Introduction: Homemade CD Player or Stand Alone CD-ROM Drive

CD-ROM Drive plays music without computer! Can you belive it? How to build CD-player using old CD-Rom drive and PC power supply. Do It Yourself!


lynzay_ (author)2008-04-10

while this is a good example of uilising components that you have lying around and making them functional, it is quite a ridiculous waste of time for most people. especially when a discman or portable dvd player are practically dime a dozen these days. why would anyone take the time to butcher cables and put it all together, just to have a cd player that looks like a broken computer, is hung together by a thread and weighs almost a kilogram? even macguyver wouldnt jump through this many hoops to listen to a cd. and he would take the time to build a bomb from a banana and a pile of paperclips.

Xellers (author)lynzay_2008-05-20

Actually, if you found and old computer and spent five minutes with it, you could build this. I would definitely do this if I needed a CD player. (I've got like 20 CD ROM or RW drives and power supplies just waiting to be used, and I've got speakers to hook them up to)

BrianU (author)Xellers2014-08-10

For an amplifier, the small ( 42mm x 147mm x 120mm ) Lepai Tripath TA2020 chip amplifier, that comes with both a treble and bass knob and runs on 12VDC 2A for $25 or less, would work very nicely.

BrianU (author)lynzay_2014-08-10

If you were like I am - on a disability income and with too much free time and an electronic vocational background - projects like this keep the mind sharp and the hands busy in a non-physically demanding way. Even if I didn't need a CD player, or took it apart right after seeing if it worked, it may lead to a better idea and a more worthwhile project.

wardwelld (author)lynzay_2011-11-01

lol yah just buy a stero

McWhizzleteeth (author)lynzay_2011-09-21

This project is exactly what I am looking for. At our college radio station, we go through CD players like candy. And guess what, we never have any money to replace them! The college has plenty of old computers we can scavenge for free, however. This is perfect for us.

dcostello1 (author)lynzay_2011-08-25

Find me a front-loading portable CD player, and I'll concede to your point here... But for my specific needs, in my small project studio, I want to install the CD player in a rack, which means opening up the lid of a portable CD player and having to access buttons on the top of it (rather than on the front) isn't possible. This is actually a VERY practical and functional solution for my situation. So, if MacGyver owned a recording studio, I'm pretty sure this is how he'd do it... ;-)

lynzay_ (author)dcostello12011-08-26

ebay search rack cd player. found one for 11$!

dcostello1 (author)lynzay_2011-08-31

I'd be curious to see what you found... I bet it takes up a full-width rack space. I need it to only take up one side -- 1/2 rack, front-load, w/ controls on the front. There's a Rolls model... for $275...
Meanwhile... I just found what I hope to be the perfect power supply today at this really cool place called the Reuseum here in Boise. Can't wait to get home and try it out. Price: $7.99

fastbtech (author)lynzay_2011-06-18

The whole point of instructables is exactly to " utilise components that you have lying around and making them functional"

yoyology (author)lynzay_2010-05-17

In my case, I have a boom box with a dead CD player that I currently hang from the ceiling in my kitchen.  I want to gut it and use the radio, amp and power supply plus an old CDROM drive to make a DIY under-cabinet radio.

jotism (author)lynzay_2009-12-14

I didn't cut 1 single wire, I just shorted the green pin with the closest black pin (well, holes in the big plug) with a 2 or 3 cm bit of solder lol.

rocky946 (author)lynzay_2008-05-19

I really like this idea. I think it is great for those of us nerds that cannot always afford to buy new things and we have to make use of what we have already. Keep up the good work ermak777!!!! Do you know how to make an internal disc drive become an external one, to actually run the player to the computer

kingtubby (author)rocky9462008-08-08

Get longer cables

farna (author)2014-06-20

Hmmm... I like the idea, but the PC power supply is a bit large. What about using a 12V DC wall-wart and a small 5V regulator? That would make a compact power supply. Since we're salvaging parts, look at wall-warts for old telephones, especially those with built-in answering machines (even digital). I have found a couple that were 12V DC. Maybe a printer or laptop PS... Might be bale to find a similar PS with 12V and 5V DC doming out of it, that would be ideal, but I can't think of anything that has a PS like that (I'm thinking the brick with cords type). Like these:

