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Simple Optical Drive Repairs

Optical drives (CD/DVD) fail with monotonous regularity.  Seems many people expect to simply throw them away after a year or two and buy a replacement.  This often needn't be the case. 

In general, the electronics in optical drives are very reliable.  Show stopping faults are frequently simple mechanical problems that can often be easily fixed.  

Perhaps the most common problem is a dirty laser lens which can cause unreadable discs or stutter on audio CDs  Whilst it is often possible to affect a cure with a lens cleaner CD, the problem often quickly returns.   There is no substitute for doing the job properly and that means opening the drive up.  I hope it goes without saying that the unit must be disconnected from the mains/computer!

CD tray extended showing laser

With the external metal case removed and the CD tray extended to the right, the innards are revealed.  On the centre left is the laser assembly. 

Close up of the laser lens

Close up of the laser lens

cleaning the laser lens with a cotton bud soaked in alcohol

Gently cleaning the laser lens with a cotton bud soaked in alcohol - dry with the other end of the cotton bud and inspect for cleanliness making sure there are no loose cotton fibres left behind

This particular CDROM drive had another very common fault; it would not eject. 

Whilst opening up the unit a small broken rubber drive belt fell out. 

broken CDROM drive belt

It was a simple matter to visually locate the two pulleys where the broken belt had fallen off and fit a replacement.

CDROM replacement rubber belt

With properly cleaned laser lens and replacement rubber belt, there is little reason why this six year old drive shouldn't continue to provide service for several more years.


© Tim Rainey 2006

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 Feedback, questions and comments welcome
Last updated:  2 January 2010
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