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Barco Retrodata 808s CRT projector advice

1962 Views 18 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  secstate
hi everyone!,

I was offered a Barco Retrodata 808s crt projector today and would like some additional advice if anyone knows enough about these :)

I asked a friend who repairs crt projectors about this model and He told me he didnt know a great deal about them because

they were a rare model of the barcodata 808s built mainly for use in rear barco projection tv's & some other specialised fields.

He mentioned they were one of the most sought after barco crt projectors after the cine 8 oynx because they were built

with a heavy duty aliminium chassis for cooling & longer life, maximum heat dissapasion, liquid coupled lenses,

colour corrected lenses, the optional iris plus other stuff i didnt have time to write down.

He also told me these were the ONLY Barco 8" with liquid coupled tubes apart from the cine 8 onyx and to find one with low tube hours was almost impossible.

The one i am looking at has 1641 hours.

Now to me... a non projector person this all sounds impressive.... and although he did seem to know something about these

im after some advice from a few more people before I shell out a large wad of $$$ to own one :) a second or third opinion never hurts :)

Thankyou to anyone able to help!
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It all depends on the price. What is the seller asking for the unit? If it's the right price I'd buy it, pull the projector out of it and send the cabinet to the junkyard.

I don't know very much about the Barco's but I can tell you that the Barco 808s is a very very very nice projector, and with 1641 hours this thing is almost new! But you never know. Always check the conition of the tubes before diving in.

Your friend is right in some respects and wrong in others at least as far as I know. All Barco 8" retros (rear projection) including the older 800 series were liquid coupled. For front projection only the Cine8 Onyx was liquid coupled along with some Runco derivatives of the Barco 808 series. I don't know that I would classify the Barco 808s Retro as one of the most sought after Barco projectors but for rear projection it would be Barco's best.

If you want a great rear projector then, yes this would be an excellent one. As for conversion to front projection as the previous poster suggested, I am not sure that these can be easily converted. I know about the older 800 retros and those had special short throw lenses and I believe chassis is arranged differently. From discussions here previously (search the archives) it seemed that converting an 800 Retro would take a considerable level of effort to make it a front projector. I am assuming that an 808 Retro to front projection would face similar challenges.

808 Retrodatas are somewhat uncommon, there have been several up on Ebay recently that sold in the $800-1300US range. However I suspect that given the difficulty in shipping these beasts (I believe they weigh over 300 pounds) I am not surprised that the prices might be lower on Ebay than one you could pickup and inspect locally. Also I believe the Ebay ones had considerably more hours on them. The hour count is very low on yours.

Check the tubes. Also check to see whether any glycol has leaked out. The Barco 800 Retros are famous for leaking coolant and once it has leaked the projector is basically a write-off as the way these things were designed the coolant leaks all over the electronics and causes no end of problems. I don't know whether the 808 Retro has the problem or not but check and check carefully.
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Hi Guys!

thanks for the fast responses!!!!

One thing, the unit is a standalone, theres no cabinet or tv :) Its been converted to a front display projector.

Ive seen the tubes too, they all look a bleached white color? (is that right? arent they supposed to be red blue and green??)

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Hmmm... Are you sure it started out as a Retro then? The bleached white color is what you would expect of new/low hour tubes. But I also believe that also means they are not color corrected. I would ask to bring up the information screen of the Barco to see what type of machine it claims to be. Though I am not sure I think it would identify itself as a Retro if that what it started life as.
Ok the output for the screen was:



Project Address: 0

Software Version 7.22

Config: Front/Table

Baudrate PC: 9600

Text: Off

Hope this helps somewhat...

ALso i tried looking for any forums containing th retrodata conversion but failed to find anything :(

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It is in the archives not the regular forums:


Well it sounds like sombody did the conversion. The question I would still have is whether it is still liquid coupled or not. Perhaps somebody who knows more about the 808 retro will chime in, but I don't know whether you could change the lenes and still keep the liquid coupling. Very interesting though.....
Well when i saw it I noticed there was clear tubes going around near the tubes, they had a red innertube? i think it was an innertube could have been liquid. The bloke selling it to me told me this was the liquid coupling.

Thanks for all your help so far :)
Hmmm, clear outer tube with red inner tube sounds like the HV line not a liquid coupling line. Did it look like this wire in the picture in this auction? ( http://*******.com/3buda ). If so that is the HV line. The gycol should be clear unless it is color corrected. Then it would match the color of the tube (green for green and red for red). Blue is generally not color corrected.
Bottom line appears to be the seller is selling a Retrodata that has been converted to front projection or they have taken the computer out of a Retrodata and put it in a regular front projector. Bottom line it sounds like you are basically dealing with a low hour Barco Data 808s front projector. I am not convinnced that with its conversion it would have any additional qualities over a regular Barco Data 808s though the lower hour count if accurate is a bonus (I say if accurate because if the computer was transplanted, I believe the hour count would reprent the machine the computer was in). Assuming the seller is try to pass off the HV line as a liquid coupling I have some concerns about their honesty/knowledge of projectors.
Yeh your right about the ht lines. I just wish i had it here so I could take photos :(

But Its definately a retrodata, Ive never seen a standard barco 808 in this shape. Its way bigger although not as long just taller. Its had the control panel mounted in the top of the unit and a hole drilled for the remote. I can see the hole for the control has been cut with a dremel or something.

He had it setup on a 90" screen and it did look great.

