Preserving VHS with tape markers (NTSC)
Hi all, I suppose it's easiest if I start from the beginning and describe what I'm faced with.
I'm actually an arcade collector and preservationist, and we've found an arcade system which uses VHS tapes for live video with the game system itself essentially drawing an overlay. The VHS player seems to be a very old off-the-shelf model with a wire connected remote control, and the system plugs in where the remote would be.
My problem is that it has come with a number of tapes for different games (a game is supplied as a tape and a number of ROM chips), and the number one priority is to try to preserve the contents of the tapes as well as making a clone to test the system with. Even if the player that came with it works I'm not too happy about the idea of putting an irreplaceable tape inside and hitting play to see what will happen. It's literally the only known example of the system and the only known copies of the tapes.
As far as we are aware the tapes are standard NTSC format and it would be a fair guess to assume that they are using tape index markers so that the system can tell the VCR where to position the tape. It's one of the most obscure hardware systems I've encountered, until this turned up the earliest ones we knew of used laserdisc with later models using CD and DVD.
What hardware would I need to back these tapes up including any markers, and are there any good VCR models which can be used to read (and write) this format of tape which I might be able to find in the UK? Alternatively does anybody know of any companies providing this kind of service? Until today I didn't even know that index markers on VHS tapes existed, are there different types or generally would you expect one written by one player to be understood by another?
Apologies if there are any mistakes, unfortunately workplace injury leaves me using speech recognition at the moment.