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Has anyone been able to fix a panasonic dvr that stops reading discs?

post #1 of 47
Thread Starter 
Greetings all.

I have had 2 ES10's, an ES20 and now an EZ27.

Each time they get picky about reading and then give up completely.

Life span has been any where from a few months to a year max.

The EZ27 gave up last night, displaying 'no read' with any disc, even movies.

I opened it up to see if perhaps it was dirty. Using a swap and alcohol I cleaned the spindle and lens. It was surprisingly clean.

Reassembled, same probelm, 'no read'.

These pannys are great, love the features, but am getting tired of the reliability issues and dropping $200 a year.

Any ideas?

post #2 of 47
I was having lots of problems with my older Panny's grinding when recording/finalizing. I found out that the disc was slipping in the spindle, which caused big problems. I think spindle slippage is even a bigger problem with the Panny's than a dirty lens. It's easy to check for. If you look at the clear inner part of the hub of the disc. It should be glass smooth. If you see any circular scratches in the plastic, you are having disc slippage.
Other than that I might ask what type of discs you are using, +- R RW and brand.
Now you said your Panny's are also refusing to read "movies" . If by this you mean commercially pressed movies, that kinda eliminates the discs, unless they are badly scratched or dirty.
You could check out this odd thread I started a while ago. It talked about the disc slippage I was having, and a cheap easy way to temporarily stop it. Good luck.
post #3 of 47
Thread Starter 
Thx 4 the reply.

I do not see any marks on the discs and it does this with new discs too.

Not sure what the normal procedure is, but this is what I see.

When the tray closes:

1. Lasers moves back and forth a few times. Each time it moves towards the center of the disc the laser pulses once.

2. After this the spindle makes a partial turn. That's it for spindle movement.

3. Repeat step 1, but just one movement and pulse.

4. No Read

post #4 of 47
Sounds as if the laser was heading for the Power Calibration Area (PCA) to run its 15 tests, as described in this thread.

The fact that it stops might actually indicate a slipping disc... I can imagine if the disc slips while the laser is burning a test, previous data may be overwritten or otherwise trashed and maybe the PC area becomes unusable?

Other possibilities incl. the disc fails the first PC test, or the drive is bad?
post #5 of 47
Thread Starter 
Thx wajo, will dig into that thread.

Another note, it does the 'No Read' routine even when there is no disc. I don't think that is normal.
post #6 of 47
Not sure what the "No Read" message is, but my Philips 3575 checks the DVD tray each time I turn it on and shows "Load" even when there's no disc., apparently an auto-check for presence of a disc. I guess that's the "simple" and only way to check for a disc... after all, you could leave a disc in the tray, so there's no tray open/close action, so I guess it HAS TO do a mechanical/laser check for a disc??? Just a SWAG (Scientific Wild Ass Guess)!

I suppose it's possible that your "No Read" message could just be the way that Panny model indicates no disc, bad disc, etc., i.e., any condition that indicates it can't write to a DVD? Maybe others with same model will confirm or debunk?
post #7 of 47
Originally Posted by wajo View Post

Sounds as if the laser was heading for the Power Calibration Area (PCA) to run its 15 tests, as described in this thread.

The fact that it stops might actually indicate a slipping disc... I can imagine if the disc slips while the laser is burning a test, previous data may be overwritten or otherwise trashed and maybe the PC area becomes unusable?

Other possibilities incl. the disc fails the first PC test, or the drive is bad?

Yes I thoroughly believe in this Power calibration area. Every time a recordable disc is inserted it writes to this area, and if there is slippage during this test, I believe it can defiantly trash the disc. Case in point: One time I had a -R disc that I had many titles on. It was unfinalized and I inserted it in my recorder(which was having problems with the slipping hub). After several seconds of terrible grinding the disc said UNSUPPORT. I ejected the disc and reinserted it, terrible grinding again. Next I put the disc in a newer recorder that did not slip. This time no grinding, but still UNSUPPORT. The disc, and all it's contents was trashed, and all I had done was to insert it in the older recorder, I had actually not even recorded to it(other than the auto PCA).

