Death of a VCR


2 weeks ago my family and I lost our last, tenuous connection with the world of visual mass entertainment. Our VCR gave up the ghost.

We’ve been sans cable and broadcast TV for the past 5 years now. At first I missed the shows – Seinfeld, Frasier, the news, but I adjusted. And for those times we really needed our mindless eye-candy fix, we made do with borrowed movies from the Mississauga library system. Finally our VCR let us down. Immediately after watching A Beautiful Mind we decided to wile away the last few Friday hours with another movie.

Bad idea.

Insert the tape, hit play and…”ERROR F05″.

If you own a Panasonic VCR this message is a death knell. Our VCR, having swallowed its last tape refused to stop, eject or power-off, leaving us no option than to pull the plug. By itself this would never have been an issue – but you must remember that we had a library owned tape inside – one that would cost us $20 to replace. Understandably we were ticked off about the state of affairs and called the Panasonic service center as soon as possible. Their solution was humorous to the extreme and a perfect example of getting caught between a rock and a hard place. Of course they could look at the VCR! It would cost us $30 unless we agreed to pay the costs of fixing the thing – in which case the examination charge would be waived.

Price of a new VCR – $80 at Future Shop.

On the Wednesday of the following week after returning from work I performed surgery on our VCR, manually ejected the tape and returned it to the Mississauga public library. We decided to buy a new VCR from Future Shop…but…somehow never got around to it.

Still haven’t missed it yet.


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  • It’ll last… now, whether there’ll be product to purchase for it… THAT’s another story… I concur that waiting for a blu-ray/hd-dvd player will probably be best in the world of video disks, but a $60 investment for two years isn’t too bad.

  • I’ve got equipment I bought 6 years ago for $60 that’s still working well. I’d expect my DVD player to last at least that long.

    I figure there’ll be enough time to make the switch. I doubt blu-ray/hd-dvd is going to be popularly accepted within the next two years. I know major studios have signed up to each format, but expecting the customer to buy another DVD unit right off the bat is a bit much.

    The FCC HDTV mandate goes into effect in 2007. I give it 2008 at least until we start seeing mass market acceptance of this.

  • I think the acceptance might come sooner. Like when a new video gaem console comes out, games for the old one still get released, but drop off after a bit… and the new product is all that’s left… maybe 2 years is to early, but I think 2.5-3 is reasonable.

  • How did you extract the tape ? Had F05 on my Panasonic and expect it to be a terminal illness for the poor old video player but have been avoiding trying to take it apart myself. Any advice would be appreciated.

  • Hey Gerry,

    Sorry I’m getting to you 2 days after you commented – as Shawn pointed out, I may be missing some comments in moderation.

    I don’t have the Panny in front of me so I’m not going to be able to give you detailed instructions. But here goes:

    First, remove the screws at the rear of the VCR that are holding the top cover on.
    Then, look to the middle right of the VCR innards…you’ll see a white, geared cam.

    This cam is crucial. Essentially, by rotating this cam (I experimented a fair bit) you put it through its paces of actually ejecting the tape. I _don’t_ recommend using your finger (your skin will get torn off) – but use something grippy.

    I’ll send you an email about this too. Also, if I have time when I get home this weekend I’ll take a few photos and post them up.

    Hope everything works out!