CF-27 / CF-28 / CF-29 Optical Drive Swap

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You cannot just drop any notebook CD/DVD drive into the Toughbook. The drive must be marked as Master (most drives are configured as cable select.

This “how-to” was written by Rick Kirby – Pasadena, MD

The whole operation can be done in about 30 minutes with a few simple tools. It is extremely important that you read these directions several times to familiarize yourself with the entire operation. Doing this will make things much easier when you are going through the process! You will need the following items for the swap;

  • 40 watt soldering iron
  • solder
  • #0 Phillips head screwdriver
  • A replacement slimline DVD R/W. (I recommend the Sony Optiarc model number AD-5540A)
  • Possibly a small strand of small gauge wire




    1. The first thing to be done is to open the caddy up. Remove screws on one side…
      credit: Rick "Toughbook" Kirby
    2. and four screws on the other…
      credit: Rick "Toughbook" Kirby
    3. Then carefully pop it open!
      credit: Rick "Toughbook" Kirby
    4. At this point… You can see how easy this will be… Sort of…
      credit: Rick "Toughbook" Kirby
    5. Flip the caddy over and remove the screw shown. This will allow the CD/DVD module to come out. It will still be attached to the cable but you can very carefully separate the CD from the case.
      credit: Rick "Toughbook" Kirby
    6. When you remove the CD module you will see this…
      credit: Rick "Toughbook" Kirby
    7. Now we need to remove the ribbon cable and small PC board that attaches to the back of the CD/DVD. To do this, we need to remove the next screw… Seen here…
      credit: Rick "Toughbook" Kirby
    8. With the screw removed the assembly comes out.
      credit: Rick "Toughbook" Kirby
    9. What you need to do next is to solder the two little dots of solder together in the box labeled R2. The Panasonic drives are factory-made to be Master in the IDE chain. But other drives aren't, so we're forcing the drive to be recognized as Master.
      credit: Rick "Toughbook" Kirby
    10. Make sure that you have your soldering iron plugged in at this point and that the tip is clean. The iron obviously needs to be hot. You can solder these two points in one of two ways. You can try to bridge the gap with a blob of solder or you can string a tiny little piece of copper wire between the two points. This will allow the solder to “flow” along the wire and bridge the gap. This is what I am showing below. As you can see… It is lightly clamped in my vise. (If you are a purist you can use a small SMD 000 resistor... But the results will be the same!)In either event you don't want to hold the soldering iron too long on the PC board. The last thing you want is to heat the board up too much and destroy it.
      credit: Rick "Toughbook" Kirby
    11. It is VERY important that the wire stay INSIDE the yellow box! You don’t want to solder ANYTHING ELSE other than the two solder points in the box, R2. Once the soldering has been done you can snip off the excess and you will have this!
      credit: Rick "Toughbook" Kirby
    12. You have now finished the “hack” and need to start putting it all back together. You can start by laying the PC board back in the slot from where it came. Make sure you have the connector on the left hand side so it can snap into the back of the new DVD when reassembled.
      credit: Rick "Toughbook" Kirby
    13. Now you need to put the small plastic top back on and screw in the screw to secure it.
      credit: Rick "Toughbook" Kirby
    14. The next thing you need to do is to remove the side carrier plate from the old CD. It is secured by two screws. (Marked with red arrows below)
      credit: Rick "Toughbook" Kirby
    15. It is VERY important that you apply a firm pressure to these screws when backing them out of the side of the CD player. You do not want to strip them out. It is also VERY important that you have the correct size mini phillips head screwdriver. You may be able to get by with a good set of jeweler’s screwdrivers… But it is the firm pressure that you need to back the screws out. When that is done… Install it on the new DVD R/W! DO NOT OVER TIGHTEN THE SCREWS WHEN REINSTALLING THE SIDE CARRIER!
      credit: Rick "Toughbook" Kirby
    16. You’ll notice that the small copper piece is not used in the swap. The new DVD R/W does not have the required hole in it for it to fit. And it is not needed in the first place! It is time for you start to put the DVD R/W back into the case. You may need to pull out the connector a little in order to snap it into the back of the DVD. This is okay. There is a little wiggle room for you to do this. But you MUST make sure that it is properly aligned! It should fit with just a little bit of pressure. You should NOT have to force it into place.
      credit: Rick "Toughbook" Kirby
    17. After snapping the connector in the back of the DVD all you need to do is to carefully fit the cover back on top. Reinstall the cover by screwing in the 6 screws of the outer case. Now… Put it in the media bay and boot up the laptop and… BEHOLD! You can now see that you have a DVD R/W in your updated Panasonic Toughbook! By the way... Something I must add... When you swap the drive... Make sure you run some electrical tape along the back of the DVD beside the connector. If you look at the drive you take out... You will see what I mean. This project has now just saved you about $150.00
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