Tag Archive for: Nick Drudge

Comtek TAD-102 Video Display Teardown

Comtek TAD-102 Video Display Teardown

The ffmpeg command I used to get a file on the device is

ffmpeg -i "INPUT.EXT" -s 720x480 -b:v 7000000 -c:v mpeg2video -b:a 128000 "OUTPUT.mpg"

Of course feel free to play with the bit rate and maybe setting a VBV buffer.

An Adventure with the Canon AE-1 – Getting it Working and Developed

An Adventure with the Canon AE-1 – Getting it Working and Developed

Music From 2:15 to 6:10 Provided by Nat Liles (https://soundcloud.com/natliles) Check them out!

Fujifilm GX680 Film Back Battery Replacement

Fujifilm GX680 Film Back Battery Replacement

(Studio images to follow, for the moment refer to the video)

There are 6 screws to remove. The first two on the back by the open lever are longer than the others. 

Two on each side. These are on the blank side. 

Two on the side with the dark slide. You can either remove the dark slide to make it easier to get to, or flip the handle out of the way to remove the screws. 

The knob at the top is actually a screw. That center part will rotate, you just have to figure out how to get a grip on it, and then it just unscrews. The plastic piece just comes right out, don’t worry about orientation, it is keyed. 

We want to go ahead and open the back, just bring down the lever until it clicks, then swing it open. 

You can now separate the back, just wiggle and it should come loose. There are no hidden snaps. You will find it easier if the lock is clicked all the way down. 

On the side you will find the battery you need to remove. 

For this part you will need a soldering iron and solder. Some wick or solder sucker can help clean up excess. In mine, the battery was adhered to the plastic with tape, I recommend lifting it off first before desoldering. Then just desolder the battery legs. 

Because I didn’t remove the tape first, I applied heat for too long, and removed the pin that the battery tab was soldered too. I simply cleaned the pad area and reattached the pin. 

To solder the new battery, I made sure the direction or polarity of the battery was correct by referencing a photo I took prior to removing the old battery. In this view, positive is on the left side of the screen, with negative being on the right, or nearest that large circular speaker/beeper. 

The tab was held to the pin, and solder was applied to the iron, then the joint. 

For the other tab, I bent it into place, and repeated soldering.

The finished soldering job is not great, but contact is made, and the connection appears strong enough.

We can test if the battery is working by holding down the bottom “call” button and making sure the screen displays. 

Now we just put the unit back together by putting the back plastic door assembly back on, making sure the opening lever is all the way down. 

Snap the back into place. 

Return the knob by putting the plastic piece on until it locks into the keyed position, then put the screw back in. 

The remainder is putting the rest of the screws in, remembering the longer ones go by the door opening lever. 

As an added step, I created a label with the date the battery was changed. The area was cleaned with an isopropyl alcohol swab and let to air dry prior to applying the label. 

It is finished! The back now successfully remembers how many exposures were taken even if the camera has power removed, or if the back is taken off of the camera. 

In the example we are on exposure 2. Removing the back, the call button still works, and it shows the correct number.   

To remove the film back from the camera, insert the dark slide into the back. Press the revolve button and turn anti-clockwise 45 degrees, the back will now free itself to pull straight off. 

Hopefully that was helpful! If so go ahead and leave a like. Make sure you are subscribed for more camera and tech videos, and leave a comment if you have any questions, I’ll try and help! Thanks!

Nick with Minolta Camera

Minolta XG-9

Minolta XG-9

Minolta XG-9 camera body.

Camera Make: Minolta

Release Year: 1979

Release Price: $170 for the Body,  $280 for Body and 50mm f/1.4 lens (as of 1981)

Current Street Price: $20 – $50

Notable uses:

Interesting Features:

Media: 35mm Film

Can you still get the media now: Yes.

Interchangeable lenses: Minolta MD Bayonet Mount

Batteries: Two 1.5V Silver Oxide

Can you still get the battery: Easily, using two AG13 / KS 76, does not need to be silver to function correctly based on my testing.


