resurrected my tascam porta 05

Slightly off-topic for this blog, but…

Tascam Porta 05

Tascam Porta 05

Decided to dig out my old Tascam Porta 05 ministudio in order to digitise some old 4-track recordings. But, found that the play heads seemed to be stuck in the forward position. Full symptoms and notes:

  • Power on ok
  • Impossible to insert a cassette due to the position of the heads
  • Can hear the motor (which turns all the time power is on – this is normal)
  • Motor responds correctly to the pitch control
  • Fast forward button works – spins the central right capstan
  • Rewind button works – spins the central left capstan
  • Tape heads in forwards position, but the rubber wheel in front of the stop button is not forward enough to press against the metal capstan
  • The metal capstan, which should normally be spinning all the time the machine is powered is not actually spinning
  • Pressing play or record buttons does nothing – the central capstans that would fit into the tape spindles do not turn

I did google around trying to find a solution. I did find a couple of people with the same problem, but no solution posted. I googled for the service manual with no result other than someone in the states selling on ebay for around $22. I wish companies like this would get their service manuals PDF’d and onto the web – shouldn’t be an issue for what is essentially obsolete equipment?

Anyway, with no solution available from the outside, I decided to take a quick look inside to see if there was anything obviously out of place. Getting inside is easy:

  1. Remove the 5 screws from the back panel
  2. Carefully part the two sides noting that:
    • The power on/off slider will likely drop out as it detaches from the internal control
    • all the other sliders remain with the top of the case – but some detach in the process from the underlying control which remains in the base.
    • In my case the forward position of the tape heads was preventing the sides from separating. Pressing them back by pressing the plastic between the erase and write heads made enough space.
Inside the Tascam Porta 05

Inside the Tascam Porta 05

Close-up showing heads fixed forward

Close-up showing heads fixed forward

With the sides parted, I then powered up and observed the mechanics when pressing the various control buttons. I couldn’t see anything obvious, but then noticed that underneath the controls is a flywheel attached to that capstan in-front of the stop button. The flywheel is belt-driven and was not spinning.

Nudging the fly-wheel

Nudging the fly-wheel

Using a cotton bud, I gave it a few nudges, attempting to pushing it round in either direction. I was quite surprised  after a few attempts when the belt picked up and the flywheel turned under the power of the motor. At the same time the heads snapped back into the retracted position, and the play and record buttons now worked.

All that remained was to give it a good clean-out and reassemble. Taking care to align the Record function sliders with their underlying controls, and get the 5 screws back in, and I am back in action with kit that I thought was pretty cutting edge back in 1987.

59 Comments

  1. Tim Werwie says:

    Hi, do you have a copy of the manual for this machine? I am resurrecting mine as well (to record straight to tape, no digitizing yet), but can’t find the manual. I’ve torn my house apart looking for it. I’d be very grateful if we could work out something to get a copy, either hard or pdf.

    Thanks, Tim

  2. BlackIslander says:

    Thanks for this article – it has helped me reactivate my Porta 05 where the play function had seized up after a few years without use.

  3. firebird says:

    hi, I’ve been looking for the manual for that Porta 05. Any chance I could get a copy from you somehow? I’d be very thankful 😀

    mail: korgpoly61@hotmail.de

  4. creacog says:

    @Tim, @firebird…. I know I have the manual somewhere, just can’t put my hand on it at the moment. As soon as I find it I’ll give you a shout. In the meantime, it might be worth a polite message to tascam to ask them to PDF the manual and publish it via their legacy page http://tascam.com/product/porta05/

  5. Eddie says:

    Thanks for posting this fix. I had the same issue with the recorder, except my cassette was actually in the recorder with the heads trapping it and would not eject the tape rendering it inoperable and loss of recorded music for years. 11 years later, comes your post and my brother and I attempted the fix last night. My brother, the clever one, first disassembled the cassette casing by removing the screws and removing the top panel. He then carefully removed the tape reels and now the back cassette panel was the only thing stuck in the recorder. With the cassette now half it’s original size, we were then able to carefully and slightly retract the head and then remove the back panel by lifting it out as it does in normal operation. Before tackling the recorder, we then had to reassemble the cassette. Long story short, the cassette was reassembled successfully, your documented fix/post was successful and now I’m listening to recordings I did 11 years ago and thought I had lost them as well as my recorder for good. Thank you so much to you and ofcourse my brother too for being the clever and patient one.

