Raspberry Pi Zero Replaces Broken Laptop Optical Drive

(Image credit: Ollie242)

Sometimes a broken laptop is an opportunity for invention. This project was created and shared by a maker who goes by Ollie242. After a malfunctioning optical drive proved to be more of a burden than a feature, Ollie242 decided to remove it completely. With a gaping hole in the side of the laptop, the decision was made to install a Raspberry Pi Zero W in its place.

The Raspberry Pi is embedded in the laptop hardware and even draws power from it. Ollie242 included a breadboard that slides out with the Pi that can be used for projects whenever you want.

Ollie242 powers the Pi using a male to female slimline SATA cable connected directly to the laptop. To access the Pi, VNC is used to remote into the system, eliminating the need for any additional peripherals. The laptop screen, cursor and keyboard can be used to control the Pi.

The unit is housed in a custom 3D printed housing. There is room on the side for a 28 x 132 OLED I2C display which Ollie242 uses to output the current IP address, making it easy to find what you need when connecting. The 3D printed housing is designed for a specific Thinkpad model, but if you want to check it out, you can find it on Onshape.

If you want to explore this project in detail, you can find it on Instructables. Be sure to follow Ollie242 for more cool Pi projects!

Ash Hill
Freelance News and Features Writer

Ash Hill is a Freelance News and Features Writer with a wealth of experience in the hobby electronics, 3D printing and PCs. She manages the Pi projects of the month and much of our daily Raspberry Pi reporting while also finding the best coupons and deals on all tech.

  • neojack
    when i read the title i was like "how a pi can read cds anyway ??"

    an accurate title would me more like
    "Raspberry Pi Zero Fitted in Laptop Optical Drive Bay"


    "How to fit a Rasperry pi zero inside your laptop's optical drive bay"

    Still, i don't understand ho he connects to the pi ? i guess the pi is configured to connect on his wifi, and he acces trough it ?
    it means that when traveling he would need to bring the wifi router with him ? :D

    (can't mock him, i crossed the Atlantic with my entire rig, PSU, Mobo, heatsink, fans, HDDS, GPU ahah)
  • kbel
    Hi neojack, he used the notebook to setup a Wifi hotspot, so yes he carries his access point everywhere his notebook goes.
  • Scooterfitz
    I agree, this title is misleading. From the title, I was expecting a project where the Pi Zero was EMULATING the optical drive, where one might load an .ISO to the Pi Zero, and the Pi Zero presented the .ISO as a physical CD/DVD/BRay to the host computer through its SATA port. I was excited about that prospect, especially considering it could possibly be adapted to other uses, like consoles that have failed optical drives.
  • kbel
    Rigth, that would be great. However having a raspberry Zero there with all its connectivity .. I would use the available space to buffer the Raspberry's GPIO to avoid electrical damaging of the whole system.
  • urbanman2004
    The title was sort of misleading since it had me under the impression that a Pi could read "discs" (virtually, as a only logical option), but as I read the article, the premise became more clear.