Panasonic BWT,PWT,BS series Recorders-HDD (int&USB) Registering

jonoro

Active Member
It is known that any recordings on the HDDs, internal or USB, are “locked” to that particular machine. If you connect a HDD to a different machine it will insist on a format of the HDD thus removing the ability to play the recorded recordings. It is understood this restriction is in place for program copyright protection.

Unfortunately in the event of a machine failure this means that all your recordings are lost.

I, and others, have had some success with extracting SD recordings from the internal HDD, but its is time-consuming and generally leads to the loss of title data.

I decided to look at it the other way-round – rather than rescue recordings from the HDD, to try instead and allow a different machine to accept a different HDD without demanding a format. This would solve the problem of a machine failure robbing you of all your recordings.

Recently I was looking into a 720 which was refusing to finalise DVD-Rs; it was not the BD drive, so the next thought was the power supply maybe could not supply the extra load during finalization. The power board was exchanged and the machine insisted on the internal HDD being formatted. This seemed strange to me, I recall reading that the HDD and the main PCB are configured as a pair, change either and a format will be required, but the power board?

So it appeared that the pairing is not to the main board but to the power board. The service manual includes:

“When exchange HDD or Main P.C.B., the " HDD Error " screen is displayed, but, according to a following procedure, please format HDD.”

A study of the schematics revealed that in Panasonic parlance the “main board” is not the main board (the PCB with all the processing) but rather it is the Power PCB! The PCB with all the brains is referred to as the “Digital” board.



So how on earth is the HDD “tied” to the Power PCB? A study revealed an “orphan” on the Power Board, stuck away in one corner and mounted on the foil side is an I2C EEPROM. This device is not connected to any components on the Power Board, but is, by way of the multi connector connected to the main processor on the Digital PCB.



This analysis is based upon the BWT720 but inspection of the service manual for the other ranges reveals the same arrangement. Even earlier series machines such as the EX range have the same EEPROM, although in some it is mounted on the Digital PCB.

BUT before you get too excited I have, so far, been unable to defeat the format requirement. More work is needed, I hope others might be able to help.



What I have done is to read the EEPROM contents, then make a change, such as a different HDD, read the contents again and identify the changes. The reads I went through:

  1. Initial read, new HDD fitted but not formatted
  2. Post format
  3. Post factory reset
  4. Post tuning of digital channels
  5. Post 1 minute recording
  6. Post different HDD and format
  7. Post a 3rd HDD and format
  8. Post registering an external USB HDD.
I have attached a spreadsheet showing the changes at each step. USB registration produces a lot of changes. I have also attached a bin file of the whole EEPROM at first reading.

Patterns emerge:

  • There are 2 blocks of data which always mirror each other – these change after each action I took (apart from tuning)
  • There is one byte which appears to be a counter, increasing after each change
  • There are 2 more pairs of blocks which mirror each other which only changed on USB HDD registration
  • There is another block of data which is repeated 4 times, this too only changed at USB HDD registration.
The EEPROM is an 8k * 8 - I2C device – 24LS64. A 3.3 Volt version. To read and re-program it I used a CH341A USB connected programmer. This was less than £5 on well-known fleabay. I found a few software packages that could drive it under Windows but without unsoldering the EEPROM there was only one package that would work. The issue is that the EEPROM has one of its address lines tied to +ve on the PCB. Most of the programmers did not allow you alter the address. Search for a CH341A ver 1.34 will find it and set the A2 address to “1”. I had a few issues with the driver for the device, but Zadig utility sorted that out.

What did I find out:

  1. The tuning data is not stored in this EEPROM, so it must be on the Digital PCB
  2. I took a copy of the EEPROM from one 720 and then burnt this into a different 720 and at the same time put the HDD from the first machine into the 2nd 720. It still asked for a format.
  3. I registered a USB HDD on the 1st 720 and after step 2 above I found that the 2nd 720 was now reporting that one USB HDD was registered (one had not been registered) but when I connected the USB HDD it reported that “USB HDD had previously been used with another unit” and went on to demand anew registration which would delete all contents.
Quite why Panasonic go to the extent of installing the EEPROM I have not been able to fathom. The Digital PCB must have enough memory to store HDD details, it is after all storing all the tuning data.

I have had to release one of my spare 720s to service so at present I am unable to continue as planned. It would be interesting to blank all the EEPROM data and see what happens.
 

