How small can the GC drive get?


Billy Mays
Staff member
Have you wondered how small the GC drive can really get?

Let's find out.

Some things to note:

1) The overall height of the drive includes the laser assembly, which I have not been able to determine yet if it is possible to trim down or not.
2) Doing this mod requires the removal of the shock absorbing posts; this WILL result in a portable that has a bigger problem with skipping during audio playback during rough handling.
3) I haven't tested this in a portable yet, but this is the unit I will be using.
4) BE CAREFUL when removing the plastic from the drive; there are casting protrusions that are crucial to the operation of the lens assembly, and you will render your drive useless if you are careless.

Tools needed:

I used Visegrips. You should probably use a dremel.

End result:
Height: 1.5"
Width: (Measured from left-to-right): 3 7/8"
Length: (Measured from top-to-bottom): 4"

So let's begin. Take apart your Gamecube and remove the drive assembly, including removing the larger black housing that the drive clips into.

You should be left with this:


Sorry for the blurry picture, my camera was being a prick this morning.

Before you begin, take note of how the laser assembly moves along the rails, and the casting protrusions that act as a positive stop for the long plastic gear that is moved by the electric motor. The protrusion is pictured here:


In any case, the plastic we are removing includes the plastic posts for the rubber shock absorbers and the extraneous plastic surrounding the C/DVD plane. If you're using pliers or a pair of vise grips, START AT THE HIGHER SPOT of the piece of plastic you wish to remove - dont' try to remove whole bits of plastic at a time, you'll crack the C/DVD plane in the process. The plastic is rather brittle, so it should break off easy.

Pictured here is what should be left:



Amount of material removed :lol: :

Why not remove the disk plane too? It doesn't do anything. Doesn't even come in contact with the disk. It's just there to look good.
Because all the mechanical parts need to be mounted to it.

Some of the disc plane could be removed, but since this would be part of a frankencase, it provides a good base.
Hmm, I'm not sure I'd be 100% comfortable with messing with the laser geometry right now. Not something I'm experienced at. Mayhap I'll try it anyway LOL

I'm mainly interested in the laser assembly height at the moment, I need to find my super-small torx bits to get the thing apart.
Hey, nice thread! I've taken a good look inside of the laser shaft and what not and have played around with reduction for months. What I've learned:

- the side motor can be replaced with a smaller CD player motor (tested by me on Smash bros). Just make sure the cogs spin normally.

- you can cut parts of the DD heat sink with a jewelers saw to shave off a little bit more. And while you're at it, you could cut random groves and sand up the surface to make the heat dispersion better to compensate for the metal you take off. Since there is not fan blowing on the heatsink - theoretically - you ought to make it as rough as possible. (I still need to test this a little bit more)

- the shaft height cannot be changed (as far as I know). But also taking the heat sink off destroys the chip underneath (because of the thermal paste) - BE WARNED. Also, visit this site and you will understand better why the height CANNOT be changed. It has do to with the reflection:

Hope this helps :D
It can be changed. You just need to use a different lens, and adust it to the right height. I did some experimentation with that a while back using optics from some handheld lasers I was building, never got it working right, but in theory it is totally possible.
It's probably sensitive within 100ths of an inch. I would mark this off as "impossible to do with the human hand." You'd need to be able to CNC new brackets.
βeta said:
It's probably sensitive within 100ths of an inch. I would mark this off as "impossible to do with the human hand." You'd need to be able to CNC new brackets.

Yeah Beta is right. Palmertech is right in theory but the chance of error is too great. With this site being new and all and having newcomers visiting more and more, I would not recommend, encourage, or even MENTION changing the lens/laser. Its not worth ruining a DD just to take off a millimeter.

And its also a good idea to try to get some rubber shock absorbers around the disc drive itself. If you can find a way to secure the DD in place and have the rubber shock absorbers from the original GC surround the DD that would help prevent skipping and extra loading times. I may write up a DD guide similar to this one just to add more info to the site (when I have more time :rolleyes: ).

Once again, great guide robm :D