Ok, been about 8 years since I replaced the HDD in my E80H and it is still going strong. Another big thank you to JeffM and waxjbo and all others who contributed to that fix. Today, had a new issue to arise with the DVD drive. The door will not open nor will the tray extend. I can push the open button and fold down the door, stick my finger inside and push down on the tray and it will then eject. Thinking this thing is dying or has an issue with the ejection mechanism. Like the HDD replacement, I was wondering if someone has completed a step by step on how to this on the E80H? Does anyone know where I can get a replacement drive? Really want to keep this antique alive as I still love how it does what it does. Thank you all in advance!
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There are no affordable repair options for Panasonic DVD recorders anymore. Panasonic itself no longer has parts and will not service them. The only option in North America is a tech named mickinct over at AVSforum: he has a stockpile of parts and the training to make repairs. His fee to repair/replace the dvd burner is comparable to what Panasonic used to charge: approx $250.
Have you tried a drive reset? If not, test the drive electronics by turning the recorder off, waiting a a few minutes, then press the machine's front panel STOP and CH UP buttons simultaneously for five seconds. This will demonstrate if the controller board and the motor operating the open/close mechanism are functional. The tray should open: if it still doesn't, you may have a controller board issue in addition to (or instead of) a mechanical problem. If the tray does open, it may be something else like the drive not liking some of the discs you use (most blanks sold today are not terribly compatible with the EH80-era recorders).
There don't seem to be any burner disassembly/repair schematics floating around, because Panasonic itself never did this: they just replaced the entire module. But you could read thru the illustrated "partial disassembly/cleaning" tutorial compiled by DigaDo at AVSforum:
Thanks orsetto. At this point, I believe I will finally retire the E80H and move on to a newer DVD recorder. I wonder if you have any recommendations? I have been looking at the Magnavox available at Walkmart online and Amazon. Those appear to be the only ones readily available that I can see. Again, thank you for your quick response and help with my situation.
The burner LASER in my DMR-E80H started failing last year. It wouldn't recognize some brands of blank media at first, eventually it wouldn't work at all. The door was also sticky and needed an assist from my fingers to extend the tray. I searched the message threads here and elsewhere and concluded that it would be best to find a used one on eBay. I was lucky to find one that didn't have a lot of miles on it for a decent price, maybe $100 to $150. With eBay it's usually sheer luck that you get something like this in good condition.
Even though I don't use it so much anymore, I want to have it available for certain video transfer tasks that may come up.
For serious HD recording I use the Hauppauge PVR2 these days.
Since you live in USA and were still using an EH80 with no digital tuning ability, I'm going to assume you are recording from the line outputs of a cable or satellite decoder box. If that is the case, current Magnavox models are overpriced for your situation: they are optimized for off-air recording with much of the expense based on their tuners. As line input recorders, they are rather less useful and pleasant. While I am personally not fond of the Magnavox units, earlier versions have proven themselves very durable and able to burn modern (poor quality) blank dvds.
I would suggest looking into a second hand Magnavox MDR-513 or 515. These were the last "sturdy" models, circa 2012 (later and current models look exactly the same, but with junk burner, hdd and PSU). If you are patient, a mint MDR-513 turns up every couple weeks in the $200 range (half the price of current models). MDR-513 has a 320GB HDD, MDR-515 has 500GB. Interface is not as elegant as Panasonic, and they lack decoder box dongles or FR speeds, But they are good reliable basic recorders.
Alternatively you could try your luck with a used Panasonic, as JoeS99 suggested. Odds of getting a minty low-miles sample are much smaller, as Panasonic stopped making DVD/HDD models for USA in 2006. So Panasonics are much older and were more often bought by hard users. Most Magnavox DVD/HDD models were barely used, as they were usually bought by a less-demanding, non-video-geek demographic who only wanted them as record-watch-erase PVRs. If shopping used Panasonics, be wary of international grey market models EH57, 58, 59, 67, 68, 69. These are good machines but entail some compromises, better avoided by sticking to USA models.
Ok, so after some fooling around inside the case and following some of the instructions found in the links that have were shared, we are up and running. I have been able to play DVD movies without issue now and I now have the ejection processing working without issue. Thank you all for your help.
I now cannot find any media that the E80H will write to. This is the first time in years that I have tried to burn a disc and honestly cannot remember what I used last and most likely that supply of discs are long gone with the number of discs I used to burn. I tried some that I had in stock (vanilla DVD-R discs) and purchased brand new Verbatim DVD-R discs but no joy on either. The DVD drive spins up, tries to reach and after reviewing the disc says incompatible.
