Like most folks, I don’t really use CDs anymore. A lot of new computers don’t even come with CD drives, including my own laptop. I really didn’t even miss having one— until I did…

So, I needed an accessory drive. Before spending some hard-earned dollars on a shiny new unit (that in all likelihood would rarely get used), I wanted to try and repurpose the one I already had. Tucked away, I still kept the shell of my very old and very dead laptop. Hiding inside it was a perfectly operational optical drive! I needed to extract it from its habitat. I had previously repurposed the hard drive from this machine, and the removal of the optical drive was a similar process.

The now independent drive required a new connector. Originally built with a PATA connection for internal use, I was able to track down a JAE 50-pin to USB type B adapter for a more universal and portable connection.


Upon plugging in the new adapter, everything worked spectacularly. With a disc inserted (and spinning) inside, the whole assembly walked across my desktop and almost jumped off and onto the floor. Tethered only by the flimsy adapter and USB cable, it was in serious need of an enclosure to keep it safe and stable.

This sounded like a job for Unrivaled’s trusty Ultimaker! I grabbed my calipers and fired up Solidworks. For the sake of simplicity, I designed the part to be a one-piece print, meaning no negative draft. The shape of the drive actually lent itself well for this, easily dropping into an open top cradle. As a finishing touch, I found some acrylic scraps to cut with our laser cutter; these slabs would cap the top and bottom of the case. I screwed the 3 bits together, and voila! I now had a quite-old- yet-brand- new, once-internal now-portable laptop optical drive to read my archaic compact discs.

Have a UJ-875 Optical Drive that needs a case?