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Videocassette Recorder

Why doesn't the counter work on new tapes? It still works fine on my old tapes and prerecorded tapes.

The tape counter on most VCRs will not move unless you are in a recorded portion of the tape. This wasn't the case on older VCR counters because they just were operated by a belt attached to the tape spindles. As long as the tape moved, the counter would move. This was functional, but the counter numbers had no relation to the numbers on another VCR or to the actual time of the recording. In an effort to provide a more meaningful tape counter, VCR manufacturers changed the operation of counters to be incremented in actual seconds, minutes and hours. This was done through electronics, rather than a belt. The counter is triggered by the control track recorded on the tape with every recording. The control track is a series of regular pulses which keep everything synchronized, sort of like sprocket holes on a movie film. These pulses provide a means of tracking actual time, but there is a side effect. A new blank tape has no recording on it, so there is no control track. No control track means, no pulses, and no pulses means no counter movement.

So, if you use a pre-recorded tape, or one that you have recorded on over and over, your counter will always move. However, when using a new tape, you might make a short recording beginning and then fast forward past it and notice the tape counter stops counting. At that point, you may be fooled into thinking something is wrong with your VCR or the new tape. Armed with the information above, you'll know why this happens and realize there's nothing wrong at all.

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