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DVD recorders - replacing HDDs and DVD loaders

Discussion in 'Electronic Repair' started by Franc Zabkar, Apr 2, 2006.

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  1. Franc Zabkar

    Franc Zabkar Guest

    I'm wondering what is involved in replacing a HDD or DVD loader in a
    DVD recorder. Assuming that both devices use standard PC type IDE
    interfaces and power connectors, is there anything that would preclude
    a simple swap? I imagine that the HDD must be able to be formatted in
    the recorder (mine allows this). I'd also expect that I would need a
    drive that was not affected by "thermal recalibration" issues,
    assuming any still are. As for the burner, I'm wondering whether
    region coding will be an issue. AFAICS, the decoder board would handle
    region coding, so I would need a region free loader. Or am I
    misunderstanding something?

    - Franc Zabkar
  2. Arfa Daily

    Arfa Daily Guest


    The only thing that I've seen regarding replacing hard drives in PVRs is
    that it is recommended that you stick to the same manufacturer as the
    original drive, and make sure that the spindle speed of any drive that you
    put in, matches that of the original, due to timeout issues on the spinup
    speed of cheapo slow-spindle drives. I recently replaced one in a Yamaha.
    The genuine Yammy replacement was a huge amount of money, but the guy at
    Yammy Tech told me that I could put in a drive of as big as I liked, from
    the same series as the original. I did, and it worked just fine.

  3. Dave D

    Dave D Guest

    I don't believe I've even seen any current DVD players, let alone DVD
    recorders, which use a standard DVD burner with IDE interface. There were a
    few models of DVD player around a while back which used a standard IDE DVD
    ROM, but the one I was repairing (I forget the make/model) would not accept
    any other type of DVD ROM, it had to be an exact replacement. I can't speak
    for other models though.

  4. Arfa Daily

    Arfa Daily Guest

    That's interesting Dave. I seem to see quite a few here of various makes,
    but particularly Bose, and the ' supermarket special ' real cheapos. I've
    never tried putting any other drive in than originals though, because this
    DVD recording technology is such uselessly unreliable crap, that they are
    all only a few months old when they fail, so up for free issue genuine
    replacement warranty parts from the manufacturer, or just free replacement
    of the whole unit.

  5. Andy Cuffe

    Andy Cuffe Guest

    Replacing a HDD shouldn't be a problem since it lets you reformat it.
    People have even found ways to replace the hard drive in devices that
    can't format they drive.

    Replacing DVD player drives is usually a simple job, but I've never
    tried it with a recorder. There may be driver issues with a recorder.
    You could try installing the bad recorder in a PC in an attempt to
    identify it. Most of these drives are based on PC drives, so the
    equivalent PC drive is the most likely to work. You may need to flash
    the replacement with region free firmware from
    Andy Cuffe

  6. Franc Zabkar

    Franc Zabkar Guest

    My DVD/HDD recorder uses this Samsung model SV1604e 5400RPM drive:

    It appears to be purpose-built for this application.

    There is also this (similar?) SV1604n model which makes no PVR claims:

    This is the SV1604e spec:

    Reliable Design for CE Application
    -Set-Top Box
    -DVD /HDD Recorder
    -Game Console
    -Home Media Server

    80GB Formatted Capacity Per Disk
    AV streaming performance
    NoiseGuard™ technology
    SilentSeek™ technology
    Fluid Dynamic Bearing Spindle Motor Technology
    Thermal monitoring system
    ATA Security Mode Feature Set
    Lock'On Drive™ (Optional AV Security feature) support
    Enhanced Auto Reassign
    Low spin up current technology
    ATA S.M.A.R.T Compliant

    This URL seems to suggest that the HD may need to support DRM and "AV

    - Franc Zabkar
  7. Franc Zabkar

    Franc Zabkar Guest

    I recall that a certain ESS chipset whose datasheets were
    inadvertently (?) released to the Internet was hacked in such a way
    that some models of DVD player (eg Apex) were able to be fitted with
    HDDs. I'd be willing to buy one of those no matter what condition it
    was in.

    As for DVD recorders, this is the parts list for mine:

    The HDD, a Samsung model SV1604E, appears to be a "reliable" version
    of the SV1604N.

