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Collated early PlayStation 1 Laser Fixes
The most common fault with the PSX is skipping or not reading disks, this problem gets worse as
the machine gets warm. This occurs when the laser optics can't track or read the data on the disk.
The problem is more apparent with golds (copied ) disks as these can never reflect the laser back
as efficiently as an original disk, this is because CD writers cannot burn the pits that form the data
on a CD-R disk as cleanly as you get with a pressed disk. Most people would probably not notice
this problem until they have fitted a chip and tried using golds, this is not a problem with the chip
but the same problem I have just described originals should work the same with or without a chip
The problem is more apparent in earlier versions of the Playstation, Sony took steps to combat
this problem in later revisions of the machine. The very first edition of the PSX (SCPH 1000, 1001,
1002) that allowed you use swap tricks to play copies is the worst for this problem. This used
plastic parts in the laser (described later ) which become worn after which the machine would
struggle reading disks. The later versions of these machines (SCPH 1000, 1001, 1002 ) came with
a modified laser unit that used die cast alloy parts which were much better wearing. The latest
revision of the PSX the SCPH-550x series seems to be laser problem free and no adjustments
should be made even after fitting a chip, this model does not have bias and gain adjustments..
If you have an early PSX you can see on the following zoomed picture a PSX laser that has a
worn sled unit that needs repair, as you can see one side of the laser is sitting lower than the
other, this causes focusing problems which cause the skipping.

PSX Lense Servo Adjustment....

If your machine tends to play better when you turn it upside or on it's side then it is a sure
candidate for laser wear and adjustment.
The first thing you try is to adjust the bias and gain controls, on earlier machines this will only
provide a temporary cure as the plastic sled may be in need of repair. Adjustment usually provides
good results on the later machines that have the alloy sled.
These controls have the following effect....
BIAS : This control sets the default DC voltage flowing through the servo coils in the laser that
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move the laser lens up and down, basically it sets the default distance between the surface of the
disk and the lens. This adjustment is the one that has most effect when adjusting to cure
GAIN : This control sets the voltage that is added or subtracted from the bias voltage by the servo
circuits for a given fluctuation. So when you have a slightly warped disk the lens can bob up and
down and follow the surface accurately, if this setting is not correct the laser will not accurately
track warped disks.
Adjusting the bias control slightly clockwise will increase the bias voltage and therefore move the
laser slightly closer to the disk, this is usually sufficient to cure the problem for most machines.
With an earlier machine that has a worn laser this may not cure the problem, the laser will either
have to be replaced or repaired/modified.
Setting the laser servo to its correct position...
If you have messed around and twiddled the bias and gain pots and your machine no longer
operates correctly you can try to set the controls up to there normal position by using a digital
multimeter. Connect the ground on your meter to the metal shielding and the positive probe to the
following test point near the laser connector.

With the PSX switched on (beware of live parts in the power supply) and no disk I.E. door switch
up, set the voltage at this point to 1.70 volts, on a good laser this should the correct voltage
however if your laser is worn you might need to increase this slightly. Once you have set the bias
put a disk onto the spindle press the door switch (you may need an assistant to do this) the
voltage should rise to something like 0.15 volts higher than with no disk (E.G. 1.85) if its to high or
too low adjust the gain control till it is somewhere between those values. Your PSX should now
behave it self again.
Modifying the laser.
Modifying the laser is quite tricky so I suggest only real electronics engineers attempt this.
Basically the modification has to lift the side of the laser that has dropped because of sled wear.
The best way to achieve this is to disassemble the laser and add a small piece of thin sheet metal
between the sled parts... see the diagrams later. Only one principle is behind to making your PSX
CD-ROM Drive work again, the sled that carries the optics (lens) should be strictly level or parallel
with the CD, and all you need to do is devise something to make it level again.
Firstly disassemble your PSX And remove the laser as per the instructions for installing the chip.
Once you have removed the laser turn the worm gear on the underside to move the lens into the
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mid position, otherwise the lens will get in the way of the cover if it is left in its rest position when
disassembling the laser.

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To fix the problem we need to make the above sled perfectly horizontal again, the simplest way to
do this is to add a small piece (approx. 3mm by 5mm ) of sheet metal around 0.3mm thick to the
sled unit at the position shown in the diagram below. You can use the metal cover from an old
floppy disk and then cut it with a sharp pair of scissors. The piece can be glued in place with a tiny
amount of super glue.

