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Xbox 360 disc drive and hard drive issues

Xbox 360 Highway to Hell and back

You may have found yourself here referencing the following youtube video:


The following is an article detailing the repair of an Xbox 360 console. It is presented as an article and not a set of instructions. It contains descriptions of two distinct problems and how I figured out the fix to each. You can learn from my experience if you are having issues with your console.

I am an xbox 360 fanboy. Like millions of others around the world, I can't get enough of kicking the crap out of people on Live. I play all of the shooters like GRAW 2, Gears of War, Rainbow Six Vegas, Halo 3, etc. I have a few other games but none that I enjoy more than my shooters.

My love for the Xbox 360 stated, you can imagine how I felt when my console started acting up. Imagine you purchased a brand new car, and one morning it won't start. That feeling in your guts you get is the same for an Xbox 360 owner but what will it be? Three Red Ring of Death? Disc Unreadable? Games Freezing? It's happened to at least 5 of my friends on Xbox Live already. They call Microsoft and activate their warranty or if they're lucky they purchased the extended warranty at the store they purchased it from and can simply exchange it. What if, however, you purchased your Xbox 360 used from a friend and you have no warranty rights? Also, what if you are the type of person who isn't afraid to get their hands dirty inside electronics? You may wind up contemplating a self-repair in order to salvage “your precious” just as I did.

Originally I was going to do an article on how terrible Microsoft customer support is, but I caught a very lucky break on my original issue. Soon after I found myself stuck with yet another unrelated problem. In this article I plan to detail my diagnosis, my steps, my actions, and my sources for successfully diagnosing a really screwed up Xbox 360. After it was all said and done I wound up needing a used hard drive and a new DVD/CD drive. I hope you get some use out of it.


Problem 1: Games freezing, Downloaded Content not showing up in-game, Halo 3 complaining that you don't have a hard drive installed.

For a while I had problems described above. It would appear to happen randomly meaning it did it whenever it wanted to. I thought for quite a while that it was a hard drive issue but wasn't sure. The Xbox 360 hard drive come originally with a simple SATA 20GB hard drive encased in plastic. It's just a laptop drive but the console detects the hardware and checks to see if it's either one of two models in use. If it isn't it won't work. This is to ensure people don't install their own drives and have too much fun without paying Microsoft.

Diagnosis:

If you are noticing that operations on your console that require use of the hard drive like loading games, using downloaded content, or other file type operations is taking a long time. If your hard drive is making noises like clicking. If games like Halo 3 that make heavy use of the hard drive report you don't have a hard drive. You will need to replace the hard drive. No amount of cleaning the connectors will resolve your issue. What I wound up doing was replacing it with a free xbox 360 hard drive that was given to me by a very good friend who had a broke Xbox 360 himself.

After an installation of a new drive all said issues clear up automatically. The only caveat is the recovery of your gamertag. This can be a pain in the ass if you forgot your login details or the Live servers are swamped like on September 25th the Halo 3 launch. It's always good to format the drive when you get it to make sure there are no file-system errors before you recover anything. Once you recover your gamertag you will get a file that can range from small up to a few megabytes in size. In this file will be stored your friends list, your achievements, your profile, and some other Microsoft segments that keep up with you. YOU WILL LOSE YOUR SAVED GAMES. If you didn't already know, consider yourself told.

I thought I'd go ahead and address the Microsoft tech support issue while it still involves this particular issue. What you'll read is the multi-email exchange between myself and the tech support at Microsoft. If you'll notice I at that point was still trying to make sure what the issue really was and that maybe they had an easy answer. After all, some errors are cleared up by clearing your hard drive cache with the x,x,lb,rb,x,x at the memory options screen. This is the bull**** they came with, enjoy. It's long so you may want to skip it but it's worth reading if you think you may have to contend with India's finest. I highlighted all the tech support email stuff in gray so you can skip it quickly if you choose not to read it, it is entertaining though.


From: XBOX_.X360.NA.00.EN.HAH.MNL.HW.T01.SPT.00.EM@css.one.microsoft.com
To: withheld
CC:
Subject: SRX1045613802ID - Xbox360 Hardware
Date: Sat, 29 Sep 2007 12:35:05 +0000
Hi Ghost!

