THE WATKINS COPICAT SUPER IC
The super IC has a lead storage compartment in
the rear closed in by a thin plastic door.
'Super IC' screen printed on the face plate to the left of the jockey arm.
This one courtesy of Bob Rumble is an early 6 head version, left to right are, 1, Record head, 2,3,4,5 Playback heads which are selected by the Echo Buttons 6, often thought to have its cover missing is the erase head. The machine has a 4 input mixer with individual gain controls 1,2,3&4 for instruments and or microphones as required. The jack socket under the Watkins Copicat name is a 3 contact socket called a break-in socket or effects send and return for an external processor. This facility works in conjunction with channel 4 only. To the right is the "Swell" or echo volume in relation to the dry or real-time level. The "Sustain" is a feedback control which feeds some of the echo effect signal back to the record amp to be re-recorded to give multiple echos according to how high it is set. Saturation point is when the level of swell become too much and the machine oscillates and produced the familiar spacey Telstar sound.
This one is a later version of the one above, you may have spotted that it only has five heads, as it is missing the odd looking erase head on the right. This version has a dual head on the left. Basically 2 heads in a single housing known as Z-Combo or Erase / Record head. Also missing is the central break-in jack socket, which now is situated in the rear storage compartment. Otherwise the machine is exactly the same as the one above and works in the same way.
Super IC rear storage compartment showing inside jack sockets for footswitch and break-in point.
A far less common and less successful version of this machine was the "Sound on Sound" version shown below.
I believe this is a picture someone sent me and unfortunately I don't remember who it was. Straight away you will notice the tape system is different to any other Copicat. This is an endless cassette probably made by Sony, there is no jockey arm to tension the tape, just a single roller where it normally would have been. There is a small felt pad on a spring steel mounting attached to the face plate. This applies a little pressure to the tape holding it against the combo erase / record head, whilst at the drive spindle there is now a pinch roller, creating extra grip against the motor spindle, which together keeps the tape taught against the heads. To the left of the picture unfortunately almost out of sight, is a toggle switch. This is the Sound On Sound switch, which actually switches off the erase head, allowing the sound to build up on the tape eventually to an unbearable noise. I think the general idea was possibly to build a loop of a number of bars within a single revolution of the tape which you could jam along to using another amplifier. Providing the swell was set at zero (no signal feed back) to some extent this would work, but the machine wasn't very successful, and many were modified back to a normal Copicat without the S O S facility. The tape mechanism also tended to tangle and give problems, so those too were converted to the usual jockey arm tape loop system.
Here is machine that has been reverted from a S O S Copicat to the standard Super IC with jockey arm and normal tape loop.
This one you can see still has the Sound On Sound Switch on the left, but has not got the tape cassette as the above machine has. There is a hole where the cassette should be and a blanking grommet where the pinch roller sould have been, and of course the normal jockey arm tensioning device together with standard Copicat tape loop. I think this would have been a factory update to the previous machine where they have dropped the cassette idea but continued to use the stockpile of accordingly punched faceplates.
Here we can see good front and rear views of the Super IC heads.
The heads are half track mono cassette player heads with an inductance of about 150 mh. The top picture shows the combination erase record head on the left whilst the lower picture shows it on the right, as you can see it has 4 terminals whilst the others have only 2.
Below shows an example of a badly worn head.
The face of this head is beyond repair and in dire need of replacement. You can see the two poles of the central pickup area and the gap between them, which due to wear is much wider than it should be. Heads in this state will rapidly wear the tape out, and the reproduction will be poor and noise levels high. You can also see ferric oxide dust from the tape all around the bracket and mounting screws.
New head to be shown soon
Here is a jpeg copy of the Super IC instruction sheet, sorry the quality isn't too good, there is a better pdf version as well.
Click the link below for a PDF version of the Super IC instructions. You will need Acrobat Reader to view this file, download for free from Adobe.