What Goes Wrong On Panasonic Dvd Recorders?

I have several Panasonic DVRs and DVD/VHS combo recorders, some purchased new, some refurbished, some used, and some for parts. These consist of DMR-ES30V, DMR-ES40V, DMR-ES35V, DMR-ES15, and DMR-EZ17 models.

SaintBaz gave some very helpful advice concerning cleaning the DVD drive hub and related parts. That advice is found at:

http://club.cdfreaks.com/showthread.php?t=210507 (Fixing your Panny: When there’s a fault and lens cleaning doesn’t help…)

Recently I’ve been following this advice for one DMR-ES15, and three DMR-ES35V models. To open the case there are two or four large head Phillips screws on the sides and three Phillips screws securing the upper cover at the rear, found at the left, right and top center. This gives enough access to the DVD (and VHS drives) for cleaning.

After removing the four small Phillips screws and lifting the drive top cover notice the guide rail on the underside of the DVD cover. When viewing the DVD drive from the front (where the tray rolls out) notice the roller assembly at the rear of the tray. This mechanism must be positioned to the left corner before reassembly so these parts will be correctly aligned.

I have found two problems related to front panel buttons. If the machine has suffered some trauma to the top cover or front panel there may be a misalignment of the contacts between the front panel circuit board(s) and the chassis mother board(s). Misalignment of these contacts may cause left and/or right buttons not to respond. The second type of button failure occurs due to the malfunctioning of the small switches on the front panel circuit boards behind the front panel buttons. When pressing a front panel button if no click is heard there is a good chance that the switch on the circuit board may have failed.

If circuit board contact misalignment is suspected it is necessary to remove the front panel. After removing the top cover observe that there is one Phillips screw securing the front panel at top center. Once that screw is removed release the snap-clips; usually two at the top left and center; two on the left and right case sides; and two more are on the case bottom at the left and right.

Observe and correct front panel circuit board fit to the front panel and correctly seat circuit board screws. Notice that the front panel circuit board contacts have pointed guides to facilitate alignment with chassis mother board contact assemblies.

When reassembling a combo recorder be sure to hold the VHS door open as the front panel is being fit back into place. This will assure correct alignment with the VHS door lifting mechanism.

Reassemble the front panel back to the case. If the snap-clips fit without forcing this should correctly realign the circuit board contacts. If not, realign the front panel and attempt to fit it into place without forcing the snap-clips. If the front panel snap-clips do not easily fit use a straight edge along the case bottom to determine if the case is bowed due to some trauma to the top of the machine. A bowed case may cause circuit board contact misalignment. If the case is bowed it may be gently straightened.

In combo recorders the conductive bridges and connectors between the left and right chassis motherboards are sturdier than they appear. Nevertheless observe caution when working near these bridges.

Jazzguy1233 has mentioned capacitor failures on Panasonic hard drive recorders at:

http://club.cdfreaks.com/showthread.php?t=204006 (DMR-E85H Hangs on PLEASE WAIT)

Jazzguy1233 writes “I fixed my DVD Recorder, it turned out to be a power supply issue. There are two capacitors that fail in the power supply (the power supply is located under the hard drive holding bracket). I easily observed the failed capacitors because they appeared slightly bloated, with a slight leakage of substance on the top.”

So far on three of the four machines I have opened for cleaning I have observed the leaking of a beige substance from the same motherboard component. This component is identified as C11108 on a DMR-ES35V motherboard. It is a dark brown-covered canister with a shiny silver top, 1 3/16 inch tall by 11/16 inch wide. The dark brown cover has a wide grey stripe running down one side and the cannister has these markings, H0630, 220uF250V CS(M), 105 (degrees) C, nichicon. There is severe leaking on a non-functional DMR-ES35V parts machine that can not produce a picture for viewing–but that machine can tune and record satisfactorily on a DVD that may be played on other Panasonics. There is minor leaking on two other machines, one a still-functional DMR-ES15 (that experienced a couple of recording failures a couple of days following a power outage); and on one non-functional DMR-ES35V, a parts machine that produces a pink display with narrow vertical blue/black lines. This machine can not operate its own DVD drive or a known good DVD drive and its “floating” circuit board assembly swapped from the other just-mentioned DMR-ES35V parts machine.

