DVD TRAY, MANUAL RELEASE
Do Panasonics have a manual release for the DVD tray? Yes they do. The first three photos show the DVD drive and the underside of a DMR-ES15, a 2006 model DVD recorder. This 2006 model DVD drive should be typical of DVD drives found in other models/years. DVD drive mechanisms in 2007 and 2008 models are internally similar to 2006 drives.
Manual release of the disc tray is described below. Be sure to read the cautions following that information if you expect to remove the DVD drive lid or further disassemble the DVD drive.
Some Panasonic models have a slot in the bottom of the case, see the first photo. Use a small flat-bladed screwdriver to slide the unlocking mechanism. The tray will be unlocked and slide out about 3/8 inch. Then open the front panel DVD door and carefully guide the tray outward with a hooked wire or tool. 2008 models have been observed to have tamper-indicating tape over the slot on the underside of the case.
On models that have no slot on the case bottom it will be necessary to remove the Panasonic case top cover. At the right side of the drive will be a small opening, see the second photo. Use a small flat-bladed screwdriver to release the unlocking mechanism. The tray will be unlocked enough to manually extend the tray with a small screwdriver.
The third photo shows the unlocking mechanism (the white part) viewed from the bottom of the DVD drive.
There are certain cautions when the manual disc tray release is utilized in relation to opening of the DVD drive lid or disassembly of the drive for other reasons such as replacing the laser assembly. In those instances it is possible to damage the release mechanism bumper, or as Panasonic calls it the "Stopper."
Panasonic gives dire warnings in two awkwardly worded translations found on page 11 of the 2007 DMR-EZ17 Service Manual:
"1-If you push strong and move the Slide Cam to counter direction of the arrow, the Stopper will be bended and Slide Cam won't stop at Stopper and will reach position for taking out Traverse Base. And Traverse Base might fall down later." I would translate this advice something like "1-Do not use force to move the tray release mechanism beyond the locked position bumper as the bumper may be damaged allowing the laser assembly mounting panel to become dislodged."
"2-Moreover, the slide cam will be on irregular position against condition of the shipment if the tray is pushed by the hand after manual tray ejection is done, the hold of traverse base becomes imperfect, and the danger of fall of traverse base increases. Absolutely, complete close of tray by electicity after manual tray ejection was done." I would translate this advice something like "2-After manually opening the disc tray there may follow some misalignment of the disc tray mechanism when the disc tray is closed by hand. To correct the disc tray alignment to prevent dislodging the laser assembly mounting panel reconnect the power cord and press the disc tray open/close button."
A complicating factor arises here since a Panasonic should not be powered on when the DVD drive lid is open, primarily due to safety and health considerations related to the laser. Operating the disc tray without the lid secured and the roller/slider correctly aligned with the guide rail on the underside of the drive lid makes for additional alignment and functionality problems. For those reasons I manually closed the extended disc tray of the first DVD drive I disassembled to swap out a laser assembly with its mounting panel as a unit. I found some difficulty reassembling and realigning the disc tray mechanism and the laser assembly mounting panel that subsequently did "fall down" right into my lap! I was able to resolve these difficulties and realign the parts after comparing that drive with another assembled DVD drive and
consulting the illustration found in the fourth attached image. It is important to correctly position the low center post at the front edge of the laser assembly mounting panel to the lowest guide channel on the disc tray release machanism as depicted in the illustration. (Notice that the 2007 DMR-EZ17 Service Manual photos show a 2006 model DVD drive.)