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Fixing the "Open Tray" error (for XBOX 360's with Liteon drives only).

Picture of Fixing the
So my friend brought over his modded XBOX that was showing "Open Tray" every time he tried to play a game. I had fixed this once before on another box, and decided to write a tutorial to help anybody out who may be having this problem.

So, to begin, let me first repeat that this fix will only work for an XBOX with a Liteon DVD drive - you can tell your DVD drive manufacturer by looking at the disc tray. Check this site out:

http://www.360drives.com/howto

Scroll down to find a picture comparing all the drives. If you happen to have a BenQ drive, the tray will look the same as a Liteon. You can tell the difference by reading the big sticker on top of the drive (which will be visible when you open up the XBOX).

Be aware that an "Open Tray" being displayed in the dash could also be the fault of a dying laser. Luckily, this fix is free, and if you continue to have issues after you have done it, the next logical step would be to replace the laser.

Keeping this issue from recurring will require modification to a component of the DVD drive. If you are uncomfortable with doing this, you CAN still get your drive to work by simply moving the laser. However, the constant "Open Tray" message will most likely come back after awhile. More on this later.

I also want to say that this will ABSOLUTELY VOID YOUR WARRANTY. Check on xbox.com to make sure that your standard warranty is up before you crack open your box to perform this fix. Alright, with all that out of the way, lets get it done.
 
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Step 1: The Problem

Picture of The Problem
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So the root cause of the "Open Tray" error is the DVD laser getting stuck at the back of the drive. You can see this when you take the casing off and set a disk in the tray. I drew what this looks like in Paint, because I forgot to take a picture lol. The white circle is supposed to be the lens BTW, which was almost completely outside of the radius of the disc on friends box. Anyways, the laser rides a worm gear, which slides it from the center of the disk to the far edge so that it can read data imprinted into the disk.

My theory is that the worm gear is the root of the problem. The very last turn on it, the one closest to the motor, is slightly thicker than the one before it. It took me awhile, but I finally managed to get a good picture of this. I think this causes the white plastic piece tying the laser to the worm gear (which is basically a clamp with two teeth to grip the gear), to get stuck when it slides over this thick turn. This is because only one of its teeth can catch the track and the other one pops out, causing it to skip and stay put as the worm gear spins.

This seems to happen rarely. I think that the laser was actually never meant to go so far out on the worm gear, but it obviously does under just the right circumstances. So, to keep it from recurring, I decided to work around the worm gear issue by modifying the white grip piece. I used an exacto knife to thin out the plastic "hinge" above the spring. This lets the spring push the grip's teeth further and harder into the worm gear, which should help it stay in the gear's track even when close to the thick turn. If, for whatever reason, one of the teeth does pop out on the thick turn again, in theory the added flexibility of the piece will help hold it tight enough to the worm gear so that it will not get stuck.

I based this whole idea on my comparison between a grip piece from a BenQ XBOX drive (which, hardware wise, is almost identical to a Liteon) and the one from my friends drive. In my pics, you can see how the BenQ piece bends more because of its thinner "hinge", and thus has more grip on the worm gear as compared to the Liteon. And I've never had to fix an "Open Tray" BenQ, so that also assured me. 

Step 2: Supplies & Disassembly

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So here's the tools you will need:

- medium Phillips screwdriver
- small flathead screwdriver
- Torx T10 screwdriver
- small Phillips head screwdriver
- razor-blade or Exacto Knife
- paperclip

Now we need to get the XBOX open. There are many, many good tutorials for this. I prefer this one, but DO NOT REMOVE THE 8 BLACK SCREWS IN THE CENTER OF THE XBOX CHASSIS. Just get the case off.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uj2A7mGGjuY

And if you haven't already, enjoying peeling the warranty sticker. I know I always do :)

Once that's done, remove the DVD drive by unplugging the two cords from the back and simply lifting it out. Sometimes these cords can be quiet stubborn - try wiggling them while pulling, and be patient. They will come out.

Now to open the drive. Remove the four screws on the bottom of the drive, circled in picture 1, and separate the case. It's made of two pieces - a thinner bottom one, which should slide off first, and then a thicker top one, which should come off last.

It's time to unstick the laser. Just push it towards the front of the drive! You will feel it pop and then you should be able to slide it to the middle of the worm gear.

