Saturn (Model 2 JP) still has trouble reading discs after replacing laser

A few days ago I bought a Saturn off ebay with a CD reading issue. I figured I could probably either replace the laser or see if I can get the current laser working in it. Needless to say something was wrong with the old laser and I just ordered a replacement. After soldering off the anti-static blob and putting the new lens in (and greasing up the gears, metal rod, etc.) I hooked everything back up, and still won't start games or audio CDs.

What I did notice is that it seems like the laser itself behaves different that the old one. Like it seems like it detects the game, but after spinning up for a bit the display on the TV either is blank or says Empty (in the case of my CD). On the old laser it would move up and down 3 times, then move slightly, 3 times up and down, then move again slightly, then 3 times up down again, then stop. I haven't messed with the pot on the new laser, but on the actual drive (one facing the powerline) I have slightly moved it clockwise and back. Discs are clean and I have cleaned the lens. Although the insides are a little bit dirty and whatnot I couldn't find any water damage or corrosion on either the drive or motherboard.

I'm out of ideas on what this could be, unless I need to keep adjusting the pot facing the powerline. If anyone here has any ideas on how to help that would be amazing.
 
A few days ago I bought a Saturn off ebay with a CD reading issue. I figured I could probably either replace the laser or see if I can get the current laser working in it. Needless to say something was wrong with the old laser and I just ordered a replacement. After soldering off the anti-static blob and putting the new lens in (and greasing up the gears, metal rod, etc.) I hooked everything back up, and still won't start games or audio CDs.

What I did notice is that it seems like the laser itself behaves different that the old one. Like it seems like it detects the game, but after spinning up for a bit the display on the TV either is blank or says Empty (in the case of my CD). On the old laser it would move up and down 3 times, then move slightly, 3 times up and down, then move again slightly, then 3 times up down again, then stop. I haven't messed with the pot on the new laser, but on the actual drive (one facing the powerline) I have slightly moved it clockwise and back. Discs are clean and I have cleaned the lens. Although the insides are a little bit dirty and whatnot I couldn't find any water damage or corrosion on either the drive or motherboard.

I'm out of ideas on what this could be, unless I need to keep adjusting the pot facing the powerline. If anyone here has any ideas on how to help that would be amazing.
Check your spindle is at the right height sometimes they get push down too far and people try to fix them by pulling up too far just a thought
 
Check your spindle is at the right height sometimes they get push down too far and people try to fix them by pulling up too far just a thought
I'll mess with that. Bit of an update, took the laser out and decided to mess with the pot on it after the multimeter read around .200 (put it to .725) and now it will read a couple games and play (1942 II, Street Fightet Zero3) but others as CDs. Feel like I'm so close yet so far.
 
Messed a bit with spindle. Now it doesn't even read games like Castlevania at all. Might mean I found the issue. Will keep tinkering
 
Last edited:
2nd update. Moving the spindle up a bit made Castlevania not recognizable at all while games like 1945 II still were recognized, but took a bit longer. Pushing spindle a bit down made the laser recognize Castlevania, but only as a CD (it did recognize it as a Saturn game once, but it wouldn't boot). If it truly is just the spindle I may need to keep pushing down. Maybe mess with pot on side again. My theory is that it's having trouble reading the copy protection on Castlevania but not Zero3 and 1945 II for some reason.

Oh one thing I forgot to note, last night one game it had trouble with was 1945, but it eventually booted, however the opening cinematic would freeze for brief moments and it couldn't load the title screen (just stayed on a black screen).

I'm determined to fix this thing.
 
Last edited:
Another update. Decided to clean ribbon contacts going to the laser and CD unit just in case that was what the issue was. Still having the same problems. Messed some more with the Spindle and accidentally pushed it in too much and thought I broke the thing (luckily I got back into near position phew!).

Now I think I'm in this sweet spot. Games like Strikers 1945 II and SF Zero3 still boot perfectly fine, and Castlevania will sometimes be recognized as a Saturn game (still won't start). I can see sometimes it will read the copy protection successfully and other times it will go into that position, seemingly not detect anything, then go back and see it as either a music CD or possibly an illegitimated copy (audio won't play). Could it still be that I need to keep working on the spindle? Maybe more tweaking to the laser? Mess with the pot on the side that controls disc speed more?

EDIT UPDATE:
Doing this to not crowd this entire thread with my posts. I managed to get all but 2 games to pretty much run flawlessly (Dead or Alive and Castlevania Dracula X) by getting the spindle at seemingly the "right spot". Occasionally Castlevania would be read as a Saturn game and would boot too, only to either freeze before the title screen or right after. Also cleaned the laser and some of the contact ribbons again just in case. Guessing I really have to get the ultimate sweet spot with the spindle?

UPDATE 2:
After messing with spindle (and pot facing power supply)I took it out of that sweet spot and haven't been able to find it again. Is there a picture or some sort of guide to see what I am aiming for?

UPDATE 3 (3/13/21):
I've come to the conclusion that something on the drive is out of alignment and might be why it has trouble reading most games (besides Zero3 and 1945 II) even with a new laser that's tuned correctly. Possibly SOL?

UPDATE 4 (3/27/21):
I got more games to test. Batsugan seems to work with little to no problems. Donpachi takes a long time to load (don't know if this happens anyway). Grandia doesn't seem to be recognized. Street Fighter The Movie (played via the Action Replay) works fine. Panzer Dragoon 1 and 2 (both US) are just stuck on the Action Replay loading screen. At this point I'm starting to wonder if it's best to just cut my losses and get an actual working Saturn. But there HAS to be a fix to this that's so simple. If anyone is reading this thread and has a slight idea what might be wring please let me know.
 
Last edited:
Top