I recently repaired my partner’s childhood Playstation2, which had been confined to the loft at some point in the noughties when it stopped reading disks.
After finding it and getting it down from the loft, I wanted to test it to make sure that the problem was still as described. Sure enough, the Playstation2 started up normally – if incredibly loudly – but would not load DVD or CD games.
The console was filthy, both from its time in storage and from its heavy use previously, so the first port of call was to clean the laser lens, in case this was preventing it reading.
Therefore, I completely disassembled the console and gave it a thorough clean both inside and out, first with compressed air to remove the bulk of the dust, then with a microfibre cloth and Cillit Bang on the case and metal parts, and a toothbrush for the case vents.
Finally, I cleaned the laser lens carefully using a cotton bud and some 99.9% IPA – unfortunately, this did not resolve the disk reading issue.
Laser wear is a common problem with these early consoles, especially with lots of use, so this was the next logical explanation for the loading issue. Instead of immediately forking out for and installing a new laser, I decided to test this theory by adjusting the power on the original laser – a somewhat temporary solution, but one which should be sufficient given the limited use that this console will be getting.
The original laser unit has two rotary potentiometers on the underside of its PCB, which are accessible when the module is removed – these control the current into the laser head, and therefore the output power. One is for DVD wavelengths, and one for CD wavelengths.
By reducing the resistance on each potentiometer, I increased the power into the laser head – I adjusted the DVD pot from 1381Ohm to 1033Ohm, and the CD pot from 1260Ohm to 1110Ohm. After doing so, the console started loading both DVDs and CDs reliably.
While the console was apart, I replaced the original noisy cooling fan, installed a new spindle motor, and replaced the original CR2032 CMOS battery; I also cleaned and lubricated the laser stepper rails and stepper motor screw.
Thus, the console was working as good as new!
At some point in the near future, I am contemplating installing a network card, internal hard disk drive, and soft-mod to bypass the need for the optical drive.