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Thread: Anyone familiar with Saturns and region switch mods?

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    Anyone familiar with Saturns and region switch mods?

    While I'm waiting for parts for my Neogeo CD frontloader I decided to open up a project Saturn I had bought a while back. I bought this Sega Saturn out of an "as is" pile at a trusted local store that I frequent. They hooked me up with a great deal and told me that when they bought it in it worked just fine but the disc drive stopped working.

    I opened it up and found this inside.

    janky saturn mod.JPG

    The scotch tape just about killed me. Anyone familiar with this particular switch mod? I think the switch is working ok because the main Saturn screen noises are different but I'm not sure if this caused the drive to stop working.

    The console boots and goes through the date and time settings no problem but it won't read any discs. The disc doesn't spin at all and I don't hear anything going on inside so it's not like the laser is trying to read anything.

    Anything I should look into for fixing it? Thanks!

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    You've got two things going on there. The region switch mod is just a standard double pull double throw switch connected to the region jumpers. That chip you have in there is a mod chip for playing burned games, and from the looks of it, it is the shitty mod chip that was on the market for a while (I also have one that died.) First thing I would do is take that chip out and restore the stock ribbon cable connection, and then see if you're able to play retail games.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Jibbajaba View Post
    You've got two things going on there. The region switch mod is just a standard double pull double throw switch connected to the region jumpers. That chip you have in there is a mod chip for playing burned games, and from the looks of it, it is the shitty mod chip that was on the market for a while (I also have one that died.) First thing I would do is take that chip out and restore the stock ribbon cable connection, and then see if you're able to play retail games.
    Thanks for your help! Ok, so that was the first thing I did when I was tinkering with it last night. Bypassed the chip and went with the stock ribbon cable (whoever had it folded it pretty bad for no reason). Still nothing from the disc drive. It says something on the screen like "Checking Disc Format" and stays that way. Nothing spins, the discs just stay there, nothing sounds like it's doing anything.

    I don't hear anything in the system and everything else seems to be working but the drive. Do you think that since it had a chip for burned games the laser died because it worked too hard reading crappy discs?

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    It sounds like the laser is probably dead, but no one can really say if it's because the system was reading CDRs or not. Hopefully you can pick up a replacement laser assembly on eBay or somewhere.


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    So I tried a couple of things just now that I thought were worth mentioning. It'll say "Checking Disc Format" and then say nothing. Doesn't say drive empty, give me an error code, or anything else.

    I read something about the battery and taking that out to see if it works at all. Took the battery out and still nothing.

    I moved the laser out a little bit and pressed the lid lever that lets the console know that the lid is closed. By doing that the laser moved back to the normal start position but doesn't do anything else after. Doesn't make any noise aside from that.

    Tried plugging in the ribbon cable both the original way with the mod chip and without it, still nothing.

    Tightened the orange screw under the laser until it wouldn't turn, still nothing.

    Read somewhere that if the console isn't getting sufficient power something like this can happen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jibbajaba View Post
    It sounds like the laser is probably dead, but no one can really say if it's because the system was reading CDRs or not. Hopefully you can pick up a replacement laser assembly on eBay or somewhere.
    Yeah, I might have to try ordering one and see if that does the trick. I was really hoping to get this up and running before the weekend too. Oh well! I'll post more as I make some progress.

    Thank you for your help Jibbajaba!

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    Check if you get any voltage on the spinning motor.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rasubosu View Post
    Tightened the orange screw under the laser until it wouldn't turn, still nothing.
    If that was the laser pot, it's shot, either before you got to it or now. The battery has nothing to do with it reading discs.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeAwesome View Post
    If that was the laser pot, it's shot, either before you got to it or now. The battery has nothing to do with it reading discs.
    Yeah I wouldnt have cranked the laser pot, at best you need to take very fine increments on something like that until you see a change but best to do that as a last resort on a laser assembly because you could burn the thing out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Geekman1222 View Post
    Yeah I wouldnt have cranked the laser pot, at best you need to take very fine increments on something like that until you see a change but best to do that as a last resort on a laser assembly because you could burn the thing out.
    For sure! It didn't take much to get it maxed but the laser wasn't doing anything to begin with it seems. The console stopped reading discs before I picked it up so that might be what it is, probably just needs a new laser. I'm ordering one tonight so hopefully that does the trick. I'll post more as I get some results but if anyone has anything else they want to add please do! I'm having a lot of fun tinkering with these "junk/as is" systems.

    Thanks again everyone!

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    I would also make sure the cd spindle is at the right distance. Over time a lot of these system's spindles sag down from either people pressing down too hard or gravity.

    Also on a laser that doesn't read using a qtip and rubbing alcohol on the lens can help sometimes, but it really is a hail mary all things considered.
    Last edited by ChuChu Flamingo; 10-02-2017 at 04:14 PM.


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    You're just upset that you're too goddam stupid to understand the games and whiff infinites.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChuChu Flamingo View Post
    Also on a laser that doesn't read using a qtip and rubbing alcohol on the lens can help sometimes, but it really is a hail mary all things considered.
    Depends on the console, always worth a shot as a first resort anyway. Many PS2s have been saved this way over the years.

    Also it sounds like you're in the cd player? throw in an audio CD?

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    Yeah i've noticed that over the years that PS2s disc drive gets a lot of dust compared to say OG Xboxes. Many PS2's i've resurrected from simply cleaning unstable dust bunnies.

    Part of the reason imo is that the PS2 cooling system is designed for negative pressure with one exhaust fan + cpu and the vents are directly underneath the cd assembly. Additionally, it isn't fully sealed like most OG xboxes cd drives that come in a typical metal case.
    Last edited by ChuChu Flamingo; 10-02-2017 at 10:18 PM.


    he spends hundreds on scarves, of course he's a fag and then ChuChu Flamingo preserved the aftermath in a plastic case making sure it wasn't exposed to unstable air
    You're just upset that you're too goddam stupid to understand the games and whiff infinites.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChuChu Flamingo View Post
    I would also make sure the cd spindle is at the right distance. Over time a lot of these system's spindles sag down from either people pressing down too hard or gravity.

    Also on a laser that doesn't read using a qtip and rubbing alcohol on the lens can help sometimes, but it really is a hail mary all things considered.
    Ah, how would I remedy this? Didn't even think about that.

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    I usually just winged it when I adjusted one that was too low. It is very easy to tell as the disc will be too close to the plastic tray with the cover on and it won't click.

    If your cd is not spinning, even with the cover off it points to a dead motor like people stated or a power issue probably. From my google'fu I've also read that it could be the driver controller as well.

    Also a heads up but sometimes replacement lasers have a solder blob that needs to be removed (its to protect from ESD). Kinda weird they don't tell you that in the listings but assume you should know.
    Last edited by ChuChu Flamingo; 10-03-2017 at 08:37 PM.


    he spends hundreds on scarves, of course he's a fag and then ChuChu Flamingo preserved the aftermath in a plastic case making sure it wasn't exposed to unstable air
    You're just upset that you're too goddam stupid to understand the games and whiff infinites.

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