I was drawn to this project because I’m interested in photography, but I really don’t have any experience taking hardware apart, let alone without damaging a tiny, delicate piece inside. Luckily, I found some great resources to help me along. The project seems to have originated from this post on DIY Photography, one of the most active and respected sites on photography hacks and DIY projects. The walkthrough was helpful for background, but wasn’t specific enough for someone with my experience level.
My next step was to head over to the internet’s headquarters of DIY projects and life hacks: Lifehacker. A quick search on their site turned up this YouTube video by former Lifehacker blogger Jason Fitzpatrick which went into much more detail about the process. For example, without the video I wouldn’t have known that the lens I needed was actually located behind another laser diode assembly within the DVD player, and probably would have mistaken this assembly as the part I needed. I really love videos and seeing these kinds of disassembly’s in motion, much more than static images and text. Another Google search turned up a Palm Pre forum discussion about the hack. This didn’t give me much new information about the project itself, but I learned that many had tried it with a CD player lens instead of a DVD player, only to find that it didn’t work.
Curious as to why a CD lens wouldn’t work, I did some digging, and came up with a great article about how DVD players work on madehow.com, a great resource for learning about the manufacturing processes behind many household items. Here I learned that data stored on DVD discs is much more tightly packed, so the laser and lens assembly operates at a much smaller wavelength, allowing it to “zoom in” closer on the tiny data points on the disc. The article also gave me a better idea of what to expect once I opened up the DVD player, and gave me a conceptual understanding of why this hack actually works.
Read on past the break for photos and description of the project itself.
The Gallery (Click to View Larger):