Anthony's CDROM Art
or what do you do with all those old CDs

Exit the room to Anthony's Miscellanious Hobbies
Check out some CDROM ball construction notes

How it started...

[photo] A fellow programmer, David, showed me a cube he made from old CDROMs, stuck together by melting the edge of the CD with a cigerette lighter. We'll I was impressed by the simple cube, so I decided to give it a go. However I used hotglue to join them together, instead of a cigerette lighter.

We recieve hundreds of CDROMs in our computer department from a number of sources...

For example. every few years replaced the computers in three labs of 30 PC's. Each machine in the lab, comes with 4 CDROMs, containing a copy of the OS, Video drivers, Burner software, etc, etc, etc... As we set up an image on one machine, then replicate that image over all the other machines, only one set of these CDROM's are ever need. All the other hundreds of CD's would normally be just thrown away, unused, and still in their wrappers.

Consequently, I have no shortage of CDROM's in various label colors to play with.

[photo] [photo] [photo] [photo] [photo]

Starting with a simple 6 sided cube I quickly produced two 12 sided dodecahedrons, and a 32 CD truncated icosahedron (soccerball). The later of which have built quite a few (see below).

Using a Cigerette Lighter...

[photo] A few months later, my friend David (who started all this) started to attempt a huge CD ball using his cigerette lighter method (no, he nor I, smoke).

The ball was never completed and stayed in the state you see photo'ed (right) for about 5 months before self destructing. It seems that the internal stresses caused by using a flame causes the plastic to slowly crack and weaken over time, eventually to break apart on anything larger than a cube.

Larger Balls

[photo] [photo]

Spured on by Davids construction, I built a 54 CD ball which has been my pride an joy for many months. For the technically minded the ball is a level 3 octo-geodesic sphere.

Hiatus in CD rom construction for approximately a year

Lots of Soccer Ball Art

The balls caused a lot of reaction to anyone that saw them eventually a CDROM ball was requested first for the universities Software Services, and later one made with Oracle CDROMs for the University Database Adminstration Group. In both cases 32 CD "soccerballs" were made.

[photo] [photo]

The later for the DBA group is pictured above, and has 3 gold colored CDs, which I ensured remained proment. The group also wanted the oracle labeling to face outward so I made an extra effort to ensure the labels remained the right way up. Unfortuantally the support string gave way breaking 5 of the lower disks on a desk corner. After a mad scramble to locate replacements (they were very old CDs), the ball was repaired and rehung (more securely) in their work area.

CDROM Ball Slot Constructions

[photo] Next my CDROM ball art efforts has revolved around a rotational "thrust" bearing made from CDROMS and ball bearings. This allows the created ball to freely rotate when placed in a air-conditioning air stream. The photo left shows the lower disk (cut-down cdrom) hotglued to the end of a dowel, to form a ball-race between it and the upper disk, in which the ball bearings sit. The bearing takes anywhere from 4 to 6 CDROM and 6 to 12 (or more) stanless steel ball bearings, to construct.

Also to make use of this bearing CD ball construction took a different direction, using a stronger "slot" method. This technique was found on the web being used by Geometric Artist, George W. Hart. See his Labia 360 CD ball or the monstrous holographic Rainbow-Bits 642 CD ball.

[photo] After some inital tests a 42 disk ball, (3 disk per edge octahedron) was made using this method. The ball was made so that the orange labeled disks faced outward (18 CDs) while the silver labeled disks connect them together (24 CDs). A thrust bearing allows the resuliting ball to freely rotate. The ball basically consists of 3 circles of 16 CD's each, intersecting each other at 6 points.

It is a good first model to build with sloted CD's

[photo] Next David an myself spent a solid 4 hours working together (one evening) to cut slots, construct the bearing of a huge 102 CDROM ball (3 CD per edge, icosahedron), made using two different styles of purple "Sun Patch CDs". This is a fantastic ball about a full meter (yard) accross, which rotates constantly in the air stream from the airconditor vent, mesmerising visitors to our office.

We are think about a even larger project, though anything larger will require construction on site as the final ball would probably be too big to fit through the doors. :-)

Recordable CDROMs...

Experiments with CD-R disk proved to be trouble-some. If you try to cut a slot, or hot glue the label side of the disk (so the colorful side is outward) the silver foil of the disk flakes off, leaving a horrible transparent patch. YUCK!

Basically it means that CD-R's can not be used to make CDrom balls. A shame as the recording foil has some lovely colors. I am not finished with this type of CD's. The black CD-R and "gold" quality CD-Rs looks like the foil may be bonded better to the CD. Also I am very slowly collecting the Clear CD Blanks used to protect bulk packs of CD-R's. I think they will be good for reinforcing larger balls without being too obvious.

While on the subject of other types of CD's, the DVD disks work just as well as normal CDroms. The only difference I have noticed is that the disks are slightly harder to cut through when making slots, and seem to be slightly heavier overall.

Making Balls more Spherical

[photo] Software Services at Griffith University where I work, started making use of CD-Rs with the Griffith University label on them. Which I wanted to use to make a special ball for them, as I did for the oracle CD ball for the DBA group (see above).

However as I wanted the label outward, the CD-R problem was not a issue. It did however mean I could not use the reverse (or "blue") side of these disks outward in the final ball. I was forced instead to use blue labeled "Dell Application" CDs.

Also as I never really liked the "indented" pentagram CD of the 32 soccer ball balls (see above), so I make a new cardbord former used in construction, to push those CD's out to the same level. The ball is weaker as a result, but once the ball is complete the overall synengy makes the result strong enough.

[photo] Next I decided to try something simular with the dodecahedron. I basically took the 12-sided dodecahedron and along each edge, added an extra CD. The result is this 42 disk sphere (a level 2 dodeca-geodesic sphere). The 12 orange "Compac" disks, surounded by 30 blue "Dell Application" disks.

In both cases the resulting balls look more sphere like that the previous balls at the top of this page. All the disks are connected together edge to edge, with no disk overlaping other disks. The down side to this "smoother" look is that the balls aren't quite as strong, and have larger "holes" between the disks. Also construction needs to be more exacting as itis easier to build a distorted sphere.


Good Luck to anyone else making there own CDrom balls. Be sure to visit my Construction Notes page for a summery of the basic construction methods used.

[photo] For example, Travis Swaim, created the slotted isosahedron from 20 cdroms.

Other CDROM art and things to do with CDROM's

[photo] Cook a CDrom in a microwave for a very short time. See the The original notes, or for more images of this look on Jarno's Website who reported further experiments, such as this CD.

I accept no responsibility for any results, use at own risk.

Created: 10 May 2001
Updated: 24 November 2003
Author: Anthony Thyssen, <anthony@cit.gu.edu.au>