You know, a couple wall-warts (+12V DC and +5V DC) on a cheap extension cord would probably be the lowest cost (best?) way out. Plenty salvageable wall-warts out there -- more 5V DC than 12V DC. Would still be compact compared to a PC PS, and could be mounted outside a case for the CD-ROM -- plug both directly in the wall even!

lalberti1 (author)2013-11-26

i saw this kind of stuff around 2005, i think. some of my neighbors are using it this way. the thing is, i wanna know how to connect this stuff to an amplifier for a better sound.

spin498 (author)2013-09-14

It ain't pretty but it would go fine in a basement workshop, where nothing is pretty.

gosugenji (author)2011-12-29

If you spend a little $$$ you can get a pico psu like this one to power the thing instead of a bulky psu. The link is for reference not spam.

fjr_scoot (author)2011-12-18

great instructable - just what I was looking for - I wanted to use a cd-rom drive to make a CD-player for a blind aunt for books on tape. The easy-load feature of a computer CD-rom drive is perfect. Thanks!

1111111 (author)2011-12-16

Instructables is for the world community. Not just for the rich and middle classes. It reaches into the ghettos and helps people to build things they need as well as providing ideas for hobbyists.
there's broken down computers all over the world which are an ideal resource. even if I lived next door to a high tech gadget shop I would still rather build this sort of thing.
People who think it's a waste of time are missing the point of instructables.
This is a great idea. Thanks for posting it

izaic3 (author)2008-09-08

Anyone else get this to work? I've tried multiple cd players, and they all power up, but no sound comes out. I don't think it's reading the disc.

maneth (author)izaic32011-08-24

me tooo i have the same problem, i put the disc in, i put on the speaker, the disc turns for 5 secs and it stops......................

please if u have found the solution email me @

pnky_14 (author)izaic32010-02-26

You don't have to have one with the skip/play button but it makes it alot easier.  There are several instructables on how to add the button on  manually.  Mine worked I know that this works.  Also instead of having to use the 3.5 jack, I took the cd rom apart and soldered wires coming off of the jack and just hooked speakers up to it.  Works fine but the sound isn't very loud.  I'm going to try hooking an aftermarket cd player to the computer PSU and I'm certain the sound quality will be alot better.  Good Luck! 

zack247 (author)izaic32009-11-02

im having the same problem! if it makes a spinning or whirring noise, its reading the disc. but im not sure why it isn't playing it? maybe you need one with the play/pause/skip buttons on the front

jotism (author)zack2472009-12-14

I noticed that they (atleast my one) does not work with MP3 CD's and only "genuin" CDs (legit ones I mean)

legless (author)jotism2010-01-09
Most CD-ROM/DVD-ROM drives have the codec for reading (Red book) audio CDs built in so they can usually play any audio CD. MP3 CDs are not audio discs but data discs with MP3 files on them. Some kind of decoder is needed to play them.

Red Book Audio Specifications

The basic specifications state that

  1. Maximum playing time is 79.8 minutes
  2. Minimum duration for a track is 4 seconds (including 2-second pause)
  3. Maximum number of tracks is 99
  4. Maximum number of index points (subdivisions of a track) is 99 with no maximum time limit
  5. The International Standard Recording Code (ISRC) should be included

zack247 (author)jotism2009-12-14

in my case, i had to open the cd drive, and solder two wires to the spots where the leads for the play/skip button would be. now it works just fine. too bad you can't get any sound from the sound output on the back, then headphones aren't needed

Prajith (author)2011-04-10

hey guys how will we control the play/stop option when we connect cd drive externally to play music.....pls help.....

