Fixing a Gamecube Disk read error

I recently wanted to play my Gamecube again, so I turned it on for the first time in a while. Unfortunately, it would no longer read any of the disks that I had. Upon some internet searching, it seemed like this is a well-known problem with Gamecubes, in that they will eventually stop reading disks. Fortunately, the fix is pretty simple: you need to adjust a variable resistor on the board in order to get the disks to read again.

I’d like to first say that the information that I got on how to adjust the laser was mostly from this very informative Youtube video, so I would recommend watching that video first. In terms of tools to open the Gamecube, I have the ifixit Moray set of screw bits, which has the special bit required to open the Gamecube.

In my particular case, I have a DOL-001 model of Gamecube. According to the information that I have found online, the value of VR-401 should be between 200-500 ohms for this model(other sources say it should be between 450-600 ohms). Upon opening up my Gamecube however, I noticed that it was below what the minimum level should be(I think it was about 195 ohms). I then spent quite a while adjusting the pot to try and get it to a good value, and was unsuccessful. I was tweaking it in very small increments(~5 ohm), putting it back in, and trying it out. Having finally gotten very frustrated with it, I turned it down to 152 ohms, and all of a sudden it started working! It didn’t work 100% of the time(it seems to need to warm up first), but it started working again.

Upon some further adjustment(after I discovered that it wasn’t super reliable), I eventually got it to reliably read disks at 100 ohms! This is much lower than I would have expected based on the model number and expected range of values for this resistor.

Hints when doing this:
* Make sure to take down the original value of VR-401 before you start.
* Try to go in very small increments. At least in my case, there is a very narrow band that VR-401 needs to be in for the disk to be read reliably
* Had I gone down in my adjustments first, I probably wouldn’t have wasted much time adjusting. I was confused because the original value that I got for VR-401 was so much lower than was was to be expected. My guess is that if you need to adjust the value of VR-401, the new value will probably be near the old value.
* Write down the values that you have done. I have probably adjusted VR-401 a hundred times at this point, so knowing where you have gone is good!
* Once you have a good value, write it on the housing inside of the Gamecube near the laser so that if you need to adjust it again, you know what worked!

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