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Old 11 October 2016, 23:36   #1
Akira
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Step-by-step CD32 lens replacement (with pics)

I thought I'd share my process on how to repair a faulty CD32 lens.
My unit was working great with NO signs of it giving up the ghost, then I didn't use it for a couple of months and the next time I try it up it just wouldn't work.

The process is rather easy but can get confusing at times so I hope this helps someone out. There;'s a bunch of mixed info online and people seem to disagree on certain steps of the process so I wanted to write down exactly what worked for me hoping it works for someone else.

MANDATORY DISCLAIMER: I Am not responsible for any damage you inflict on your CD32 by doing this, it is all your responsibility. If you are not confident taking apart delicate electronic parts and using a soldering iron, do not attempt this.

Tools needed:
- Philips screwdriver (for undoing the CD32 case)
- tiny flat screwdriver (those small "watch repair" ones, for helping you out)
- replacement lens (Sony KSS-210A or KSS-210B)
- Soldering iron
- Desolder wick or solder sucker
- 1 original and 1 CDR CD32 discs
Optional:
- Multimeter
- Electronics grease
- Pen and paper

The symptoms were clear, the unit wouldn't read anything at all, not originals nor CDRs. I recorded a video of the noise it made when failing:
[ Show youtube player ]

CD would spin constantly, head will keep on grinding, and nothing would happen. So if you have these symptoms, it's definitely the laser head. Other people have reported gradual decay, mine was sudden.

Of course, as soon as I have a problem like that, I turn onto the EAB where higgy, wmsteele and FOL really helped me a lot to sort it out, so this wouldn't have been possible without to their help. Big ups. I will be quoting them here at certain points of the process.

So after we determine the laser is screwed, we gotta look for a replacement. There are merchants on eBay selling the needed unit for 15 to 25 US Dollars and most of them located in China.

wmsteele told me that the laser unit is rather "generic" so after figuring out which model it was, I did a search for that on eBay and much cheaper options showed up and, more importantly, located in my own country.

CD32 units have Sony lasers in one of two models, KSS-210A or KSS-210B. The general consensus seems to be to swap for like model, so if you unit has an A, put an A in, and if it has a B, put a B in. In my case I had an A and the replacement was straightforward. People like wmsteele had to play re-calibrating the laser (more on that later) but I didn't have to do anything so I would also recommend swapping for the same part number. Some advice from FOL who changed many of these lenses for people:
Quote:
Originally Posted by FOL View Post
Warning to everyone, avoid KSN-*** lasers. They were a cheap copy laser, that failed every time. Its best to stick to KSS-*** lasers.
Here's an eBay search to find your replacement lens: http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from...s-210&_sacat=0
search for "CD32 lens" you just get scammed for not knowing the part number, so don't do that.
Before the part arrived, wmsteele recommended checking the capacitors on the CD controller board from past experience he had, so I opened up the CD32:


Careful when you separate the top from the bottom, you don't want to damage the ribbon cable connecting both or the cable and connector linked to the front panel controls and LEDs. After you undo the 5 screws on the bottom of the unit, grab it well, flip it over and gently lift the top case from the right side (CD32 front facing towards you) until you see the ribbon and panel cables and you can deal with them properly. I used the help of a small flat screwdriver to lift the top of the ribbon connector. Be VERY gentle, you don't want to break a latch on it.

The controller board will be underneath a light grey steel case that you have to remove. Again, be VERY gentle with the ribbon cable while you slide it out through the opening it's stuck in on the grey box.

Once you remove that you will have access to the controller board as shown in the pic above (bottom left). Unscrew it, flip it over and give the capacitors a good look, make sure none of them are bloated or that there is acid leakage on the board. If they are fine, proceed with the laser replacement. Mine were totally fine. Leave the controller board unscrewed as it will make following steps easier.

The part finally arrived after a couple of days (would have taken weeks from China!)



With the new part ready, we have to take out the old lens. The lens mechanism is connected with two cables, red and white, be very careful when removing them you don't want to break them, they are really thin. I had to use the help of a tiny flat screwdriver to be able to unlock the connector from its socket. Again care with that, you don't ant to break ANY latch.
Now you gotta remove the PCB from the top case. It's held by 4 screws that are isolated from the case by rubber. Undo these four screws and carefully remove the whole thing and flip it over:




Now to remove the lens you have to take out first the white cog that is holding the lens in place. Flip the board over and gently squeeze the bottom of the cog to be able to slide it out:



The next step is finally setting the lens free. You do that by removing the metal axle from its socket. You have to push it fully out of both sockets, careful as you don;t want to break any plastic. This is what you gotta do:



After you managed to get that first bit out and between the plastic tabs, all you have to do is push from the other side until you removed the lens:



OK you got this! Now you have it off you can replace it. My replacement unit was slightly different, didn't have metal rings where the metal rod is and the laser cassette was slightly differently shaped but this doesn't matter. Here's a pic of the old lens (left) and new one (right):



All you gotta do now is remove the rod from the old lens and put it on the new one.

