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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
So, I got the bug to finally finish transferring my VHS to digital. It had been a few years and as I set up my equipment from storage, I was wondering why I took such a break.

Then, in a few minutes time, I remembered....

My Panasonic DMR-ES10 fires up, and appears to operate fine, but its video output to my tv screen is messed up. It's like a rolling, jumbled dark mess of a scrambled cable tv station. When I play my vcr through the inputs, you can tell there's video playing, and the audio is fine, but the ES10 can't seem to give a proper video output to my tv.

The same with the remote: If I select "Menu" on my remote, I can see that it's being selected by the blue appearing on the jumbled signal shown on my tv, but it's impossible to read.

I checked the owner's manual and it offered this (which would potentially apply to my 1080i HDTV):

The images from this unit do not appear on the television. Picture is distorted.

- Make sure that the television is connected to the AV1 terminal, VIDEO OUT terminal, S VIDEO OUT terminal or COMPONENT VIDEO OUT terminals on this unit.
- Make sure that the television’s input setting (e.g., AV1) is correct.
- The television isn’t compatible with progressive signals. Press and hold [g] and [q (PLAY/x1.3)] on the main unit at the same time for about 5 seconds. The setting will change to interlace.

I tried all of these and didn't see a change. For around two years, the unit was performing fine with the exact same set-up, so I'm fairly certain my problem stems from something else.

My gut feeling is that, if I were to just use the controls on the front plate, it would record the VHS copy as normal...it just wouldn't be able to properly display it from the unit itself.

So, on that note, I was tempted to try and "fly blind"....but then I remembered that I still needed the on-screen menus to finalize the disc once it was finished.

Has anyone had this problem? I'm guessing it's more of a general problem that's universal to any electronic device that needs to properly output a video signal to a monitor.

Thanks in advance for reading this guys! :)

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324 Posts
The ES10 is a good signal processor, not so good at burning DVD media.

But if you put it in front of another DVD recorder, or a Video Capture card, the results can be pretty good.

People hate comparing the image quality to that put through a TBC (time base corrector) but the results are similar and far better than running without any signal preconditioning.

The problem your describing is not the most common problem. The most common problems are (input dead, no video output) or (video but no sound). That is because its an incredibly simple device.

It has:

1. Power Supply
2. Digitizer board
3. Mainboard switch chip
4. DVD burner (most people forget or discount this)

Those four things and nothing more.

The most common "failure" modes involve the Mainboard switch chip.. if that gets damaged, its toast.. that chip is a 100 pin surface mounted chip and they aren't made anymore. If that happens you might as well sell it on eBay for parts, someone else might be able to harvest the Digitizer board, Power supply or the DVD burner.

The Digitizer board is the Gem in the box, it does all the "magic" where signal conditioning is concerned. Its pretty hardy and rarely goes bad. Its easy to tell if its damaged, because it runs the front panel display checks the DVD burner on start up and in general if its not a door stop.. its probably okay. Any video or any sound output probably indicates its okay.

The second most common (maybe the most common you can 'Fix'), almost always (THE) problem.. is with the Power supply. Its capacitors are very cheap old ELNA caps that went bad about 1-2 years after the model was made. They are low rated for longevity, even if they were perfect they were rated at a lifespan of 3 years max. (There are statistical outliers.. there are always outliers..)

The caps are "big" axial electrolytic caps with real leads.. not surface mount.. so they can be de-soldered and replaced with like valued caps from Digikey or Mouser. It costs about $19 for the caps with shipping. De-soldering and soldering takes about 45 minutes. But if your not a solder skilled person, its not a chore for someone to "learn" on.. its far better to "hirer" someone to do that for you.. don't equate saving money and do it yourself for "skilled labor". I can't place a dollar figure on how much it should cost.. but don't get sticker shock when you consider how much the ES10 originally cost.. and finding anyone to work on them is nearly impossible. If your not going down that road.. just don't junk it.. put it up on eBay and state exactly the problem and why your giving it up. Collectors for that model do exist.

