by Jeremy Schrag
During the time I've been a member here at the Allpar forums, I've noticed that quite a few people wish their factory Chrysler CD players were better able to handle recordable CDs (CD-R discs). So, I've decided to show everyone how I manage to sweet-talk them into better compatibility.
In this guide, I'm focusing on the Alpine sourced Infinity IV unit. These can also be found in non-Infinity flavors with either five or three band equalizers. It is important to note, however, that some of the non-Infinity models are not Alpine built – this guide won't help you with those models. To ensure that your Chrysler single CD player is the right one, look for supplier code 26777 on the label. The common complaint with these is that they are often unable to read CDRs at all, and when they do one frequently has to burn them at 1x. This one started out unable to read them at all, and can now read them burned at 48x as well as the harder to find 99 minute overburned CDRs (these require special media).
Before getting started, we'll need some tools. I'll warn you all up front – this CD player will require some basic soldering and desoldering skills to complete this operation, as well as almost total disassembly. If that sounds like too big a prospect to handle, I'd suggest just leaving it alone. That said, you will need a Phillips #1 screwdriver, soldering iron, solder, desoldering wick, pump, or bulb, and a small jeweler's flat bladed screwdriver. Plug in the iron now… you're going to need it before too long. [Neither Allpar nor Jeremy Schrag can be held responsible for the results of reading this page or implementing the advice and instructions, or for any errors or omissions. There is a risk of injury, fire, and property loss. Allpar has not tested these procedures. Proceed at your own risk.]
1. Start out by pulling the volume knob straight off. Then, unscrew the four screws on either side of the faceplate. There are two catches on the top and bottom middle of the faceplate holding it on – gently pry them up to release them, and pull the faceplate straight off. The button and display PCB should come off with it. In this picture, you can see the two long white connectors that the front panel PCB plugs into:
2. Remove the three screws holding the top panel on, and gently pry it up and off. Before going further, take a look at the upper left corner where the gray connector is. See that big green resistor? That's for the display – some of these used big surface mount resistors that love to desolder themselves from the heat in this area. If you have a surface mount resistor here, it is good preventative medicine to reflow this solder joint while you have it apart… it'll keep the display alive.
3. Remove the six screws holding on the heat sink. Note that these screws are longer than the others in the player, otherwise most of the casing screws are interchangeable. Pull off the heat sink.
4. Remove all other screws around the sides of the deck. Pull off the ground bolt mounting plate, noting that these screws are different from the others. The tuner/power supply/amp section (that whole upper PCB) can now be removed. Gently pry it upwards to unplug it, and set it aside somewhere. Watch out for the heatsink compound on the amp chips – messy stuff. The riser board linking the CD section to this module may or may not come out with it… not to worry. It's supposed to be removable.
5. Now that we have all screws out of the casing, we're almost ready to pull off the back, right, and bottom panels. But before we do, remove the two screws in the center of the following picture (on the right side) and desolder that green grounding wire.
6. Now, take the front panel bracket in one hand, and the back casing in the other, and tilt the front panel and CD section slightly forward. You can now pull the back, right, and bottom panels straight off (they're joined with metal tabs). Set the CD module down on your work surface and note the following yellow arrows:
7. Detach the three connectors the arrows are pointing at. One of these is a ribbon cable connector with a white catch you need to pry up to loosen the cable, and then you can pull the ribbon cable off. Turn the whole shebang upside down. In the following picture, note the red arrows – these are screws soldered to ground that hold the bottom PCB in place. Desolder and remove the screws. You will see three potentiometers on the sides of this PCB – do not adjust them.
8. Pull the bottom PCB straight off – you'll see it's joined to the rest of the deck with connectors that will unplug when you pull the board off. We're almost ready to do some tweaking now. You should now be able to see the laser sled in all its glory:
9. See that worm gear that drives the laser sled? Manipulate that until the sled has moved all the way to the end of its travel, away from the spindle motor. This will make tweaking easier. Though you can't see it in the above picture, the laser power potentiometer is hiding roughly where the blue mark is pointing below the slit. Here's an up close shot:
10. Time to tweak. Note the exact position of the pot (potentiometer) before starting… you may need to revert to this setting if things go wrong. Take the jeweller's screwdriver and very gently nudge the pot approximately a 1/16th of a turn clockwise. While you may need to tweak more yet, it is important not to overshoot the sweet spot on this setting. If the pot is adjusted too far, you risk burning out the laser.
Now, put the deck back together just enough to allow testing, if you have a bench power supply, test harness, and four speakers you can use. I find old computer power supplies do well for this. To do this, replace the bottom PCB, screw it down (but don't resolder the screws just yet), plug the riser card back in, resolder that lonely green ground wire, plug the amp/tuner module back in, bolt the heatsink to the amp chips using the three screws that came out from there (this is very important to avoid burning up the amps), and reattach the front panel assembly. It should look like this:
You can ground the deck using one of the screws you pulled out of the back bolted to just about any metal part on the amp/tuner module. When you're ready, fire it up and see if it will play a CDR it couldn't before. If it can, but the deck does a lot of seeking first, you'll need to tweak some more. But before you do, test a prerecorded CD first. If it still plays a prerecorded CD fine, you can tweak it some more. If not, readjust the pot back to its starting point and forget about burned CD's… it won't let you do it. Otherwise, bump the pot clockwise another 1/16th turn, partially reassemble again, and test.
We can dance… we can dance… everything's under control… *ahem* sorry about that. Seems to be working :D
If you can't bench test the deck, you'll have to put it all back together to test in a car. This will get time consuming, but will be about the only way to do it.
It is important to state that a CD player this old is unlikely to play everything you throw at it no matter how much you spin that laser power pot. Once you feel it's doing good enough, put it back together and enjoy it as best you can. For perfect compatibility, you'll need to go aftermarket.
11. If you haven't done so yet, put the deck back together in reverse order. Don't forget to resolder the screws on the bottom PCB. Shoot up the volume pot with contact cleaner while you're at it, if you're so inclined. You might want to clean up the amp chips and voltage regulators and put new heatsink compound on at this juncture as well:
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