Dreamcast Drive Motor Replacement

This article covers the tear down of a Dreamcast model 1 drive. It should be applicable to 0 and 2 systems as well, but I don’t have any sitting next to me right now to completely verify. It should also apply to both brands of drives. It can be quite confusing without a reference, so this step by step guide will cover the process of tearing out the disc motor and then rebuilding the drive.

The tools required are:

  • #2 phillips head screwdriver
  • #1 phillips head screwdriver
  • #0 phillips head screwdriver
  • #1 flat head screwdriver (anything close, it’s just for prying)
  • super glue (optional)

Required Tools

Required Tools

Open up the Dreamcast and tear the drive assembly out. The case is held together by 4 black #2 phillips head screws that are found inside the 4 holes in the corners of the bottom of the system. After that, lift the top off. The drive assembly is held in place by 3 #2 phillips head screws. Remove those, and then lift the drive assembly out. You should be staring at something like the picture below.

Drive Assembly

Drive Assembly

Now we want to free the laser assembly from the frame. Start by pulling the wires out from under the two retaining clips in the bottom right of the above picture. Using the flat head screwdriver, gently lift the clips JUST ENOUGH to pull the wires out.

Lift the Retaining Clips

Lift the Retaining Clips

Push the laser as far away from the motor and spindle as it will go. Then you can lift the laser assembly out of the bottom frame. Then pull the laser ribbon cable out of the laser. Now turn overĀ  the bottom frame. You should be looking at the something like the picture below.

Bottom of Drive

Bottom of Drive

This metal shielding is held on by 5 #2 phillips head screws. There are 2 screws hidden underneath the black felt on the right side. Notice that I’ve already cut away the felt to show the positions in the picture above. Remove the screws and lift the shielding off. You should be able to lift the drive control board away from the frame now.

Control Board Removal

Control Board Removal

Now disconnect the two wiring plugs. Put aside the frame, shielding, and control board, and you should now just be looking at the laser assembly.

Laser Assembly Removed

Laser Assembly Removed

Now we want to remove the plastic top cover. On the left in the picture above, near the disc motor, there are two #1 phillips head screws. Take those out, then lift up on the plastic cover, and it should pop right off.

Drive Cover Removed

Drive Cover Removed

Next, remove the disc spindle. Hold the laser assembly firmly against the work surface. Take the flathead screwdriver, and insert it under the spindle as shown below.

Removing the Spindle

Removing the Spindle

Push it in as far as it will go towards the center of the spindle, then pry it off. It shouldn’t take too much force, but don’t be afraid to give it some effort. After the spindle is removed, we can begin to actually remove the motor.

Under the Spindle

Under the Spindle

Remove the 2 black screws, which are #1 phillips head, and remove the clips under them. Then remove the 2 larger bronze screws, which are #0 phillips. After that, you can take off the steel retaining plate.

Under the Retaining Plate

Under the Retaining Plate

Now flip the laser assembly over. The first thing to do on the bottom end is remove the metal retaining clip. Just pop it off with a flathead screwdriver, and push it downwards.

Remove the Clip

Remove the Clip

Next, we want to remove the metal positioning L-shaped brace. Take out the screw, which is a #1 phillips. Then, take a flathead screwdriver and pop it off, as shown in the picture below.

Remove the Brace

Remove the Brace

After the brace is removed, there is nothing holding the motor in place except for some epoxy. Take the flathead screwdriver, and go around the motor and pry back and forth a little until you hear cracking. Don’t worry, that’s the epoxy cracking, not anything important. After it’s a little loose, turn the assembly over, and tap the motor out from the top until it falls out.

Tap the Motor Out

Tap the Motor Out

Now, untangle the wires and take the old motor completely out. I’ll be a little more vague on the reassembly instructions, since mostly you just do the opposite of everything above. Shove the new motor in place, but make sure to line up the holes in the top with where the retaining plate will screw in. Hold the laser assembly up away from the work surface a little bit, and then screw the metal L-brace back in place.

Replace the L-Brace

Replace the L-Brace

Now, turn the assembly over. Push the metal clip back in to place, using the picture below as a reference if you forget the position. Make sure it audibly pops back in to place.

Replace the Clip

Replace the Clip

Next, place the retaining plate over the motor. Drop the 2 small metal standoffs through the holes, then screw the large head bronze screws back in place. Don’t torque them down all at once, try to go back and forth to maintain fairly even pressure.

Replace the Tensioning Plate

Replace the Tensioning Plate

Then replace the 2 small metal clips and the 2 small black screws that hold them in place. Replace the plastic cover and the 2 small black screws that hold it in place. Now, we’re ready to replace the spindle, which can be kind of tricky. Put a disc on the spindle, and then put a tiny bit of super glue (optional) directly in to the hole in the bottom. Having the disc attached allows you to make sure there is proper clearance while you push the spindle down. Push the spindle and disc down until there is about 1 millimeter of clearance between the disc and the plastic drive top. Spin the disc with your finger to make sure it doesn’t touch anywhere. If it’s slightly wobbly, don’t worry, it will still read.

Replacing the Spindle

Replacing the Spindle

Now, let the glue dry for awhile. No matter how quick your super glue says it dries, I’d say let it sit for at least an hour. After an hour has passed, spin the disc around again to make sure you didn’t glue it in place. Remove the disc, and turn the assembly over again, and make sure all the wires are threaded through the channels on the outside of the plastic frame where they were originally. Next, thread the wires through the hole in the bottom drive frame. Pop the wires back in to the control board.

Threading the Wires

Threading the Wires

Thread the laser ribbon cable through the hole, and press the control board back in to place. Put the metal shielding back on, and replace the 5 screws that hold it in place. Now, the hardest part, plug the laser ribbon cable back in to the laser. This is done by holding the laser assembly upside down and next to the bottom frame (see the picture below). The trick is to put one edge of the ribbon cable in to the socket, then maintain enough pressure to hold it in place, but not enough to plug it in. You’ll also need to hold the laser in place this whole time. While maintaining that pressure, roll across to the other end and get it a little bit in to the socket. Now, the ribbon cable should be sitting in the edge of the socket, but not pushed in to it. To push the ribbon cable in from here, push simultaneously a little bit down with your thumb (this will help you get traction on the stiff edge of the ribbon cable end) and forcefully towards the laser. Again, look at the picture below for a better reference. This may take some time and experimentation.

Replacing the Laser Ribbon

Replacing the Laser Ribbon

If none of that works, just mangle it until it goes in. If you damage the cable, you can always buy a new one from my store (victory!). Now drop the laser assembly back in to the bottom frame. Gently lift the cable clips again and thread the wires back through them. Make sure the wires are going through the notches in the bottom frame as well, and not being crimped on the edges of the bottom frame. Press the entire drive back in to the system, applying more pressure near the connector. Replace the 3 screws. Put the top back on, turn over, and replace the case screws. Fire it up, and sacrifice a small mammal to the gods to ensure success.