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How to Fix Your CD Player

By brain in a jar in Technology
Wed Mar 24, 2004 at 10:44:31 AM EST
Tags: Technology (all tags)

Every year countless CD players get junked because of one simple and easily-fixed problem: they fail to "find" CDs placed in them or they skip. Both of these faults are commonly caused by a misaligned read head.

In this article I provide details of a simple method which I have successfully applied to a number of ailing CD players. I hope that some of you will find it useful and that it will reduce the number of these devices that end up in the trash.

To start with, make sure that your CD player is suffering from the problem that this method is designed to fix. This method is designed to fix a misaligned CD read head. The common symptoms of this problem are:

1. You place a CD in the player, and it spins for a bit but never finds the list of tracks on the CD and returns some kind of error. This problem may occur regularly or intermittently.

2. CDs tend to skip frequently, even if they are clean and in good condition.

So if this sounds like your problem, then this method is for you. You should however bear the following in mind: only attempt to fix the CD player if the fault occurs frequently and is really annoying; i.e. if you are thinking of throwing the CD player away. To carry out the repair you will have to open the case. This will certainly render void any warranty the device might have, so if your player is still under warranty, don't open it. Simply return it to the retailer. Finally, for your safety and that of your equipment be sure to disconnect your CD player and remove any batteries at least a half hour before you start work. Finally, although I have had consistent success with this method, everything you do is at your own risk and is your own responsibility. I provide no guarantee of any nature regarding this method.

Your first job is to open up the case of your CD player. This will be more or less difficult depending on the type of device. If you are lucky and have a Hi-Fi separate type device then it will be pretty simple; if you have a mini or midi-system with a built in CD player this could be trickier. Fixing portable CD players (e.g. a Discman) is probably only for the uber-patient as it is likely to be very fiddly. The main thing required here is patience and a methodical approach. As you remove screws put them somewhere safe; line them up in the order in which you removed them, or make notes of what goes where. You may reach a point where you think you have taken all the screws out but you still can't get into the case. Here, patience is still the key. Check under stickers for hidden screws or clips. Try and work out where the case is held together. Use the minimum force possible at all times.

Now, assuming you have managed to get into the case successfully, and have got access to the CD player we can continue. By now you will probably be able to see the CD tray (the bit that holds the disk) and also some kind of arm which hovers over the disk when the tray is closed. There will usually be a small motor for moving the lens over the disk, and attached to this or nearby there is typically a small circuit board.

On this board, or in any case rather close to the read head there can usually be found a small potentiometer (sometimes referred to as a pot). This will usually be a small square component with a plastic disk on top, and this disk will have a slot which is designed to take a small flat head screwdriver. This is what we will be adjusting.

However, before doing this it is advisable to use an indelible marker pen (magic marker) to mark the current position of the Potentiometer, so that it can be returned to its original position if necessary. With this done then we are ready to start fixing your CD player.

This is essentially a trial and error process. You make a small adjustment to the position of the potentiometer, then try the CD player and see if it is improved. In my experience generally only small adjustments (less than plus/minus 30 degrees of rotation) are usually necessary.

Depending on how comfortable you are working with electrical devices there are different ways of going through this trial and error process. If you are unsure of yourself or particularly safety conscious then will probably want to put the case back on the CD player each time you test it because you will probably have to plug it in to do this. However, as you have probably guessed it is not necessary to put all the screws back in.

If you are a little more comfortable with electrical devices, e.g. you're the kind of person who never puts the sides on the case of their PC, then you may want to do the testing without putting the case back on the CD player. Obviously, this requires a good deal more caution, but it also makes the whole process quicker. While the device is plugged in, be sure to touch only the player's play and stop/eject buttons, unplugging the device again before making any adjustments. Be sure to keep hands and tools away from the player's power supply unit (PSU)/transformer (if you don't know how to identify this then you had better close the case between tries). Also be aware that the PSU can store power for some time, so it is advisable to leave the unit unplugged for a while between attempts, and not to touch the PSU.

After a few attempts it should be possible to find a position of the potentiometer (the little adjustable thing with the slot in the top) where the CD player recognises disks again and plays them without skipping. If, this is the case, then congratulations, you've fixed your CD player. Simply put the case back on and you are ready to rock.


