Rick's Tech Talk

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Fixing My Portable DVD's H03 Error

A few days ago our portable DVD player (a Panasonic DVD-LS 82) began producing an "Error H03" message to the screen whenever we gave it a known working DVD. Normally, a malfunction like this is a chance for me to dip into the savings for an upgrade, but the error had a hardware fix that I wanted to try out.

First of all, I'm not a hardware guy. It's a refrain that I've often expressed throughout my computer career. I'm a software guy. Bits and bytes. Higher level languages. I didn't take apart a computer until after college (whereas most hardware buffs and DIY PC-people tinker with stuff in high school). It's not that this stuff is alien to me. Since college I've replaced hard drives, memory, and I have installed PC cards. It's just that the assembly of modern PCs and electronics, while fascinating, is not that compelling to me as a day job. I told my wife that I'm the guy who writes the H03 error to the screen, not the guy who produces mechanics/electronics that generate the H03 error.

Note: Clicking on any of the pictures below will pop up another window showing the full resolution (1600x1200) of that same picture.

The error itself is pretty straightforward:

Panasonic DVD-LS82 H03 Error

The manual says that any "H" error means you should unplug, then replug the device. This is the moral equivalent of control-alt-delete. But there I was, unplugging and replugging my DVD player, hoping against hope that the message would just "go away." It didn't.

Flustered, I decided to search for the error on the Internet. I got a terrific hit off the AV Science Forum (est. 1995). A poster named "Hossam" wrote (in April 2006) "fixing code H03 is very simple but needs some courage and small phillips screw driver." I had a wee-bit of courage, and I did have a small Phillips screw driver, and instead of trying to decide whether this effort would be worth my time, I took the DVD player to another room so I could "operate" on it.

Panasonic DVD-LS82 Back Cover

The first issue I ran into while following Hossam's post is that the tiny screws holding the DVD together were smaller than my eye-glass repair screwdriver. After a few tries, I knew I would be stripping the heads off these screws if I continued. I bounded out the stairs, grabbed my wallet, and went to Radio Shack. As I left the house, my wife reminded me not to get too frustrated: we could always just buy a new one. That wasn't the point anymore.

Kronus 6-Piece Precision Phillips Screwdriver Set

The new set of Phillips screwdrivers ($6.92 with tax) enabled me to unscrew all 13 of the tiny screws from the back of the DVD player. This was the hardest part of the entire repair. The screws were so tight I thought they were locked in with glue. I had to use a lot of good old fashioned elbow grease to get the screws turning. My hand was slightly damp and I remember grasping the screwdriver through a canvas bag so I could produce the proper torque without slipping. Probably around this time I thought "this is going to take more than 5 minutes" (as another poster suggests).

Tiny Screws from the Panasonic DVD-LS82

After removing the screws, peeling the back off the DVD player required a small bit of exertion to pry the form-fitting pieces apart. This was less work than the screws, but I worried whether or not I needed to work the seam with another tool. I didn't.

Innards of a Panasonic DVD-LS82

Once the back came off I took a look at all the electronics. I saw ribbon cable. I saw computer chips. I saw the familiar green of an electronics PCB. I saw the relatively unfamiliar "mechanics" that enabled the laser to move across a disc. Mostly though, what I saw was a lot of hair and dust. I used a pair of tweezers to carefully pick and pull at the hair and dust balls that surely couldn't be good for the device. This took a few minutes.

Hossam's instructions say to locate "three rubber suspensions." Feeling around delicately with my finger, I was able to find these three suspensions (marked in red in the picture below):

The Servo Motor and Laser Lamb

Hossam says "remove the whole structure." Surprisingly, this step does not require a screwdriver. The housing of the mechanics is not screwed down, and in fact seems to be "suspended in air" by the three rubber suspension points. (As I kept on going with the repair, it did seem as if I did not need to remove this structure to get at the next step. However, throughout this repair, I was very careful not to touch the laser lens itself.)

Lifting the Servo Motor Mechanism

The key next step is to manually turn the "small black rotating joints." In the picture, I've labeled this rotating "gear" red. I used the screw driver to gently turn the gear. It caused the servo housing to move to the left (as indicated by the green arrow below). Hossam's instructions say that this step will release the housing from where it got stuck, and then the device "will work perfect after that."

