Build a $50 DVD burner

Build a $50 DVD burner

Summary: Tired of your slow notebook burner?Want to rip a lot of CDs - as I have in the last week?

TOPICS: Laptops, Mobility

Tired of your slow notebook burner? Want to rip a lot of CDs - as I have in the last week? Or maybe you've decided that, really and truly, you are going to get serious about backing up important data?

Adding an external burner - especially for notebooks - is a good option or maybe the only option. If you build one it is economical too. You can build a burner for $50-$60 shopping online.

Show and tell This video is aimed at the lady across the street who - despite owning 2 computers, several digital cameras and a wide format inkjet to support her photography business - wasn't too clear on the difference between disk "memory" and system "memory" - and had max'd out both.

If you've installed a PCI card you'll find this pretty boring. But a lot of folks haven't and this video is aimed at them.

Caveat emptor The video assumes an ATA/IDE drive, not a SATA drive. And case to match, natch. Most cases are IDE or ATA, but it appears that most of the new HD drives are SATA. They don't mix and match.

If you want to play movies this may not work. I'm not sure why, but decoding movies from DVD is more than simply being able to read or write the disk.

Without further adieu Here's the video:

Update: I can't seem to update this post AND keep the YouTube code in. So I've also posted the video at my other blog StorageMojo. Check it out. End update.

Update II: where does the audio plug go? Several folks have asked this question. I've never used the audio and the questions got me wondering why you would. These are computer optical drives: no computer, no controls. If they are hooked up to a computer the FireWire or USB cable carries the audio signals, NOT the case's audio connector. That goes to a headphone jack.

I just cracked my case and tried to get an audio signal out through the headphone jack. Couldn't do it. So unless someone has a good reason for hooking up the audio cable to the headphone jack on the case I'd say it isn't worth the bother.

But if you must:It goes in about half an inch to the left of the big, fat ATA connector. Directly to the left of the ATA connector on my Samsung drive are a group of 6 pins with a plastic connector or jumper connecting two of the pins. Do not remove the jumper or attempt to plug the flat audio connector into the other pins. Unlike the other connectors the audio connector is not keyed. You can see the narrow horizontal slot - on the Samsung - it goes in. I *assume* it is similar on other brands, but like I said I don't think it buys you anything. End update II.

Comments welcome. Yes, I was playing with my new editing software, which enabled the opening credits. I also mention LightScribe, a handy way to label a few DVDs and CDs without the bother of running them through an inkjet.

Hey, when will laser printers start printing on optical media?

Update: I gave the post a quick edit this morning that tightened things up.

Topics: Laptops, Mobility

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    • Message has been deleted.

  • Video??

    I didn't see a link to any video, nor any video embedded in this story.. WTF..?
    • video???

      I thought I was the only one looking for the video...for a faulty connection but Wolfie2K3 proved that there is nothing wrong with how the page is displayed.

      Again, where is the video? Pls provide atleast a link.
      • There it is!!!

        OK, its embedded. :)
  • Still no video...

    Obviously I'm missing something here because there doesn't seem to be a video, embedded or otherwise on this page.

    Viewed in Opera 9.5 Alpha, Opera 9.23 and Internet Explorer 7, all with the same result...

  • Definitely one of the less tech savvy posts

    But, not every one knows these things and they all have to start some where.

    I mean who wants to start by building a $750 dollar RAID system or $300 disk burning system.
  • RE: Build a $50 DVD burner

    If your computer has enough CPU power (the minimum is in the 500-1000MHz range, depending on video card) and you have a video card that does 24 or 32-bit color (any modern card), the only other thing you need to play movies is DVD player software. The cheapest way to get it is to look for a DVD drive that comes with an OEM version of WinDVD or PowerDVD; you might pay an extra $5 or $10 to get a drive with the software, but it's less expensive than buying a retail copy. The OEM version won't play multichannel sound, however.

    Movie playback on a system that only has USB 1.1 support might be problematic; the maximum data rate of the DVD is very close to the maximum that USB 1.1 can manage. If you must try it, disconnecting all other USB devices might help; at the very least, use a dedicated USB port for the DVD rather than trying to use a USB hub that also has things like a keyboard or mouse plugged in. USB 2 will have no problems at all.