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Display: Sort:
How to Fix Your CD Player | 71 comments (63 topical, 8 editorial, 0 hidden)
This one happened to me (none / 2) (#7)
by Stavr0 on Wed Mar 24, 2004 at 07:46:31 AM EST

Player dead, no power

There's a fuse inside the case near the power supply. 50 cents later it was working again.

Damn! I wanted to get a CD/DVD/MP3 player to replace it but it still works.
- - -
Pax Americana : Oderint Dum Metuant

You bought a fuse for 50 cents? (none / 1) (#17)
by Fon2d2 on Wed Mar 24, 2004 at 12:17:00 PM EST

Damnit, I just fixed a DC 9-V adaptor and the fuse cost me like a buck fifty.

[ Parent ]
No problemo (none / 1) (#24)
by armonica on Wed Mar 24, 2004 at 01:40:16 PM EST

Just pour some Coke in it... wait a day or so... repeat... It will break sooner or later and won't be repairable.
Of course you could donate it to someone else so they could wish it was a CD/DVD/MP3 player.

[ Parent ]
Fuses? Who needs 'em! (none / 1) (#59)
by lhaeh on Sat Mar 27, 2004 at 08:57:40 PM EST

Insted of having to go through the bother of going to the store and looking for the right fuse just wrap tin-foil around it. Now its no longer protected but chances of it getting damaged arn't that high. The real risk is the (slight) possability  of a transformer inside it overheating and smoldering possabily causeing a fire.

[ Parent ]
Similar advice for PS2 (2.85 / 7) (#9)
by smarkb on Wed Mar 24, 2004 at 09:19:45 AM EST

Ars Technica has a nice guide on doing the same thing for a PS2 when you get read errors. Available here - and it even has pictures.


How timely! Thanks [n/t] (none / 0) (#66)
by frijolito on Wed Apr 14, 2004 at 07:20:21 PM EST

[ Parent ]
Don't forget the cheap/simple problem (2.50 / 4) (#10)
by Xoder on Wed Mar 24, 2004 at 09:32:25 AM EST

The symptoms you mention are also caused by horrifically dirty lenses and can be fixed by a lens cleaner disc.

Lately I've been hearing that god's on our side But rumor has it, there's one on their side too So what I'd like to know is, when it comes down to it, can my god kick their god's ass or what?
Lens Cleaner (3.00 / 4) (#11)
by Bad Harmony on Wed Mar 24, 2004 at 09:39:01 AM EST

Sometimes they help, but they can also make things worse. I had a DVD-ROM drive that went from flakey to dead after using a cleaner disc.

5440' or Fight!
[ Parent ]

Don't use those... (none / 2) (#54)
by emmons on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 03:43:55 AM EST

Lense cleaner discs generally suck. They usually work by BRUSHING THE LENSE. Often this can ruin the thing by scratching it.

99% of you already have in your house what you need to clean a lense. Rubbing alcohol and q-tips.

Unplug the thing, open it up, dip a qtip in alcohol and clean the head with that. Use another to dry it a bit, or better, use canned air to blow it dry. Congrats, you're done.

In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
-Douglas Adams

[ Parent ]

That's what I thought.... (none / 1) (#43)
by Belgand on Wed Mar 24, 2004 at 07:02:01 PM EST

Seemed like a good idea and probably wouldn't hurt to try as compared to taking the system apart and probably having to have it properly repaired anyway. So I headed off to the store, brought home a lens cleaner and it gave me the exact same error with the lens cleaner and wouldn't spin for more than two or three quick rotations before saying that there wasn't any disc present.

So much for disc cleaners.

[ Parent ]

Detailed information (3.00 / 5) (#13)
by Stavr0 on Wed Mar 24, 2004 at 10:24:04 AM EST

Sci.Electronics.Repair FAQ - CD Players and CDROMs
- - -
Pax Americana : Oderint Dum Metuant
Unbelievable (2.91 / 23) (#14)
by Mr.Surly on Wed Mar 24, 2004 at 11:45:06 AM EST

That people don't really bother to know what they're talking about before writing about it authoritatively.

There are gross factual errors in this article.  "Why are you such an expert?" you may ask. Because I'm an electronics technician who has fixed hundreds (if not thousands) of cd players.

