Postmortem of My DVD-ROM Drive

First created on 29th Nov 2004.

My notebook uses the Toshiba SD-C2502 8x DVD-ROM drive (24x CD-ROM). It started have problems reading CD-ROM/CD-R/CD-RWs a few months back. DVDs are fine. This problem come and go periodically.

I dismantled the drive to see what's wrong. For my notebook, I just need to remove the keyboard and the drive's top cover to see the drive in operation. I believe this is similiar in most notebooks.

I could see that the laser failed to focus on the CD. As I said, this problem come and go.

My drive is detachable from the notebook, so it is quite easy to remove it and open it up.

The bottom. The two screws in the center are the pickup alignment screws. I didn't realized that and tightened them (I tighened every screw in sight). After that, my drive no longer work for any kind of discs!

After I realized what happened, I attempted to adjust them back. After some trial-n-error, I was able to get the drive to read DVDs once again. When tweaking, I could see that I was getting closer (or further) because the pickup behaved differently (different focusing and seeking behaviour). The tolerance is not very tight. There is a small window where it will still be able to read DVDs, on the order of a few small turns. I was able to repeat this a few times. (After I got it the first time, I know roughly where the nominal position is.)

Unfortunately, my drive still can't focus on CDs. Worse, it now doesn't detect CD-Rs at all. The disc doesn't even spin up. The lens just focuses and gives up right away (as if the disc is not there).

I have three hunches:

I suspect there must be something I did that made it unable to detect CD-Rs, because it managed to spin up before.

I'll appreciate if anyone knows what is wrong and what I can do.