    The reason I posted my original questions was that I intend to hang on
    to this unit for as long as the logic boards are still working. I was
    hoping that the most unreliable part of the unit, the DVD burner,
    would be easy to replace with a standard, region free PC IDE unit.
    Hopefully serial ATA will not completely eliminate parallel IDE from
    the marketplace in the next five years. Otherwise I'd consider
    purchasing a Seagate drive with a five year warranty.

    My fear is that future DVD recorders will shift the drive logic to the
    decoder PCB, rendering these units disposable.

    - Franc Zabkar
  8. Franc Zabkar

    Franc Zabkar Guest

    What usually goes wrong with these recorders? Mine has lots of smt
    electros which I'm going to be watching. I'm also considering
    heatsinking the larger chips. Other than that, I'm expecting to see
    failures in either the HDD or the DVD burner.

    - Franc Zabkar
  9. Arfa Daily

    Arfa Daily Guest

    I don't see a lot of failures of HDD based recorders, but endless numbers of
    DVD recorders. Almost always, the faults are obscure - such things as stops
    recording half way through, or won't finalise a disc, or won't play back a
    disc previously recorded or won't play some disc types, or won't recognise
    some manufacturer's discs - the list is endless. There are of course some
    that are straightforward failures of power supplies etc, but these are few
    and far between. Many faults are cleared up by replacing the drive, but if
    you've got an electronic problem on the digital processing board, you may as
    well just forget it, as you will struggle to get any detailed service info
    or technical help from the manufacturers. Their usual solution is to just
    replace the board if it's under warranty, so that's what I do, as I've got a
    living to make, and don't have time to prat about.

    I really don't know why these things are so unreliable. You have been able
    to buy a DVD burner for your computer for several years now, and you just
    stick it in and forget it. The first one we ever had here is just starting
    to get a bit iffy, but it has been hammered hard for a couple of years, but
    as soon as they put them into a domestic recorder, even the standard
    computer drives, die like flies.

    I really don't think that this technology will last long as a VCR
    replacement. The ideal seems to me to be the combo HDD - DVDR units, where
    you use a nice reliable disc drive for your timeshift recording, and the
    DVDR for archiving.

  10. Dave D

    Dave D Guest

    Yeah, ignore the first part of my post, even I'm not sure what I meant!
    Definitely. They've had long enough to get the technology right, and it
    still isn't. I refuse to buy a DVD recorder for that reason. If and when I
    do buy one, it'll be a HDD/DVD recorder so the optical drive doesn't get
    hammered for stuff like time shifting.
    Some of them don't even work properly out of the box, or are really fussy
    about media. They've got some work to do to get them as reliable as the
    trusty old VCR.

  11. Arfa Daily

    Arfa Daily Guest

    Can't agree with you more, Dave. I've still got my Tosh VCR in the stack
    with all the other gubbins, but for the last year, I've used my Sky+ box for
    all time shift recording, and it's brilliant. A friend of mine came round
    yesterday crowing about the Hitachi plasma and DVDR he's just bought ( gets
    delivered today ... ) He actually said that he'd bought the DVDR because
    they were cheaper than HDD recorders, and that he'd managed to further
    badger the poor sales kid and his manager for an extra thirty quid off,
    after having got the plasma at the internet price of 300 quid cheaper than
    the store price. He thought he was jolly clever, until I told him that he
    would probably be regretting the purchase of the DVDR in six months time,
    when he has to take it back for the third time. You never know, by tomorrow
    night, or at least Saturday when there's some footy on, he might be
    regretting replacing his Tosh CRT set ( he copied me on that one a few years
    back ) with an Hitachi plasma ...

    Did I see that you were a ticketed amateur in the thread on running a car
    based monitor off the mains ? Me too.

  12. Franc Zabkar

    Franc Zabkar Guest

    Thanks for the feedback. I have absolutely no experience with these
    units so it's good to know what to expect. Mine has an exhaust fan -
    is this a normal thing, or do the cheaper units do without? Could the
    high failure rates of these units be the result of poor ventilation? I
    imagine that many people may not make adequate allowances for airflow
    in their hi-fi cabinets. Anyway, at the risk of voiding my warranty, I
    think I will add some stick-on heatsinks to the bigger chips.