Can you test without batteries: No. The shutter will not fire in any mode without batteries. You can focus an attached lens, turn dials, and cock the shutter once if not already cocked.

Can you test without a lens: Yes. The camera will let you fire the shutter without a lens.

Can you test without media: Yes. Film is not required to function, and you do not need to trick the film advance to do subsequent shutter tests.

How to test the camera: Insert batteries and turn the dial to B.C. The front light should illuminate brightly*. You can then attempt to cock the shutter, test fire, examine the meter, roughly check shutter speeds, make sure film advance is functioning, etc.

*My battery holder was corroded, and even after cleaning in vinegar, it still required scratching it quite a bit to make contact. It usually takes me several attempts at getting the batteries in place until the front light will illuminate, but once it does, I do not have any issues after that.

Camera Operation

How to Load the Camera: Typical 35mm SLR Film Loading

Viewfinder: SLR with Split and Microprism.

How to Take a Picture: Half press the shutter button to activate the meter, fully depress to fire the shutter.


Highly recommended camera. One of the easiest manual focus 35mm cameras I own. Requires few easy to get batteries, and has worked reliably (outside of mine having been corroded). Since it is consistently cheaper and less desirable than the Canon AE-1, it is a good cheap beginner camera, and most kit lenses are great, or you can easily find cheap lenses for the camera. Minolta MD lenses are less desirable than Canon FD lenses, making equivalent lenses routinely less expensive second hand. The main drawback is the lack of metering in non auto modes, you get no real feedback on manual exposure. Good way to learn how to use manual metering though while still having auto when needed.


Cutting the Cord

Thinking about cutting the cord? So what’s stopping you? Are tied to certain programming only available on cable or Satellite? Or do you find that you really only watch a few programs from only a few different stations?

We cut the cord over eight years ago and haven’t regretted it yet. Yes, we still watch television, but we either get our programming from streaming sources online or video purchases. For much of the “need to know” programming, the free, over-the-air channels still work well. Add in something like a Tablo over the air recorder, record and watch all your favorite network programs when you want.

Check out Nick’s video on the Tablo.

We’re not talking about doing away with your Internet provider. A good solid Internet provider is a needed way of life. Simply getting rid of paying for a ton of unneeded TV programming.

Most all of our viewing pleasure now comes from Hulu, Netflix , Amazon Prime, various Cable Channel websites, and even YouTube.  Really, all have the same content available for less than a monthly provider bill. Many cable channels offer programming for free — like CW which has some pretty good programming available.

Hulu, for example, will have many of the top network broadcast programs we want to see, typically, the next day. These are ready to watch and commercial free! So if we want to binge-watch our favorite Bob’s Burger episodes, they are all there. We’re not tied to having to watch a program when it’s broadcast.

Netflix, and Amazon Prime for example have tons of original programming. Some good, others, not so good, but a plethora of content exists to watch at the ready.

Many of the paid services online offer trial periods of the services, so you can watch a program or two and decide if you want to subscribe. Unlike a cable or satellite provider, if you decide after the first month you want to cancel your subscription — no problem. Little or no hassle to quite, unlike every cable provider on the planet that takes you through multiple layers of BS on a call to cancel your subscription.

With Amazon Prime you get free two-day shipping. And both offer 30 days free trials. Some of our content is from YouTube (yes, quality shows can be found on YouTube), and some miscellaneous streaming sources from over-seas.

Cable companies are finally accepting that the masses are changing their viewing habit. Many cable companies are thinking about changing the model from the pay for bundled TV programming to becoming multi-channel video programming distributors (MVPDs). Basically means, these cable companies are looking to distribute content programming like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and others. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Well, yeah, it’s great for the end-consumer, but will reduce the money cable distributors make. So great for us, not so great for them, right. Well, yes, and no. This will also create greater competition to supply content at a cheaper price (or will it?)

For now, cable companies aren’t worried about losing money to cable cutters. In fact, may cable cutters that still use cable for their internet service still get basic cable services for free, simply because it’s oft times cheaper to leave the service on than to pay for an installer to go out and install a filter which blocks the TV channels. Plus, having TV subscribers looks better on the bottom line rather than showing the increase number of Internet only cable subscribers.