Thank you for writing Xbox Customer Support!

I deeply apologize for the inconvenience and as I understand, you cannot join certain game sessions or you cannot hear other players when you are playing on Xbox Live and it says on the network test that the Network status for Network Address Translation (NAT) address shows Moderate or Strict and not Open to allow you optimal settings for Xbox Live Connectivity.

These issues may occur for several reasons including but not limited to the following:
· You are connected to Xbox Live by using an incompatible device.
· The device is compatible but you have the incorrect firmware.

Note: You may experience the symptoms with the Network Status set to OPEN when you play against another user who has their Network Status set to MODERATE or to STRICT NAT. The host of the game will have to resolve the NAT issues accordingly.

Test your connection to Xbox Live. You will not receive a result for this test if you cannot sign in to Xbox Live. If your router or gateway is using a moderate or strict NAT, replace it with an Xbox Live Compatible device.

Devices that perform strict or moderate NAT can limit the ability of gamers to find each other, to participate in sessions, or to hear each other on Xbox Live.

If you are using an Xbox Live-compatible device should not receive this error message. Please verify that you have correct firmware version that has been certified as compatible on Xbox.com. If you have the correct firmware version, please call Xbox Customer Support right away for further assistance.

Please try the following steps to resolve the issue:
For Shared Connection using a modem and router, try power cycling all devices to determine whether this changes the NAT status. If the router supports UPnP, try enabling it, and then try the connection. Please refer to router instructions or router support line for instructions and to open the required Xbox Live ports. Try directly connecting the modem to temporarily resolve the issue while getting help from router manufacturer.

For Shared Connection with Gateway device (combined modem and router), try power cycling all the devices to determine whether this changes the NAT status. If the router supports UPnP, try enabling it, and then try the connection. For information about how to do this, please refer to the router instructions or the router support line, and to have the required Xbox Live ports opened as well.

If you need to reply to this e-mail, please reply 'with history' (include any previous e-mail) so we can expedite our service to you.

You may also call Xbox Phone Support at 1-800-4MYXBOX (1-800-469-9269) at your earliest convenience, and we’ll be happy to help you. We are open everyday from 8am to 12mn US Central Time.

To expedite service, please provide Service Request Number 1045613802 when you call.

Thank you for visiting Xbox.com. If you should have future questions on Xbox products or services, please be sure to revisit our Web site as we are continually adding information to enhance our service.

Sincerely,

Chad
Xbox Customer Care

--- Original Message ---
From : "Malicious Code"
Sent : Sunday, September 30, 2007 6:27:16 AM UTC
To : "Xbox360_Email_HW_EN"
Subject : RE: SRX1045613802ID - Xbox360 Hardware

you must have my request confused. my games cant find downloadable content and halo 3 says i dont have a hard drive despite my being able to navigate my hard drive and its files fine from the dashboard. i have 10gb or so free. I'm wondering if formatting would fix it at the expense of it maybe not working and me losing all my progress. what to do? please help

Ghost




From: XBOX_.X360.NA.00.EN.HAH.MNL.HW.T01.SPT.00.EM@css.one.microsoft.com
To: withheld
CC:
Subject: RE: SRX1045613802ID - Xbox360 Hardware
Date: Mon, 1 Oct 2007 04:25:04 +0000
Hello Ghost,

Thank you for writing Xbox Customer Support!

We are very sorry that you are having this kind of issue. However, due to lack of information, we cannot provide you the exact troubleshooting information that we can, in order to fix your problem. Please provide us with more specific details like
Internet Service Provider (ISP):

Type of Connection (Direct Connect or with Router)

Wired or wireless:

Modem (brand & model):

Router (brand, model and firmware):

Exact Error Message (as seen on the screen)

I look forward to hearing from you again and resolving your problem.

For further assistance, please don't hesitate to write back or call Xbox Phone Support at
1-800-4MYXBOX (1-800-469-9269) at your earliest convenience, and we will be happy to help you. We are open everyday from 9am to 1am EST/ 6am to 10pm PST.

To expedite service, please provide Service Request Number 1045613802 when you call.