Rotating the Gear Moves the Housing

I only turned the gear a few times, enough to get the housing to move maybe a quarter-inch. I then carefully reattached the housing to the suspension points, reattached the DVD "back", plugged it in, and tried to play a DVD. Sure enough, it worked! No more H03 error.

Hossam, wherever you are, thanks very much! And good luck to anyone who decides to try this operation on their own. It's not a five minute job; for me, it was more of a two hour job, but one with a satisfying ending.

Comments

Submitted by Ken (not verified) on

This worked like a charm when my Panasonic had the same error. Thanks for the pictures--they really helped.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on

Great help. Just about to throw it out - so happy I did not. You have saved me $150 - THANKS

Submitted by brooke (not verified) on

Thank you so much! I will go home and try this. I totally dropped mine and it has always made it past the bumps in the past. I like to try to manually fix stuff before trying to figure out how to recycle and then buy a new electronic item. I really liked this dvd player and am glad it has one more shot with me!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on

Just fixed the portable DVD player. Absolute lifesafer for car rides with kids.

Thanks so much to the original poster and thanks so much for the pics. Very helpful. I did not remove the unit, just cranked it a little bit with those tiny Phillips screwdrivers!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on

Thank you for this advice. It saved me the $40-$50 that I was planning to spend for a new basic home dvd player. The steps are easy to follow and the pictures with circles/arrows help me tremendously! If I was able to accomplish this task, anyone can! Thank you for posting this online.

Submitted by yootzee (not verified) on

Thanks for the post. I also have an LS82, going strong for the past 4 years, that had the H03 error. Read your post, cracked into, and got it going again just in time for an out of town trip with the kids. FYI, I did not need to remove the logic board and drive assembly. The servo adjustment is accessible after taking the bottom bezel/housing off.

The photos in your article were very helpful in fixing my Panasonic DVD-LS82 H03 error. Great article! I also did not remove the laser structure; just rotated the black gear with a small flathead screwdriver. Moreover, I think I know the cause of the servo housing getting jammed (in my case). I had left the unit in the car when it was very cold overnight. So, I think going from room temperature to below freezing in a short period of time caused the mechanics/plastics to constrict and bind.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on

Worked just great. Some notes on my specifics:

- Panasonic DVD LX-8
- The screws come out easily, but two can only be accessed after battery removal.
- Be careful when opening the unit not to disconnect any internal cables.
- I had to remove the laser unit, as described in the original post, as the mechanism of interest was on the reverse side.
- The first time I only rotated the gears a small amount, and it turned out not to be sufficient. I had to move the laser a significant way towards the center for it to come back to life.

Thanks.

Submitted by Pavel Gusakov (not verified) on

Dear Rick,
thank you very much for the post! It works for me too. I did repair my daughter's DVD LS80. I had the same H03 error just after my daughter had tried "to clean" her DVD player. Now it works again, great thanks to you!
Best wishes,

Pavel

Submitted by BOB (not verified) on

Congrats,

Your explanation and pictures saved me some money. Our device is working perfectly !!!!!!!

Thank you very much from Belgium !!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on

I have a panasonic DVD_LS82 that has been down for over a year, Took me about 30min to fix with your help. THANK YOU

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on

I have had 2 DVD players do this to me and with your help I don't have to replace another one!!! I'm a stay at home mom and didn't know that I could do this, but you made it possible! Thank you so much!!!

-Michelle

Submitted by Cc (not verified) on

Instructions were easy to follow, but I have tried 10 separate times & I still am getting the error. Anyone with any thoughts/suggestions?

