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Figure 4 - This laser unit contains both an infrared and visible red laser diode
Figure 4 - This laser unit contains both an infrared and visible red laser diode

The laser head unit shown in Figure 4 was pulled from an old DVD/CD writer combo unit, and contains both the high power visible red laser diode as well as the infrared laser diode. The infrared diode used on the CD burner side is quite a bit less powerful than the visible red DVD burner diode, but make no mistake, the infrared laser diode will still output more than 10x the light than any "eye safe" laser pointer, and both will damage your eyes if you are not extremely careful. You will have to pull the laser unit apart using a small set of screwdrivers in order to extract the actual laser diodes, and along the way you will find an array of interesting and useful optical components to use in other projects. Some of the parts are just epoxied in place, so a little prying with a small flat head screwdriver may be necessary during the disassembly process. Be careful not to pry on the actual laser diode, though.



Figure 5 - Several laser diodes removed from DVD and CD burner units
Figure 5 - Several laser diodes removed from DVD and CD burner units

The bare laser diode will look like the ones shown in Figure 5. Often, the diode will be epoxied or press fit into a small metal block for better heat dissipation. It may be best to simply leave it connected, as the high power DVD burning diode will generate a lot of heat when powered up to full current. If you want to remove the laser diode from the heat sink to make your own heat sink or to retro fit a laser pointer, it may take a bit of prying with a thin screwdriver in order to release the diode from the small metal block. The glue will be contained in a few small holes along the laser diode body. This is where you will have to pry using the screwdriver blade. If you have a very small drill bit, you can also grind out some of the epoxy to help release the diode.

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