Thank you for visiting Xbox.com. If you need to reply to this e-mail, please reply ‘with history’ (include any previous e-mail) so we can expedite our service to you. If you should have future questions on Xbox products or services, please be sure to revisit our Web site as we are continually adding information to enhance our service.

Sincerely,
Rich
Xbox Customer Care Team



From : "Malicious Code"
Sent : Monday, October 01, 2007 5:25:50 AM UTC
To : "Xbox360_Email_HW_EN"
Subject : RE: SRX1045613802ID - Xbox360 Hardware

I reformatted the drive, recovered my gamer profile, and the problem has cleared up at the loss of countless hours of saved games. apparently something somewhere was corrupted somehow. now i just have to work around the random freezes and "the disc is unreadable errors" on seemingly flawless new discs. On the bright side if it weren't acting up randomly I'd be suspicious it wasn't Genuine Microsoft. If you're interested in helping me clear up ALL of my issues I'll give you the tech info you wanted.

Modem: motorola sb4200
Isp: comcast
Setup: modem to hub, dual isp ip addresses, one for xbox 360 hardwired, one for linksys wrt54gl hardwired. xbox 360 has direct connection to the internet.

error messages: none during freezes. "the disc is unreadable" as of the last day or so after format; happened twice today.

ventilation: console sits on a wire rack by itself, has free cool air all around.

PS: are you automated? i wouldn't guess a technician would start with router make and type for a hard drive issue.



From: XBOX_.X360.NA.00.EN.HAH.MNL.HW.T01.SPT.00.EM@css.one.microsoft.com
To: withheld
CC:
Subject: RE: SRX1045613802ID - Xbox360 Hardware
Date: Tue, 2 Oct 2007 04:33:01 +0000
Hello Ghost,
Thank you for writing Xbox Customer Support!
I deeply apologize for the inconvenience and as I understand, when you load a game disc or any other type of disc, you receive the following error message: “This disc is unreadable. It may be the wrong region for this console. Match the region of the disc to the console. Clean the disc with a soft cloth. Restart the console. For more help, go to www.xbox.com/support.” and that it has been freezing a lot lately as well.
This issue occurs if the Xbox 360 console cannot read the disc correctly. This can happen for any of the following reasons:
• The disc is dirty or damaged
• The disc is from a different country or region than the console
• Non-disc issues
Here are some things that you can try to fix the problem or to determine what the cause is. If you cannot fix the problem yourself, please contact Xbox Customer Support. Check whether the disc is dirty or damaged.
Examine the disc to see whether it has smudges, scratches, or other damage. To do this, follow these steps:
1. Examine the disc by holding it by the edges so that you do not touch the top or the bottom surface. Then, examine the shiny side of the disc to make sure that the disc is clean and has no damage.
2. If the disc is dirty, use one of the following methods to clean the disc, and then try to play the disc again:
• If you have a disc cleaner, follow the instructions that were included with the disc cleaner to clean the disc.
• If you do not have a disc cleaner, clean the disc by hand. To do this, use a soft, clean, dry, chemical-free cloth to clean the disc. Lightly wipe from the center of the disc outward.