Top failure reasons:

#1 Dirty lens on laser.  This occurs because most lasers are mounted to point up, to read the bottom side of the disc.  One design (the six-disc changer cartridge) has it the other way around and does not suffer from this problem.

#2 Mechanical. Some older CD players had neoprene belts that would either become brittle and break, lose traction, or would literally melt, leaving a black goo behind.  Many cd players (especially the Aiwa 3-disc turntable changers) are especially sensitive to gear mis-alignments.  Often drive motors for the load/unload or head seek or spindle (spin the disk) motor would fail.

#3 Weak laser.  Laser diodes often lose power over time.  After a while, they're too weak to read the disc properly. This is the problem that this article is actually addressing.  The potentiometer controls laser diode current, and thus the intensity.  However, too much current is bad for the diode and ages it prematurely.  This can be a valid fix for lasers that are dying anyway, as replacement of the laser module is $40-$100 for parts alone.

As far as the factual errors:

... CDs placed in them or they skip. Both of these faults are commonly caused by a misaligned read head. No, they are not.  See reasons #1 and #3, above.  Coarse head alignment is achieved by the head drive motor, the one that moves the head back and forth.  This is not nearly accurate enough to align the laser to the to the (very narrow) tracks on the disc.  Fine alignment is achieved by electromagnets in the laser head that move the lens very slightly along the radial axis of the disc.  When the fine alignment nears it's range, the coarse alignment kicks in and moves the whole assembly slightly.  There is no adjustment for these functions, except maybe on very very old CD players.  Laser focus is obtained via the same method (elecromagnetic) as the fine alignment, except the lens moves closer or farther from the disc.

Finally, for your safety and that of your equipment be sure to disconnect your CD player and remove any batteries at least a half hour before you start work ... Also be aware that the PSU can store power for some time, so it is advisable to leave the unit unplugged for a while between attempts, and not to touch the PSU. Even CD players that plug into the wall are unlikely to have any residual charge in the power supply capacitors after more than 30 seconds, and unless you short it (by wearing a ring when mis-handling the circuit board), you probably wouldn't even notice it if you touched it.  Battery operated cd players don't have (or need) large power supply capacitors, and are safe to touch immediately.

He is trying to help (2.00 / 11) (#15)
by wurp on Wed Mar 24, 2004 at 11:55:12 AM EST

and you're trying to be an ass.  That said, thanks for the info!
Buy my stuff
[ Parent ]
Maybe so (1.80 / 5) (#16)
by wji on Wed Mar 24, 2004 at 12:01:49 PM EST

But "Mr. Surly" is helping and the author is being an ass. In fact, I expect to soon see links to some underground trollxor website claiming responsibility for this latest attack on k5.

In conclusion, the Powerpuff Girls are a reactionary, pseudo-feminist enterprise.
[ Parent ]
How so? (2.25 / 4) (#18)
by wurp on Wed Mar 24, 2004 at 12:17:24 PM EST

Because of the author, I know something that may save me money.  Apparently, he got the reason why his ritual works, but his mumbo jumbo still nonetheless works.

If it were completely up to Mr. Surly, I would still be in the dark.  Because the author wrote an article trying to be helpful, I found out something helpful, and thanks to Mr. Surly's reply, I found out some more tips.  But without the original author, I wouldn't know any of this.
Buy my stuff
[ Parent ]

Except that ... (1.83 / 6) (#20)
by Mr.Surly on Wed Mar 24, 2004 at 12:24:46 PM EST

... it isn't very hard for the original author to do a little bit of research, and check the facts rather than writing it up based on guess.  It's not like this information is top-secret.

[ Parent ]
I agree (none / 2) (#23)
by wurp on Wed Mar 24, 2004 at 01:38:13 PM EST

But I also understand the author's position.  I'm unlikely to think that I need to look up how something works when I think I've figured out how it works, and my hypothesis is supported in practice.

I would like to think that I am less likely to be wrong about how much I know, but I know that in fact I'm as fallible as anyone else.  You are too, just on different topics.

My point is that I don't want to discourage people from posting things like this just because they're not an expert on the topic.  If he were writing an article for a non-interactive format, I would be pretty upset with him.  But when it's an interactive forum like this, I expect an expert will come along and correct him.  Consider it collaborative reporting.

