Playing with DVD RW Laser Diodes

I’ve always wanted to extract laser diodes from DVD RW and Blu ray drives and play around with them. After killing a few lasers I finally got one working!

The laser diode I found doesn’t have a housing, it’s just the bare diode.

Inside the DVDRW it’s housed within a heatsink. I guess it’s fairly important that these things are dissipate heat! I extracted the diode and soldered on some cables. I then attached it up to my power supply. I set the voltage at 3v and current limited to 100mA. Current limiting is fairly important it seems as it’s easy to burn these things out. I went for 3v to be safe, but I understand you can drive them up to 9v.

In the picture below you can just about see the laser emission.

Here’s the complete setup, with my power supply.

Usually people buy a Aixiz laser module which contains a collimating lens to focus the laser. I’m a bit too cheap to buy on at the moment, and I’ve discovered that many DVDRWs contain a collimating lens which I can play with anyway.

Here’s a optical block from a Sony DVDRW:

Behind the mirror which reflects the light in to the focusing lens is a collimating lens. I removed the mirror (and the focusing lens parts) and dremeled away the metal that was blocking the path of the collimating lens.

This produced a reasonable point from a few feet away:

You can also remove the collimating lens and use it with a laser diode directly. You’ll need to figure out how to mount it though (probably better than me):

Other notes

I’ve dug another laser diode out of a LG lightscribe drive. Here it is: