Used hard drive repurposed as a cotton candy machine


If you’re reading this website, you’re probably someone who likes to take things apart. As such, you probably also have one or more old computer hard drives just sitting around in a parts bin.  Of all the projects you could have for an old drive, here’s an interesting one – A Chinese engineer who operates a hard drive repair and data recovery center decided to turn a used drive into a cotton candy machine.

Possible sanitary concerns set aside, his creation is very cheap and easy to build. Most hackers probably have all the necessary gear just sitting around already. The only parts he used were: a hard drive that still powered up, a generic plastic basin, an aluminum can, a flat round metal tin, and six bicycle spokes.

It might not be pretty, but it works. If you want to create your own, be sure to check out the above link. There’s a full DIY guide complete with step-by-step photos.

[Thanks Fabien]


  1. fifthrider says:

    Looks like a great way to get heavy metal poisoning to me.

    • Tyler says:

      I never thought of this as a benefit to RoHS

      • matt says:

        Considering that the hard drive has a 40 pin connector, and it came from a Chinese site, do you really think they are using silver solder?

        • matt says:

          On a semi-unrelated note, I wonder what the actual risk is of lead poisoning is. Especially when you consider how many people shoot guns indoors. No one bothers to wear a dust mask or respirator, and you dont seem to hear of anyone developing lead poisoning that way. Plenty of bullets are made entirely from lead, plated bullets have very thin jackets, and even FMJ ammo doesnt have a layer a layer of copper that thick. I’m not entirely sure why, but the exaust from the muzzle and gas system of my rifle when shooting 7.62 NATO FMJ sparkles as well. And I know after a hour and a couple hundred rounds, my nose is full of black soot.

          • Mr. Frykas says:

            Not to mention that the chemical that makes primers go bang is Lead Styphnate. Thank goodness my local range is outdoor only…

          • Jon Hendry says:

            “Especially when you consider how many people shoot guns indoors. ”

            The indoor range I’ve been to has a pretty hefty ventilation system designed to draw air away from the firing line and towards the targets and bullet trap at the other end.

            When I took my pistol class, an instructor said they get their lead levels checked periodically.

            It may not be as big of a problem for the weekend shooter, but if you work there, the exposure is going to be a lot higher..

        • Splitshot says:

          Or the fact that many fishermen bite lead split-shots to crimp them onto the fishing line all day long all spring long.

    • rasz says:

      Heavy metals and all the chemicals they soak PCB in.

    • targetdrone says:

      Why? The food is in the tin can, and exposed only to the solder of the supports. He could have used silver solder or lead free solder there. The hard drive electronics aren’t shedding lead.

      Is it NSF approved for restaurant use? No. Is it hacker approved for making cotton candy? Heck yeah!

      What is more important is making sure the hard disk platter is aluminum and not glass. Drilling through glass like that would leave a handful of shattered glass and no toy.

    • Jon Hendry says:

      And who knows what coatings and lubricants are used. They wouldn’t exactly be chosen for their safety for ingestion.

  2. XOIIO says:

    LOL this is hilariously awesome, I doubt anyone has looked at a hard drive and thought “Hey, cotton candy!”

  3. Hack Man says:


  4. Chuckt says:

    Why? Just couldn’t bear to throw it out, could you?

  5. Chris C. says:

    Most improbable conversion I’ve ever seen. LOL.

  6. johan says:

    How to avoid the drive to turn itself off after asserting failure to start?

    • XOIIO says:

      Older hard drives don’t do this.

      • NewCommentor1283 says:

        correct, drives from around 1990 sometimes overheat the motor driver chip if you hold the platter from spinning on startup, or maybe its if you stop it? anyway, blew a chip that way ;)

        • NewCommentor1283 says:

          PS: suuuper fun pastime:

          loosely attach a rubber/plastic tire from a toy(set) to the platter of a harddrive from back when they were so huge they required “cdrom” drive bays.

          after spin up, poke it with a stick (use eye protection!)

          and accross the room it goes!
          hits the wall, falls over,
          then keeps spinning for 5 more seconds XDXDXD

          • XOIIO says:

            LOL or put 8 hard drive platters onto it and tilt it over, and it’s like a weapon XD You can even send them over jumps.

          • Sven says:

            This can also be done with a high speed grinder and a CD. They will go 30m, or if set off in a small room will grind a 1m mark in the carpet, then spin halfway up the wall if it can get grip.

            This is if the CD doesn’t explode, WEAR EYE PROTECTION…

  7. Ack says:

    Excellent, love it… rotating alcohol induced fire, blisteringly hot high velocity molten sugar and the risk of heavy metal poisoning. Sounds right up my street. I’m sure I have a few old hard disks somewhere.

  8. Jared says:

    What a way to re-purpose a hard drive, aluminum can and some metal bike parts. I can’t image actually eating cotton candy from this machine but it’s a novel idea.

  9. Greg says:

    This sure is a whole new way to recycle your old electronics. I love cotton candy but I don’t think I would eat it from a hard drive with all the other stuff they used.

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