Often the best way to get something done right is to do it badly, and then put it out there for the people with the skills to do it right to see.  And of course where they have a way to submit their corrections/rewrites.
Buy my stuff
[ Parent ]

I just thought (none / 2) (#25)
by wurp on Wed Mar 24, 2004 at 01:40:40 PM EST

If the guy had posted an article about physics or math like this, I would probably be taking your position.  I think the difference is

a) such an article would aim to educate rather than give practical knowledge
b) I would be too emotionally involved in the problem to see it the right way ;-)
Buy my stuff
[ Parent ]

er (none / 2) (#21)
by wurp on Wed Mar 24, 2004 at 01:27:41 PM EST

... got the reason why his ritual works wrong, but ...
Buy my stuff
[ Parent ]
No (none / 2) (#30)
by tzanger on Wed Mar 24, 2004 at 02:55:14 PM EST

He's not being an ass -- He's correcting someone who thinks they know what the hell they're talking about.  If you don't know what you're talking about and are trying to help, that is great, but don't write like you're an authority on it.

[ Parent ]
Actually (none / 2) (#41)
by panZ on Wed Mar 24, 2004 at 04:58:04 PM EST

This article caught my eye because my poor older brother is having the exact problem described in the article with his AIWA 3 disk changer. I was about to pass the article along to him and then I read the above post which provides even more insight as to why the story's solution might now work! I totally appreciate his post and will also include it in the info I provide to my brother.
"Some days are good days to die and some days are good days for breakfast."
[ Parent ]
Oh, I agree (none / 2) (#42)
by wurp on Wed Mar 24, 2004 at 05:34:18 PM EST

It's a great post; very informative.  I just don't want people to feel as if they shouldn't post about things they've discovered when they're not an expert in the field in question.
Buy my stuff
[ Parent ]
it's not quite that... (none / 2) (#46)
by coderlemming on Wed Mar 24, 2004 at 11:20:11 PM EST

I'm kind of on the side of the parent of this thread.  The article was posted with a decided air of "I know exactly what I'm doing".  He didn't.  Parent^4 told him why he didn't.  End of story.

I think that it's not that people should be discouraged from posting little successful techniques like this, but that they should be discouraged from assuming they know what they're talking about when they don't.  Geeks very often tend to make the "most logical guess", back it up with a good argument, and call it fact.

Go be impersonally used as an organic semen collector!  (porkchop_d_clown)
[ Parent ]

a geek's logical guess (none / 1) (#63)
by adimovk5 on Sat Apr 03, 2004 at 11:22:37 AM EST

If he hadn't posted this article many people wouldn't have gained the knowledge of the expert who entered the conversation, including the original poster. The original should have stated from the beginning that he was only a layman and why he thinks the method works. I visit k5 to have conversations and learn. I don't come here to be lectured to by experts.

[ Parent ]
AIWA 3 disc changer fixed (none / 1) (#60)
by tupholme on Sun Mar 28, 2004 at 01:24:51 PM EST

I have an old AIWA 3 disc changer (NSX-D606 mini system) and fixed it successfully using this technique, after it suffered the symptoms described. This was some while ago (a colleague told me of the technique when I was about to put it into the repair shop) and it's been fine since with occasional use I give it.

You may need to move the head to get access to the pot - this can be done by manually turning the cog adjacent to it.


[ Parent ]

Laser danger? (none / 1) (#26)
by gidds on Wed Mar 24, 2004 at 01:56:38 PM EST

Good to hear from someone who actually knows about these things :)

One thing worried me reading this, though: doesn't running a CD player without the case risk the laser getting into your eyes at some point? I know the lasers are low-power, but can't even low-power lasers cause sight problems? And IIRC the laser is IR, so you can't see it and keep out of its way.

Also, is there anything you can do to make laser diodes last longer? I've had a couple of CD players slowly fail... It is age, or usage, or a combination of both?

[ Parent ]

Don't think so (none / 1) (#28)
by jmv on Wed Mar 24, 2004 at 02:35:09 PM EST

One thing worried me reading this, though: doesn't running a CD player without the case risk the laser getting into your eyes at some point? I know the lasers are low-power, but can't even low-power lasers cause sight problems? And IIRC the laser is IR, so you can't see it and keep out of its way.

