Repair Instructions for Panasonic HDD Recorder - DMR-E85H, E55H, E95H, E100H - Self Check Loop July 2010

I bought the Panasonic DMR-E85H when it came out a few years ago, and I’ve been very happy with it, but this year it started having problems.


Symptoms:

In my case this took approx. 4 months. My machine is in an open cabinet, in a closed cabinet this could happen much quicker since it is a heat problem.
  1. Stage 1: The TV picture flashed when changing from HDD to DVD
  2. Stage 2: The machine switched itself off when burning a DVD
  3. Stage 3: Sometimes the machine would start up, sometimes it wouldn’t
  4. Stage 4: If the machine started up, it switched itself off when changing from HDD to DVD, when burning a DVD, opening the DVD tray or waking up from sleep mode
  5. Stage 5: It would no longer start up. The Self Check at start up repeated endlessly
First I looked at the latest machines in the shops, but they are still very expensive, don’t support Blue-Ray, don’t have a network connection, don't support DVB-.. and are basically not up to speed with the current technology for the price they are being sold at.
So I searched the internet for a solution; although this is usually a waste of time since I (like most people) don’t have the knowledge, tools or experience to try and repair solid state electronics. Personally I have a bit of experience with a soldering iron, but circuit diagrams are a mystery to me.
As it turned out this problem is well known, but not so well documented. It affects various machines in Panasonic's DMR HDD recorders series.

The problem is with a voltage regulator on the power board and it appears the various DMRs have the same power board. The component is fixed to a large heat sink, but the heat sink is obviously not large enough, since the heat the component generates eventually kills it. If you replace the component, the machine should work again; although it must be assumed that it will eventually fail again.

The repair is not difficult. Since I have the DMR-E85H I can only write detailed instructions for this machine, although I suspect the other DMRs are almost identical.

Parts:

The component is the Voltage Regulator STRG6353 from Sanken, sometimes listed as STRG6353 SKN. I bought it through Amazon and it costed < 10 Euro.

Tools:
  1. Medium cross screwdriver - magnetic
  2. Small slot screwdriver
  3. Soldering iron
  4. Solder
  5. Solder remover - braid, solder sucker etc.
  6. Cutting Pliers - to clip the component legs
  7. Thermal paste (as used for computer processors) - optional. Panasonic didn’t use any paste, which may be part of the problem
Instructions – DMR-E85H:

HDD and Power Board Removed (E95H) Power Board (E95H)

Important: Before handling electronics always earth yourself and if possible remain earthed. You may be statically charged, which can destroy more sensitive components when you touch them or something connected to them. In most countries earthing yourself is easy since the earth connection is exposed in the plug socket. In the UK it is more difficult.
  1. Remove the top of the case. One screw on each side, three on the back.
  2. Remove the front panel. Five clips – One on each side, three on the bottom. When the panel is off, note the white plastic piece next to the display (left). When I put the front panel back on, this piece popped off, and it took me a while to work out where it came from.
  3. Remove the screw fixing the black data ribbon cable to the hard drive frame.
  4. Remove the data cable and power connector from the hard drive.
  5. Remove the hard drive. The Power Board is underneath the Hard Drive. The hard drive is held in a frame and the frame is fixed to the bottom of the case through the Power Board. There is no need to take the frame apart. Simply remove the frame including the Hard Drive by removing the four screws which hold the frame on the Power Board (are screwed through the Power Board). The screws are deep in the machine which is why a magnetic screwdriver is best.
  6. Now the Power Board is accessible. There is only one remaining screw fixing the Power Board and this is on the back of the case where the mains power cable is plugged in. Otherwise it is held in place by two pegs.
  7. Remove the Power Board side of the connector which connects the Power Board to the Main Board. There is a clip on the side of the connector, and it is easy to lever out with a small slot screwdriver.
  8. The Power Board sits on two pegs on the right hand side. To remove it simply lift it up on the left hand side until the pegs release it. You will have to hold the last mentioned connector out of the way while you do this.
  9. Now you have the Power Board in your hand and you can replace the component. If you are not familiar with soldering techniques, there are many sites on the internet which may be helpful.
  10. As mentioned the component is screwed to the large heat sink on the power board, next to a huge capacitor. The part number is printed on it.

  11. Power Board (E95H)

  12. First you need to remove the solder from the 5 leg joints. Leave the component screwed to the heat sink while you do this. Be careful with the small ceramic components around the solder joints. If you hit one with the soldering iron / solder sucker it can easily crack. In production these components are fixed to the board with solder paste and hot air, since they can even crack with the direct heat of a soldering iron.
  13. When you think the leg joints are clear of solder, remove the screw fixing the component to the heat sink. Test if it is free, but… Important!! – do not push the legs from the heat sink side of the board through the board! To test if the component is free, only pull it from the heat sink side. If the legs are not completely free and you push it, it can rip the tracks off the board.
  14. Remove the component
  15. For thermal paste – clean the heat sink with a little petrol (or similar). Apply the paste to the heat sink where the component will be fixed.
  16. Put the new component on the board and screw it to the heat sink. If you are using paste it is best to lightly press the component into the paste while you screw it tight. This ensures that the plastic component case will not crack or rip
  17. Solder the legs
  18. Clip the excess legs off
  19. Put the machine back together
  20. Finished

Sorry there are no photos here *. This description was an afterthought. Now I have the machine working, I don't really want to take it apart again. But if anyone wants to send me some photos I'll happily include them.

Disclaimer:

I wrote this description in the hope that it will help other DMR owners by appearing at the top of a search. The information that I found in the internet was pretty basic and distributed.
Still, there is no guarantee that this will fix your machine. I have described the symptoms which were caused by this component failing in my machine and this problem is well known, but there may be other cases which lead to similar symptoms.  Simply put…  I accept no responsibility for any attempt to fix a machine with this description. If you follow these instructions correctly then your machine may work again.


Good luck.

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* Photo contributors:
Thanks to - William W. (Singapore)