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Dreamcast - Battery and laser lens replacement/fix

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Hello VGS !

I've had a Dreamcast for about two years now and it has started having a few problems lately. First, every time I start the console, it asks me what is the time. I know it is possible to fix this issue by changing the battery inside the console, but I have absolutely zero experience welding. Also, some games are freezing up, some won't boot up and I tell you, my discs are in pristine condition. I guess this would be because of the laser lens, which is not working properly anymore.

I would gladly take your advices and even your services if someone can check up my Dreamcast console and fix everything that needs to be repaired. I do want to repair my console instead of buying a new one. I did not touch the laser lens yet: can you clean it without damaging it ?

Thanks, guys !


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If I am not mistaken the battery should just pop out (been a while since I've worked on one) but you will have to open the console up to access it. As for the laser it couldn't hurt to clean the lens first with a cotton bud with a dab of alcohol and wipe again with a dry one, doesn't need a whole lot of pressure but it will move some regardless just don't jab it or get too rough with it, if things improve with the games then your golden for now, but still could be a chance the laser is dying and it has been a long time since I repaired a DC but seems a "new" laser assembly can be found rather cheap vs a replacement console (that may or may not be any better) AND also I am pretty sure the assembly just pops out and you pop the other back in, you can just buy the laser itself even cheaper but then you have to take the assembly apart which may not be the route you want to take. 

Edited by MuNKeY
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Member · Posted

Just open up the back cover, should use a standard watch battery

Cleaning would help.  Not sure if it is cheaper to replace the laser or just find another console.  The Dreamcast seems to have an issue with this esp if you are playing burns.

Edited by fox
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Having tried to do this within the last year, I can advise that by and far, it's far easier and cheaper to either find a new console that has a good/working laser assembly and simply use that one instead than find something that's guaranteed to work.  There are a TON of cheap laser lens "kits" out there (almost all direct from China, and the vast majority beyond that imported from China then resold domestically) that are touted as being for or compatible with the Dreamcast, but they almost universally don't work.  This many years beyond the Dreamcast's demise, spare parts are few and far between.  There are a few specific models of CD-ROMs that you can purchase, pull the laser assemblies from, then modify to work in the Dreamcast as a replacement, but they're rare and, like surplus OEM parts, are exceedingly rare at this point and generally expensive whenever they do pop up.  Another, possibly preferable option at this point, would be to get one of the SD based solutions that have popped up in the last couple of years which allow you to replace the laser assembly entirely and run ROMs of whatever games you want to play on original hardware.  Not the exact same experience as popping in an original disc and playing from that, but pretty much the most dependable way to do so at this point on real hardware.

As far as other replacements you'd want to do on an original system (beyond the clock battery and possibly the laser assembly), I would highly recommend replacing the controller port fuses with resettable versions.  Once one of these is blown, your Dreamcast will still work, but it won't recognize any of the controllers that are plugged in until the fuse is replaced.  There are some incredibly sloppy (but admittedly well intentioned) quick fixes shown online where people just crush the fuse and twist the leads together to restore the link, but doing so means that whatever power/static surge that jumped from the controller to the controller board when it was plugged in (it's apparently an issue of the metal shroud around the end of the controller plug contacting that inside the port when it's being plugged in that does it) will instead be forwarded into the system itself in stead of blowing the fuse and stopping it in its tracks.  While it does take a little bit of soldering to do, it's relatively quick and easy, and all you've got to do is power off your system and power it back on should a resettable fuse be temporarily blown.

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