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Pioneer DVR outputs don't work - Am I screwed?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I own a Pioneer DVR 533H-S.

I think I may have fried the video outputs on it. The composite and UHF/VHF connections don't give me any image.

However, the rest seems to work fine and the hard drive sounds healthy.

I have some important video on the hard drive, so it'd be nice to at least get those videos burned to disk.

Here are the options and questions on my mind:

1) Am I totally screwed in terms of fixing the video outputs? Do you think it's a "motherboard" type issue, beyond repair? Or how would I determine what the exact problem is?

2) I could pop the hard drive into an identical/compatible DVR and the burn the videos that way. That'd require a getting a Pioneer remote and the software disk. Seems like a pain. But is that the best option?

3) Am I correct in assuming that I can't easily get this hard drive read by a CPU so I could get the files off that way? I tried hooking it up to my computer... Can't be read.

4) It occurred to me that I could get a friend's "identical" Pioneer DVR and use the remote to operate my DVR "blind". But I'd have to get an identical DVR since I've noticed differences in menu functionality between models.

Any advice is appreciated.

Thank you!

btw, for the next time I buy a DVR, what do you recommend in terms of a product I can actually connect to my computer for burning recorded files. Is TIVO the only product that can do this?
post #2 of 9
There are multiple outputs on the machine - I assume you've tried them all?
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
I tried Output 1 and Output 2, including the S-Video outputs.

I also tried the UHF/VHF.

The only thing I didn't try was Component
post #4 of 9
Have you unplugged from power and let sit for awhile... as long as you can. Your titles will be safe but this might "reset" the other things that might affect ops?

There's also a key combination that resets the 533, like STOP and Power on front of machine while it's on (I think those are the buttons, they're in the manual way towards the back, if I remember correctly).
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
Yes, that's correct about resetting. You press the stop button and the standby/On button and it'll reset.

I tried that. Still no signal. I wonder if there's a way to test what elements might be blown on the mother board.

It seems everything's operational besides...of course I can't know for sure since I can't see or hear anything. But the remote control seems to make things work according to the front display and DVDs tick off in timecode..
post #6 of 9
Can't you watch it over component, to see what is happening, and see to dump the HDD titles to disc?

Also, were you using the same input on whatever you are feeding with the DVDR for your output tests? Perhaps it is the input on another piece of equipment that is out.
post #7 of 9
It would be almost impossible to offload the HDD files to DVD "flying blind". You need to either have the unit serviced to repair the video outputs, or kiss your videos goodbye. The option of installing the HDD into another 533 is complicated by the 533 being Pioneers most grotesquely defective and inconsistent recorder design (each 533 had slightly different software, if the software on your HDD is not an exact match to the "donor" 533 chassis, you're screwed). The service remote and service disc will not help here, the dreadful (and necessary) TVGOS software cannot be installed or modified with those tools. If you can get the Pioneer service remote and disc, you could try installing your HDD into an older 520 or newer 640 model: these use the same HDD interface but completely ignore the TVGOS software. The 520 uses a Type 1 service disc GGV-1256, the 640 a Type 2 GGV-1321.

There has never been a DVD/HDD recorder whose HDD could be popped into a PC and have its video files easily read. With certain low-level HDD recovery software you can "salvage" the files, but this is much more labor-intensive than just reading the files on the recorder. Without the recorder operating system to run the drive, the files will appear on the PC as a random jumble of bits and pieces with no clue to how they go together. Even the popular TiVO-PC arrangement involves the TiVO streaming files to the PC: you don't connect its drive directly to Windows.

I've been repairing and rebuilding Pioneer recorders for the last five years, but I have never encountered your "no video output whatsoever" problem. It would be very peculiar for all the video outputs to go dead at the same time, because they're on the reinforced metal back panel (the front panel inputs are on fragile plastic and easily damaged). I agree with the suggestions to disconnect every cable from your 533 except the line out to the TV. Try a different cable, and try the component outputs (if your TV does not have component connections, bring your 533 to a friends house with a compatible TV). Double check your TV's connections- there may be a shorted input there and not on the recorder: try another TV. Forget the RF coax outputs: the 533 does not have a channel 3/4 output at all (the connectors are for looping your antenna feed to another device).
post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 
Ok, thanks. It's great to get advice from a Pioneer veteran.

Yeah, I've tried this with multiple TVs. And I know the TVs work because other devices work with them.

I'll take your advice and that of others and try *all* the connections. Essentially, that means the only one left - the component output.

Sounds like the 533 model is a pain especially.

I might be able to get my hands on a 520, so I could try a Type 1 service disc GGV-1256. I would also need the service remote too, right?
Otherwise, I might just throw up my hands.

Thanks to everyone for their advice. It's been a great help even though the ultimate result may be disappointing.
post #9 of 9
You should really have your 533 looked at by an independent repair shop, unlike Pioneer service centers the independents will usually confine their repair attempts to the obvious simple problem, which is most likely a bad solder joint from motherboard to video out jacks. This is a fairly common electronics repair task and shouldn't be too expensive, and again unlike Pioneer the independent guy won't tamper with the HDD. There's a good chance you have an under-$100 repair problem here. I would go this route before attempting anything more drastic like transplanting the drive into another recorder (the cost of a "generic" service remote knockoff alone exceeds $50, plus you have get the two discs).

Note transplanting drives between various models can be unpredictable: sometimes the donor chassis easily accepts the HDD and lets you offload the videos, sometimes not. I have succeeded in doing this among the 510, 520, 540 and 640 models but have not tried it using an HDD from a 531-533-633. Again, the 2005 Pioneers were kind of a one-off, bizarro-world anomaly among Pioneer recorders: they have an added layer of complex software interactions due to the TVGOS feature. It is difficult enough to get a 533 to accept another HDD, theres no telling how its eccentric HDD software would affect an interchange to another model altogether. A 520 might ignore the TVGOS software and just read the video files, or the TVGOS software might confuse or lock out the 520 operating system. And the 533 does not take kindly to having either its burner or HDD removed and replaced: you may not be able to put the 533 back together into a functional unit.

If your 533 burner and HDD were working OK before this video output problem, its worth putting $100 into it to get it fixed professionally. If your burner and HDD were working normally, and this is just a broken connection in the video outputs, the recorder can and should be fixed. OTOH, if you were also having any burner or HDD issues, those usually cannot be repaired in a 533 and the machine should be discarded or sold off "as-is". Buy a new Magnavox H2160 from Wal*Mart online ($198) or J&R Electronics (refurbished like new $159). The H2160 has comparable features/performance but includes an ATSC tuner and is easily DIY repaired.
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