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Tutorial: DVD Drive Window Mod

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Dooms101

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Dec 28, 2009
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Well, I thought this would be a nice contribution to the community since it's a such an easy yet awesome looking mod. This tutorial will take you step by step through modding your DVD Drive.

* follow these very carefully, and make sure you have adequate equipment! Also, this is going to void your warranty and will put your drives operating ability at risk. This may damage your drive!

Okay, so the goal of this mod is to put an acrylic window on to the top of the drive so you can see it operating. Obviously this is pointless unless you can see the top of the drive in the case or whatever.

Step 1: Prep
This one of the most important steps to this mod (as with any mod!) Make sure you make all the proper preparations before actually doing anything.
Here's a checklist:
- get a DVD Drive
- get some masking tape
- get a Dremel with cut off wheels or an equivalent tool
- SAFETY GOGGLES (trust me, you'll want them!)
- safe, clean, well ventilated work space
- vise/c-clamps or something to securely hold down what your cutting
- metal/plastic compatible glue

So once you have all that you're going to need to start making sure your drive is actually compatible. If you peel off the top off the label on the top of the drive, you'll notice a little aluminum disk or circle. This is where the disk top is. It is important to note what this little guy does... more on that later. In order for your drive to work with my method (my method ensures that the drive will be usable for a long while after); look at the size of the aluminum disk. It needs to be fairly small so not to take up space on your window. 2in in diameter is best. Let's take a look at 2 different drives, one that'll work, and one that wont.

#1 This drive will work:
DVD_drive_0047DJ.jpg

Why? Becuase the top of the disk is flush with the rest of the drive case, and there's no weird groves to work around.

#2 This drive will NOT work:
dsc00743e.jpg

Why? This drive has way too many weird grooves in it, and the disk in the middle is way too big!

So hopefully you've figured out if your drive is going to work or not. So now that we've got a good drive we can move on!
 
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Dooms101

Dooms101

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Step 2: Opening the drive

Alright, so now me must remove the outer casing on the drive, which WILL void your warranty. If you look at the front of the drive you'll see a small hole, this is the manual drive sled eject hole. Push a pin or paper clip into this and pull the drive sled out about an inch.

Now flip over the drive and take out the 4 small screws near each corner on the bottom of the drive. This will allow you to take the bottom off:

dsc00744s.jpg


Now the back panel should come off pretty easy, but it might need alot of pulling, make sure you're very cautious and don't bend any metal.

dsc00745w.jpg


Now, unclip the front faceplate and slide it down the disk tray so it's not attached to the top cowl.

dsc00746f.jpg


Last part is to remove the metal cowl from the plastic chassis. They're usually no screws holding it on, just plastic tabs on the sides and rear side.

dsc00747q.jpg


Okay, so no your drive is fully apart and ready to start masking.
 
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Dooms101

Dooms101

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Step 3: Masking

Before we can actually start masking we have to remove that small little aluminum disk, and then explain it's significance. To remove it, turn the metal cowl so the side with disk on it is facing away from you. Firmly press down on the little plastic piece that is under it until the aluminum disk pops off. You may have to pry the disk off.

dsc00748n.jpg

Press down on that little blue thing, but don't break it!

Now... you should have a hole in your metal cowl, an aluminum disk, and a weird plastic thing. This plastic thing is very important. The side facing the disk mates with the top of the drive spindle when a CD/DVD is in the drive.

dsc00742o.jpg


The other side has a magnet to hold the CD between this disk and the drive spindle.

dsc00741a.jpg


This is why the disk over it is aluminum (it isn't attracted to magnets.) It is very important to keep this piece and the aluminum disk!

Now you will want to put masking tape over the entire top of the metal cowl and trace an outline like this:

dsc00749tt.jpg


I took this picture after I cut the retaining disk out...

Well you're gonna want to trace your design so you have plenty of flat metal to glue the acrylic on to. Note: the acrylic will be going on to the top of the drive not in it, which will add thickness to the drive (might make it not fit in some drive bays)! So make sure you trace around where that aluminum disk was.
 
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Dooms101

Dooms101

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Step 4: Cutting

As the title says... start cutting! Now... before you pick up your Dremel, make sure the chuck is nice and tight and you have a good sized cut off wheel on there. Now, start with the middle circle and cut straight lines tangent to the circle at different angles. It'll be more like a 12 sided polygon instead of a circle. Make sure you don't cut too close! Just cut it so you can get it out of there so you have your retaining ring. After you've cut the ring out, carefully clamp it on to something so you can grind down the angles so it's a nice even circle...

Once you have the ring nice and smooth around the edges put the plastic piece back in and the aluminum disk back on top (you're gonna need some super glue to secure it later).

dsc00750a.jpg


As you can see, the ring is nice and smooth and the aluminum disk went on just right!

Next, you'll want to cut out the main window. Once again, make sure it's secured and after cutting an edge, put duct tape over your cut so the center piece doesn't come flying out. When your cutting, make a nice straight cut along your line and make nice even paths down the lines you drew, take your time! After some filing on the edges you should end up with something like this:

dsc00751c.jpg


Perfecto! Next will be making the acrylic top.
 
