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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Replacing the laser in ANOTHER Wii

My daughter's Nintendo Wii started refusing to recognize that a disk was present, after a period of randomly crashing and freezing and  "The disc could not be read".  I know just the ticket.  Replace the laser.  I pulled out my notes from doing this last time.  I'll follow my own instructions and improve them as I go.

The first step was to buy a replacement laser. I got this one off Amazon so I'd get it quickly. Prices and vendor's vary and there is no way to know quality, so I spend an extra $3 to buy it from somewhere I might have recourse.  They all come from low budget overseas sources.  It came in a three days.   Funny, looking back, without trying I chose exactly the same vendor and paid the same price last January.  At least I'm consistent.


NOTE!  This part no longer comes with the Nintendo screwdriver.   You will have to get one of those, no two ways about it.  It looks like a Phillips head with three instead of four wings.  Here is an example.  I didn't buy this one, I already had one.

Quoting myself from the previous post with some background info...
This happens because the lasers used for reading discs age.  They get weaker and weaker the longer they are used.  Eventually they are too dim to work. 
This repair is not for everyone. It takes a Nintendo triwing screwdriver and a jewelers Philips head screwdriver set, small pliers, soldering iron and I use a magnifying lamp (but I'm old).   If you are fairly mechanically inclined, careful keeping track of the screws, cables, etc. You can do it.  It took me about two hours and I do this kind of stuff all the time.  If this is your first it will probably take a lot longer.  Otherwise go for buying a replacement drive, they cost 60 bucks and up, but you avoid the tricky parts of the repair, the soldering, and almost all the ribbon cables.
This Wii was one of the original Wii's, we bought it in November 2006 for Christmas, stood in line and everything.  He plays it constantly, and leaves it on all the time.  We had already sent it back to Nintendo once for this problem when it was under warranty and they repaired it.   I recommend if your Wii is fairly new to go this route.  Nintendo is one of the better companies out there for repairing stuff for free, even if it is marginally your fault or a little past warranty.  He didn't want to have a new one, because of all the saved games and downloads on this console.  We had to fix this one and I'm cheap and adventurous!

This Wii in this repair job is circa 2008, and it's time had come.

I went back to the guide I found before, and it was even better than before.
So i'll skip taking pictures since this one is already so good.  Follow it exactly.

Wii opened to the point where the instructions leave off.  DVD drive is loose
That guide gets me to the point where the Wii is open and the DVD drive is loose.   Back to quoting my previous post
When you lift the drive there are several ribbon cables that you have to remove.  Some plug in, others have tiny clamps on the board that you have to slide back or flip up.  This is classic Nintendo construction.  The ribbons look much more fragile than they are, but still be careful.
Lifting the DVD drive you see two cables connecting it.   Remove the wire, leave the ribbon but be careful not to twist or strain it.
In this Wii there was only the flat ribbon and one white header.  I unplugged the header by gently pulling on it.  I'm going to try leaving the ribbon connected, it is long enough.
What you see once the DVD drive is out of the way.  The green circuit board is the one you have to  lift.
To remove the laser from the drive, you have to take the circuit board up by removing some screws, and then a couple more ribbon connectors.   Then there is a sheet metal cover that you have to pry off.  It has four clips on each side.  It was very difficult to get off, the best way is to stick a screwdriver in from the other side.
Removed the circuit board screws and unclipped the laser ribbon cable by pushing the little clip up on each side.  Same for the other ribbon on the other side.  Pulled them out gently.  Left the other wires connected.  Had to unclip the wires to the motors from under the plastic hooks to lift the board.

Remove the black tape holding the cable.  Save it to re install later. The sheet metal laser cover is a pain.  It has a tab at each of the four corners that hooks over a plastic bump.  It also has a screw on the left side that has to come out.  You have to pry each corner off it's bump, some by sticking a screwdriver in the bottom.  Finally when you have jiggered each loose, the cover slides towards the edge about 1/8 of an inch and then comes off.  It tends to stick on the various motors and such.
Here you see the sheet metal laser cover partially removed.  Remove the screw .
Finally you can see the laser.  You remove the two screws near the edge that appear to do nothing.  They allow you to slide the sliver rails that the laser moves on out of the edge of the case.  Take the old laser out, transfer the white plastic triangle that engages the gear from the old laser to the new.  Slide it on the rails and push the rails back in.   
This went smoothly.
Laser finally revealed.  Screws to remove rails are just at the bottom left and right corners of the lasers at the ends of the rails
Rails being pulled out from the side after the screw holding them in place was removed
Transferred the white plastic triangle gear thingy from the old to the new laser.
Note!  There is a tiny solder blob on the ribbon cable of the laser.  This is protection from electrostatic damage.  You will see in the old laser that this blob is divided.  You need to use a soldering iron to heat this blob and flick it off.  Otherwise the laser will not work. 
Shows the place the solder blob is, if there is one.  It is the silver spot just right of the  sticker on the old laser.   It shorts two tracks together.
There was not a solder blob on this replacement laser.  But check for one because you must remove it if there is.  

Put it all back together.   Start to finish 1 hour 45 minutes, including the time reading the web and writing this blog.  I was also interrupted by kids and cats several times.  Is it done yet Dad?  Of course I'd done it once before.   This blog is slightly better now.  Got one thanks Dad, it works.

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