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View Full Version : My Saturns came back to me! :O



Eep386
10-01-2018, 12:08 AM
Well, I thought I junked these bastards after trying to futz with the laser pickups, but come to find out I never got rid of 'em in the first place. They were buried in some old boxes in storage. o_O I do remember getting rid of at least one busted Saturn though... must've been a different one I got from a thrift store or something.

Anyway, I got our Saturns back. Now it's time to fix 'em properly, with some brand new (or at least non-broken) lasers/pickups/etc. and some grease. And capacitors as needed.
Yeah, I know I still wound up junking at least one unit (not these ones apparently), but if I can get these two working it'll be enough of a shot at redemption for me. (Or, at any rate, achieving some closure in my life.) I'm happy at least :)

This will be a bit of a running repair log I guess. First one will be the old 1995-vintage two-light unit.
First order of business, open it up and blow the inside out with compressed air. It's got a decade+ of dust caked on the insides. Also squirt some DeoxIT D5 into the cartridge slot.
SHIT, it uses the early 90s SMT lytics of doom and destruction. (Anyone who's had to fix up old 680x0 Macs will know what I mean.) Those will have to be replaced ASAP. They don't look too bad here, but I do think some of them already spewed.
Can't determine the board revision. CXA1645M encoder (damn, I wanted the MB3517... oh well). PCB says

(C) SEGA 1995
MADE IN JAPAN
171-7006C MAIN

Eep386
10-01-2018, 02:40 AM
Well okay, cleaning it out thoroughly seems to have been enough to bring that first unit to total life. Playing Mystaria on it now for the first time in ~10 years.

Blades
10-01-2018, 06:47 AM
If you post a photo of the board I can tell you what revision it is.

By the way, it's never the laser. It's almost always something else.

Moirai
10-01-2018, 11:23 AM
If you post a photo of the board I can tell you what revision it is.

By the way, it's never the laser. It's almost always something else.

Uh, sometimes it is the laser. China makes them in huge batches sometimes you get shit ones. You pay more for tested lasers..

zyrobs
10-01-2018, 03:45 PM
If you post a photo of the board I can tell you what revision it is.

It's a VA1.




Uh, sometimes it is the laser. China makes them in huge batches sometimes you get shit ones. You pay more for tested lasers..

It's not common for the Saturn to have outright broken lasers, most of the time they just need to be calibrated.
It is more common to have them crashing randomly until the machine has been on for hours before hand. That's usually caused by bad caps. But that's not common for model 1s, those usually have PSU issues instead.

Eep386
10-01-2018, 03:53 PM
@Blades: I would post a picture, but I really don't want to risk disassembling this (apparently all-of-a-sudden fully working) Model 1 Saturn more than I absolutely must. But I will get a chance to take pictures etc. once I order some replacement caps (remember that I stated that it looks as though some of the SMD caps puked up - thank goodness they don't look like they're in the power path) and my (apparently tested) replacement laser arrives. The laser swap will be more or less an excuse to grease up the rail and/or gears as needed. What kind of grease is recommended exactly?

I did wash the motherboard and gave it a new CR2032 battery after letting it dry out thoroughly. After a few treatments with Brasso and DeoxIT D5, the cartridge slot works again so I was able to get my Pro Action Replay cart working again (best memory card and country converter ever IMO). I was able to restore some of the save files we had saved on the cart from the late Clinton era. :D I almost forgot I had saved games of Clockwork Knight 2.

@Moirai: Precisely why I didn't order my laser from China, and got one from a (rather pricey) US seller who claims to have tested it.

The second, newer Model 2 Saturn is a hot mess unfortunately. My mind-numbingly idiotic early 2000's self managed to wreck the CD drive mechanism in a way that my somewhat better-skilled and behaved modern self is unable to really fix, so I will be ordering a replacement mechanism and ribbon cable (or an SD-card reader replacement). Also the CD door switch is FUBARed, so I'll just jimmy that to be in 'permanently closed' state rather than replace the switch (a la my X'eye). But the motherboard works fine otherwise, and after some DeoxIT I was able to get the non-functional left control port fully working.

I do have every intent to get two working Saturns out of this, if only to put this nasty little embarrassment to rest at long last.

Eep386
10-16-2018, 01:20 AM
Bit of an update, about two days ago the damn CD reading / no spin issues from old eventually came back... but this time, I had that replacement Optima-6 laser/pickup that I ordered from eBay, so I disassembled the drive and changed the laser. After putting it back together, it spun the disc but couldn't read it, which was a huge improvement as it wasn't even spinning the disc at all with the old pickup.

Noticed a huge amount of hair wound up on the CD spindle, so I carefully unwound it off, that was fun and gross. :P Tried it again, still no go. Realized that the spindle hat sometimes shifts out of position from years of use, so I tried tweaking it... and I accidentally pushed it way too far down!
So I pulled it back up, and this time gently tapped it with my finger to roughly 1mm over the laser assembly's plastic cowling... and success, Dragon Force came up first try. :D Didn't even have to mess with the pot either. So far it's been working alright (at least, my brother's been happily playing Shining the Holy Ark on it since) with the new laser/pickup, so once my Labelle 106 grease arrives I'll be oiling the gears (and epoxying the spindle hat in place) to keep it goin'.

To think that 20+ years of misery with that POS was caused by a lousy laser/pickup and an off-kilter spindle hat. :mad:

Moirai
10-16-2018, 03:09 PM
Glad to hear you brought a saturn back to life!

gamevet
10-18-2018, 12:40 AM
My launch Saturn quit reading discs a little over 6 months ago. I'd thought that it was the laser that had gone out, but after greasing the rails it started reading discs just fine.

Blades
10-18-2018, 10:17 AM
Thanks for sharing. It really feels like good lasers can last forever.

bultje112
10-18-2018, 11:58 AM
My launch Saturn quit reading discs a little over 6 months ago. I'd thought that it was the laser that had gone out, but after greasing the rails it started reading discs just fine.

yes I always advise anyone to try this. I had a similar situation with my launch 95 saturn in 2003 and it worked ever since. the saturns are just amazing.

Moirai
10-18-2018, 12:02 PM
This reminds me i need to grease up my saturn rails

Part of why saturn is my favorite sega system is because it is so durable

Eep386
10-18-2018, 01:48 PM
In my case, the laser was definitely going bad. The off-height spindle hub/hat didn't help matters either. (With old laser and the off-kilter hat in the same position it originally was, it wouldn't even spin the disc.)
Is there any way a defective laser/pickup can be fixed? It'd be nice to have spare parts, just in case. I'd imagine it's just the LED emitter/receiver component(s) that are faulty, maybe trivial stuff like cold joints etc.

Next up, is a VA7 Saturn that's been to hell and back...

Eep386
10-26-2018, 01:17 PM
OK, turns out I didn't damage the VA7's drive nearly as bad as I thought; it simply needed another laser and a new ribbon cable. I greased up the rails, slider and gears too with my fancy LaBelle 106 PTFE grease, and now it's very smooth sounding, not grindy at all. The CD door switch is still broken, but for now I simply taped it together so it always thinks the drive door is closed. That ought to hold it till I get a new switch.
It plays games great, just gotta remember to turn off the power before switching discs. I have no multi-disc games anyway so no big deal.
(thanks to Guntz / V.Relic of Discord for the parts Saturn!)