Big problem with Panny DMR EH55

[qanda]This thread is about the Panasonic DIGA DMR-EH50. Click here to see full specs[/qanda]Hi:

I’d appreciate any help.

I have an 18 month old Panasonic DMR EH55 DVD recorder with a 160 gig (I think it’s 160) hard drive. I use to love it as it work perfectly until a few days ago. I probably have burned about 500 to 750 discs.

Problem started in the middle of a burn from the HDD to a DVD, the process did not complete. The HDD still works fine in terms of recording and scheduling new shows and watching recorded shows from the hard drive so the probelm is related to the DVD drive.

Error U88 appears and sometime U61. The unit no longer recognizes any disc - be it a blank or pre-recorded. I have cleaned the fan and opened the unit and cleaned the spindle and laser (now seems perfectly clean) but no luck. I have unplugged the unit for hours and even reset it back to factory settings but the problem is the same. The unit won’t recognize a disc in it. The weird thing is that when there is no disc in it, the panel light on the front is on - indicating that the unit “thinks” there is a disc in it. Also, when I open and then close the tray, the unit chugs away as if it where trying to load a disc even though there is no disc present in the tray.

What do you think is wrong? Should I try another spindle and laser cleaning or give up and bring it in for servicing?

Thanks for any advice.

Bossmanleft

Bossmanleft,

Did the EH55 exhibit DVD drive failures before you opened it for cleaning?

If the problem came just after the hub/spindle cleaning did you make sure that you positioned the roller/slider mechanism at the rear of the disc tray to the far left before reinstalling the drive lid? If the roller slider was not positioned to the far left then the roller may not be correctly aligned with the guide rail on the underside of the drive lid. This must be corrected or the DVD drive will not function correctly. See this post for detailed information concerning this problem and its solution:

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?p=14422246#post14422246

A photo showing the correct positioning of the roller/slider is found in this post:

http://club.cdfreaks.com/f106/dmr-ez47v-recovery-process-taking-too-long-251670/#post2119392

If the DVD drive had various failures and (especially) if it was making unusual noises before the cleaning then the DVD drive itself may need replacement.

Do not “bring (a EH55) in for servicing” unless you mean to take it in to the corporate Panasonic Service Center in Elk Grove Village Illinois. Save yourself the grief and expense of local “authorized” Panasonic service. For prompt and efficient flat-rate repair ($130) from the only location with Panasonic experts and all the parts needed to return your EH55 to new or better than new condition see this post:

http://club.cdfreaks.com/f106/panasonic-dmr-eh75v-failure-panasonics-woeful-customer-service-248098/#post2111599

Thanks for your suggestions.

The problems started before the cleaning. I did the lens and spindle cleaning as per one of the posts in this forum to try and rectify the probles but it did not help. Unfortunately, I am in Canada and not the USA so our Panasonic headquarters does not have a repair depot other than recommended off-site shops. Too bad the $130 option is not available here (I did check). So you think the drive assembly itself needs to be replaced? Is that a common failure?

Thanks. Any more comments / suggestions would be appreciated.

Yes, the DVD drive failure is very common. I have twelve functional Panasonics, three of which have good DVD drives swapped in from three parts machines that had other problems.

In the link I provided to the Elk Grove Village Panasonic Service Centre (I’ll use the proper spelling) you will find the direct number with which to ring them up, 1-888-439-2676

Call that number during business hours Monday-Friday. If that does not get results then you might consider shipping your EH55 to them. Include a letter describing the problem and enclose a cheque or money order for the $130 flat-rate in US funds. Be sure to state that you want the flat-rate repair. They should repair your Panny and have it back on its way to you in a jiffy.

I believe other Canadians have had good results through Elk Grove Village (just northwest of Chicago’s O’Hare Airport).

