My 13 month old Mac Mini's optical drive gave up the ghost: the mechanical bits stopped accepting disks. Too light to be a useful doorstop, I had but one choice: fix it myself. Sending it off was not an option. I couldn't afford to be without it for the weeks it would have taken.
I bought a replacement drive off ebay for a reasonable price, and waited two weeks for it to ship from China. I set aside a couple of hours for the repair because it looked fairly complex. Armed with the right tools, I dove in. With so many tiny screws to remove, I made sure to lay them in a line as they came out, so that I could be sure to put them back in in the reverse order. The repair guide was spot on, and in less than 30 minutes, with no leftover parts, I declared victory.
Having the right tools made this a much easier repair than I thought it was going to be. Things are a tight fit inside the Mac Mini. It's easy to get the optical drive thermal sensor wires routed improperly, but it's easy to fix at the point that it become apparent. I put a dab of rubber cement in place to hold the thermal sensor to the new drive, but the sensor wouldn't stay put. The wet rubber cement wasn't quite grippy enough to hold the sensor in place while it set-up. I added a bit of adhesive tape, and that seemed to do the trick.