https://groups.io/g/Hackerradiogroup/album?id=190118

The user manual and a brochure are also there: https://groups.io/g/Hackerradiogroup/album?id=190119

You do need to be a member to see those, but obviously that's free. I took those photographs and made those scans, so no problem using them here if you like - though I suspect the material is the same as you already have. I do plan to put those materials and photos on my own website one day, along with lots of other Hacker stuff that really deserves a wider audience. Sadly, my personal website always seems to be at the bottom of my priority list, which is a constant source of guilt to me.

Mine seemed to work well when it arrived. I remember there was a bit of mains hum, but didn't have a chance to investigate further before putting it into storage. What time I did have was spent playing with the mechanism. I took apart (and mostly ruined!) many cassette decks as a kid - for some reason they always fascinated me, and I got to know the various layouts quite well. This one was a bit different to those I'd seen before - it uses a 2 speed motor for winding, which simplifies things quite a bit (though the Fisher manual shows a single-speed motor). While I can't remember the details at this time, I do remember that the more I explored it, the more I was impressed with it. The discrete Dolby circuit is quite an achievement too - mostly those are implemented using ICs. In typical Japanese fashion, it looks really scary at first, but once you've figured out the tricks, it comes apart really quite easily - it's very modular in construction. The transport lifts out and unplugs in one operation, as you've probably discovered by now.

As you say, there is a scary number of pre-sets! Much more than usual, and I'm not entirely sure why. Perhaps part of it was to provide the flexibility that OEMs needed? Of course, as this has the chrome capability, you need the B manual as well - and that adds to the preset count.

I haven't tried adjusting mine yet, but if you decide that yours needs adjusting and would like a bit of guidance, I'm happy to try to figure it out - I've just dug it out of storage and blown the dust off! The manual seems to be well-written in that area, but often it's only when you try it that you discover the problems. Pretty sure I know where my alignment cassette are, but it's been 20+ years since I last used them.

How nice to have the original packaging - I'm really quite jealous!

Again, sorry for the spelling mistake, and for arriving so late, but if I can help, I will.

Mark

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Posted : 04/08/2020 5:10 pm
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