So you think I can ship it to them even from Canada? I’ll give them a call to see if that works. Good to know also that it may “only” be the drive as that should be easier(cheaper ?? if I can’t get it to the States) to fix than a circuit board or having to replace the HDD (and lose all the stuff on it that I want to keep). Hopefully, I can ship it to the US. If not, at least I have a sense of what needs to be fixed. Still diappointing to have something like that go so quick on relatively new and expensive unit…

Thanks so much.

There have been a number of discussions on this and the AVS Forum as to how to get the best service from the Panasonic experts at Elk Grove Village.

Occasionally a variety of parts may fail or become problematic. Your letter should include a description of [B][I]all[/I][/B] the problems you’ve encountered, not just a statement that it needs the DVD drive replaced. Be sure to mention the U88 and U61 errors.

With a description of the problems Panasonic experts will run extensive diagnostics and replace anything/everything that is not up to new [I]functional condition. [/I] Your $130 may get you a DVD drive, new CPU circuit board (listing for around $500), power supply capacitors (perhaps requiring more than one hour of labour to replace) and firmware updates. If you want to preserve the hard drive contents be sure to mention that concern in your informational letter.

I’ll do as you suggest and hopefully I can get it to the US centre - that certainly sounds ideal as the customer service at the Canadian head office was useless (no idea about the product whatsoever) giving me no more help than looking up a repair store in the yellow pages…when I phone the repair store they recommended, the guy seemed totally uninterested and told me that it is not worth fixing these things - unbelievable! The location near Chicago is actually not that far away from me …

You have been [B]extremely[/B] helpful. Much appreciated.

Best regards,
Bossmanleft

[QUOTE=bossmanleft;2126044][qanda]This thread is about the Panasonic DIGA DMR-EH50. Click here to see full specs[/qanda]Hi:

I’d appreciate any help.

I have an 18 month old Panasonic DMR EH55 DVD recorder with a 160 gig (I think it’s 160) hard drive. I use to love it as it work perfectly until a few days ago. I probably have burned about 500 to 750 discs.

Problem started in the middle of a burn from the HDD to a DVD, the process did not complete. The HDD still works fine in terms of recording and scheduling new shows and watching recorded shows from the hard drive so the probelm is related to the DVD drive.

Error U88 appears and sometime U61. The unit no longer recognizes any disc - be it a blank or pre-recorded. I have cleaned the fan and opened the unit and cleaned the spindle and laser (now seems perfectly clean) but no luck. I have unplugged the unit for hours and even reset it back to factory settings but the problem is the same. The unit won’t recognize a disc in it. The weird thing is that when there is no disc in it, the panel light on the front is on - indicating that the unit “thinks” there is a disc in it. Also, when I open and then close the tray, the unit chugs away as if it where trying to load a disc even though there is no disc present in the tray.

What do you think is wrong? Should I try another spindle and laser cleaning or give up and bring it in for servicing?

Thanks for any advice.

Bossmanleft[/QUOTE]

I have the [U]exact[/U] problem with my DMR-EH65, word for word.
[B]What was the problem and how did you fix it? [/B]
I’ve cleaned the spindle and lens but nothing worked and I really don’t want to loose everything on the harddrive, approx 150h…
Live in sweden so I can’t ship it to US

Grateful for any response

Swedess

[QUOTE=Swedess;2194147]I have the exact problem with my DMR-EH65, word for word.
What was the problem and how did you fix it?
I’ve cleaned the spindle and lens but nothing worked and I really don’t want to loose everything on the harddrive, approx 150h…
Live in sweden so I can’t ship it to US

Grateful for any response

Swedess[/QUOTE]

The key word in Bossmanleft’s post is “chugs” found in this sentence, “Also, when I open and then close the tray, the unit chugs away as if it where trying to load a disc even though there is no disc present in the tray.”

If the DVD drive makes “grinding” or “scrubbing” noises the problem is most often a dirty rubber hub.

If the DVD drive makes “clunking” or “chugging” noises the problem is most often a dirty or failed laser assembly.

