U61 Error with Panasonic DVD Recorders-Fixable?

vbimport

#1

My Panasonic DVD Recorder DMR-ES15 is two months beyond the one year warranty period.

I’ve had no problems until yesterday when this began :

Every time the unit is turned on I see “Hello” on the display screen, shortly followed by “U61”.

The operating instructions say “U61: There was a power failure or the AC plug was disconnected while the unit was on. The unit is carrying out its recovery process. This process restores the unit to normal operation. The unit is not broken. Wait until the message disappears.”

But in my case, after a brief period of “sound blips” I get this message on the TV screen :

“Self check failed. Press ENTER, then the unit will open the tray and power off automatically. If this message appears frequently, please refer to the Product Service section in the operating instructions.”

I’ve tried unplugging the recorder and after several minutes replugging - doesn’t help.

The Panasonic web site says that to get approved Panasonic service I would need to go 177 miles to Chicago (I live in Indianapolis).

Has anyone owning this or similar model had this trouble? Is it fixable?

One year and two months is a very short lifetime for a DVD recorder that has been only lightly used, and never abused.


#2

I have two DMR-ES35V combo recorder models that were purchased as parts machines. After initially powering on one of these with the remote or the front panel power button the machine displays the U61 error and will no longer respond to the remote or any front panel buttons. (The front panel circuit board contacts and left and right chassis motherboard contacts are correctly aligned.) This machine will briefly continue in the U61 state and then power itself off after which it will remain unresponsive until disconnected from the power for a time and then reconnected. The U61 will reappear following powering on. The DVD drive has been swapped with another known good DVD drive from the other DMR-ES35V parts machine. The DVD drive controller circuit board has also been swapped with that from the other parts machine. (The other parts machine had a defective tuner but did not report the U61 error.) Note: many parts may be interchanged between several models from the same model year, but not between models from different model years. (All the models mentioned in this post are from the 2006 model year.) This DVD drive controller circuit board carries the machine’s main CPU, the RAM, and other major chips. The U61 error persists on this machine. There is some evidence of leakage from the largest electrolytic capacitor (C11108) in the power supply section.

I have three other functional DMR-ES35V models that also evidence leakage from this same power supply capacitor. I have temporarily removed these three machines from service pending replacement of these capacitors. (These three functional machines average more than 3,000 recording hours per machine.) I expect to replace these leaking capacitors in all four machines at the same time, a procedure that requires disassembly to the extent of removal of the right chassis motherboard from the machine. Due to the extensive disassembly required the procedure takes somewhat longer than one hour per machine.

I have another functional DMR-ES35V that does not exhibit leakage from this electrolytic capacitor. That machine continues in daily service. I also have four DMR-ES15 models, where, in three of these I replaced the similar largest power supply section electrolytic capacitor (C1143). Two of those three are in current daily service.

I have previously posted detailed instructions for replacement of the power supply electrolytic capacitor on a hard drive model here:

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?p=13269680#post13269680

Those detailed instructions are generally the same for Panasonic DVD recorders and combo recorders. Combo recorders have left and right chassis motherboards with conductive bridges/connectors between the motherboards. On a combo recorder be sure to hold the VHS door open when fitting the front panel back to the case. This will assure the correct alignment of the VHS door lifting mechanism.

[B]Replacement of leaking electrolytic capacitors may or may not correct the U61 error.[/B] If not, then I suspect the most likely cause is some failure of a component on the DVD drive controller circuit board.

The corporate Panasonic Service Center is located in Elk Grove Village IL. They offer the $130 flat-rate repair that includes shipping both ways. Usually Panasonic factory refurbished DMR-ES15 models, with a 90 day Panasonic warranty, are offered by Panasonic Authorized Resellers on eBay or other online locations under $70, plus shipping.


#3

Thanks for info digado. Do you know if the factory refurbished units have longer-lasting capacitors installed in them (assuming that’s why they needed refurbishing)?


#4

I have read a few comments elsewhere where the U61 error may be overcome by removing the case lid, the four small philips screws securing the DVD drive lid, and sliding the lens assembly to its rearmost position, and reassembling the machine. I have tried this on my DMR-ES35V with the U61 error, but that did not correct the problem.

