Ripping Blu-ray Discs

Background

I recently acquired an old film on Blu-ray because that was the only format it was available in. When I looked to find out how to rip Blu-ray discs, I discovered it’s a bit more complicated than ripping DVDs. I wrote this blog post because when I tried to figure out how to do this, it was actually difficult to find the forums over at MakeMKV using whatever terms I was searching with. Hopefully a few more pages like this will get more people finding the info they need.

Ripping DVDs is easy and free

With DVDs, you just download Handbrake, add to it libdvdcss and then it just rips. With Handbrake and DVDs, any DVD drive will work. But because the various protections on Blu-ray use code that actually runs in the blu-ray drive itself you have to update the firmware of your drive. And only some drives can be updated this way.

Ripping Blu-Ray is free, but getting started isn’t easy

What isn’t obvious is that there are only a handful of blu-ray drives that can be used for this. There are a number of cottage industries that have sprouted and help make this possible, and everyone wants to make a buck. So the easily findable instructions are generally terrible. And instead of making the instructions super easy to read, various people sell software that makes paying them and using their software easier than following the badly-written instructions. If you can follow some detailed instructions, you can get this done. It takes a lot of jumping around, reading between the lines, and figuring stuff out. It’s all there, it’s just badly organised. This blog post is trying to make it easier to follow the instructions. You can do this on

Step 1: Get a compatible drive

The best source I found for this was a thread at the MakeMKV Forums. This lists a lot of different manufacturers and drive types. For example, in January 2023, the list of good drives included the following. Be sure to visit the forums directly to get the very latest list.

  • BP60NB10
  • BP50NB40
  • LG WH16NS60
  • LG BU40N
  • LG WH14NS40
  • LG WH16NS40
  • ASUS BW-16D1HT
  • ASUS BW-16D1HT Pro
  • LG BH16NS55
  • Buffalo BRUHD-PU3-BK
  • Archgon MD-8107S-U3-UHD

Pay close attention: Don’t assume that just because there’s a couple LG drives and a couple Asus drives on the list that you can get any LG or Asus drive. You can’t. If you can’t buy exactly the right drive, don’t buy one that looks “close enough.”

In my case, I found a Microcenter near me and searched their Blu-ray drives. They had one in stock and I went and got it.

That same forum page lists people who sell drives already flashed and tested. So if the remaining steps below seem like too much for you, you can consider reaching out to them. These individuals are total strangers on the internet. Not even businesses. Just people. So caveat emptor. Personally, I would buy from these people because close communities like this aren’t usually full of crooks (as opposed to cryptocurrency and NFT communities, which are dominated by crooks). If they were ripping off their users, they wouldn’t last very long.

Step 2: Download some necessary files

You’ll need a couple files: sdf.bin and the firmware specific to your drive. Again, the best location for these is on the MakeMKV Forums. They currently point to this google drive file to have all the firmware you need.

Unzip the files. You’ll get a directory structure that resembles this. tree structure

Find the file that makes sense for you. In my case, it was HL-DT-ST-BD-RE_BP60NB10-1.02-NM00800-212005070935.bin, which I found in the mk-firmware-pack-20200720/MK/HL-DT-ST/BP60NB10 directory inside the zip file.

Step 3: Flash the drive (MacOS)

Ideally this is something you only ever do once. Once you put a working firmware onto the drive, you’ll be able to use that drive forever… until they invent a new technology that obsoletes the current one.

While much of MakeMKV is based on open source, the MakeMKV program itself is not. They expect you to pay. Downloading their free trial software, however, means that you will get a bunch of the tools like makemkvcon installed as a side-effect. So when their instructions tell you to do things like: makemkvcon f -l you can just run the version installed by their tool. So something like this:

/Applications/MakeMKV.app/Contents/MacOS/makemkvcon f -l

Look for the name of your device in the output. Mine looked like:

Found 1 drives(s)
00: /IOBDServices/ABCD1234
  HL-DT-ST_BD-RE_BP60NB10_1.02_212107081556_IS0KM2SA0E045

Assuming you have copied both the sdf.bin file and the appropriate firmware file into the /tmp directory (that’s what the instructions recommend, but they can live anywhere). Your command to flash your drive looks something like this:

/Applications/MakeMKV.app/Contents/MacOS/makemkvcon f -d '/IOBDServices/ABCD1234' \
    -f /tmp/sdf.bin rawflash enc \
    -i /tmp/HL-DT-ST-BD-RE_BP60NB10-1.02-NM00800-212005070935.bin

Note the enc on that command line. Virtually every new drive has some kind of encrypted firmware. Only the really old drives don’t. Assume your drive does have encryption if you bought it after 2020.

Ripping Discs

After that, you can use MakeMKV to rip Blu-ray discs. You should pay them if you use it. Now, MakeMKV simply copies the Blu-ray information, unencrypted and uncompressed, to your hard disk. You’ll end up, sometimes, with like 20Gb of data, when what you really wanted was a 1Gb video file. Having done that, you should then use Handbrake or similar to compress it down to a more usable size. In Handbrake or your other program, select the MKV file that MakeMKV created as your ‘source’ and then rip as you usually do.


Image compact discs licensed CC0 used with permission.

Comments aren't enabled for this post.