I don't think it'll cause problem because the dangerous thing in a laser is the fact that all the light goes to a single point. However, because of the lens, I think the light should be scattered (only on focus at the surface of the disk).

[ Parent ]

You're right (none / 0) (#52)
by lens flare on Thu Mar 25, 2004 at 05:23:39 PM EST

Yeah, you're right - the lasers most people think of are actually ones that are focused to a focal length of infinity. So just don't stick your eye where the CD would be.

[ Parent ]
Focal point (none / 0) (#61)
by jmv on Sun Mar 28, 2004 at 08:29:08 PM EST

So just don't stick your eye where the CD would be.

Actually, I think it should be "don't focus your eye where the CD would be" (remember, your eye has lens too).

[ Parent ]

True, that. (none / 0) (#56)
by Mr.Surly on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 11:08:22 AM EST

You're right, as the lens effectively de-collimates the beam.  Even so, I never risked it, especially since it's invisible.  Fortunately, when working on the item in question, the laser often points straight up, where my eyes are often not located.

[ Parent ]
Yes and no ... (none / 0) (#55)
by Mr.Surly on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 11:06:08 AM EST

The laser does indeed have enough power to harm your sight, but you'd have to be looking directly into it when it was on.  It only comes on when it searches for a disc.  The lens then moves up and down, trying to focus on the reflective surface of the disc.  If the disc isn't found, it shuts off.  The beam itself is infrared, thus invisible.  To check laser operation at all, I had a special little card that would flouresce when hit by the IR from the diode.  I'd hold it about 1cm above the lense, and hit the play button (while bypassing any loading mechanism interlocks).  A small dot would appear if the laser was functioning.

As far as I know, there isn't a way to make them last longer, except by reducing their output power.  However, it would make it difficult or impossible to read the disc reliably.  It's kinda like a light bulb; if you never turn it on, it will never go bad.  Every service manual just says "replace" if the diode is too weak.  The good news is that newer generations of lasers do last longer.

[ Parent ]

Easy to criticize, but... (none / 0) (#65)
by 123456789 on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 04:21:51 PM EST

Why not write the "correct" article and enlighten us then? At least he author is trying to help everyone out.

Quit bogarting the knowledge!

People demand freedom of speech to make up for the freedom of thought which they avoid.
- Soren Kierkegaard
[ Parent ]
Surly is surely right (none / 0) (#70)
by jeffspc88mx on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 12:50:40 AM EST

I'm celebrating because I took Mr. Surly's advice and treated my DVD issue as a 'dirty lens' problem. PROBLEM SOLVED. Took the thing apart, found the lens, hit it with an isopropyl alchohol soaked Q-tip (making sure not to leave any lint), put back together and the "Fight Club" DVD that it struggle so mightily to play two days earlier was transcribed/translated with ease. Thank you, Mr. Surly. (And thanks to Brain In A Jar for invoking his wrath - without which I'd be out another $87). FYI - I was having issues with the player not recognizing the disc or skipping/aborting discs that were a bit worn (like the popular titles from Netflix usually are). And hey....how come my carriage returns don't work??

[ Parent ]
Meh (2.25 / 4) (#19)
by jmzero on Wed Mar 24, 2004 at 12:22:53 PM EST

The video quit working on my DVD player.  Now it's a CD player, and actually a fairly decent one.  I'm throwing it in the garbage - it'll be in the alley behind my house tomorrow.  You can come get it.  Or you can go buy a new DVD player for $40.  

Join the consumer dark side - throw it away and buy a new one.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife

Ok (none / 1) (#22)
by armonica on Wed Mar 24, 2004 at 01:33:42 PM EST

Where are you at? If close by I'll be by.

[ Parent ]
I'm in Edmonton, Canada... (none / 1) (#34)
by jmzero on Wed Mar 24, 2004 at 04:11:20 PM EST

I'm pretty sure I still have it downstairs - but the wife may have already taken it to the eco-station with some old paint cans.  Not sure.  

I've also got a copy of "Will Rock" that I'll throw in.  
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]

Hmmm...... (none / 1) (#36)
by achtanelion on Wed Mar 24, 2004 at 04:38:28 PM EST

What part of town??  If you're anywhere near argyll and 99th street, I'll come get it.  


