Minidisc Repairman Q&A #8

David Popovits
Sigma D.O. Electronics
3, Sheinkin str. Tel Aviv, Israel
Tel. 972-3-6290339
Fax. 972-3-6203579
(sigma@netvision.net.il)

August 2000

Note: For Sony Equipment Problems you can also call Sony's National Direct Response Center at 800-222-7669

These questions from readers on these 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 pages followed David's original article about portable MD recorder repair

  1. Question: MZ-R50: Disc doesn't stay in when inserted.

    David, I have been reading and enjoying your MD repair articles posted on the MD Community portal lately. Unfortunately, I now can join in and ask you a repair question regarding my MZ-R50 which just this morning started showing a small problem. I am hoping it is relatively easy to fix. The problem is when I insert a disc into the unit, it does not "stick" in... the spring mechanism insists on pushing the disc back out. If I push the disc in, hold it in, and close the top, the unit still works fine. It seems to me there's just a problem with the catch in the back of the assembly that accepts the disc. Hopefully this is just a quick open and slight bend back into place procedure. Can you tell me what I need to do in order to fix this? I'd just go ahead and open it up, but I figured I would first see if I could take advantage of your expertise. Thanks! It's really strange that this happened... I just used it last night and it worked fine. It wasn't dropped or anything either. Regards, Jim

    Answer:

    Hello Jim, Your problem is well known with all MD's having the same disc drive mechanism. For example the MZ-R30 and the MZ-R35. The problem exhibits itself either as the disc not latching inside the MD or not jumping out when the cover is opened. Usually the problem is simply an inconvenience that can be lived with, but in many cases doing so might lead to unpleasant mechanical problems, e.g. - the upper cover cannot be closed, the MD doesn't play, etc. The latching/unlatching mechanism is built from a spring loaded arm mounted in the disc compartment, and 2 specially shaped springs made of black steel mounted on the body of the MD (right back side). It is a very sophisticated structure -- the black springs are shaped and positioned in a way that is not easily understood unless you compare your broken unit with a working one. Its fine tuning makes it work properly, even a small deviation will prevent its operation. One part of one of the black springs is mounted on 2 platforms, the one that you don't see when you open the cover is connected to other parts of the mechanism of the MD. My best advice for you is to not try to fix it alone, even if you are experienced with mechanics. The MD is a very special animal. You must know it very well, and very well again, in order to push your screwdrivers into it. Truly yours,

    Followup:

    Thanks for replying David. Yes, I have heard of this problem happening with other R50's which is why I was not surprised and did not panic when it happened. I did not expect such a quick response from you so I went ahead and opened the cover just to do some exploratory surgery. I found exactly what you described... a complicated latching mechanism that I could barely see, much less understand. I would certainly have to take the whole thing apart to get a decent view of it and even then I wholeheartedly agree that I would need a perfectly-working unit right next to it to see exactly what adjustment needed be made. Funny, just touching that mechanism with the Jeweler's screwdriver made it work a little better... it must be extremely sensitive, as you indicated. I closed up the cover and decided to live with this minor inconvenience. From taking it apart I could see that the disc gets seated properly when the door is closed, whether or not the latch catches when you push the disc in, so this is not such a big issue. Thanks for the common sense advice David. It's a bit disconcerting for this problem to surface, given how careful I am with my MD equipment. The unit was purchased in March of '99, putting it about 1.5 years old. I've always attributed most of the problems people had with portables to lack of care... not negligence, such as accidentally dropping it on a concrete floor or something. These things certainly are too fragile to treat them without a lot of care. Well, now that they've got the size problem licked, maybe they can start making MD units more robust. FM radio, digital output and a SWITCHABLE power-saving mode would be nice too! Regards, Jim

    Answer:

    Hi again, Regarding the last paragraph of your email it reminds me ..."I have a dream" (Martin L. King). You must understand that regarding MD's the development goes in a strange way. The first MD had an optical output. All other models since then don't have one. (If they had, some clients will not buy the home MD decks - bad for business). It was a big and heavy machine. Since then they have made them smaller. The last "big size" is the MZ-R37 (for SONY). But instead of giving attention to improving the MD's, they cut the size dramatically and made things worse then they were before. The problems with the "big" machines are almost zero in comparison to the problems we have with the new "small" size MD's. (Almost all of them). So, give your MD good respect, although it has a small problem it is the best portable MD ever made, and I've seen them all. Truly yours,

