I was presented with an interesting challenge at work the other day. I'd hardly stepped through the door when a worried-looking journalist came up to me, told me that a tape machine had chewed his precious rushes tape, and could I do anything to rescue the situation? Well, I'd never tried to repair a mini DV tape before, but I like a challenge like that, and set to work. In my time I've repaired audio cassettes, Umatic, Betacam and VHS cassettes. This was on a par with an audio cassette, but on an even smaller scale.
This particular cassette was glued and not screwed together. That was the first problem. I wrecked a couple of gash tapes to find the best way of recovering the minute tape spools from inside the cassette, re-affixed the end of the tape to the take-up spool, and put it all back in a screw-type housing. Fortunately the tape was chewed at the beginning, not half-way through.
Eventually I had it all back together, and put it in a machine to start replaying. Oh dear: Error-31. The end of the tape had come off. Oops. I had to dismantle it again, re-attach the end, and try again. This time it held together, and we got all the material onto the server. The reporter was extremely pleased!
I had an impressive pile of bits on the desk afterwards!