cfc106 (author)2010-10-29

after I cut the green and black wire what do I connect them to I don't have a switch

mspearin (author)2009-06-08

that would be helpful if you had a cd drive with a play button.

zack247 (author)mspearin2009-12-14

its easy to add one. crak open the cd drive, and look at the front portion of it. find where the spots for the play/skip button are, and solder two wires (long enough to reach out the back) to them. voila! you can now play or skip using the cd drive! if not, then you might want to make sure you got the right connections

xgream (author)zack2472010-10-11

what shall i do next if i found and soldered both the spots, shall it be the two spots to soledered together, or separately at the back as you mentioned; and where should it be connected to the back??

zack247 (author)xgream2010-10-11

solder two wires to the two spots, not connecting them, and feed them out the back of the drive. then you connect the two wires from the back to a pushbutton switch of some sort, and you are ready to go.

mspearin (author)zack2472009-12-14

Thank you for the tip!!

zack247 (author)mspearin2009-12-15

im glad to help. if you have any other questions, don't hesitate to ask

cdmaster (author)2010-05-09

this works only with traditional power supplies for computers, no dells work.
you can use any cd drive or cd r drive made before 2005

if you dont have a play/skip button, you can either solder one on next to the eject button inside or just solder the two points next to the eject button together if(if you like to listen to the whole cd)

i even added a remote to mine

bikerelc (author)cdmaster2010-07-14

Dells did not follow the standard color coding but they should work if you adjusted for their differences. Check out It has pretty much everything you need to make the supply work as a general power supply, if you are going to use it to drive the cd drive you don't need to do any of the custom lighting, and loading that he does.

GENERALCHAOS (author)cdmaster2010-05-10

a remote ??? BTW i used a caddy cd rom it also had a display really nice project it had all the controls

cent91 (author)2010-02-05

i have a dell power supply here which i took out from my Old dell GX1. it doesnot have a green wire. other colors it has are red, white, grey, black, orange, sky blue, purple and yellow. can i get this to work? also that my Cd-rom doesnot have a "play/pause" button nor a "next track" button etc. can i use it for playing music? kindly help.

randofo (author)2008-02-13

That is an absurdly large power supply.

Drewley (author)randofo2008-02-15

That's a standard size ATX power supply. Most computers use them.

randofo (author)Drewley2008-02-15

Yeah, but that's not a computer it's just a CD-player operating on 12v and 5v. If you really wanted to you could get a 12v wall wart and miniaturize the power regulator; possibly even stick it in the CD case.

jotism (author)randofo2009-12-14

Yes, but for this, you can attatch USB ports to the other 5V wires and also make other power connections (USB for speakers and charging things etc.).

cent91 (author)jotism2010-02-05

i have a dell power supply here which i took out from my Old dell GX1. it doesnot have a green wire. other colors it has are red, white, grey, black, orange, sky blue, purple and yellow. can i get this to work? also that my Cd-rom doesnot have a "play/pause" button nor a "next track" button etc. can i use it for playing music? kindly help.

macyrlivyed (author)randofo2008-08-11

Standard Power Supply

juicy_2009 (author)2009-09-11

hi, what a nice idea and video... but how about if my cd drive does not have a hole provided for jack connectivity, can i use the back part of the cd drive where i can connect something for speakers to work correctly.?? thanks and good luck to you... juicy_2009

twitsl (author)juicy_20092010-01-31

There is often an analog connection in the back if not there is nothing you can do to make it work outside a computer. Another thing i thought i would add is that I put the with through a little hole i drilled in my power supply. It looks a lot nicer and made it very sturdy.

legless (author)juicy_20092010-01-09
CD-ROM audio connectors

CD-ROM drives used to always have a headphone socket and volume control on the front panel. Supply 12V and 5V power sources to the CD-ROM drive and add some headphones and you can play a "Red Book" Audio CD. I won't go into the power supply needs as several suitable solutions can be found elsewhere in other Instructables.

