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 Post subject: Greetz and a bit of a story from Russia
PostPosted: 19 Aug 2018, 18:39 
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Hello everyone!

One day when I was a little kid, I found one interesting book in my dad's library. It was about some things they called "Video LPs".
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Now, many days in the future, I realize it was mostly about CEDs and mentioned LDs too. But back then, the fact that you can have concerts along with music on an LP amazed me so much, I decided that I must by any means get hold of such a device in my life.

LDs were not quite a thing in Russia. Back in the 90s, when they appeared on sale here, many people couldn't even find the money to buy something to eat -- not to mention paying a huge grand for a movie player, and then another 60~90 bucks for a movie.

Fast forward 13 years to 2015, and it seems like my dream is about to come true. Somebody was giving away a Philips CDV496 locally. They didn't even know what it was, and just wanted to get rid of it, so I rushed to be the first in line to get it. Sadly, it was badly misaligned, or just the caps and etc started giving up -- it barely even played CDs, constantly trying to tilt farther than it could, skipping and making awful noises of a crushing tilt drive gear. Not to mention, I had no LDs to try it on.
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This started a long journey of evenings and nights at the bench with a bunch of tools, ordering glass discs for alignment at local glass work plants, which lasted for roughly 6 months, helping me to go through a tough period in life, by being something that I would do every time I don't know what to do.
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But in the end, it was dead. It stopped focusing on CDs as well, and no matter what I put into it, it wouldn't detect it. After all this time, it was hard to accept such an outcome.

But it started a fire in me. I knew that I must now, anyhow, get a hold of an LD player and at least some movies. Especially after watching a lot of Techmoan, and their episodes on LDs, and specifically Pioneer's combo DVD+LD series. All these mechanics, dual side playback, it all seems like a miracle, somewhat as beautiful as a Nakamichi RX505, but hidden inside the case.

I visited Japan in 2017, and surprisingly, there weren't many LD players in second-hand shops, unlike I expected. And those that were up for sale were very expensive, so after putting all my funds into arranging the trip, I just couldn't afford even paying for the extra luggage to take one with me, let alone buying one. So I almost gave up...
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(Though there were some interesting ones, such as this Karaoke-LD-Cassette-playing-TV-speaker-table :-)
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Until one day in 2018.
I met a girl online -or maybe she met me, I'm still not sure- she's got an R2R machine recently and wanted to get it back to spec after doing a recap. So I proceeded to answer her questions, we talked about different things tech-related, and I got to mention the LD format and those rare Pioneer combo players.
And then she says something like, "Oh, are they rare? We've got one here at our university waiting to be tossed for years now".
And so it was straightforward.

Before that whole story, I wasn't really sociable at all, and I didn't even know there's much life around Russia besides Moscow, let alone anything about Siberia.
I hit up Skyscanner in an instant, got my tickets to Tomsk, not even really thinking about where I will even live there.

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That was an interesting week, pretty much as saturated and as awesome as you can have in 6 days. Walking around the historical architecture of Tomsk, talking about things like the difference of sound across the Yamaha's OPL generations, even building some electronic things together, and so on, and so on.

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In the end, that desire to get hold of a certain format got me through a tough period in life, I got to find out that Siberia can be way hotter than many places unlike the stereotypes say, I got to make some close friends, and get the exact player model I wanted as well.

Probably a bit more fun than just buying one on ebay and hoping it arrives undamaged, I guess? :-)

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So I hope it's just the start of it all. Long live LD and let the fun continue!

Ouch, this post is getting a bit too long... should be a bit easier with some photos :-)

* All photos in the post, except for the book cover, are by me and you are free to use them as long as you keep the link to the original author.
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 Post subject: Re: Greetz and a bit of a story from Russia
PostPosted: 19 Aug 2018, 18:42 
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Nice to read, keep up the good work on repairing the stuff that you get if they are broken.

I don't do as much electronic repairs but know enough to get into trouble.
Thanks for posting.
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 Post subject: Re: Greetz and a bit of a story from Russia
PostPosted: 19 Aug 2018, 19:08 
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Thanks!
I've got some more rare things so far, like:

[*] MEZ-109 (it's like, a soviet Nagra :-) (sound preview video)
[*] An Olimp-005, a reel-to-reel which can be programmed to play tracks like a playlist on a CD player -- (draft of a video review) (sound quality preview)
[*] Elektronika MK-90, a soviet portable PDP-11-compatible calculator, about the size of an iPad, and a thickness of 10 iPads :-)
[*] Russ'-28, the first true russian "smart-phone", which is a wired landline phone with a complete OS that can play ZX Spectrum music, sync to NTP time servers, connect to a door open sensor and work as an alarm, accept remote control commands from your mobile, detect when someone is tampering in your phone line, assign a different ringtone to different callers, speak the caller ID out loud, or tell the caller to call your different number by using speech synthesis, or send a missed call list to your pager, and can even be upgraded with a USB PC interface and a digital answering machine -- all of that on a custom-developed CPU made in Moscow in mid-90s -- though the answering machine boards are nearly extinct and I'm still on the hunt for that upgrade :-)

And some other boring stuff, like Apple Newtons, HP Omnibooks, Gravis Ultrasound... Maybe I should make my place into a museum someday? :-)
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 Post subject: Re: Greetz and a bit of a story from Russia
PostPosted: 19 Aug 2018, 19:43 
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Its boxed up right now but I have a pioneer cassette deck that will skip tracks when playing.
Very cool that they were able to get that technology back then on such a format.
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 Post subject: Re: Greetz and a bit of a story from Russia
PostPosted: 20 Aug 2018, 07:10 
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I love your story. It reminds me of my days as a hardcore youth without two pennies to rub together.
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 Post subject: Re: Greetz and a bit of a story from Russia
PostPosted: 20 Aug 2018, 10:11 
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Thanks for that, interesting & your pictures really helped tell your story.

Sorry if I am a bit thick here but....."ordering glass discs for alignment at local glass work plants". What were you getting & what were they used for? Other than cleaning the units & the most simple of tasks (fuse changes & the like) I am lost working on the LD internals.

Cheers & good luck :thumbup: .

.
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 Post subject: Re: Greetz and a bit of a story from Russia
PostPosted: 20 Aug 2018, 14:46 
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The Philips service manual specifies using a glass disc in the shape of an LD to align the optical pickup to be strictly parallel to the disc itself.

Basically you put the glass on the spindle and turn the alpha/beta alignment screws until the reflection of a line lamp in the glass disc matches the reflection in the pickup lens.

However it is impossible to get the original Philips service part, so I had to order a custom made glass disc in the shape of an LD and another one in the shape of a CD.

If I still have it I'll try to find it and post a photo in case I didn't explain it clear.
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 Post subject: Re: Greetz and a bit of a story from Russia
PostPosted: 25 Aug 2018, 10:07 
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Вот это замечательная история, я не знал о том, что были отечественные "смартфоны" в России в 90-х))) большое спасибо за репортаж и фотографии!

So yeah, it's really fascinating to discover all of these late Soviet/early Russian electronic devices, it really isn't the first thing that comes to mind when you think about the 1985-1995 era of this country.
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 Post subject: Re: Greetz and a bit of a story from Russia
PostPosted: 26 Aug 2018, 14:00 
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Thank you for sharing your story, really fascinating. I understand Russia is a goldmine of interesting tech like ZX spectrum based PCs.
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