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I may be able to give you a fix but you can not always recover your files. You firstly gotta make sure if you can, in fact, recover them. I have to ask that you do not use an array for other data to avoid overwriting the information you need to restore. Look, it's hard to explain with all these fancy words and what not. Just like me, you could follow the simple steps just like here https://www.diskinternals.com/raid-recovery/raid-10-recovery/. I can say that in a matter of clicks I got my files back. Plus the explanation is simple, better than me going all in with some hard to understand phrases.
 

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Request to IM2020 re firmware for Panasomic EX85EB

Hi IM2020,
I have been given an old Panasonic DMR-EX85EB
which is dead. When I powered it up I got the HD ER
message and nasty knocking noises from HDD.
I took the HDD out and connected it to PC via
USB/IDE cable. More nasty knocking then silence.
ie I reckon the drive is totally stuffed.

I now have a replacement drive but reading this thread
shows that I am lacking the firmware to bring it back
from the dead. I see from your post date it is almost
10 years ago to the day so this may well be a long shot,
do you still have a copy of the code and firmware and could you
please send it to me. I checked out your Panny link but it is no
longer valid. Cheers Pete
 

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Hi IM2020,
I have been given an old Panasonic DMR-EX85EB
which is dead. When I powered it up I got the HD ER
message and nasty knocking noises from HDD.
I took the HDD out and connected it to PC via
USB/IDE cable. More nasty knocking then silence.
ie I reckon the drive is totally stuffed.

I now have a replacement drive but reading this thread
shows that I am lacking the firmware to bring it back
from the dead. I see from your post date it is almost
10 years ago to the day so this may well be a long shot,
do you still have a copy of the code and firmware and could you
please send it to me. I checked out your Panny link but it is no
longer valid. Cheers Pete
The EX series firmware seems more tightly controlled than the firmware for other recorders.

It maybe that you could recover the firmware from a duplicate EX85EB and transplant that to a new drive.

Or even the fault with the drive that you have is with sectors beyond the part that you need.

This is going to sound complicated.. perhaps because I haven't given a lot of thought into explaining it to people in general..

The IsoBuster 4.4 version now has the ability to read the structure and recordings of many Panasonic DVD recorder drives.

I have not tested it with that specific model, but you could connect that damaged drive through a USB bridge with a PC.. do not allow it to initailize or format that drive!

Then run IsoBuster and see what it sees on that drive.

If its one that it can understand, then right click on the icon for the beginning of the file system and select Properties to get the LBA sector.

Then go back to the Top of the drive and right click and extract the sectors from zero to that LBA sector to a file.

You can then use IsoBuster to "merge" that file on to a new drive, or use a rawwrite tool like HDD Raw Copy Tool to put those sectors back on to a new drive.. either should work. Put that "prepped" drive into the EX85EB and it should request permission to format, do that and your done.

I've done this with a number of Panasonic drives so that I could keep the original drive, prep a new one and put it in its place, and format it.

I could then through another procedure restore the original drive so that its recordings could be played again.. without formatting and without the power connector trick... you only need to copy the current transaction log sector to the old drive so it does not prompt you to format an older good drive that currently has recordings on it.

Quite a bit of progress in understanding and working with these old machines has occurred in the last three months. It may be ten years too late.. but its progress none the less.

I wish I had the funds to explore and solidly support the UK Panasonic EX series.. but I do not for now.. and they are kind of rare to find used anyway.

Good luck
 

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Thanks for pointers re Panasonic EX85

Hi Jwillis84,

Firstly thanks for such a prompt response. I was not expecting a reply for a few days..Thanks for the pointer to
Isobuster4.4 which I have found and installed on my PC. Your advice seems to be practical and to the point so I do appreciate your time in responding to my query.

I have my worries about the existing disk since when it was connected via USB/IDE link to my PC the disk rattled ( heads smacking into something ? ) followed by silence, disk case hot and the characteristic smell of fried
components was in evidence. I am guessing that the platters no longer spin but I shall try again just to confirm that.