So I am asking what media is out there for purchasing today that will work with my E80H?
I suspect the laser is dirty or failing. It's not easily accessible in order to clean the lens. Another possibility is the "slipping spindle" problem where dirt builds up on the spindle clamp mechanism and the disc isn't held tight enough. Cleaning with alcohol and q-tips might help. Don't think too hard about trying to replace the DVD drive, they are proprietary Panasonic drives and different Panasonic models use different drives.
Swapping out your hard drive to another E80H will not work either, because the other E80H will recognize the hard drive is not the one that was formatted on it and will only prompt you to format it again, deleting whatever programs are on it. I haven't seen any hack to get around that. That's been my experience. I have two "spare" E80Hs, one has the dead DVD burner, the other has a sticky disc door. I should check it to see if it still will burn a DVD.
If the drive is good on your E80H it should burn Verbatim(AZO) -R or Ty DVDs just fine. If they don't read then as suggested it could be a dirty spindle(somewhat easily cleanable) or a failed/weak laser, not so easy as a DIY. I occasionally see E80H or E85H models either on Craigslist or local pawn/second hand shops. I'm personally not interested in such an old Panasonic, I prefer the '05 or '06 models or international models, x8 or x9 circa, the ones I want are now extremely rare to find
Recorders of the EH80 era were designed before blank media became total crap. These units expect a certain baseline blank quality which has pretty much evaporated: most blanks today are cheap disposable junk optimized for PC burning (yes, there's a difference: it doesn't make sense, bu there is). As mentioned by others, the only discs left on the market suitable for your EH80 are Verbatim AZO and JVC/TY.
But it gets more complicated: you can't generally find these in stores anymore. Verbatim has greatly reduced its commitment to the "AZO" spec, which is what made them famous. Unless the Verbatim package has "AZO" printed on it somewhere, it isn't genuine Verbatim: its random cheap relabeled garbage that Verbatim slaps its name on so they can offer retail stores lower pricing. For "true" Verbatim AZO, one generally needs to shop Amazon or specialty web dealers like supermediastore. The EH80 prefers DVD-R over +R, and it prefers discs with an 8x speed rating over 16x. The ideal Verbatim blanks for an EH80 would be DataLifePlus #94852, shiny silver AZO 8x DVD-R.
The other alternative is JVC/TY (Taiyo Yuden) Silver Premium 8x DVD-R. These are the high grade Japanese-made blanks that all dvd recorders were originally engineered to use. Unfortunately they were discontinued two years ago, and are now impossible to find or much more expensive than they used to be. Rights to the dye formula were bought by CMC Magnetics, which now sells knockoffs under the brand name CMC Pro 8x Silver Lacquer DVD-R. These are easy to find online, but they don't burn as reliably as the original TY-branded version (and aren't as archival in durability). They're still better than anything you can buy in a store, and some older recorders that won't burn anything else can still burn CMC Pro, so they remain an option.
Thank you all. All the discs I have are some cheap stuff from OfficeMax - nothing like what you are describing. I have ordered some of the DataLifePlus #94852, shiny silver AZO 8x DVD-R and will share the results. Worst case I have some DVD-R discs for the next DVD recorder I purchase. Should have some feedback for you by the end of the week. I really do appreciate the support here. You all are so knowledgeable and helpful.
Basically in agreement with everything posted here.... but I believe there are other options when machines break down (of which I've had an enormous amount of experience !).
I really don't use my DVD recorders all that much anymore, since I have a bunch of hard-drive based DVRs, including a Tivo..... but I like to keep my old analog recorders around to be used if needed. Still have a Toshiba RD-SX32, a Panasonic DMR EZ485, a Toshiba DR 670, and a very nice condition LG LRH 790 that I bought on Ebay for $59 + shipping in early 2015. I pretty much peruse Ebay almost every day, and, if I see something which I think to be a bargain, I'll buy it. I can definitely sympathize with someone who wants to keep his old machine running regardless of age.... and may not be that amenable to buying newer, unfamiliar technology. I've had numerous DVD recorders crap out on me over the years, the latest being a seldom-used Panasonic DMR EZ27K, at one time a favorite, but started giving me problems after 7 years of use. It's now in the graveyard pile in my closet. I do think however, buying a used older machine should be an option besides running out and getting the latest, greatest machine available. In the US of A, our only DVD recorder option is made by Funai/Magnavox, of which I don't believe their newer models will have the longevity that the older machines had. Therefore.... if the O.P. were to purchase let's say, a used E85H or 95H or any similar old-school Panasonic, would he be able to swap drives ?? Would it even be enconomical or feasible ? From my almost 20-year experience with Ebay, a lot of people don't know what they're selling. As in, the above mentioned LG 790, which was advertised as "parts & repair". There was absolutely nothing wrong with it ! The hard drive & DVD drive work perfectly.... attached to a DTV converter box with simple RCA Video Out, the recorded pic is very watchable. Not HD, but pretty good for analog recording.
