First off, run an Internet search for the part number. Usually, you don’t even have to leave the first page of the search results in your favorite search engine. There’s normally someone still selling these drives (unless it’s a VERY old model) and they put all the info you need to know right in the title of their listing: Philips dvd8631 16xdvd±rw dl ide drive . So, it’s a 16-speed, dual layer writing DVD drive, so it does have a high power red laser in it.
The power of the laser can be assessed based on the advertised speed.
According to Sony’s product brochure for one of their high-power red laser diodes, SLD1236VL, the diode’s output power (CW or continuous power) will be somewhere along this list:
- x4 speed recoding – 100mW
- x8 speed recording – 140mW
- x12 speed recording – 200mW
- x16 speed recording – 250mW
- x16 Dual Layer speed recording – 300mW
- x24 Dual Layer speed recording – 400mW
You can also venture a really rough guess based on the date of manufacture if by some very strange reason no info about your drive is available on the Internet (what is it, from Mars?) or you’re just been really lazy:
- 2002-2003 – x4 speed recoding – 100mW
- 2003-2004 – x8 speed recording – 140mW
- 2004-2005 – x12 – speed recording – 200mW
- 2004-2005 – x16 – speed recording – 250mW
- 2005-2008 – x16 speed recording Dual Layer – 300mW
- 2008-current x24 speed recording Dual Layer – 400mW
Note that many of the most recent drives have laser diodes either without any package (bare silicon inside the optical assembly) or on really hard to work with glass plates. You may want to stay away from those.
Ideally, what you are looking for (from the DIY perspective) is a red laser diode of 200mW+ optical power output in a TO-18 package, meaning a round metal body with the larger diameter of 5.6mm – the size/shape most prevalent among suppliers of mountings for the diode, such as AixiZ or O-Like. This diode operates at 2.5V and 130mA current and has a wavelength of 658nm.
So, your ideal drive to harvest parts from, at least for DIY CNC laser cutting purposes, is usually manufactured in 2005-2008 and it’s a desktop drive advertised as a 16x speed recorder. So, yeah, this Phillips drive was a good pick …
Oh, and before you go: even the lowest power laser diodes mentioned here will burn your retina if you’re not careful, so use proper laser safety glasses!