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Dooms101

Dooms101

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Step 5: Cutting and Attaching Window

It is now the final step! Unless you are painting the drive... but that's not much of a step. So whether you paint it or not is up to you, however now would be a good time to do so if you are painting.

The first step is to get your favorite sheet of acrylic out, a sharpie, and a ruler for good measure (lol?) I'd recommend 3/16" or 1/4" thick heavy duty acrylic, you can get it online if you like, I picked up a 2ft x 1.5ft x 3/16in sheet for $14 at Lowe's. Anyways... so first lay the drive down on the floor and align one of the corners of the acrylic on top and mark out the size of the drive and draw lines using the ruler.

dsc00752.jpg


Once you have it traced out, take it your work station and get a fresh blade for your box cutter (or similar type of cutting knife, maybe even a thick exacto.) The technique I use for cutting acrylic is easy, just score and break. First align a ruler up with your line, and cut right along it. Then keep cutting that same line until the acrylic panel breaks along that score. Depending on the type of acrylic it can take from 20 to 100 cuts. After every 15 or so cuts, turn the piece over and slightly bend the sheet along the cut to see if it'll snap. Be very careful not to crack your sheet! It wont take very much pressure to finally snap it.

Next take a sheet metal file and file the sides you cut nice and smooth (or use your Dremel and a sanding tube.) Now, place your piece on top of the drive for a test fit...

dsc00753pg.jpg


As you can see from the image, I already put the 'guts' back into the metal cowl and put in a CD. Also, I put my retaining ring on the CD to see where it sits. You will need to do this as well after your acrylic is approved (by you of course.) Keep in mind where this ring sits, because you're gonna have to glue it in the same spot to the acrylic.

If you painted your drive like I did, make sure you wait about 24 hours (or whatever your paint says for a complete dry) before attaching the acrylic. So first take off the shell, and remove the DVD tray by pushing in on any tabs (every drive is different) and remove the tray.

dsc00758w.jpg


Alright, now take the front fascia off and slide the tray back all the way in, put the 'guts' aside for now. Next you're going to need some epoxy or Krazy Glue (I prefer crazy glue because it doesn't release fumes that might crack the plexi.) Now put small dots at corners of the top of your shell and run lines along edges, then carefully place the acrylic piece ON TOP of the shell (it does not go IN the shell). Now you should have your acrylic piece you cut earlier glued on top of the metal shell. Make sure you put glue on surfaces that actually touch the acrylic, and do not press down on anything. The weight of the acrylic resting on top of the metal shell is plenty enough pressure. Let this sit and dry for about an hour (or however long it takes your glue to dry.)

While waiting for that to dry, you can glue your retention ring assembly together. Put the blue plastic piece in between the ring and the aluminum disk, then put a little glue bead all the way around the part of the ring that touches the disk. DO NOT PUT TOO MUCH. You don't want the glue squeezing out on to the plastic piece. Press the 2 halves to gether for about 10 seconds, then lightly hold the assembly up with the plastic part down, and jiggle the plastic part to make sure it isn't sticking. Keep doing this until the glue is dry (this step is crucial, you do not want that plastic piece stuck!)

Now we must align the metal top and the 'guts' like so:

dsc00759pe.jpg


See how the 2 halves are aligned? It's aligned just the way it would be were it closed, only the top piece is turn upside down. Now, remember looking at where the retention ring sat? Well... you're going to spread glue over the top of the retention ring assembly you can use your finger like I did or a rubber/plastic piece. Now stick the top of this ring on to the acrylic that is facing up so it aligns right over the top of the spindle. Let this dry for 3 or 4 hours (or longer if your glue calls for it!)

After it's all together, plug it in and try it out! Here's a video of mine in action: Link Here

And the money shot (after adding some LED's of course!):

dsc00764rp.jpg


dsc00765uo.jpg
 
Last edited:

MattNo5ss

5up3r m0d3r4t0r
Joined
Aug 11, 2008
Looks great and it's simple; you just have to mod your case as well, which isn't a bad thing.
 
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Dooms101

Dooms101

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Yeah... only problem since it makes the drive quiet a bit thicker... oh well! It took like 5 seconds to bend 4 tabs in my case and it fits just right. =)
 

Ben333

Folding for Team 32!
Joined
Feb 18, 2007
Interested in writing this up for OverClockers.com? PM me if you are, nice work.
 
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Dooms101

Dooms101

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@ 4GHZ_or_bust
Yeah I was actually going to do that pretty quick, I just need hit RadioShack and pick up some diodes and resistors. I have the mounting positions already figured out so I it doesn't hinder performance.

@Ben
my name is Ben too (assuming your name is actually Ben), anyways I'd love to
 
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Dooms101

Dooms101

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Tutorial is now finished, and I am gonna start to make the write up pretty quick... just have a final tomorrow, so can't tonight =(
 
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Dooms101

Dooms101

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Yeah it would... Especially if you had like 2 of them like right next to each other. Wish I could have done this to my HDD's.
 

Savvy.

Member
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Jun 18, 2010
Location
Georgia, USA
Awesome tut! How would I go about installing the LED's though? Anybody have a link to a tutorial for wiring LED's in a dvd drive?

PS sorry for reviving a thread if that's against the rules. I just thought this would be the best place to ask :)