Walkman Repair & Maintenance

Stephen keeps his trusty old Walkman working!

June 2014

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Walkman Repair

This is my Sony Walkman (a WM-FX277), which is about 12 years old, and very well used. On this page, I present a few tips for keeping Walkmans in good working order, and repairing some common faults. The tips here will probably apply to other models as well.

Walkmans aren't in the greatest of environments. When in ones pocket, they will pick up dust and sweat, and may get damp. When running/cycling etc the mechanical parts will shake a lot. Tape heads can pick up dirt from the tape. Repeated insertions/removals of the headphone jack can result in intermittent connections.


The case of this model is held together by plastic clips. There are no screws.

Remove the batteries, then remove the front plate which contains the text (Mega Bass, Preset etc). This should just pop off. Then the silver top should pry off if you use a thin screwdriver. It might be a bit tricky the first time you do it. You might end up breaking some clips if you aren't careful, but it'll still go back together fine; it just won't be held in place quite as well.

To remove the circuit board, undo the screw in the bottom left hand corner, and unclip the board.

To remove the cassette mechanism, simply unclip it from the case and pull it out. Do be weary of the small flimsy wires, which can be quite easy to damage.

Headphone Jack Repair

When the headphone plug rotates, gets plugged in/pulled out, yanked on etc, this places stress on the solder joints, and can cause them to fracture, which will cause intermittent sound, or no sound. This photo shows what a fractured solder joint looks like. The joint on the right is fractured, and the joint on the left is fine.

You could simply reflow them (melt the solder with a soldering iron, and let it dry), or suck the old solder off, and put new solder on. I put new solder on all the joints, and then it looks nice and shiny, like in the photo below.

Fixing intermittent buttons

The buttons work by having two carbon tracks on the PCB. When you press the button, a conductive material on the bottom of the button presses against the two tracks, and connects them together.

With time and use, these tracks can get dirty. It could be that they simply have dirt on them which needs washing off. Or it could be that they are worn. I have found with this kind of button, that every time you clean them, they wear down slightly. If they are dirty or worn, they may not work at all, or they may need extra force to get them to work.

Carbon pads.

A good fix for this can be to make the conductive buttons more conductive. You can do this by putting a bit of conductive ink on the buttons, as shown in the photo below. This is nickel conductive ink, but silver ink should be fine as well. If the buttons become too sensitive, you will have to scrape a bit of the ink off.

Buttons with conductive ink applied. They work much better now :).

Tape Head 'Flat-Flex' Cable Repair

The tape head is connected to the circuit by a small flat-flex cable. After I had taken the circuit board out a few times, this cable ripped. Flat-flex ribbon cables are really easy to break, so I guess this was inevitable. The ribbon had only four conductors, so I only needed four bits of wire to replace it.

I used some thin electronics ribbon cable (think IDE/Floppy drive cable) to replace the flat-flex.

The broken flat-flex, removed from the head.

Firstly the damaged flat-flex should be de-soldered and removed from the tape head, and from the circuit board.

Bear in mind the pinout of the head. On this model, the head has five pins. Two are connected together. Two are also very close together, but are not connected together. The following diagram shows the connections.

A piece of wire was prepared and soldered on to the head. The wire needs to be a bit flexible, as the head moves when you press Play. Note that in the following photograph, the fifth pin is not connected. I later extended the black wire so it connects to two pins (as in the diagram), rather than just one.

Once the head is neatly soldered (making sure the pinout is correct, and that there are no shorts), you can solder the other end of the wire to the PCB, and re-assemble the Walkman.

New wire (nearly) installed on the head.

New wire soldered onto the circuit board.

Cable replacement done!

Cool websites I recommend you should check out:

ClassicAmiga - Your Guide to everything Amiga

Amiga Computing and Retro Gaming

Link to Dave Jones EEVBlog

Electronics Video Blog

Electronics, Solar Power and Metrology

Old-School Game Blog

Other links:

The Aussie Space Time Traveller

E-Maculation - Macintosh Emulation

EEWeb - Electrical Engineering Community