After Hours

Cracking open an external DVD burner

The LG Super Multi DVD ReWriter: Rear View

The rear panel of the LG Super Multi ReWriter features simply two ports. One accommodates a USB 2.0 cable, whereas the second accepts the required 12-volt DC power supply.

About

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...

10 comments
dogknees
dogknees

These series need to go into MUCH more detail to be interesting. Start by disassembling the laser head. You'll find all sorts of cool technologies used to suspend the head, focus and follow the track it's reading/writing. Then there's the optical parts that include mirrors, lenses and beam splitters to enable the laser and the read head to use the same lens and "see" the same spot on the disk. You may have guessed I recently did the same "dissassembly" myself. Hours of entertainment to be had. Just make sure you never want the device to work again! Regards

mrh829
mrh829

The article states this drive failed...was it the drive or the controller that failed? Just about any external drive is simply an IDE or SATA drive with an adapter board to a USB or FireWire connection, so if the drive failed, it could have been replaced with another DVD burner drive, and the case could still remain useful.

mrh829
mrh829

The article states this drive failed...was it the drive or the controller that failed? Just about any external drive is simply an IDE or SATA drive with an adapter board to a USB or FireWire connection, so if the drive failed, it could have been replaced with another DVD burner drive, and the case could still remain useful.

Quantum Rift
Quantum Rift

[YAWN]. I guess I'm jaded. I "built" an external floppy drive for my Radio Shack HX1000 computer for about $75 when the going price for the 'external' floppy drive (720K) was about $300. I obtained a case, ac adapter and ribbon cable. I modified them all to make it work, and that was in 1988. So disassembling one of these external drives is pretty much the same. CD, hard drive, DVD, interface board, cable and power supply. Good presentation.

therealjunkman
therealjunkman

You are absolutely right! The technology that goes into one of these little gems is staggering, when one really thinks about it. The title of the article, however, has nothing to do with this. IF the optical drive failed, why did the writer waste ANY time on looking at, and showing US, the readers, the 'failed' component? I mean, come on, who's going to replace a failed laser?! No thanks! Or even replace the whole sub assembly? Maybe... but is it worth the time? Not mine... I have extra drives laying around... Just drop one in. Reusing the 'board' IS a way of salving the wound of paying too much for an external drive only to have it fail 6 months after the warranty expires. If you can simply plug in a new drive, possibly gaining new(er) features in the process, sure, one can save a few bucks. Or, we can switch from almost any IDE drive to almost any other... Ditto for SATA. Or cobble together a pair of IDE drives and tuck it away out of sight. (With enough airflow) BTW: I find that the ribbon cable fails at least as often as any other part. (Especially drives meant to be opened often. I have a couple of that sort...) Check it! (Replace with a known good one, & it's OK if it's a longer one... just be sure it's an 80 wire cable. Even some optical drives use an 80 wire, 40 pin IDE cable. Frankly, I think all the cheap drives being 'dumped' on the market in the last couple of years are the manufacturer's way of dealing with an excess inventory of IDE drives... No one is buying very many new IDE drives... Replacements, yes, but when was the last time you saw a NEW system bragging about IDE drives? I predict rising prices for external drives once this inventory is exhausted... How else are they going to use up all that they have sitting around? How many average Joes will ever look inside to see if it's IDE or SATA, or care? My tip, if I NEED a new, large capacity IDE drive, I go to Walmart and get a cheap external drive, crack it open for the drive, and hang onto the rest... The Walmart stores in my area were selling a 1.5 TB Seagate USB drive for $60.00 just last week! I bought 3 for personal use.

therealjunkman
therealjunkman

I find that most external DVD/Hard Drives do NOT fail, it is the 'board' that adapts them. Generally, the kind with a multi-pronged power adapter plug will die first. The drives themselves generally do not fail. What I would have liked to see was a detailed explanation on how to tell WHAT failed, and HOW exactly to put back to work that part that didn't... If any. (In my experience, if the power supply took a crap, it may take the rest with it when it goes) Explaining how this is simply a packaged up IDE to USB converter would help... And the newer SATA to USB versions starting to show up. And most importantly, given the title of this article, HOW to use them! On the plus side, the photos were really good, clear, and descriptions of where screws are, etc, were flawless. THAT part is often sorely lacking in most 'tutorials' of this kind. Better yet, tell me how to make, or adapt, one to do something more. Other posters correctly pointed out, if the drive is all that failed, it's a simple thing to replace the drive with almost any other drive. (electronically, if not mechanically. And,WHY all the wasted time on the 'failed' optical assembly?) Or go to the likes of Evertek.com, and buy a simple multi-adapt-any-drive gadget for a few bucks. What this article lacks is technical details on How To... For a How-To, that's a fatal flaw.

bbwalters
bbwalters

I used to that when I was younger, then realised I was wasting my time. It can't be repaired, what's the point.

therealjunkman
therealjunkman

Well, a fair question, IF indeed, the optical drive failed, it's not worth 'repairing', although the article didn't go this far, what it was heading to was, one CAN reuse the controller board, that 'converts' IDE signals to USB, (or SATA, Firewire...) And, sometimes, one will find a simple small flaw that can be fixed, a loose wire, bad solder joint, etc, that WILL repair it. Doing a postmortem on these things is a good idea, you can learn what to watch out for in the future, as I mentioned about the ribbon cables in another post. Otherwise, you are correct, what's the point? If the optical drive actually HAS failed, there's usually nothing you can do about it other than replacement. The days of wielding a soldering iron and fixing, rather than replacing, are long gone. And, one must consider their time, how valuable it it?

Ozzylogic
Ozzylogic

I've got this model, and it's performing well, and is less than a year old. Thanks to the step-by-step guide, I now know what to do in case the drive fails...buy a relatively cheaper internal DVDRW drive and plug it into the enclosure.