CD Spectrometer (bonus)

Allright, the keyboard light thing was a bit weak. Check out this el cheapo cd light spectrometer. The refractive properties of a CD are exploited to break up visible light into it’s components. Definitely an unexpected use of a CD. Of course, if you’re going for substance detection, you can use your CDROM as a spectrometer to identify uh, suspicous substances.

33 thoughts on “CD Spectrometer (bonus)

  1. disheartening though it may be to still have steve a.k.a inspector gadget running around, it’s nice to see that his arrogance doesn’t go unnoticed, (or un-destarred, if that could even be a word).

    I really like this hack. Very creative use of old junk and crappy cd’s that may be lying about. Probably not too terribly useful, but definitely cool.

  2. you’re right inspector, these hacks suck compared the the ones you submitted. what, you didn’t submit any hacks? well then you’re the reason this site has gone from hack-a-day to whine-a-day. nobody forces you to come here, you didn’t pay to join, and you’re complaints are not welcome.

  3. @craash420

    Anyone that visits this site regularly has the right to comment on the quality of the site. I used to check hackaday regularly and was always awaiting the next post. Recently, hackaday HAS become much less appealing. If we wanted to constantly submit new hacks, then we wouldn’t be checking this site. We would be the ones writing the site.

    If you start publishing your own free newspaper, for example, and people really love it for a long time, you earn a reputation. When the articles start to become repetitive, the whole quality heads south. If people started to complain about the newspaper they used to like, are you going to yell and tell them to write the articles? I don’t think so.

    The question is really, how many people want to hear your opinion?

  4. When hack-a-day started, they had to pick and choose the best of many years of hacks. Now they’ve got to pick the best hacks of the past day or two. You wanna improve it? Make some new hacks. Give them more to pick from.
    I’ve submitted a few myself. They sucked, and never made it to the site, but at least I submitted some. lol.

    Perhaps a hack-a-day concepts section could be added? If you have an idea and know basically how to carry it out but either don’t have the time, money, experience, parts, etc? Or tried and it just failed. I have a keyboard keyboard I was working on (music keyboard as computer keyboard), but only one or two octaves worked and I don’t have any time to try to fix it currently.

    Anyways, this is a decent hack in my eyes. Anything new, unexpected, or just a cheap way to do something expensive is good to me. I mean, sure, it may be simple, but that’s better for me ’cause I don’t know much about what I’m doing with this stuff yet. Maybe since you people are obviously so brilliant you could figure out something to post. It’s a lot more USEFUL to have a hack that you can read, understand, and carry out yourself than one that you look at and go ‘DAMN that’s cool!’

  5. Here’s an Idea… instead of you guys talking about how weak the site is, submit something. I fully agree with craash.

    @thecompkid- yeah, your own site with your own hacks. yep. that’ll go real far. the beauty of hack a day is that it’s supposed to be a collection of hacks from all over the world. I don’t care how multi-talented someone is, that kind of a task is too much for one person, or even ten people.

    I used to see this site as a community, but now it’s just a bunch of teenagers and 20somethings complaining about how useless this site is instead of submitting any new content. You guys are almost as bad as any run of the mill forum poster- quick to shoot something down behind your confidence of internet anonymity, but unwilling to make any contribution. It may seem hypocritical of me to speak up without contributing anything myself, but I’m not flaming anyone’s projects either.

  6. arochone, you are 100% right-on. I want to add something, but you said it all!

    Keep on rockin’, hack-a-day!

    PS: Seriously people, the comments are what is declining in quality. i remember when it was actual technical discussion instead of this “first post”/”teh suxx0rz” crap…

  7. ok, sure this might look pretty but does this hack atually have a use/point?? ok, I read the link about detecting anthrax but that doesn’t even seem to apply to what this is!! Don’t mean to be a moaner but It’s literally a cereal box with a cracked cd stuffed in it!! If there was even any effort to tidy it up a little i might rate it but sadly that’s not the case. Sorry guys but this is weak :S

  8. I’m getting a bit sick of people constantly criticising this site, and its quality of submissions. Are you that much of a Junkie that you demand a project to suit your skill/experience per day? I cannot judge your merit nor your skills with technology but as has been said above, allot of the comments have degraded in to un-constructive criticism.