Note when I turn on my Panny's with no disc in the drive they say READ, followed by a slight grind from the drive, followed by NO DISC. This happens on my ES-30, ES-25 and EZ-17. Your NO READ kinda sounds like it can't read for some reason??

What brand and type of recordables do you use? Maybe if you are using poor discs, it may be leading to premature failure of your machines. Again until I figured out the disc slippage on my older Panny's I was getting a collection of older recorders I did not trust anymore. Now I trust them, but have too many
post #8 of 47
Thread Starter 
Hey all,

I seem to recall prior to the problems that if it did not have a disc it would display 'no disc'. Now it seems that it can't even tell that whether there is a disc or not, always says 'no read'.

Keep in mind this happens with store bought movies too, every one, spider man 3, star wars , etc. These are all very new and still, no read.

Just pointing that out, it doesn't matter what disc is used.

This does seem to be a common problem with these panny's. Wish we could figure it out.
post #9 of 47
Thread Starter 
Oh, for recording, back when it worked, I always used Panasonic DVD-RAM.
post #10 of 47
Thread Starter 

I don't use this to watch movies, I have another player for that.

However I do use it to record just about every day.

Anyone know what the lifespan should be on these? I could easily have over 1,000 hours of recording, then another 1,000 playing it back.
post #11 of 47
Heat and heat-sink design are big issues with laser diodes, and writing and erasing create the most heat (run at higher power level than playing). If your unit is used a lot for writing, and happens to be in a relatively hot or airless environment, 1,000 hours of writing might be an issue. Since the quality of the heat-sink design and heat environment vary so much, not sure anyone could say how long any laser system should/could last.
post #12 of 47
Thread Starter 
DigaDo, wow!

Question. Seems you buy lots of used ones. Is the defective dvd drive a common problem?
post #13 of 47
While my Panasonics have been in heavy and frequent use, only two DVD drives have actually experienced a laser assembly failures. The first after eleven months of heavy use of my first DMR-ES30V. That drive made intermittent screeching and grinding noises and then reported “no read.” The noise became more frequent and resulted in finalization failures. Panasonic replaced the drive under the one year warranty. That was in August 2006. Perhaps all that DVD Drive really needed was a lens and hub/spindle cleaning. At the time I was unaware of that procedure.

I should admit that within the first month of my ownership I mistakenly purchased a spindle of HP DVD+RW discs (not realizing that the DMR-ES30V does not support this format). Several of these discs would not even load. I believe the display reported “unsupported.” Two grudgingly recorded but during the burn there was constant loud screeching. I took the remaining HP discs back to the store thinking that they were defective. I exchanged the HPs for a spindle of Verbatim DVD-R that worked perfectly. Don't attempt to burn DVD+RW discs in 2005 model year Panasonic recorders.

After switching to DVD-R discs the DMR-ES30V functioned well for another nine months or so. The other DVD Drive laser assemblly failure followed nine months of heavy use after having been swapped from a DMR-ES35V parts machine into a DMR-ES15, a model without a cooling fan.

In early 2006 one spindle of CompUsa DVD-R discs had many failures so I stopped using no-name brands. Somewhat later I purchased one spindle of cheap DVD+R discs that also produced many failures. Following that I limited my purchases to "name-brand" DVD-R discs but that didn't always prevent problems. In late 2006 I purchased some Memorex DVD-R discs. I used these among my Panasonic recorders. I began experiencing frequent failures--one in every six Memorex discs failed. I switched back to some older TDK discs that I still had on hand and the problems disappeared. Since that time TDK has "farmed out" production of their discs to CMC, the same maker as Memorex discs. I stopped purchasing Memorex and TDK discs.

