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243 posts

Master Geek
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Topic # 110769 15-Oct-2012 17:30 Send private message


Is there any way to make a digital copy of films on a DVR hard drive other than burning to DVDs? I have heard that files are not computer-readable and removing the hard drive will delete them. Can anyone tell me more about this? The drive I want to copy is from a Panasonic DMR EH-50.





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1429 posts

Uber Geek
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  Reply # 701706 15-Oct-2012 19:05 Send private message

Why not simply burn to a re-writable DVD and then rip it on the computer? That's the cleanest and simplest method, can be done with free software, and will probably give the best result.

Otherwise you will have to plug the analog outputs into a capture device and capture in real time. This will be fiddlier, take longer (real time) and give a lower quality end result.

1567 posts

Uber Geek
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  Reply # 701808 15-Oct-2012 21:57 Send private message

JimmyH: Why not simply burn to a re-writable DVD and then rip it on the computer? That's the cleanest and simplest method, can be done with free software, and will probably give the best result.

I was going to suggest that too but it is slower than transferring via network.
Perhaps Twonky or similar may work if your recoder has a network connection. The older version of Twonky worked for my BW880 recorder but the later versions won't.

1429 posts

Uber Geek
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  Reply # 701835 15-Oct-2012 23:24 Send private message

I don't think the Panasonic DMR EH-50 has a network connection. Certainly the slightly newer EH-85, which I have, doesn't.

1756 posts

Uber Geek
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  Reply # 701891 16-Oct-2012 08:54 Send private message

The EH50 has no network port and is an analog device, ( ie no freeview, so it will be likely recording titles on its HDD in some non standard format) so burning DVDs is really the only way to get files off the machine. 

751 posts

Ultimate Geek
+1 received by user: 18


  Reply # 702246 16-Oct-2012 21:21 Send private message

It looks like with enough technical know how you can retrieve the original binaries.
http://forums.afterdawn.com/thread_view.cfm/637367

The filing system might be accessible in Linux.

66 posts

Master Geek
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  Reply # 702258 16-Oct-2012 22:19 Send private message

The only time to attempt this is if the machine is broken but the HDD is ok. The HDD is locked to it's machine, so if you hook it to another machine it will be formatted and all data lost.

The HDD won't mount under Windows, but the data can be lifted off the disk using a program like Hexedit. In my experience the data was highly fragmented, and reassembling a program while not impossible required a great deal of fortitude and mugs of strong coffee!

If the machine is ok then dub your programs to dvd-ram disk. Divide long titles first into chunks smaller than 2 hours (assuming SP recordings), then you can get digital fast copy to the disk. The disk will mount in Windows. Then copy the .vro file to your pc and do whatever further processing you want. I find VideoReDo TVSuite particularly useful.

Cheers,
Colin



243 posts

Master Geek
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  Reply # 702327 17-Oct-2012 09:19 Send private message

Thanks for your replies everybody. I didn't want to transfer everything via the usual DVD route because burning has become unreliable and there are many hours of recordings to shift. Instead I came up with a compromise which is a direct s-video transfer to another DVR. This doesn't seem to be affecting the quality too much, is it was only s-video in the first place. After I have copied everything I may try a hex transfer just to see if I can get it to work (thanks for the link bfginger). This could be useful in the future. I have Winhex and I know how to use it so I don't mind playing with this kind of thing. Thanks again for the tips.







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751 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 702559 17-Oct-2012 15:28 Send private message

The HDD is locked to it's machine, so if you hook it to another machine it will be formatted and all data lost.

Does this behaviour originate from the HDD's firmware or the PVR's firmware? A self-formatting HDD sounds alarming but if it's the PVR I don't see how it could be aware of a missing HDD when unplugged.

66 posts

Master Geek
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  Reply # 702666 17-Oct-2012 20:21 Send private message

bfginger:
The HDD is locked to it's machine, so if you hook it to another machine it will be formatted and all data lost.