3. If the disc is damaged, you will no longer be able to play it.
4. If you think that the disc was already damaged when you bought it, try to exchange it.
• If the game is a non-Microsoft Xbox 360 game disc and was damaged because of misuse of some type, such as not storing the disc properly in its case, the only thing you can do is buy a new one.
• If you have a damaged Microsoft Xbox 360 game disc and would like to order a new one, please visit the following Web site:
http://www.xbox.com/en-US/support/systemuse/xbox360/gameplay/discreplacement-program.htm
If you feel that the disc was damaged by the Xbox 360 console in some way, please contact Xbox Customer Support.
Check whether the game disc and the console are from the same country or region
Game discs and consoles are made for specific countries and regions. If you try to play a game disc that is made for a specific country or region on a console that is made for another country or region, the game disc will not play.
For example, if you purchase an Xbox 360 console in North America, your region is North America. Therefore, you cannot play game discs that are sold in Europe or in Asia on this console. Similarly, an Xbox 360 console that is sold in Europe can only play game discs that are sold in Europe, and an Xbox 360 console that is sold in Asia can only play game discs that are sold in Asia.
To see whether this issue occurs because the country or the region of the game disc and the console do not match, look on the back of the game package. Look for one of the following codes:
• NTSC: North America and South America (United States, Canada, Mexico, Chile, and Brazil)
• NTSC-J: Asia (Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan)
• PAL: Europe, South Africa, India, Australia, and New Zealand
If your game disc code does not match the region where you bought the console, you will not be able to play the game disc.
Non-disc issues
There is a chance that the issue is not with the disc but with the Xbox 360 console. To check this, try the following steps: 1. Turn the console off, and then turn the console on again. Try playing the disc again.
2. Try playing the disc on another console if you have access to one. Or if the disc is a CD or a DVD, try the disc on another device to see if that other device can read the disc.
3. If the disc is a recordable CD (CD-R), try a different CD-R disc from that set. Or try a CD-R disc from a different manufacturer.
4. Try playing other games to determine whether the problem occurs with all the games that you have or only with this one.
5. Note This last step is intended only for advanced users. If you are not comfortable with advanced troubleshooting, please skip this step.
Turn the console off, and then unplug your console. Remove the Hard Disk Drive (HDD) unit and any attached Memory Unit (MU), then reconnect your console and try the disc again. If this seems to resolve the issue, turn off and then disconnect your console, attach the HDD and MU again, and then delete any saved games for the game that is causing problems.
Note: If it is possible to do so, save the games to a separate MU.
If it freezes again, try the following troubleshooting steps:
1. Restart the console.
2. Consider whether the issue has occurred more than one time. If this is the first time that you have experienced this behavior, the issue may not occur again, and troubleshooting may be unnecessary.
3. Determine whether the Xbox 360 console is well-ventilated and is not near a heat source.
• If the Xbox 360 console is in a poorly ventilated location, turn off the console, and then move it to a location that has sufficient ventilation, such as on top of a table or on an open shelf. If the issue is resolved, the previous location likely did not provide sufficient ventilation for the Xbox 360 console to function correctly.
• Heat sources include TVs, computers, monitors, and other electrical devices. Switch off the console and move it away from the heat source, or switch off the heat source and move it away from the console.
• View the Xbox 360 instruction manual for information about correct placement of the console.

4. Turn off the system, and then remove all the accessories that are attached. This includes the Xbox Hard Drive. Test to see whether the problem still occurs.
5. If the issue does not occur when the hard drive is detached, try clearing the Xbox 360 Hard Drive cache. With the Xbox 360 Hard Drive attached to the console, follow these steps:
a. Locate the System section of the Xbox 360 Dashboard.
b. Select Memory, select Hard Drive, and then press Y to view the device options screen.
c. On the Xbox 360 Controller, press the X button, press the X button again, press the left bumper, press the right bumper, press the X button, and then press the X button again.
d. You will be prompted to confirm system maintenance, select Yes by pressing A.

