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7-9] What can I do with CD-R discs that failed during writing?


This article is from the CD-Recordable FAQ, by Andy McFadden (fadden@fadden.com) with numerous contributions by others.

7-9] What can I do with CD-R discs that failed during writing?


If the disc wasn't closed, you can write more data in a new session. If
the disc was closed, or was nearly full when the write failed but is still
missing important data, then its use as digital media is over.

However, that doesn't mean it's useless. Here are a few ideas:

- Fill in the center hole to avoid leaks, and use them as drink coasters.
- Create a hanging ornament (suitable for holiday decorations) or wind
chime. The latter isn't all that interesting - they just sort of
"clack" a little - unless you use the discs to catch the wind and
something else to make the chimes.
- Use them as mini-frisbees in an office with cubes. Since they're rather
solid and may hurt when they hit, you should await a formal declaration
of intra-office war before opening up with these.
- Have CD bowling tournaments where you see how far you can roll one down
a narrow hallway. You'd be surprised at how hard it can be unless you
get the wrist motion just right.
- Put them under a table or chair whose legs don't quite sit right.
- Run them through one of those industrial-strength paper shredders (the
kind with the rapidly spinning wheels) to get shiny green or gold
- Make really, really big earrings.
- Try to convince people at the beach that it's a shell from a new species
of abalone.
- Hook them into your bicycle spokes as reflectors.
- Use them as wheels on a toy car. (If you had buggy firmware, you're
probably stocked for a toy 18-wheeler.)
- Build a suit of "CD-R chain mail" for laser-tag games.
- Use them as art-deco floor or ceiling tiles.
- Hang them from the rear view mirror in your car.
- Cut it into a jigsaw puzzle with a small wire saw.
- Try out the "helpful CD repair" suggestions that periodically crop on
the newsgroup. Like the ones that suggest using acetone and sandpaper
to refinish a scratched CD-R.
- Hang them in your car windows. Some people believe that CDs will defeat
speed guns and automated speed traps that use flash photography.
- Add them to your aquarium.
- Use them as dart boards or BB-gun targets. If you "miss" the hole in
the middle, the error is immediately obvious.
- String several together as a toy, weaving the string in and out through
the center holes. Alternate green and gold for visually pleasing results.
- Make a boomerang (http://www.chez.com/amiel/boom/cd.html).
- Buy a cheap clock mechanism from a hobby/electronics store, and turn
it into a novelty clock.
- Hang them in fruit trees to scare birds away.
- Use them as backing for round knobs on cabinet doors, to keep the
wood from getting soiled. Works best with 80mm discs.
- Practice applying CD labels. Test brands of labels you haven't tried
before. Leave them in the sun and see if they peel.
- Gripping the CD with two pairs of pliers, hold it over a small heat
source, such as a small propane torch. Keep it moving slightly so it
doesn't scorch. When the plastic reaches the melting point, stretch,
twist, or bend the CD into something artistic. (Do this in a well
ventilated outdoor area with adult supervision!!)
- Heat a penny with a propane torch or on the stove for a few seconds,
holding it with a pair of pliers. Push the penny through the center
hole so it wedges halfway through. The heat of the penny softens the
polycarbonate, so once it cools it should stay put. The discs are well
balanced, and spin very nicely, especially when decorated with spiral
patterns (http://jclahr.com/science/Illusions/fbkspin.html).
- Use them as reflectors in a solar collector.

If you've given up hope of doing something "useful" with it, do something
destructive with it. Try to scrape the reflective layer off the top with
your fingernail. Drop it on the ground so that it hits edge-on and see
if the reflective layer delaminates or the plastic chips. Try to snap it
in half. Leave it sitting on a window sill with half the disc covered by
a book to see the effects of heat and sunlight. Write on it with nasty
permanent markers and see if you can still read it a week later. Apply a
CD label then pull it off again. Different brands of media have different
levels of tolerance to abuse, and it's useful to understand just how much
or how little it takes to destroy a disc.

In one carefully controlled experiment it was determined that CD-Rs behave
differently from pressed CDs when you slam them edge-on against the
ground. The aluminum ones will chip (once you throw them hard enough,
otherwise they just bounce) and create silver confetti. The gold one I
tried chipped and the gold layer started peeling, leaving little gold
flakes everywhere. One user reported that a Verbatim blue CD developed
bubbles even though the plastic was intact. More experimentation is needed
(but not around pets, small children, or hard-to-vacuum carpets).

On a different tack, some CD-Rs don't hold up well when immersed in water.
Try pouring a little water on a disc, then let it sit until it dries. If
the top surface scratches off more easily afterward, you need to be careful
around moisture. Silver/blue Verbatim discs seem particularly sensitive.

One comment about snapping discs in half with your fingers: use caution.
Depending on the disc and how you break it, you may end up with lots of
sharp polycarbonate slivers flying through the air. Wear eye protection,
be aware of people around you, and be sure to clean up all the plastic
shards afterward.

If you have far more coasters than you want to play with, consider recycling
them (section (7-21)).


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