When the Power supply begins to fail it can cause all sorts of unpredictable havok with the behavior of the Digitizer board. It is a computer after all and low voltages from the Power supply will make it strain to start up and do its job, but some parts won't have the voltage or current they need and simply opt out of participation. Only after a good number or the largest Caps fail will the whole thing shutdown or fail to power up.. and it will struggle mightily a long time until it does that.

A failing power supply will also (very) often cause the Burner to fail to read, write or finalize DVD discs that it writes.. all other functions like signal processing and pass through will work.. but it just won't have the power to burn with that laser consistently or at all.

Here we are almost 20 years later.. and most of these ES10's have had at least one Cap servicing event.. or need one badly.. sitting on the shelf does not put them into Suspended Animation.. those Caps age as surely as they were being used.. so beware the thought process "But I carefully wrapped and stored it brand New.. it should work!?!" - forget that. Not True! The Caps have a liquid in them and an oxidized layer inside them.. that reaction continues, used or not.. they can and do go bad sitting in the back of a closet.

The nice thing though is the Digitizer board is really hardy.. and this particular model has held its value for quite a while.. even as a bucket of parts for Collectors.

ps. Once its power supply "starts" to fail.. if you get "black stripes" or funky noise on the outputs.. drop every thing.. Hurl yourself at the Entertainment center.. and Unplug it!

Failure is not a precise science.. it can throw electrical vomit at the Digitizer board including voltage spikes and magic smoke and all manner of bad spells.

Take the "Warning" seriously.. something wicked this way comes.. get the Power supply serviced, or replaced. It will make a huge difference and work amazingly after those caps are replaced.

pps. At this late late date.. finding an external TBC can be next to impossible. Many years ago people started looking at the ES10 as a substitute and it was hailed as a 'better than TBC' subsitute. And it was controversial.. some liked it, some said its no TBC, some said only in special "rare emergency" situations. Read these forms and you will find volumes of threads on using it as a (cheap) substitute for a TBC. Now that TBCs are going for starting bids of upwards of $500 if you can find one to even bid on.. and can go for much more.. The ES10 is again on a lot of peoples radar. Think long and hard on letting one go.. but if you do.. be sure to offer it up for sale (or) you will be kicking yourself in a few years.

And this should be (obvious) but for heaven's sake.. do not (Ever!) plug and unplug cables to the inputs or outputs while the ES10 is powered up, or especially when the things you plan to plug into those inputs and outputs are Powered Up.. that's like putting Diesel into a Formula One race car.. and throwing it into 1st gear.. the Mainboard switch chip is (highly) vulnerable to voltage spikes and accumulated damage from sparks and static electricity.. it will stomp those inputs and outputs .. dead.. dead.. dead. Take care and be careful with it.

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Okay, for starters, if nothing else, WOW, what a nice, in-depth reply! Seriously, Thank You for that! :)

So, hmmmm, even if it is the power supply...and, if I somehow mastered the correct navigation from remote to finalize the disc....I may not even be assured of that operation being carried out at the end. It's funny that you mentioned the 3-year lifespan of the caps, because that is about the timeline in which this model started failing for me. Yeah, I used it and had put it away for some stretch, probably figuring that I could figure out the sudden video snafu "later".

I did like the quality of the burns. I was piping in a (very clean) Philips VR960 S-VHS deck with the s-video cable. I don't know if this really made a difference, in the grand scheme of things, but the results were satisfactory for me.

So, I will weigh my options...

Am I wrong in still thinking that VHS to pc capture is still not a good option, in terms of frames dropped and overall quality...as opposed to using a dedicated standalone unit? I mean, the last time I was doing this was over a decade ago. Maybe pc capture has gotten as good as, or better than, using a standalone device anyway?

If that's not the case, would you have any recommendations for another dvd recorder? I hate even asking, because it seems like a gamble now with all these used units on the market.