I agree with your comment about not many about I looked on e-bay and found one refurbished for circa £180
and another for £50. Anyway thanks once again. I shall let you know how things go. Cheers Pete
 

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A different approach might be to simply acquire another EX85EB with a "good" hard drive and make a raw disk image of that drive and then restore that raw disk image on to a brand new drive you plan to put in the old recorder.

The recordings made from while in the new working recorder will not be "visible" on the old recorder (they can be made to be, but that is beside the point here). But it will have the firmware on it that the old recorder needs to go ahead and "format" the new hard drive for use in the old recorder.

This is a (less) certain approach since there is a chance the firmware will not match.. but I do not know how certain they would (actually) be different either.

So far I have only done this with multiple drives on the same recorder.. so the firmware copied has always been for that same recorder.

Between recorders the portion of the firmware written to the hard drive (might) be different.. but I tend to think that it is not.

The reason I think it won't be different is people did not tend to update the firmware on their recorder for bug fixes very often.. mostly its the same version as it had when the recorder left the factory.

Also the firmware differences were usually to the parts that initialized the tuner, display board and disk drive reader.. those are stored on the mainboard in nvram and run (before) the hard disk is accessed. Those parts changed the most.. what lays on the hard drive had very little reason for being changed. Mostly as far as I can tell its a format table with a transaction log for informing the recorder when the drive is powered down in an inconsistent state.. so that on start up it knows to run check drive procedures in case of a power outage.

Its very unlikely they would ever want to change the pre-check part of the hard disk even between different firmware updates.
 

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DMR-EX85 back to life

Hi Jwillis84,

Firstly, to answer your question regarding model number, the label on the machine states DMR-EX85-S hence why I assumed that is what it was.

Anyway to the good news, the machine is now alive and well. I scrapped the old disk and replaced it with a
secondhand WD 250Gb disk. I also managed to get hold of a copy of the firmware and on my second
attempt got it to reload it on to the HDD. I have done a few simple tests so it does record and playback from HDD and also plays dvd disks. Not bad for a machine that was on its way to the tip before I got it.

So thanks to Jwillis84 for taking the time to respond and his advice and also to this forums' members for posting such a useful guide since I would not have known about the firmware being resident on the HDD.

cheers and thanks once again, Pete.
 

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The Samsung HDD in my DMR-EX87 started sounding like a tractor, I didn't want any of the recordings but I found a WD 250Gb and connected both drives to a Windows XP desktop via HDD to USB adaptors. AEOMI Partition Manager saw both drives although it didn't see any data. Nevertheless I copied old to new disk, sector by sector, taking a few hours and the new HDD was accepted by the recorder.
Naturally a format was requested which would have lost any programs anyway but it meant little time sitting chasing ideas, just setting up before lunch and the copy was ready after dinner. I've still no idea what Panasonic's"root" file contains.
 

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Its possible with panasonic DVD recorder to get a new hard drive, copy everything over.. so you don't have to use a firmware disk to "initialize" it.

Then boot and "fresh format" that drive.. this will write an (updated) change log number to the drive that tells it its okay to use in this recorder without reformatting anymore.

Then raw copy a few MB of the "fresh format" drive header and "merge" that with the hard drive with the old recording on it. The recorder will then accept the old drive image with the old recordings as "native" to this recorder and let you use them.

It sounds complicated, but its really a lot easier than you might think.

It varies a little bit from recorder to recorder (model and firmware version) as to how much of the drive header you need to copy over.

The demarc is where the actual recording "bay" starts underneath the header, which you can find.. or let Isobuster find for you.. it will tell you exactly where its located.. then you know how much of the drive header to copy to the old recorder hard drive in order to use it like a native drive.

I stumbled across this while studying how the drive image was put together.. but never wrote a formal procedure for it.. it was just an interesting (oh.. that's interesting moment) and I moved on. Its just as easy to copy all the video files off to a pc and play them from there.. than store them on the recorder since that hard drive is more rare and scarce to replace than playing back on a regular pc hard drive in a pc.
 
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