Repair - Sony TCM-6

December 6, 2020

I came across this Cassette-corder on a used goods website. It comes complete with cover and original manual.

It doesn't function, but my guess is that a new belt should suffice along with a cleaning.

Let's take a closer look at him first.

The recorder has all the basic functions, Play, fast forward and backward, a stop/eject button, pause button and record button. The latter can only be activated if you press the play button. There is also a controller to fine-tune the speed.

On top are connections for a microphone and headphones. A switch to adjust the microphone pitch and sound. The tick counter and the volume control.

There is a built-in microphone, you would almost miss it!

What often makes the recorders interesting for me is the built-in speaker. So you can play your music or other recordings through the speaker.

Inside there is little to see from this angle, we take a look through the window...

From here I get a better view of the heads and the transport, a standard setup for a portable recorder, a permanent erase head on the right, the read/write head in the middle and the pinch roller and capstan on the left, the latter needs to be cleaned but the rest looks good pretty neat.

The recorder has a nice case, as you can see it is still almost unused. Once inside, all functions are still accessible.

Here are some more pictures of the manuals.

Time to do what the manual forbids me. :-)

The housing contains three types of screws. I give them colors here to distinguish them. I do the unscrewing with two different crossheads, PH0 for the red and green and PH1 for the blue. A total of 6 screws must be removed from the housing.

I first remove the battery cover and any batteries if they are still in it. opening the housing can be quite difficult, because it is still firmly clicked all around, by carefully going along the edges with a small flat screwdriver you can open it further until it finally gives way. The front that contains the playback functions will also come off.

Inside we see the printed circuit board, the speaker and the drive is also visible. There are small wires running crisscross to various components. 

On the shaft of the motor, where a belt once ran, only a sticky black substance remains. With cotton swabs and 96% alcohol solution I carefully remove the mess.

It takes me a few sticks but the ashes are clean again.

The tick counter is also belt driven. When I turn the spool, the tick counter still counts, which means that the belt is still intact. But I'm going to replace it anyway.

I have to be under the circuit board for this. The red arrows have two screws, you can loosen them with a PH0 screwdriver, the blue arrow points to a bracket that you have to bend away from the circuit board.

The PCB is just high enough, the many small wires attached to the PCB often make it difficult to get underneath. I can easily reach it with tweezers.

The old belt next to the new one, you can clearly see the difference. The recorder has probably stood still for a long time.

When the tick counter has its new belt, the circuit board can be reattached. The volume control is located directly on the printed circuit board, so it must also be set correctly. otherwise the arrangement is no longer correct.

I screw the circuit board back in place and also put the new belt from the motor on it.

The job was actually done, I wanted to test the recorder until suddenly something shot out of the recorder. It turned out to be this part hidden under the speaker. The black clip that was around the axis of the gear has jumped away. I looked around a bit but couldn't find it. Under this ring is a spring that keeps the gear in place. I'll have to look for a new ring.

A few days ago a bag with nylon rings came in, I try to put it on as a replacement but it immediately jumps off again. the inner diameter of the new ring is too large...

I still have a Walkman of a later generation lying around somewhere. It didn't work and I didn't intend to fix it. Better yet, it has a similar clip that will likely fit the TCM-6. This WM-EX372 becomes a donor for other walkmans.

The donor clip fits perfectly. I am saved! Time to put the recorder back together.

As you can see in the video, things don't go quite according to plan. The clip I just replaced with the donor clip popped off almost immediately when I tried to fast forward it. I'll have to take the recorder apart again.

Fortunately, the detached clip is still neatly in place. the only thing I can do here to really secure it is a small drop of superglue. Time to test it again.

Please note that the sound you hear was recorded with my phone's microphone. The sound is not the actual quality! Incidentally, I am only testing the operation of the Walkman.

Although the recorder works quite well now there is another problem that I had not anticipated, the sound is only sent to one side, the left in this case. A little search on the internet will help. Nowhere on the recorder or in the booklet does it say that stereo recordings can be made and played back. something so self-evident to me that I didn't even consider that the TCM-6 just records and plays in mono...

With new belts and some donor material, the TCM-6 can take it again. It was not a very complicated and special repair.

To conclude, a collage of the Walkmans and recorders that I now (quite literally) have on the shelf.

December 22, 2020