: The Packet Sniffers Projects :

DVD player repair, ghetto style
by: dosman


    So after a summer lightning storm some friends of mine found that their DVD player no longer worked. A little inspection revealed that the fuse was blown. I figured there was more too it, but it was worth tossing another fuse into it just to see. It blew the new one. At this point the fastest way to find the faulty components is to the install the proverbial "nickel fuse" and watch where the smoke comes from (Aka, wrap wire around the fuse socket). With fire extinguisher in hand, my friend plugged in the power cord and we quickly found either the faulty component or at least one very close to the culprit.


    So anyway I'm not really into doing component repair on household appliances (Usually it's something I can't replace like a special transformer or something.). The next best thing is to wire up power from a PC power supply. Below you can see our starting lineup. You will notice an ATX supply in this first picture, but later on an AT unit is used. About halfway through I realized I didn't know which pins on the ATX needed to be fiddled with to make it turn on, so an AT unit was ripped out of a Gateway computer so we could continue (He has no internet access right now, otherwise I would have just looked up the info.)


    This is an Apex DVD player, I don't know the model off hand. For those that don't follow the DVD modding scene, most modern DVD players actually use a PC DVD drive. This means IDE interface and everything is taken care of by a little circuit board inside the case. Apex especially has some neat features, like being able to update the firmware on the drive from a specially crafted CD-R (Note: that feature isn't available on the DVD player displayed in this project). Why? You can turn off "features" like Macrovision and enable all-region DVD playing. I have no problems with these "hacks", especially DVD region hacking, because this is solely a revenue generating feature for the MPAA mafia.

    After a little poking around I found that the main sources of power needed to run the unit are +5VDC and +12VDC. It also requires +24VDC and a couple AC voltages to power the fluorescent gas display, but we can live without that for now. The white wires that go to the audio output board takes +12VDC and ground to the white wire with the red dashes on it. The green board with the IDE interface takes +5VDC to both the red and blue wires. The display is the only other part that takes power. The wire harness with black, red, and green wires is clearly labeled, the other one is all black. Don't worry about the bundle of all black wires, the PC power supply doesn't have the AC power needed for it. (It's only used by the fluorescent display, won't harm the operation of the unit.)


Here you can see the AT supply already wired up to the DVD player.


Here you can see the voltages stenciled onto the boards





    Here are some more pictures showing progress. I never intended to actually get the DVD player back into it's original form factor, I had just planned on leaving the PC power supply Frankensteined to it like a goiter hanging off someone's neck. However after a little screwdriver work it appeared that we might be able to get the DVD player self contained again.


DVD power board removed, and AT power supply gutted.



I taped saran wrap to the bottom of the new power board to make sure it didn't short out anywhere, since it is sitting loose in the unit. We had a little 'brownout' during the first tryout. And to the right, everything self contained.



Overhead view of completed project





Other notes of interest.

    This was a satisfying evening, as I also fixed their VCR that died in the same lightning storm (Belt and wheel came off, just a coincidence it failed the same day as the DVD player). They now have a DVD player with 63 Watts of power available, which is way more than the average unit can supply, or even use for that matter. As I surmised the IR interface to the player still worked, also well the display doesn't work anymore (Wasn't all that useful anyway.) Also, since the DVD drive itself is a PC unit, it took one of the normal PC power connectors right off the new power supply board. Talk about an easy fix! One last thing. For an added challenge, try doing this all with a very curious kitten crawling right in your way through the whole project. It makes things "interesting", especially when you are playing with live circuit boards that are fully exposed.


Links of interest:

Want to learn more about hacking Apex DVD players?

(Hehe, I should have read this site first myself, they have a little primer of their own on fixing the power supplies out of these units. Oh well, it works now.)

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