There is usually also a 4 pin audio cable connector on the rear of the CD-ROM drive to connect with an add-on sound card or PC motherboard (hereafter referred to as the "soundcard") to use its amplifier and some speakers or headphones to playback the audio from the CD. This connector basically provides line level (0.3-2 Vpp) analogue audio signals from the CD-ROM drive to the PC soundcard.

Also some CD-ROM drives had RCA audio connectors on the rear as well for connecting directly to the AUX input of an amplifier.

Problems with these audio connectors

While today these 4 pin connectors are fairly standard across brands and different types and models of CD-ROM, CD-RW, DVD-ROM and DVD-RW drives (hereafter referred to as the "CD-ROM drive") there is some variation especially with older CD-ROM drives.

The SPA MPC working group did much to promote standardisation on multimedia PCs. This specification includes a standard interface connector and pinout which should be used on all computer soundcards and the audio cables which come with them.

A Multimedia PC CD-ROM drive must include a cable to connect the drive's analogue audio output connector to a soundcard's analogue audio input connector. This cable's open sound card connector must be a female 4 pin Molex 70066-G,70400-G, or 70430-G connector with 2.54mm pitch (or equivalent) with this pin assignment.

pin1 - left signal
pin2 - ground
pin3 - ground
pin4 - right signal

What to do if you have some non-standard components

Typical CD-ROM drive problems

One possible variation of 4 pin cable is:

pin1 - nc
pin2 - left signal (white)
pin3 - ground (black)
pin4 - right signal (red)

In this case you might not have the left channel if you make a cable with standard connections.

How to fix it: Pull out the white wire from the connector (use a pin or very fine jeweler's screwdriver) and move it to the empty hole so it's in this order:

pin1 - left signal (white)
pin2 - nc
pin3 - ground (black)
pin4 - right signal (red)

Now you should hear CD playback from both channels.

How do you know how a given CD-ROM drive audio output is wired?

Usually this is stamped or printed somewhere (metalwork near the connector or on a label) on CD-ROM drive itself. If not, you have to quess the pinout and then test it.

Other variations are

3 pin connector

pin1 - Left signal
pin2 - common Ground
pin3 - Right signal

4 pin connector

pin1 - left signal
pin2 - ground
pin3 - right signal
pin4 - ground

Tips for building the cable

For the best audio quality use only shielded wiring as it's very easy to get induced noise especially with longer cables. To make a complete cable from scratch, you need some shielded audio cable (single, dual channel) and a molex connector for the CD-ROM drive end, and suitable RCA connectors for your amplifier, or a 3.5mm stereo miniphone plug to plug in powered speakers (built in amplifier).

Another option is to make a pigtail from the molex cable that came with the CD-ROM drive, by cutting off the PC end of this cable and adding inline RCA sockets or a 3.5mm miniphone plug. This pigtail should be kept as short as is practicable as most do not have shielded cable. A standard RCA cable can then be used to connect to an amplifier. Amplifiers in home stereos and car audio systems tend to use RCA connectors for their line level inputs.

A third option to use a CD-ROM drive in a car, is to connect the pigtail with a 3.5mm miniphone socket to a cassette adapter which you can slip into your car's cassette player. This might not be very loud if the line level from the CD-ROM drive is very low. If your drive has a headphone socket you can plug it in there.

As an extra thought, you might be able to get hold of a cheap external CD-ROM enclosure which will have a power supply and might have RCA connectors on the rear (many did/do) then plug this into your amplifier.

This last idea is not practical for in-car use.
d1ndian (author)2008-12-07

well what about a DVD player .......and one more thing can we add a lcd screen .....or moniter?

zack247 (author)d1ndian2009-12-14

it could be possible, you would just have to make a circuit that connects to the ide port, and after the correct circuit, and the correct screen, it could be possible