I Made It Work Again

Over the weekend, I made a roadtrip in the interest of thrift shopping.  It was a generally easy-going, low-stress trip that turned up plenty of CDs, mostly smooth-sided cases.  Along the way, I also picked up an early CD player, 30 years old, for $7.  I figured it would be interesting to have an opportunity to experience newer and older players and see if I could determine sonic differences between them.  The price was good, so why not?

When I got it home and fired it up, I found out why not.  It wasn’t operational.  When powered up, it would immediately eject the CD tray.  Pushing the close button did nothing.  If you pulled the tray out a little further, the close button would work, but after a second or two, the tray would eject again.  Huh.

My first thought was that there were some sensors that were dirty.  The ones that tell the player when the tray is fully opened or fully closed.  It seemed like something I could fix.  So I opened the case and disassembled the tray assembly.  I didn’t really see any sensors like I expected.  I did see a pressure switch that would toggle when the drawer was open or closed.  Opening and closing the drawer, I could see that when closing, the switch was not being contacted.  I think I was on the right track here.

Considering why the drawer wouldn’t close fully, I had a memory of a web page I had read about CD player troubleshooting and the primary takeaway was that the great majority of player failures can be fixed by replacing the drive belts.  I inspected the drawer assembly and found only a single belt.  It seemed to be in good condition, maybe a little loose, I don’t really know.  But I figured I could change it out easily and maybe that would do it.

I ordered a pack of various sized belts from Amazon and they arrived the next day.  Without too much trouble, I installed a new belt of near the same size, maybe a little smaller.  The reassembly was a little sketchy since I wasn’t exactly sure where to set the gear so that the open/closed pressure switch would get hit in both directions.  But for my first test, the drawer stayed closed when I powered on, which it should because the switch indicated the door was closed.  I pushed the open/close button and the drawer ejected.  I checked the switch and it indicated the drawer was fully open.  I pushed the open/close button again at the drawer closed.  Then I saw something I hadn’t seen in previous attempts: the laser lens moved up and down trying to focus on a non-existent CD.  And the drawer stayed closed.  I ejected the tray and put a CD in.  I closed the tray and the CD spun up.  I pressed play, the CD spun and the display counted up the time.  I fixed it!

That’s a plenty good feeling to repair something so easily, just a single part replacement and the part was a tiny piece of rubber.

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