This article is from the CD-Recordable FAQ, by Andy McFadden (email@example.com) with numerous contributions by others.
The optical power output range of the laser in a low-speed CD-R is between
4 and 8 milliwatts. (By comparison, the read laser runs at about 0.5mW.)
High-speed recorders and CD-RW devices use a greater range, up to about
40mW for 48X CD-R. At the top end of the scale are DVD-R recorders,
which output around 100mW for 4x recording and 200mW for 16X recording.
CD-R and CD-RW discs have a section outside the standard recording area
called the Power Calibration Area (PCA) that is used to adjust the laser
for the brand of media you're using and the speed at which you're recording.
Power calibration errors indicate that the drive is having trouble
calibrating the power setting. The most common cause is incompatibility
with the media you're using -- if you just switched to a new brand or
batch of media, this is a likely culprit -- but it can also be caused by
a dirty lens or a dying recorder.
If you're seeing "power calibration area full", it means the recorder
ran out of space in the PCA area. There are 99 regions in the PCA area.
After 99 attempts to calibrate the power level, there won't be any
places left, and the recorder will report an error.
Try a few different kinds of media to see if the problem is an
incompatibility between your recorder and the discs you're using. If that
doesn't make a difference, there are a couple of things you can do to
mitigate the problem. First, you can try recording at a slower speed.
The recorder will use a different "write strategy", which usually means a
lower power level. Second, if you're storing the discs in a cold place,
you may want to try heating them up to slightly above room temperature
(placing them near a heating vent works). One user found that this helped.
If all else fails, and the drive is still in warranty, you should have
the drive checked by a repair facility. If it's out of warranty, or
there's no easy way to have it checked out, you can try cleaning it.
See section (3-30).
Some versions of the firmware for the Philips CDD2000 (and HP 4020i) will
report a power calibration error if you try to do a 1x write after a 4x
It's also good to verify, if your CD recorder is an internal unit, that
your power supply has enough capacity to run everything. Recent PCs
systems should have a 300W or better power supply.
One user found that his problems went away when he created an image file
with Easy CD Creator, quit out of the program, restarted it, and then
recorded from the image at a moderate speed. (Doesn't make much sense,
but if it works, use it.)