[ Parent ]

Huh. (none / 1) (#39)
by jmzero on Wed Mar 24, 2004 at 04:44:13 PM EST

I live right on the West end, just south of Whitemud.  I never remember where Argyle (sp?) is - I'm not an Edmonton native.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]
Dang... (none / 1) (#40)
by achtanelion on Wed Mar 24, 2004 at 04:57:31 PM EST

Argyll is ~63rd avenue.  It turns onto the whitemud.  Unfortunately I'm bus-bound, and getting out to the west end by bus is a relatively large undertaking.  


[ Parent ]

I've got a couple of twenties in this old pair of (2.40 / 5) (#31)
by fn0rd on Wed Mar 24, 2004 at 03:03:04 PM EST

pants. I'm throwing the pants out. I'd get the twenties out first, but, well, I'm a lazy fuck. If you want to fish around in my pants for them, be my guess. Just wait til I've taken them off and thrown them out please.

This fatwa brought to you by the Agnostic Jihad
[ Parent ]

s/guess/guest/g; #duh -nt (none / 2) (#32)
by fn0rd on Wed Mar 24, 2004 at 03:33:25 PM EST

This fatwa brought to you by the Agnostic Jihad
[ Parent ]

Hmmm... (none / 2) (#33)
by jmzero on Wed Mar 24, 2004 at 04:08:07 PM EST

Make it $20 (or maybe $10), imagine that it'll take you at least a half hour to get the money out of the pocket, and imagine that make significantly more than $40 an hour and don't have enough leisure time.

Yeah, I'd toss those jeans with the money in the pocket.  Come to think of it, I throw away those jeans a lot.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]

OK, moneybags. (none / 3) (#35)
by fn0rd on Wed Mar 24, 2004 at 04:11:27 PM EST

What's it like to have your own personal landfill?

This fatwa brought to you by the Agnostic Jihad
[ Parent ]

It's really quite convenient. (nt) (none / 1) (#37)
by jmzero on Wed Mar 24, 2004 at 04:38:52 PM EST

But I do wish I had a truck to haul bigger stuff out.  
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]
What, you regret throwing out that one you had?/nt (none / 1) (#38)
by fn0rd on Wed Mar 24, 2004 at 04:40:29 PM EST

This fatwa brought to you by the Agnostic Jihad
[ Parent ]

never throw away clothes (3.00 / 4) (#45)
by coderlemming on Wed Mar 24, 2004 at 11:13:06 PM EST

Come to think of it, I throw away those jeans a lot.

I hope you're not seroius, especially if you're throwing away clothes that haven't worn out completely and fallen off of your body.

Take them to the salvation army or goodwill or a similar store near you.  Please.  It's ridiculous for you to be throwing something like that away, when someone a lot poorer than you could use it.

Go be impersonally used as an organic semen collector!  (porkchop_d_clown)
[ Parent ]

Was speaking metaphorically. (none / 2) (#50)
by jmzero on Thu Mar 25, 2004 at 10:15:45 AM EST

Wasn't actually talking about clothing, but about making bad economic decisions aimed at recovering sunk costs or small benefits.

Take them to the salvation army or goodwill or a similar store near you.

In keeping with my laziness, I prefer using the charities that drive around and pick up the clothes.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]

Disposable electronics. (none / 3) (#27)
by n8f8 on Wed Mar 24, 2004 at 02:07:50 PM EST

Last year I had a rather expensive DVD player stop working. After a little troubleshhoting I figured out the tiny motor that rotated the disc was broken. Tried the internet, radioshack and several electronics catalogs for a replacement. No luck anywhere finding replacement DVD player parts.

So because of a $.50 part my $400 DVD player was useless. The player I bought to replace it was a $40 Sam's Clucb special. No complaints so far.

Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)

hmmm... (none / 2) (#62)
by La Camiseta on Fri Apr 02, 2004 at 05:11:14 AM EST

You could always do what my little brother does ... go out and get some other cd player where the motor is working but the laser's jacked up or something. Then you just go and solder the new motor into the old unit. You just have to have a steady hand and lots of patience.

[ Parent ]
You're not realigning anything (3.00 / 13) (#29)
by tzanger on Wed Mar 24, 2004 at 02:51:50 PM EST

You're adjusting the laser power.  Big difference.

