Sunday, November 15, 2015

Well that was unexpected: DVD stuck in slot-load drive

My otherwise cheer-filled weekend hit a snag Saturday.

After two weeks of smooth sailing on my Dell XPS laptop powerhouse running a Win10 installation, Win 10 totally blew out again. Really really bad.

I eventually gave up on the Windows 10 self-repair as that only led to a wheel of misfortune game of what will the new blue-screen ;( error message show this time. It was ugly.

I then bailed and decided to do a roll back to my Win 7 Ultimate OS which was still present.

Only that hung up and eventually got me a Windows 7 loading to blue-screen error loop.

I couldn’t find my Windows 7 Ultimate x64 setup disk so I popped a blank DVD in my Windows 7 x64 Dell Studio 1558 system and made a recovery disk to use.

Only the DVD appears to have gotten stuck in the drive slot.

It’s a slim slot-load DVD for this model so no paper-clip and tray tricks here.

Eventually I found my Win 7 Ultimate x64 setup disk after all and even though I got an error during reloading the last good System Restore point, the system booted up to my previous Win 7 OS pretty much intact. I had to install some Windows updates all over again, and reinstalled a few applications, but is is now back in order.

Windows 10 is now Verboten! on our Dell laptops for the foreseeable future.

With that crisis averted, I’ve turned to trying to extract the DVD from the slot load drive.

It isn’t pretty.

So I’ve been doing recon on how the slot-drive mechanisms work in the hope I can then extract the stuck DVD using a set of custom engineered extraction tools I’ll have to develop.  This seems to me to be the best hope right now.

The drive spins and the mechanism makes the ejection sounds. The DVD just won’t pop out. The system can read the disk fine so the reader and spindle are OK.  the little metal tab drops down that keeps the disk from falling out. Maybe the center hole on the disk is a bit small and jammed stuck on the spindle?  I’m hoping I can pop the DVD off the spindle then use double-stick tape with a thin piece of strong aluminum to pull it out.

Failing that I may have to pull the drive out of the laptop. I’m not bothered by the disassembly but would rather not have to.

If I go that way, do I want to get a replacement drive module? They aren’t too expensive…

Have anyone tried one of these kits? I could possibly not replace the DVD drive but buy a custom caddy to accept a 2nd HDD or SDD. The Studio 1558 only accepts a single drive bay but this would get me room for a 2nd drive. I’d probably go with a SSD based on heat/cooling concerns and power-draw. Is is worth the effort? I like the concept but have my worries.

Regardless, I might just end up having to go the simple route and leave the disk embedded in the system (which is otherwise fine) and just use a USB external DVD drive unit.  This one at least uses a tray…

I’m open to advice and suggestions to try!


--Claus Valca

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