Super easy way to make a microscope with a DVD pickup

Easily create a laser scanning microscope with 2 DVD pickups and “Analog Discovery”.

Equipment overview

equipment overview

Imaging result

Dieshot of Photodetector IC.

What you need

0.5mm pitch, 26-pin FFC (Flexible Flat Cable) and a conversion adapter make wiring easy.
I didn’t use FFC and pulled the wires out with UEW. Wiring by UEW was painful because the soldering points were small.

Example of FFC conversion adapter available on AliExpress

( Example of FFC conversion adapter available on AliExpress. I have not verified if this is fit. The number of pins does not match, but if FFC is cut to 26-pin width, it may be usable. )


A microscope can be made by scanning a laser spot horizontally and vertically across a sample, measuring the intensity of the reflected light, and making an image.

This technology allows the laser spot to be accurately aligned with the sample on the order of μm.
I believe that this technology can be applied to laser fault injection attacks on LSI. By controlling the lighting timing of the laser, it may be possible to “invert only a specific bit of memory at an arbitrary timing”.

Scanning method

The objective lens of the pickup has two voice coil motors for focusing and tracking, and can be moved in two axes.
To make a microscope, each of the X and Y axes must be driven and scanned in addition to the Z axis of focus. The two axes of the objective lens are not enough for one axis, so a mechanism to drive the other axis must be created.
Various methods have been proposed to compensate for the missing one axis.

In this case, we will adopt the simplest method of using a pickup for sample movement.
Fix the sample to the objective lens of the pickup for sample transfer using double-sided tape.

Dedicated pickup for sample movement

Add a pickup dedicated to sample movement. Fix the sample on the objective lens and move it with a voice coil motor.

Linear stage

Use a linear stage driven by a stepping motor.

Speaker as linear actuator

Use speaker as linear actuator.

Wire Connection

If you make this seriously, it is quite troublesome to build a voice coil drive circuit with a power op-amp whose output current is about 100mA, make a circuit to read the PDIC output signal with an ADC, write microcontroller software, and so on.
Therefore, I designed it with the theme of “Let’s push all the troublesome things to Analog Discovery 2.

Circuit diagram

The +5V power supply is taken from V+ of Supply in AD2.

The signal outputs ch1 and ch2 are connected to the voice coil to move the objective lens in the focus and X-axis directions.
V- of Supply is used to drive the voice coil motor of the second pickup, which is in charge of the Y-axis. This only uses half of the range of motion, but it is unavoidable.


This is a project file that can be used with Waveforms, the software that comes with AnalogDiscovery.



Before taking an image, please run this to adjust the focus.
If the value is outside the ±200 range, the focus is not correct, so adjust the distance between the objective lens and the object.

Originally, it would be correct to use the astigmatism method for focusing, but I had to create an analog circuit for this purpose, so I decided not to do so.
The operation is to move the position of the objective lens to find the position where the reflected light is maximized.

Image Acquisition


Change FILENAME and SCAN_LINES before executing.

The SCAN_LINES is the number of pixels in the vertical direction. The larger it is, the more detailed the image will be, but the longer it will take to complete the measurement.
It is recommended to first get a rough image around 50 - 200, and if it looks good, take a real image around 400 - 4000.

Convert the output CSV file to an image and you will get the results of the imaging.
Normalize to the range of 0-255 and perform gamma correction or histogram equalization to get a nice image.

Imaging result

DVD pickup PDIC

Laser scanning microscope


Typical microscope


Reverse engineering “HOP-150X” pickup

see also: DVDピックアップの解析

Laser Diode

Laser Diode

Pin No. Name
1 RED LD +
3 ?
2 Infrared LD +

Photodetector IC


Pin No. Name Type Note
1 Vcc POWER +5V
2 RF- Diff OUT  
3 RF+ Diff OUT  
4 OUT1 Analog OUT 20mVp-p
5 OUT2 Analog OUT 20mVp-p
6 OUT3 Analog OUT 120mVp-p
7 OUT4 Analog OUT 120mVp-p
8 MODE_SELECT Digital IN L: DVD / H: CD ?
9 OUT5 Analog OUT 120mVp-p
10 OUT6 Analog OUT 120mVp-p
11 OUT7 Analog OUT 20mVp-p
12 OUT8 Analog OUT 20mVp-p
13 Vref POWER 2.0 - 2.5V ?

Remove solder jumper

Brand-new pickups are shorted by solder jumpers to prevent LDs from being destroyed by static electricity.
The solder jumper must be removed before use.

solder jumper position