Picture of Spinner / Jog Wheel Inside of a VCR Head
A number of months ago we were tossing some stuff out at work, included were 2 SONY security tape recorders, so I nabbed one for parts. Inside I found the usual VCR goodies including a ton of good hookup wire, a decent selection of random electronic parts, motors gears and connectors. Before disposing of the pillaged shell I decided to grab the video tape head and the bracket it was mounted on, just to make a cool spinner wheel.

And its been sitting in the bottom of my junk drawer since last summer  ...

Anyway this is hardly a new idea, but most of the time when people make these out of VCR heads they end up with a bunch of junk glued, taped, screwed, and wired to the outside of the head, making for a functional but unattractive device. I wanted mine to be as nice looking as possible (considering my limited tools and workspace) and for me that meant one thing, all the junk needs to be in the tiny space inside the VCR head

Okay then why do you want one? what does it do? Well it functions just like the wheel on your mouse, except its larger and has momentum which is good for scrolling through long web pages or piles of source code, or heck a large document.

Its also good if you do any media editing as you can scroll around in large video or audio files effortlessly, with the heaviness of the VCR head you can just set it in motion and its inertia will keep it spinning for quite a while, when you come up on something you want to work or read you just stop it with your finger.

Is it for everybody? No not really, but if you constantly wheeling the mouse in some application (and forgot the Home, End, Page Up and Page Down, and cursor keys exist) you might like it
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PCelec2 years ago
for romoval of screws like that many things kan work. tecknicaly the best way is the rigt tool else a tap and die. also for larger screww cut a slot in the head with a hack saw then just use a flat driver to remove it. i have foud that a flat screwdriver also works though normaly it will need a whack to get it firmley in. also a cheap diaginal cuter will work. take one blade and put the flat side aginst the way it will turn push down and twist, or just grab head with pliers and twist.
mgingerich2 years ago
Or you could just get a set of star screw drivers. I got some at Ace Hardware for $10.
Dr Qui2 years ago
Interesting use, most end up as ready made flywheels for steam or Stirling engines, They are a lovely piece of kit to base a project on. I have one very similar to the one you used that i'm just about to start on as the flywheel assembly for a Stirling engine, need a bit of a trim down on a lathe, but i lucked out that the brass retaining thingies is already pre drilled and tapped for a accept crank shaft which came in the form of a rubber shock absorber screw from a CDROM.

Just thought of the ultimate use for this, you should use it to control the puck Arkanoid on the MAME arcade emulator it would be as smooth as the arcade machine.
wii5523 years ago
Can you use this with sony vegas, and if so, how?
my chip is damn too long. what do i do?
skaar4 years ago
it may have been easier to use a protractor than a printer, mask the paper with some blue masking tape, score the paper when cutting the blacks out, and just use some gel ink. there's even space for thick card stock.
skaar4 years ago
looks like a torx... perhaps something else to invest in...
pfred24 years ago
I noticed you had some etching issues with your project. I have at times myself so I've developed a process that assures better results. Two things I have found that make etching come out a LOT better with Radio Shack Ferric Chloride are:

1. Heat that etchant up! I find somewhere around 100F makes the etchant work the way you think it should. I use a hot water bath around the etch tank.

2. Agitate the etchant with atomized air. I rigged up an aerosol agitator using an old areosol spray head salvaged off a dead spray paint can connected to tubing that I attached to a schrader tire valve plugged into one of those junky little 12 volt tire inflator compressors. This is better than rocking the tank because it introduces oxygen into the tank and aids the etching process. It may sound difficult but really it isn't it is totally worth doing.

Of course you have to brighten the copper cladding before you mask it off. But do all of this and you should enjoy perfect etches in about 2 minutes. Which sure beats playing rock the tank for 20+ minutes and getting ragged undercut traces that need sloppy repairs. Try it you'll like it.

