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Stuck drive tray on Panasonic Q

2013 April 6
by Kirk Kosinski

I recently dusted off my Panasonic Q GameCube to play some Mario Kart: Double Dash!!.  It powered on successfully, but unfortunately the drive tray would not open.  Thus began my quest to fix this classic game console.

If you’re not familiar with the Panasonic Q, model SL-GC10, it is essentially a funky, square-shaped DVD player with a GameCube built-in. There’s no integration between the GameCube and DVD modes like on modern consoles (or even a PS2).  For example, you have to power it off to switch modes, the component video outputs only work in GameCube mode, and the TOSLINK audio output only works in DVD mode.  The functionality and quality of the DVD mode is simply archaic compared to a $40 upscaling Sony DVD player, but it does look cool.

My first troubleshooting step was to take it apart, blow out the dust with a compressed air duster, and put it back together.  Besides being held together by a copious number of screws, it is a simple process, one I originally performed years ago to install a region switch mod.  This did not help, so I disassembled it again to take a closer look at the drive tray mechanism.  Originally I thought the tray motor might be seized up, but the shaft could be turned easily by hand.  While checking this I noticed that the tray belt had slightly hardened (after all it is basically a rubber band) and had slightly taken the shape it had been in since the last time I used it (years ago).

By simply reinstalling the tray belt in a different position, the tray mechanism functionality was partially restored; it failed to open or close only intermittently.  Since the problem was not resolved to my satisfaction, I decided to replace this belt.  I took the tray to a local TV repair shop under the assumption they would have replacement belts of all sizes.  They didn’t.  I was surprised, but I guess it makes sense since it’s likely cheaper to simply replace most DVD players.  The shop did have stacks of VCRs in various states of repair, so maybe that theory is wrong.  In any case, they suggested checking Radio Shack, but the nearest one is miles away and I doubt they would have what I need anyway.

After a bit of research, I found that square drive tray belts are sold by their thickness and inner circumference.  For the belt in the Q, I estimated these at 1.3 mm (0.05″) and 116 mm (4.6″), respectively, with my trusty digital caliper.  I was able to find a close match (0.046″ / 4.6″)  manufactured by Russell Industries, part number SCX4.6 (see their catalog).  It’s available at a variety of stores but many are charging insane prices for essentially a rubber band.  The cheapest I found was at CCE Parts: $1.61 plus $5.95 shipping.

Drive Tray Belt

Upon receiving the replacement I disassembled the tray mechanism, including removing the gears, to replace the tray belt.  I then lubricated the gears using high-quality lithium grease (another good option would be Molykote Grease) and reassembled the Q.  If you are intimidated by any of this, don’t worry.  Just take it easy and be careful not to over-tighten any screws when putting it back together.  With the new belt installed the drive tray operates like new again.  Now for some Mario Kart!

Panasonic Q drive tray

8 Responses Post a comment
  1. January 9, 2017

    Thank you for the details on the belt. You saved me a ton of time

  2. Marcos Gonzalez Pardo permalink
    January 27, 2018

    Thank for the belt information.
    Though opening the tray and being able to change it is the next problem.
    There’s some French videos on YouTube, but they do not explain anything
    for how the guy get’s it open…. 🙁

    • January 27, 2018

      Hi, Marcos. Unfortunately, to access the drive tray belt the Q has to be almost completely disassembled. It isn’t difficult but there are many screws so I suggest taking notes (and/or recording a video) to make reassembly easier.

  3. Michael V permalink
    July 19, 2018

    Kirk so I am trying to find some information on a part that was in the tray when mine arrived from Japan. As you can imagine the tray sides were shattered like many others are, seller did not go a great job packing it up and postal service looks like they dropped it. While the seller is supposed to be sending me a better packaged replacement unit, I am trying to fix mine. So I ordered the replacement rails and will order a replacement belt. My question is this there was a small metal thin piece sticking out of the rail on the left side if you look at the unit. I know it must be for something but I cannot seem to determine where it came from. Also when my tray comes out it comes all the way out unit reads discs correctly but i have the unit apart and the metal top off the drive and (if it was all put together the drive doesnt open) so the white plastic sled piece under the gears that goes right and left lifting the disc spindle works if i turn the gears however when I slide the tray in manually it does not move. That seems to be the other missing piece of this puzzle but I have no pics to look at a fully working drive insides. Any suggestions here?

    • November 19, 2018

      Hi, sorry for the late reply. If you can share a picture of the part I can try my best to identify it.

  4. Jeremy Fail permalink
    November 16, 2018

    Hi Kirk,

    I purchased a Panasonic Q recently that needed both new tray rails (they were both broken) and a new belt (mine looked very similar to the one pictured). I was able to purchase a 3d printed drive rail set and a belt, the belt was the one recommended here in your guide.

    I got everything completely disassembled, except I can’t figure out how to get the gears off so I can get the belt around the larger belt pulley, as it’s blocked by the gears.

    How were you able to get the gears off to put on the new belt?

    Thanks!
    Jeremy Fail

    • November 19, 2018

      Hi, the gears (and large pulley) are secured by small gray discs. They look like washers but actually they are removable, similar to an e-clip. If you look carefully you can see they disc is not solid. Here’s a macro shot that better shows this.

  5. Jeremy Fail permalink
    November 20, 2018

    Haha, oh my goodness I feel stupid now. You were correct, that worked perfectly!

    Thanks so much for your help!
    Jeremy Fail

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