Thanks again for such a thoughtful reply! I leaving my response here for now, but I obviously have a lot to think over offline, as well. :)

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324 Posts
The whole thing about TBC's is they (stop).. not prevent, not sort of.. maybe lessen frame drops.. they (STOP) frame drops.

A TBC captures the video signal, makes a whole video frame and then puts that on its outputs in a pristine "digital" form but as a fresh analog signal.. there are no drop outs or missing frames. It will insert fake frames if it has too.. but its mission in life is to output a "perfect" signal.. optimal for video capture by anything downstream.

The ES10 has to do the same thing "before" it could burn to a DVD disc.. but its doing it (all the time) from Input to Output.. so that is why its one of the "special" DVD recorders that can be used while its not burning a DVD for signal preconditioning (pass-thru).

That it has roll or signal issues and can't lock on to a signal means either the signal is just too poor to be recovered.. or the Digitizer has low voltage or not enough electrical power from its Power supply and its sort of behaving like a drunk driver on a freeway half awake. Its most probably a Power supply with a few caps that are long gone and more are in the process of dying.

A better VCR, better tape, anything that improves the signal before it gets to the Input of the ES10 are always good things.. but the ES10 was designed to grab signal from the worst scummy VCR found in a ditch somewhere and turn it into a wonderful work of art.

If the ES10 can't do it.. its probable nothing else can.

And if you have to improve the signal to the ES10 before it locks on.. that says something is very wrong with it indeed.

I would say though.. as far as the design of all the recorders that came after it.. its immensely easy to troubleshoot and repair. There aren't a lot of parts to figure out where the problem is. Its modular, the Mainboard is jumpered to the Power supply. The Mainboard is jumpered to the Digitizer. The Digitizer is jumpered to the DVD burner. And there's tons of open space in the box. The case was probably a prototype for much denser stuffed designs to come.. so in some ways it was "overbuilt". Its just that its Power supply was definitely not designed to go for more than 3 years.

Video capture with a PC pretty much requires an old retro PC running XP, you can do it with Windows 7.. barely.. the "good" capture devices and cards are getting hard to get. Almost forget the Mac platform.. Apple stomped all over consumer video capture back in 2010 and here in 2019 they have outlawed it and will be removing Quicktime at the end of 2019.

I do persevere in researching capture cards, dongles and "methods" here in 2019 but I'm not ready to publish any recommendations.

About the best thing since Feb of 2019 is find a Panasonic DVD recorder with a Hard drive on the Isobuster "list" of supported DVRs. Isobuster is a program that will run on a PC, Mac or Linux and will "Read" recordings off the hard drive of a "supported" recorder and let you copy them direct to a PC folder. - You do have to remove the hard drive from the recorder for "dumping" these to your PC.. its not totally hands-free.. but it lets you record at the best speeds and doesn't require a working DVD burner or to chop up a video length so that it fits on a DVD.. Isobuster lets you copy it as is.. entire length.. in one go.

So you can use a Panasonic DVD recorder to capture video from a VCR for several hundred hours till its nearly full, pull the hard drive, connect it to an IDE or SATA to USB adapter to a PC, Mac, Linux machine.. and copy everything to the PC.

After its on the PC you can use whatever video editor you want to read the files and edit them down, chop them up.. and burn to DVD or Blu-ray.

DVD-R just had a 'death in the family' by the way.. Verbatim just gave up the ghost and will no longer be making DVD-R media.. it was one of the last good quality DVD-R media makers.. we're down to one company now and the quality has been questionable in the past.

I've tested about 52+ DVRs with Isobuster and made a few videos on youtube for the Pioneers.. you can find the videos here: Pioneer DVRs

I really really like the Pioneers DVRs (they are Top knotch) but command a premium price even used.

