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The stereo head unit on a 1994-1998 Saab 900 does not have a CD player, which is a bit strange for an entry luxury car of the mid-90s. However, it does support Clarion C-Bus CD changers. Just plug and play.

I went on eBay and bought a Clarion RDC605 CD changer for $52. Plugged it in... and it didn't play. Here are the symptoms:

  • the changer loads the cartridge and checks every slot for CDs;
  • when you select "CD" on the head unit, the changer attempts to select the first available CD;
  • the SID displays  CD1 WAIT  for a few seconds, and then switches to the radio;
  • subsequent attempts to press "CD" on the head unit result in a brief message  CD1 TRK 01  and then the unit switches back to radio again.
If you take off the cover and watch the changer trying to load a CD, you discover that it would indeed try to pull a CD from the cartridge, load it into the player, and then do it again, and again, and then stop after a few more attempts.
1. Opened

When I opened the changer, a small piece of PCB fell out of the box. You can see it below the screwdriver, it has a tiny contact switch on it. The circuits were obviously torn.
2. Broken part

Here's where the switch is supposed to be. Every time a changer loads a CD, a small metal arm hits the switch and signals the drive to stop the movement. I find this to be a poor design, as the edge of the PCB is under a stress every time the drive loads, and the board is only a few millimeters wide at this location (there's a cut-out to let the wires through).
3. Reinforced

I glued two pieces of plastic on either side of the board and tightened this "band-aid" with a screw to reinforce the joint. Note the tab on the right side of the board (see the next picture).
4. Assembled

The tab on the right side goes into an opening in the frame to keep the board steady. However, there's still a gap between the board and the frame, so the metal arm that's hitting the switch would still bend the board and eventually break it again.
5. Finished

Here's the finished assembly with an extra bump stop to fill the gap and the wires soldered on to restore the broken connections. The changer works now.

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