Having worked in a repair shop for a few years back in the day I found that most alignment issues with CD/DVD players was due to the anti-backlash spring becoming fatigued -- either replacing the spring or stretching it if a replacement couldn't be obtained tended to fix it.

By far the most common problem with the CD/DVD players was dirty lenses and repairs by people such as yourself who ended up burning out the laser diode module by overdriving the damn thing.  The laser module was probably the most expensive part in the entire unit, too.  

Anti-backlash spring (none / 0) (#47)
by bsimon on Thu Mar 25, 2004 at 04:31:29 AM EST

I'm planning to attempt to fix a broken audio player.

What does the anti-backlash spring do? How can I identify it?

I searched with Google, but didn't see anything immediately helpful.

you have read my sig
[ Parent ]

anti-backlash spring (none / 2) (#53)
by tzanger on Thu Mar 25, 2004 at 05:53:49 PM EST

you will find it in the laser guide assembly.  On models that utilize it, you'll see a flat linear gear (piece of plastic with teeth on one side) on top of another, identical one.  there will usually be a hollow in both of these pieces and an extension ("pushing out") spring in there.

What it does is hold the two linear gear "sandwich" under tension so that any move, back or forth, is made under tension -- it's a cheap way to use cheap gears and minimize windup and backlash.  (i.e. the wiggle you'd normally have since the gears don't mesh tightly.

[ Parent ]

i lost it... (none / 0) (#68)
by earsjr on Fri Dec 10, 2004 at 05:27:54 PM EST

exactly how important is that spring? i took it off, stretched it out, and attempted to put it back in, but it sprung lose and now i can't find it. i put the whole thing back together, and everything seems to be working okay... are there any problems that might occur from missing this "anti-backlash spring"?

[ Parent ]
How to fux your CD playet (1.06 / 16) (#44)
by mcgrew on Wed Mar 24, 2004 at 09:10:32 PM EST

Step 1: Find a BFH
Step 2: Grasp BFH firmlyy
Stepp 3: Raise BFH
Stip 4: Smash the fucking CD play er with the BFH
Step 5: Buy new CD player
Step 6: ??????
Step 7: PROPHET!!!!!!

Sorry Folks. (3.00 / 3) (#48)
by brain in a jar on Thu Mar 25, 2004 at 04:46:15 AM EST

Having looked through some of the comments below, it looks like I probably screwed up to some extent. The question is what best to do about it. If the consensus is that it would be a good idea, I could do a rewrite of the article incorporating the new information from the comments, and then ask one of the site admins to delete the original, or at least add a caveat to it saying that the article contains innacuracies and has since been updated.

As to the suggestions by some that this was some kind of elaborate tech troll, you are way off. It was just my honest mistake, I had a method which I knew worked, and I thought I also knew why it worked so I thought I would share. Some folks have pointed out that I should have researched better, which is fair enough, but I thought I already had the answer so I didn't look any further.

Some of the comments mentioned that the commonest cause of the problem described in the article is in fact a dirty lens, and others pointed out that lens cleaning disks are not always a good idea (can cause damage), so is anyone in the know as to the best way to clean cd player lenses.

Basically folks, I am open to suggestions on how to improve this, but if the general opinion is that this article should just be allowed to be lost in the K5 archive then so be it.

Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.

Lens cleaning. (none / 1) (#58)
by Mr.Surly on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 11:15:27 AM EST

I used a q-tip and 99% isopropanol (AKA technical isopropal alcohol).  The percentage is important.  70% alcohol will leave water behind, which seems to leave spots as if evaporates.

It would probably be best to use optical cleaning tissues.  I'm not an expert in optics, however.  Note that the lens is plastic; don't use any chemicals that are too harsh.

Sometimes the dust is sticky enough that cleaning CDs can't effectively remove it.  The CDs have a very narrow brush because the CD player has to spin the disc, and to do that, the disc has to have valid data.  The brush has to be narrow, because to the player it appears as a scratch.  Too wide, and it won't play the disc very long.

[ Parent ]

rewriting is a bad idea (none / 0) (#64)
by adimovk5 on Sat Apr 03, 2004 at 11:37:02 AM EST

You should leave the article as it is:

You have learned a valuable lesson about research. Others might benefit from seeing the beating you took. I thought the commentary was interesting because it showed the give and take among members and how experts out there interact and correct misinformation.

