Replacing Atari Jaguar CD Unit Laser Transport
I recently purchased an Atari Jaguar CD Unit from eBay. I knew the unit had issues prior to purchase as the seller had clearly listed that the unit needed to be placed on it's side. I was not overly concerned by this as I was un-aware that the unit had even been released! So being the die hard Atari fan that I am, I set about crushing all opposing bids on the unit until it became mine.
It arrived, I set it up, I went "Woot!" when I loaded my first Jag CD game (with unit on it's side), I went "****!!!!!!" when the unit ceased operation. A bit of inspection later revealed that the motor wasn't actually turning the discs, you could hear the laser being moved, but the disc was not spinning. A quick check reveled that the motor was in a bad way, as it took quite a bit of effort for me to move the CD platter by hand (well finger :) ). I spent a good few hours looking at ways to free the motor up a little, but decided that the fault was internal to the motor itself.
Feeling a bit glum I packed up the unit feeling totally rotten, and decided to check the web to see if anyone else had such problems and hopefully a solution. Alas I didn't find any solutions, but what I did find were some VERY interesting websites explaining in details common CD faults, their causes and methods to resolve them. I couldn't find anything much for my problem (which I think I have found the cause of since writing this, I'll explain at the end.. well got to give you some motivation to look at it all haven't I! :) ). One thing I did find out though was that it was actually quite easy to buy replacement transports for pretty much any CD system. A quick check revealed that the Jaguar CD Unit is built by Philips and contained a Philips CD transport, to be precise a CDM12.1 . A quick mooch round their website only revealed some tech docs about their pickups and suggested they didn't sell single units to crazed eBay enthusiasts. Luckily one of the sites I found (Digital Jitter) also listed suppliers of CD transports and also has a picture gallery of various transports so you can make sure you have the one you are looking for. In the case of the Jaguar CD Unit their picture lists it as a CDM12.0 but it would seem there is little difference and the CDM12.1 probably is just a bug fix release of the transport.
Also on the site is a list of devices and the laser transports that they use, I made a list of potential 'donor' devices and checked eBay and local 2nd hand stores for one such unit, unfortunately I didn't find any, so It was now down to trying to aquire a new replacement.
Searching the list of suppliers I found a UK based supplier (Cricklewood Electronics). They do not list the laser transports on their site, but if you drop them an email they are friendly and helpful, and will let you know if they can get you the required transport. I asked about the CDM12.0 and was told that they could not get that one, but could get the CDM12.1. In my list of donor devices I had noticed that some units were listed as having both CDM12.0 and CDM12.1 so I figured they must be interchangable, and decided to give the CDM12.1 device a try. The price of the unit including VAT and shipping from cricklewood was £28.20 (Sorry for the mistake I made earlier of putting £22). So I sent them a cheque and waited. It took a while after the cheque had cleared, but I think this is mainly due to trying to source a single item that they don't normally stock, so I didn't mind. A few days ago the transport arrived. Now I just had to fit the thing and see if I would have a beakless parrot (they "suck seed" don't they! ;) ).
After completing the process I decided to write what I had found out in these guides. I couldn't find a solution on the web so had to tackle the problem blind as it were, hopefully these guides will prove useful to future people with problematic CD Units. Maybee even one day help stop world hunger (whats wrong with a little ambition? :) ). At the very least if you just wonder what is inside a Jag CD Unit, or are bored and like reading technical docs, I hope you enjoy these guides and get something useful from them.
But for now, if you are a person with a dead laser, dead laser transport, dead disc platter, or a really annoying ticking sound emminating from your CD unit, read on. Hopefully we'll get it fixed.
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Copyright 2002 Graeme Hinchliffe