  6. Dale says:

    Hi, many thanks for posting this. My old tascam porta 01 is stuck. I will give your idea a try. What a star, posting the photos and writing this article!
    All the best

  7. Orion says:

    I opened a suitcase I’d had in the basement for several years, and inside was a Porta 05. My friend gave me the case 4 years ago, and I guess I never really looked inside it.

    Anyway, it had this same problem. I got the heads to retract, but it will only play or record if you slam it on the floor. I’m thinking the belts are shot. Not enough tension to get the flywheel spinning without a little help.

    Anyone know where to get replacement belts? If you find that manual, does it give part numbers?

    Thanks for the fix!

  8. creacog says:

    @Orion : “Slam it on the floor” sounds like it might do more damage than good!

    I still haven’t found that manual, but wouldn’t expect the internal part numbers to be in there. For that you’d be needing the service manual. I guess the only people that can provide that are Tascam. Possibly worth contacting them from this page http://www.tascam.com/go;33,2020.html

    Although I did try asking them to add the Porta05 manual PDF to their Legacy support page ( http://www.tascam.com/legacy;37,17.html ) – but I got a frankly rubbish reply suggesting I “contact my local distributor for spare parts” with the UK address. Clearly the guy hadn’t read a word of my email – just saw it was from the UK and fired a stock response.

  9. Fred says:

    Thanks for the fix. As you said it popped right back in place. I was given this so now I just have to figure out how to use it.

  10. lulu says:

    Thanks so much for posting this!! Just about the same story as everybody else…just needed the nudge!

  11. jared says:

    hey all. can someone tell me if the porta 05 can record 4 tracks simultaneously? if not, do you know if any of the tascam porta/studio units can record 4 tracks simultaneously, like some of the models of the yamaha mt series?

    thanks!

  12. creacog says:

    @jared, to your first question: No, 4 sources can be mixed, but it only records up to 2 tracks simultaneously.

  13. Tim says:

    Just fixed the exact same problem thanks to you. Really great that you went to the trouble to post this very clear fix, thanks again

  14. Riccardo says:

    Hi, I have had the same problem many years ago. I didn’t use Tascam porta 05 for a couple of years. When I decided to resurrect it again I found out the tape was stuck exactly as it happened to you. The only solution was disassembling it. I made all the steps you did and in a couple of hours it was ready to record. The only problem I have is the #1 micro/line slider is not working anymore, and I must find out where to find a replacement.

  15. Patrick says:

    Hey guys, I have a similar problem with my porta-one. The play and record functions work, but rewind and fast forward do not. the buttons depress and I can hear the motor working faster, but the tape does not spin. After about a second or two of not spinning, the fast forward or rewind buttons pop back up, as if it were at the end of the tape. Anybody have any ideas? I’m sure I could find another porta one pretty cheap but my dad bought this one back in the eighties and gave it to me so it has sentimental value. If I can fix it it would be awesome…. any ideas?

  16. Patrick says:

    So i took it apart today, it was a broken belt actually. I’m found TASCAM’s product page belt section but I don’t know which belt it is that broke. It connects the rewind/fast forward wheel to the wheel that turns the tape… anyone know what that is referred to as?

  17. Charlie Low says:

    Exact problem solved by following your guide – Thanks Heaps. Tip: If you can’t find replacement belts, I bought a bag of mixed rubber bands from Officeworks that will keep your machine running for months on end without breaking. Be surprised how many CD players I’ve repaired with the same bag.

  18. robbie says:

    hi. i’m looking to purchase a porta 05, anyone want to sell? needs to work and come with adapter. thanks.

