LabGuy's World: Ampex VR-3000 Portable Quadruplex VTR 40th Anniversary! March 31, 1967 to March 31, 2007

Photo provided by Don Norwood

New! 0070325

          The VR-3000 turns 40! Help me celebrate by enjoying the following montage of photos, documents and anecdotes. (Labguy's World doesn't actually have one of these in the collection. But, it would be nice if we did!)

Original 1967 Press Release and Price List:

Photo provided by Don NorwoodPhoto provided by Don NorwoodPhoto provided by Don NorwoodPhoto provided by Don Norwood

Original 1967 Press Release photos:


Ampex VR-3000 backpack VTR configuration with BC-300 BW Camera

          (From Don Norwood) The prototype VR-3000 in the press picture, third one above, has many differences from the production machine. Perhaps the most notable is the lack of transport controls which were only available on the camera. Also on the control panel, there is an audio meter and level adjustment. The meter was not included in the production model and the level control was replaced with an AGC circuit, so there was no manual adjustment. The transport is very simple in the prototype. There does not appear to be any type of tension sensing on this deck. The production machine had mechanical arms that were used to supply tension info to the reel servo. Later versions had capacitive sensor arms which proved to be much better than the earlier versions and can be seen in the picture of my machine. Kits were also available to retrofit older decks with the newer arms. The prototype machine has a very simple threading path compared to the production model, partially due to the addition of the tension system and a different wrap for the capstan.

          The camera in the second photo appears to be a prototype of BC-300 camera. The camera contained a one inch plumbicon tube, extremely advanced technology in 1967. The plumbicon uses a lead oxide material for the photo target and was developed by Philips in the mid 1960s. It was a vast improvement over the vidicon tube, but it was still a tube after all. CCDs had yet to be made to work, let alone be practical. That had to wait at least another decade.

An original 1969 VR-3000 product brochure:

Photo provided by Don NorwoodPhoto provided by Don NorwoodPhoto provided by Don NorwoodPhoto provided by Don Norwood

The Don Norwood collection:

          Don is the person to thank for this tribute page to the VR-3000. He was astute enough to point out the anniversary and to  suggest I write a little something devoted to the topic. Thanks Don! With such an excellent suggestion, I could do nothing but produce the page you are viewing at this moment. The following photos, as well as the first pix at the top of this page are all of Don's machine taken in March of 2007. He keeps his equipment very well indeed.  In addition to the original Ampex VR-3000, Don also has the mating BC-300 black and white video camera. Check that baby out in all its glory too!

The VR-3000:

Photo courtesy of Don NorwoodPhoto courtesy of Don NorwoodPhoto courtesy of Don NorwoodPhoto courtesy of Don Norwood

          The supply reel for the deck is on the right, take up on the left, so it appears to be 'backwards' to what we are accustomed to. The machine is shown with a battery eliminator power supply installed in place of a battery on the right side of the deck. The second photo is of the battery charger and accessory case for the VR3000. It is the exact same size as the VTR. In the center is the battery charger. It accommodates 2 batteries which go in the compartments at the rear of the case. Each individual cell in each battery pack is charged independently and can be monitored by the meter and selector switch on the charger. The right side of the case holds a spare reel of tape, and the left compartment stores cables.

The BC-300:

Photo courtesy of Don NorwoodPhoto courtesy of Don NorwoodPhoto courtesy of Don NorwoodPhoto courtesy of Don Norwood

          Photo #1 shows the camera case opened at the second, lower level. On the left is the Canon lens in a leather case. The center is the main camera body and the right side holds the viewfinder. In the upper left corner to the rear of the lens you can see a shaft which mounts to the side of the camera to hold the viewfinder. On the side of the camera, the large knob is for the back focus adjustment, and the VTR transport controls are toward the front. Photo #2 shows the case for the BC300 camera is an orange 2-level case. This shows the upper section open and the cable storage in that area. Photo #3, this view shows the assembled camera. The lever above the lens is a 2-position filter wheel. At the top left front is a tally light and the back focus and transport controls are on the sides. The fourth shot covers the rear and viewfinder sides of the camera. The Bulova tape timer is seen in the upper section of the rear panel while the area below has a power switch, the VTR cable connector, video level control and an external battery connector. The lever on the top of the viewfinder locks the VF at the desired angle.

Turner Engineering collection:

Photo courtesy of John TurnerPhoto courtesy of John Turner

          John Turner's VR-3000's as they exist today.

The Quadruplex Park collection:

          Recently, at the Ampex old timer's picnic, Tim Stoffel brought his VR-3000 for all to enjoy. This generated a lot of interest and discussion among the old timers for sure. Labguy's World showed off its VPR-5 (not shown), a similar evolutionary branch of the one inch type C format. Yep. It sure would be nice to add a VR-3000 to the Labguy collection. (hint, hint)

Photo Copyright 2006 Labguy's WorldPhoto Copyright 2006 Labguy's World

Worldwide contributions:

 Photo courtesy of James Paterson

From James Paterson, OLDTVGEAR.COM, Australia

Anecdotes and stories:

          Every village knows of another village, usually near by, where the people are fun to make jokes about. The following anecdote refers to one of these people.

          Kevin Hempson shared this wonderful story with me recently concerning the use of the VR-3000. At the site of a tunnel break through in the Swiss alps, a fellow was using his brand new VR-3000 to record the big event. It took longer than expected and his tape ran out. As was the order of the day, he took the reels off the recorder, flipped them over, and proceeded to record on the other track! <LMAO!> (Think about it)



          Photos and press release; Don Norwood

          Ampex old timer's picnic photos copyright Labguy's World 2006


Last updated: March 31, 2007