Saturday, January 27, 2007

Well, It Is Out Of Warranty

After years of dedicated service, my PS2 has decided to be persnickety about loading games. So what did I do? Opened the damn thing up and fixed it, of course!

When it died before the end section of "God of War" I was pissed, but figured it was the disc. Then, my Final Fantasy XII went tits up and at this point I ruled out coincidence. I mean, what's the odds of two discs being bad? Confirmation of the PS2 being the culprit came when I tested other discs in my collection.

After doing a quick search on Google, it turns out this is not an uncommon error. In fact, according to one site, it's not so much if the "disc read error" occurs, but when.

The error has to do with the vertical location of the lens relative to the disc (most of the time). There is a ratcheting cog in the drive assembly that will move the lens 1/32 of an inch at a time. Fortunately, it has a "reset" position that will drop the lens back to its lowest position if you need to start over.

You can see the cog in question on the left, here.

This turns out to be pretty time consuming. There were four different discs I needed to test with each new lens position (I did 1/8" at a time):

∙ Old PSOne discs
∙ DVDs (yeah, I have a progressive scan DVD player which is way better, but what the hell...)
∙ Blue PS2 discs (the older discs have a blue coating on the data side... at least I think it's only the older discs)
∙ Silver PS2 discs

Thanks to the fine people over at Arstechnia, I was able to get this thing going again. Took me about 30 minutes.

A note: Try, try as hard as you can not to pull out any ribbon cables by mistake. They are a huge pain in the ass to get re-inserted. Especially the drive eject button cable and the memory card/controller cable.

UPDATE: A friend just reminded me the difference between a normal person and a geek. When a warranty runs out, a normal person worries the device might break. A geek is just stoked that he* now gets to open the device.

* or she as the case may be.