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Restoring a Vintage Portable CD Player

Hey, everyone. A little over a year ago, I acquired a Panasonic SL-S361C portable CD player from 1999. It had a few minor cosmetic flaws, but it seemed like a solid option for listening to CDs on the go. However, I recently discovered that the batteries in it had corroded, and I knew that I had to address this issue before the player was ruined. So, I decided to give it a much-needed cleaning.

After taking out the problematic batteries, I found that the corrosion was even worse than I had expected. Even after wiping down the contacts with some isopropyl alcohol, there was still a lot of corrosion caked onto the contacts.

Yuck, something needs to be done about that nasty corrosion.

So, I decided to take the CD player apart, as it would make cleaning the contacts much easier. I was hoping that this would be a fairly quick and easy process, and surprisingly enough, it was! The whole thing was held together with just a few screws.

There are four screws on the inside of the player that hold it together.

At this point, I was starting to become very curious about what might be inside this thing. I’d never taken anything like this apart, so I was surprised once again by just how simple things were inside this compact player. All I found was a single board and a laser assembly. As I had already gathered, this was not an extremely premium device back in its day.

Luckily for me, this player isn’t too complex.

Anyway, with the logic board removed, I figured that it would be a good idea to inspect it a bit. Thankfully, the corrosion only seemed to reach the battery contacts, as it could have damaged some of the traces on the board had it gotten there. Furthermore, the numerous capacitors on the board didn’t appear to be bulging, so it seemed like the brains of this device were in good shape.

It was now time to do something about the corrosion on the board and the case. To address this, I utilized 91% isopropyl alcohol and a toothbrush, and if that didn’t do the trick, I used a flathead screwdriver to manually scrape off the corrosion. It took some time, but this method proved itself to be fairly effective.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there are some Panasonic-branded chips on the board.

While not pristine, the battery contacts are certainly looking much better now.

I gave all of the components a deep cleaning, including the (not pictured) laser assembly.

To be honest, although it was neat to see what this thing looked like on the inside, I was glad to finally be wrapping things up at this point. I reassembled the player, and all that was left to do was to put in some batteries and try it out.

It’s all coming together.

When I went to put in some AAs, I was surprised by just how much the battery compartment had improved since the beginning of the restoration. It wasn’t perfect, but I figured that it was more than good enough. So, I put in some batteries and inserted a CD, anxious to see what would happen.

Looking much better.

I hit the play button, and to my relief, the player worked flawlessly.

A very 90s album for a very 90s product.

Finally, the restoration was complete. While this is hardly the most premium or feature-rich portable CD player ever made, it’s a solid device that does its job. My only complaint is that it can’t read MP3s burnt to a disc, but I can live without that. This is still a very handy little player, and it serves as a reminder that even technology from decades ago can be both useful and fun today.


Anyway, I hope you found this post interesting, and thanks for reading.

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