Attachments

  • 720-HDD.zip
    51.7 KB · Views: 46

k-spin

Active Member
Way beyond my knowledge/ability to help you with your investigations but what you’ve found does look very promising. Good luck with finding a solution!
 

Brian566

Member
How could Panasonic make it so complicated
They should have programmed it so you could connect any Panasonic External hard drive to any Panasonic Recorder
That would not breach copy write laws

There must be hundreds of people that have recording which are now useless
 

jonoro

Active Member
I believe that it is the film industry that insist that it must not be possible to copy and hence distribute their work. I believe that all manufacturers I am aware impose similar restrictions.
I recognise that you can copy to DVD or Bluray but Panasonic may limit the number of copies.
 

pevers3

Standard Member
I believe that it is the film industry that insist that it must not be possible to copy and hence distribute their work. I believe that all manufacturers I am aware impose similar restrictions.
I recognise that you can copy to DVD or Bluray but Panasonic may limit the number of copies.
Hi, I have used DVD-R, DVD-RW and DVD RAM then BD-RE discs before I just recently found that using USB hard drives is better and quicker but suspect they can not be moved back which I do not want to try-might just loose everything, I agree with you that is down to the recording industry “laws” which everyone must agree to, to discourage any type of copying,
 

jonoro

Active Member
There is a major difference between copying to USB HDD and DVD-R, DVD RAM, etc. Copy on the USB HDD can only be played back on the one Panny that it was recorded on. DVD-R etc recordings can be played back on any player.
You can freely copy both ways between a Panny's int HDD and its USB HDDs.
 

pevers3

Standard Member
There is a major difference between copying to USB HDD and DVD-R, DVD RAM, etc. Copy on the USB HDD can only be played back on the one Panny that it was recorded on. DVD-R etc recordings can be played back on any player.
You can freely copy both ways between a Panny's int HDD and its USB HDDs.
Hi, that is a relief, now I can organise videos as I want, delete duplicates as I just thought once moved would be unable to move back and as well some seem flagged with different motifs, just like files on the original hard drive which then can only copy in normal mode, still have not worked out how to burn blu rays which the Panny’s hard drive and still regret that Panasonic removed the scarts which I have used all the time transferring my vhs recordings
 

jonoro

Active Member
The motifs, aka icons, show if ceratin restictions apply.
2 right arrows point at a disc with a cross in it - no high speed copy
Disc with single right arrow - will be moved not copied
Disc with exclamation mark - photos cannot be copied.
Burning to Blurays should be just the same as to DVDs apart from the menu selection at the start.
 

pevers3

Standard Member
There is a major difference between copying to USB HDD and DVD-R, DVD RAM, etc. Copy on the USB HDD can only be played back on the one Panny that it was recorded on. DVD-R etc recordings can be played back on any player.
You can freely copy both ways between a Panny's int HDD and its USB HDDs.
Another thing I found that the quality of video when moved to a usb seems to improve, although I do not know , as not technically minded, might just be a mind thing but there does seem to be an improvement, when you compare with a recording made to a dvd disc, even a blu ray but still frustrated to not being able to transfer those videos originated by my several computer converter burning programs which insist one using their dedicated style M2TS or mpeg2 as the recorder does not play mp4, or is there a way to do this, the Panasonic has no updates available?
 

jonoro

Active Member
There could be a difference but that would be down to the device playing back the recordings. Assuming of course that both usb and disc copies were of the same file. If you converted the file to DVD video format then depeding on the file format that could have been transcoded.

M2TS is just a transport stream encapsulation generally of an MPEG2 source.
My Panny, 720, will happily play mp4 but won't copy them to its HDD.
The question is why would you want to copy these to the Panny?
 

pevers3

Standard Member
Just want to archive them in an order then I have a number of BD-RE discs which my computer reads so if the panny’s hard drive fails still do not loose them as some people report when this happens, Have to do something or will go stir-crazy,just wrote my car off via hesitant land-river. Surely there is some-one who has burned a Blu-ray Disc which can be copied to the pannys hard drive
 

pevers3

Standard Member
Before some-one mentions ‘streaming’ I already have an Amazon fire stick, chrome-cast and Roku but these again cannot be copied, the Firestick may through the Y cable, which I have but not tried
 

The latest video from AVForums

Podcast: LG C1 OLED + JBL Synthesis SDR-35 First Thoughts, plus TV Show & Disc Reviews & more
Subscribe to our YouTube channel

Full fat HDMI teeshirts

Support AVForums with Patreon

Top Bottom