For a time I purchased Verbatim, Maxell and Sony discs. Of these I preferred the Verbatim and Maxell discs. I no longer purchase retail brand 16x discs. My prefered discs for archival use are Taiyo Yuden Premium Line 8x DVD-R media found here:


In 2007 I purchased two used DMR-ES15 machines that were advertised as “does not read DVDs” or “will not play discs” because I had two DMR-ES35V parts machines that had good DVD drives for swapping. (The DMR-ES15 and DMR-ES35V use similar model DVD drive.) The ES35 parts machines, purchased at very little cost, had a variety of problems unrelated to DVD drives.

While I know nothing of the history of the Panasonics purchased used, nor do I know why both DMR-ES15 machines had bad DVD drives, I speculate that:

1-Perhaps these machines might have been shut up in a cabinet without proper ventilation.

2-The DMR-ES15 does not have an internal cooling fan. There is a ventilation port reserved for a fan, and a motherboard location for a power connector but without a fan. For these reasons a DMR-ES15 may be more prone to run hotter than fan-equipped Panasonics.

More advice for Panasonic owners, be sure your machines are well ventilated, especially with heavy or frequent use.

One used DMR-ES35V and one used DMR-ES15 were found to have defective tuners. Both machines had some damage to or near the tuner. On the DMR-ES35V the remedy involved swapping the left chassis motherboard with a good tuner from another parts machine. Tuners may not be interchanged between the ES35 and ES15 Panasonic models. The ES35 has a switchable unmodulated/modulated RF output and the ES15 RF output only passes through the unmodulated signal from the RF input.

There are three other problems worth mentioning here:

1-Front panel button failure on combo recorders due to misalignment of front panel circuit board contacts with chassis motherboard contacts. The fix is to remove the front panel, realign it, and reinstall it. If the contacts are still misaligned check the Panasonic case as it may need to be straightened if it has suffered some trauma.

2-Front panel button failure due to failure of circuit board mini-switches behind the front panel buttons. If the front panel button doesn’t click when pressed the switch may have failed. The fix is to replace the defective mini-switch with that from a parts machine or swap out the front panel circuit board. I found one DMR-ES35V where the previous user had pressed the VHS EJECT button so forcefully that the left front panel circuit board broke. I swapped that front panel circuit board with one from a parts machine.

Note: On a combo recorder hold the VHS door open when fitting the front panel back to the case. This will correctly align the VHS door lifting mechanism.

3-Electrolytic Capacitor leakage. This leakage, in varying degrees, was present on a few of my Panasonics. This capacitor is designated as C1143 on a DMR-ES15 and as C11108 on a DMR-ES35V. This tall (30mm) electrolytic capacitor is located in the power supply section of the right chassis motherboard on a DMR-ES35V or on the main chassis motherboard on a DMR-ES15. These capacitors are of different specification, the DMR-ES35V uses 220uF 250V 105 degrees; the DMR-ES15 uses 100uF 350V 105 degrees. (On a DMR-ES30V the power supply is located on a partially covered platform at the rear center.) One non-functional DMR-ES35V parts machine evidenced the most severe leakage. At some point this capacitor leakage may cause operational failures and, perhaps, lead to other component failures. If this capacitor is leaking your Panasonic is operating on borrowed time. If the power supply is found on the chassis motherboard replacement requires extensive disassembly to remove the chassis motherboard from the machine. Capacitor replacement is described in this thread:

post #14 of 47
Listen to your DVD Drive. The noises will tell you what's wrong.

If the DVD Drive makes "clunking" "chugging" or "errp" noises, has read, write, and finalizing failures and even the U61, U88 or U99 errors the problem may be a dirty lens or a failed laser assembly. Start with a gentle cleaning of the lens as well as a thorough cleaning of the rubber hub/spindle. If that does not remedy the problem the laser assembly has probably failed. It's time to take advantage of the $130 flat-rate repair through the corporate Panasonic Service Centers in Elgin or Elk Grove Village Illinois:


If the DVD Drive makes "grinding" or "scrubbing" noises, has occasional read, write and finalizing failures the problem may be a dirty rubber hub/spindle area. Thoroughly clean the rubber hub and spindle area. Gently clean the lens as well.