As far as discs go, I've used Ebay to find older-stock CD and DVD RW discs without much problem. Maybe I'm the only idiot that does things this way, but so far it's worked out pretty well for me. I just looked on Ebay and found a few Panasonic E80H machines which are going for $300 or more, and fairly ridiculous to consider, since even in pristine condition the hdd & DVD drives will eventually fail. BUT... maybe there's someone unfamiliar with the technology selling a machine which either doesn't work properly or is thought to be dead, but doesn't realize it's possibly a simple fix or parts swap. Sometimes one has to think "outside the box" to accomplish his goal.....
looks like no one agrees with me, which is ok... but I would take a shot with this:
$60 + $17 shipping
I once bought a used one that had a bunch of someone's home videos on it.
Nothing "R" Rated, but enough info to figure out their names and hometown.
Out of curiosity, I did some searches but was never able to come up with an address.
I might have wanted to write them and ask if they sold the machine or if it was stolen.
Being no stranger to buying second-hand dvd/hdd machines myself, I understand why you would promote that as a possible solution to the "my vintage recorder just died- what now?" dilemma. Simply buying another of the same brand/model can work out fine for some people. The problem is, the odds of finding such a unit in good enough condition at a good enough price diminish with every passing year. A person like you or myself, who is so steeped in these machines that we can repair almost anything wrong with them, might be in a better position to gamble on a ten year old recorder. Other, more casual users: not so much.
There is no way to know the true usage history of any random second-hand recorder sold on eBay or Craigs List. The popular 2004-2006 DVD/HDD models are mostly well past their built-in self-destruction date in 2017. While it is true Panasonics are notably more durable than other brands, it is also true that a worn out burner is a worn out burner. An EH80 that has seen low hours of burner duty might be a good deal at $60 + $17 shipping, assuming its optical drive has another couple years life left in it (and you aren't outbid for it at a much higher price). But it could just as easily have been heavily used: the description of it "still working" could be legit right this moment, then next week it starts balking. Complicating this is the capacitor issue: unit could be fine at the moment, but at 11 years old the potential for cap failure in the power supply or burner controller board is not insignificant. These machines were just not meant to last more than two model cycles (about six years)- after that, you're in the wilderness. Plus, blank discs get worse and worse and drift further away from the 2004 recorder specs every year: obtaining fully compatible blanks for an old machine is getting difficult.
Like it or not, the calendar turning from 2016 to 2017 must be construed as the final wake-up call that the era of classic DVD/HDD recorders is over and done. Continuing to base your AV hobby around one is becoming an untenable risk. The damned things were specifically designed to break and be replaced every few years: when the product failed to catch on with North American consumers, mfrs dropped them altogether, and this "replace every few years with a newer, cheaper model" idea flatlined. Replacement units haven't been available since 2006, authorized repair with new parts since 2009. A couple of fringe technicians stocked up on parts back then, and still offer excellent repair work to this day (i.e., mickinct over at AVS). But the $200+ repair cost, plus shipping back and forth, is not a rational option: its an emotional one.
There are only two cost-effective, reasonably long-term-viable options left today for video archiving: transition out of standalone dvd/recorders completely, moving to a more complicated multi-unit workflow (like TiVO + PC), or look for a mint second-hand Magnavox MDR-513 DVD/HDD recorder. The 513 isn't a polished, smooth recorder, but its basic operation is similar enough to every other dvd/hdd machine that it will suit anyone who just can't move away from using these devices. What makes the 513 unique and still-viable is its particular sweet-spot of build quality: it resolved some nagging issues that persisted in earlier models, but doesn't contain the crap parts of later models. Its power supply is modern and stable, it can use virtually any standard SATA HDD if the original fails, and its DVD burner is nearly as indestructible as a Panasonic while being more suited to the vagaries of current blanks. I would recommend a used minty $200 MDR513 over any random $100 Panasonic EH80.