Now the next step is something I found no info for until higgy and FOL hinted me about it. There's a blob of solder connecting two pads that you have to separate. You do this with a soldering iron and your choice of solder removing method. Personally I use a solder sucker.

The point is on the PCB and will not look really obvious unless it has a sticker on it saying it, at least in my case it didn't, so here's two shots of where it is located (this is just one point from two angles, there isn't two points you have to desolder). The other way to recognize it is by comparing the new lens to the old ones (you can clearly see it in the pic above after I showed it to you below):




All you have to do is apply heat to this point and then suck the solder out (or wick it out if you are using desoldering wick) and the two pads will be disconnected. Don't remove ALL solder, just enough so the pads are separated.



After we do that we put the lens back on the unit. Watch out not to break those plastic pads as you insert the metal rod back in place. You can lubricate the cog and steel rod at this point, use proper electronics grease to do this and not WD40 or any such greasy shit not meant for electronics. Personally I didn't grease anything because it seemed fine and muck free. FOL says he desolders the motor and lubricates that up, but that's overkill for most people not that versed in electronics, so I wouldn't do it. If you are game though, go ahead! (but don't use WD40, there are thinner oils! Sorry FOL I don't agree with your use of that in electronic machines)

Replace the white cog (make sure it went all the way through) and begin putting the thing back in place:



Put the white and red cables back in place, screw the four rubberized bolts back on (don't overdo these and we'll get back to them later), put the controller board back in place with the screw that didn't go through the metal box, put the metal box in place, inserting the ribbon cable through it as it was (but don't screw the metal box in yet), reconnect the ribbon cable (this is pretty hard if you don't remove the metal RF shield but I managed with little screwdriver's help again) and don't assemble the whole thing yet, we need to test it. First test we will do is to see if this worked at all.

With care and making sure nothing shorts, put the case on top of the bottom case and find yourself an original disc and a burned CDR. Insert the original, plug all cables on and power it up (again, I must stress, make sure nothing shorted when you put the top case on top of the bottom one). With any luck it will read the game fine!
Now replace the disc with a CDR and reset. Again, if all went well, it should work just fine:





If you got to this point you are almost done! Turn it all off, undo the cables, screw the metal box in place, connect the LED/controls board cable and screw your CD32 back together. Now for a final test plug it all in and power it up and see it still works.

There is something you might notice at this point: that the spinning makes too much noise. This will stop if you gently press the CD lid down. If this is the case, it means the two front screws that have rubber around them (in my case their rubber is black, the back ones are blue) are too lose. Open the CD32 again and tighten them a little bit more then try again, and repeat until the spinning noise is completely gone. I found that you can screw the back ones all the way just fine but the front ones need this tweaking and don't have/shouldn't be screwed too forcefully.

Now, for some people, after they did the original/CDR test above, the unit wouldn't read shit or read partially. This means that you have to do some tweaking to the potentiometers that calibrate the CD unit. There are five potentiometers in total and varied ways people swear by about how to go at them. A word of warning, these pots are VERY, VERY sensitive, so you have to do MINOR adjustments to them and remember how they were originally. For this my recommended way to do it is to measure the value they are set at with a multimeter, by putting a probe in the middle pin and another one on one of the sides (always the same side!). The pins are easily reachable on the bottom of the controller board PCB (where four pots are found) and on the back side of the lens' PCB.

I didn't have to do this tweaking but just in case I measured them all. I had to measure the controller PCB ones in the 20k Ohm range and the lens one in the 2k Ohm range.

I won't delve into this method because I didn't do it but more assistance is found at Stedy's page: http://www.ianstedman.co.uk/Amiga/Pa...dex/index.html
He doesn't go into touching the lens' potentiometer at all, though. FOL had recommended to ONLY touch the lens potentiometer and leave the controller board ones alone. If I was you and had this issue, I would start moving the lens pot before I try dealing with 4 pots at the same time. Good luck though, and although some people recommend taking a pic or marking with marker where the pots originally were, take my advice and measure it all with a multimeter and write it all done, it won't get more precise than that.

I hope this helps people revive their CD32s, if you have any further questions don't hesitate to ask in this thread! I'll respond to the best of my abilities.

Link with a few more pics besides the one in this thread (stupid 16 image limit) http://imgur.com/a/vdliR

A link to a page with general information on how to diagnose and treat all laser types, not just for CD32 (thanks Paul_S!): http://lampizator.eu/LAMPIZATOR/TRAN...aserology.html


And apologies in advance to the electromagnetic discharge-scared who will cringe at me doing all this on top of a carpet, haha. I don't recommend that generally but I'm OK at my house with this stupid humid weather of now and if I had screwed something up, entirely my fault.

Last edited by Akira; 22 May 2018 at 22:22.
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Old 12 October 2016, 07:41   #2
thgill
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Fantastic!

