DVD-RW teardown

DVD-RW teardown

What is up guys,

Do you have a spare DVD-RW drive that you were looking to throw away? Well, don’t just do it yet. There’s a lot of useful stuff that you can salvage from them. Everyone knows that DVD-RW drives, or any CD drive for that matter, are a good source for cheap laser diodes, but did you know that you can salvage couple of motors and some magnets too?

My quest for salvaged laser diodes began when I read Daniel’s post on Raspberry Pi’s blog how he built a laser engraver from salvaged parts (click here for link to Daniel’s blog). And then it occurred to me, that I’ve got two DVD-RW drives lying around and various parts to build the laser diode supply, so why not give it a shot at a portable laser engraver?

So this time, I’d like to share with you how to disassemble a DVD drive and get the goodie parts out.

First of all, you should open the drive itself like shown in the picture below. If you want to reassemble and you the DVD drive again, you should do it carefully not to damage the gears inside.

DVD-RW drive

Next you’ll need to carefully remove the front plastic bit. Firstly, pull the bottom side of it towards yourself and then push it up. It should slide out quite easily.


When you got this off, you can start taking out bolts that are holding together the metal case.


So this is how a CD/DVD drive looks on the inside.. Now, when you get both metal case bits off, you can play around with the disc tray mechanism. The way it works is purely genius! :)

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Had some fun, let’s get back to business. The PCBs are held in place by couple of plastic holders. Just push them, and the PCBs should pop out. Disconnect (or cut) the bus wires to take off the PCBs.

DVD-RW teardown

Now undo these two bolts, that are holding the laser assembly and the stepper motor.

DVD-RW teardown

Hooray! Now we have the laser assembly and the stepper motor out of the DVD drive.

DVD-RW teardown

As this was my second DVD drive that I’ve disassembled, I have a second stepper motor lying around :)

DVD-RW teardown

Now it’s time to get your mini tools out. Undo the small screws on the laser assembly that are holding the metal cover. Then carefully take everything out. Use a pointy tool to get all the components out, but watch out, as they’re held in place with resin. So make sure you take that resin off first.

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Hooray! Two laser diodes. One of them is the diode used for reading CD/DVD discs and the other one is for burning discs. One of them will be an IR laser, whereas the other one is a 650nm red laser diode.

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After a quick search on the internet I found out that the round laser with three pins is the red laser diode, which I was looking for. So, no time to waste, let’s desolder it from the connector cable. Try not to destroy the laser with your soldering iron 😉

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So there you go. A red laser diode for your next project. Now take some time to salvage anything else that you might find useful. After tearing down two DVD drives I’ve found this lot:

  • 2 x 9V DC motors
  • 2 x stepper motors with rails
  • red laser diode
  • IR laser diode
  • 2 x brushless DC motors
  • 2 x green LED
  • 4 x strong magnets (but kinda small)
  • 2 x momentary push buttons
  • some gears & pulleys for DC motors
  • an assortment of bolts and screws

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Keep up the good work and happy salvaging!

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