Dreamcast Cd Reading Issue Repair


Introduction: Dreamcast Cd Reading Issue Repair

This instructable shows you how to open up your dreamcast and adjust a small potentiometer to adjust the power going to the laser. this is pretty simpe requires no special tools or knowledge of electronic repair, it only requires a careful hand an common seance.

I recently bought a dreamcast off ebay, then a friend gave me a free one...isn't that usually how it works heh. so i went to cleaning the dreamcast and went to test the free dream cast and sure enough it wouldn't read any discs. so i went to looking around and only found a couple of helpfully videos on this subject but no instructables on the issue, so i decided to make one so some one can revive an old dreamcast instead of tossing it out

NOW FEATURED ON HACK A DAY http://hackaday.com/2011/03/07/simple-fixes-breathe-new-life-into-aging-game-consoles/


I just want to make it clear that i am in no way responsible if you some how break your dreamcast or electrocute yourself

Step 2: Tools

this one is pretty simple all you'll need is
a Phillips head screw driver to take apart the dreamcast
a smaller Philips head screw driver (i just ended up using my forceps to twist it)
pliers and or forceps (the forceps also come in handy with keeping the lid sensor triggered.)
a game cd (i used an official game and a burned game cd to make sure both would work) 
and a dreamcast with disc read errors.

Step 3: Take Her Top Off

Now start by turning over your dreamcast and slide off the modem, there is a screw hidden under it remove it and then proceed with taking the 3 others screws one on each corner of the dreamcast. Once you have all 4 screws removed carefully turn the dreamcast back over and slide the top of the shell off.

Step 4: Now Get Every Thing Out of the Way

now that your dreamcast is topless locate the cd drive right in the middle (you cant miss it) carfully slide the laser assembly back away from the motor making sure you only touch the plastic and not the lense / laser. now theres a wire to the side of the cd drive assembly, its under two plastic clips, carefully slide the wires out from under the 2 clips keeping in mind not to force them.

once you have all that out of the way carefully lift the cd drive assembly and flip it over so  the assembly is upside down

Step 5: Now That Every Things Out of the Way Lets Get to Work

now that you have the cd drive assembly flipped over, move your attention to the flipped over part facing you by the ribbon cable. now right above the ribbon cable is a small Phillips head screw that is flat on the top. now take either Philips head screw drive (i couldn't get one that fit) or use a pair of small pliers or use a pair of forceps like i did. take the tool of your choice and ever so slightly twist the screw from the potentiometer and turn it counter clockwise no more than 1/10th of a turn. now pop the cd drive assembly back in place, plug in the power and tv cables, turn you system on. now put a cd in the drive and put you finger on the small little black lever behind the drive on the right side. click to start the game and see if it boots up, if it doesn't work look at the next step, if it does skip the next step .

Step 6: Lets Try This Again (if Yours Works Skip This Step)

if it doesn't that game won't work the first time pop the cd out, slide the laser assembly back flip over the cd drive assembly and turn the potentiometer a little more counterclockwise until you game starts, if it still won't work reset the potentiometer so the flat part is on top and start turning it clock wise and checking if it works each 1/ 1th turn.

if it still won't work then odds are your laser is dead or badly damaged

Step 7: Now Put Her Top Back On

now that your system is reading disks, remove the cd, put the wires back in thier clips, put the top shell back on, put all the screws in pop the modem back in. pretty much do steps 4 and 3 in revers.



if your dreamcast still won't read disks, it may be time to buy a new cd drive for it or a new dreamcast.



    • Planter Challenge

      Planter Challenge
    • Stick It! Contest

      Stick It! Contest
    • Make it Move Contest

      Make it Move Contest

    We have a be nice policy.
    Please be positive and constructive.




    hi there guys, upon reading and doing exactly this my discs started reading and the spin was faster and you could really hear it reading the disc but I press play and nothing it says please insert disc but the CD is going round and I hear it reading. Any other suggestion please note that it does read music CDs no bother but all my games read but just don't go on.

    Thanks so much! My system plays all of my games again! I had to turn the potentiometer screw clockwise btw.

    thanx man, my cast is up and running again. #clutch

    1 reply

    im actually going to finally make a new dreamcast instructable. how to install a new rechargeable clock battery inside so it no longer keeps asking you want time it is. i'm just waiting the battery holder to come in the mail

    Thank you :) I was able to fix my Dreamcast and it plays backup games now :)

    1 reply

    glad to hear, im shocked that after all these yea, that this instructable still gets a ton of love.

    i actually need to do this to my jp import dream cast since its not reading disks as easily

    THANK YOU. I just got a Dreamcast free with two controllers from a craigslist free grab. It would only read a few times and mostly mess up in mid game. This fixed it!

    Thanks so much, I knew my dreamcast could play back-ups. It always used to, but stopped recently. It is a PAL with a circled 1 on the bottom. I went wrong a bit with the instructions when turning the laser-focuser. I forgot I was looking at it upside-down so counter-clockwise meant clockwise. So I turned it the wrong way twice and then realised when it would no longer read original games either. So 1 10% turn the other way and it's as good as new!!!

    Thank you very much for a tutorial on how to fix the laser. My Dreamcast is working now, but there is one misinformation in the article.

    In order to increase laser power (so it can read the discs better), you need to lower the resistance by adjusting the potentiometer. You do this by turning it clockwise, not counter-clockwise!

    Other than that, a perfect guide.

    3 replies

    it depends on the machine really with mine i did what the guide said

    Oh, sorry. I thought they were made the same and that it was a typo. Maybe PAL systems should be tuned clockwise, and NTSC ones counter-clockwise? Don't know for sure, though.

    no, it just depends on the laser some times

    Oh Hell Yeah!!!! Had my Dreamcast collecting dust. But no more. Thanks u sillyzombie.

    4 replies

    lol glad to hear, im playing jet grind radio right now... i accidentally deleted my save file ...sadface so im replaying it, i think im right back at where i was

    and remeber no need for thanks just send money lol

    Lol. I could but i spent all my dough at ebay just to buy some dreamcast games. Thanks to you. You made me broke. But God bless you.

    you do know you can just burn copys of dreamcast games, no mods needed. all my games are burned, a few aren;t only because i found them cheap http://www.etsy.com/shop/sillyzombie666 theres the shop i run i put all sorts of goodies on there

    So how would you go about burning dreamcast games?

    Holy crap! This fixed my dreamcast! <3

    1 reply

    glad i was able to help man, when i got my second dream cast i looked everywhere to find this info only found like 2 spots for it so i decided to spread the info. the dream cast i fixed is not happily at my friends house , the one i fixed the controller ports on is still on my desk