Forbidden DV Secrets
The TRV900 Service Manual

Actually, the service manual for the TRV900 isn't secret at all. You can call up Sony Parts & Accessories at 1-800-488-7669 and get one yourself for $29.- plus tax/shipping. Or enter part number 9-974-107-82 into the "Part Number" space on this page: (This is, if you live in the USA. Sony USA will ship the manual to any address in the USA but they will not ship it overseas and you cannot order it in Europe. Sorry. ) I was curious so I ordered a manual. It covers the DCR-TRV900 (NTSC) and the DCR-TRV900E (PAL) and TRV890E (PAL, no external video input). These various models are in most respects the same, although some components differ (eg, there are different CCD chips for PAL vs. NTSC). You can see a few pages from the manual here.

Information Of Possible Interest:

The camera has yaw and pitch sensors near the front, used in the steadyshot feature. I think they are miniature, tuning-fork type rate gyros, which sense rotation by a change in the plane of oscillation relative to the fixed base as you rotate them.

The eight contacts on the "intelligent accessory shoe" are labeled in order:  Shoe_Unreg, Lanc_sig, Shoe_ID1, Shoe_ID2, Shoe_Mic_R, Mic_gnd, Shoe_Mic_L, Shoe_Gnd. That first item "Shoe_Unreg" is unregulated (but power switched) +8.4V from the battery. It may be turned only only when one or both of the Shoe_IDn signals is asserted, I'm not sure. Note that Shoe_Mic_L is connected to both R and L audio inputs internally; and Shoe_Mic_R is simply connected to ground internally. No, I don't know why.

The camera stores the running time (hours of drum rotation time) up to 9999 hours 59 minutes in internal, nonvolatile memory. Also stored is the date (year/month/day) of initial user power on, and the date of the most recent condensation event ("dew" indicator). Memory is maintained by an internal +3V lithium battery, not user accessible. Reset may possibly clear this memory (?). You can only read out this data if you have the RM-95 service remote though. As of 3/19/99 I had 172 hours on the heads, meaning that I've averaged very close to 1 hour of use every day since I bought the camera. I had no problems in the first year, but after that it started damaging tapes.

The DV transport section recommends head and tape path cleaning every 500 hours of use, and lists checkpoint items and servicing up to 5000 hours of use. I don't know if this is excessive optimism or not.

The audio performance spec is as follows: playback distortion less than 0.4% (200Hz-6kHz BPF on audio meter) for recorded input signal of 400 Hz, -66dBs signal into MIC left and right. Noise level, below -45dBs (IHF-A filter on, 20kHz LPF on) playback with shorting plug in MIC jack during record. (I don't know what "dBs" means, I would have expected dBV or some other voltage or power unit.)

It is apparently possible to adjust both the automatic white balance color point and the automatic gain level (minimum light level) using service adjustments. For almost any service you need the RM-95 wired remote. For these color and gain adjustments you would need in addition a vector scope and a standard pattern box (light box) with front color chart panel.  Here are some adjustments which are done using the RM-95:

manual page      description of adjustment

5-12            inner focus flange back adjustment/check
5-13            picture frame offset/centering
5-14            pre white balance/ auto white balance input
5-15            max gain adjustement
5-15            normal coefficient of light value (white bal.)
5-16            white balance ND filter compensation adjustment
5-15            auto white color teperature correction
5-17            color difference matrix coefficient (ND off, on)
5-19            rotation rate sensor adj. (steadyshot)
5-23            color viewfinder bright, contrast adjust
5-24            backlight current, white balance
5-26            LCD D range, brightness
5-27            LCD contrast
5-28            LCD white balance

5-41            battery end-of-life voltage setpoint
5-43            tape playback AGC level adjust
5-45            chroma BPF center freq. adj.
5-45            S-video out Y level adj
5-46            S-video out chroma level adj
5-53            IR carrier freq. adj (11.85 MHz nom), deviation

There are a few other adjustments, like internal reference oscillator tunings, and some which are obscure and explained only by unfamiliar acronyms. Note that these are really service adjustments and tweeks to enable cheaper manufacturing by use of fewer precision components in the analog circuits. Some people want to imagine all sorts of "pro" type controls like image sharpness, but I think you will not find them here.

If you have a RM-95 and feel the need to change your settings from the factory default by yourself, I advise you to get the service manual. I would encourage you not to alter any settings, unless you are confident that you know what you are doing. I haven't changed any settings myself, and I haven't heard from anyone who has.

There is a company in the UK, selling a software emulator for the RM-95 called the PC95.

