I’ve got a special place in my heart for the Sony PlayStation 2 console, I’m not sure why but every time I see one at a Goodwill store I just have to buy it. Since it’s release in March of 2000 the PS2 has seen several hardware revisions, shed a few pounds to be slim, and ultimately become the best selling game console of all time. For many of these consoles time hasn’t treated them well as they suffer from disc read errors, or will only read a CD based game not a DVD game or vice versa. Below I’ll walk you through adjusting the potentiometers (pots) on the laser unit. By reducing the resistance through the pots we increase the voltage getting to our lasers which can drive another few years out of a weak laser.
Note this guide is only for the fat style PS2’s, also note the inside of your PS2 and laser may appear slightly different due to different hardware revisions. Other guides may also have you adjust the white wheel which adjusts the laser tray height. I’ve never been able to get this method to work. Also, this will void the warranty on your 16 year old console and possibly break it further, proceed at your own risk.
- Phillips screwdriver
- Jewel screwdriver kit
- Multimeter- a cheap one from Harbor Freight will work fine
First remove the 8 screws on the bottom side of your PS2, later models will only have 6.
Be careful when removing the top cover of your PS2, some models have the eject & reset button cable taped to the top of the DVD drive as shown below. Once you’ve got your top lid out of the way remove the four small phillips screws at the top of the DVD drive cover.
With the top of the DVD drive off we can get to work by first extending the DVD drive tray, either pull it out or power on the PS2 for a moment and press the eject button then power off the unit once the tray is fully extended.With the tray extended we only need to remove one additional screw to gain access to the laser. Remove the phillips head screw holding down the laser guide bar on the side of the laser by the worm gear. Once you remove the screw you can lift the laser assembly out of position. You can continue the below steps with or without the laser still attached to it’s cables.
With the laser now upside down you can see the two pots that we need to adjust. In the photo below the top pot is for the DVD laser and the bottom is for CDs. Take an initial ohm reading with your multimeter on the points indicated by the arrows, note these baseline readings. Using a small slotted jewel screwdriver gently turn your pot clockwise just a couple of degrees and take another reading. Adjust your pot to 100 – 150 ohms less than where it was at, put your laser back into place, tighten the set screw for the laser assembly, temporarily place the DVD drive cover on then boot up your PS2 and insert a disc. If it reads it you’re good, if not remove the laser and adjust the pot a little lower, repeat this process till it works. I’ve had very few units that I haven’t been able to repair using this method.
I’ve seen the CD pot get into the 600s before it started working, and the DVD pot can get into the 800s. It’s a little trial and error but worth it before shelling out for a complete laser replacement.