As a birthday gift, Mari helped me get a video camera I’ve had my eyes set on for some time. Its a Sony HVR-Z7U. I wanted it specifically for videos with the car and other small projects. It has 1080p29 support, with interchangable lenses. This makes it superior to pretty much every web cam, camera phone, and otherwise since the lens and CPU is actually designed for quality video. Some time ago, she was recruited to record a practice of mine at the ice rink. While getting it up on the tripod, it fell to the ground. What a disaster. It wasn’t a long fall, but any one that knows how technology and glass works knows that this isn’t good. Luckily for me, I had tapes with me because the external recording unit wouldn’t act right. I’d be lying to myself and every one else if I said I wasn’t upset about it. It threw off my entire practice session. We managed to get it recorded on tape, I didn’t have much time to sit there and troubleshoot it. Fact was, it wasn’t a total loss, since I could pull the video from tape. So some time passed and I spent a few minutes here and there. The recorder itself seemed to function off of the camera. Usually, the firewire connection to and from the camera and MCR would produce results. Firewire from PC to the camera direct would let me pull video from tape. But the MCR and camera would never communicate with it seated in its bay. This was a huge issue, since using the firewire cable meant that the MCR required a battery all to itself. To make matters worse, I only had one, used, battery that was very flaky. So today, I decided to spend a bit more time and effort into the whole thing. I started with the MCR, which is $500 to replace. Sigh. I took the case apart and inspected the inside. Its just a ribbon cable, tension based seats. Nothing fancy. I pulled the cable from the seat’s socket and reinserted it for good measure. Nothing here looked out of place or suspect. Since you have to dock the MCR to a cradle to access it via PC, which works, I decided there was nothing more to do here. Lets move on.
Next, I took my attention to the MCR’s bay on the camera itself. This is where I’ve been suspecting issues. When docked here, the MCR would power, but never take commands. It was like the power worked but it just could connect to the camera. How ever, since the bay’s connector was part of the camera, we’d be talking about a full disassembly of the whole thing. Something I need to do, but don’t want to, especially today. I did pull out the tiny screw that held the seat down, and the 2 above it to see if there was any amount of slack I could get to inspect behind it, though.
There was nothing to gain there, it wasn’t giving me anything new. So next, I wanted to see the pins that connected to the MCR’s seat. Its a single row of pins. I was very confused because I didn’t see anything in there – where did they go. I had to hold the MCR next to the camera to get an idea where they might seat, since there was nothing shiny and conductive in there. Was that my problem the whole time? Did they literally fall out of the camera? I poked lightly around with the end of my screw driver, looking for something to connect to. Eventually, I found it. It was hard to locate because of how this works.
Basically, there is a spring loaded sliding door that covers the pins. As you dock the MCR to the camera, the MCR’s connector pushes the door down and the pins connect. Sounds simple …. but I had a hard time getting the pins exposed. Not much surprise here, this should come down with little resistance and it wasn’t. After getting it to via the screw driver, I docked the MCR and turned it on and applied power to the camera, and powered it on. The MCR came on, as it should and went into “CF” mode, something I haven’t seen in quiet some time. Once it had a moment, the control icons appeared in the camera LCD and the MCR together. A push of the record button showed recording to start, with confirmation from the MCR that data was being captured. The important part here is that there was no tape, and the settings were set to EXT only. This is a configuration that basically starts recording only on external devices and the MCR got the commands. Fantastic!