PS2 and XBox repairs
I made the mistake of trying to modify my PS2. Playing backups wasn't really important to me; I just wanted to boot directly to the hard drive so I wouldn't need any CD/DVD to start it up. Playing games off the hard drive is drastically better than from disc, so it seemed worth it.
I've soldered plenty of times before, but never on such a small scale before. I was able to solder everything okay, but my own clumsiness resulted in a couple of broken and lost resistors on the PS2 board. Not a big deal, I'll just trade an extra computer I have for a new one.
I'm amazed that engineers make things that are difficult to take apart like this. The PS2 has dozens of screws, 2 metal grounding/heatsink plates, and puzzlish plastics. None of this matters for something as simple as cleaning the laser lense (about 1 dozen screws), but getting underneath the mainboard is another story.
Anyway, I borrowed a friends PS2 to try a solderless modchip on. That gave me nothing but a black screen, so I removed it. From there, the PS2 would not play DVDs. I swapped out the reader assembly with my broken PS2, and it seemed to be back to normal. I still can't get the original assembly for it to play anything but CDs. Strange. It just seems the PS2 is way too delicate.
After learning that the XBox had two screws underneath stickers, getting the top off is an easy process. The DVD drive can be removed with 2 more screws. Nice and simple if you have torq screwdrivers.
I had a friend's XBox that suffered from Disc errors. With my help, we purchased a Thompson replacement drive from Ebay. Taking off the cover, unplugging the old drive, plugging in the new one, and reassembling the XBox took less than 5 minutes. It worked "good as new". This ease is not available for the PS2.
Another friend had a DVD drive that would freeze during games. One day, he kept getting "Call Support" messages, and he couldn't even get into a Live Halo 2 game without it kicking him out.
I had a spare DVD drive, but seemling how I burned about $50 to get it working (bad ebay sale; it wasn't working, and I had to buy a new lens), I didn't want to give it to him for my original quote of $40. It worked, but I really wanted to keep it.
While I had his old drive out, I noticed it was a Samsung, which is supposedly the best XBox drive. I took the top off (4 screws), and immediately noticed the lense looked like someone had finger smugded it. I cleaned it off with some fingernail polish remover (rubbing alcohol was not available) and tried it again. Worked great! Now I'm wishing that I tried that with the bad drive from Ebay. The lense looked clean though.