Strange, huh? We all want content, but we just don’t want to pay for 499 channels we don’t watch just so we can see that 1 channel. So as a consumer would you be willing to pay more for that one channel with content you want to see?

And when you figure in the cost, you’ll find you will pay less for the programming you want to view, than getting that monthly cable or satellite TV bill. Most cable subscribers pay an average of $720 per year in the U.S. for some 180 channels. The average viewer may watch programming from 15 to 20 of those channels. For great programming from a variety of streaming sources, you would most certainly pay less.

Even sports fans can find MLB and NFL related content online. You’ll may still have to use over-the-air broadcast to catch that live up to the minute game, but many of the streaming sites have delayed content ready to view. And remember that Tablo DVR I pointed out? You can certainly use it or some other DVR device to capture your favorite sports game from Over The Air.

So really, what is keeping you from cutting the cord? Is it the convenience of that magic box that sits next to your big screen and the all-in-one content resource? Aren’t you tired of having to watch 18 minutes of content and 12 minutes of commercials every ½ hour? Or are you really afraid you’ll miss something important?

Cut the cord; find some decent streaming content online. Save some money and thank me, later.

Streaming, on-demand is the current wave, so get out there and surf the net for content.

Related Video: Tablo Tear Down

Some Streaming Providers. Each offer different solutions to your viewing needs.

Auto Tone Title

Don’t Underestimate Auto Features In Photoshop

I recently had 2 rolls of film developed that were shot on the brand-new-to-me Pentax Spotmatic. Sadly, I underexposed most of the shots, and they look terrible. 

Raw Film shot of Two Cameras on a Shelf

Raw Film shot of Two Cameras on a Shelf

As you can see, this photo is pretty awful and crazy washed out. I started playing with Photoshop as per usual, using the Camera Raw Filter, trying various curves and levels. The results weren’t too much better. Out of just random desperation, I hit “Auto Tone” from the Image menu. 

Photoshop Auto Tone Menu Option

Photoshop Auto Tone Menu Option

And look at that instant result!

Edited Film shot of Two Cameras on a Shelf

Edited Film shot of Two Cameras on a Shelf

With one click Photoshop did a vastly better job than I was getting with 10 to 15 minutes of playing. It managed to get rid of the haze, adjust the levels, and get everything pretty much perfect, instantly. Going through the rolls, almost every picture was improved by this to the point I didn’t need to do any additional editing. The effect isn’t perfect though, shots that are too far gone can’t be saved, such as this one. 

Side by side film shot of Lily, image on the left being the raw film image, image on the right being the Auto Tone adjusted image, showing a large amount of grain and noise.

Raw and Auto Tone side by side.

As you can see, it does remove the usual green haze, but because the exposure was so low, the image just becomes awash with noise. It’s certainly improved, but by no means does it magically fix the image. More work might be able to be done however. 

The best part about this discovery is that Auto Tone in Photoshop by default has a keyboard shortcut, so you can just drop your image in, do Ctrl + J to duplicate the layer, and then Shift + Ctrl + L and BOOP, your image is fixed, and you can toggle the layer on and off the see the before and after. Also don’t ignore the Auto Contrast and Auto Color options, some images work better with those.

3 Images side-by-side of a group of fursuiters, the left image is raw from the film, the middle image has Auto Tone applied, and the right image has Auto Color applied.

Side by side of Raw, Auto Tone, and Auto Color

Quickly becomes its own subset of Instagram-esque filters, and we aren’t even using LUTs!

While I certainly don’t recommend falling into the laziness of just hitting auto, sometimes you want or need a quick fix, or at least a way to make the photo look like how you imagined it would turn out from the camera. The the appeal of film in this digital age is the limitations, which can also be its biggest downfall. At least I know how to quickly get these one-of-a-kind treasures to be decent, displayable images.


Tag Archive for: Nick Drudge