The Toshibas DVRs are legendary and now that you don't have to use their failure prone DVD burners.. they elicit pure 'bliss' when used.. but they are not for everyone. Certain Toshiba models lacked IRE controls until the RD-XS34 and RD-XS35 models came along... so excellent for Japan or Europe using NTSC.. not so much for everyone else. I could write a lot about how flexible their hard drives are, switchable between models, not picky about drive brands.. just very flexible.

The Panasonics I've tested the most models.. and learned a lot about doing things you can't do on other models.

The Magnavoxes are "great" even in 2019 for their ATSC over the air tuners.. but they cost a fortune used, and the last series (800 models) have not been added to support. Only the 2100 and 500 series are currently supported.

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Man, you provide such great information. I find myself going over and over your posts. I will definitely refer back to them from time to time, I'm sure. They're a great starting-off point!

On that note, I think I will first try and save this ES10, before pursuing other options. The video display issue aside, it's been a very clean unit and I think it's worth a gamble to see if the power supply is the fix needed.

As for the pc capture angle, I do still have a Windows XP machine in storage, and am currently running Windows 7, but I just can never feel like it's a good option. It always feels like you need a dedicated pc for any decent capture and, even then, it's not going to be as good as other options. I mean, if I can't get the ES10 back to working condition, or another standalone unit of a similar caliber, then I might look into pc capture as a last resort.

Oh, and I hate Apple, in general, so that post update sounds about right for them. *L*

The Verbatim thing is depressing! It was by sheer coincidence that I had ordered a 50-disc spindle of Verbatim off of eBay a couple of days prior to posting this thread. You know, back when I thought my ES10 was ready to go and that I just needed to get some new discs to burn...and before I actually powered it up and found out differently.

I will also look into the dvd recorder hard drive option.. Even if I get the ES10 back up and running, I'm not going to count on it lasting for the long haul anyway...and a back-up option that does NOT require a dvd burner would be great!

Thanks again for your help! I'm essentially a half-step removed from being a total layman when it comes to these things, but I'm learning. Slowly, but surely.

I will keep this thread updated as to the progress (or eventual death) of the ES10...and any of the other options explored in getting these VHS tapes digitally archived. :)

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324 Posts
The ES10 sounds like s a power supply problem and should be fine.

It can be used in conjunction with another DVR or a PC Capture device.

I play heavily with PC Capture devices at the moment, but they are a lot more difficult to use than a DVR for analog to digital capture, especially in bulk.

PC Capture is more for Professionals or (when you have too)..counter to the way it was advertised as a cost saving measure back in the day.

A DVR capture rig can actually cost less than putting together and using a good PC Capture rig these days.

Your ES10 could be a stroke of luck if it can be fixed. It could be your TBC.. its not a first choice replacement, but being in hand its a lot cheaper.. and has a good reputation.

If you do PC Capture just beware going cheap and trying dongles, they don't often work out well for people.. in my case the cable "choker" has a lot of cross talk across many brands you can't fix.. not to mention the picture is washed out and of poor quality. Boxes.. even Boxes that only deliver compressed video can be better than dongles.

The ATI TV Wonder USB 2.0 is often found cheap, and really good but only works under XP. And there is a lot to know if your using USB connected capture devices.. they are not as simple as they appear. They
only have 25 mbps across USB 2.0 to get video and audio.. and its a very tight fit. The ideal situation is to use them only for video capture.. but no one does that.. they turn everything on and try to squeeze Dolby THX 7 channel audio across the same connection as a widescreen capture. -- it won't work.

You have to settle for economy audio and normal SD video.

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hey Mission Code Z
Is your DMR-ES10 recorder NTSC only or PAL/NTSC ? Almost sounds like the unit is outputting a PAL signal into a NTSC only TV.

It looks for all the world like NTSC-only. I looked on the back of the unit just now and it has the Globe Symbol, with the "1" in the middle of it.

I also had used the unit for quite some time with this tv before the video display messed up.

I wish it were a seemingly simple fix like that. I'm holding out hope still. :D
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