Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Movie and DVD Reviews: The best and not-so-best movies available on DVD, and whatever else catches my eye.

OPPO DV-980H DVD player tray won’t open, won’t close

Jerry Stratton, April 22, 2020

Oppo belt closeup

This is the belt you need to get to if the tray isn’t opening and closing. Notice that the tray is half open to see it.

In October of 2007 I replaced my 7-year-old Pioneer DVD player—I don’t remember what model, or what was wrong with it—with an OPPO DV-980H, which I’ve really liked. It worked great with my old Sony home theater system, and still plays great today over a new Marantz. Last year, however, the tray started having trouble closing. It needed a little help pushing in before the DVD would load. Soon after, the tray started having trouble opening as well, but it was still workable; all it needed was a little help with my fingernail.

I took a look inside, but there didn’t seem to be anything wrong. The symptoms clearly seemed to indicate a bad belt, but there was no belt. It was all gears. After taking it apart and putting it together, it started working again, so I thought perhaps something loose, perhaps the ribbon cable, had been tightened in the process.

Which may have been the case, but if so it was the belt that I couldn’t see. When the DVD tray again started having trouble, I took a more serious look inside, and discovered the belt I’d missed earlier. It was, in fact, loose, practically falling off of its wheels.

I thought it would be an easy fix, but it turns out to be very hard to find replacement belts. Nobody seems to sell belts anymore, at least not in the size needed for small electronics. What I eventually found was an o-ring gasket about the same size as the belt I needed. The size I ordered was 28mm x 25mm x 1.5mm, and it is just about perfect. Because it’s an o-ring and not really a belt, it’s round, not flat like the belt it was replacing. That doesn’t seem to be a problem.

If you have similar troubles on your player, I wouldn’t recommend waiting. The only source for o-rings of the right size I could find was an overseas seller on Amazon, and it took well over a month to arrive. I ordered on January 26, and the package of belts arrived on March 6. In that period, the belt stopped working completely, which meant I had to forego watching any of my DVDs.

There are three steps to replacing the belt once you have it in hand: take the top off of the DVD player, remove the DVD spindle guide, and pull back the DVD player assembly to get at the belt. Here is the summary; photos follow at the end of the post.

  1. Remove the two side screws holding the cover on.
  2. Remove the five back screws holding the cover on.
  3. Slide the cover back and up to remove it.
  4. Remove the two screws on the DVD spindle guide.
  5. Remove the spindle guide from the DVD player assembly, remembering the orientation of the guide.
  6. Remove the four screws holding the DVD player assembly in.
  7. Very carefully move the assembly back just a little. Do not move so far as to loosen or damage the ribbon that carries commands to the assembly!
  8. Slide the tray lightly open just enough to reveal the belt that opens and closes the tray. This shouldn’t be difficult if your belt is loose. It might be difficult if the belt is not your problem.
  9. Remove the old, loose black rubber belt.
  10. Replace with a new, snug, black rubber o-ring.
  11. Put the DVD assembly back, and restore its four screws.
  12. Put the spindle guide back, and restore its two screws. Do not overtighten, as the screw hole appears to be mere plastic.
  13. Put the top cover back and restore the two side screws and five back screws.

I tried a couple of other things to fix it before ordering the correctly-sized o-rings. The o-rings that go into house faucets are far too thick and too small to replace the belt, but they do fit around the larger of the two wheels. This, in turn, tightened the hold of the loose belt enough to work—for a few weeks. In a pinch, you may find that useful while waiting for the “real” belt replacement to arrive.

Just remember that if you’re like me, the more times you open the box, the more opportunity for destroying something important.

A note on opening the tray: it was always easy to open when I was trying various things to fix the loose belt. After fixing it, and verifying that the fix worked for a few weeks, I opened the case one more time to get the photos for this post. It was much harder to slide the trade open—in fact, I ended up not being able to with a pressure I felt comfortable applying. It would have really sucked to get the player working and then break it getting photos to show how I got it working! I ended up plugging it into power with the top off, turning it on, and pushing the button to open the tray; I then unplugged the unit and slid the tray half in to get the photo. I suspect that the reason it was difficult to slide open is that the belt is no longer loose, but I am not an expert and do not know.

This has been a very nice DVD player, and I’m glad I was able to lengthen its life span. I never got around to purchasing a blu-ray player. I thought I might when this player started having its tray problems, and only fixed it because I went to the OPPO site to see what they had and they are out of the DVD player business. It’s not surprising—streaming is usually a lot more convenient. In fact, I even own a couple of blu-ray DVDs, but ones that came with a code to get the streaming version on iTunes. I bought them because I wouldn’t have to get a new player to watch them!

Even when I get DVDs, if they come with a streaming code that works with the Apple TV I watch them streaming. The Apple TV remote is so much easier to use in the dark while watching a movie than any other remote I have, including the Oppo. At some point I might change my mind and get a new player, but I worry that the cheap players from the companies that remained in the player business aren’t going to be built for the long haul, as this OPPO clearly was. It’s already lasted twice as long as the Pioneer it replaced.

Step 1: Remove the top

Make sure that the unit is unplugged; you don’t want it getting any power while you fiddle with its insides.

To remove the top, remove the five screws on the back of the unit that hold the top in place. There are a lot of screws on the back, but you only need to remove the five that hold the cover in place.

Next, remove the two screws on the side. There is one screw on each side, toward the front of the unit. Keep these screws separate as they are not the same as the five back screws.

With all seven screws removed, pull up and to the back. (You’ll replace it in the same way when you’re done, by pushing in first, toward the front, and then down.)

With the cover open, you can see all of the stuff inside. Here is where you need to start being very careful; you don’t want to touch anything on the circuit boards. Some parts may be able to hold a voltage even after they’re unplugged. And some of this stuff looks fragile, especially the ribbon connectors. Watch them carefully.

All you care about is the DVD housing. To get at the belt that pulls the tray in and out, you’ll need to remove what I call the spindle guide, that holds the DVD in place. It looks like a plastic bridge that crosses over the main DVD player assembly. There are two screws holding the spindle guide in place; remove each of them.

When you remove the spindle guide, remember its orientation. I discovered that it is possible to put it back upside down, and the next DVD you put in won’t like it if you do that!

Finally, we’re at the guts of the DVD player itself. This housing has four screws holding it in, two on each side. You need to remove those four screws because you need to be able to slide the housing back, just a little, to get at the belt.

Being very careful not to put any stress on the ribbon that connects the assembly to the circuit board, slide the housing back maybe an inch or so. You’ll also need to slide the tray itself forward, opening it. As I wrote above, it always opened easily for me, until I replaced the belt. So you shouldn’t have to force it. If it does need forcing, it’s possible that you don’t need a new belt, and that something else is the problem. I do not know if forcing it will break something, since I never had to force it.

I found it easier to put the o-ring around the larger pulley first, because it’s harder to reach. You can’t even see the part that’s under the tray. Just carefully loop the o-ring around that and pull it tight to the smaller pulley. It may help to turn the larger pulley until the o-ring is set in the groove.

Once you have the o-ring in place, you can slide the tray back closed—you’ll see various parts turning as you do this, since it has a working belt again—and put everything back together, in reverse order to how you took it apart. Once it’s all done, you should have a working DVD player again.

In response to New Pioneer and OPPO DVD players almost multi-media: Both the Pioneer DV-400V-K and the OPPO DV-980H DVD players at the top of my list not only play DVDs and CDs, but also accept USB flash drives with music and photos, and will play my MP3 files and my iTunes-created M4A files.