The clunking or chugging noise comes from the laser assembly running up and down the rods hitting the stops in a failed attempt to read the DVD.

The problem might be with the laser assembly or the “Digital PCB,” a Panasonic’s “brain.”

Laser assembly replacement should only be attempted by those experienced in this type of repair.

The photo shows the (mounted) laser assembly from a DMR-ES15, a North American model manufactured in 2006.


It’s like a chewing noice. And the symbol on the display that says it’s a disc in the player is lit eventhough there’s no disc in. I’ve even tried to copy from HDD to DVD (just to see how it’s reacting when there’s no disc present) and the player says “disc not recognised”…
It certainly sounds like a brainproblem :iagree:
What should I do?

Thank you for your help so far!
Swedess

[QUOTE=Swedess;2195487]It’s like a chewing noice. And the symbol on the display that says it’s a disc in the player is lit eventhough there’s no disc in. I’ve even tried to copy from HDD to DVD (just to see how it’s reacting when there’s no disc present) and the player says “disc not recognised”…
It certainly sounds like a brainproblem :iagree:
What should I do?

Thank you for your help so far!
Swedess[/QUOTE]

Contact:

Panasonic service center thinks it’s the laser assembly, som I’m gonna send the recorder to them, but thank you DigaDo for your tips and ideas, it really helped me when I spoke to them and explained the problem.

Thanks!

Problem started in the middle of a burn from the HDD to a DVD, the process did not complete. The HDD still works fine in terms of recording and scheduling new shows and watching recorded shows from the hard drive so the probelm is related to the DVD drive.

Error U88 appears and sometime U61. The unit no longer recognizes any disc - be it a blank or pre-recorded. I have cleaned the fan and opened the unit and cleaned the spindle and laser (now seems perfectly clean) but no luck. I have unplugged the unit for hours and even reset it back to factory settings but the problem is the same. The unit won’t recognize a disc in it. The weird thing is that when there is no disc in it, the panel light on the front is on - indicating that the unit “thinks” there is a disc in it. Also, when I open and then close the tray, the unit chugs away as if it where trying to load a disc even though there is no disc present in the tray.

This is also my problem except for the chugs. My dvd drive sound perfectly normal. I[U][B] I seem to think that the problem is that the unit believes a DVD is still present. How can we reset that? [/B][/U]

Or if you guys have figured out what is wrong with the rest of these…

DigaDo if mine is does not chug do you have any other ideas. Or is it going to be the “brains” or “digital PCB” no matter what?

Charles

Due to unresolved password difficulties I’ve retired my DigaDo identity at MyCe and will be posting with my new VoxHumana identity.

There have been many discussions as to these problems in this and other threads in this and other forums.

Sometimes the difficulties are with inferior media. Other times the problem is a dirty rubber hub/spindle or a dirty lens or failing or failed laser assembly.

After much discussion of media brands and quality I’ve settled upon Taiyo Yuden 8x Premium Line DVD-R for all my Panasonic, Philips and Magnavox recorders. Beginning in 2008 I’ve avoided all the usual retail brand 16x formulations. At the AVS forum there have been a number or discussions as to the greater laser power demands that 16x media imposes on the laser with a possible reduction in laser longevity and burn quality.

As to diagnosing laser condition the Panasonic Service Manuals have Service Mode routines to determine performance deterioration. But all this is to say that if the routine lens (and hub/spindle) cleaning does not resolve the no read situation (with or without “clunking,” “chugging” or “errrp” noises) the laser assembly most likely has failed unless there are other problems. These other problems may be related to some disturbance to ribbon cables or their contacts, a problematic Digital PCB or the DVD Drive onboard controller board (excepting 2006 models where the DVD Drive controller is built in to the Digital PCB.)

The $130 flat-rate repair is still available through the Panasonic Service Center in Elgin Illinois. (Elk Grove Village no longer repairs older models or hard drive models.) The current information is found here:

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1056657

As I’m pressed for time and just on my way out the door please forgive me for not providing more information.