    Windows Media Player and Windows Media Center can also play DVDs, but only if you have a compatible DVD decoder installed; Windows doesn't come with one. The two programs I named include a compatible decoder, so after the installation you'll be able to watch DVDs in WMP or WMC as well as in WinDVD or PowerDVD.
  • Overly simplistic, glosses over issues

    First, a factual error: Most devices support Firewire400, which is a little slower than USB on Windows. On Mac OS, where the USB implementation is slower, it may be a wash. Firewire800 is more expensive, and less common. It is faster that USB 2.0, but when using optical media like CDs or DVDs, you won't notice any difference due to the slow optical media.

    DVD drives are a sore point if you ever plan to burn DVDs that you want to play in a regular DVD player. I have had a lot of experience with drive's that have high "coaster rates", or simply will not create a DVD that plays in a commercil player. Lots of different brands and models. Research and trial and error are needed.

    Also, performance is a pain. Cheaper drives often have slower performance and/or are less tolerant of things like discs with smudges, fine scratches, or ones burned on another computer. Again, yech.

    So what starts out as sounding like a simple project and inexpensive project, may end up causing frustration.
    • i've never had any problems burning dvd's and playing them on regular setto

      i've never had any problems burning dvd's and playing them on regular set top dvd players that are multi-read. which i think most if not all are now days.
      SO.CAL Guy
    • I've tested both USB and Firewire

      Steve, you raise some thought-provoking points.

      I've tested both USB & FW 400 on Windows XP and on Mac and FireWire is quite a
      bit faster especially on the Mac. Doing disk to disk file xfer I regularly see 40MB/s
      on FW and about half that on USB. It won't matter for optical media until we get up
      to 6x Blu-ray, or beyond 20x DVD, but it is something to be aware of.

      I've never had a problem with playing DVD-R on a consumer DVD player and I've
      produced a few for StorageMojo's East African correspondent, who lectures when
      she isn't leading safaris.

      I agree that some burners are flaky, but I've had good luck with Sony, Panasonic,
      Samsung and Lite-on. This stuff has gotten pretty well nailed down by the

      Unlike the HD formats or flash translation layers.

      R Harris
      • Article interesting, but pointless...

        The lite-on, since you mention it, is $58 for an external usb version at right now. That includes free 3-day shipping, most likely no tax, and a decent warranty. All done in one already put toegether package. Wait a week and there will probably be some $20 rebate out there as well.

        Why would I want to build an item that has (aguably) become a cheap commodity?
    • Inaccurate...

      Actually, you are reading the specifications and making statements based on their raw numbers. Fact is that Firewire 400 has a much higher sustained throughput than the USB 2.0. There is a reason that most videographers will use Firewire over USB for moving video between devices even in Windows based systems. USB is faster in burst transfers but for sustained data flow, Firewire is the way to go if you have it.
  • RE: Build a $50 DVD burner

    How about showing us where you got all the parts for < 50 bucks, without the video ???
    • Once you know...

      You NEWEGG! ;)
      IT Dept_MBSSI
    • you just google it simple i found parts for one under $50 in

      you just google it simple i found parts for one under $50 in about 5 min.
      SO.CAL Guy
  • jumper setting

    what about jumper settings ? master , slave , select? This would be the only thing a person would need to know and it was
    • with an external usb or firewire drive you just leave the cable select

      with an external usb or firewire drive you just leave the cable select and thats the jumper drives are set to.

      since theres no reason to mess with the jumpers to talk about jumpers would have confused the noobs that this article was written for.
      SO.CAL Guy
  • RE: Build a $50 DVD burner

    You'll never find a Laser Printer that Prints on DVD's and it will never be invented because laser printers melt the ink onto the media, which, in turn may melt the DVD itself. It may be possible to laser print on a label that is then stuck onto a DVD, but that's it. Sorry.
  • RE: Build a $50 DVD burner

    Never ever say never...What if they have a low heat/ no heat toner...hmm I may patent that...