Arguably the best Panasonics were the final 2006 models like EH55, which replaced the EH80. But high demand keeps them overpriced on the second-hand market. Since they were far more likely to be heavily used to burn dvds than a Magnavox 513, at similar pricing the 513 remains a safer bet. One has to be clear-eyed about recorders: I personally prefer the Pioneer 550 and 560 series, but their burners were crap with frequent coasters ensuing. I would therefore never recommend anyone pay the going rate of $300 for a used Pioneer 550 on eBay: the unit is far too cranky and aggravating to use compared to a Mag 513. The Toshiba XS series were the high water mark of DVD/HDD recorders: great picture quality with astounding dvd authoring features. But again, plagued by burners from hell: the most unreliable, godforsaken DVD/HDD units ever sold by any mfr. Never in a million years would I suggest one over a Magnavox.
And unless you get your TV signal from an antenna, even the Magnavox is essentially a waste of time. Like all DVD/HDD recorders, its a giant pain to use with cable or satellite service. Plus, we live in the era of HDTV now: SP-speed dvds from a recorder are disappointing on a 42" screen. The mass market has moved to non-archival, temporary HDTV recording: no HDTV equivalent of the DVD/HDD recorder was ever or will ever be offered. If you want to keep building a library in HDTV, you need to get rather more technical, and learn how to cobble together a system of cable/satellite decoder box + sketchy generic recorders +PC, or wonky Windows 10-compatible all-PC solutions, or a TiVO + PC setup.
The convenient, self-contained DVD/HDD recorder paradigm was roundly rejected by North American consumers. It failed, spectacularly so. Mfrs who made these machines were burned so badly they all decided to never enter such a product category again-ever. This particular video party is over: don't be the last drunken guest who stumbles into the pool and drowns after everyone else has left and turned the lights out on you.
Last edited by orsetto; 16th Jan 2017 at 12:40.
I have the same problem as others here have. My Panasonic e80h stopped reading disks about 5 years ago. The hard drive seems fine. I kept thinking I would eventually get it fixed because I have about 30-35 programs, mostly sporting events, that I wanted to dub fdom the hard drive. In the meantime, I got a Magnavox H2160MW9. It's not nearly as easy to edit. I have hundreds of VHS tapes, many of which I haven't dubbed over to DVD. Plus, I have dozens of sporting events I want to keep (i.e. dub to DVD) that are on my Directv HD DVR. To get the best quality, I need to edit commercials out so I can use HQ, SP or SPP. The quality was better when I could dub to the DVD on the same machine (the e80h). I had called Panasonic a few years ago and they said to ship it and they'd fix it and send it back. I forget the price but I believe it was less than $200. I never did it and I see on here where they don't offer that anymore. I took it to a fix it guy who thought it just needed cleaning. I ran a DVD lens cleaner through it and now it plays commercial movies but still won't play any recordable DVD or most of my old finalized DVDs. It played an old Playo 16x DVD+R oddly enough and an 8x DVD+R and a 16x DVD-R (but don't have the brands of the last two right off hand). Even with those, the search forward function wouldn't work, whereas the search backward function would. How are most people in my similar situation dubbing and editing games today? I assume it is through the computer. I don't know what hookups I need from my VHS/DVDs/DVR etc. or what kind of software to use. It just seems it's going to be more complicated and probably lower quality going from machine to machine. Is my thinking right on all this or am I off base. And, if I did want a new drive for the e80h, are you all saying they don't exist? Also in my situation, do you think it's worth trying the Verbatim disks. BTW, I get both the unsupported disk error message and the cannot read check the disk message. Seems no rhyme or reason which one I get as similar disks will get the opposite message. Anyway, thanks for any guidance as I like to collect old sporting events, especially, of my favorite teams or events. Thanks.
Mr. Orsetto has a pretty good handle on this subject.... I would read his post above yours, and follow his advice. Buying another used Panasonic eh80 would be risky, and, there are no more replacement drives to be had. Best to get the Magnavox 513 model mentioned above, and simply transfer your existing recordings from the eh80 hard drive to the newer machine. Once you have archived your material to DVD, further editing can be accomplished on a computer. Same logic would apply to VHS - DVD transfers. The loss in quality would probably be negligible.