  19. robbie says:

    also, must ship from U.S. thanks.

  20. Lisa Nielsen says:

    Robbie, I have a Porta 05 for purchase. I don’t know anything about it, but it comes with manual and a Tape Head Demagnetizer. It belonged to my husband who passed away years ago. He loved it!

  21. Robbie says:

    Thank you Lisa. Are you in the U.S.? Can you plug it in, put a tape in it, and make sure it works? What would you want for it including shipping?

    ps Thanks Paul!

  22. Lisa Nielsen says:

    oops. I didn’t think about the power adapter. It wasn’t in the case. Let me check to see if I can find the AC adapter PS-P2 that was originally provided. I’m asking $70 which includes U.S. shipping. It will be shipped from Arizona.

  23. Klaas says:

    🙂
    was just working on the Tascam Porta Two and while playing, it get stuck the same way…
    i opened it, searched a while and then gave it a push on the same wheal you also mention here.
    done !!! recorder running again.
    nice to see you encountered the same problem before.
    thanks for putting the info up

  24. Greg says:

    Thanks for posting this! I have a porta two that had the same problem (stuck transport) & was debating whether to shell out the $30 or so for the service manual. I followed your steps (thanks for supplying the pictures, they were a big help…) & the transport retracted as it should.

  25. Riley says:

    i have got the same problem! same recorder too, while trying to push the flywheel with the cotton bud shoould i be doing anything else at the same time? or observing? and which direction should i be turning it in? for how long?
    i was just confused about this part. thank you!

    -R

  26. creacog says:

    If it’s the same problem, the issue is that the motor is turning, but the flywheel is not. I think because at the narrow end where the motor is, the belt had been in that position for so long it has set to that shape and the motor spindle is just slipping inside the belt. The purpose of nudging the flywheel is to shift the belt out of the rut that it has been sat in for so long. So either direction is fine. Once moved, in my case, the belt gripped at the motor end and started to turn the flywheel. If the cotton bud isn’t strong enough, maybe use something stronger. It was enough in my case. Failing all the above, you might need to replace the belt – doing so goes beyond my experience.

  27. Scott says:

    Like the others, I had the same issue with my Porta05. The heads had been locked forward for years (like about 16 years.) I was looking up recorders so I could salvage my small library of master tapes and mix them down to digital storage. Ran across your post and I followed the steps you did – it worked like a charm. Just listened to my 2-year-old singing his first song (he is 24 now). Thank you for leaving this post up.

  28. Judy says:

    Wow … so glad I stumbled on this post. Thought the problem was that the recorder cover had fallen off! Don’t think I have had my porta two working since mid 90s. Opened the unit to re-fix the cover and noticed when removing the cover that there was a problem with the position of the recording heads – in a strange position. Then I realised the recording head was indeed stuck and nothing was spinning! However I could hear the motor so followed your advice and hey presto it worked… Got to sell it now which is a shame but I know it will be treasured. Thank you so much for this invaluable posting….

  29. cmb says:

    Just wanted to say thanks for the step by step fix. I bought this used about six years ago and it has never worked. It had the exact same problem as yours. Today I decided to fix it. I googled the issue, found your post, followed the steps and voilà, within 20 minutes it’s fixed. Watch that pitch control knob though. Mine fell back inside and I had to carefully shake it out.

  30. Otto Matt says:

    Hello, creacog. Once again thank you very much for your fix. I replaced the belt with a rubber band, and now, my play button is working! But there’s still a few problems:
    The “rewind” and “forward” buttons are working like 1 out of 5 times. It’s really annoying. Do you have any idea where does that come from?
    The play button doesn’t work at all. Same question.

    Thank you very much!

