December 10, 2002 3:59 AM   Subscribe

'At 52x CD-ROM speeds (27,500rpm) disks shatter in a "rain of plastic particles". Is technology spinning out of control? "I haven't experienced an exploding CD but did have my copy of Neverwinter Nights somehow levitate out of the CD holder and bury itself in the nether parts of my machine with a nasty metallic thunk" Are these violent video games a danger to society?
posted by asok (24 comments total)
New consumer technology is always fraught with hazards - like exploding cigarette lighters which cause severe burns, Pintos that bust into flame from a minor rear end collision, cellphones that cook one's head with low level radiation.....

But, exploding CDs ?#$@...
posted by troutfishing at 5:36 AM on December 10, 2002

Is technology spinning out of control?

No, but quality control might be.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 6:27 AM on December 10, 2002

Are these violent video games a danger to society?

Um, this isn't just happening to game CDs for violent games, so I'm going to assume you're kidding. You were kidding, right?
posted by bshort at 6:40 AM on December 10, 2002

Yes, he was kidding. It was very funny.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 6:43 AM on December 10, 2002

strangely enough, my neighbor's cd drive ate his Neverwinter Nights cd just last week. it broke the cd into several pieces, leaving parts of it stuck in weird parts of the drive. we had to open it up, unscrewing everything (an impressive feat for not-so-techie fools like ourselves) to clean it out.
posted by lotsofno at 6:57 AM on December 10, 2002

This is going to drive me nuts but a week or two ago i saw a link here or on fark describing testing done on cds that showed that creating a 64x cd is impossible (it had more of the actual testing methodology, pretty entertaining really). It is a pretty interesting materials property problem.
posted by NGnerd at 7:23 AM on December 10, 2002

ahh, ocd calming down, it appears the original article was farked (but wait! here's a mirror site), but here's a short description of the testing. thank god for google.
posted by NGnerd at 7:31 AM on December 10, 2002

Here's a site with some pictures of exploding discs. The english version was taken down, and unfortunately Babelfish doesn't do Swedish.

Also, while a drive that would read 52x at the center would spin at 27,500RPM, today's 52x drives only attain that speed when reading at the disc's outer edge. They "only" spin at 10,400RPM. (using someone else's math here, so it may be wrong.)
posted by zsazsa at 7:40 AM on December 10, 2002

An easy solution would of course be to hold the cd steady, while spinning the computer around at 27,500 rpm.
posted by sebas at 8:01 AM on December 10, 2002

Had this happen before, twice, at two different places of employment. Both times resulted from the use of a CD that had a small crack in the inner transparent portion where the spindle grabs the CD. Spinning up caused the CD to fracture entirely, resulting in an extraordinarily loud bang and the complete obliteration of the disc itself. As an added bonus, this destroyed the CD-ROM drives both times as well.
posted by Danelope at 8:02 AM on December 10, 2002

I had the same experience Danelope had, but with a rented DVD. If you plan to watch DVDs with your computer, you should check the discs before use, or use a program that slows down the drive.
posted by lazy-ville at 8:28 AM on December 10, 2002

Forgive my complete techno-ignorance here, but I thought CD-ROM drives work by having the disc pass over a laser reader- the equivalent of the needle for the record. With technology as it is, wouldn't it be feasable to install multiple lasers in the drive? In other words, instead of speeding the disc even faster, just cut in half (or three, etc.) the time needed for data to pass the laser by splitting the job. That way a one-laser 48X drive is as fast as, say, a 24X two-laser or a 16X three-laser drive. Photocopiers have used multiple-scanner technology, can't CD-ROM drives do the same?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:49 AM on December 10, 2002

With technology as it is, wouldn't it be feasable to install multiple lasers in the drive?
I don't know about the feesibility, but it sure sounds a heckuva lot more expensive. Also, I've noticed that most CD-ROM's are just a tray with nothing to hold them down...Wouldn't just using a portable CD-player style holder help to keep the CD down work? Also, is there really any need for a 52x rom? Granted, faster is better, but everything works on my puny 8x just fine.
posted by jmd82 at 9:10 AM on December 10, 2002

Had this happen when my friend tried to install Win98. Installation goes along fine that *BAM* we think someone's fired a gun. Look at the screen and it's saying to reinsert the CD. We couldn't get into the case so we had to pour all the pieces out through the CD tray.

It was a really, really good CD.
posted by Be'lal at 9:33 AM on December 10, 2002

I cant find it now, but some company did release or develop, I cant remember, a three-laser, just for this reason. It could read faster, without spinning faster. But it was much more expensive.
posted by Iax at 9:39 AM on December 10, 2002

That was the Kenwood 52X True-X, probably. There's also this bit of interesting news about up-coming multi-beam designs.
posted by Kikkoman at 9:54 AM on December 10, 2002

It was a really, really good CD.

Okay, that made me laugh harder than I probably should have.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:13 AM on December 10, 2002

and jmd82- you answered your own question, sort of: holders won't work because of the simple trays. The fact that you need to slide your CD in via a tray or slot is why you can have a locking mechanism directly over the drive laser. you'd have to be able to either slide the locking system out with it (in which case excess pressure would probably lead to breaking the tray when pressing the disc down into it) or install some sort of device which locked the disc in after slide-back, which would probably be much more complicated miniature parts-wise.

The only way it would work, really, is if your CD-Rom was designed just like a walkman- with a pop-top lid that lets you place the disc right on the reader. For that you'd need either an external drive or computers to resdesign CD-ROM bays to go on the top of your tower.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:18 AM on December 10, 2002

Here's a mirror to the english part of that swedish site.
posted by abez at 10:22 AM on December 10, 2002

I knew those disc caddies were there for a reason!
posted by hammurderer at 11:20 AM on December 10, 2002

Making CD readers with multiple lenses has the same problem as making hard drives with multiple head assemblies: it's not worth it.

It adds a lot of complexity. For example, because pretty much all reads from these media are sequential, either because of the contiguous data or because the bus and the software don't want to mess with parallel reads from many places, you'd have to have a large buffer and your heads reading almost the same track into it to take advantage of multiple heads. Also, you get mad problems with alignment. A CD lens or an HDD head assembly has mechanisms that adjust it continuously on the fly to keep it on the track. Stick a second assembly there and you have to worry about proper alignment between the two heads and the spindle, or else your heads will have to wobble a lot just for both of them to stay on the track. For CDs, multiple heads also means CAV (constant angular velocity - the cd spins at the same speed whether the head is on the inner or outer track), which is not the easier way to do it.

So the verdict is, it's much, much more efficient from all standpoints to increase the media density than it is to increase the number of heads for rotational media. That's DVDs for removable media and higher-density platters for hard drives.
posted by azazello at 11:41 AM on December 10, 2002

ZQetc: on my 8x laptop, its a sliding locking tray thats comes out of the side and is walkman style where the CD "snaps" onto the tray (unlike the regular PC's where its just put on a tray).
posted by jmd82 at 12:03 PM on December 10, 2002

I believe something comes down from the top to lock the CD in place in order to spin it on these so called flimsy tray-load CD/DVD drives.

XQUZYPHYR, don't feel bad about finding the "it was a really, really good cd" comment funny. I laughed too.
posted by PWA_BadBoy at 2:01 PM on December 10, 2002

Hmm...a walkman style cd drive bay... sounds like a case mod for...SOMEONE ELSE!
It would look mighty cool, but I would have no idea how to do it.

Would it actually be possible just to use the walkman as your cd drive?
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 12:37 AM on December 11, 2002

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