Should you open your DMR-ES15 to try this it might be good to clean the hub/spindle area as described in this thread:

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

I have found a high incidence of leakage in electrolytic capacitors in 2006 model year Panasonic DVD recorders and combo recorders. Of my ten 2006 Panasonic machines (eight functional and two parts machines) eight have evidenced leakage from the largest electrolytic capacitor in the power supply. (I have examined the power supply section of two of my three 2005 model Panasonic combo recorders. There is no evidence of capacitor leakage. One of these models, a DMR-ES30V, has more than 4,200 recording hours.)

I would assume that capacitor longevity is related to usage demands; operational or environmental temperature; perhaps a capacitor specification design flaw; use of capacitors that do not meet design specification; or a combination of these or other factors.

There are some blogs/postings in other forums that mention sub-standard electrolite used in some brands of capacitors causing failure in computer motherboards, but I haven’t read similar comments concerning the quality of capacitors used in Panasonic DVD recorders and combo recorders.

Should you go with a Panasonic refurbished DMR-ES15 be sure to keep your present model for future spare parts.

I have two DMR-EZ17 models from 2007. These models are bug-laden and have some of the same design flaws that were found in the DMR-ES40V from 2005. The 2006 models, including the DMR-ES15 models, have given outstanding performance in my service.


#5

The ES15 units had a pretty high rate of power supply failure and were replaced almost immediately by the ES20. I’d toss it and get an EZ-17 or 27.


#6

The DMR-ES15 is a 2006 model. The DMR-ES20 is a 2005 model.

The DMR-ES25 is the step-up 2006 model. I believe that the ES25 had the internal fan whereas the ES15 did not have an internal fan. Keep the ES15 out in the open with good air circulation. The ES15 must not be shut up inside a cabinet.

I own two DMR-EZ17 models that are in current daily use. While I appreciate the analog and digital tuners this is a product that I do not recommend due to the bugs and design flaws.

I own thirteen functional Panasonic DVD recorders and combo recorders from the 2005, 2006 and 2007 model years. My most recent purchase has been a Philips DVDR3575H/37B, a DVD/HDD recorder from the 2007 model year.


#7

I agree with Digado. I own both a ES-15 and ES-25 as well as a EZ-28. I had 5 EZ-17’s and they all died a ugly U99 death within months to days of use. I cannot suggest the EZ-x7 line. So far I have had much better luck with my EZ-28 although less than a month old. I have noticed fewer quirks with this EZ-28 machine than I had with either my EZ-17’s or one EZ-27.
As Digado said the ES-20 is a '05 model which was replaced by the ES-15 which was replaced in '07 by the buggy EZ-17 which was replaced by the upgraded EZ-28.
In your case if you don’t need the digital tuner I’d suggest a referb ES-15 or if you don’t need the tuner at all you could look into a EA-18 which is a tunerless EZ-28 and includes upconversion w/HDMI. It runs ~$180 new. The EZ-28 adds $50 for the tuner.

Or if you want to get away from the Panny’s you could get the '08 Philips 3576 (replaced Digado’s '07 3575). It just became available at Sams Club for $248 and includes a HDD as well as the digital tuner and upconverting HDMI.
The 3575 has been a favorite of many and word is the 3576 is almost identical.


#8

Hi,
I have the same problem with my 19 months old DMR-ES15EG. The unit stopped recording suddenly. After restart - "hello’ followed by “U61” message appears. In the past my two other units (other brands) was damaged as a consequence of capacitor leakage in the power supply section.
Does Panasonic apply lead free soldering?


#9

[quote=AlKwas;2045340]
Does Panasonic apply lead free soldering?[/quote]
That’s a good question:clap: since we all know Chinas insistence on using lead in other products. I know all new roll solder I’ve seen is lead free but not sure about “wave soldering” like is used for board manufacturing. I’m not even sure about wave soldering here in the US if that’s lead free.
Maybe someone in manufacturing would know…


#10

The perplexing thing about the U61 error code is the statement “The unit is not broken” found on page 39 of the DMR-ES15 Operating Instructions. (This statement is also found on page 59 of the DMR-ES35V Operating Instructions and page 63 of the DMR-EZ17 Operating Instructions.)

Might someone on this Forum be able to shed more light on how this U61 “error” might be overcome?


#11

I think, the problem described isn’t a “normal” U61 message but the result of abnormal unit behavior caused power supply defect.


