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InfiniteSquareWell

3DO FZ-10, disc won't spin

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Hi everyone, I need your help.

 

I'm sure I've broken my model FZ-10 3DO, but I'm not sure if the problem is with the spindle motor or the laser. Some background: I just picked the 3DO up from a guy on Craigslist 2 weeks ago for $20. He thought it was broken, but after lubricating the tracks the laser moves along, I got it working again. However, it was having some problems reading some discs, and at certain points in certain games (always the same places), the game would freeze, the laser would go crazy, and the disc would spin very fast and eventually stop. I have good reason to believe that the problem was not with the discs, so I decided to try adjusting the potentiometer on the laser.

 

I had never tried to adjust a laser's potentiometer before, but when reading about laser issues for the Dreamcast, I always read to adjust the potentiometer only a quarter of a turn, usually counter-clockwise. So I adjusted the potentiometer, tried a few games, and found that freezing occurred more frequently, and so I figured I went the wrong direction. First I returned the potentiometer to its original position and confirmed that the consoles behavior returned to normal. Then I adjusted the potentiometer a quarter-turn in the other direction.

 

The game started to boot at first, but then the laser made violent sounds, and the spindle motor started spazzing out and even started spinning the disc backwards. I turned the 3DO off and returned the potentiometer to the original position. Now the disc will not spin, although the laser appears to be functioning, or at least it goes through the motions: the laser is active (I can see the red beam), it attempts to focus on the disc (lens moving up and down), and it will move along the track. According to this thread http://atariage.com/forums/topic/166045-3do-fz-10-laserlens-repair/ , if the laser cannot see a disc, the spindle will not spin. I'm hoping that instead of the spindle motor being dead, which I have no idea how to fix or replace, that the issue is a damaged laser which I could potentially find a replacement for.

 

Do any of you have any ideas what's broken or how I can test the individual components? I've heard that I should just run a DC voltage along the spindle motor to see if it spins, but it is connected to the motherboard with a 6-pin ribbon cable, and so I'm not sure how to do this. Any help will be greatly appreciated!

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UPDATE: I may be on the verge of solving this problem and getting the 3DO to work again. I've been making careful adjustments to the potentiometer, and I've found a region in which the disc will be seen by the laser and begin spinning, albeit briefly. I can breathe easy now that I know the problem isn't with the spindle, it's for sure with the laser. What I need to figure out now if there is a magic position, a sweet-spot that will revive my 3DO, and I'm proceeding very cautiously.

 

Even if no one can offer any help, I will still update this thread with my success or failure with as much detail as possible. Hopefully in the future this will benefit some 3DO owner with a similar problem.

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Many early optical drives have lasers that have finite lifespans, 5000 - 10,000 hours. And be sure not to wear out the potentiometer by constant tweaking and small movements. Once a "certain" limit is reached, the little bit of resistive material that flakes off acts as an abrasive when further movements are carried out. And eventually that area of the pot can no long keep a steady setting. In addition, the flaked of material adds to noise, which "encourages" more tweaking.. Just speaking from practical experience and forensic investigation.

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It won't help the OP's problem per se, but in case you don't know, it's worth noting that there's a mod for the FZ-10 (and only the FZ-10) that allows it to load games from an IDE hard drive. If this console's optical drive proves unfixable, it'd be a strong candidate for that mod (rather than sacrifice a 3DO with a working optical drive).

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