Pretty (well my PNP mask smeared some I suck at ironing):

Etch tank and compressed air supply (before I switched to the 12V)

Another board:

I got sick and tired of ferric chloride myself now I want to try out muratic acid and hydrogen peroxide. Supposedly it is a self regenerating etchant, as in copper added doesn't saturate the solution. Though I hear dumping some sulfuric acid into ferric chloride can rejuvenate it sometimes. I've never tried it myself. Anyhow I hope you try out my suggestions. It really works!
an aquarium pump (<$20) does the trick rather well, too.
A fish tank pump is the obvious choice to use for this process but in practice they are usually harder to come by and more expensive when you do. But if you happen to have one lying around use it and post back your results.
osgeld (author)  pfred24 years ago
1) I did boil water and let the jar of enchant heat up for about 10 min, though I have no idea of its exact temp

2) I dont have the equipment to do the atomized are, though I did swirl it

I did brighten the clad up with scowering pads of fine grit, and cleaned with alcohol, and it only took about 10 min in a pickle jar swirling it around

+ keep in mind I did not use a transfer method, the only tiny 2mm spot that had a mishap was where there was a thin coat of marker, overall I think it turned out quite well for a marker

pfred2 osgeld4 years ago
I've measured my etchant temperature and the acid seems to begin fuming at around 110F. At that temp it is aggressive enough.

Well that is why I left the comment. because I've swirled too and it is for the birds compared to pumping some air into the tank. Getting the equipment isn't hard, you would be better off with a bicycle pump than swirling. But shoot for an actual $6 12V tire inflator I mean splurge! OK I just looked seems like the cheap pumps run about $10 online I'm sure you can find one at a garage sale for a buck. Or ask around most men have 3 in the basement they never use.

Theoretically the best material to use to brighten copper clad prior to etch masking is Scotch Brite but I use plain old steel wool (plain as in no soap) myself then wipe with a clean dry soft rag. I suppose sandpaper would be OK too. I consider any etch that takes longer than 5 minutes to be problematic. I've cooked boards in under 2 minutes but I use air. And it isn't about the time it is about detail retention, but time is the simplest measure of etch technique success.

I used to do the exact same hand drawing method prior to the advent of personal computers and the widespread availability of free CAD software for PCB design. I wouldn't want to go back today. I use CAD for all my board layouts now, even ones I point to point wire up.

Etching a board wouldn't have helped much:

It works well:

Even with perfboard:

Worth doing.
socaldt4 years ago
invest in a dremel? i wonder why those screws won't loosen up for you. i've taken vcr heads apart before. cool idea though.
adrian.robb4 years ago
Mint !
osgeld (author)  adrian.robb4 years ago
pfred24 years ago
How come you said you could never find a datasheet for the IC?

Years of practice multiplied by massive amounts of dumb luck!
osgeld (author)  pfred24 years ago
good question, maybe I was impatient, but I just did not find the datasheet online, thanks for the heads up though, it makes it easier!
jefersonrod4 years ago
Wow man, that's a real nice job, congratulations.
osgeld (author)  jefersonrod4 years ago
VadimS4 years ago
This is sweet, I built one similar a couple years ago, but it was ps/2 so it's stuck in a box somewheres.

osgeld (author)  VadimS4 years ago
thanks, and maybe you should convert it =)
VadimS osgeld4 years ago
My new mouse actually has something similar. Logitech g500. There is a button just behind the scroll wheel to go from clicking to free wheel. Works nicely on 100+ page PDFs. Not as much mass but with a good flick it'll spin for 10+ seconds.

For similar ideas this is where I got the info before:
I'm flattered that someone remembers my work! ( is me).

This hack looks way nicer than what I put together... I just used the mouse electronics and hardware directly, so the result was really a mess of wires and awkward structure.

At the time, I was sad that a lot of people didn't go out and make their own scroll wheels out of VCR heads... but seeing this project makes me appreciate the quality vs the quantity.

