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Sony MDS-JE480 Mod Guide

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Adding a TOSLink Digital Optical Transmitter to your Sony MDS JE-480 Minidisc deck

This project was based on Robert Meyer-Piening’s instructions here:



A Toslink digital OUT can be added to a JE480 2 inches to the side of the digital IN. Power and ground for the transmitter are located on large traces running along the back of the main board. S/PDIF data is coming off the small board mounted underneath the disk reader/writer, thru pin 9 of the 23 conductor flat cable, and onto the main board. Pin 9 connects to a trace which runs a short distance onto the main board and terminates at an unused solder pad. The output from this modification is 16 bit, 44.1 khz audio over standard audio fiber optic cable directly from the minidisc.

Part list:

* 1 uF Tantalum capacitor

* Sharp Toslink fiber optic transmitter GP1FA551TZ (GP1F32T no longer available) Digi-Key p/n 425-1101-5-ND (also, there are many types of transmitters with same specs, many with shutters so no protective cap is needed such as GP1FA511TZ)

* 2 small lengths of solid wire (snip leads off of a resistor)

* Signal wire, small gauge (24 ga), multi-strand, not solid wire. Cat. 5 ethernet cable works well.

* A self-tapping screw the same as one from Dig-In port mount. (#6?)


* Remove the 5 black screws that hold on the cover and lift it off (straight up)

* Remove the screw from the center of the Analog Out/In jacks

* Remove the screw from the Digital Optical In receptacle

* Remove the screws that hold the back panel to the deck, slip the power cord strain relief off the side to free the back panel and set it aside.

* Touch the case to remove static and then by rocking the flat cables back and forth, gently remove the 3 flat cables and the power connector.

* Ground your screwdriver to the case to remove any static, then remove the screws holding the main board to the case

* On the back panel you have removed:

o Measure from the center of the Digital-In screw hole to the right exactly 2” and drill a 1/8” hole the same distance ‘up’ as the other one.

o Cut a square hole (3/8” by 3/8”) centered on the mounting hole you just drilled, exactly like the one for the Digital-In (you could probably also just drill a 1/2” hole but there would be a gap around the connector). See the photos for more information.

* Mount the transmitter on the Main Board

o Before continuing, screw one of the self-tapping screws into the new transmitter mounting hole. This will pre-thread the hole so you won’t have to use a lot of force once it's mounted on the board.

o Looking down at the top of the board, you can see the black box which is the digital-in port. With the digital-in port facing you, to the right of this should be a blank area on the board. There are no holes drilled for the transmitter as on other models, but there should be a little “T” on the underside. We will mount the transmitter in this area, but be sure to verify there are no traces running thru this area. It should look like the photos, the little squares of copper are an area of the board not used by the designers, so this is an unused area on the board where we will mount the transmitter.

o Layout the 3 points on the board for mounting the transmitter posts and drill them with a 5/64” drill (0.079”). See the layout diagram.

o Layout the 6 points on the board for the connectors of the transmitter and drill them with a 1/32” drill (0.031” or similar, not super critical). See the layout diagram.

o On the bottom side of the main board, use a utility knife to scrape off the unused copper trace material in the vicinity of the smaller holes you just drilled. These are the little squares of copper not used for traces, we don’t want a short to be caused by these. Be sure you don’t remove or damage any actual traces nearby .

o Press the transmitter into place, make sure it mounts flush to the board. When satisfied with the fit, use a soldering iron to melt the mounting legs flat down towards the bottom side of the board. You can also use a small amount of (non-metallic) epoxy or hot glue under the transmitter before melting over the legs.

o In an unused area of the main board near the 23 pin flat cable connector coming from the disk reader, drill a hole for your signal wire. See the photos for the location. Use the same size drill as you did for the signal wire near the transmitter so that the signal wire and insulation can pass thru. Make sure you don’t drill thru into any trace or component.

* Getting power and ground to the transmitter

o Ground: The ground trace is the nice fat one running right past our new transmitter. See the photo. With the board upside down and the transmitter facing you, the ground pin is the leftmost pin of the transmitter. Straight off this pin and on to the ground trace, carefully scrape a 1/8” by 1/8” square thru the green lacquer coating, down to clean copper using a small screwdriver. Tin the exposed copper. Depending on the size of your soldering iron, it will take a little time to heat up enough to take the solder because it is a good sized trace. Make a tiny hook out of the end of one of the pieces of solid wire and squeeze it onto pin 3. Solder it onto pin 3 (minimize the length of time you heat it to prevent damaging the transmitter) and onto the ground trace. Notice that the wire will pass directly over the hole you drilled into the board 0.400” away from the transmitter pins. This is where the capacitor will solder onto the ground later on.

o Power: The power trace (which also feeds the Dig In receiver) is the next fat trace over the top of the ground trace. It's not as fat as the GND trace, but still pretty wide. See the photos. Line up with the center pin of the transmitter and carefully scrape another opening down to clean copper, then tin it. Use the other piece of solid wire, make a tiny hook out of the end of your wire and squeeze it onto the center pin, and solder it to the transmitter center pin. Slip a piece of insulation over the wire to cover the wire between the hole where the capacitor will be mounted and the solder connection at the trace. See the photo.

o Capacitor: From the top of the board, pass the capacitor through the center (+) and right hole (GND). Since the cap must be installed according to its polarity, put it in with the + lead of the cap going thru the center hole. Flip over the board, bend the legs of the cap over the ground and power wires you just installed, snip off the excess wire from the cap leads and solder them onto the power and GND wires you just intalled.

* Connecting the S/PDIF signal

o Strip and tin the end of your signal wire. From the top of the board with the transmitter facing you, pass it thru the leftmost hole. Flip over to the bottom of the board. Make a tiny hook out of the end of your wire and squeeze it onto the remaining pin on the transmitter. As you look at the bottom of the board with the transmitter facing you, it is the rightmost pin. Again, minimize the amount of time you spend heating the pin to avoid damaging the transmitter.

o Pass the other end thru the hole you drilled near the 23 pin flat cable connector. Cut it to the appropriate length, strip and tin the end, and solder it to the unused solder pad coming from pin 9 of the 23 pin connector. See the photo.

* Reassembly

o Screw the back panel on

o Set the main board into place

o Replace the screws that hold the Analog In/Out, Dig In, and new Dig Out connectors. This will pull the board back against the back panel and prevent stress between the board and connectors.

o Replace the two screws that hold down the board

o Carefully replace the flat connectors

o Replace the cover and 5 black screws

o Cross you fingers, plug it in and see if it works!

o Make a label for your new Dig-Out connector

Many, many thanks to Roger Krupski for his research on the minidisc player and the fine soldering and electronics work. Hopefully this is helpful to others wanting a digital output from their minidisc deck.

Obviously this project will void the warrantee from SONY. Also, if you end up breaking your deck please understand that it’s not my fault.










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Note: This guide will be updated in due time by tmsnyder or MDCF Mods.

I locked the thread so that this guide could stay that way and not get confusing with a full discussion ensuing. Please refer to the new thread – click here – for discussions pertaining to this guide.


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Edited by Ishiyoshi
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