6. If this problem occurs with the hard drive attached and clearing the cache did not resolve the issue, create a new gamer profile, and then test to see whether the issue still occurs. If the issue does not occur when you use a new gamer profile, the issue may be related to the original gamer profile or saved game information for one or more games that are associated with the original gamer profile. To verify this, delete the saved games for all games that show this problem for the original gamer profile.
7. If this issue occurs with offline games only, go to step 8. If the problem only occurs with games when you are play online with Xbox Live, this issue could be related to Internet connectivity. For more information, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
909817 (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/909817/) You experience poor performance on Xbox Live whether you use an Xbox 360 console or an original Xbox console
8. If your console is a PAL console, try setting your PAL setting to PAL 60. For more information, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
917304 (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/917304/) Xbox 360: Your Xbox 360 console is set to PAL 50 Hz and you cannot play an Xbox 360 game on your console
9. If this problem occurs when no disc is in the console, go to step 12.
10. Determine whether the disc that you are using is the cause of the issue by testing several similar Xbox 360-compatible discs in the console. Use a disc of the same type, such as a game disc, a DVD movie, or a music CD, to test whether the problem is the specific disc.
For disc-specific issues, check the disc for any visible signs of damage or dirt. Hold the disc by the edges without touching the top or bottom surface with your fingers. Clean the disc by using a soft cloth. Lightly wipe from the center outwards. Do not use solvents or chemicals to clean the disc.
If this problem occurs with only one disc and cleaning the disc did not resolve the issue, search the Microsoft Knowledge Base to determine whether the particular disc has any known issues, and then go to step 11. If there are no known issues, exchange the disc at a retail location.
11. If the problem is specific to a particular game, see the following Knowledge Base article:
916110 (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/916110/) Xbox 360: You experience gameplay issues with specific Xbox 360 games
If the above troubleshooting steps does not resolve the issue, please call our phone support line to get your console serviced. Also for your convenience, you can now set-up an on line repair by visiting http://service.xbox.com if your Xbox is in need of repairs, and you're not sure where to turn. Microsoft has an online service center of sorts for people in the US. The website, which is linked below, allows you to register your console, whether it is the Xbox or the Xbox 360, to your Windows Live ID. If you need to have it repaired, you can use the site to setup a repair operation for your faulty console. Best of all, you can also track the status of the repairs through the system, if only to ensure peace of mind for your gaming investment.
To get your console repaired online, follow these steps:
• Visit http://service.xbox.com, register your Xbox V1 or 360 consoles, and setup a repair for that console online. You may register your device on service.xbox.com, then click "Request a new repair" on the Manage Your Device screen.
• Create In-Warranty, Out-of-warranty, and Three Flashing Lights repair online. Out-of-warranty repairs are at a $5 discount for online service requests. (Note: The site will also differentiate between in-warranty and out-of-warranty repairs, though the new terms of Microsoft's warranty should mean that your 360 is still under warranty. Still, just in case you need your original xbox fixed or you somehow voided your warranty, using the site will net you a US$ 5 discount on repairs.)
• Follow the IVR that has been updated to direct you to service.xbox.com should you need to setup a repair and don’t wish to wait on hold. However, customers contacting Xbox Support with problems setting up a repair online should be setup for repair normally by calling our Phone Support Line.
For further assistance, please don't hesitate to write back or call Xbox Phone Support at 1-800-4MYXBOX or 1-800-469-9269 (United States and Canada); or 425-635-7180 (International/direct dial to the US) at your earliest convenience. We are open everyday 9am-1am EST/6am-10pm PST.
To expedite service, please provide Service Request Number 1045613802 when you call.
Note: You may link your console to your Windows Live ID, and check repair status online at the web site: http://service.xbox.com.
Sincerely,
Eljay
Xbox Customer Care Team




From: Malicious Code
Sent: Tue 10/02/07 5:05 AM
To: Xbox360_Email_HW_EN (xbox_.x360.na.00.en.hah.mnl.hw.t01.spt.00.em@css.one.microsoft.com)

Mighty fine cut and paste job you guys did from the manual that I've poured over for hours already. I fixed my issue so listen up. I wound up formatting my drive about 5 times in a row then recovered my gamer profile when i knew the tide was out. My problems seem to be cleared up for now but apparently I have a few bad sectors growing on my hard drive and its strange that none of your "advice" mentioned that. Microsoft wants me to send my junk in for a 5 week repair then charge me for it when all I needed was a simple "Dear Ghost, this is a real tech, educated in the field not in a pamphlet, and I think your xbox has a crappy hard drive that you might soon need to replace but formatting it will buy you some time." Instead you pull up the microsoft knowledge base and paste me some dribble out of it. Would it have killed someone from the worlds most profitable company to have contacted me in a hand written email or a telephone call from inside north america? If this thing craps its pants and just quits working or becomes so bad off that my overall experience isn't worth what i pay, i'll expect repair/replacement in a timely manner.

Ghost




As you can see, Microsoft tech support is for lack of a better word, retarded and useless.

Problem number two:

This problem turned out to be the cherry popper for opening up an Xbox 360 console for me. My discs at one point started making this grinding noise when I would load a game. I was determined to get this cleared up as this sounded like something that would void any warranty anyone might have had on this thing and would otherwise cost a ton to get repaired. Not to mention I'd be without “my precious”.

I looked ALL OVER the internet for topics on this issue, I searched it every way I could think of and the only thing that I got that was remotely close to what I wanted was a video on youtube of a guy who had the cover removed from his console as you will see in my own video showing his disc grinding when Gears of War would load.

