Quick project: Hard drive system meter

[Ginge] sent in this fun little project. He gave himself 3 hours to complete a hack (not including research time) and managed to come up with this cool activity meter. He handles the entire project like it is some kind of contest. Ground rules are laid out, requiring practicality of the final product, minimum investment, and almost complete use of junk pile pieces.

Using an old hard drive for the frame of the project as well as the “dial” part of the meter, he hacked together a system load/ hdd and proc activity meter. The brains of the project are an AVR and he even implemented some PWM to smoothing things out. He goes into some fair detail on the construction of the thing (was the writeup included in your build time? -50 points!). Even though he’s using a piece that he manufactures and sells (OSIF), you could probably figure out how to do it without.

You can see a video of it in action after the break


  1. Rick says:

    Neat. This is a great example of the hacking spirit!

    I also like the idea of the 3-hour hack.

  2. Ginge says:

    “you could probably figure out how to do it without”

    Plans, schematic, source and everything else you might want is linked from the article.

    I will post the other hacks on my site in the coming weeks.

    -50 for the writeup? :( … Looks like I need to add a rule that sharing knowledge has no point penalty.

    I alost did treat it as a contest, i even had a timer set to make sure i didnt run over time. I found the deadline meant I both finished the piece and also found creative workarounds.

    Feel free to help me refine the rules!


  3. Ginge says:

    Yeah I got the joke, it was some dry humour on my part. To be fair it did take a stupid amount of time to write up… About an hour :) … Does make it a 4 hour hack ;)

    Thanks for posting me up!

  4. Hackius says:

    Ginge: Sorry for the offtopic but are you going to produce more OpenServo boards anytime soon?

  5. ginge says:

    good question. the previous supplier went bankrupt, so I need to find a new supplier… one that doesn’t want a MOQ of 1000 units. It took a year to shift the last 300 units, and the v3 branch is getting end of life.
    Hopefully we can start over with v4, but there has been little interest so far.

  6. Hackius says:

    I think I might be able to find a local producer. Question is would it be worth it to produce v3 with v4 close?

    I’d like to help with v4 but I’m no good at board design.

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