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CRT Primer

Updated: July 2006




Barco projectors are made in Belgium, and are long known in the pro video industry as a very high end of projectors. I understand that Barco has recently archived a lot of specifications of discontinued models on their website. Barco is still one of two or three manufacturers making CRT projectors.

Barco started with video projectors around 1983-1984 with the Barco Vision, Barco Data and Vstar lines. I understand that the Vstar models were made specifically for the airline industry and the all of the projectors that I have seen from this era have weak tubes and usually have numerous circuit problems due to the age. I do not actively sell projectors that are this old, although I do have the service manuals and some parts for these sets.

Barco then came out with the Barco 400 and Barco 600 video projectors. The 400 and 600 are very similar in design and performance. They use 7” SD-187 Sony tubes with ES focus, have analog convergence, and scan to 64 Khz with 600 lumens light output. Thousands have been sold, and many are on the surplus market.

Barco 600

These projectors must be used in conjunction with either a little plug in controller module on the back of the projector, or with a Barco RCVDS 4 switcher unit that acts as a  video selector and  video to RGB decoder. Note that these two projectors usually only have the RGB inputs working despite the fact that they have video input connectors on the projector. The video card was an option on these sets, and hardly any of the sets I get in have had this video card installed. Also, most of the surplus projectors do not come with the plug in controller or with the RCVDS 4 unit, so you may end up needing more components before you get a watchable picture.

Barco 1000, 1001, and 1500: These are a series of 9” analog convergence projectors that  Barco came out with from about 1989 to 1993. All very similar to the Barco 600 chassis, but used 9” Sony ES focus tubes, called the SD-146A. A great picture when properly set up, but Barco drove these tubes quite hard, and sudden tube failures were common. These tubes are hard to find on the used market, and are insanely expensive if purchased new. Some of these sets were video and S-video only, specifically the Vision versions of these sets. Others, sometimes labelled ‘HDTV’ would only scan to 32 Khz, and will not support the 1080i HDTV standard of today (remember that these sets came out in 1986 to 1989, long before today’s HDTV hit the market). Some sets scan to 64 Khz and are good to line quadrupling. See the three Barco spreadsheets in the Barco 808 Downloads section for more information. 1000 to 1500 lumen rating for these 9” ES focusing sets.

In around 1990, Barco came out with the 500 and 800 models. The 500 is a 7” version of the 8” Barco 800. The 500 put out 600 lumens, the 800 put out 825 lumens. The projectors have digital convergence which is very easy to set up, and lots of on screen menus to guide you through the setup procedure. ES focus on all of these sets. The 500 used the Sony SD 187 tubes, the 800 used the 07MP tubes. Barco also made a 9" version of the 800 called the 1600. Same functionality as the 800, just larger tubes for more light output.

Barco Graphics 800

In about 1993 Barco came out with the Barco 801. The 801 was very similar to the 800, but had an extra circuit called AKB that compensates for picture tube wear. Basically the same overall picture as the Barco 800. ES focus on this set as well. This set used the later version 07MSP tubes that were slightly sharper than the 07MP tubes.

There are two versions of Barco 500 and 800 as well as other Barco models. There are Graphics and Data models of most projectors. The Data models use hybrid lenses and do not scan as high as the Graphics versions, which also have all glass lenses. The Graphics are somewhat more desirable, but in most cases the scan rate of the Data projectors is more than adequate for home theatre use.

The Data 500, 800 and 801 scan to 58 Khz, (line tripling), the Graphics scan to 92 Khz.

Barco Data 701

In 1992 to 1994 Barco had a model called the Barco 700 and 701. This was designed more for the home market as the case was small and very streamlined looking. 7” Sony ES focus tubes, about 600-700 lumens, and scan rates varying from 36 Khz to 60 Khz depending on the model.  This unit had digital convergence, and a very nice picture if the tubes are in good shape. This model was not as modular as other Barco modules, requiring the projector to be sent in as a whole when servicing was required.  A short while later the 701s was introduced and upped the lumens rating to 1000 and introduced component inputs.  The 708 is an even newer version still which introduced some circuit modifications and the IRIS autoconvergence camera. . The Cine 7 replaced the 708 in about 1998. Again, minor circuit changes were made, and used a slightly better version of the original Toshiba tube made by MEC. The MEC tube is more expensive than the Toshiba tubes, but held the focusing ability for a longer period of time.

In late 1993 Barco introduced a new series of  video projectors, the 808, 1208, 1200, 1209, 1609, and 1101.

Barco Data 808s

The 808 and 1208 were 8” tubes with the improved EM focus, the 1101, 1200 and 1209 used 9” tubes with EM focus. Many of these models also had Data and Graphics models, with varying scan rates, and all were rated at 1000 lumens or higher. Digital convergence on all of these models and lots of on screen menus.

Depending on the model and production run, the 808 either used Sony or MEC tubes. The MEC’s are rebuildable and the Sony's are not. The Sony tubes are at least $1400.00 USD each to replace, the MEC’s can be rebuilt for $600.00 USD each.

All of these sets give an excellent picture and have been a popular seller when I get them in.

Barco Cine 8

I get far fewer 9” projectors in, but the 808 and 1208 are usually in stock.

The Barco 808 was made until about 1998, and has been replaced with the Cine 8. I have not worked with these projectors as I have never had any in on the used market yet. Very high end projectors though.

The Barco 9” sets started with the Graphics 1200. This set came out in 1993 and was in production until about 1995. This set used the same Sony tubes as the Sony 1292 and was razor sharp. The Sony tubes are not rebuildable however failure of this tube is rare. The Barco 1200 was a reliable chassis, and was replaced by the 1609 and 1209 sometime in 1995 or so.

Barco Graphics 1209s

The 1209 and 1609 switched to MEC tubes, the same tubes used in the Marquee 9XXX series. These tubes are rebuildable, and the 1209 had expanded software for more control over the projected image.

The 1609 was a stripped down 1209 with less software control than the 1209, but the limitation of the 1609 was very limited scan rates. The 1609 will scan at 15 Khz (video), 32 Khz (line doubling) and 64 Khz (line quadrupling). The set therefore will not scan at 1080i for HDTV or 720p which is line tripling. The 1609 can be paired with a scaler however such as the DVDO VP30 or the Lumagen HDP to convert the input signal to a scan rate that the 1609 can lock to.

Barco strengths and weaknesses

In general, the Barcos have held up very well, other than the 1XXX series as noted above. Barcos are  very modular, and about 98% of the components can be changed out without picking up a soldering iron.

Barco Cine 7

Most Barcos have a series of diagnostic lights within the chassis that make it easy to narrow down the problem area of a projector if it fails. I have serviced and repaired many Barco projectors via email or phone, with about 80% of the projectors being repaired the first time I send out refurbished boards.

Barcos are known to develop bad solder connections, specifically in the main power supply area. The Barco 500, 800 have the unique problem that if a certain solder connection fails on the power supply, all three tubes can be burnt instantly. Once the solder joint is repaired however, the problem never appears. I make a habit of resoldering all solder connections prior to selling these sets, and any power supply sent to me for repair has all connections resoldered as well..

Barco Cine 9

Barco parts are insanely expensive from Barco themselves, however thanks to the large amount of projectors on the surplus market, several resellers such as myself have a large inventory of rebuild modules and other parts in stock at a fraction of the original purchase price. I sell all parts on an exchange basis; you send me back the defective module so I can rebuild it and sell it at a later date.

Barco projectors with digital convergence are very easy to set up for convergence, and the manuals are very well written.

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