There have been many discussions as to these problems in this and other threads in this and other forums.

Sometimes the difficulties are with inferior media. Other times the problem is a dirty rubber hub/spindle or a dirty lens or failing or failed laser assembly.

After much discussion of media brands and quality I’ve settled upon Taiyo Yuden 8x Premium Line DVD-R for all my Panasonic, Philips and Magnavox recorders. Beginning in 2008 I’ve avoided all the usual retail brand 16x formulations. At the AVS forum there have been a number or discussions as to the greater laser power demands that 16x media imposes on the laser with a possible reduction in laser longevity and burn quality.

As to diagnosing laser condition the Panasonic Service Manuals have Service Mode routines to determine performance deterioration. But all this is to say that if the routine lens (and hub/spindle) cleaning does not resolve the no read situation (with or without “clunking,” “chugging” or “errrp” noises) the laser assembly most likely has failed unless there are other problems. These other problems may be related to some disturbance to ribbon cables or their contacts, a problematic Digital PCB or the DVD Drive onboard controller board (excepting 2006 models where the DVD Drive controller is built in to the Digital PCB.)

The $130 flat-rate repair is still available through the Panasonic Service Center in Elgin Illinois. (Elk Grove Village no longer repairs older models or hard drive models.) The current information is found here:

What you say makes since. Because I was recording my fifth “high speed” disk in a row but they were “Panasonic DVD -R” X16. So going to X8 would have been less strain on the recorder. I thought however, since the disk were “Panasonic” they would be best. What I am getting by reading your post is that I was just too rough on the unit by making it record those in short order.

What do you think Diga[B]/[/B]VoxHumanna? Also, no problem about you walking out the door. We all have lives.

Oh yea, one other question. Why does the unit think there is a DVD loaded all the time?

[QUOTE=charlescheek1261;2492678]I was recording my fifth “high speed” disk in a row but they were “Panasonic DVD -R” X16. So going to X8 would have been less strain on the recorder. I thought however, since the disk were “Panasonic” they would be best. What I am getting by reading your post is that I was just too rough on the unit by making it record those in short order.

What do you think Diga[B]/[/B]VoxHumanna? Also, no problem about you walking out the door. We all have lives.

Oh yea, one other question. Why does the unit think there is a DVD loaded all the time?[/QUOTE]

My best guess is that there is some problem with the Digital PCB. The $130 flat-rate repair is your best repair option as Panasonic replaces the Digital PCB and the DVD Drive as a “module” for 2006 models. If you go with the flat-rate repair be sure to fully describe all the problems you’ve found. This will help the techs return your DMR-EH55 to new functional condition.

While I have many Panasonic DVD or VHS/DVD recorders I have no experience with Panasonic HDD/DVD models so I can’t really say how much high-speed dubbing in a single session is too much stress on a Panasonic.

I own seven HDD/DVD recorders (including Magnavox 2080 and 2160 models and Philips 3575 and 3576 models) manufactured by Funai. With my Funai-built HDD/DVD recorders I’ve never had a problem turning out one after another high-speed dubs using these Taiyo Yuden discs:

http://www.supermediastore.com/product/u/taiyo-yuden-silver-thermal-8x-dvd-r-media-100-pack

Occasionally my Dell Dimension E510 (dating from 2006 with Windows XP MCE 2005, Roxio Creator 9 Suite, NEC 3500 series DVD burner and more recently a LG DVD burner) seems to have a limit to the number of DVDs it will burn in a single session. In those instances Roxio 9 stops functioning until the computer is rebooted. With the Roxio software I use the same TY 8x media with the burn speed set no higher than 8x.

As an afterthought it would be interesting to know what high-speed dubbing write speed ranges there are with Panasonic HDD/DVD DVD Drives.

