A “Jukebox” In a Bell Jar

jukebox in bell jar

[Tim] wrote in to tell us about his Mark III hard drive in a bell jar, and we were quite impressed! The principle of using a bell jar to protect the hard drive inside so the world can see it spinning is really a cool idea, but his execution of this project is excellent. It was reportedly so good that an unnamed college actually asked him to build one of his drive displays for them.

The Mark III is an excellent build, and the little hard drive has been swapped to the front of it for better visualisation. The disadvantage of the iPod Mini used for the Mark III build is that it actually buffers enough so that the read head doesn’t have to spin during the entire song.  Because of this, we thought that his first build, nicknamed [pink], was even more interesting, if ever so slightly less refined. By many of our hacking standards though, both are incredibly finished works of art!

Both these builds feature a plethora of LEDs to keep you entertained, and can be seen demonstrated after the break! [Read more...]

POV clock spins light filter instead of LEDs

This hard-drive based POV clock is a treasure trove of great design choices. Now, we’ve seen a bunch of spinning clock builds. Several of the hard drive versions use slits cut in the platters to create a display by illuminating an LED behind those slits at just the right moment. This is a similar idea but [Jason Hotchkiss] ditched the platters all together and replaced them with a light filter. The filter disc has digits 0-9 as well as a colon (not seen above because the colons blink each second). As this disc spins, the Arduino compatible controller lights up LEDs in the eight digital positions to illuminate the correct number.

The filter is made from an etched copper-clad disc. This is a great choice because the fiberglass substrate is strong, light weight, translucent, and available. The filter idea also means you don’t need to get power or data to a spinning platform. [Jason] has also designed a very impressive controller board that is the same size as the footprint of the laptop hard drive he’s using. Check out the video after the break to see his description of what went into the hardware choices he arrived upon. [Read more...]

Speedier hard disk option for your Mac Mini

[Andrew] was left wanting by the slow hard drive in his 2011 Mac Mini. He set out to add a 10,000 RPM drive and we think he did a great job of pulling it off. Luckily he also took the time to document the process so you can try it yourself.

As with a lot of Apple products, a big part of this hack is just getting the darn thing apart without breaking something. Once that’s done, you’re got to do a little bit of interface hacking. To save space Apple uses a non-standard SATA breakout cable so [Andrew] starts by ordering a second hard drive cable from the company. He then soldered a thin wire connecting 12V from the motherboard to the 12V pin on a SATA connector. From there it’s just a matter of altering the original hard drive sled to make room for the 500 GB WD Velociraptor drive. It fits below the original and serves as additional space instead of as a replacement.

Synthesize with a hard drive

If you’d like a pseudo-mechanical way of producing a droning synthesizer sound, [gijs] is your man. He made a small synthesizer out of nothing but an old hard drive and a few components.

Whenever a disk platter is spun manually, the spindle motor inside the drive produces a few out of phase sine waves on its connections. [gijs]‘ synthesizer compares and amplifies these sine waves and sends them out to a speaker. The result is a strange droning chiptune-esque arpeggio.

The circuit for the build is soldered directly to the hard drive enclosure Manhattan style. Because the output of the spindle motor produces out of phase sine waves, [gijs] thought it would be a good idea if he could capitalize on some phase interference to alter the timbre of his synth. The entire build is mounted to a wall with hinges to one side so the speaker can be moved around. It isn’t much of a change, but we can here some wave forms cancelling each other out.

Check out the video of the build after the break. There’s also a few audio samples available on the project page.

[Read more...]

Amazing RGB POV clock

rgb_pov_propeller_clock

We’re no strangers to POV time pieces around here, but something about them never gets old. Whether they use a ring of LEDs to draw clock hands, or an intricately cut HDD platter to replicate LCD segments, we love seeing them. [David] sent in this hard drive POV clock built by a fellow named [Kly], and it’s just beautiful.

[Kly’s] “Propeller” POV clock is named as such due to the design of the circuit board. The board is mounted on the HDD spindle, rotating much like an airplane’s propeller. The construction details are sparse, but from what we can find, it is based around a PIC32MX microcontroller, which is used to control the 66 SMD RGB LEDs mounted on the circuit board.

As you can see in the video below, the tightly packed LEDs result in some pretty amazing visuals.

Aside from watching the video below, be sure to swing by his Youtube channel for a handful of videos showing RGB POV clock in action.

[Read more...]

Making SATA drives work with a SCSI backplane

The problem of persistent and reliable storage plagues us all. There are a myriad of solutions, some more expensive than others, but a dedicated and redundant network attached storage solution is hands down the best choice for all problems except natural disaster (ie: fire, flood, locusts) and physical theft. That being said, the issue of price-tag rears its ugly head if you try to traverse this route.

[Phil's] had his mind stuck on a very large NAS solution for the last ten years and finally found an economical option. He picked up a powerful motherboard being sold as surplus and a server enclosure that would play nicely with it. It came with a backplane for multiple hard drives that utilized SCSI connections. The cost and availability of these drives can’t compare to the SATA drives that are on the market. Realizing this, [Phil] completely reworked the backplane to make SATA connections possible. It’s an intense amount of work, but there’s also an intense amount of documentation of the process (thank you!). If doing this again his number one tip would be to buy a rework station to make it easier to depopulate the connectors and extraneous parts from the PCB. Since he needs to keep using the board, the old blow-torch trick is out of the question.

Slick 16-segment POV hard drive clock

pov_hdd_clock

Hackaday reader [svofski] sent in a fantastic looking hard drive-based POV clock (Google Translation) created by a maker in the Sichuan province of China. The clock, like the one [svofski] built, relies on LEDs placed behind the spinning platter to create the POV effect.

Quite a few carefully placed cuts have been made to the platter, which make up the segments required to display both numbers and letters of the alphabet. This isn’t a simple 16-segment POV display however. The font uses a lot of sharp edges and odd segment lengths, so we’re guessing that quite a bit of care was taken in the production of this clock.

You can see a demonstration of the clock in the video embedded below, which shows off its ability to display numbers, text, as well as a handful of simple patterns. It looks like there are some details available on the designer’s site, however it is all in Chinese, and Google’s translation is questionable at best. If only we knew someone that could give us a hand with deciphering the inner-workings of this clock…

[Read more...]

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