Akai VT-300 1/2" VK Casstte Format B/W VTR System
New Addition 01.07.23
New Photo! 01.07.26
Another New Photo! 02.01.31
Akai VTS-300 ~ 1/2" B/W Video Cassette Portapack!
Vintage: late 1970s. This is an extremely unique system! The Akai model VT-300. It uses a 30 minute length, 1/2" tape cassette, with a Betamax like loading system and two video heads. This sucker is B/W only. Remember, ALL 30 minute video formats failed. This little beast is heavy to! Even without the batteries in it. It is constructed very densely. The cassette is about the same size as a Betamax, but contains far less tape.
A Complete Deluxe Second System !!! (January 31, 2002)
This system has More news about the second system coming soon! Stay tuned!!!
The tape was stuck in the first VTR deck when I received it and, having no power supply, I had to do some emergency surgery to get it out. While I had the VCR open, I snapped the second photo, which shows off the little VCR's innards. If you look just below the head drum, you see one of the tape return guides folded over in its "down" position. As the threading system pulled the tape around the drum, going counter clockwise in this view, these guide slowly rise to the vertical position from below the tape loop. Its very clever and quite the sight to see. Another VCR that used a similar system was the Umatic machines made by NEC much later. In the lower right corner you can see the socket for the RF unit. It is the green one that is oriented vertically in the photo. Akai obviously worked hard on this one, as it is as complex as any other portable VCR of that era. It sure does like like 10 pounds of "you know what" in a 5 pound bag to me!
The camera, model number VC-300, is as basic as it gets. Originally, it must have had a fixed focus lens, now missing. I put one of my 25 mm lenses on it for the photo. The viewfinder is an optical peek through type with an LED indicator built in. The LED is probably to tell the operator tape is running. From examining some early ad copy for this system, I have determined that an electronic viewfinder was also available. (Model VF-300?) Overall, this camera, with the non active viewfinder, is very light and would be easy to hold up for long periods. It's just a "point and shoot" style camera making for (almost) fool proof operation. Overall, the VTS-300 is truly a successful attempt to create a video "Volkswagen" system! If it had been color and recorded for more than 60 minutes, it might have had a chance in the market place. Shown here in the first photo, sitting on the original (very battered) carrying case, it is obvious that this little fella has seen better days. The VCR and camera are clean and mostly intact and should be restorable. Only time will tell. Stay tuned!
The second system has the sidecar monitor and the electronic viewfinder for the camera. The lens on the second camera is the venerable 12. 5 mm to 75 mm, 6:1 zoom used on many portable cameras of that era.
SIDEBAR ~ Bruno Merlier wrote to tell me:
Do you remember, in the early 80's when compact porta studios were in the mood, like the TASCAM portastudio (4X4X2 mixdown with a compact cassette 4 tracks recorder deck running at 3 3/4 ips). AKAI went on the market with a 12X2 mixdown console including an amazing 12 tracks cassette recorder. Well, the cassette tapes used in this device were the same that the ones used in the VT-300. Note the tape threading system, of the MG-1212, is called "Lambda" on this deck. The tape required is a MK20 (M probably stands for 'multitrack' instead of the VK30 where V stands for 'video') cobalt coated and offers 10 min. if used at 7 1/2 ips and 20 min if used @ 3 3/4 ips. So we can assume that the total tape length is 114 meters. I saw some for sale once for a mere $23 (US). Here is a photo of the Akai MG-1212:
Akai MG-1212 ~ 12 channel / 12 track audio recording mini-studio!
WOW! I did not know that! Here, in the following photo, is a comparison of some modern tapes with the VT-300 tape. The VK-30 cassette is almost exactly the same size as the smaller of the two Betacam tapes! Does anyone remember if the VT-300 format was called, "A c t i v i d e o"? (. . . or did I just dream it?)
Akai VTS-300 VS Several Contemporary Formats!
NEEDED: Service and operators manuals, the VA-300 AC adapter / charger, the missing VM-300 sidecar video monitor and/or VF-300 camera viewfinder.
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Last updated: January 09, 2005