Hide Your Optical Drive in Plain Sight

About: I love to build things. My love affair with destructing, constructing and reconstructing stuff began when I was very young. When I got a new toy the first thing I did was take it apart to find out how it wor...

Yes, I know, optical drive stealthing has been done a hundred times, but I took mine just a little further. Most stealth's are done by simply attaching the bay cover to the drive tray. I did that too, but I also relocated the open/close button, and the activity light. The above video shows the drive on the right being opened and closed with a button on the front case bezel. I apologize for the quality, I did not have a good camera at the time I did this mod. I also wish I had taken a few more pics at the time, but, I think, I have enough to document this project.
While I can't tell you the brand of DVD I used in this project, I can tell you, almost every one I have taken apart has been built the same, and I've taken lots apart.

What You Will Need:
1. A drive to stealth
2. A small normally open push button switch (Salvaged from an old stereo receiver)
3. An LED (I used Radio Shack Model: 276-041 5mm Red)
4. A male and female four pin floppy drive connector (abbreviated *f-d-c* in this structable)
5. Some wire
6. Soldering iron and solder
7. A drill with bits the diameter of the switch and LED
8. A phillips screwdriver
9. A good epoxy
10. Hot glue gun and glue sticks

This is a project that can be accomplished by anyone with some basic skills. So grab your tools and let's get started.

Step 1: Mounting the Switch and LED

Let's face it, optical drives go bad, too. To make the drive as replaceable as possible, I wanted to, at least, be able to unplug the drive to put in a new one. I would still have to rewire the new drive, but at least, my light and switch would already be there. To accomplish this I simply wired them to a female f-d-c. If you don't know what a
f-d-c is, just look at the power connector on any floppy drive, or the parts list on the first page. You can salvage these from and old system or buy new at Radio Shack or your local computer store.
There is really not a lot I can tell you about this step, as the choice of mounting locations will vary, depending on you and where you want to mount them. I would like to talk about the switch a little though.
To operate the drive tray, you need a normally open, push button switch. You can purchase this at your local parts store, or, you can salvage one like I did. I happened to have an old receiver that I had just scavenged for parts. The front panel had just the switch I needed. I tested the switch and simply unsoldered it from the circuit board. The testing part is very important if you scavenge your switch. Use a continuity checker to test the switch while it is still mounted to the circuit board. Touch the poles of your switch with your probes of you checker. Make sure you are on the poles of the switch and not the mounting tabs. If your checker beeps, and you are not pushing the switch, it is a normally closed switch and will not work. Just try another switch.
Now just one other thing. When wiring your f-d-c, remember, two post for the switch, two for the LED.
IMPORANT!!! Make sure you keep + and - straight on the LED wiring. It must match at both connectors!
I used a green/white combination for the LED and red/black for the switch.

Next we will start working on the drive itself.

Step 2: Wiring the Optical Drive

The first step, of course, is to gain access to the drives circuit boards. Do this by removing the four screws on the bottom of the drive. Once the screws are out, gently lift the cover. The circuit board at the front has the connections we are after. You should be able to tell by looking which connection is which. The solder points should be right under the component. Next locate a place to run the wires making sure they will not interfere with the operation of the drive. Looking at the front of my drive, there was a perfect channel, running down the left hand side of the drive. There was even a place to run the wire through the circuit board. I did have to drill a hole at the back to feed the wire through. I later turned this into a slot for the f-d-c. Now, using your original color pairing, solder the wires to circuit board. i.e. grn/wht to LED, red/blk to switch. Don't forget +/- on the LED. Now solder the male f-d-c to the other end of the wires so the wires will pair up when connected. Green should go to green, white should go to white etc. Now mount the
f-d-c to the back of the drive using hot glue or silicon. I use these because they are easy to remove should I need to change the drive. Now simply clip the circuit board in place and replace the cover and we are ready to go. At this point it is a good idea to hook it all up and make sure it working properly.

