CD-R Duplicator Maintenance FAQ


Q. How does a duplicator work?

A. Duplicators usually require a separate premastering station to create the source file or copy direct from a pressed CD or a CD-R. Sometimes the source file can be on a tape, such as DAT or an image file transferred directly to the duplicator's hard disk drive (e.g. see INFERNO's specifications). The image file is generally stored on an internal hard disk. The duplicator's dedicated CPU and proprietary software sends the image across a SCSI bus or multiplexor board to an array of recorders that make simultaneous copies.

Q. What are the general maintenance procedures for a CD-R duplicator?

A. Here are some guidelines:

Environment Have a decently clean, climate controlled area for your machine, free of dust, excess humidity, excessive heat or electro-magnetic interference. Dust is an enemy of both CD-ROM readers and CD recorders. As long as your recorder is in a relatively dust-free environment, it should work well with standard cooling configurations.

Clearance Have at least 4 inches all the way around the machine for ventilation.

Power Have a consistent power source with a good power strip or preferably an uninterruptible power supply.

Vibration is another cause of recording errors, so be aware of potential sources of vibration. The safest placement for a CDR duplicator is on a sturdy surface by itself.

Humidity can cause condensation to form on the optical pickup of the recorders, causing recording or reading problems.

Heat CD-Recordable drives, run hotter than CD-ROM readers. Even when idle, the CD recorder produces more heat than the standard CD-ROM drive. When reading, heat generation is increased, since the laser is active. When writing, heat generation is even greater since the laser is running at a higher power. This makes proper case cooling an important consideration when choosing and installing CD writers.

Clean Wipe the equipment off every now and then, keep your area clutter free, this will help keep your machine running better.

Q. Should I install CD-R writer myself?

A. Normally installation of drives is done at the factory since CD-R writer installation concerns drive make, model, firmware revision, parity, and SCSI address settings and SCSI termination. But if you need to do a drive installation the following are the general guidelines: Your SCSI bus must be terminated on both ends and nowhere else. In the simplest case, your CD writer is the only device on the bus, and the writer is terminated. Termination is accomplished by using terminating resistors on the CD writer, or on a connector at the end of the SCSI cable. If you are going to add your writer to an existing SCSI bus, you must terminate the writer if it is on the end of the bus and disable termination if it is to be attached anywhere else.

Q. Should I clean the inside of the writer myself?

A. If your CD-R writer does become dirty and begins to malfunction, it can be cleaned. But do not try to clean it yourself, if you are not experienced in drive or recorder cleaning. The lens and prism are very delicate, and the electronics and cables inside the drive are very susceptible to damage.

Q. What is the proper way to handle CD writers?

A. CD writers are not as robust as floppy drives or CD-ROM drives. The writing head can suffer from misalignment through rough handling. The lenses and photodetectors in a CD writer are very fragile and may not survive a lot of shock. You should be gentle when handling CD writers.

Q. Can I use cheap CD-Rs?

A. With high speed CD-R writers becoming more common the quality of the blank media is more important. The cheap media usually lacks the quality and uniformity of the better brands.

Q. Can I mix CD-R media on a duplication run?

A. It is highly recommended that you not to mix CD-R brands for your duplication jobs. You can use different brands for different runs but do not use more than one brand of CD-R per run as the laser calibration differences may cause the writers out of sync.

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