Should be a great future reference for folks when their lasers kick the bucket.
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Old 12 October 2016, 08:44   #3
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Great guide, thank you for the good work!
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Old 12 October 2016, 12:39   #4
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Old 12 October 2016, 13:52   #5
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Nice one!
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Old 12 October 2016, 14:12   #6
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Nice guide.
Very detailed.
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Old 12 October 2016, 15:02   #7
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I changed it recently but is always good to have a great tutorial for referente.
Thanks.
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Old 12 October 2016, 16:57   #8
Akira
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I'm glad it is appreciated and hope it can help in the future to all those that have CD32 issues.

I cannot take credit for most of it, as I said, I had huge help from FOL, higgy and wmsteele. So kudos to EAB for being so fricking awesome.

If a mod deems it worthy, perhaps this can be stickied in the hardware forum.

Last edited by Akira; 21 October 2016 at 18:57.
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Old 21 October 2016, 17:44   #9
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My CD32 has the same issue. I'll give this a whirl and report back. Thanks for the post Akira.
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Old 21 October 2016, 18:56   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plasmab View Post
My CD32 has the same issue. I'll give this a whirl and report back. Thanks for the post Akira.
Let us know how it goes! Any information added to this thread with other people's experience while doing the swap is greatly appreciated.

It's been 10 days and my CD32 works just great, smooth and silent, a pleasure! I wonder where JOTD is, because I think a load of CD32Load issues with grinding were resolved with this change.
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Old 12 November 2016, 19:17   #11
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Sadly I seem to have run into a problem. Followed the guide through but all that happens after putting it back together is the CD spins, sounds like it should but it just keeps trying over and over to read it. Just see the CD32 boot screen, no matter how long I leave it just keeps trying to read any CD I put in. If I reboot the console it stays on a black screen and seems to spin the disc without ever loading tried it on an original game and a copied CDR which I know worked before.

It sounds like it can spin at different speeds and the orange light is on the console as normal.
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Old 12 November 2016, 19:42   #12
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You could try increasing the power to the lens as shown in 19.20 of the Video , turn it clockwise no more than 5 mins if looking at it like a clock, see if reads the cd then.
I have done this a couple of times but no more than 5 mins otherwise the life of the diode will be shortened

mark it before you touch it so you can go back to its original position

http://eab.abime.net/showthread.php?t=82828
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Old 12 November 2016, 20:50   #13
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No kit like that so I'll stick it on ebay Thanks for replying.
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Old 13 November 2016, 17:59   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by supaduper View Post
You could try increasing the power to the lens as shown in 19.20 of the Video , turn it clockwise no more than 5 mins if looking at it like a clock, see if reads the cd then.
I have done this a couple of times but no more than 5 mins otherwise the life of the diode will be shortened

mark it before you touch it so you can go back to its original position

http://eab.abime.net/showthread.php?t=82828
You should never do this with a brand new laser. If you have to do this, then some thing is wrong either with laser or laser mech electronics.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lorfarius View Post
Sadly I seem to have run into a problem. Followed the guide through but all that happens after putting it back together is the CD spins, sounds like it should but it just keeps trying over and over to read it. Just see the CD32 boot screen, no matter how long I leave it just keeps trying to read any CD I put in. If I reboot the console it stays on a black screen and seems to spin the disc without ever loading tried it on an original game and a copied CDR which I know worked before.

It sounds like it can spin at different speeds and the orange light is on the console as normal.
What were your original symptoms, as you could have a dodgy laser. Even new, you can get the odd one that is duff.
If you hold door open and push something into the door close switch, does laser actuate and shine laser (DO NOT look directly at laser)?
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Old 13 November 2016, 20:27   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FOL View Post
What were your original symptoms, as you could have a dodgy laser. Even new, you can get the odd one that is duff.
If you hold door open and push something into the door close switch, does laser actuate and shine laser (DO NOT look directly at laser)?
It wouldn't load all CD's (which were working fine on another system). Copied or original.

I can't see the laser shine. But it does seem to lower slightly and not do anything else.
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Old 14 November 2016, 02:51   #16
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If there is no there is a problem, you definitely removed laser grounding point?


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Old 14 November 2016, 10:12   #17
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Quote:
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If there is no there is a problem, you definitely removed laser grounding point?
Yes.
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Old 14 November 2016, 19:49   #18
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Yes.
Laser has to be lasering to some extent. If I recall, these mechs, focus, then try to spin disc. If there was no laser it would not spin.
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Old 14 November 2016, 22:58   #19
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Replacement Laser arrived today. I will try this out later this week
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Old 16 November 2016, 19:38   #20
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If you have any trouble let me know... I've done a fair few.. also contrary to what has been posted 'sometimes' new lasers do need adjusting, have also found that four strategically placed rubber washers (to 'push' the cd unit a fraction higher) can work miracles, as the rubber mounts after 20+ years tend to sit ever so slightly lower. Have also recently found another unit that refused to work for no apparent reason until the connecting cable was swapped (was the last thing I tried, using the unit on another CD32), no visible damage to either end.
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