    For the record I have never submitted a successful entry to the site, and I comment infrequently.

    I understand that this site, is focused on geeks (I count myself as one). However I show at least some understanding of the way society works – nobody likes moaner. For somebody who has been reading the submissions for a while here is my thoughts, because its getting a bit pathetic listening to some of the posts here (Steve f**k off you northern tw*t).

    Hacking is traditionally about the joy of twisting a device (usually computer) to the nth degree

    You hack within your own limits / financial reach / interests.

    If you expect a 1 – 5 step guide your not a hacker

    Inspiration is something that cannot be calculated – it comes from everywhere, and hopefully it leads somewhere.

    Understand that everybody comes from a different perspective

    If you’ve done something similar before, and cannot offer suggestions on improvements – then you’ve not done it well enough to start with.

    If you take the concept of a hack being the twisting of an item into something that it was never designed to do, then this is a hack. I would bet that most of the non-vocal visitors to this site have not seen anything similar – like I have. When Philips designed the CD they did not envisage that it would be used as a Spectrometer did they? Q.E.D. this is a hack – if you can’t be constructive then f**k off.

    P.S. Welcome about Will O’brien – your actually doing quite well.

  9. @15 At least you have a question.
    “does this hack atually have a use/point?”

    Right I have no interest in the subject but here is my quick thoughts as to why this might be useful (here is a clue

    Skin legions,
    Polymer growth,
    Substance identification

    there, just four off the top of my head. Its a hack for christ sake – its supposed to get you started in whatever tickles your fancy. If inspires one person then that will be enough

  10. It does not have to be usefull to be a hack. Was the bicycle couch usefull, not really, was the Ipod nano raid array usefull, not really. They showed how people are thinking outside of the box and using stuff in a new way. The idea might not be usefull but it might spark something in someone to say if they can do that with this I bet i can do this with that.

  11. Hey, no one is questioning the legitimacy of some criticism… but consistent criticism without any constructive element is pretty annoying and pointless. It wastes the time of the poster and the time of anyone who gets suckered into to replying to it.

    Besides that, if you really think that the steves of this world are really in this to improve anyones life… well, I wish that I could make whatever you are smoking. (Now there would be a hack-for-today).

    Hey its a public board. People can feel free to be unpleasant and irritating on it. Personally it doesn’t bother me much because they have to live with themselves all the time, where the rest of us only have to deal with them on occasion.

    Anyway, this is pretty cool if you ask me. Great little geek toy. I actually might build one to see how much difference exists between different kinds of light bulbs. Its kind of an obsessive thing, but I’ve always wanted to find some cheap light bulbs that produce something close to true white light.

  12. Oh yay it’s a I’m more hax0r than you debate. I’ve seen some good stuff lately. I was actually expecting computer engineering, and circuit design projects when I came here. I’ve seen some, but it was most ductape and PVC type stuff.

  13. what a lot of twistie basterds you lot are. internet is about frredom of speach so all you moaning americans just give it a rest i speak as i find if ithink a project is good i will say so if knot i will say so give it up lads and go and order a double cheese burger and fries . what a lot of whimps . honestley. love steve

  14. there is so many things out there that havnt been done
    you can startt your own hacks with as little as a piece of paper folded into a complicated shape that flings other little pieces of paper at high speed at other people
    or make a really cool program that does somthing that hasnt been done
    why not a watergun that uses a 1 horsepower pump?
    even a video of you modding your playstation and explaining the details would not only be useful refrence guide but you could take it up a notch, add some internal el lighting for your ps2 or how about uhh…. anyone got a rocket powered playstation yet?

  15. >If you expect a 1 – 5 step guide your not a hacker

    true, but equally you don’t need to be a class A hacker to bring some of this stuff off. This hack is true in that it subverts an item for it properties, and it’s cool because of what it does and there will be many non-hackers who will cut their teeth on making science accessable in the home with/for their kids.

    I for one welcome our sticky back overlords

  16. Does anyone have more information on the “CD Rom as spectrometer”? I followed the link but couldn’t find anything. I also emailed the professor mentioned but haven’t yet received a reply. I am wondering how this could be done. Don’t CD-ROM drives use a laser LED which produces just a single frequency? How does one move the sensor under computer program control? Isn’t there firmware in the drive which controls this?

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