Detailed information, advice and photos is found here:


Following these detailed instructions clean the lens, rubber and plastic spindle parts and hub area, and the circular guide in the DVD drive lid.

Panasonic 2006 and newer DVD drives are easy to service. Remove the case top cover to get access to the DVD drive. Remove the four small Phillips screws and lift the DVD drive top lid. When viewing the DVD drive from the front (where the tray rolls out) notice the roller/slider assembly at the rear of the DVD tray. This mechanism must be positioned to the left corner before reassembly so these parts will be correctly aligned to the guide rail on the underside of the drive lid. With the 2006 and newer models opening of the Panasonic case, removing the DVD drive lid, cleaning the drive, closing the drive lid, and closing the case takes around fifteen minutes.

With 2005 or older models the case cover and the front panel assembly may need 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 at the left rear seems to be a retainer/guide. Allow around 35 minutes for opening the case, removal of the front panel after loosening the snap clips at the top, sides and bottom; removing the DVD drive lid; cleaning and reassembly.

On a combo recorder be sure to hold the VHS door open as the front panel is fitted back into place.

I had an older (2003) Panasonic DVD-S35 player where the DVD drive itself is of a more "open" design, but cleaning access to the rubber spindle is more difficult. I used a long-handled cotton swab.
post #15 of 47
DigaDo.....Wow!! Just WOW!! Are you a Panny service technician? I have never seen a person with so many pannys, so heavily used, or with this much knowledge about them. Props man. Seriously.
post #16 of 47
digado, did yer fingers git tired ?

i must be lucky; i got a new es-15 in 5-06, mainly to use whilst tosh dr2 was getting new drive unit. '15 got used a lot for about 1 yr-400+/_ discs. ran and still runs perfectly. if it breaks i dont know if its worth sending in to get fixed, unlike my 2 tosh dr2s which i do have repaired when necessary.

i now use it only for w/s content that runs between 2:10 and 3 hrs (which the toshes dont handle as well) or 4x3 content. all in fr mode.

im also impressed wid yer knowledge/experience.
post #17 of 47

I purchased my first DMR-ES15 while my first DMR-ES30V was away at the Panasonic Service Center in Illinois for drive replacement in August 2006. My DMR-ES30V was back in service in less than two weeks!

This first DMR-ES15 is still functioning well with over 2,800 hours recording. It did have a couple of recording failures a few months back. I opened it up and cleaned the DVD drive spindle and hub. I noticed some minor capacitor leakage so I set it aside for standby use. A couple of weeks later I returned it to service. (After all, two weeks of vacation sometimes does a body good.) It has continued to perform well. It is set up as the second Panasonic enslaved to my digital cable box so it records in tandem with the first Panasonic when TCM is showing worthwhile programming blocks. Last night it recorded around 5.5 hours of 1960s movies (even though my favorites are early talkies through the film noir era) and just now it's started recording Kitty Foyle (1940) and will be recording some widescreen movies after that. Another DMR-ES15 takes over later in the evening.

I also like the fact that Panasonics, even entry level models, record in widescreen. Flexible Recording is a frequently used feature with my Panasonics.

Regarding snow, here in town we have no snow, but a drive up to Mt. Hood (around fifty miles away) or out to Detroit, a small town up in the hills, and we would find the folks trying to dig out of 8-10 feet of snow. (Yesterday Detroit was seen on the national news shows.) I think I'll stay home.
post #18 of 47
we got a ton of snow and another 4-6 inches coming tomorrow and sun.
be4 i ditched my hd service and the 2 accompaning(?) sa8000hd dvrs i made a lot of w/s and older 4x3 movies, like 'vacation in reno' w jack haley (scarecrow from 'wiz of oz'); 'old new york' (slim pickens)-about robert fultons 1st steamboat, 'virginia city' w errol flynn, 'carson city' (in color!), and a whole bunch more i cant remember right now.
channels like tcm and a few others show this stuff. most are in b+w and may never be seen on dvd.