Submitted by chris greene (not verified) on

Open the door where you put the dvd in.... To the right will be the lens... Jimmy it very gently, put a disc in, and voila!! It worked for me and didnt need to take the back off at all

Submitted by Richard Love (not verified) on

Many thanks for taking the time post this solution with your clear diagrams. I had a Panasonic LS-82 portable DVD with the same error, and no sign of the motor running. I followed your steps.. the first time, opened the player, then simply moved the lens position via the gear cogs - but without removing the lens and motor assembly. Sadly this 1st time I was not successful (the error was the same). However I'd sensibly not fully replaced all screws before testing (why 13 - seems like overkill!).. and the second time as well as moving the lens assembly in towards the motor at the centre, I ALSO gently un-clipped the two wide plastic ribbon cables - the very wide copper coloured and the slimmer white one (there are smal dark brown clips on the connectors - gently lift these and the two cables slide free very easily.
Re assembled after this additional step and it worked - motor spins - disks play :-) Thought I'd both say thank you, and mention this extra step, as I nearly gave up, but the additional 5 mins work to take out and re-seat the 2 cables has saved the day (and a couple of hundred £ for a new player!)

Submitted by okelo trim (not verified) on

hi thanks this was a big help from you guys. i repair my dvd player your info help now i'm so happy

Submitted by WFJ7208 (not verified) on

Recently, I am having the similar problem (Error Code H03). Fixed it now per Hossam's instructions and the detailed instructions above. THANKS!!!!!

Submitted by Nicole (not verified) on

Thanks--the hardest part was getting those screws out...and I only have 12 not 13!

Submitted by 3 Kids (not verified) on

This was an awesome post. Was ready to get a new one. I am so glad I looked this up. Thank you for taking the time to detail this easy fix!

Submitted by Bron (not verified) on

Can't thank you enough for your clear directions and pictures. Took about 15 mins tops. It took longer to take out the screws and put them back in and of course the mandatory clean on the inside than it did to fix it. Didn't even effect my manicure :-) Greatly appreciate your advice! Model DVD LS80.

Submitted by Aaron (not verified) on

Thanks for the great advice. I followed your instructions and had our kids dvd player back running again in about 15 minutes. Didn't have to remove any extra components. Just removed the 13 screws, took off the back plate and cleaned the silver threaded post that allows the servo housing to rotate. Put everything back together and it works great. I will now return the new dvd and keep this one. Thanks for the great advice and simple instructions!

Submitted by Darren (not verified) on

I never normally feel compelled to leave a comment on these sort of things but in this case I did. Followed these above instructions for the same error code on my (LS-50) removed the x12 screws. Teased the small black cog round and removed a small amount of fluff from around it. Put it all back together, powered it up and Hey Presto! It now works a treat. My children are now very happy which makes me even happier. Well worth the 30mins invested at gone midnight.

Submitted by Ernst (not verified) on

THANKS A LOT FOR SHOWING US THE WAY TO SOLVE THIS ISSUE. I BOUGHT THE SAME MODEL THIS AFTERNOON FROM A THRIFT STORE FOR A FEW DOLLARS. AFTER TURNING IT ON, I TRIED A DVD, I GOT THE H03 ERROR. I WENT ON GOOGLE, FOUND THIS FORUM AND ONE HOUR LATER, I'M WATCHING ONE OF MY FAVORITES MOVIES. THANKS AGAIN FOR SHARING INFORMATION. THAT WAS VERY HELPFUL.

Submitted by Michael (not verified) on

After spending about 10 minutes reading your detailed instructions, I was able to do this repair on our portable DVD player in about 5 minutes. I had a repair kit from an older iPhone that worked perfectly with it. A small phillips screwdriver worked perfectly, and each of the 13 screws came out in seconds. A prying tool got the case open quickly. I pulled the suspended assembly out (not sure why) and turned the gear with a flat head screwdriver. Everything went back together easily, and it worked perfectly.

One way to tell if this needs to be done (without having to disassemble it)... When you power on the DVD player, the head should move. If it doesn't move, it's stuck.

Submitted by Jay (not verified) on

Thanks dude You saved me $150

Submitted by Raelynn (not verified) on

Thank you soooo much! This worked like a charm! wonderful step by step instructions. Saved me big $$$$$

Submitted by Joel (not verified) on

Thank you so much for you very informative and detailed post. Was able to restore my player to working condition in about 20 minutes by following your instructions step by step.

Again, many thanks.

Submitted by Luc (not verified) on

Excellent tutorial! You "made my day", mate! I'm going to watch "A Separation" now, a great Iranian movie :-) God bless you!

