MacGyver modder

I wouldn’t call myself a newbie or an expert,
I’m more a Jack of all trades, and out of the box tinkerer.
That was me introducing myself, as this is my first post.

I am not looking for firmware , but I am looking for recommendations to where to start so I could write or modify my own ., code documentation , tools , ect.

My desire started when I read this ;

Turning an off the shelf CD drive into a chemical analysis device, now thats a MacGyver mod.
I previously assumed media detection , laser power , disk speed and a host of other parameters were hardwired and hidden from the drive interface. I see now the power of firmware and feel compelled to start tinkering.


Hi and Welcome!

since you are asking where to start: The work of the spanish scientist team has been published for sure. Get the original article (university library should help) and make sure you fully understand what they have done.
Additionally, I assume you can find out (and fully understand) how an optical drive does work.

Next steps would be to learn how to deal with the firmware without bricking the drive. Solid assembler knowledge is helpful, I guess.


I shot members of the team a few emails , no response yet , I didn’t think of the library yet, thanks. They have been helpful in the past getting university papers and other obscure things in the past, I wonder if they can help with anything outside of the US?

I don’t understand by what you mean by ‘how to deal’ with the firmware,
Do you mean functions that are expected at specific offsets , self checksums , high byte or low byte ordering and other things I hope to find in the kind of documentation and handled by tools (compilers / dissemblers) I seek recommendations on. In other words , thats why I’m here.
Or do you mean , how do I keep the kids from unplugging stuff while an eeprom is being rewritten.
If its the second , well , I’m still dealing …

Assembler knowledge I am lacking , Learning it has been on my to-do list since I first started any programing. Just reading about it isn’t enough and trying to use it to control bare hardware in a windows environment with all its layers of abstraction has proven to be a bad place to start.
I am thinking now , in a dos emulator and/or some pic programming might be a better place to get a feel for it. I’m going to need something to work on if I am ever going to really learn it and loosing a few surplus drives from my garage to pay that tuition seems like a win-win scenario.

I don’t understand by what you mean by ‘how to deal’ with the firmware,[/quote]Basically, you need to write your own firmware for the drive you selected to abuse.
Of course you need to have excellent knowledge of the properties and capabilities of the drive’s chipset and laser system.


I was hoping to avoid ‘from scratch’ , Also , even if I memorized every chips spec sheet and became intimately familiar with assembly (neither is likely to be true) , there is a chasm of unknown depth and width between a chip instruction and a properly formated bin file for flashing. Someone ,toss me a line so I can secure a start point for my flimsy rope bridge to self education.