I found a Sony MDS-JE440 Minidisc player in a local antique / second hand / retro goods shop in town called Eklektika and Mark who owns the shop told me that the player was faulty with a dead display and broken drive and was going to be dumped. I thought this would make a good little project and I wanted to see if it was repairable, so I paid £2 for the player.
The Sony MDS-JE440 MiniDisc player/recorder was released in 2000. It sold for around £200 when new and was supplied with an infrared remote control.
When powering on the player it would make a noise like a motor running and the display was blank. It would not come out of standby mode to power on.
After removing the covers and taking the drive mechanism apart I found the drive belt for loading and ejecting the MiniDiscs were broken and had turned into a solid lump of rubber around the drive motor.
I used a temporary rubber band to see if the MiniDisc drive would operate and on power up the drive motor started, moving the plastic cage to a parked position and the front panel standby button operated correctly turning the player's display on.
I found a replacement belt on eBay called “Loading Belt For Sony Minidisc MDS-JB980 MDS-JE440 MDS-JE470” from https://www.ebay.co.uk/usr/mwesuk which cost £4.75 and I also found some used MiniDiscs from another eBay seller which were only £2 each to test the player.
Installing the new loading belt.
Installing the belt involved removing the top cover and the front cover which gives access to the internal drive mechanism.
On the left of the drive mechanism is a small spring which has to be removed and the top section is removed by unclipping the back plastic clip and rotating the top plate up. It is then moved sideways to the left which disengages the front retaining pins allowing the top cover to be lifted out of the way.
The drive motor and pulley are then accessible, and the new belt can be installed.
The top plate can then be reinstalled, and the spring put back in place.
The video below shows the installation of the new drive belt into the minidisc player.
We did try to clean up the front plastic clear panel which was heavily scratched but some of the marks in the Perspex were very deep and couldn’t be removed.
I think I will keep this player and see if I can find any pre-recorded music MiniDiscs in local music shops and markets.