Repairing a Sony Dream Machine ICF-CL75iP

Sony's glue choice leaves much to be desired and apparently causes oscillators to malfunction.

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A few weeks ago, I picked up a new gadget from the ShopGoodwill auction website. It's something that had caught my eye years ago, the Sony Dream Machine ICF-CL75iP, a rather expensive LCD alarm clock/photo frame/iPod dock/MP3 player sold by Sony around 2009.

Back in the day, it caught my attention because of its amazing screen, decent quality sound, and the uniqueness of multiple functions in a bed-side appliance. Unfortunately at the time, the thing was outrageously expensive, well over $175. And honestly, it was just a clock. It'd be hard to justify the price. So I never purchased one, and Sony stopped selling them around 2011.

Fast forward to 2016, one pops up on the auction site for cheap, so I pick it up.

I get to messing about with it, only to learn the blasted thing wouldn't keep time! The clock wouldn't advance. And every time I tried to set the date, it reset itself back to a 2009 date. Strange.

Well, time to get cracking!

Hopefully this page will help anyone else who wants to get their clock running again.

Once I knew the trick to fix the clock, it was actually a relatively trivial matter. Essentially, the potting compound (glue?) that Sony used to hold down the quartz oscillator used for time keeping purposes had become somewhat conductive due to age or heat or something. This then prevented the time keeping circuit from working.

To fix the problem, one simply has to remove as much of the old glue as possible, clean the board up, and at least in my case, re-flow the solder for the quartz oscillator, and you're done!

Honestly, the hardest part is getting the screen re-connected to reassemble the clock.

The fix for this was originally described by 'gunter.fritz' on the Sony UK site here:

Check out my step-by-step instructions on how to fix this yourself.

  • 1
    Step 1

    Obviously, the first order of business to repair the clock is to open it up. While looking at the back of the clock, remove the six extremely small black Phillips screws. While you're at it, remove the little door for the backup battery and the battery itself.

    Next, remove the 12 small black Phillips screws from the base of the unit. Don't remove the screws from the iPod tray, or the silver screws from around the AM antenna connector. Once removed, you should be able to pry apart the base of the clock. The top will be stubborn, as there are small catches up there. Be gentle and pry the case apart.

    At this point, you can disconnect the front LCD half of the clock from the rear of the clock. Gently unplug the backlight connector, the LCD data cable, the button cable, and the two speaker cables. Place the LCD half in a safe location, we won't need to do any work with it.

  • 2
    Step 2

    Now examine the back half of the clock.

    On the lower left side, you will see the tuner module connected via a silver ribbon cable to the main CPU board. Disconnect that cable from the CPU board.

    While pressing the iPod dock tray inwards so that it will clear the side of the case, slowly work the CPU board + iPod dock from the plastic housing. You won't be able to separate it completely from the clock housing because of the power cable, but that's okay. Be sure to feed the power cable along while you remove the part.

  • 3
    Step 3

    Next, remove the six tiny silver Phillips screws from the CPU board to disconnect it from the iPod dock. Gently lift the CPU board from the plastic dock, being careful to not damage the power cable or its strain relief. If you like, you can disconnect the ribbon cable to separate the board from the dock, but it is unnecessary for this repair.

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Guenter Fritz wrote 05/28/2021 at 13:10 point

Thanks leadacid44 for the nice tutorial and mentioning me regarding the initial fix for the ICFCL75iP. A few days ago the original power supply of my Dreammachine finally has died. In case anyone else will be in need of swapping it out just to find out neither the original one nor the unit itself or the manual actually do show any specs, here's the answer: 9V DC, 2 Amp  :-)

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srgoldman528 wrote 02/03/2021 at 08:43 point

I have only owned my ICF-CL75iP for a few weeks.  Everything is working so far (fingers crossed), except the battery indicator (battery with a slash through it) is on.  I put a brand new CR2032 battery in and followed the instructions to make the indicator go away (p. 29) but no change.  Any suggestions?  Thanks!

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Paul Hanover wrote 11/06/2017 at 22:52 point

Just like to say a huge thanks to the OP for the detailed instructions. Like the other posters my Sony ICFCL751P would not hold time and was ready for the bin. I came across this article and it saved the day.

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SAN94 wrote 09/18/2017 at 08:54 point


THANK YOU SO MUCH leadacid44 ! 

I had the same problem with the year being stuck on 2009 .... tried to reload the firmware and of course problem remained. I really like this clock but was about to throw it away .... however like Harry Jones I couldn't find anything close to replace this clock.

Found this project and gave it a try. I had some difficulties to remove the black glue, I was quite worried to damage the IC , but lots and lots of cleaner and several toothpicks and eventually it came off. Reassembled the clock and at first I thought the problem remain but after a few minutes the year started to respond, after setting the time and day properly, it's been running well !

I can't thank the writer enough,it's not only about saving the money but more about there is no similar alarm clock on the market anymore

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Harry Jones wrote 09/13/2017 at 02:57 point

13.09.2017 - The thing is I have had this SONY Dream machine ICFCL75iP for a few years now. We had to store all our gear for a couple of months while we moved house. So we move in, and I plug in the SONY...and the time freezes. I cant set the clock to any other year than 2009, and yet I can see the clock ':' pulses on the screen still working. But the set time does not advance. Much research ensues on the internet...there is nothing. And there seems to be no equivalent replacement for this superb any manufacturer...anywhere.

Then I discover this blog. Thanks to this superb and detailed little write up, along with the excellent pictures, I dismantle my clock and attack the crystal and the Black Goop. Sure enough, its now up and running perfectly again. My huge thanks to the writer of this article.

The ribbon cables are a pig to get seated correctly. The data cable has a lock which is fiddly. But like the article says......the first time I powered up...I got the SONY logo....but nothing else. I dismantled it again and pushed home the smaller LCD ribbon cable, which is just a push fit. That cured it....and we are away again.....the clock sets correctly and time advances correctly. I have updated the firmware to the latest, and I expect a few more years of good service from my dream machine.

Cannot thank the writer enough....just saved me a couple of hundred bucks. Cheers

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Pickleman wrote 09/08/2017 at 02:43 point

Thanks to leadacid44 for such detailed instructions.

I have an ICFCL75iP for the last 8 years or so. It worked flawlessly until last week when a power outage killed it. After the outage, it persistently stayed stuck on year 2009.

I bravely undertook the task of following leadacid44 instructions to repair, and succeeded. Yes, I found/cleaned  the brown gooey stuff. After cleaning, I reassembled and although the date continue stuck on the 2009 year, I managed to get into the settings. But due to poor connection, the display would go blank every now and then. I realized that the ribbon cable with the blue strip across the front (not sure what this is called) was popping out of its connector (the end that is next to the ribbon cable that has the brown flap along the front, I believe that this is the LCD data cable ).

Now,  the end of this fragile cable is now damaged with the many attempts to seat it properly. I believe that replacing the damaged cable with the blue strip (not sure what this is called) is the first step in continuing the attempt to repair the machine. Can anyone please tell me where I can order this cable (with spares), and what item I should be asking for?

Thanks for the help.

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