Panasonic DMR-EX77 not recognising discs

[qanda]This thread is about the Panasonic DMR-EX77. Click here to see full specs[/qanda]Have had the dmr-ex77 for almost 2 years with very few problems. However this morning i tried to record some programs from the HDD to DVD, which i have done hundreds of times before but this time went wrong.

Was recording in Flexible Record mode which plays the programs as it records them. All started fine but 5 seconds in said there was a problem with disc and went into disc recovery (U88 flashed on display). Now every disc i put in to record onto brings up a message ‘Cannot record, disc is non-recordable’; despite the fact i am using brand-new Philips DVD-Rs which have worked in this player/recorder forever. Tried putting a film dvd in the machine, disc seems to be read (with a much more violent sounding noise than usual), but will not play - brings up an error message on the tv screen but only for a split second so am unable to read it.

Have noticed that on the dvd display there is a small ‘D’ directly above the channel number which never used to be there. Also, when dvd player left empty, the little disc picture still displayed, despite no disc being in the machine. HDD recording/playback seems to be unaffected. Have tried turning on/off and leaving unplugged for a while, not sure what else to do.

Any help gratefully recieved as the online manual from Panasonic doesn’t mention any of this in it’s troubleshooter. Thanks x

Two years, eh? Have you recently cleaned the rubber hub atop the DVD Drive spindle?

http://club.cdfreaks.com/f106/fixing-your-panny-when-theres-fault-lens-cleaning-doesnt-help-210507/

Upon reassembly take care to position the roller/slider to the far left, see the photo posted in that thread.

Going by what you’re describing, it looks like the optical drive itself has developed a problem. :doh: If the recorder is still under warranty, I would suggest bringing it back for repair.

As the problem seemed to happen all the sudden, it’s quite possible that something got stuck in the drive mechanism. For example, a hair caught in the tracking could cause it to stick, which would make unusual sounds when trying to read a disc.

I’m not sure whether it contains a separate optical drive unit (like the Lite-On set-top DVD recorders) or if is fully exposed inside the set-box, but if the player is out of warranty and you feel confident to look inside, it would be worth taking off the cover with the disc tray ejected. Ensure it’s unplugged first! If the optical drive interals are visible (e.g. where you can see the lens and the tray), have a close look at the cogs to make sure there is no lint or hairs trapped. The laser lens should also also be clear. I have fixed someone’s PlayStation 2 console that had lint trapped in the optical pick-up tracking mechanism.

Edit: Have a look at DigaDo’s suggested thread which also goes into detail about cleaning the spindle. I forgot about that thread.

I have never cleaned anything inside the machine, let alone having done it ‘recently’! Thank you for that advice, i will certainly give it a go this afternoon. Incidentally, doing this won’t in any way affect the HDD, will it? That’s probably a naive question but i have a lot of stuff on there which i don’t want to lose (which is why i was trying to record this morning) and i’m paranoid about it getting wiped.

Speaking of the HDD - does anyone know of a way to get programs off the HDD if the DVD drive continues to not work? I assume that normal programs recorded from the tv won’t go onto an SD card, is that right? (i’m taking that from the manual which says it only supports ‘SD video’). My dad has a similar machine (the one with the larger hard drive) so i’m wondering whether there is some cable i could get to transfer my saved programs onto his. Wishful thinking maybe but again, any advice is welcome, as i’m concerned that if i do have to send the machine for repair, the HDD will get wiped.

Also, thank you Seán, i need to check whether the machine is still in warranty before i have a poke around, i think i only got 1 year, but i will find out.

In your experience, do you know whether sending the machine away to have the DVD drive fixed would also mean the HDD would get wiped? (Can you tell i’m paranoid about that?!)

Thanks again

In the US anyway new machines come with a 1 year warranty. AFA getting things off your HDD, if the DVD drive is shot you’ll need to either replace it (this should not effect anything on your HDD) or hook your DVDR up via line outputs to another DVDR and record in real time. That is play your ex77 in realtime and record that. It will be quite time consuming and you will lose some PQ but programs on the HDD are not easily readable on anything other than another similar Panny. Cleaning the spindle will not effect anything on your HDD and [I]should[/I] fix your problem. Spindles on Pannys should be cleaned yearly, more frequent in dusty/smoky locations.

[QUOTE=Seán;2245410]Going by what you’re describing, it looks like the optical drive itself has developed a problem. :doh: If the recorder is still under warranty, I would suggest bringing it back for repair.

As the problem seemed to happen all the sudden, it’s quite possible that something got stuck in the drive mechanism. For example, a hair caught in the tracking could cause it to stick, which would make unusual sounds when trying to read a disc.

