FM Towns Marty Laser replacement

Started by atreyu187, July 18, 2008, 10:37:52 AM

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So I have a dead FM Towns Marty and I need to find out how to replace the laser. Does anyone know how  I would go about finding a replacement??


I have a part # from the whole laser assembly


Don't know what that means or where to find it but any help would be great as I don't want my $300 investment to die :(


Hey all ,aka chop5 here.
Wanted to make a new thread but decided to add to this one.

I finally got my hands on a laser issue unit of ebay last month,cheap.
Thought finally i will get to tackle a new project on a system i desperately wanted but couldn't afford a working one.
The unit was a virgin,never opened. This was a bonus i wasn't expecting. My heart started to beat with excitement.

Opened it and took out the  laser unit and did some preliminary scans:
Notice the technics chips all over. What you cant see is under the laser mechanism silk screened on the board is a huge M that stands for Matsushita. Technics and Matsushita are commonly known as Panasonic.
First clue to laser replacement. The floppy drive is also Matsushita.
Serial numbers all over the board and laser but they showed no google results and were probably fujitsu designation numbers.
The cd mechanism is soldered onto  the motherboard which i found unusual for a machine of this era. And there is a small rubber belt connecting the sled motor to the laser. The belt is old and cracked so i thought this was a possible reason for  the failure. Began searching on here for a replacement belt:
The hard solder to the board and the rubber belt is what i would expect to find on a  cd player from the 1980's.

So began the search for all the lasers used in panasonic equipment for that era. I figured from 1991 to 1996

Following this helpful site that lists optical pickups for many cd players:

And then narrowed down the years with this sites help:

I got a nice list of possible cd units to look for at thrift stores and inspect the insides.
Also looked up laser serials on the web and looked at many optical pickups made by panasonic. I haven't found an exact match yet but i think its in the RAE line of panasonic lasers. Example is the RAE-0152. But it has a plastic bottom and the marty's laser has a metal bottom. Could have been custom made with a metal bottom for longevity.
I also looked up panasonics attempt at a console,the 3do fz-1. I was bummed out to find out the fz-1 uses a sanyo laser. If panasonic used a foreign laser then the marty might be also.
Also looked up the fm towns 2 pc that was made a year earlier than the marty hoping its laser was the same model and would have more documentation.
The picture to the far left is the cd mechanism. Its freakin huge! No way that could be a marty laser. I continued this way for a while and bought a thrift store technics cd player and dissected it. Its laser is also very similar to the marty's and has no serial numbers. I guess it was common for panasonic to make lasers and not put serials on them. This gave me hope that i was still on the right path.  

But first i needed a hi res scan of my laser removed from the mechanism. I prepared to desolder it.

Noticed i didn't do basic fixes for a cd unit. So i powered the unit holding down the door sensor. Noticed the laser bobbed up and down and had light. This was great and was confirming my belt theory. Next i tried my best to move the laser from its position. It took a while and pencil eraser to nudge the other end of the belt gear thingy to make the laser move. Put everything back together and powered it up with a burned game and guess what?
It worked. Thats what i like about virgin system that no one has worked on before. If they are kept in a closet for years the moving parts get stuck and all they need is a little nudge.

I still need those scans of the laser to continue my search. I may be a bakka gaijin but im not stupid enough to desolder a working laser from the marty. Anyone want to continue the search? Or send me their non working marty's laser board so i can work on it? Il still search around for cd players. Here is my list so far:

technics model number:
sl-pg340   possible rae0111z
sl-pd667  possible RAE0113Z twice on google
sl-pd827  possible SOAD70A



look for panasonic/matsushita/technics cdroms from that era,1991 thru 1996.

I hope someone finds this info useful.

Im off to play with my new toy :)

Update september 7,2007

Finally found a date for my machine. underneath the pcmia card slot looking on the top is a paper sticker says:

MG3204253  1993-2

the last set of numbers is what interests me. when i google i come up with a fujitsu cd rom replacememnt part being sold by two places. Its a bit pricey for me to order and see if it is but we will see over time.


You might find it weird but the laser look a bit like an "Optima-60", an JVC part.
Optima-60 is sort of a slimline version of the Saturn laser (Optima-6) aimed to desktop computer CD-ROM drives, automotive CD-Players and portable players.