I dont know what the lenses are but I wrote down what was written on them "HD-214 5/21/97"

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Ahhh so it isn't shaped like a regular Barco Data 808s. The lenses you listed are short throw. The regular Barco 808 front projectors are HD-8 lenses. So it probably still is liquid coupled. The shorter throw lenes mean that the projector will have to be closer to the screen than a regular Barco Data 808s. Also I don't know how well they would focus on larger screens size. The Retros where usually 67" diagonal. You said it looked great at 90" so that may not be a problem. Basically the projector hasn't been converted in anyway it sounds like it is just thebottom half of the retro with its case removed.

If you can live with the odd shape, case, and the possiblity you might be limited in screen size, you might want to consider it. I certainly wouldn't pay any sort of preimum for it though. I am not sure the liquid couplilng would out weigh the other factors to me. I think I would pass unless I was getting it at a signficant discount to what I would pay for a similiar Barco 808s front projector.
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As someone very familiar with the Barco retro's 600/800/& especially the 801s, I have to concur with everything secstate has said here. Unfortunately, the retro 808s is a little different from those models and I'm not familiar with that particular configuration....so what I have to say is based mostly on the 801s. Also, it is possible to convert them to FP, but it's very complex and not for the feint-hearted.

Indeed it sounds like a converted 808s, and the HD-214 are short-throw lenses. All 8" retros are liquid-coupled. However, since the chassis was designed ONLY to be used in the retro cabinet, many physical adjustments are NOT available and are 'fixed.'

For example, you cannot mechanically move the red and blue tube assemblies to converge for a smaller or larger screen....unless certain mounting holes are drilled out into slots. Even then, those tubes have to first be mounted farther apart from the green because there is no wiggle room for them to move otherwise. That means you have to drill all new holes/slots for both the red and blue CRT mounts. I know, I've done this myself.

Also, no Scheimplug. And the lenses are fixed at 0 degrees to the screen. That's great for the original retro design as there's no keystoning needed and efficient use of the phoshor is allowed. However, in a FP configuration this means the PJ has to be mounted dead-on to the middle of the screen. Assuming no ability to adjust the angles of the red and blue, and that the retro was originally a 67-incher....the PJ's lenses would have to be hanging straight back from the center of the screen about 7 feet. Not pretty, and you'll have only a 67" diagonal image.

BUT....even if you can mechanically adjust the red and blue, those short-throw lenses will focus only out to about 100" diagonal, wherein you begin to run into edge-focus limitation. Supposedly, different lenses for a slightly longer throw and larger image were made....but are extremely rare.

By the way, setting up such a projector for rear projection would be great, with or without mirrors. A PJ hanging in the middle of the room behind a rear screen would be acceptable. And if the red and blue mounts have been modded...you could go up to 100" RP (we have a 90-inch LF screen).

Now, back to FP. To be able to conventionally mount that sucker either on the ceiling or near the floor (e.g, a coffee table), the metal chambers that contain the fluid for coupling would have to be removed, a custom-made spacer ring installed to give you something like an 11-degree offset on each lens, and then everything sealed back up. Lots-o-fun....and very messy. LC'd units that have Scheimplug have a clear bladder system in that chamber that allows for dynamic adjustments to the lens assembly relative to the actual CRT....and a flexible seal. Nice, and expensive.

Again, some of what I've said I know applies to other Barco retros as I have no first-hand experience with the 808s version. But my guess is that they probably still apply. The question is, how many of these mods have been made?

- Chris
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Wow, it is even more complicated that I thought. I have never really dug into a Barco Retro. I have looked at some government surplus 800/801s as a back up to my Barco 808 Data FP. I gave up on the notion though after I went with a fixed rather than pull down screen. I am glad my educated guesses were fairly accurate :).

based on whats been said here I think I'll let this one go and look for a stand alone barco 808.

Thanks for all the help and good advice!
If the price is less than USD$1000 and you have a particular situation that can make good use of it, then it might be worthwhile (especially if those hours are accurate). If more than that, and you are looking for a standard FP unit, pass.

Meant to mention earlier: The fluid in a liquid-coupled CRT HAS to be clear. This is because the plastic C-element holding that fluid in that chamber is concave. It would make the light path from the CRT face pass through thicker/darker fluid near the edges, and thinner/lighter fluid at the center. LC assemblies that are color-corrected have a specially coated C-element with the color of choice carefully applied.

bytraper - since you earlier used the term "bloke," I'm guessing that neither you nor the PJ in question is in the 'states.' UK, down under?

- Chris
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I would love to get a low hour retro 808s to use in my family room as a day to day TV.

The picture from them is streets ahead of ANY of the current RP T.V.'s you can buy.

I wouldn't remove the projector from the case. Its a bit heavy, but wow fantastic general purpose T.V. for use in a daylight environment.

Only ones I have ever seen have been in the USA :-(

Yep, that is why I wanted one so I could watch it during the day or on stuff that was less critical. It is too bad in a way that somebody appears to have screwed this one up. I suspect the screen was damaged or scratched and they couldn't sell it that way. I almost bought one near me (I live in North Amerca but obviously did not want to pay shipping or risk damaging the screen). Unfortuantely it had 24,000 hours on it which was too much for me. I have also considered picking up an 801 Retro but these were government surplus which limits your ability to inspect them and I am afraid to take my chances only to find the dreaded gycol leak everywhere.

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