Submitted by Jennica (not verified) on

Oh my gosh!! Thank God I stumbled on this website! we are going on a long long road trip and I needed my DVD player to work for my son, I followed the easy instructions, thank you for pics otherwise I would have no idea, and it works!!! :)

Submitted by Pavel (not verified) on

Thanks!
Thank you so much !
The photos in your artile were very helpful in fixing HO3 error of my Panasonis DVD - LS90. Just ratted the black gear with a small flathead screwdriver. Me and granddaughter much we like this DVD player and I am glad that the pictures in your article helped me again to revive it.
Best wisthes
Pavel

Submitted by Francisco (not verified) on

I finally found the time and started with the procedure following your step-by-step
mini-screws came out (I was worried by your notes about the hardest part of all, but at the end it was not that difficult)
In my case the worst part was to turn the gear a few times releasing where it got stuck (last part of the process before re-closing everything); that was because I was not rotating enough around 1cm or so, so finally I decided to turn it more than 2.5-3 cm, and then the DVD player magically worked again!
Thank you very much! The whole family will love the LX97 for another number of years ;-D

Submitted by Kevin (not verified) on

Another one fixed :-)
I have had this LS-82 portable DVD player for a few years now. I had a bit of a miss-hap a few weeks ago, when I left the wire dangling out of my car rear passenger door. I could hear a feint 'tapping' noise as I was driving but thought it was something in the luggage space at the back of the car. On arrival at my destination, I found the noise was caused by the adaptor plug wearing itself away by bouncing off the car body and the road. It cost me £40 GBP to get hold of a new mains adaptor/charger. So having just restored my power supply, I was really depressed when the 'H03' error popped up.!! Thought that was the end of it. But thanks to the really easy to follow instructions on your page, I once again have a working DVD player. So a big thank you from Leeds, England.

Submitted by Patrick (not verified) on

Thanks for a great article & superb pictures. Ten minutes and I was done, thanks to 1) already having a set of precision screwdrivers on hand (thanks to a conference give-away!) and 2) these easy to follow instructions. This was great, and just in time for a day trip with a 2 1/2 year old ready to watch "Frozen" for the hundredth time.

Submitted by Elena (not verified) on

Thanks a lot from Russia!
My DVD Player (LS82) is working now.

Submitted by Kerri (not verified) on

Thank you so much for posting this and providing clear instructions. Took me less than 10 mins and voila-fixed!

Submitted by Rbs (not verified) on

Glad I read your fix. Literally a five minute job. I'm real happy that your instructions and pix were clear and simple. I didn't even lose any screws!!!!!!!! Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Submitted by Marvin serrano (not verified) on

Perfect, very simple, i was about to thrash item, when i decided to try to fix it by this information, it just made my day, more power to you guys, thx a million

Submitted by Lucky Luke (not verified) on

Just followed the detailed instruction for repair of my dvd player. Superb. Very easy and direct succesful! Thanks so much!

Submitted by MikeB (not verified) on

Thanks for the article. Luckily I had loosened the screws before, so it was literally under 5 minutes. For the LS-55, I did have to remove the laser housing as the gear was on the back side, but it came off as I was opening it so no big deal.

Submitted by Johnny Song (not verified) on

Very simple but worked perfectly. Thank you again. I love saving electronics from landfills... Cheers

Submitted by Jared Olmo (not verified) on

The Fix was awesome and worked perfectly. Thank u verry much

Submitted by Jonathan (not verified) on

Many thanks from a grateful Brit - I needed a battery operated CD source for an outdoor PA job later today to celebrate the Queen's 90th birthday.
It worked well apart from one screw at the back of the unit - the plastic pillar into which it screwed broke. I managed to jam it with a flat bladed screwdriver which allowed it to be extracted. Overall about 35-40 minutes.

Submitted by keith (not verified) on

Wow! It worked. It's been 2 or 3 years since I dropped my PANASONIC LS90 on it's corner. From that moment, the H03 code started appearing. I finally decided to purchase a set of tiny screw drivers. My patience grows thin with tedious jobs, so my wife took a shot at it. She had it back up and running in less than 20 minutes! Thanks to my wife, and also thanks for your helpful post my dvd player is working again!

Submitted by Paola (not verified) on

Just wanted to say thaank you so much for all the details and pictures you posted.... My son's DVD now works perfectly ♡