How to Repair & Replace the Laser on an XBox 360

The Xbox 360, Microsoft's second-generation gaming console, is one of the best-selling products of its type. With millions of users worldwide and a relatively low number of returns for defects, the Xbox 360 is one of Microsoft's most durable hardware products. But one potential weakness is the unit's laser lens, which reads and decodes games discs. Over time the lens may become dirty or misaligned. Sometimes you can fix laser problems by realigning the lens. Other lens problems require you to replace the faulty laser.

Power off the Xbox 360 console unit. Disconnect the power cord and controller cables. Set the console on a clean work surface.

Grip both sides of the Xbox 360 faceplate. Gently pry the faceplate off the console.

Insert a long wood dowel into one of the small white holes on the face of the Xbox 360 console. Use the dowel to push in on the cover-plate locking tabs. After pushing in on the locking tabs to release them, remove the side plate. Remove the left cover-plate using the same method.

Press down on the tabs of the inner side plates with the flathead screwdriver to release them. After unlocking the tabs, remove the inner side plates from the console case.

Use the Torx screwdriver to remove all of the screws on the back and sides of the Xbox 360 case. Remove the inner front cover of the Xbox 360 by pulling it straight out from the case.

Remove the captive screws on either side of the Xbox DVD drive with the jeweller's screwdriver. Disconnect the DVD power and ribbon cables. Slide the DVD drive out of the case.

Turn the Xbox 360 DVD drive over so that it is upside down. Remove the small circular shaped sticker on the surface of the DVD drive to reveal a small retaining screw. Use the jeweller's screwdriver to remove the screw. Use the Torx screwdriver to remove the remaining screws on the sides of the DVD drive.

Turn the DVD drive back over so that it is right side up. Pull up on the casing cover to remove it. Disconnect the ribbon connector from the circuit board. Slide the circuit board out of its slot and remove it from the DVD enclosure.

Change the selector switch on the multimeter to read resistance. Adjust the initial resistance value to "200 milliamps."

Locate the potentiometer on the Xbox 360 DVD drive. The potentiometer is a pair of contacts labelled "POT." Make contact with the two contacts on the potentiometer with the probes from the multimeter. Take note of the resistance reading on the multimeter display.

Use the jeweller's screwdriver to rotate the left screw contact of the potentiometer clockwise a quarter turn. Again, review the resistance reading on the multimeter. Continue to adjust the left side contact of the potentiometer counterclockwise until the multimeter displays a resistance reading of 1100 milliamps. If you adjust the resistance reading of the potentiometer to higher than 1100 milliamps, turn the contact counterclockwise to lower it.

Remove the four screws that secure the laser rail assembly to the DVD drive enclosure. Disconnect the ribbon cable from the laser lens assembly. Remove the rail to the right of the laser assembly from the DVD drive.

Lift up slightly on the right side of the laser assembly. Slide the assembly to the rear to remove it from the left side rail.

Slide the new laser lens assembly onto the left side rail. Slide the assembly up to the top of the rail. Align the right side rail with the screw holes. Replace and secure the four screws for the rails. Connect the ribbon cable to the new laser assembly.

Use the multimeter to calibrate the potentiometer to 1100 milliamps.

Always use an anti-static wrist strap when working inside your Xbox 360. Components inside the console are sensitive to damage that can occur because of electrostatic discharge.

Use canned air to blow out the laser lens after realigning or replacing it.

Reassemble the Xbox 360 by reversing the steps used to take it apart.

Things You'll Need

  • Long stick or wood dowel
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Torx screwdriver
  • Jeweller's screwdriver set
  • Mutimeter
  • Replacement laser lens
  • Canned air
  • Anti-static wrist strap
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About the Author

Jeff Grundy has been writing computer-related articles and tutorials since 1995. Since that time, Grundy has written many guides to using various applications that are published on numerous how-to and tutorial sites. Born and raised in South Georgia, Grundy holds a Master of Science degree in mathematics from the Georgia Institute of Technology.