Nice job!
osgeld (author)  ifreecarve4 years ago
yes I did see yours while looking around, and almost integrated the buttons as well, though I have to admit yours is one of the nicest looking ones of the bunch
bossier3304 years ago
This is amazing. I'm definitely making one over break.
Glenn Higgs4 years ago
I don't have the knowledge to do it, but I wonder if this idea could be taken a step further to allow for up/down on the axis. This would make it into a device similar to the Griffin Powermate.
osgeld (author)  Glenn Higgs4 years ago
maybe, I have never seen a powermate up close to know all of what it does, though it seems to do a bunch of it with keyboard mappings (if im not mistaken) , which would not be that difficult to replicate using a microcontroller
jrcgarry4 years ago
Rather than using a printed optical pattern, you may find that a modern optical mouse is able to detect the motion of the stainless steel surface directly.

I had a similar problem to solve many years ago: detect motion of a stainless steel shaft *in vacuum* with a minimum of changes to the shaft.

A modern optical mouse, out of the box, a light sanding of the steel, and the job was done.

I can send details if needed.
osgeld (author)  jrcgarry4 years ago
using the optical sensor though would have output XY data and not wheel data
jrcgarry osgeld4 years ago
Correct - but all optical mice I've used generate quadrature datastreams

... just like a pair of encoders on a scroll wheel.

You need to find the pins (X1,X2; Y1,Y2 in the above).
Then, find how the IR wheel encoders are piped into a PS2/USB controller of some sort.
Snip the wheel encoders' tracks, and wire in the X or Y lines from the optics chip.

osgeld (author)  jrcgarry4 years ago
see that's the issue with most brand spankin new mouses, its all packaged in to 1 chip, that was the case with this one there was only the one chip

I actually looked at 4 mouses, my GE optical, my Microsoft optical and some crap keytronix or something at work were all like that, and all were bought within the last year or so

my ~5 year old dynex had 2 chips in it, but it is a 5 button mouse and the controller chip was a dip 20 and I could not visualize how to get that joker inside the vcr head

osgeld (author)  osgeld4 years ago
and yes please do post it up, I like seeing other peoples work :)
Those "odd star shaped screws" - they look like Torx! Number of vcr's I pulled to bits over the years and haven't got a single part of any of them - wish I had then I could make this. Cool project.
osgeld (author)  throbscottle4 years ago
they do look like that though I have a limited supply of funny screwdrivers, and as per most of my projects you really don't have to treat things with kid gloves

If I did it might not have a couple pits on the top metal (which were caused by a bench vice while banging these things out to saw off0 , but I would probably would still be working on it right now, and 1000X more devastated when I got a scratch on it

It just goes with "mostly hand made" I guess
You can get things way smaller with standard resistors if you cut the leads right off, clean the paint of the end caps and solder the end caps. I built a transmitter in a wrist watch case this way in nineteen eighty something....
osgeld (author)  throbscottle4 years ago
that is a excellent idea, I would say I was too lazy to sand .. but I spend 3 hours sanding down that super tough polyester resin lol

It just never occured to me, and that would make great SMD resistors in a pinch

though thanks to eyeballing angles I did not have much trouble stuffing them all in there, the weirdest solder joint is on one of the led's where "not the greatest" planning left a odd 3d s-bend in one of the cathodes

but hey I dont think it was too bad for eyeball being the only funky bend :)
spark light4 years ago
Actually, those loops on the inside are not for spinning the head, they convey data. the motor would have originally been on the bottom. (standard brushless type, 12 coils, like an out-runner.)
osgeld (author)  spark light4 years ago
on this one there was no motor attached, nor belts or anything

on this security model it only had 1 head for read 1 for write with 4 loops

read write ??? and common maybe

I dunno I am not a motor expert
Regarding the pixelated output of the encoder wheel program, why not just specify a much larger internal radius and width of band, then use GIMP to shrink the resulting image. This should remove the offending noise around the edges.
osgeld (author)  handylaboratory4 years ago
cause I don't have a printer that doesn't suck at home, and while I thought of doing something similar to get it AA, in the end it just seemed simpler to outline what I had already printed, rather than fiddle fart with the measurements again, email it to myself, print it at work (which you see are not the worlds greatest printers, but still better than my 1 good sale away from being recycled inkjet) yadda yadda etc

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