After stewing on the idea for a few days, and seeing little rings appearing on my discs from whatever grinding was taking place I decided to do the unthinkable and rip the thing apart. The mere act of opening an Xbox 360 console for the first time with no previous experience is in itself an image conjured up by Clive Barker where you are working the puzzle-box so you can send pinhead back to oblivion. This thing is a ***** to open without instructions.

Opening the console:

1.Unplug the power cord
2.Remove the faceplate by gently starting at one side and pulling away from the console.
3.Get yourself something with a fine strong point like a 2mm flathead screwdriver and locate the gray mesh plastic pieces on the sides of the console. One is where the hard drive locks in.
4.There are three plastic retainer clips that are molded onto the gray pieces that slip over small divots in the case. They are easy to spot if you look through the holes on the top and bottom of the console you will notice there are some holes that are filled in. Directly between these holes is where you press with your small metal pointy object (2mm screwdriver, etc.).
5.After you have carefully popped these little tabs loose you can pull away the gray mesh coverings on either side of the console.
6.In the back of the console you will find the seam where the top and bottom are connected. All along this seam you will see small notches. These notches are where you press your small metal pointy object until you feel a light pop. All along the back are little tabs that hook over notches that you will need to get loose just like this.
7.At this point your back of the case should be loose. The time has now come to deflower your virgin console and slaughter its warranty strip. a simple slash with the pointy metal object would do fine as it did for me. You can now pop loose the tabs you see on the front of the box.
8.Be careful at this point when you are lifting the bottom off because you don't want to break the eject tab on your DVD/CD drive.
9.Now you come to a removed bottom and sides with a remaining top that won't come off. For this you will need your star-drive screwdrivers. I don't know the exact size to tell you but I had it commonly in my assortment that came with my cheap driver. Look for the screws on the bottom that have a more square angle on the head. They are all rounded but some are squared and some are smoothed. The squared screws are the ones that allow you to remove the top of your console exposing the innards.
10.After you remove your 6 or so screws you can flip your console over and see what makes your console do it's thing. At this point I immediately noticed a thick layer of filth block the airway over my heat-sink for the CPU. Fearing the 3 red ring of death issue I brushed it off with a toothbrush and blew out the fluff that resulted. Check yours at this point.

It was at this point that I lifted out my DVD/CD drive. It lifted up from the back because it had silver tape holding the front down. I cut the tap and it lifted from the front backwards being held in with the two cables in the back. The two cables are power and SATA. Unplug those and you can withdraw your disc drive. On it's bottom are six screws that need to be removed to open it. Four are on the outside edges with a little rubber bushing between the tabs, and the other two are recessed on the bottom.

At this point you have many options to go about diagnosing or debugging your drive issue. You can try to clean your laser lens with a soft cloth and alcohol. You can try to calibrate the potentiometer for the DVD side. You can grease the worm gear and the track that the laser assembly slides on. I tried all three. The calibrate potentiometer method is documented in a nice PDF by another fellow. It's easy to locate on google and if you have a digital multimeter, it's worth a shot.

It wasn't until I put the disc drive back into the unit with the cover removed that I knew what was causing all the issues. In order to spin up a disc with the cover removed you have to pry open the sealed circle on the top of your drive (depending on model, there's 3 or 4) and recover the plastic traction cap. All it does is get pulled down onto the top of the disc by a magnet so the traction pad gets good friction and the disc is less likely to go flying at some Final Destination style speed and fragment into shrapnel. You need this piece on there if you plan to run a disc in your console with the cover off, period.

I got it all set up, I put the bottom plate of the disc drive back down where it used to sit to protect the disc drive mainboard from the aluminum heat-sink above the graphics processor. then I lowered the drive back down into the console after securing the connectors back into their respective slots for power and SATA. I plugged the unit in and turned it on. I watched as the screen loaded and I was presented with the regular control panel. I ejected the tray and inserted a disc and closed the tray, I quickly placed the retainer cap over the spindle in the center of the disc and watched as that horrible grinding noise presented itself. The laser unit was coming up and into contact with the spinning disc.



