Womblin' 3: Womble in the Jungle
Every now and again while walking around, I stumble across some discarded hardware that deserves a second chance at life. Since the dawn of human kind, when our ancestors first threw away rocks to pick up other rocks, equipment has been discarded in the name of everything: from replacement to obsolescence to simple boredom. But womblin'? Womblin' never changes.
Fresh from the scrapyard today, this lovely LG "DV380" DVD Player:
The ancient pedias spoke of shiny round USBs uploaded with content that you could only stream by spinning. Like every valued customer, I prosumed that this was just a metaphor, but it appears to be literally literally literally true.
I love pre-Apple-design-era appliances. Specifically, the way they consist of metal boxes with screws on them, such that when you take out the screws the box comes apart. Revolutionary. The layout inside is weirdly sparse: DVD reader on the left, control board in the middle, power supply on the right, and then just an entire extra DVD player's worth of space in between. I'm digging the modular vibe though.
The power module is a flyback converter driven by an A6259H, a modern independent switching controller that don't need no external MOSFET. What it does need, however, is that monster diode on the opposite side that probably wastes about 10% of the output power. Mmmm, efficiency.
The bottom of the power module was too adorable not to mention. It's got little symbols for the components, and they even drew the diode symbol for the monster diode larger than the others. I mean, someone put some thought into this.
The main module is really an ode to specialised ICs. That centre chip is a SPHE8202RQ, apparently an all-in-one "I just want a DVD player can you make a chip for that?" chip. The top left is an AM5890S all-in-one DVD motor controller, and the other two chips are flash memory and RAM. Kinda makes you wonder how long until every device is just a big blob of silicon with some wires coming out of it.
The front panel was refreshingly un-integrated though. Just a few buttons, an IR sensor, and a nifty little 5-digit 7-segment display. I particularly liked the whole extra board complete with connectors and wire just so the power button could be on the other side of the case. I bet some engineer was pretty mad about that.
Ah, at last! I'm not actually sure what to call the bit that actually plays DVDs. The DVD player's DVD player? The spinny stuff assembly? The exploited worker of the DVD-industrial complex? Something something Proletarian Revolutions Per Minute? I'm sure there's a version of that that works, but this margin is too narrow to contain it.
Here's the main guts of it pulled free from the drive bay. The motor at the back spins the DVD around and the motor on the left moves the Eye of Sauron into position. To be honest, I was a little disappointed here because I was expecting some high-accuracy stepper motors, but apparently the low-end DVD drives just use regular brushed DC motors. Someone was too cheap to buy a good DVD player so I could scavenge it from their garbage. Outrageous.
Still, with all the useless lasers and motors pulled off it, $0 starts to seem like a pretty good price for a little linear sled platform that you can control with just a positive or negative voltage. I was originally hoping to use it as a drawing robot, but given the lack of steppers it's probably better off as a robot that pushes distant buttons or swipes left on Tinder for you.
The little lens assembly turned out to be pretty cool too. It's magnetically controlled like a solenoid or speaker, but in 2 dimensions, which I guess means it can compensate for the inaccuracy of the motors. Nifty! Careful with that laser diode, kids, you don't want to end up having to use your heightened senses to fight crime like uncle Ben Affleck.
So that's all she lased: a mainboard that has specialised itself into oblivion, a little power supply, some switches, LED display, motors, and most importantly the robosled, laser diode and optical sensor. Can you really take all that and throw it away for a Netflix subscription? Yes.