how about the channel-american life tv- all kinds of oldies- mtm, man/girl from uncle, honeymooners, etc, the list goes on and on. comcast took it and hdnet/movies away so i ditched service. pissed me off.

at least some of us got some of this stuff on dvd.

for w/s, i use my toshes unless content is more than 2:10. they use the flags so the discs play properly on both w/s and 4x3 tvs which i dont even have anymore but family and friends still do..
post #19 of 47

From what you've seen & done, do you think it is possible to swap a digital tuner from a newer model into a unit with a HDD? If the tuner is a separate circuit board I was curious if they could swapped. Might have to cut open or modify the case, but perhaps electronically they could be swapped. Or is the tuner built onto a main circuit board?
post #20 of 47

I doubt that tuner swaping may be accomplished based upon these considerations:

1-Physical Considerations. The RF inputs and outputs are located in a stand-up tuner assembly that has more than twenty pins tightly arranged and soldered to the chassis motherboard. On an analog-only Panasonic this is the complete tuner. On an analog/digital Panasonic I would assume that this analog tuner assembly is somewhat modified in order to be a "portal" (for want of a better term) to the digital tuner section, a circuit board that carries the digital tuner with the LSI chip.

2-Operational/Technical Considerations. As technology is not my field I can not even begin to understand or describe the technical considerations. I would just speculate that, in addition to the separate tuner assemblies, there would likely be chassis motherboard and/or other components to support the digital tuning technology. Perhaps others may offer a more informed response.
post #21 of 47
Originally Posted by DigaDo View Post

Here is advice concerning DVD drives that seem to be failing but just need a spindle/hub cleaning:


Following these detailed instructions clean the lens, rubber and plastic spindle parts and hub area, and the circular guide in the DVD drive lid.......

Thanks DigiDo and the rest of the posters. You guys just saved me $130 and the agony of waiting for my unit to be shipped to/from Panasonic. The center spindle cleaning brought my unit from "toaster" to like new DVD recorder.

Thank you, thank you, thank you
post #22 of 47
The manufacturers would rather that one buys a new product. $$$

The repair shops would rather that one brings in the machine for a diagnosis followed by a servicing or overhaul. $$$

This DVD servicing information should be widely disseminated.

The procedure requires a phillips screwdriver, some isopropyl alcohol, a few cotton swabs, and takes fifteen to thirty minutes (depending upon model and drive design).

Here and in a follow up post are some year-old photos showing the lens and hub/spindle cleaning plus a few other interior photos of a 2005 DMR-ES40V:
post #23 of 47
Just wanna let everyone know, i did the cleaning procedure in both my ES15's eariler, and i was amazed how quickly it formatted afterwards(DVD-Ram), no more grinding noise at all, recording movie onto DVD-R later on, and gonna see how it acts with that. Also much quieter when reading a disc prior to recording, also edited one recording, that even seemed faster.
post #24 of 47
Here are more year-old photos showing interior features and refitting the front panel to a 2005 DMR-ES40V:
post #25 of 47
I have a Panasonic DMR-ES15 that beeps 5 times. The first 4 are higher pitched.
It will not see a disc anymore. I have used a dvd cleaner and also compressed air.
Any ideas what might be wrong. I can still use the tuner.

Ed Cook
post #26 of 47
Originally Posted by ed cook View Post

I have a Panasonic DMR-ES15 that beeps 5 times. The first 4 are higher pitched.
It will not see a disc anymore. I have used a dvd cleaner and also compressed air.
Any ideas what might be wrong. I can still use the tuner.

Ed Cook

"Beeps" from a DMR-ES15? I've had four of that 2006 model and never heard any beeps. I've heard no beeps with other 2005 and 2006 ES series models and the 2007 EZ series models I own. Now, my 2008 DMR-EZ28 gives a faint "beep" in a few circumstances--more like a confirmation of certain operations or situations.