NOTE: If you now put your box back together, it will work. However, the laser will probably get stuck again, sooner or later. If you want to fix this issue and aren't scared to modify a piece of the DVD drive, proceed with the instructable.

Now we need to manually eject the tray. With the laser facing up, in front of the spindle (the spinny bit) you should see a black plastic ledge with a metal tongue sticking out over it. Use a paper-clip or a small screwdriver as shown in picture 2 to push the ledge in the direction of the arrow.  Once the bar gets in the way, move your pushing tool as shown in picture 3 and continue pushing until the tray pops out a little, like in picture 4. Then simply grab it with your fingers and pull it the rest of the way out.

Last thing to do is remove the white piece thats holds the laser to the worm gear. It's held on by one screw, which is circled in picture 6. It just lifts up and off once you have it unscrewed.

Step 3: The Fix

Now that the white piece is out, it's time to mod it for increased flexibility and grip. Remove the spring. Now take your razor blade or Exacto Knife and make a shallow, straight cut through the "hinge" part of the piece. Continue deepening the cut until either 1) you can look at the piece from the side and see that you have cut it about halfway through, or 2) you can bend it upwards (in the same direction that the spring pushes it) with significantly less resistance than what it had originally. I took several pictures of my finished cut for reference. Be very careful not to cut all the way through, and to leave AT LEAST HALF OF THE ORIGINAL THICKNESS. This should ensure that the piece will still be strong enough not to tear or break down the road.

The final thing I did was bend the outside "arm" of the grip inward slightly to also help keep it on the track. This should also be a subtle change. There is also a picture of me doing this.

I forgot to take a final comparison shot between the modified Liteon piece and the BenQ one, so I put one together in Paint. Even though the angles/size of the pieces may be off a little, it is easy to see that the Liteon is now just as flexible as the BenQ, if not more so.

Step 4: Assembly & Wrap-up

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Well, luckily assembly is as simple as reversing disassembly in this tutorial. Make sure you get the tray pushed all the way back in, and that you don't forget to screw in the white piece. I recommend testing the XBOX with the case off, just to make sure everything is working OK before you get it all the way back together. 

In the course of fixing the two XBOX's with this problem, I haven't had one returned with the "Open Tray" problem. So, hopefully the "Open Tray" issue will now disappear from your Liteon equipped box as well.

Thanks for reading!
MLC PRO3 years ago
You have put way to much thought in this, there is a very simple fix for the open tray error and only requires a #10 nylon washer and a dab of super glue.
formulajake88 (author)  MLC PRO3 years ago
There are many, many causes of the open tray error. Are you sure that we're talking about the same one? Where exactly would this washer go?
Yes there is and I think the washer fix applies to the issue you are addressing.
I have an electronics repair shop and have addressed many open tray errors
and in theory your approach is correct but timely.
This is how I have fixed this issue:
On the end of the guide bar that has the worm gear plastic that you are carving on
you see the stopper step, lower the logic board down and push the laser to the back of the drive and you will see where it makes contact with the dics drive chassis. clean that contact point with alcohol, now take a pair of side cuts and cut a notch out of the washer so it will go over the guide bar then apply a dab of super glue to the contact area of the chassis and slide the washer over the guide bar and apply it to the chassis, once stuck slide the laser module back to that point again and see if the stop stepper of the worm gear plastic is making contact with the washer if all went well your open tray error is no more. PS Be advised the latest microsoft xbox 360 Dec. update is causing problems with alot of xbox 360's, we are seeing 6 out of 10 consoles getting disc read errors. ie: unrecognizable disc. and open tray errors. Thanks M$

So we just bought a new dvd drive and replaced our old one, correctly, we watched many videos. But every time I play a game it says open tray. So we fix it, and the next day it isn't working again.

Awesome fix. I noticed the spring wasn't pushing the plastic out far enough, but never though to actually weaken the plastic itself rather than install a better spring.

Its working for now, hopefully for good. I've noticed though that the drive does makes noise when what I assume is the laser head moving quickly. Did yours do the same?
formulajake88 (author)  Edwardswolentoe4 years ago
Yes, I actually did notice the loudness of the laser seeking after fixing my friends box. However, I think I ended up just assuring myself that it was that loud beforehand lol. If it helps any, his system is still going strong to this day, without me ever having to open it back up :)