The Panasonic 2006 HDD/DVD recorders use the VXY1945 DVD Drive. As that DVD Drive is exclusive to the HDD/DVD models perhaps what is distinctive to the VXY1945 is that it is optimized for high-speed dubbing.

Of course the 2006 HDD/DVD Digital PCBs have a model-specific configuration for those HDD/DVD models. Those Digital PCBs may not be swapped with those in standard models. Swapping between different standard models is also limited within model groupings., i.e., a Digital PCB in a DVD recorder may not be swapped with a Digital PCB in a combo recorder. (I’ve successfully swapped Digital PCBs between a DMR-ES46V and a DMR-ES35V. The DMR-ES35V is a basic combo recorder. The DMR-ES46V is a similar combo recorder but adds HDMI, upconverting and SD Card capabilities.)

Perhaps the 2006 DVD Drive models (e.g., VXY1916 and VXY1972) common to some standard models do real-time recording at 1x. That is, unless all disc writing is buffered or “spooled” and recorded to DVD in “blocks” or “bursts” as is common to hard drive models when high-speed dubbing.

My Magnavox 2080 (of July 2007 manufacture), Philips 3575 (of August 2007 manufacture) and 3576 model (of February 2008 manufacture) have a 4x DVD Drive. My three Magnavox 2160 models (of May, August and December 2008 manufacture) and my one 2160 “A” model (of May 2009 manufacture) have 8x DVD Drives.

Magnavox 2160 high-speed dubs for “full” discs take around fifteen or sixteen minutes for disc writing and almost three minutes for finalizing. That’s appreciably faster than the Magnavox 2080, Philips 3575 and 3576 that are closer to thirty minutes for disc writing and three minutes for finalizing. Perhaps actual laser write time may be as little as three minutes for a high-speed dub of a “full” DVD.

I think the EH-55 has a 16x burner but I have [I]silent mode[/I] enabled on mine which makes it run at about 8x. I think the previous year ('05) my EH-50 is a 8x drive but again I’ve enabled silent mode which which makes it probably run around 4x.
Panasonic calls it silent mode because it makes the drive run quieter but really it’s slowing down the transfer rate which indirectly quiets the drive. I’m going after better burns than any small amount of time saved so I always use silent mode.

Joined this site to:

  1. Thank all of you in pointing out the problem with my 200GB EH55 (failed optical head in the DVD drive)

  2. Brag to you all about the GREAT service i got for the repair!

So:

  1. THANKS to you all!

  2. EBay - item#280664416523, “Panasonic DMR-EH55 DVD Recorder Repair Service”, the company name is [B]valleysercices[/B] Alhambra, CA. Replaced the laser unit, cleaned, lubricated, all for $164 INCLUDING SHIPPING! (I sent in only the DVD drive to save shipping costs, and cause i didn’t want to get back a ‘modified’ system since I didn’t know these guys - $15 more shipping if you send the entire unit). Without asking, they sent back the failed part in the box of the new part. Matsushita part # RAF3331A, so I could see they actually did something. Received the unit in the afternoon, had it back in the mail to me that night. Four total days door-to-door.

Took 5 minutes to reinstall the DVD drive - first DVD playing now and everything is clear, crisp and correct.

Emails were returned in an hour or 2.

This guy was so responsive, my belief is that if anything goes wrong he will not hassle me (though that will be seen if any problems come up). One of the absolute best electronics repair experiences in my life.

ps: The guy in Arlington, TX - also, apparently, a good guy - quoted $260 (plus shipping?) for the same repair.

I wonder if AVS member [I]mickinct[/I] was the one that did your DVD drive repair? He occasionally posts on AVS and says he’ll fix Panasonic DVDRs if you PM him.
$164 isn’t cheap but they don’t make Panasonics like these anymore, so with that in mind $164 is well worth it to keep our babies going.
How did you know it was the optical head, what was the error code? did your repair guy think that was the problem or did you just hope that was it?