While the glue sets re-lubricate the sled rails with some decent quality grease, white lithium if
possible silicon grease is also good. You can then reassemble your laser assembly and set up the
BIAS control again. Your machine should now work fine.
Kind Regards,"Michaeljohn Mercury".
Should you require assistance

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Laser Alignment in a Sony Playstation SCPH1002
by Mick Feuerbacher, July 2005. Updated December 28, 2005.
If your PS has problems to read disks, in particular slightly scratched CDs and CD-Rs, then it
might need an alignment of the laser unit. Two types of alignment can be made. First, the laser
can be aligned mechanically. The unit is, however, not designed for manual alignment by the user,
so this job can only be done by improvisation, e.g. adding sheed layers and mechanical supports
in places where needed. It is not particularly recommended to try this - in such a case it might be
better to buy a new laser unit. For the PS1 complete units (the black part in the first picture) can be
obtained at ebay for some 20 to 40 Euros.
In order to find out if your laser needs mechanical alignment, have a look at the sledge carrying
the lens from the side in grazing view. The upper surface of the sledge should be exactly parallel
to the upper surface of the whole unit. Check if the width of the gap around the sledge is uniformly
spaced. If not, it might need a mechanical alignment. You can disassemble the unit and have a try
but I am not going to describe this, since, as mentioned above, I do not consider this a useful
The second type of alignment is the setting of the DC voltages determining the distances of the
laser to the disk in idle state and during operation. On the main board of the PS1 model
SCPH1002 you find two trimmers that can be used to align the laser unit. With these you can
adjust the bias and the gain of the laser-positioning unit. The bias sets the level of the DC current
flowing through the servo coil in the laser unit and moves the laser up and down. The bias setting
is hence used to change the basic distance between the laser lens and the surface of the CD
during operation. The gain is the voltage that is added or subtracted from the basic DC current
(set by the bias) in order to account for an uneven surface of the CD or other disturbing influences.
Additionally, you can set the laser intensity. The corresponding trimmer is located on the flat
cable connecting the laser unit and the main board.
Please note that the following operations have to be performed with opened case of the PS. For a
standard PS this means that you have direct access to the power supply board (the separate
brown board on the left). Warning: mains power can be lethal! Be very careful not to touch this
region of the PS. In this switching type power supply voltages of up to 400 V are used. If you
follow the procedure described below you are doing this at your own risk.

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Open the case of the PS (screws on bottom) and remove the top cover. Looking on top of the PS
you see a cutout in the metal cover protecting the main board (A). Here you find the two trimmers
and the voltage measuring point. The cable connector to the laser unit is also found here (orange
flat cable).
The second arrow (B) shows the position of the safety switch.

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This image shows a magnification of the board area where the trimmers for bias and gain are
located. Marked is also the measuring point P where the voltage measurements described below
are taken.

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A. Setting the laser intensity: You find the measuring point for setting the laser intensity on the
flat cable (arrow). Just below this piont you find the corresponding trimmer. Measure the DC
voltage between the point and ground. A ground point is e.g. found in the lower left corner of the
main board or just take the metal shield covering the main board.
The voltage has to be measured when the laser is in the upper position. Hold the security
switch (B in uppermost image) pressed (put something into the hole). The laser will move to this
position immediately after the PS1 is switched on. It stays there for a couple of seconds and then
(when the startup sound is played) moves down to the lower position.In order to set the voltage by
turning the trimmer, you have to switch the PS1 on and off several times. Set the voltage to 11.4
mV.The setting can also be made when a CD is played, but the measuring point and trimmer are
very difficult to reach when a CD is inserted.
This information was provided by Domenico Sarno. Thanks a lot!!

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B. Setting the bias: Do this setting after you have set the laser intensity. Measure the DC voltage
between point P and ground when the PS1 is switched on but idle. The voltage reading should
be 1.70 V. Use the bias trimmer to set it if you measure a different value.

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C. Setting the gain: Do this setting only afteryou have made sure that the bias value is correct.
Insert a CD, hold the security switch (B in uppermost image) pressed (put something into the hole)
and play a CD. Measure the DC voltage between point P and ground. Now you should find a value
of 1.80 to 1.85 V. If the value is not within this range, use the gain trimmer to set it.
I have found that a value of 1.82 V is optimal. When this gain is set, my PS1 reads all commercial
CDs I have and most of my audio CD ROMs.

Note that the settings are not independent. After setting the gain, check the bias and laser
intensity, and adjust it if necessary. Then check the gain again. Follow this procedure iteratively
until all values are correct.

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