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Specto 500 8 mm silent projector

This post is the first in a short series which looks at the Specto 500, a standard 8 cine projector which was made in the UK in the early 1950s. This part is an introduction to the projector with some pictures.

Specto 500 Images

The gallery below shows some images of the Specto 500 projector.

My Specto 500 Projector

I bought my Specto 500 projector from eBay because I want a vintage projector to show my collection of 8 mm films with. Although I have various more modern projectors, mostly Eumig machines, I wanted a machine which has a more traditional vintage look and the Specto 500 certainly meets that requirement.

Specto 500 8mm cine projector - Crack in the resistive voltage dropper
Crack in the resistive voltage dropper

The unit was bought as working, but with some problems - the main one being a large crack in the ceramic resistor which is used to drop the 240v mains down to 110v to drive the projector lamp. This seems to be a common problem because I've seen various images of Specto 500 units with the same problem on eBay.

I wasn't particularly worried about this fault, because my intention at some point is to replace the original lamp with a 10W LED light, so the resistor will be removed and replaced with an LED driver, but until I have checked the wiring out I haven't yet applied power to the unit.

Other than the cracked dropper resistor, everything else about the projector seems in order. Assuming the motor runs, which I'll find out once I've checked the wiring over, the projector should work fine because everything seems to work using the manual drive knob.

Specto 500 Description

Different versions of the Specto 500 model were made to show 8 mm film, as with the model featured in this article, and also 9.5 mm and 16 mm film.

I have no instruction book for the Projector, so I'm having to work out how to use it by a process of trial and error.

One interesting feature of the Specto 500 is that the film arms can be folded into the body of the machine to make it more compact for transport, and actually form the carrying handle. The top arm has a clip which the bottom arm fits into to lock them in place allowing the weight of the projector to be carried.

The main operation is fairly obvious; once the arms are extended, the film is threaded manually through the top sprocket, formed into a loop and passed through the film gate (swinging it away from the projector to allow this) and then after another loop, threaded through the bottom sprocket and onto the take-up reel.

The main control at the bottom of the projector has settings of M, 1-L-2 which I assume turn on the motor, and then the lamp. Next to the main switch is a variable which controls the motor speed.

The film gate can be swung away from the body of the projector to easily clean it and for threading the film. Once the gate is away from the body it's possible to get access to the claw which moves the film forward, so it can be cleaned and lubricated.

My intention is to remove the bottom plate on the projector and check the wiring to make sure there are no serious problems and then replace the 500W lamp with a 10W LED unit, wiring it into the original switch so the projector operates in the same way it did originally. Assuming I can get that done, I'll post another article showing how I did it and how I cleaned up the projector's mechanism.

Specto 500 Specifications

  • Specto 500 8mm film projector (9.5mm and 16mm versions made)
  • Projector film arms double as carrying handle
  • Variable speed
  • Manual drive knob
  • Film gate swings open for easy cleaning
  • Removable side panel for easy access to drive belt
  • Levelling adjustment
  • 500W 110v lamp
  • F/1.6 lens
  • Serial No: 33759
  • Further information here.

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