So finally the slotted screwdriver from Amazon came and i cracked open the gamecube.
I simultaneously experimented with another gamecube we had lying around that the laser wore out on, and it would frequently freeze or fail to see disks.
The gamecube i was attempting to fix you could see the laser light up red, move in and out, but the platter never spun. I thought initially it was the motor. I tried the other gamecube, and it would begin spinning the platter right after the laser lit up and moved around.
I found some surprises inside the gamecube. The black platter floats on some rubber grommets. You can pop it off by pushing in some clips next to each grommet. THen you can see the platter motor and laser underneath, but they are tethered by wires. The laser flex cable pops out of the connector if you slide back the clamp. The motor is hard wired soldered to the board. The laser motor is also soldered to the board by two wires.
So it is impossible to just swap out the motor.
If you take out about 16 screws on the shiny metal cover under the black platter, you can pop off the whole platter assembly and circuit board, they simply plug into one connector.
I decided to take the laser from one game cube, and the platter/circuit board from another and put them together. As i said, the laser can be disconnected and removed by a couple screws. I put it all back together and there was another surprise! The combined assembly of parts i thought would all work, didn't. The laser lit up and moved in and out, but the platter never started spinning!!. This is the same motor that worked a few minutes ago. So i realized that the laser was really bad. So bad it didn't even see the disk, worse than the guinea pig broken gamecube that at least saw the disk.
So I realized I had two gamecubes with broken lasers, and no spare parts. Doh!
I went to ebay, searched for gamecube replacement laser. I found many in the 10 to $15 range, from US sellers. Watch out for stuff shipped from China, the quality can be spotty and you are unlikely to get much customer support. I think it is worth the couple bucks extra to buy domestic.
Got the laser, popped it in, and Voila! The platter spins now. The motor was never bad. So if you are repairing a gamecube, ebay is your best friend. Buy the screwdriver, buy the laser, pop off the platter and don't remove all the screws, no point.
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