Let it stand. At the very least do no more than add a comment that the original post is inaccurate.

[ Parent ]

Reminds me of my first CD player. (none / 1) (#49)
by bgarcia on Thu Mar 25, 2004 at 07:28:23 AM EST

My first CD player was actually a unit that a friend of mine was going to throw away because it would no longer play CD's. I cracked the case open & took a look. I noticed that there was a drive belt slipping that looked pretty loose.

So I went to the local electronics repair shop and they had a replacement belt (apparently, belts stretch quite often, so they keep a supply on hand). So $1 later I had myself my first CD player.

Good solution for one problem. (none / 1) (#51)
by static on Thu Mar 25, 2004 at 05:18:55 PM EST

However, the description you gave for the problems matched an entirely different problem in my old CD player - the spindle pad isn't gripping the CD hard enough any more so it slips at it spins... woops. :-)

Otherwise, a great article.


Newer cd players (none / 1) (#57)
by Mr.Surly on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 11:10:13 AM EST

have a magnet mounted in the piece that clamps on the top side of the spindle.  The magnet is attracted to the metal of the spindle seat itself.  This eliminates the problem of slippage, 'cause those pads aren't used anymore.

[ Parent ]
aiwa cd not spinning (none / 0) (#67)
by guzzi850 on Thu Aug 05, 2004 at 09:51:05 AM EST

I tried your fix. cleaned the opital head but could not find the pot near the head. This is a nsx v2100 shelf system with 3 cd changer mounted on top. optical head located under cd when loaded. I wound up moving the head via the gear rack and the disk spun before i took it apart. a 15.00 box from salvation army that my wife picked up to wire into speakers on our screen porch. Not a real necessary item , the cd, but would be nice to have it working. All else works fine, radio/tape etc. any thoughts?? can email me at freightdog727@yahoo.com if u like thanks scott

So far, so good (none / 0) (#69)
by Nolita on Fri Dec 10, 2004 at 06:44:56 PM EST

Hi, I just wanted to tell you that I tried the tips and I think it worked. That is to say, I opened my portable cd/mp3 player, or rather I pried it open. Then I kept serching for the "pot". Well there was no plastic disk, nor a flat head screw, but I did find a phillips head screw. So I marked a line on both the screw and the area just next to it, then I rotated the screw ever so slightly. Now my CDs are playing, and they're even starting up faster(like new).

I don't think this is for everyone, but if you're like me, and tried everything else(yes I cleaned the discs, yes I cleaned the lens, yes I even tried moving the "head" where the lens resides back and forth). I tried everything else, and they worked for a time, this time none of those things worked. So I hit the net, and found this.

I read the comments too(not a total moron, only a partial one:)). Well I read them and I don't really care what the part is called. I didn't see any of the negative commentators posting their credentials. I mean, saying you're qualified without proving it, well, that's a bit fishy too;).

I just didn't care how fishy or loopy it sounded because I don't have the money to replace my player right now. I figured anything would beat the total crap out of having a $75.00 paperweight(man oh man the prices keep plummeting, a friend of mine just got a cd/mp3 player for $20.00).

Well, so long as it works untill I can get a new one, I'm happy:D.

So thankyou brain in a jar. All I needed was "find the screw on the rectangular doo-hickie"(that's how I eventually translated it) and I am more than happy with the results.

Did I mention I'm happy?

Thanks! (none / 0) (#71)
by tripsey on Sun Dec 19, 2004 at 10:19:25 PM EST

I really appreciate your taking the time to give such a thorough step-by-step description of how to fix the laser position on my boombox CD player, dear Brain in a Jar! I was really about to give up on it, having read many things on the internet about how there is nothing you can do to salvage one once it begins to skip and do weird things. But I took your advice to heart, non-techie that I am. I took my time and found the plastic cover on the square thingymajig, and it absolutely did the trick. Hooray, I saved some space in the landfill! And who cares if it shortens the life of the laser, I was just going to pitch it anyway! Now I wish those former electronics repair folks who have posted here, would tell us where the drive belts are located, etc. and tell us how to make the longer term fixes. Thanks again for taking the time to help out others!

How to Fix Your CD Player | 71 comments (63 topical, 8 editorial, 0 hidden)
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