A cleaning disc doesn't do much of anything to fix a cranky Panasonic burner. The most common failure point with them is accumulation of dust and finger oils on the spindle/clamp that grasps and spins the dvd. Every heavy user of Panasonic recorders eventually learns how to partially disassemble the recorder and clean off these disc clamp surfaces. Despite it being a legendary Panasonic failure point and relatively simple fix, very few repair shops are aware of it and don't do it unless you tell them to. It can't hurt at this point for you to try a cleaning yourself: it might revive your burner enough to make the unit usable for another year or two. Follow instructions at the link I posted earlier:
If that doesn't work, you're faced with two $$$ alternatives. One would be to have your E80H overhauled by mickinct, which would cost about $200 +$60 round trip shipping. Or, replace your E80H with a nice, second-hand Magnavox MDR513. In my experience the Magnavox recorders have some unpredictable hiccups when dubbing from VHS, but for TV or game recording they work as well as a Panasonic. The user interface isn't as nice as Panasonic, and they don't have FR vari-speed feature or cable box controller dongle. Magnavox also does not have the same LP (4-hr) recording quality as Panasonic: it looks much softer. But its a port in the storm.
Otherwise, you'll need to bite the bullet and migrate to a TiVO+PC, or full-fledged HTPC strategy. More complicated, not as much fun, but way more future-proof (plus lets you record in true HDTV and burn Blue Rays if you want, and you can easily cheaply replace the generic burner in a PC).
Another option might be the AverMedia EZrecorder ER310, which allegedly works just like an E80H (complete with IR dongle). No tuner, but it records direct from HDMI and is HDTV-capable. Doesn't record to dvds, but to any generic USB hard drive (which you can then connect to a PC for editing and/or burning the videos to disc). Note you would also need one of the recommended HDMI splitters to enable recording from cable/satellite.
Last edited by orsetto; 11th Feb 2017 at 13:23.
Thanks Orsetto and JoeCass, I'll do those things the best I can. Time seems to be an issue these days. If I live another 30 or 40 years, I probably won't have time to watch much of this stuff. Lol. But I like having it all.
Quick question: If the burner nows reads commercially produced DVD, do you think it would do any good to further clean it by hand - as far as it recording disks and reading recorded disks? To test it, do you recommend this Verbatim disks that were mentioned rather than the Staples brand I have now? Thanks again.
Time seems to be an issue these days. If I live another 30 or 40 years, I probably won't have time to watch much of this stuff. Lol. But I like having it all.
Quick question: If the burner nows reads commercially produced DVD, do you think it would do any good to further clean it by hand - as far as it recording disks and reading recorded disks?
To test it, do you recommend this Verbatim disks that were mentioned rather than the Staples brand I have now?
The somewhat more commonly available and cheaper ($25/100pak) Verbatim AZO 16x DVD-R is excellent media, but the speed rating of 16x is a potential burning issue it shares with your plain-jane Staples media. There isn't enough differentiation for a burn failure to definitively indicate your E80H drive is totally shot. My recommendation: if you think you will eventually buy another dvd recorder, or can eventually use up the blanks in your PC, is to test your cleaned E80H with the more exotic Verbatim DataLifePlus #94852, shiny silver AZO 8x DVD-R. If your E80H works OK with those, problem solved (for now). If your E80H fails even with those DataLife blanks, the drive is hosed, and you're facing the expense of repairing it or replacing the entire recorder.
The method I used in the past to bring a DVD drive back to life.... sometimes only temporarily.... is to first clean the lens assembly with a cue-tip and isopropyl alcohol, then clean the spindle assembly making sure no residue remains on the disc clamp rubber, then carefully removing the flat ribbon cable that attaches to the lens mechanism and pc board, cleaning each end gently with the aforementioned cue tip & alcohol. In a few instances, I even went so far as to gently 'sand' the ends of the ribbon cable with a matchbook cover before cleaning with a cue tip. This worked on a 2003 model Sony RDR-GX7 and an (equally as old) LG DVD recorder drive. Again, it was mainly a temporary fix, but it gave the recorders a few more months of life before the DVD drives died completely.....
The latest failures I've experienced with more recent Panasonic (EZ series) DVD drives..... is the spindle motor crapping out, giving a "no read" message on the display. I took the cover off the DVD drive to see that when a disc was inserted, the DVD itself was not spinning, therefore unable to read the disc. This isn't something that the end-user can repair, unless one has the exact replacement motor.
My Two Cents