Laser optical pickup units that are used in CD / DVD and BlueRay players to read the disc are amazing pieces of engineering with built in lasers, optical stages, filters and mirrors. These small units, that can be found in almost any electronics dumpster, are a perfect starting point for building amazing scientific instruments. Let’s bring some ideas and people together here.
Almost 10 years ago, together with friends from hackteria / Berlin / TUM Munich, we started working on building a DIY Laser Tweezer (optical trap) built only from a DVD pickup and a webcam. We based on the paper “Single-cell isolation using a DVD optical pickup” by a researcher at Colorado School of Mines (and now Process Engineer at Intel Corporation). It was fun playing with the laser unit and we finally got it working.
I later started to build a laser scanner using a Blue Ray pickup as I wanted to now more on how the built in sensors can be used. Based on the research by two brothers from Madrid (Spain) building a PCB printer from the laser head, we almost completely reverse engineered the PHR-803T pickup that is commonly used in the Xbox.
Over the years I met many more interesting people hacking these laser pickup units to do amazing scientific devices and experiments with it:
There is “the professor of laser optical pickup” hacking, now at Technical University of Denmark | DTU · Department of Micro- and Nanotechnology. He built the famous high speed atomic force microscope (HSAFM) based on an optical pickup unit and countless other incredible things. His latest feat, a Micro/Nanoscale 3D Printing device using a hacked Blu-ray Player.
Then I got contacted by an engineering student at Lawrence Tech in Southfield, Michigan. He built himself an apparatus to micro 3D scan. He took high resolution 3D scanns of wasps and other critters.
And then there is a PhD student in Shiraz who built a working optical coherent tomography (OCT) that can take 3D images in tissues. He also built various Michelson interferometers with the use of DVD optic component and printers.
So I thought it’s time that we all get a place to start discussing (using the ReSeq category for now as I think it fits best). I did not put names here and will invite you all individually by mail to this thread. I am happy if you join and tell us more about your work.