In one of my 2/5/2008 posts ("Listen to your DVD Drive") in this thread I've described read, write or finalizing problems related to a dirty lens or a failed laser assembly--and the remedies. Often lens/laser assembly problems cause "clunking" "chugging" or "errp" noises. I've also described read, write or finalizing problems related to a dirty rubber hub/spindle--and the remedies. Dirty rubber hub/spindle problems often cause "grinding" or "scrubbing" noises. See that earlier post's link to the lens and rubber hub/spindle cleaning procedure.

I don't know of any "DVD Cleaner" that cleans the rubber hub and spindle. Most often these "cleaners" are promoted as cleaning the lens only--seldom the first problem when a Panasonic stops reading discs.

I routinely clean the DVD Drive lens and hub/spindle area at eight to ten month intervals, more often with heavy use. Routine cleaning is required more often in warm, dusty, or smoking environments or where discs are handled with a finger through the center hole. If your 2006 DMR-ES15 has never had a proper lens and hub/spindle cleaning it is far overdue after three to four years' use!

If the DVD Drive lens and hub/spindle cleaning (a fifteen minute procedure with a DMR-ES15) does not remedy read, write or finalizing problems, and the noises you hear are "clunking" "chugging" or "errp," then your ES15 probably has a failed laser assembly.

The DMR-ES15 was the entry-level Panasonic back in 2006. Repairing a 2006 DMR-ES15 is not cost-effective, even with the $130 flat-rate repair through the corporate Panasonic Service Centers in Elgin or Elk Grove Village Illinois (also linked in that same 2/5/2008 post). A local repair shop may charge several hundred dollars for such a repair after finding that it requires replacement of the RAM/Digital PCB Module. (The parts-only cost to a local repair shop or the general public for the RFKNES15P RAM/DIGITAL PCB MODULE is $149.92, not including shipping and diagnostic and installation labor.)

There is a better alternative. It's time to move up to a Magnavox 2160 HDD/DVD recorder for $159.99 (when available) through j&r.com or $228 through walmart.com. The first post in Wajo's sticky thread is the gateway to a wealth of Magnavox 2160 information:

post #27 of 47
I've also not heard any "beeps" from my ES-15's and I use them nearly daily. I wonder if the beeps are being confused with the grinding heard if the spindle is dirty?
A dirty spindle can cause many problems including not being able to read discs. If you haven't cleaned your spindle in the last year it's more than likely due.
post #28 of 47
My EH55's DVD drive failed recently with the exact same symptoms as those described by Ed Cook above: 4 beeps followed by a 5th lower beep. The drive does not recognize disks, -RAM or -R, nor even whether a disk is in the tray. If I eject the tray and then close it without a disk, the machine recognizes the commands and the status indicator gives "Tray open" and "Tray close". After the empty tray closes, the status indicator says "Reading", gives one low beep followed by the five beeps followed by a message in the middle of the display saying "Cannot read. Please check the disk". Prior to the failure, the EH55 would recognize when there was no disk in the tray. My guess is that the laser assembly has failed.

On the positive side thanks to DigaDo and the other gurus' advice on this forum, I got a Magnavox H2160 from J&R as did a friend of mine.
post #29 of 47
Originally Posted by ed cook View Post

I have a Panasonic DMR-ES15 that beeps 5 times. The first 4 are higher pitched.
It will not see a disc anymore. I have used a dvd cleaner and also compressed air.
Any ideas what might be wrong. I can still use the tuner.

Ed Cook

Like oromak, I had an EH55 with a bad DVD drive. It made exactly the same sounds you are describing. The repair service replaced the drive and control board. I think this is a failure mode of these drives, and once they are gone, they must be replaced. I don't know exactly what is going out, but the thing (drive) was useless until I had the service people fix it. The hard drive and other functions still worked fine.
post #30 of 47
Hi..First time posting but been lurking for a few years.
Got a chance to buy a Panny ES-15 for $20 as is w/o remote, manual or cords.
Have read some bad things about this model but my E85H is still chugging along. Would be using this for dvd duping and a back-up recorder (just in case).
May look at upgrading to a 3575 0r 2160 in a few months. Any thoughts on the ES-15 deal would be appreciated? Thanks, TD1
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