Tech Tear Down – Computer Part 1: CD-ROM Drive

computer altogether

Finally I have a rather ambitious Tech Tear Down: an entire computer desktop case! It was sitting in the basement waiting to be disposed of, so naturally I decided to take it apart. The computer is a Dell Inspiron that runs Windows 7. I’m not sure why it was junked; I think there was some kind hardware problem. Because it has so many components inside, I’m dividing this TTD into a bunch of parts.  First off is the CD-ROM drive!

The computer actually had two different CD- ROM drives. One of them was just a readable CD-ROM drive, and the other one was read/writeable, allowing you to burn CDs. Since both drives were still in working condition within the computer, I took apart the readable drive, and kept the read/write one to save in case I need to replace one in the future or maybe even build my own computer (or add it to my RasPi)!

The CD-ROM drives, each a metal rectangular box, had their own cubby in the computer case. They’re connected to the motherboard by just a ribbon cable. In the above picture, you can see the space in the case that they took up.

It was easy to take apart. The first thing to do was remove the metal casing on the back with a screwdriver. The rest of the components inside were either snapped or screwed in place, so it was just a matter of making good use of my screwdriver. The ‘motherboard’ PCB was right on top, with assorted ribbon cables connecting to the laser and the three motors. One motor ejects and closes the CD holder in a system of slides and gears, one spins the CD inside for the laser to read, and one moves the laser up and down using a screw mechanism.


motors in a CD-ROM drivehardware overview of cd-rom drive motherboardcd-rom opened

Because I didn’t break or damage anything, I could theoretically put the whole disk drive back together again, but I don’t think that’ll happen. I found one of my mom’s long lost classical music CDs that was left in one of the drives. Luckily I like take stuff apart otherwise she would have lost it permanently! 🙂


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