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. 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.

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