Convert a DVD-R Drive into a Lab scanner

[bodiby] was first to send in this New Scientist article about converting a DVD drive into a lab scanner. I did some digging and came up with the details. Here’s the paper describing the process and results. Here’s a basic schematic and description of the mod. A set of samples is placed onto a CDR. A photo sensor is used to locate the samples on the CD, while the laser is fired through each sample. A planar photodiode is used to measure the attenuation of the laser as it’s transmitted through each sample. Sadly, I couldn’t find any details on the custom control electronics.


  1. Tony says:

    Now that’s a nice hack.

  2. michael mcwilliams says:

    I had actually had an idea similar to this but using 3 1/2 inch drive components and a glass disc. This way is much smarter for a variety of reasons. I had always reasoned that the resolution on floppies would be high, but 300,000 spots per disc is awesome. The system I use now does 30,000 with great difficulty and costs are high (100$ per array for materials, not labour).

  3. bodiby says:

    yeah!! – i finally got one in!!

  4. japroach says:
  5. splitice says:

    Sounds cool!

  6. Wolf says:

    to #1

    Agreed, meets the definition of hack to a T.

  7. Darth Hakius says:

    I think there’s no custom electronics just custom software. The CDR is a standard device.

    I saw a presentation on “Beyond Tomorrow” a few years ago

  8. Allison says:

    That can be but not sure!

  9. wim says:

    very nice!

    The paper mentions that the custom electronics consisted of a photodiode for sensing the transmittance (a Silonex SLSD-71N6), a jellybean reflective photosensr for reading the index/timing mark (Omron EE-SY125) and a USB data-acquisition board (Data Translation DT9823A-02). Not immediately clear whether they wired up some signal-conditioning circuitry in between the sensors and the DAQ.

  10. wim says:

    hmmm, the stupid blog software ate all my URLs. well, Google will find you info on each of those parts as easily as it did for me, I guess.

  11. Rasta says:

    It seem to be very powerfull!

  12. ghfh says:

    it sucks people here are all fucking gay geeks and nerds

  13. FerhatAKIN says:

    Thanks For Author ;)

  14. Hamdi says:

    Thank you :)

  15. quel baise says:

    Good article you wrote, continue updating your blog, that’s nice.

  16. David Sutherland says:

    4th page has pics of the CD drive hack/mod —

  17. turnkit says:

    It’s also here but in abbreviated form:

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