Does this behaviour originate from the HDD's firmware or the PVR's firmware? A self-formatting HDD sounds alarming but if it's the PVR I don't see how it could be aware of a missing HDD when unplugged.

This is my understanding of how it works (not authoritative).
In the Panny's there is no firmware stored on the HDD. The PVR writes a signature to the HDD when it is first introduced. Thereafter on booting up, if the signature doesn't match it thinks the HDD is an impostor and will offer to format it, or shut down.
Cheers,

66 posts

Master Geek
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  Reply # 702671 17-Oct-2012 20:29 Send private message

Rikkitic: ....
because burning has become unreliable
....

Can you post a photo or two showing the dvd drive reasonably clearly? I have a defunct machine here. It's a different model but if the dvd drive looks the same I could remove it and send to you for the cost of the postage.

Colin



243 posts

Master Geek
+1 received by user: 48


  Reply # 702698 17-Oct-2012 21:32 Send private message

^@Colinuu: Thanks for the offer but I have already replaced the unit. That's why I'm trying to copy the drive.




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66 posts

Master Geek
+1 received by user: 2


  Reply # 702702 17-Oct-2012 22:04 Send private message

Rikkitic: ^@Colinuu: Thanks for the offer but I have already replaced the unit. That's why I'm trying to copy the drive.

You're welcome.



243 posts

Master Geek
+1 received by user: 48


  Reply # 715875 12-Nov-2012 14:22 Send private message

Whenever I post a question and then later find the answer, I try to also post the answer as a courtesy to anyone else who may have the same question.

Copying video data off a DVR hard drive is surprisingly easy, in any case if the DVR is a Panasonic. Thanks to the link (http://forums.afterdawn.com/thread_view.cfm/637367) posted here by bfginger, I learned that the data is made up of straightforward mpeg video chunks, which begin with the hex string 00 01 BA. This seems to be (part of) a standard header for mpeg 2 video.

I removed the 80 gig hard drive from my Panasonic DMR-EH50 and plugged it into my XP test bench computer. It is a standard IDE drive and can be connected like any other. I did have to change the jumpers before the computer recognised it.

The drive is not compatible with Windows but any decent hex editor should be capable of accessing it directly. I used a very old version of Winhex, which I have had for years. It read in the entire drive contents without any problem.

I searched for the magical 00 01 BA hex marker to find the beginning of the video data, then selected everything from that point to the end as a single block and wrote it to a spare IDE drive connected to a USB port. Winhex handled all of this effortlessly. It took about two hours to write nearly 80 gigabytes of data via the USB.

Next I plugged the USB enclosure into my regular work computer for further processing. Most video editors seem to choke on 80 gigabyte files so I used an excellent free splitter called Mpeg2Cut2 to view and extract the segments I wanted. This program has a slightly odd user interface and requires a little (not much) technical insight to use properly, but is actually very easy to master and is well worth the effort. It works perfectly, without any glitches. Selecting and writing video segments from the master file is smooth, fast and effortless.

The data on my EH50 was hardly fragmented at all. As far as I can tell, every item on the drive was complete in perfect sequential order except where deletions had occurred. All I had to do was flip through them, mark the beginning and end of each, and write them out to separate files. It couldn’t be easier or more trouble-free. Useful note: even deleted items were largely intact, though sometimes somewhat fragmented. Anyone who has ever accidentally deleted something and panicked about it, will be glad to know (in spite of what Panasonic says), that the item can indeed be recovered as long as it is not written over.

There is a chunk of data at the beginning of the drive before the video data starts. I assume this is the operating system which has to boot up when the DVR is turned on, as well as an index to the data. It is probably wise to leave this untouched if you ever want to use the unit again. In fact, I wouldn’t modify anything on the drive. If you just copy the data and then put the drive back, the unit will never know it was gone.

I hope this is useful to someone. It certainly helped me.






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