*RM-95 remote commander (part code J-6082-053-B) needs newer micro: UPD7503G-C56-12, part number 8-759-148-35.
Note: FYI, when I called that exact same Sony number for that exact same RM95 they said they no longer sold that item and to contact Fox International 800.321.6993. They sold it to me for $65 + shipping & tax. Chateau LindaMar (markwell at,

There is a main manual with fold-out sections showing the schematics and assembly drawings, plus servicing procedures. There are two separate smaller manuals covering adjustments and operation of the "C mechanism" MiniDV tape drive assembly. The first impression you get from the manual is that the camera is a stunningly complex piece of equipment; the sheer number of mechanical parts is phenomenal. (Although I have to admit, looking at the service manual for my Toyota I had the same feeling just about the transmission.) The circuit diagrams are extensive but as with any modern electronics, they look mostly like block diagrams since all the real complexity is inside the many LSI logic chips. Here are just a few of them:

      Function            ID #       Part #       # of pins

CCD Imager (NTSC) IC100,1,2 ICX216AL-13 14 CCD Imager (PAL) IC100,1,2 ICX217AL-13 14 Video S/H, AGC IC203 CXA2107R-T4 48 R,G,B A/D convertor IC204,5,6 ADS933Y/2K 48 (20 MHz, 10 bit ADC?) Y/C separator IC300 CXD3116AR-T6 100 PCMCIA control IC751 HD6437042AP10XSZ 120 JPEG IC757 RL5V834/E2H 64 Honey (!?) IC756 CXD3133AR 144 Base Band input IC1200 SC371053FTAEB 80 IR Transmitter IC1403 LA9511W-TBM 48 (Video) Line Out Amp IC1402 AN2222FBQ-EB 32 Video Interface IC1501 M65511WG-600D 120 DCT/IDCT IC1600 HG73C037BPTL 100 ECC/PTG IC1601 CXD3129R-T6 100 DV interface IC1602 CXD3200R-T6 80 A/D convertor, PLL IC1814 CXA2071R-T4 48 Rec/PB Amp IC1816 CXA2072R-T4 48 Timing, Sync IC1900 F712504BPM-TEB 64 Audio in/out select IC2001 AN2902FHQ-AEB 48 Audio A/D, D/A: IC2002 PCM3006T/T2 24 (Burr-Brown codec) LCD driver IC5001 CXA8115AR-T4 48 LCD driver IC7200 BU9729K-E2 32 Mic amplifier IC7301 BA7780KV-E2 64 (Rohm mic amp)

Here is the signal path from the CCD to the tape heads:
IC100,101,102   red,green,blue CCD chips
IC203           Sample-Hold,  AGC
IC205,6,7:      red,green,blue A/D converters
IC300           separator (converts RGB to Y/C)
IC756           labelled "honey";  perhaps a logic "glue" chip
IC1501          blocking, shuffling, digital effects encoder
IC1600          DCT/IDCT, estimation, quantize, VLC/VLD framing, ADSP interleave/deinterleave
IC1601          ECC/PTG, deshuffling/encode/decode, conceal, TBC
IC1900          clock conv. viterbi timing gen, sync detect,ID detect
IC1816          Rec/PB amp <-> video heads
IC1600/1601 also connects to IC1602, "DV Interface" which goes direct to the firewire port.


The manual does describe all the adjustments and memory pages for use with the service remote RM-95. For most you also need an oscilloscope and/or vector scope, and for tape path work, various alignment tapes. There isn't really anything in the service manual which is useful for me as a regular camera user. The one item of any interest was head running time, which you can read out with a RM95 as described here. The manual came with a yellow "NOTICE" sheet which is reproduced below. By the way, if the camera does need service I think you still deal through your local Sony rep, it just means that the local place presumably ships it to one of the six listed sites.



Sony Electronics Inc. repair policy is as follows:
This unit can only be repaired at the following Sony locations:

Fremont, CA.
Costa Mesa, CA.
Niles, IL.
Dallas, TX.
Bristol, PA.
Boston, MA.

No one other than a qualified Sony technician repairs this unit.

Should a repair be needed, it is by company policy to bring or ship the unit to their nearest Sony Service Center. Please call 1-800-342-5721 for addresses and store hours.

Thank you for your cooperation.

The above notice was included on the manual in 1999. Sony has meanwhile changed this notice and it now contains the additional text:


at bottom: "No one other than a qualified Sony technician repairs this unit." has been changed to
"No one else is authorized for this repair. All warranty is void if anyone other than a qualified Sony technician repairs this unit."

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