Would help a ton if you separated the drive board from the laser assembly so we could inspection the bottom of the laser pickup. Any identification will be placed there.


i know i want to so bad. its got like 3 or 4 solder points holding it to its board for the spindle and sled motors. I just cant bring myself to do it. having so much fun with it. thats why im hoping someone with a laser issue can send me their board or do it themselves.

maybe after a while when im bored with it  :P


gentlemen behold! the bare fm towns marty laser:

brighter picture

brighter picture

the sides:

the bare board with that matsushita logo i talked about earlier:

some other pics:
you can see the tiny rubber belt i spoke of earlier on the sled motor

Save these to your hard drive you will not see them again. This is the only place on the net to have them. Not even on the motherland. Was a pain to remove and put back took like 30 minutes to desolder the 6 points and solder them back.
Its so thin makes think it was from a portable or smaller device.
Let the search of a thousand laser pickup sites begin!

for google and search: 
fmtowns fm towns f m townsmarty towns marty fujitsu laser lazer



that looks really close,il add it to a list of potential substitutes. Im looking for a marty with laser issues to try one of the rae series of lasers on and see if they work.  Some models sem to have the same number of pins on the ribbon. But damn that one looks close,i should investigate the whole line of hitachi lasers.  ;)


My progress so far. I made a thread over at DIY audio to see if they could help. Ive seen them help others with many laser identification but with me no luck.

The hitachi laser you showed oliveira was disqualified cause it has etched on teh metal chassis the model number. Hitachi is know for labeling their laser units. Plus the pins on the connector are to many.

But i found this laser,the RAE0170Z by panasonic:

The chassis is the same just machined slightly with rearranged holes and screws. Same dimensions and a sled gear lid was added and you can see on the other laser groves and a hole where you can add one. Ive noticed panasonic also doesnt label its lasers and most of the early ones are 16 pin ribbon connector as the martys.
Now i am sure im on the right path.
I cannot find any more info online what this laser was used on or if it has any other variations in its line.
This laser is as mysterious as the marty.
Search continues.

I was able to find more technics cd player info online here:

so that cut my search of technics cd players alot enough for me to probably stop searching for them.
Only 2 models of technics walkman portables are being looked for.
I am now searching for cdrom drives by matsushita,panasonic and technics from that period 1x or 2x speed.
Still searching for panasonic cd players.


my progress so far:

zilcho,have gone thru many cdroms and cd players made by panasonic with nothing,im down to 3 quarters checked on my list already. i fear its a dead end.
My last hope is laser diode transplant. I have 5 panasonic made lasers here and the parts are identicle. They use a 3 pronged laser diode soldered on a ribbon cable. A basic 2 part laser unit but i cannot interchange the ribbon the diode with the panasonic lasers i have because of small resistors on them that are different to the martys laser. The lens may be able to transfer but usually the lens are fine its the diode that burns out like a lightbulb.

also haven't tried using the panasonic lasers i have on the marty to see if they will work. will probably do that first before diode transplant.

to continue i need a dead laser unit marty.  To the auction sites!


Hi everyone, have you discovered any optical drive that really works on FM TOWNS?


AFAIK, community hasn't found yet a suitable replacement out of a original working drive (rare as hen's teeth). IMHO the only hope for these machines is an optical drive emulator, something like the HxC or Gotek drives.

The connection, if I'm not wrong, it's SCSI with some modifications; I wonder if a SCSI2SD (+adapter) with the right firmware could work...


Quote from: repoMan on February 04, 2018, 08:44:55 PM
AFAIK, community hasn't found yet a suitable replacement out of a original working drive (rare as hen's teeth). IMHO the only hope for these machines is an optical drive emulator, something like the HxC or Gotek drives.

The connection, if I'm not wrong, it's SCSI with some modifications; I wonder if a SCSI2SD (+adapter) with the right firmware could work...

Now it's reality!I have one and it workd wonderfully.My unit was a gift from Deunan himself because I helped him in development of this Marty ODE:

Tomasz Dulek

I discovered what laser is used in Marty console. The laser model is SODD120Z. Laser is hard to find today. It was also used in the Technics SL-XP700 discman's. Greetings from Poland.