THANK YOU SO!!! Much. Your instructions worked like a champ and saved me $300+

So nice to find that everything made today doesn’t HAVE to be “disposable”. Now if we could just do something about the plastic disposable vacuums they make now! :slight_smile:

Again thank you for sharing this valuable, well written tip!


In my earlier post I described and linked to a post concerning the cleaning of Panasonic DVD drive lens, spindles, and related parts. My post characterized opening of DVD drives as being simple and straightforward, which it is for 2006 and newer models. (These DVD drives, with the exception of the several ribbon connections on the underside, are largely self-contained metal units somewhat like those found in computers.)

In the 2006 and newer models the opening of the Panasonic case, removing the DVD drive lid, cleaning the drive, closing of the drive lid, and closing the case takes less than fifteen minutes.

Yesterday came the first occasion I had to open a DMR-ES30V case for DVD drive cleaning. I found the DVD drive on this 2005 model to be a black plastic assembly with an operational mechanism partly extending from the right side, and what seems to be some type of interlock at the left rear. Due to some time constraints it was necessary to set aside the DMR-ES30V. I expect to return to this project as I have more time to determine the correct DVD drive opening procedure.

Today I set aside more time to clean the DVD and VHS drives of my original DMR-ES30V. This is the first Panasonic DVD combo recorder I purchased new in September 2005. After eleven months’ use there was a DVD drive failure. Panasonic replaced the DVD drive under warranty in August 2006. Other than that this DMR-ES30V has performed well; initially as the primary DVD recorder and later as the secondary DVD recorder, one of two Panasonics enslaved to Comcast digital cable boxes since new. This machine has had frequent heavy use.

I pulled this DMR-ES30V from service following a disc recording failure, a lock-up requiring a manual power down, a self-test without recovery, a channel up/down forced reset, after which I could eject the disc. (None of these measures have been needed on this machine since August 2006.) The failed disc had a chunk of debris stuck to the recording surface at the point where the recording ended. After removing the debris from the disc it could not be read on a DMR-ES35V.

Whenever I have a disc recording failure I remove the machine from service, clean the DVD drive, and either return the machine to service or swap it out with a standby machine. This machine was set aside for standby use.

DISSASSEMBLY AND CLEANING: See general information in the earlier post. On a DMR-ES30V the case cover and the front panel needs to be removed in order to give clearance for the DVD drive lid to be lifted somewhat at the front, slid forward, allowing the rear to disengage, following which the lid may be lifted off. The opaque plastic part (earlier thought to be an “interlock”) seems to be a retainer/guide. Following the detailed instructions in the earlier link clean the lens, rubber and plastic spindle parts and hub area, and the circular hub in the DVD drive lid. Clean the VHS drive as well. Hold the VHS door open as the front panel is fitted back into place. Allow around 35 minutes for these procedures.

This DMR-ES30V DVD drive was found with a soiled rubber spindle and hub with loose dust and debris on the spindle and disc tray. The VHS tape path and recording heads were cleaned but the greased mechanisms were not serviced even though they had collected much dust and debris. The swabs were very dirty after the cleaning.

MODEL COMPARISONS. As I have serviced and/or rebuilt several DMR-ES35V or DMR-ES15 models, here are some observations of differences between the DMR-ES30V and those models:

The DMR-ES30V DVD drive is of a more open design on the underside. This admits more dust and debris than later model drives. There is a greased bumper at the rear of the DVD tray above and behind the spinning disc. This would seem to attract more debris than the greased rod assemblies located below the disc tray.

The DMR-ES30V has a smaller fan than the DMR-ES35V. There is no fan on the DMR-ES15 model. The DMR-ES30V power supply is found on its own platform at the rear center; the DMR-ES35V and DMR-ES15 power supplies are incorporated into the right chassis motherboard (DMR-ES35V) or the main chassis motherboard (DMR-ES15). The DMR-ES30V front panel has two circuit boards; the right circuit board spans two thirds the width of the machine, carrying the comprehensive display and the right button switches; the DMR-ES35V display incorporates the remote sensor and is mounted at the front of the left chassis motherboard; the DMR-ES30V remote sensor is incorporated into the power button assembly, and, with the inputs, is part of the left front panel circuit board; the DMR-ES35V has smaller left and right front panel circuit boards that carry switches for the front panel buttons and inputs on the left. The DMR-ES15 has switch pad circuit boards mounted to the chassis.