    FWIW, one observation I have regarding quality is that my Aldi/Tevion
    unit uses a "high reliability" Samsung HD (SV1604E) whereas a
    Panasonic DMRE95HS uses the standard version (SV1604N).

    - Franc Zabkar
  13. Arfa Daily

    Arfa Daily Guest

    Franc. The heat thing is an interesting question, and one that I've asked
    myself on more than one occasion. It is almost certainly a factor in the
    long term failures of regular DVD players, satellite boxes, and formerly,
    VCRs. The thing is with these DVDRs, as Dave says, they are often faulty
    right out of the box, or if they do fail, it's within the first few months.
    Also, the failures don't seem to be heat related, in the 'traditional' way
    that we're used to. Nevertheless, I don't think that its any bad thing to
    emphasise the heat angle to customers who have their gear in a stack in a

    Friend of mine has a company manufacturing custom designed high-end home
    cinema furniture ( for the likes of those sportsmen and movie stars who earn
    in an hour what we do in a year !! ), and he actually incorporates a
    tangential blower unit at the bottom, and a couple of regular fans for
    extraction at the top, purely because of heat build up, if it's just left
    with the doors shut.

    As far as the fan in your DVDR goes, I'd keep an eye on it from time to
    time. A few of the home cinema type DVD players have fans fitted, notably, a
    JVC model, and obviously some other makes that are cloned badge jobs, and
    they are poor quality sleeve bearing plastic frame types. The motor has just
    about enough torque to shift the fan blades round on a good day when its
    snowing outside. As soon as the bearings get a bit 'gummy', it seizes up ...

    Interesting that the Aldi unit has a high reliability version of the drive
    that Pan uses. In my opinion, Pan products, and the service backup -
    particularly when you need technical assistance - has gone right down the
    toilet in recent years. They used to be one of the best, but now, it takes
    all day to get past that awful theme from Mash music ( "Suicide is
    Painless" - was someone having a laugh when they picked that ? ), if the
    phone system doesn't bump you first. Here's a good question. How is that "
    YOU WILL BE THE ( whirrclick ) NEXT CALL TO BE ANSWERED " can go on for 15
    minutes? Do they always speak to callers for that long, or only when I'm
    trying to get through ?? Are there really engineers out there that are so
    dumb that they need 15 minutes of assistance ? Or is it maybe that the phone
    system defaults to this message when they take all the phones off the hook
    for a break ...

  14. Sarah T

    Sarah T Guest

    Some can be updated to larger HD's. Liteons & you can find out the
    other ones in the forum at
  15. Franc Zabkar

    Franc Zabkar Guest

    Unfortunately you're right. :-(

    The fan is a Sunon model KD1204PKS2:

    The specs are:

    12V, 0.8W, sleeve bearing, plastic frame, 6000 RPM, 6.5 CFM, 25.5
    The fan is positioned to draw air past the chopper in the PSU. I can't
    see that it achieves much else.

    In any case I've added heatsinks to both Cirrus Logic chips. The
    larger one gets too hot to touch for any length of time.

    - Franc Zabkar
  16. Arfa Daily

    Arfa Daily Guest

    Sounds like a good plan to me. Keep an eye on that fan !

  17. Franc Zabkar

    Franc Zabkar Guest

    I've ordered a ceramic replacement. Thanks for your tips.

    - Franc Zabkar
  18. Arfa Daily

    Arfa Daily Guest

    No Probs Franc

  19. Dave D

    Dave D Guest

    I passed around 1990, and played around for a couple of years then gave it
    up for various reasons. My licence lapsed and I didn't bother renewing it. I
    have very little proper AR gear now, mostly handheld stuff and quite a bit
    of ex PMR stuff. I still scan 2M and 70cm occasionally, and listen to out of
    band stuff (tsk tsk!) on a Yaesu FT727 I picked up for about 25 quid a
    couple of years back.

  20. Arfa Daily

    Arfa Daily Guest

    Got mine in '94. Not been very active though, of late. Still do some ATVing
    on the local box, but the 70cms box is full of oddballs, TVs and assorted
    other cross-dressers, and 2 is pretty damned quiet now, sideband and FM.
    I've got HF gear, but can't be arsed to put up any decent antennas ...

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