Next we will attach the bay cover to the disk drawer.

Step 3: Attaching the Bay Cover

This is probably the hardest part of this whole build. Everything must line up, to open and close smoothly, and remain unseen when closed. The bay covers are held in by tabs that grip the case bezel. The first step is to remove these. If the cover has tabs at the top, and/or bottom, these must go too. Now this must be attached to the drawer front. My original idea was to use heavy duty double sided tape. It didn't work! The tape had too much flexibility causing the bay cover to move and droop when open. The solution to this was epoxy. Not only would this make for a stronger bond, but, it would make it much easier to change out the drive if need be.
The original drawer front was rounded so I first sanded the front flat. Make sure this is parallel to your case front as the bay cover will be glued to this. If it is to far off the cover will be tilted. Next I slid the original drawer front onto the drawer and applied double sided tape. I then pushed the drive into the case past it's normal position. After replacing the case bezel I centered the bay cover in place using paper spacers. Sorry this is where I wish I had more pictures. I then held the whole thing in place with a piece of duct tape. Holding my hand against the bay cover, I pushed the drive forward until it made contact with the bay cover. After removing the tape and spacers, I simply applied power, opened the drawer, and slid off the original drawer front with the bay cover attached. Laying the bay cover flat, and using an awl, (or any pointy scratcher) I outlined the original drawer front. I then separated the two and removed all tape and residue. With everything clean, I epoxied the original drawer front to the bay cover in the space I scribed earlier. Now, if I ever have to, I could slide this onto another drive.
I was now finally ready to put this thing all together.

Oh! One thing NOT to do! DO NOT use super glue on plastic!

My covers had a mesh over them that was held on by the tabs I removed. "No problem", I thought, "I will simply super glue them on!" BAD IDEA! The super glue turned my nice shiny black into a crusty looking white. "Arrrrrrgggggggg"
I had to sand it down and paint it to get rid of it. *Added benefit: I stuck the mesh on while the paint was wet. It worked better than the glue!

Step 4: Put It All Together

Once all the adhesives have cured replace the drawer front and slide the drive into the case. Secure the drive so the bay cover is flush with case front. There is usually some play in the mounting slots of the drive bay, so make sure your new drawer front is centered in the opening. Once secure, plug the female f-d-c, from the new switch and LED, to the male f-d-c on the drive, and finish connecting the drive as usual. You now have an unseen optical drive!

I hope you found this Instructable useful and informative and I hope you have as much fun hiding your drive as I did.

Please note, this could be accomplished with any number of power connectors and switches. The kind of connector or switch you use is up to you. Just make sure your momentary switch is normally open and you remember +/- on the LED.

*** Use caution when reaching in your case with the power on. While the voltage is low, you could still get shocked, or perhaps fry one of the circuits.

Thanks for reading, comments welcome!

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    12 Discussions

    desoldering the other LED might give you enough voltage if the drive is sending it, but I don't believe it will help. You may have to use this one as a power light and get a lower voltage LED.

    can you send me a pic of your wiring. Are you trying to use the LED in your switch as the activity light or just come on when you press the button?

    i checked the specs on the LED you used

    • Typical Voltage is 2.25, with a maximum voltage of 2.6V

    So i think the lower voltage is my issue, i am a little out of my league here but i think i may try desoldering the existing LED. I guess the worst thing that could happen is i could wreck the drive so i might as well try, its only $20!! lol

    I tested the LED with a power source ant it works perfect

    I am getting 2v at the soldered lead ends when the tray opens/closes

    the specs on the LED say it operates between 3v and 12v so i think its just not getting enough voltage

    I wonder if i desolder the existing LED if that will allow enough voltage?


    4 years ago on Step 1

    I am having trouble with the LED light, the one i soldered in wont light but the one built in still lights as per normal. any ideas?

    4 replies

    Either your LED is bad or you soldered it in backwards. There is a + and a - on a LED and it has to be right to work.