#12

In my DMR-ES15 there is no evidence of capacitors leakage, but U61 message appears after power on (the same sequence as described by formegi). Maybe some capacitor has dried up? Any suggestion how to check up the power supply?


#13

Hi,
another fix reported in the net:
[I]“Ultimately, the solution was to carefully slide the laser head to the back of the drive. The laser was originally forward (toward the tray door). Once I slid the laser all the way back, I put everything back together and everything worked properly again.”[/I]
What do You think about?
AlKwas


#14

AlKwas,

In an earlier post (#4 above) I reported that I slid the lens assembly to its rearmost position but that didn’t correct the U61 error situation with my machine.


#15

[QUOTE=DigaDo;2058594]
In an earlier post (#4 above) I reported that I slid the lens assembly to its rearmost position but that didn’t correct the U61 error situation with my machine.[/QUOTE]
Yes, my omission. Do You know how to exclude the power supply defect? You notice strange sounds after power on?
Panasonic service specified two possibilities - drive or digital circuit board deffect.
Regards,
AlKwas


#16

[QUOTE=jjeff;2038097]I cannot suggest the EZ-x7 line. [/QUOTE]
What’s Your opinion on EH-x7 line?
AlKwas


#17

In the US we don’t have the EH-x7 line so I really can’t comment on it. I had many EZ-17/27 machines and all exhibited flakey and unreliable behavior. My new EZ-28(the US replacement for EZ-27) does have a few of the quirks of the EZ-x7 line but has proven to be more reliable. It has locked up twice in 2 1/2 months but neither of the lockups resulted in u99 machine failure, like on my x7’s. Both of the lockups were easily reset by holding in the power button for 10 seconds. Kind of a soft reboot for Panny DVDR’s.

The reason I put up with the EZ line at all is because I can get such great PQ recordings off of HD digital broadcasts, otherwise I’d be still using my many ES machines which are less flakey and I believe more reliable.


#18

My Panasonic support (?) experience has been rather strange.

First they said to send them my ES-15 at their expense and they would see what the problem might be, Although two months over warranty, my impression was that they would repair the unit if the problem was one of the inherent faults that many Panasonic DVD recorders apparently have (as attested to by quite a few owner reviews on the Internet).

After they received the recorder, they sent me a letter asking me to approve their attempting a repair with the cost estimated at $130, but not necessarily limited to $130. They said they would inform me if the repair began to exceed $130 so I could stop at that point if I so desired. And, in any case, it would cost me $40 minimum just for their diagnosis of the problem.

I originally paid $130 for the recorder, brand new, including tax.

I have never owned an electronic device before that became worthless before even 14 months had gone by. I didn’t even get the chance to try out all of the recorder’s features.

Panasonic had an opportunity, at minimum cost on their part, to create a lifelong Panasonic customer. But they failed miserably.

Let the buyer beware.

P.S. With nothing to lose, I will open up the returned unit and see if anything looks fried or whatever.


#19

IMO ES-15’s aren’t worth sending out to fix. If you can’t fix it yourself toss it. I only paid $99 each for my last 2 new ES-15s, and while I like the units if they have a problem that I’m not able to fix they’ll be trashed, or saved for parts for my other ES machines.


#20

Formergi,

You can buy a Panasonic Factory Refurbished DMR-ES15 with a Panasonic warranty from a online Panasonic Authorized Reseller for less than $70.

I have never heard that the corporate Panasonic Service Center in Elk Grove Village IL charges for estimates or repairs going above $130 unless they have just changed their policy. Where did you send your Panasonic?

This is the advice that several on this Forum have given:

The corporate Panasonic Service Center in Elk Grove Village IL handles warranty and out of warranty repairs in a prompt and efficient manner.

For Panasonic warranty service, call 1-800-211-7262 to obtain a RMA.

Panasonic offers out of warranty flat-rate repairs for $130.00, including shipping both ways. Call 1-888-439-2676 for the flat-rate out of warranty service at the corporate Panasonic Service Center:

Panasonic Service Center
1590 Touhy Ave
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007

1-888-439-2676

For a Panasonic the best service is never local “Panasonic Authorized Service” as these locations service many brands, specializing in none. They many not have a service manual or parts for your product. They may charge whatever they please to service or repair out of warranty products. If parts are needed prepare to wait for an extended period.