02 June 2005

How to replace the spindle motor on a Panasonic DVD-S35

Two years ago, I bought a Panasonic DVD-S35 dvd player. Nice features and cheap as anything.

18 months later, the player died.

Being a resourceful kind of guy, and having a lot of experience fixing things, I thought I'd take on this challenge.

It turns out this DVD player has a known weak point, the spindle motor. This is the motor that spins the DVD. The motor tends to start flaking out after 12 to 18 months of use. The symptom is that, one day, some DVDs won't play, and eventually, DVDs aren't recognized at all because the motor can't spin them up to a speed where the optical head to read the data.

So, most of you might toss the player at this point and move on. I did not.

I tracked down the part number for the spindle motor (Panasonic RXQ1016A Spindle Motor Ass'y) and ordered it from PartStore.com.

I got the part after having looked at disassembly instructions for a similar model dvd player. It looked like I'd have to open the case, undo two screws, put the unit back in, and hit play.

I was so, so wrong.

First, the DVD-S35 turns out to be a particularly fiendish unit to work on. So I tracked down an on-line copy of the service manual at a Russian service manual database.

Now, a service manual for this player is part fact, and part fiction. Fact: there are a few codes you can enter to see how worn out the player is. Fiction: parts are replaceable.

Getting the case open wasn't hard, but getting to the spindle motor assembly required taking out approximately: five ribbon cables, seven normal screws including two fiendishly tight jeweler's-type phillips screws, three springs, two axles, one gear, two plastic holder pins, two boards, and four solder points.

Yes, Panasonic uses solder as a structural element.

This was the case from hell. I spilled blood opening it. Following the disassembly instructions, it became clear that I was the first person to QA these. The instructions were obviously wrong in a few places.

Eventually, I removed the four solder points. I pulled the first plastic holder pin.

I pulled the second of the plastic holder pins.

The head snapped off.

Gah. Enough is enough. I curse the day Panasonic put their good name on a disposable home DVD player.

And I promise never to try to repair a $35 DVD player again.

Until the next one breaks.

Update: The replacement is a Yamaha DVD-5750. It's built like a tank and has been around long enough (over a year) that people have had enough time to really beat on it and review it. I am quite happy with it.