  2. Question: MZ-R35: won't go into mono mode, won't display remaining time

    My portable MZ-R35 Minidisc player/recorder is 2 years old and works very well, except for the display and mode buttons. I do get a display, titling, etc, but can no longer set the machine for mono recording nor can I see how much time is left on a track. When I enquired about repairs, the quotation was very high. I live in the UK, do you know of a solution to this problem, other than buying a second MD unit?? Mark Torrender

    Answer:

    Hello Mark, You have one of the best MD units ever made. It will serve you for many years. The problem you mentioned is very common with the MZ-R35 and with the MZ-R30. In most cases it is not because of direct damage to the 2 keys you mentioned. It is related to the 3 keys mounted on the right side of the recording switch (the red one). In some cases the only problem is with the display and mode keys. If this is the situation you will have to replace the whole display as the keys are an integral part of the display. I'm afraid you'll have to take it to a repair shop. The cost in my shop is $75 or $110 (in case you have to replace the display). Truly yours,

  3. Question: MZ-R35: Should the latch be held open while closing the lid?

    Hi David, The first two Minidisc recorders I owned where the Sharp 702 & 722 and I really liked the slot-in design. Since then the couple I've had have been the clam shell variety. What bothers me about that design is that the latching mechanism looks like it is just stamped out of a cheap metal. Something that I carry with me everyday gave me a thought. I carry a pocket watch because it drives me nuts to have a wristwatch on while working on the computer. In looking at antique pocket watches I was told the proper way to close one is to push in the release and then close the cover. This will prevent wear on the delicate latch that could wear out and then you would be stuck with a pocket watch that was opened all the time. Now I believe it shouldn't hurt anything by applying that to my Minidisc, but would I be gaining anything? I realize the life expectancy of a Minidisc player is less than an antique watch, but if you want to sell it later and get the latest greatest one it would be nice if the old one still closed. Thanks Keith.

    Answer:

    Hi Keith The idea is nice as long as you do not put too much pressure on the mechanism before closing the door. Truly yours

  4. Question: MZ-E55 stops all by itself while playing.

    Hi David, I feel that you are doing a great service to the Minidisc community by answering questions, and I appreciate it greatly. I recently purchased a MZ-E55 and found that on certain occasions it will stop in the middle of playing and make a whirring/grinding noise. Sometimes it will then resume playing but at other times it will just stop until I manually start it again. I called up the company that I purchased it from and they said it was a misaligned head. I was just wondering if you agree with this diagnosis, and how serious a problem it is. Yours Truly, Zachary

    Answer:

    Hi Zachary, Did it stop always in the same place? For instance, at the beginning/middle/end part of the disc? When it stopped did it turn off completely or only stopped playing audio with the display on? Is it fixed now? I need this information in order to answer your question. Truly yours

    Followup:

    Hi David, In response to your questions: This happens with many disks and in different places. It just stops playing, with the display remaining on and does not shut off completely. It is still not fixed, so I was just wondering how big a problem this is, and exactly what is wrong. Truly Yours, Zachary

    Answer:

    Hi again, There are few possible reasons for your problem.
    1. Bad laser unit (or unclean or not adjusted)
    2. Internal RAM failure (the memory device that stores data to be played)
    Check for dirt/hair inside the disc mechanism. Clean it with a cleaning disc. If it repairs itself - fine , if not ask the shop to replace it with a new one. Truly yours,

  5. Question: Will an NiMH charge in an MZ-R70?

    Hi David! I am writing to you because I need some help. I bought an R70 last week and I love it, but its battery life is a bit short. You replied to someone that you could use NiMH instead of the provided NiCd battery, and I would like to ask you if you can charge the battery IN the R70 (I mean, with the battery inside the unit, plug in the AC adapter, press stop and charge). And finally, I would like to ask you if you know a way I can boost the output of my unit (without using a headphone amp). Thanks very much!! Antonia

    Answer:

    Hi, You can charge the NiMH inside the MD. If the capacity of the NIMH is higher then the one supplied to you, the charging time will be longer. You cannot boost the output. The only thing you can do is to make your recordings with the highest input level that you can, before clipping or destroying the input stage. Truly yours,

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