How to burn many unique CDs?/
February 24, 2011 2:19 PM   Subscribe

Are there cd duplicators that can burn many unique images (as opposed to identical images) simultaneously?

Let's say I have 300 discs I need to burn. Each disk has slightly different content. Is there a tool to make this happen quickly? (Right now I use several computers and a kvm switcher to accomplish this task... pretty slow.)

Most of the hardware I have seen is geared toward making 5 (10, 20, 30...) identical copies of the same master, which is not what I need at all.

One solution that was suggested to me was a computer running (say) 5 virtual computers (running 5 corresponding "real life" cd burners); but writing media (as opposed to reading only) seems to be an achilles heel of virtual pc. Maybe there are other solutions along that line?

Then there is the problem of keeping 200 different cds straight... (multiple unique master burners with printer function, churning out unique labels? I can see why software makers put the serial on the box.)
posted by BleachBypass to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Virtualization sounds like overkill. Is there any reason you can't just put multiple drives in one computer and run several copies of your burning software? If you're using Windows, ImgBurn can be automated from the command line to make this more manageable.

I think your biggest problem will be the read performance of your source disk. With multiple programs trying to read data from different parts of the hard disk at high speed, you're bound to see degraded performance as the head seeks all over the place. You'll need a sizable RAM buffer to compensate.
posted by teraflop at 2:40 PM on February 24, 2011

Do you need to have 300 actual physical copies or would some kind of .ISO file server also work?
posted by Burhanistan at 2:41 PM on February 24, 2011

I forgot to mention that you can buy SATA controller cards to squeeze more drives onto one computer. Physically fitting them all into a case might be tricky, though.
posted by teraflop at 2:48 PM on February 24, 2011

You have two options: multiple drives or multiple attendants. With multiple drives you can use a separate burning app for each one, burning the individual CDs wherever you like, however you just have to keep track of which is which (not impossible).

In the multiple attendants department, that was my cheeky way of suggesting a robot. You can buy an expensive CD Burner that holds a ton of CDs, which you can then burn and print (ideally via another automated process).

Personalization is always slow, though, no matter what the technology.
posted by rhizome at 3:18 PM on February 24, 2011

I need physical copies, though was wondering about using .iso's as an intermediate step - and wondering whether a generating the series of iso's would be easier to load into a dedicated hardware device.

Teraflop, I think you are right about overcomplicating things. Having found a wee bit of research, it looks like it's important that each burner uses a different ide channel.

I think I'd be able to spring for a SSD for the source disk, I would imagine that should really help performance. No reason not to go apesh*t on the ram, too.

Would the SATA controller card you refer to be used to add additional hard drives or additional optical drives? (Or both?)
posted by BleachBypass at 3:26 PM on February 24, 2011

Rhizome, I do like the "robuts" tack - most of those burners appear to still be geared toward simple duplication, but I'd be thrilled to trade-off to trade fast "you still have to be sitting there" burning for slow, methodical, hands-free automated burning.

For example, if this bad boy can burn unique sequential images (and their labels), it'd be super sweet, and a surprisingly reasonable investment.
posted by BleachBypass at 3:56 PM on February 24, 2011

For any future readers, it seems like the magic words here are queuing and networking support.
posted by BleachBypass at 4:41 PM on February 24, 2011

Can you program?

What kind of budget do you have?

If you wanted too you could probably just build a 'cluster' of Mini-ITX machines with CD burners in them. Or buy used desktop PCs surplus or something. They shouldn't bee too expensive. Then code it up using linux and some command line CD burners to distribute the files and burn them. With 10 notes you'd only need 30 repetitions.
posted by delmoi at 5:10 PM on February 24, 2011

I Have a Duplicator that will do what it calls stream copying. You put a master in the hopper then place a number of blanks that you want it copied onto ontop of the master. then you place the next master and blanks then the next master then blanks etc.... This is the model I have once it gets going its pretty reliable.
posted by jmsta at 1:49 PM on February 25, 2011

Yeah, a duplicator is the easy part, and even a cluster of machines is going to require hands to switch the discs 300 times regardless of the number of drives. It's the high-capacity one-of-a-kind burning that gets expensive, and you'd want something that can be scripted for maximum ease. The upshot is that I think I a lot of this class of device come with built-in printers so you don't have to track everything as it happens (or afterwards).
posted by rhizome at 7:11 PM on February 25, 2011

Thanks all!
posted by BleachBypass at 4:17 PM on February 28, 2011

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