I’m not sure whether it contains a separate optical drive unit (like the Lite-On set-top DVD recorders) or if is fully exposed inside the set-box, but if the player is out of warranty and you feel confident to look inside, [B]it would be worth taking off the cover with the disc tray ejected.[/B] Ensure it’s unplugged first! If the optical drive interals are visible (e.g. where you can see the lens and the tray), have a close look at the cogs to make sure there is no lint or hairs trapped. The laser lens should also also be clear. I have fixed someone’s PlayStation 2 console that had lint trapped in the optical pick-up tracking mechanism.

Edit: Have a look at DigaDo’s suggested thread which also goes into detail about cleaning the spindle. I forgot about that thread.[/QUOTE]

With [I]occasional[/I] “no read” “grinding” or “scrubbing” noises or U88/U61 errors, the most likely problem is a DVD Drive rubber hub that is dirty or has oily residue from handling discs through the centre hole. I clean the rubber hubs at six to eight month intervals, more frequently for “heavy use” machines. Other conditions that require frequent rubber hub cleaning are dusty, smoking or warm environments.

I have highlighted the text (above) where there is a suggestion to [I]extend the disc tray with the DVD Drive lid removed.[/I] This procedure may lead to complications that require substantial remedial procedures.

See this post and its links to these remedial procedures, including photographs:

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?p=16113319#post16113319

(One must register at the AVS Forum to view the photographs.)

Oops, I didn’t realise about this, as I based my experience on a few Lite-On set-top recorders, which actually required the tray to be ejected in order to get at the optical drive inside.

Hey guys, thank you so much for all your advice. I was planning to clean the spindle myself but i mentioned it to my dad (who bought me the machine as a bday present in 2007) and he clearly doesn’t trust me because he took it straight to a repair shop. They decided to change the disc drive, and mentioned to Panasonic that it might be an inherent fault, which caused Panasonic to offer the part for free and also offer to pay for most of the labour cost. It’s only going to cost me about £8!

Just goes to show that even if a product is out of warranty, free repair is possible!

Great to hear they were willing to repair it and have most of the cost covered, despite the warranty being up. :smiley:

This is also one advantage with a retail shop over an online based shop for home electronics, as I know most online shops will not allow the customer to return a product from the day the warranty expires.

Hi Guys

I have found the Service Manual for the DMR EX77
http://www.scribd.com/doc/17580331/Panasonic-Dmrex77Ex87

I have a question:

I opened up the CD Drive to look at cleaning it as suggested,
but I now have a loose part
See Link
http://img79.imageshack.us/img79/6827/pa030032.jpg

It has G4 marked on it and I found it at the back of the Drive when the Tray was shut

Could it be to stop the Tray from coming to far out?

Could someone please post a Pic of where it should go?

Me again

I’ve found where the missing piece went
See Below
http://img97.imageshack.us/img97/309/pa030033.jpg

If you turn over the top cover of the DVD Drive there is a runner
The piece slides along it when the Tray opens

Having read the Service Manual here’s a few possible answers to previous posts

The ‘D’ symbol means that a digital broadcast is being received, so I don’t think that has anything to do with the original error

The Disc Image on the display screen means that a readable disc has been inserted

Now this image appears on my display even when no disc is inserted - so does that mean the machine thinks that a disc is inserted, and possibly causing a conflict when an actual disc is actually put in?

If this is the case is a Proper Reset of the Hardrive/system needed?

I have a similar problem with an EX77 I get a buzzing sound as if the disc is trying to be read and then after about 30 secs the message noRead I have used a cleaning disc and taken the unit apart to clean but neither helped. Is there a cure or can I purchase a new drive and replace

[QUOTE=Paul4444;2471695]I have a similar problem with an EX77 I get a buzzing sound as if the disc is trying to be read and then after about 30 secs the message noRead I have used a cleaning disc and taken the unit apart to clean but neither helped. Is there a cure or can I purchase a new drive and replace[/QUOTE]

In post #7 (above) I’ve described a “grinding” or “scrubbing” noise that may be similar to the “buzzing” you’ve reported. This may indicate that the DVD Drive rubber hub/spindle area requires a proper cleaning as described earlier. (“Cleaning discs” are said to clean the lens, not the rubber hub or spindle.) The lens, hub/spindle cleaning procedure is found in this thread:

If the lens, hub/spindle cleaning did not correct the problems there may be a more serious problem. I’ve described the sounds heard following the failure of the laser assembly as “clunking” “chugging” or an “errp.” There may also appear on the recorder’s front panel display the U61, U88 or U99 error codes.

Panasonic DVD Drives are proprietary in their design. Generally, only those DVD Drives from the same or similar models within a specific model year (production) may be swapped between recorders.

There is an eBay seller in Glasgow offering replacement laser assemblies, but one must take care to obtain the correct model laser assembly and observe very specific procedures when disassembling the DVD Drive, installing a new laser assembly and reassembling the DVD Drive. Those procedures are best left to the Panasonic Service Centre.