How this works is a laser has a focusing system that consists of essentially some coils over a magnet like a speaker. Electricity is introduced in certain amounts and it causes the laser eye to raise or lower much like the action of a subwoofer speaker but it's job isn't to resonate it's to maintain laser focus for discs of varying thickness, track depths, etc. Mine however was coming up into contact with the disc while it was spinning. Not to mention the motor itself seemed weak.

What to do, what to do. I got out the multimeter and put it on continuity check to see if the coils for the focuser were broken. Nope. Apparently this laser unit had experienced it's final days on this earth and no amount of potentiometer calibration and cleaning could save it.

They sell just the laser assembly itself on Ebay and other places for around $15.00 USD. When you go this route you get a spiffy new laser but you have to disassemble the drive further to install a new one. I opted for a different approach, a new DVD/CD drive altogether. Doing research on the matter is when I learned there were several different models of disc drive for the Xbox 360 console and there was one key aspect in my mind, the serial numbers on your drive have to match up with whatever your console was shipped with. In an attempt to thwart piracy Microsoft started banning whole consoles from connecting to Live if modified disc drive firmware is detected. The game copiers and cheaters of the world rely heavily on modded drive firmware to read their burnt discs. Not only do I have to find an exact replacement model, I also have to contend with that serial number issue even if I was legally just trying to repair my console to original condition, no mods.

The idea struck me that I could simply buy a replacement drive off Ebay and pull the mainboard out of my old drive and stick it in the new one, hoping that it wasn't somehow the board itself that was faulty. I seriously doubted it but I'm not a disc drive expert so there's always that chance regardless of my analytical ability. Either way I located my model number off the cover plate of the disc drive and started looking on Ebay.

Ebay has most of the disc drive models new in the box straight from Hong Kong. You simply have to match up the hardware versions. My drive is the Hitachi SL59 model (quoting from memory). I ordered it for roughly $60.00 USD with shipping included and awaited my baby to arrive from the sweat shop where it was made.

A few days ago it got here. I intended to do a full video install of this thing but I'm ill prepared in the video sector having only some editing software and a webcam+microphone. My initial video was out of sync with audio and video so I pretty much gave up trying a feature length tutorial for now. So I just demonstrated the symptoms before the repair.

The repair was quite simple. the mainboard on these drives have 4 ribbon cables and a small plastic hook to hold it down. You unhook it and unplug the 4 cables. The ribbon to the laser is taped so you have to loosen it at the laser head side, not the mainboard side. You open the case on your brand new unit and disassemble it just as you did the first one. You remove the mainboard by gently disconnecting the 4 ribbons and do a swap. You must take precaution that you never force these types of cables, you line them up perfectly and push them in squarely, never at an angle. Once you have snapped your new board down and checked your cables you can reassemble the case around the disc drive. At this point you will remove the eject arm lever from your old drive as well as your chrome dressing from the tray lip. The lever arm is a simple matter of pushing a clip over and sliding the base off the little post and the chrome dressing is basically sliding the piece up away from the bottom of the drive.

After you get your lever arm and chrome dressing on your new drive it's ready to be reinserted into your console. Plug up your power and SATA cables and reassemble your console.

At this point I plugged my unit in and crossed my fingers. I turned it on, good no errors. At the control panel I saw the eject tray text and had a glimmer of hope. I hit eject and the tray opened and said “tray open”. Rejoice! The swap must have worked so far. For the ultimate test I decided to try and play my most hard to read disc, my old drive ground on this thing relentlessly. I popped the disc in, closed the tray, screen changes and bam it loaded like a champ. The Frankenstein swap worked perfectly.

I would have you all some nice pictures like in my wobble wear article but you see I am too poor to afford batteries after spending 60 bucks on a new disc drive. My digital camera eats batteries. I'll try to do you all better next time. If you are like me, have a few nice things, am broke most of the time, and aren't afraid to fix something save yourself some money and repair it yourself. If you have questions please direct them to our forums. This article feels really long so I hope I'm not forgetting anything. If I am, please ask away in the forums or suggest improvements. If you have a similar repair article please share it with the world, not everyone has an extra $350 dollars to spend when a $60 dollar part breaks.

Hope it helps

Ghost

Written by Ghost on 2007-11-12 20:28:04

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