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.

17 thoughts on “Convert a DVD-R Drive into a Lab scanner

  1. 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).

  2. 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

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

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