Disc Drive Repair

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Various factors can come into play which may make an optical disc drive not function correctly. If all else fails, you will likely need to replace the disc drive or opt for an Optical Drive Emulator (ODE).

Other guides: PC Engine Fans

Drive doesn't spin the disc at all

For most consoles, a small lever or leaf switch is physically depressed when the lid is closed. When the lid is closed, the console should spin the disc and start to seek. Generally, if the lid is closed and the disc doesn't spin at all it can be assumed that either the leaf blade switch is broken or the motor is dead. Below is an example of a leaf blade switch on an FM Towns Marty.

Generally, the fix is to either replace the broken switch or remove it and permanently wire the lid switch together so that the console always thinks the drive is closed.

Drive spins the disc but the laser doesn't move

If your console has a laser on rails that moves into position under the disc, ensure that it is going the full range and ending in a correct position under the disc. If it's not, you can attempt to clean and re-grease the rails with dielectric silicone grease.

Disc tray won't open or close

If your console has a tray that ejects to allow you to load discs, ensure that it is fully opening and closing. If it's not, you likely need to reset its gears, clean gunk out of its gears (optionally grease them with dielectric silicone grease), or the drive belt is stretched out and needs to be replaced or boiled to regain its original shape. If it won't open, it can also be the motor wearing out being unable to overcome the magnet above the disc if the drive is empty — so try always keeping a disc in the console. Lastly, check the entire motherboard for trace rot or otherwise damaged traces (see below).

Drive reads original discs, but not burned discs

Often times when a laser is going bad, it will lose the ability to read burned discs, as original pressed discs are more reflective and easier to read. A laser adjustment via turning on-board potentiometers can bring back its strength.

Drive spins but doesn't load original discs

Wipe the laser lens with isopropyl alcohol and a cotton swab. If it still persists, you can attempt adjusting the laser if you have patience.

Trace Rot

Trace rot or otherwise damaged traces are a possibility. Here are two photos of an example where trace repair would be required.

Bad Capacitors

Leaked, bulging, or just plain dead electrolytic capacitors can cause various issues including the disc drive not working. Look closely for the top bulging or the top/bottom leaking and clean and replace them if they are. Failed capacitors can show no apparent signs of failing, so it may be worth replacing them to eliminate another factor in troubleshooting.

Dead Laser

Complete failure of the laser. You will need a new laser or — if it exists for your console — an ODE or way to play games from SD card or hard drive.