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.

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Amazing RGB POV 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.

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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


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…

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Mouse and HDD combo show off your data gluttony


So we know you’ve got a lot of porn on your computer, but just how much is a lot? This concept mouse and hard drive combo aims to show you just how much digital junk you have acquired through physical feedback.

The DataBot mouse looks like a typical run of the mill scroll mouse that you might get with a new computer. Inside however, the designers have added a small servo which alters the ease with which the ball moves. The more files you have stuffed into the folder you are moving around, the more the mouse resists, giving you a sense of the physical “weight” of your computer’s contents.

The DataBot hard drive gives you a sense of how full your computer is by growing and shrinking based on space usage. During file transmissions the hard drive blinks its LEDs to indicate how fast or slowly your files are moving. When the inevitable file access error occurs, the LEDs switch to a bright red hue and the drive shakes to indicate there is a problem afoot.

With the price of data storage decreasing by the day, it’s easy to get lost in a glut of information without realizing just how much data you have. This is definitely an interesting way to get a different look at your data consumption.

Check out the videos below to see the pair in action.

[via Dvice]

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Hard Drive Teardown

Do you know how a modern hard drive works? If you don’t you should have a pretty good idea after watching this video. In only five minutes [Bill Hammack] manages to describe a hard drive in awesome detail without using any unnecessary scientific jargon.

The video teardown explains how the flying head “flies” how voice coil motors work and provides a basic introduction to how the binary data is stored and processed in the disk. The way the flying head maintains the miniscule distance from the plate is particularly clever. You may remember the LCD monitor teardown by the Engineer Guy, equally as detailed and interesting. The video after the break is definitely worth a watch.

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Thrift Store Hard Drive Enclosure

[Ken] visited our site looking for case modding stuff a little while back, but more importantly he came back to show off his latest project. Using a jewelry box found at our favorite place, the thrift store, he converted it into a 2.5 inch USB drive enclosure.

Almost instantly he found that this particular jewelry box is a perfect fit for a 2.5 inch SATA laptop drive. Taking that as a sign he whipped up some acrylic mounts and cut some holes for power and USB . The electronics are provided by another enclosure with a dead drive, again acrylic is used to insulate the drive from the decorative metal box and some rubber washers were used to help cancel out vibrations and noise.

The end result is a classy looking 150gig usb drive that looks nice on the desk, and a little reminder that if your not hitting up your local thrift / second hand stores, you could be missing out on some real gems.