  31. creacog says:

    @Otto Matt
    > where does that come from?
    Dare I say “from using a rubber band”
    Basically a rubber band isn’t a great idea for this because:
    * It stretches
    * It perishes – it will fall apart in 6 months to a year, and go slack well ahead of then.
    So when you press the buttons, it is probably stretching rather than providing traction. If you did get it to play, you’d probably find the speed varied.
    You really need to find a proper drive belt at the right size which : won’t stretch and won’t rot. Worth asking Tascam if they stock the part. http://tascam.com/contact/parts/

  32. Otto Matt says:

    Thanks for the quick answer.
    You’re probably right. But the thing is that the original belt doesn’t work either. Maybe too old, and in that case, i don’t know the model.

  33. creacog says:

    @Otto
    Porta05 is listed on the form I link to in my earlier reply. I think it worth asking the question via that form. Maybe they can advise of an equivalent if they no longer stock official drive belts. I’m sorry I can’t help further – I was just glad to get mine working without having to replace the belt. I would be interested to hear how you get on.

  34. Motava says:

    You’ve brought another Porta back to life! Many, many thanks.

  35. Jo says:

    Hi!

    Just wanted to say thanks so much for this info as I had the exact same problem & following your instructions my Porta 05 is now working perfectly!

    Cheers,

    Jo

  36. Jo says:

    Ok, so I might’ve spoken a bit too soon—Any idea why the record function LED is still blinking once the Buss’ are in safe mode? It means I can’t monitor playback..
    Thanks in advance, Jo

  37. creacog says:

    @Jo, sorry no idea really, When you put the top back on, the bus-sliders fit back onto the actual switches ok?

  38. Jo says:

    Thanks, yeah.. I thought this then read your comment—It wasn’t on properly! Thanks again

  39. Pablo SP says:

    Hi!

    I inherited a new unit of this amazing recorder from a box of “trash” at my uncle’s home.
    It looks new but I had the same F***** problem.

    I fixed it and it works fine!!

    Thanks for the tutorial.
    You deserve a COLD BEER MAN!!!

    Cheers from Spain!

  40. Alessio says:

    Thank you so much for posting this! My own Porta05 had exactly this problem around 2005, and I unfortunately gave it away because I couldn’t find a way to fix it. I regret that so much, it was near mint condition. Now I found a used & battered one with the same issue. And thanks to your tip that’s now fixed!

  41. Neil says:

    Cheers. I found that spinning the wheel backwards forced it back into position. It worked then all of a sudden it didn’t again. Took it all apart and went through the steps and ran play/stop many times which seemed to do the trick. There maybe a bit of dirt in a mechanism that needed to be dislodged. I think you were lucky that it worked first time. Fingers cross whatever it was is gone now. Thanks for the tutorial.

  42. Mark IJ. says:

    Another one saved! 🙂 Off to make some cool loops!
    Thanks so much!

  43. Carrillion says:

    Top work!

    This woorked first time for me – though I did have to destroy the cassette that was stuck in there to get the thing apart!

    Many thanks – really appreciate it!

    Si

  44. German Saucedo says:

    Have another problem. My Porta05 will load the cassette and the heads will come forward to play but not far enough, they will come for a couple of seconds and then back up, if I force the head assembly to come all the way forward it will play and record but I have to keep pressure to do this. Any help will be appreciated. Email at: tadeo1_us@yahoo.com thanks

  45. creacog says:

    Sorry – I don’t know what would be causing this. Posted your comment in-case anyone else can help. Good luck.

  46. Paul says:

    Sounds like it could be this issue:

    http://www.somewhereoutwest.com/porta-two.html

    I just fixed a Porta One with this exact problem.

  47. John says:

    Thanks very much for going to the trouble of posting this solution, it is greatly appreciated. You’ve saved me a lot of heartache.

  48. john d says:

    Wow Wow (porta studio 05), such excellence from someone who knows what they do, And is fantastic you have cured my probs and may you still be in possetion of your portastudio, And still having fun.
    good on ya! sir and thank you.

    J. D.

  49. Evan says:

    Thanks for the “Close-up showing heads fixed forward” photo, I was putting my 4-track back together after a repair and totally forgot how to install the rubber belt that drives the 000 counter.

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