Yes, Thank You So Much!!! Digado, You Should Be Writing User Manuals For Big Companies, As Your Instructions Are Extremely Clear And Easy-to-follow.

I just want to add some more points, in case it will help someone who has suffered through the same difficulties that I have had.

The problem with my DMS-ES30V, which I bet is shared by all other Panasonic DMS machines like the 20 and 40 series, is that I would insert a disc and it would get stuck in the drive, with the SLF CHECK message showing. Usually this problem would resolve itself (after 5 or 10 minutes!) by an onscreen message saying “An error has occurred. Press Enter”. Then I would be able to open the drive and eject the problem disc. (Incidentally, though I haven’t tried it yet, I am hoping the solution at:


will fix this problem of discs causing the SLF CHECK message to appear. In case you can’t find it, it says to wash discs with a mild water, detergent and bleach solution. Hope that prevents the disc SLF CHECK problems, as I believe what causes them are defects, oil or dirt on the disc surface.

Anyway, being faced with a machine that would not exit the SLF CHECK function and which would therefore not play or record on either side, I had to either contact a Panasonic Service Center (good luck - probably less expensive to just buy a new machine) or else find some way to manually remove the disc from the drive. Following DigaDo’s instructions (see above) I opened the case. To remove the black DVD player, you have to undo three screws, 1 on each side and 1 at the back (Use a magnetic screwdriver or the screws may fall down into and behind some mechanics or circuitry on the bottom of the case - not fun.) Then disconnect the two leads on the left side (careful, one is very delicate).

There is a little white plastic button on the left side of the DVD player, which, when depressed, allows you to fully open the door. (This made sense, as I couldn’t believe Panasonic would engineer the machine without some easy way for service people to remove stuck discs.) With the door fully open, I gently tapped the DVD disc until it was dislodged from the spindle. Then, by turning the drive door-side-down over a soft surface, I was able to gently shake the drive until an edge of the disc was exposed. At last I could manually pull it out out of the drive.

Now came the scary part. After reconnecting the drive and reassembling the case, the first few times the machine would not display anything on its LCD screen. I thought I had totally messed things up. I could hear slight electronic noises inside the box, so I knew it had power, but there was no display (time, power on) at all. This was where DigaDo’s instructions were invaluable. I realized that if there was no display, some part of the circuitry must not be connected. When you replace the front cover, you’ve got to make sure the 3 black multi-plug connectors (2 on the left, 1 on the right) are lined up with their slots. To do this, as you are reseating the front display cover, hold the cover up against the box and watch from above to see if the connectors are seating in their slots or not. If they are not, gently push them into alignment with a thin screwdriver until they are perfectly lined up (you will then see them slide in).

After I did this, the machine powered up again and is working like new. Nothing more satisfying than fixing a seemingly insolvable problem by yourself!

Hope this helps someone else and thanks again to DigaDo for his extremely clear instructions.

Oh, and one more thing: If I recall correctly, if all you need to do is remove the DVD drive, you don’t even have to remove the front cover. It comes out by itself.

Digado and dana4234, thanks for excellent posts!

I have a stuck disc that self check-loops my DMR-E85H. Is it necessary to remove the entire black DVD drive just to get the disc out?

I managed to open it up and remove the disc, fixing the unit! :smiley:

A summary of the the procedure of removing a disc: I needed to unscrew the box, remove the front, unscrew the lid on the DVD drive and finally open the lid and remove the disc. Reverse procedure for closing it up.

To me it seemed that on the DMR-E85H the only way of removing a disc is to open the DVD drive lid, I don’t think there’s any way around that. It also seems, like DigaDo also said, that you have to remove the front to be able to open the DVD drive lid.

The front is only kept in place by five plastic clips; one on each side and three on the bottom. Just pry them carefully and pull the front off. Just to the right of the LCD display, there is a little row of pins connecting the front to the unit. They are pretty covered so if you put the front back carefully and levelled, they should be alright.

The DMR-E85H is a little bit too sensitive about discs! :frowning:

The post just above this one includes an interior photo of an E85H with the DVD drive open.

Whenever the DVD drive is opened for cleaning (or another purpose) it is very important to position the roller/slider mechanism to the left before closing the DVD drive lid. The roller/slider is the small white wheel seen at the left rear of the disc tray. The left-most position correctly aligns the roller/slider with the guide rail on the underside of the drive lid.