September 04, 2008, 6:40 PM — The time had come for me to reinstall or upgrade the software in my old Mac G4. While the system works fairly well (except when it freezes for no apparent reason!), it was clear that it wasn't "all there" anymore. So, I prepared to do a reparative reinstall of the existing version of Mac OS X to fix the many small problems that had cropped up over years of use. The problem I ran into immediately, however, was that the door of the DVD no longer came open when I pressed its button. In fact, none of the tricks for opening the door, including working at the Mac's equivalent of the OK prompt opened the door. There was only one logical conclusion. The DVD drive was down for good. Dead. Caput. Useless.
Declaring the drive a goner took a little time. Even considering the age of this particular computer, I didn't feel that the DVD drive had been used excessively, so it seemed an intimely demise. I thought of taking the system to a certified Apple repair shop, but worried about the cost and the fact that none were anywhere near my Eastern Shore farm. Fortunately, I was able to find a replacement DVD drive for roughly $50 and have it shipped to me in a few days.
the process of replacing the drive turned out to be much the same as replacing a similar component in a PC -- maybe easier. There were only two sets of screws to be removed, one set of plasic latches to press open and the normal data and power cables to detach and reattach.
The first step in working on a G4 is the easy part. Lift up the latch on the right side of the case and the side falls down. This should be done, as you might suspect, after you have removed the power cables although, if you have not yet reached into the box and started touching things, you should be ok. Go ahead and remove all of the cables that are attached as it will make it much easier to orient the system for easy access.
Touching some metal part of the chassis is a good way to discharge any static buildup you may have acquired. The casing on the power supply, for example, should work well. If you have a grounding strap, this is a good time to use it.
I was easily able to identify the DVD drive from the back. It sits above the zip drive in my 2000 era G4. Yanking the data cable was easy, but pulling out the power cable required a nice pair of long-nosed pliers. Ijust couldn't get my hand in there tugging to the side with enough force otherwise.
Since the DVD drive is housed with the DVD in a shared carrier, I had to remove the data and power cables for the zip drive as well.
Removing the face plate on the front of the DVD and zip drives took a little special knowledge. I found that it was held in with two clear plastic tabs. When squeezed, these tabs released the face plate from one side and I could then pull it off.
I then had to remove two screws just below the front of the DVD drive on the right and left of the zip drive. I then pushed the carrier out of the box. With the carrier out of the system, I found and removed the mounting screws on the bottom of the DVD.
Before inserting the new drive, I verified that the jumper on the back identified the new drive as a "master" device. On both drives, the jumper was on the rightmost set of pins and the paperwork accompanying the drive reassured me that this was correct. There are three jumper positions on most IDE CDROM drives -- master, slave and cable select. Make sure the jumper is on the master position. Most drives will come this way, but double check before you put everything back together.
Installing the new drive at this point involved reversing all the things I had done earlier. I attached the new drive to the carrier by adding the screws to the bottom. I slid the carrier carefully back into the body of the G4. I replaced the screws and the plastic face plate.
I then had to reattach all the cables I had yanked out earlier and set my G4 back in its under-my-desk position. When I turned it back on, in spite of the care I took in each step of replacing the drive, I screamed "Yipee!" when I pressed the button on the front and saw the drive tray spring out. After all these years, fixing the hardware still gives me a thrill.